Title: Love's Debt
Author: Rachel Brimble
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Length: 81 pages
Genres: Historical Romance
BUY LINK(S):The Wild Rose Press |Amazon (Kindle)
To keep herself from the depths of poverty, Milly Shepherd needs to be appointed manager of the Red Lion Tavern. The elderly owner is in failing health and has promised her the job permanently if no one more suitable applies. Milly will fight with her entire being to make the job her own.
Joseph Jacobs needs to supplement his income to pay off his father’s creditors and save him from debtor’s prison. Though the job as manager of the local tavern looks promising, Milly is favored by both the owner and customers. Instead, Joseph swallows his pride and agrees to tend bar.
As they work together, their attraction grows, their goals cross, and both Millie and Joseph find they must face their fears …the question is whether they face them alone or together?
Joseph Jacobs closed the tavern door behind him and paused a moment to take in his surroundings. As a man used to looking over his shoulder and sensing trouble, experience taught him to be aware of others before they became aware of you. He narrowed his gaze. The meager number of patrons at the tables surprised him at an hour when he expected the bar to be fairly busy. He glanced at the clock; maybe it wasn’t time for the workers yet.
He shifted his gaze to the woman standing beneath the clock and his heart kicked. Her green-gold eyes held him where he stood. She stared and Joseph swallowed, willing some words to come forth from his frozen tongue or at least a smile to curve his paralyzed lips.
She lifted her eyebrows and slowly pulled a cloth from her shoulders. Her hair was a mass of fire-tipped curls around her oval face, her skin creamy-white and her parted lips, a soft delicate pink. Joseph cleared his throat and belatedly removed his hat.“Good evening, miss.”
Her smile slipped easily into place. “Good evening to you, sir.” Her voice was smooth, clear and full of confidence. “Are you looking to quench your thirst or just planning on soaking up the atmosphere?”
Joseph inhaled a long breath through flared nostrils as if trying to smell her. Something told him she’d smell of lavender…or maybe musk. Something to throw a man off guard, to lower his defenses.
He stepped forward. “Neither. I am looking for the landlord. Would you happen to know if he’s available?”
Her gaze lingered on his a moment longer before she looked to the four glasses at the table beside her. She grasped them expertly between her fingers and carried them behind the bar without answering his question.
Joseph couldn’t take his gaze from the natural sway of her hips beneath the deep burgundy dress she wore, the bustle a little too prominent for the current fashion showing her lack of money to afford better. Why else would a woman with the features of an artist’s model be working in a tavern unless necessity demanded it?
“No, I take it from here.” His jaw tightened. “I mean it, Milly. I don’t want you in there.”
“Why are we arguing about this? I thought we’d built a trust between us.”
His gaze darted over her face, lingered at her lips. “This has nothing to do with trust.”
“Pride. If I haven’t got that…if I’ve stooped so low as to put a woman at risk, then there’s no point in going on at all. I won’t do it, Milly. I won’t expose you to whatever is behind that door. If you can’t stay here, then go back to the tavern. I’ll see you there shortly.”
His face was set, his shoulders stiff and Milly’s irritation grew. She poked a finger into his chest. It was like iron. She swallowed. “Have you heard the saying, pride before a fall?” He nodded. “Good, because if people don’t reach out to other people, Joseph Jacobs, they fall further than ever with nobody there to catch them.”
She raised her hand. “Go. Do what you want. I’ve got more important things to worry about that a man full of so much pride, he looks fit to burst.”
Turning, Milly gripped her bag tightly in her hand and strode away. She did not look back, and she didn’t stop walking. Her stupid heart had let her down. Made her get involved in a man’s life and begin to care about him. Well, the buck stopped there. No more. If Joseph Jacobs ever needed her help again, he could take a long walk off the dock.
Blinking against the rare sting of tears, she tilted her chin and retraced her steps across town. Her shift at the tavern started in an hour’s time, but that didn’t matter; there was always plenty to be done and at least there, she was appreciated. Joseph certainly didn’t see what was right in front of his damn face.
Yet each step that took her across town weighed heavier and heavier. She’d seen where he and his father lived. It was little better than a hovel. She’d seen the newspapers stuffed around the window frames in an attempt to keep out the cold, the bare floorboards, and thick layers of soot from the fireplace spilling into the room. The landlady should be seeing to that, all of it. Bitter resentment furled in Milly’s stomach as her past flashed through her mind. She’d pulled her family from the gutter, and the future looked brighter than ever before.
Which didn’t help the nagging feeling that she could do more—wanted to do more to help Joseph. But she couldn’t. It would mean putting a hold on her own plans. All for a man she had hardly known more than two weeks.
She curled her hands into fists. This feeling inside her was new. This sense of wanting to fight for someone outside of her family. How had it gotten like this? To kiss him was bad enough, but to have this…this fear for him? That scared her more than anything.
I truly, immensely enjoyed this book! Have I mentioned how much I LOVE historical romance? This book just re-emphasizes that fact.
One thing I was sad about this book was that it was so short! There was so much story to tell and I felt like I got cheated on that note. Other than that, this book was amazing with minimal editing issues.
Milly was such a headstrong woman - just like her mother - and I longed to be just like her when I was reading this book. She was a no-nonsense woman and she worked hard for what she wanted. There was nothing she couldn't have if she set her mind into it.
Joseph on the other hand was a gentleman who had faced cruel life changes. Thanks to his gambling father, they came from being an affluent family, to a family who lived in a one-bedroom apartment and a whole lot of debt.
Put these two together and a rich story was formed. Seriously, I can't even begin to comprehend how I'm going to justify the magnificence of this book. The author truly was amazing in that I could picture the setting in my head and it was BEAUTIFUL. With that said, I'll leave you with my two favorite scenes.
He drank deeply, swiping his hand over his mouth. He turned around. "I have just come from town. I have a new job. No, a second job."
A flicker of surprise showed in his father's gaze before he blinked, and it was gone again. "Doing what?"
"Joseph puffed out his chest and beat it with his fist in irony. "Why, I can now add bartending to my list of growing trades."
His father's eyes widened. "Bartending...but that's insane. A man of your stature does not tend bar."
Joseph laughed. "My stature? And pray tell me my stature, Father. I live in a room rented to me by the drunken wife of an often absent husband. I haul loads from incoming ships and then pack them on again for an outbound journey. I come back to the single room I share with my father, once upon a time a respected lawyer. Please. Remind me of my superior stature."
"Take my advice, Milly girl. Leave it a week. Let a man deal with his own trouble for a while. It's only when they see how much they need a woman do they want her with all their damn stupid hearts. Mark my words."
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Rachel lives with her husband and two young daughters in a small town near
in the UK. She started writing short stories about eight
years ago but once her children were at school, she embarked on her first
novel. It was published in 2007. Since then, she’s had several books published
with small presses as well as securing her first contract with Harlequin
Superromance in May 2012.
agent Dawn Dowdle, of Blue Ridge Literary Agency, Rachel is a member of the
Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, When she isn’t
writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful
English countryside with her family. Her
dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England. And in the
evening? Well, a well-deserved glass of wine is never, ever refused…
Contact Rachel at:
Website - http://www.rachelbrimble.com
Twitter - https://www.twitter.com/rachelbrimble or @rachelbrimble