Winter Makepeace lives a double life. By day he's the stoic headmaster of a home for foundling children. But the night brings out a darker side of Winter. As the moon rises, so does the Ghost of St. Giles-protector, judge, fugitive. When the Ghost, beaten and wounded, is rescued by a beautiful aristocrat, Winter has no idea that his two worlds are about to collide.
A DANGEROUS WOMAN . . .
Lady Isabel Beckinhall enjoys nothing more than a challenge. Yet when she's asked to tutor the Home's dour manager in the ways of society-flirtation, double-entendres, and scandalous liaisons-Isabel can't help wondering why his eyes seem so familiar-and his lips so tempting.
A PASSION NEITHER COULD DENY
During the day Isabel and Winter engage in a battle of wills. At night their passions are revealed . . . But when little girls start disappearing from St. Giles, Winter must avenge them. For that he might have to sacrifice everything-the Home, Isabel . . . and his life.
Winter, the straight-laced, responsible, serious manager of the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children, has been keeping secrets and leading a double life. When he’s not working himself to the bone caring for the children that no one else loves and teaching classes, he’s walking the streets at night as the Ghost of St. Giles helping the helpless and fighting a fight that no one else is bothering with. He’s currently working on leads to track down a group of men known as the lassie snatchers, stealing young girls off the streets and putting them to work in horrible, deadly conditions. The Ghost is either loved or hated and currently, he’s on the most wanted list as a suspect for a murder. As if Winter doesn’t already have enough to deal with, his position as manager of the home is in jeopardy since he just can’t be bothered to be socially “correct” in certain settings and this reflects badly on the patronesses of the home and one lady specifically wants him out and a new manager brought in. Not all the ladies agree with this and Isabel is tasked with teaching Winter how to behave properly so he can try to keep his position, the only job he’s ever known and he’s put his whole heart into this home. He’s not happy with these lessons, but it gets him closer to Isabel and for our virgin Winter, he’s thinking thoughts he never thought he’d have. It was always his work both at the home and as the Ghost that he pledged his life to, but now this woman is making him want things he never considered before.
I love a hero who initially comes off as strict, no nonsense, no real sense of humor, ruled by what he believes is right having his life turned inside out by his heroine. It’s after Isabel becomes a major part of his life that we start to see the real Winter, a man who tries to keep his emotions in check in everything he does, start to crack and start to care deeply. Whether it was falling in love with Isabel or starting to show the children how much he cares (I loved these scenes) the real Winter comes out and he’s impossible to resist.
There is drama in all parts of Winter’s life, from his manager’s position being threatened, to his favorite young charge at the home being sent away, to him being a virgin and learning all sorts of new lessons with Isabel. Isabel has her own set of angst to deal with. She’s a widow and is caring for her husband’s bastard son, a sweet young boy named Christopher who just wants Isabel’s attention. She’s very standoffish with him and it becomes clear why when she shares some of her heartbreak with Winter.
For as much as I enjoyed Isabel, this felt like Winter’s story. I loved getting to know this man, seeing him with the children brought a tear to my eye, watching him fall in love for the first time and refuse to let anything keep him away from Isabel – it all just works for this man that I wanted him to be happy. It’s a long journey for Winter but where he ends up at the end left me with a big smile on my face.
Oh, and we find out that Winter isn’t the only one keeping secrets about the Ghost of St. Giles…we have a secret group of men who put the mask on each night and I can’t wait to find out who’s next.
Up Next: Lord of Darkness with two people who are still suffering the losses of loved ones, finding love again together.
“…Doesn’t everyone have a small bit of wickedness in them?”
He frowned. “Perhaps. But my wickedness is dark.”
Her hair was gloriously free about her shoulders. “The dark pit you spoke of before?”
“Yes.” He grimaced. “Maybe. You once asked why my sisters were not as affected as I by St. Giles. I think there is something within me that absorbs the evil in St. Giles. There are times when I see someone being hurt or when a child has been abused that I have the urge to…kill.”
“But you don’t.”
He shook his head. “I don’t. I battle that urge and I fight it down and I’m very careful to hurt only those who deserve it.”
“Have you…” Her brows knit as she reached out and stroked a finger down his breastbone. “Have you ever had to kill anyone?”
“No.” He inhaled beneath her touch. “I’ve come close, but I’ve always been able to refrain.”
She wrapped her arm across his chest. “And I think you always will. You may fear the darkness in you, but I don’t. You’re a good man, Winter Makepeace. I think you absorb the evil in St. Giles as you put it, because you feel so deeply.”
The corner of his mouth quirked. “There are many who have accused me of not feeling at all.”
She gave him a knowing look. “Because you’ve made sure to hide your feelings – your emotions. Not all of it is dark, you know. Some of it might be quite…nice.”