Series: Stately Passions 01 (A Crofton Hall Novel)
Author: Rebecca Cohen
Length: Novel (240pgs)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (24th November 2014)
Heat Level: Low – Moderate
Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 4 ½ Hearts
Blurb: Benjamin Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, has no intention of giving up his beloved ancestral home without a fight. Faced with his mother’s gambling debts, forgery, and the possibility of foreclosure by the bank, Ben vows to make Crofton Hall pay for herself. But opening an Elizabethan manor house to the public isn’t a one man job. With time running out, Ben needs help—and fast.
Ashley Niven has experience managing events, and he also loves history. Being in charge of opening Crofton Hall is a dream come true. As he works with Ben to prepare the house as a venue for lavish weddings and receptions, Ashley finds himself drawn not just to the charm of the house but to the dashing Earl of Crofton. Even if Ashley can look past Ben’s playboy reputation, he fears an affair could prove too much of a distraction.
But Crofton Hall has many secrets, and something hidden for over four hundred years is about to change all their lives.
Review: Although this is the first book in a new series, I’d advise that The Crofton Chronicles be read first as there are some revelations in this story that connect directly to The Crofton Chronicles.
Ben Redbourn is the 16th Earl of Crofton something he is very proud of and uses to his advantage… in nightclubs. Ben finds himself in dire straits when his mother confesses her gambling debts has led to them facing foreclosure of Crofton Hall, and Ben swears that Croton Hall will have to start paying for herself as he has no intention of losing the old girl, and he needs help. Ashley is being laid off from his job at a castle when a plum opportunity falls into his lap, he adores Crofton Hall and its Earl and working there would be a dream. Ashley throws himself into getting Crofton Hall ready for the public but keeps his attraction to Ben close to his chest, Ben is known for being a playboy and Ashley prefers relationships but as secrets from long past are revealed Ashley will have to take a chance that Ben wants more than just a brief fling.
This is a fantastic addition to the Crofton Hall stories, we are brought into contemporary times and the struggles the current Earl faces because of his mother’s irresponsible actions. Ben is a superb character who has played the field since he got his heart broken, when he faces the loss of his beloved home he puts his private life on hold to try and pull off a miracle. Ashley is brilliant as the events manager who has some slightly shady connections, he is the perfect person to get Crofton Hall up and running and who sneaks his way into Ben’s heart. Ben’s family are wonderful as they each act their parts, Ben’s mother, Elena, as the tearful remorseful gambler, his sister, Caitlin, as the sneaky match maker and his brother Harry as the artistic dreamer.
Although there is a romance brewing between Ben and Ashley it doesn’t actually pick up till later in the story, first we are faced with the hoop jumping of getting Crofton Hall ready to open to the public, a startling discovery and secrets from the past revealed. When Ben and Ashley finally get together they are then faced with another secret Elena was keeping, one that puts them in danger. Their relationship moves fast but the build up to it has you knowing that they both know each other well and that their feelings aren’t fickle or fleeting.
I loved this story, seeing Crofton Hall brought up to date and the way that Sebastian (from The Crofton Chronicles) still managed to look after the Redbourn’s interests after so many years was amazing. The storyline was wonderful, the characters brilliant and the writing flowed smoothly with a couple of twists… I especially loved Ashley’s family’s immediate history and the way that his father’s influence helped Ben out. Rebecca Cohen delved into just what it takes to open a manor like Crofton Hall to the public, there was no glossing over the requirements and there was even a bit of dodgy dealing snuck in to keep it interesting, add in a sweet romance and you have a wonderful story.
I recommend this to those who love wonderful stories, great characters, two men who embark on a new romance, secrets and revelations, a touch of danger and a fantastic ending.