Surrender to the Earl
In 1843, widowed Audrey Blake, blind since childhood, has been held a virtual prisoner by her family since her husband’s death. She needs help to claim the manor house left to her and to escape her domineering father. Robert Henslow, the Earl of Knightsbridge, Blake’s former army companion, feels responsible for his death. Now returned to England, he pays a call on his widow and is immediately drawn to her. Audrey begs a boon when Knightsbridge offers assistance in Blake’s memory. Could he assist her in claiming her property? Knightsbridge acquiesces, offering Audrey a sham engagement to give them the veneer of respectability. Audrey, determined to keep her newfound independence, tries to keep Robert, and her feelings for him, at arms’ length. Robert, smitten by this admirable woman, wants to make their engagement real. The story is compelling, especially Callen’s use of a physically challenged heroine. Subplots involving Audrey’s scheming father and younger sister, plus her real relationship with Blake, give the story depth. Knightsbridge’s lingering guilt over a friend’s death lends the story yet another layer. Recommended.