Monday, March 28, 2022

THE VALET'S SECRET by Josi Kilpack: a delightfully unexpected tale of romance between the classes with a Cinderella vibe.


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 Rebecca’s 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.


As with all her books, Josi Kilpack manages to make this historical romance based on a fairy tale feel fresh and new.  Kilpack creates such interesting characters who are fully fleshed out.  They have strengths and weaknesses, interesting personalities, and diverse backgrounds.  This story creates an interesting contrast between the two main characters while still finding common ground between them.  Rebecca Parker's background as her father's artistic assistant and former maid stands in stark contrast to Kenneth Winterton's background as a gentleman who has become heir to an earl.  According to their classes the two would have never conversed except as servant and gentleman.  But an inadvertent encounter changes both their lives.  In an attempt to ease the awkwardness of their meeting Kenneth lies about who he is, believing they aren't likely to meet again.  When they do meet again and discover the connection between them remains, things get more complicated, especially when Rebecca does eventually find out his correct name and position.  It seems their is no hope for a relationship between them despite their growing feelings for each other.  But perhaps an extra ounce of courage and help from a surprising source may pave the way for more than either could have ever dreamed.  

This Cinderella-based tale made for thoroughly enjoyable reading.  Both Kenneth and Rebecca are sympathetic characters who find themselves in difficult circumstances yet find joy in each other's company.  I also appreciated the fact that both characters are middle-aged and not expecting to find romance when they meet.  I found it refreshing to read about characters who come from more humble circumstances who struggle with their changes in circumstances but have the maturity to face them with courage and compassion.  Kenneth and Rebecca's love story is full of delightful details and smile-inducing moments.  A thoroughly engaging read for those who love clean historical romance as I do.

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