Buy: Kindle Ebook | Paperback
I LOVE KRISTEN ASHLEY! I’ve said it before, but with each book of hers I read, I adore her more and more.
I went into this book suffering from a massive book funk, and I knew pretty much instantly that this would be the book to drag me back into the land of happy readers. When in doubt – leave it to KA to pull you through. She never lets me down, and she did it again with this beautiful story of love, family, and healing from tragedy.
Upon the tragic and untimely death of Gavin and Tamsin Fairfax, their three children are left orphaned and in the care of Gavin’s sister, Julia, and Tamsin’s brother, Douglas, with the stipulation that the children must be raised in Tamsin’s family home – Sommersgate House. Wanting nothing more than to be there for the nephew and two nieces that she adores, Julia packs up her life in the US, giving up everything to move to England to honour the wishes of her beloved brother and his wife. On arrival, she finds three grieving children living in a miserable, spooky old house with downtrodden house staff, all under the control of Douglas and Tamsin’s evil witch of a mother. Still struggling with her own grief, Julia is also dealing with being in a new country, leaving her mother and friends behind, and being without a job or any real support from the barely present Douglas. But, being the strong, stubborn and feisty girl that she is, Julia gets straight on with unreservedly giving the children the love and attention they have been missing, and bringing life back into the house.
And then there are the ghosts. Sommersgate House is haunted by the spirit of two tormented lovers from centuries ago who are cursed to remain separated for all eternity and trapped at Sommersgate unless the master of the house finds true love, and somebody to love him back. The two ghosts make their presence felt throughout the story, and while they initially freak Julia right out, she comes to accept them, and her story becomes unknowingly interwoven with theirs as things start to get interesting between her and Douglas.
Douglas is a fantastic character! Arrogant, standoffish, work obsessed and also a bit of a womaniser, he has never had a real relationship. He is very mysterious, closed off and while unenthusiastic about his new responsibilities, he is determined to provide for his beloved sister’s children.
Julia has crushed on him from the moment she met him 15 years ago, but in the intervening years, she married a man who treated her awfully, verbally abusing her and leaving her crushed and very wary of men. But she and Douglas are obviously attracted to each other, and the angry/flirty behaviour between them is awesome. But the fireworks really start when Douglas decides (yes, decides) that the best way to manage their raging attraction, and their situation with the children, is for he and Julia to marry. But as much as Julia may still feel for him, she refuses to marry without love, and that is the one thing that Douglas has never offered her.
But he offers her a whole lot more, and when his seductive, sexy side comes out… holy hell!
“Julia, I intend to be your lover.” With Julia’s soft warmth pressed so close, he could smell her. Both the feel of her and her scent made his body begin to tighten in an intensely pleasant way so that, when he spoke, his voice deepened, became hungry, as he, again, made his intentions clear but this time, he made them clearer. “I intend to sleep in sheets that smell of tangerines and jasmine. I intend to have your naked body squirming under mine. I intend to touch you everywhere with my hands and my mouth. I intend to memorise the taste of you, to make you call my name while I’m moving inside you, to make you so excited you beg me to let you come…”
The ‘thing’ between them becomes a game, and the back and forth is fantastic as Douglas does his best to convince Julia around to his way of thinking, while Julia tries to keep him at arm’s length (sort of). And while they are busy acclimatising to their new roles in life, living as a family with the children, and being around each other constantly, the emotion between them unintentionally starts to run deeper. And it’s pure awesome! In typical KA fashion, we get lots of beautiful little moments between them – the teasing, the playing, the arguments, the sweet and tender moments, and the hotness. Oh yes, there is hotness! The best part of it though, for me, were the times with the children. Watching Julia bring the kids back to life, and, in turn, watching them all bring Douglas back to life, was absolutely sensational!
The book is written in multiple POV, and I loved getting inside of Douglas’ head. Particularly as their love story is not a conventional one, and Douglas really had no idea what he was feeling. I loved watching his thought processes as he sorted through what was happening between him and Julia.
“Bloody hell, he loved her.”
KA always writes brilliantly for families, and I love the family that she created for Julia and Douglas. The way she showed Lizzie, Will and Ruby dealing with their parent’s death, accepting their new reality and starting to move on was absolutely beautiful. And again, the little family moments – from Christmas morning, to an afternoon of horseback riding, or a game of monopoly – all add so much depth to the story, and it’s genius.
I loved this story! KA does a fantastic job at building the anticipation, and the UST is sizzling as Julia and Douglas dance around each other for a lot of the book. The state of things between them is up and down for a lot of the story, and I loved watching them fight their way to their HEA. The story ends beautifully, with each individual plotline finished off with great detail, and I finished this book with a massive smile on my face.
“If I could … I’d have the world watch me make you mine.”
KA weaves her magic yet again, and I loved it.
The Ghosts & Reincarnation series
For more KA awesomeness, check out our Kristen Ashley Author Spotlight