Review: Listen to the Moon by Rose Lerner

Listen to the Moon by Rose Lerner
Series: Lively St. Lemeston (# 3)
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Pages: 421
Source: book provided by the author for review

 

 

When upstairs valet meets downstairs maid, the line between work and play blurs.

John Toogood dreamed of being valet to a great man…before he was laid off andblacklisted. Now he’s stuck in small-town Lively St. Lemeston until London’s Season opens and he can begin his embarrassing job hunt.

His instant attraction to happy-go-lucky maid Sukey Grimes couldn’t come at a worse t When upstairs valet meets downstairs maid, the line between work and play blurs. John Toogood dreamed of being valet to a great man…before he was laid off and blacklisted. Now he’s stuck in small-town Lively St. Lemeston until London’s Season opens and he can begin his embarrassing job hunt. His instant attraction to happy-go-lucky maid Sukey Grimes couldn’t come at a worse time. Her manners are provincial, her respect for authority nonexistent, and her outdated cleaning methods — well, the less said about them, the better.

Behind John’s austere façade, Sukey catches tantalizing glimpses of a lonely man with a gift for laughter. Yet her heart warns her not to fall for a man with one foot out the door, no matter how devastating his kiss.

Then he lands a butler job in town — but there’s a catch. His employer, the vicar, insists Toogood be respectably married. Against both their better judgments, he and Sukey come to an arrangement. But the knot is barely tied when Sukey realizes she underestimated just how vexing it can be to be married to the boss…

Warning: Contains a butler with a protective streak a mile wide, and a maid who enjoys messing up the bed a whole lot more than making it.

 

Review:  Listen to the Moon is a very unique historical romance which is very refreshing and hard to find these days.

Sukey is a maid, but not the upstairs type. When she meets John, a man who had, up until recently, been a valet for the upper crust, but is now working way beneath his usual station in life, the two have an almost instantaneous spark of chemistry between them.   However, neither of them are in a hurry to marry, so they cool their engines and try to ignore the sexual longing they have for one another.

But, as fate would have it, John finds a job opening that is much more his style, working as a butler for a Vicar, but the Vicar will only hire a man who is married.  Immediately, John thinks of trying to convince Sukey to marry him, since he does like her and the situation would be advantageous to them both, but it wasn’t until Sukey found herself in a tight spot that she agreed to his plan.

Once they have tied the knot and Sukey begins her new job working under her husband, the arrangement soon becomes a challenge on more than one front. Will the couple remain miserable or can their arrangement grow into a true love match?

What I enjoyed most was that the story was centered around those ‘in service’ and not the usual high society types we normally encounter in a historical romance.   The mindset of those who are so fiercely loyal to their employers, like John, make very interesting character studies. John has become somewhat like his father who also dedicated his life to service, but John viewed the man as a tyrant. He struggles mightily to control those qualities in his own self.

Sukey, by comparison, doesn’t take her job as seriously, and has trouble keeping her counsel. Naturally, she has no qualms about letting go of her inhibitions, which can stir John’s blood in many ways. Sometimes she embarrasses him, sometimes he is jealous, and sometimes her bawdiness is his undoing. Sukey is a delightful character that brings much needed charm and humor into John’s staid life.

I enjoyed watching these characters grow to love each other and work on their own personal issues as they went, and seeing them both find peace in their work and extended family, but most importantly in their marriage.

There were some issues here and there with the book.   The writing was a little choppy,  especially at the start, and I had a hard time getting into the story at first, as it didn’t flow evenly and it seemed to take a little while to get to meatier parts.   On a personal note, people who follow my reviews, understand I lean toward the ‘plain vanilla’ side when it comes to sexual content, so there were some passages in this book that were a little outside my comfort zone. Much of the sexual content, in the beginning, focuses on the explorations of John and Sukey’s individual fantasies, which is fine, and again sort of a unique feature, but  one of Sukey’s imaginings  was a tad disturbing, for permission was not granted before certain actions were taken, and I wasn’t sure if that was the right message to send, but I could just be a tad overly sensitive about those issues, so to each his own in that area.

The author did do a fine job of weaving the side dramas into the story and I came to care about several of the workers and found they added a strong feeling of depth to the story.  I also enjoyed the authentic language used, which of course is quite different from that of the higher classes. The in depth look at how our parent’s behavior can shape who we become as adults and how difficult it can be to stand up to them and their ideals or as in John’s case, break a chain that will open the opportunity to really enjoy his life and bring happiness to Sukey’s life too, was an excellent theme to explore.

This couple certainly has a hard fought battle to win before they finally achieve a common ground between them, but it was wonderful watching it unfold and seeing their characters grow and learn, and of course, enjoy their happily ever after.

 

 

Julie