Hero: Reginald Davenport is the disinherited rake turned poor relation wastrel to his cousin the Duke, which is why Reggie is thrown for a loop when his cousin gifts him his childhood home, the most prosperous property the new Duke owns. Strickland brings back many ghosts for Reggie, but he is not prepared to meet with Weston, his steward... and a female!
Heroine: Alys Weston came to Strickland with a secret and a grim determination to succeed, reform, and raise a parcel of children not her own. It wasn't in her plans to like the new owner of Strickland, a woebegone and restless rake, but she admits he does have his own charm.
Review: A heroine with a career and a hero who wants to keep her in the position? Very unlikely! Reggie keeps Alys on as his steward despite how unlikely it is for a (unmarried!!!) woman to hold the position.
What's more is that Reggie is predictable as an unrespectable and indolent rake. Like other heroes of similar ilk in romance he is tired of the lifestyle and is looking for something to bring the joy of life back into his life. He also is willing to work hard and do jobs meant for menial labor, thus giving him a heart of gold underneath that tarnish.
Unlike the other rakes in romance who drink socially and never to often in books, Reggie is a functioning drunk. He's an alcoholic and recognizes that his blackouts are a bad sign. But he can't go cold turkey and he's not sure he wants too, and really wants to stock his new home with all sorts of alcohol. Of course, Reggie must not stay a drunk, so much of the story is focused on changing that, but it takes up too much focus and pulls from the romance. It's hard for me to buy the romance because of this.
Many people rank this book as one of the best romances written and on their favorite shelf. Are you one?