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Reviewed by Jaycee Allen for Readers' Favorite
In Lorna Peel’s A Summer of Secrets, the heroine, Sophia, daughter of a former coal miner, has returned from London to her hometown in Yorkshire to take up the job as a tour guide at Heaton Abbey House, formerly a Cistercian monastery. The hero, Lord Thomas Heaton, a wonderfully handsome but quick-tempered workaholic, is quite opposed to opening his home to the public, but these days, with the high cost of running a stately home, there isn’t much choice. Thomas and the rather luscious Sophia are attracted to each other right from the beginning, but there are many obstacles to be overcome before their relationship can develop. Thomas is painfully shy, and Sophia is being pressured by her father as well as local society: the Heaton family once owned the local coal mine, and class hatred is quite close to the surface.
This is an interesting new twist on the “commoner meets the lord of the manor” tale: in the twenty-first century, being a lord no longer earns you immediate respect, subservience, or even tolerance. Lorna Peel’s A Summer of Secrets is well-written, amusing, and instructive, and Sophia’s character is beautifully drawn: she is the perfect heroine, charming, and intelligent. Thomas, too, is quite delicious in his own, odd, secretive way, but I would have liked more detailed portraiture of other important characters — the manipulative Lady Heaton, for example. The sexual description is quite graphic but this book remains an engaging, light-hearted, and stimulating read.