Review: The Heir by Grace Burrowes

heirReviewed by Janell

This book was published in 2010, but thanks to my stack of borrowed books, I just read it. And it’s one of my favorite books of the year, which is so awesome for me because it looks like this is the first in a series of seven (so far), so I’ve just piled on to my TBR list.

Gayle Windham, aka the Earl of Westhaven, will inherit a dukedom when his father dies. Westhaven was the “spare,” the second son, but his older brother died in the war. Another brother recently died of consumption, and so the not-so-old Duke is anxious to see Westhaven get married to protect the lineage and title. Westhaven is tired of his father’s manipulations and has no interest in marrying a simpering debutante, so he decides to spend the summer hiding out in his London townhouse where Society is absent because of the heat.

Anna Seaton is his new-ish housekeeper. She loves flowers and fills the house with them. She’s also observant, keeping muffins, marzipan, and lemonade always at the ready for the Earl. When Westhaven is injured early in the book, she takes on the job of nursemaid, as he is wary of doctors. They have great moments as Westhaven is a cantankerous patient and Anna doesn’t always hold her tongue.

This is one of those books that starts at a low simmer and brings up the heat ever so slowly. Westhaven doesn’t instantly lust after his housekeeper, he simply admires her intellect and her competence, noting that she is fairly young and probably attractive underneath her drab clothes. Anna sweetly takes care of him, cleaning his wounds, sweetening his lemonade, putting flowers on his dinner tray. She admires his dedication to his estate and his family. Their conversations are dry and humorous with undercurrents of attraction.  They weren’t written to drool after one another, which made me drool with anticipation.

The first half of the book is spent developing their relationship, from employer/employee to friends, and then a tiny bit more than friends. Then, since this is a a romance novel, obstacles arise. Anna has secrets, you see. This isn’t the first woman-with-a-secret-disguised-as-a-housekeeper book that I’ve read, but it’s probably the most enjoyable. Anna tries to act honorably within the parameters of her secret, and Westhaven tries to court her.

Now, there are sexytimes, and I think this is the first book I’ve read that takes care of the man first. You know how it usually goes, especially with innocent women — it’s always about her pleasure, and half the time the man backs off, unsatisfied, to prove how selfless he is. I don’t want to imply that Westhaven is selfish, more that he is open to Anna’s explorations and doesn’t push her away when things heat up. I liked that flouting of convention.

Near the end of the book both characters were acting a little foolishly, and the secondary characters agreed. Westhaven’s brothers accidentally spy, and then purposefully eavesdrop, on the couple. Their banter, and the relationship between all brothers, was full of love and humor. Yes, they have their own books, and that makes me so happy.

This is a long book, and I read it too quickly. It should be savored. Then again, it’s so enjoyable, the pages just fly by until you’re at the end, much the way Westhaven tears through a basket of muffins. A ha! This book is like a good muffin: when it’s over, you just want more.

Rating: A

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Heir
by Grace Burrowes
Release Date: December 1, 2010
Publisher: Sourcebooks

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