The Duke's Marriage Mission
By Deborah Hale
Love Inspired Historical, 2013
A Most Unconventional Match
What governess would refuse a duke? Exuberant, opinionated, irrepressible Leah Shaw, that's who. Since her arrival at Renforth Hall, the Duke of Northam's young son has thrived. Leah, intent on traveling abroad, insists she will stay for one year only. Marriage would change everything—if only Hayden Latimer, the duke, knew how to woo a woman who wants nothing to do with matrimony.
All the duke's wealth could not buy Leah the one thing she cherishes most: her independence. But if an overprotective father can give his son room to grow, can she learn to put down roots? For it's every woman's prerogative to change her mind . . . when her heart is guiding her toward love.
The Duke's Marriage Mission is book #5 in Deborah Hale's delightful Glass Slipper Brides series, described as follows:
Rebecca, Marian, Grace, Hannah, Leah and Evangeline became fast friends while enduring a harsh childhood at the Pendergast Charity School. Now scattered throughout the kingdom, they work as governesses, never expecting to know the blessings of love, marriage and families of their own. But when their paths cross with some special gentlemen, these humble governesses may become Cinderella brides!
When I want a cozy, relaxed read that I know will leave me smiling, a Love Inspired Historical is my "go to" choice. This is the first of Deborah's many books that I've read and I certainly enjoyed it. Although it's part of a series and other characters are mentioned occasionally, this story easily stands alone.
Hayden and Leah are engaging and well-developed characters, each with past experiences that can potentially lead to poor decision making. Any parent of a disabled child can relate to the tug-of-war between Hayden and Leah, the struggle with over protectiveness vs. increased freedom when it comes to Kit. Hayden's love for his son is very moving, and Deborah did a good job in showing how they learned from each other: "Lord Northam was learning some valuable lessons from her . . . and she was learning a thing or two from him about patience, selflessness and all-consuming devotion."
There were two scenes that I especially loved: first, when Leah came upon Hayden in the chapel, overhearing the raw emotion in his prayers; and secondly, the visit of Kit's long-time family doctor. Angry over Leah's questioning of his methods, Dr. Bannister lashes out: "I do not expect you to understand my treatments since the science of medicine is too complex for the female mind to grasp."
The spiritual theme is one of freedom, and Deborah skillfully weaves the message of 2 Corinthians 3:17 throughout: "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." Also, in a scene where Leah and Hayden are talking about the joy of eventually being able to take Kit to a worship service in the chapel, I appreciated Hayden's beautiful thoughts: "There is something special about worshipping in a consecrated place with other believers. It is like taking a single candle and putting it into a chandelier. The crystals reflect and magnify its light."
While The Duke's Marriage Mission is obviously a romance - and there is good chemistry between Hayden and Leah - I liked that the storyline seemed to revolve more around Kit. I would definitely recommend The Duke's Marriage Mission to those who enjoy historical romance that inspires.
Deborah shares her thoughts about this story that is very personal to her . . .
"My youngest children (twin sons) have autism. One also has obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorder. They are very smart and wonderful boys and have done very well considering. In some ways it is getting harder as they grow older. Finding work and a relationship are huge hurdles. So every day I tend to play out the struggle between Leah and Hayden in my own mind -- do I try to protect them or do I push to challenge them. The answers aren't as easy as in the pages of a book, but I try to come down on the side of challenging them as much as possible."
"I have been writing stories ever since I could hold a pencil and singing in church choirs since I was big enough to hold a hymn book. Tracing my ancestors to their origins in Georgian era Britain, I uncovered enough fascinating true stories to keep me in romance plots for years to come!
"A special needs teacher by training, I left the classroom to raise our young family, fully expecting to return when my children reached school age. In my limited spare time, I wrote my first historical romance then began learning the skills I needed to make it sell. In 1998, my life took an amazing detour when my two youngest sons were diagnosed with autism and I sold my first book. Suddenly my writing hobby became a career that allowed me the flexibility to be at home for my boys, and my former profession became my life.
"Since then, I have written more than twenty historical romances and two other-world fantasy novels, many of which deal with my favorite themes of grace and forgiveness. After the launch of the Love Inspired Historical line, I became an avid reader of those wonderful stories and yearned to write some of my own. I am delighted and grateful to have been given that opportunity!"
Glass Slipper Brides series in order of publication:
Much Ado About Nuptials in The Wedding Season collection (June 2011)
The Captain's Christmas Family (December 2011)
The Baron's Governess Bride (June 2012)
The Earl's Honorable Intentions (June 2013)
The Duke's Marriage Mission (November 2013)
Be sure to visit Deborah's website to learn more about Deborah and her books.
Thank you to Deborah Hale for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.