According to her website, by the time Grace Burrowes was first published, she’d written a lot of books already. Apparently, her agent/publisher sorted through her manuscripts and picked out the Windham trilogy beginning with The Heir as a starting place. Those books are good and they show off her talent, but man, does it mess with the chronology of the series which we’ll talk about when I get to The Heir.
It also makes it difficult to get through the Lonely Lords series of which many were written prior to her Windham novels (the trilogy about the brothers followed by the quintet of sisters). These books are just not as good as the Windhams. Her writing style and everything I love about her is present, but the plotting and character work just isn’t as well done. Reading Gareth and Andrew halfway through the Lonely Lords, nearly fifteen books into her publishing career, doesn’t work.
It also doesn’t work because there are things in The Heir that are soooo much better once you’ve read this book and its follow-up, Douglas. I think we’ve finally exhausted material Grace Burrowes hadn’t published already which is a relief. Her universe is intricately connected which is lovely, but because they were written chronologically and published wildly out of order, it makes it more difficult to appreciate the way they build upon each other. If they had been written out of order, there wouldn’t be nearly as much interplay between the characters and callbacks.
Anyway, that’s just mostly to say that I liked Andrew more with the realization that this is Grace Burrowes at the beginning of career, not several years in and this is a theme we’re going to come to for most of this reread. I understand the decision not to publish them in order, but I definitely don’t agree with it in a lot of respects.
Back to the Book – Overall Impressions
Because Andrew and Gareth’s characters are both motivated by the same backstory, it’s not surprising they both follow the same basic linear plot. Tortured by a drowning incident that destroyed most of the male members of the succession, the Alexander brothers have both decided they are not worthy of love and the Worthington sisters tempt them into forgiving themselves.
That’s it. That’s the romantic throughline in both books. There are subplots that differentiate them both, but not wildly. So all that matters here is asking ourselves is Andrew a better book than Gareth, and if so, why?
So it is a better book and that’s because Andrew’s role in the backstory (he was on the boat, rescued his mother, but no one else) is a bit more understandable than Gareth’s overwrought survivor’s guilt. There are still oddities we’ll get into during the spoilers, but I found Andrew to be a more convincing martyr-hero than Gareth.
Astrid is fine. She doesn’t really do much, to be honest, and I find her a little less interesting than Felicity, but not in a bad way. Their romance is also fine as is the subplot about her first husband’s family maybe trying to kill her and/or the unborn child she’s carrying.
This book is important to the next few in the series — it plants the seeds for both David and Douglas, who both appear here. It also even sets up the Windham brothers trilogy. It’s also a decent romance with an interesting hero and mystery. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good.