Andrew Alexander and Astrid Allen have both paid a high price for choices made in their youth. Now, after four years, they are facing each other with all the denied feelings resurfacing.
Andrew, the brother of Gareth, Marquess of Heathgate, returns from his world travels to find he is now a Baron and also the Earl of Greymoor, neither of which he is happy about. He also finds that Astrid, his childhood friend (and so much more) is now a widow and in much need of a friend.
Andrew defines his worth by his actions of almost half his lifetime ago. He had absented himself from all he loves, feeling he had no right to be loved or to love. But he tells himself Astrid needs a friend. They slip back into being honest and open with each other as they had been years ago before he treated her so badly. He vows to stay until the baby of her now-dead husband is born and will help her stand up to her in-laws.
Astrid fears the worst about what will happen to her and her baby now that her brother-in-law Douglas is the Viscount of Amery. She does not know this stoic, unsmiling man; plus she had been so devalued by her late husband, she fears for the future. She does not know that Douglas, who did not want the title, is wrestling with family debt due to his dead brother Herbert’s excesses and poor management. In addition, Douglas’ mother and younger brother Henry hate the economic constraints he’s placed on them. They make his life a misery. Most of all he finds Herbert had almost depleted the funds in Astrid’s widow’s portion—had in essence stolen his wife’s money.
Astrid goes to visit her sister Felicity, Gareth’s wife, to escape the oppressive Allen family atmosphere. As her family rallies around to see to her well-being; secrets, questions, and malicious manipulations create tensions that keeps one turning pages.
During all of the doing, Andrew and Astrid agree to an affair, but the ”elephant-in-the-room” is always there—Andrew says he will leave even though he despairs of doing so. How their relationship evolves so they can find their happy-ever-after is compelling. There are amazing love scenes, but also the reader gets to see a giving love grow strong, an unshakeable friendship put down lasting roots , and family love that is unconditional.
Many of the secondary characters I’d met in previous “Lonely Lords” series books. These characters enrich this novel and add a continuity that I enjoyed much like catching up with old friends. Two of the most interesting of these characters is Gwen Hollister and her daughter Rose. They add a new dimension to the story and serve to show how the constraints of “Polite Society” can play havoc with lives. David Fairly, Astrid and Felicity’s brother is another that grabs one’s attention. He is rather a mystery man that gets things done. He comes and goes in their lives in an elusive manner but seems to always be there when needed most.
Grace Burrowes’ vivid, well-developed, flawed characters, plus her way of weaving their lives together and her exquisite writing style seem to get better with each of her “Lonely Lords” novels. Her unique ability to make each book stand alone yet connect to the other books in the series amazes me. ANDREW; Lord of Despair engages the reader’s emotions and senses from start to finish—a joy to read.
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