Winnie, the Duchess of Avendale, never knew peace until her brutal husband died. With William she's discovered burning desire—and the healing power of love. But now, confronted by the past she thought she'd left behind, Winnie must face her fears…or risk losing the one man who can fulfill all her dreams.
Comment: This is the last installment in the Scoundrels of St James series by Lorraine Heath. I've enjoyed all the books in the series and I was quite eager about this one, since book #1. This final book, however, has a change because it's only a novella when the others were full length stories and, in a way, I think this was what made it weaker in my eyes.
In this novella, we finally have William Graves' romance. He is a doctor, now even at the queen's service and is very well respected. Like the other boys, and Frannie, he was part of the group who survived the London streets. He was called in previous books to help in this or that situation, including when Winnie, Catherine's best friend, was hurt by her husband. We have been aware of a spark at that time but since Winnie was very fragile, nothing else was mentioned.
Now that Winnie has recovered, now that all their friends are happy, it's finally their time to see if happiness can be in their future. But William has a secret that Winnie will never accept. And strange clues are left for Winnie, she starts to doubt she is actually a widow...
This story suffers from a limited page count sort of syndrome. It's positive that we are familiar with all the characters, with the things that have happened (it is necessary to read the series in order for everything to make more sense) and that makes it easy when it comes to simply follow certain plot lines. But the fact this is a novella, means some things have to happen more quickly or aren't described with as much detail. I found this to be a negative point, because I finished the novella thinking it was way too quickly solved in order to be satisfying. Plus it wasn't fair in a way too, all the others had the chance to have their romance develop at a acceptable pace and this couple didn't.
The central point in the plot was how Winnie, years after becoming a widow, is finally ready to embrace life again and she wished William could be part of it. She got used to him while he took care of her, medically, but now she looks at him and sees a man she cares about and not only a doctor.
The problem is that she isn't completely confident he feels the same and she doesn't want to crate a situation that might ruin their friendship. Besides, she feels like someone is watching her and strange little things are happening, like a necklace showing up beneath her pillow when she knew it was in a safe or her husband's cologne in the air when no one else uses it. She thinks she might be going crazy and wonders if William will think that too.
William, however, certainly doesn't think crazy when he thinks of Winnie, he is very attracted to her and has been acting as a friend when he actually wants something more from her. He doesn't act because he fears she might not welcome his advances and also because he feels guilty by keeping the secret of how her husband really disappeared from her life.
Obviously, there are some tricky situations but eventually honesty is best way to deal with things. I just think that, considering the amount of time necessary to solve this and to develop the romance in a credible way, the author has picked a lot more things to deal with than she should. In a full book, this might be amazing but being this story a novella, less issues should have been done.
I think that, at the end of things, the romance, despite cute, wasn't explored as romantically as it could and we know they like each other but I would have liked more page scenes with them seducing each other or something. William is a great character and I kind of wish he had as much time to develop his HEA as the others had.
I liked this but it could have bee done better.