Today we woke up to hopefully our last snowstorm of the winter. It was a perfect snow — the trees were beautiful with snow covered branches but the roads were already clear. I was lucky to have some time to finish an ARC so I can share my review!
The Valet’s Secret by Josi S. Kilpack is a clever Cinderella inspired historical romance that celebrates the beauty of second chances.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Book Summary: “York, England, 1819. As a once happily married woman, Rebecca Parker had a good life, but now widowed, working for a living, and her only child grown, she feels invisible, tired, and lonely. That is until the day a valet speeding by on a horse nearly runs her off the road. Mr. Malcolm Henry is apologetic, gentle, and handsome. She’s instantly drawn to him, which is why, rather than stopping him from kissing her, she kisses him back, reigniting a nearly forgotten passion. But love at first sight only happens in fairy tales—never to an ordinary woman like her.
She sees Mr. Henry again and feels the possibilities growing until, while working in the kitchens during a dinner party, she sees the valet she kissed sitting at the right hand of the baroness. Mr. Henry is not the earl’s valet; he is the heir to the earldom—Kenneth Winterton.
Heartbroken, angry, and betrayed, Rebecca does not trust Lord Winterton and refuses to accept his apology. But when Lord Winterton proves he is as kind and gentle as “Mr. Henry” was, she finds herself willing to give him a second chance. But will he take a chance on her? He needs a wife to help him in his place in society, and nothing about Rebeccas life does that . . . except how he feels when she is with him.
Trust, love, loneliness, and passion collide in this story about a man who will risk it all to fight for the woman he loves and a woman who does not believe in fairy tales—until she finds herself living in one.”
This isn’t a typical Regency historical romance, and it was fun to experience lots of unexpected twists. While we do have two protagonists who ignite passion and love between themselves, it doesn’t happen in the usual ways which was fun. It was a surprising and clever story that still had beautiful romance, swoony kisses and engaging characters. I appreciated the subtle uniqueness like the protagonists’ ages, Cinderella inspired experiences for both of them, and the unexpected climax at the end. This is a lovely story that shows the power of love to overcome impossibilities and the beauty of second chances.
Rebecca is a fascinating and fulfilling protagonist. I enjoyed getting inside her head and getting to know her. I admired her determination, her passion for life, her hard working nature, and how she finds joy in small details despite her trials. Life has not always gone the way she had hoped and she has experiences true grief and pain, yet she is optimistic and hopeful. It was fascinating to hear about her work creating silhouette screens and the incredible attention to detail to make those. I also loved her relationship with her daughter, Rose.
Kenneth was also an intriguing protagonist. I always enjoy getting inside the male protagonist’s head because it gives a clearer picture of who they are. Kenneth is so likable. He is a stranger and lacks confidence in a difficult new role. I appreciated how he seeks to balance learning about and being loyal to his duties as heir with his deep desires for love and connection. The ways he seeks to help those around him, especially Rebecca, helped build his character and made me like him more. I also love how he found ways to show his love and his ultimate plan to win over Rebecca. He knew it would be hard, but not harder than life without her.
The romance is unique and exciting from the early parts of the book. I haven’t read many historical romances that begin with the first kiss so early in the book. That was a bit disorienting but their passion was also beautiful. Both Rebecca and Kenneth has been lonely for so long, their immediate connection was lovely to read about. And I appreciate that their connection builds after that initial interaction. They want to find time to be together and get to know each other. After their initial relationship which isn’t entirely truthful, they seek a relationship built on trust and friendship. I was rooting for these two from their first kiss! I knew they would find a way even thought it seemed impossible.
Overall, I enjoyed this Cinderella inspired romance. The clever ways Kilpack includes scenes and details from the original fairy tale were really fun! Some were entirely unexpected! I enjoyed the story and learning about the time period especially the silhouette prints. I would have liked a bit more at the end like an epilogue or extra chapter detailing their life further down the road. But overall, a really enjoyable read!
Do you like fairy tale inspired novels?
Which are your favorites?
Josi S. Kilpack has written more than thirty novels, a cookbook, and several novellas. She is a four-time Whitney award winner, including Best Novel 2015 for Lord Fenton’s Folly, and has been a Utah Best of State winner for Fiction. Josi loves to bake, sleep, eat, read, travel, and watch TV–none of which she gets to do as much as she would like. She writes contemporary fiction under the pen name Jessica Pack. Josi has four children and lives in Northern Utah.