This is a wonderfully written historical romance. It has been a long time since I have picked up a book in this genre even though it used to be my favorite. It took a little bit for me to get into it, but once you understand the idea of the story, it flies by. It takes place at first in a small Irish town that has the fortunate (or unfortunate depending on whose side you are on) home of an English Noble nearby. The main male character, August, is the son of this noble and he becomes friends with the main female, Maeve, a poor peasant tenant on their land. Friendship blossoms into love for August and really it does for Maeve too, but he breaks her heart very quickly after the discovery.
This story really takes place many years later. August was taken back to England to finish growing up to adulthood and Maeve continues living her poor peasant life where she takes care of her father. August returns to her town as an adult at the exact moment that Maeve and her father run out of money to pay their rent. She is forced to make a deal with August to replace their rent payments. He asks for her time and that he be allowed to use it for whatever pleases him. You can guess what that means, and you should also know that the writing is very enticing. Her maidenhood is nearly compromised at this time which affects her betrothal to Owen, a man who loves her but she does not love in return. It is a marriage of convenience that should allow Maeve to have the happily ever after of a home and family not starving to death even if she never grows to love Owen. August presents a huge problem here and not just because of his deal with her, but because she is actually in love with him. The feelings are mutual which causes more problems.
That is a summary of the first half of the book. Things are not easy for their love. This is a time period where the English and Irish hate each other. Maeve is Irish so their love is pretty much forbidden. There are also other surprises hiding in August's background to compromise things even more. If you like historical romances, I definitely recommend this one. Occasionally the shift in time (going between past and present) is a little confusing, but just keep reading because it all makes sense in the end.
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