Some of Ben Sedgwick’s favorite things:
Helping his poor parishioners
Shamelessly flirting with the handsome Captain Phillip Dacre
After an unconventional upbringing, Ben is perfectly content with the quiet, predictable life of a country vicar, free of strife or turmoil. When he’s asked to look after an absent naval captain’s three wild children, he reluctantly agrees, but instantly falls for the hellions. And when their stern but gloriously handsome father arrives, Ben is tempted in ways that make him doubt everything.
Some of Phillip Dacre’s favorite things:
People doing precisely as they're told
Touching the irresistible vicar at every opportunity
Phillip can’t wait to leave England’s shores and be back on his ship, away from the grief that haunts him. But his children have driven off a succession of governesses and tutors and he must set things right. The unexpected presence of the cheerful, adorable vicar sets his world on its head and now he can’t seem to live without Ben’s winning smiles or devastating kisses.
In the midst of runaway children, a plot to blackmail Ben’s family, and torturous nights of pleasure, Ben and Phillip must decide if a safe life is worth losing the one thing that makes them come alive.
"Benedict. God. I don't want to let you down. You deserve so much better-"
Ben silenced [Phillip] with a lazy kiss.
"Don't you dare tell me I don't deserve this. Don't you dare."
I loved both men and all the secondary characters. I wanted to hate on Ben's betrothed, Alice, but I couldn't; she was witty and spirited, and I adored her.
Ben's dad was also a great character, much more perceptive and kind than Ben gave him credit for. I don't think he was the best father to his boys, mind you, but he was . . . well, enlightened, a true free spirit.
Phillip's children, the wild ragamuffins that they were, made the story. I loved Ned, Jamie, and Peg. And the dog too, of course!
I'm a big fan of the enemies-to-lovers trope, and while Ben and Phillip are not quite enemies, they aren't friends either. The attraction comes before the friendship, and their chemistry is combustible.
"This is all new to me. I'm in a new world without a map or a chart, but you're my compass, Ben, and I know we'll find a way."
I so enjoy Cat Sebastian's writing. She writes wonderful dialogue and always does her research (her books feel historically accurate, at least to this non-historian).
I cannot wait for Hartley's book coming next! I'm intrigued by his droll sense of humour and generous heart (however much he tries to hide it).