Lady Sarah's Son
I don’t usually like books with cute, precociously sweet children in them. Maybe it’s because as a mother and grandmother, I know how quixotic children really are, and many novels I’ve read would have me believe children are always cute and cuddly little angels all the time. That’s why I’m as surprised as anyone that this book is one of my all-time favorites.
Lady Sarah has always loved her neighbor Justin and before he went off to war, they became engaged. End of the book, right? Wrong. That’s where the problems begin.
As Justin rides off to France, Sarah sails to Ireland where she finds her sister Amelia dying from childbirth. The infant’s father refuses to be at his wife’s bedside, and after Andrew is born, won’t have anything to do with the baby. Amelia’s dying wish is that Sarah raise Andrew but not tell anyone that she birthed the child.
When Sarah returns to her family estate in England, everyone assumes she’s the mother of the child and ran off to Ireland to give birth. Why they would assume this is beyond me since Sarah didn’t look pregnant when she left and she wasn’t in Ireland all that long. Regardless of this little glitch in the story, Sarah realizes that she can’t foist the baby on Justin when he returns, so she breaks the engagement.
Heartbroken and bitter, Justin returns from the war missing part of his leg and inheriting a title and nearly bankrupt estate. He vows to put it back to its former glory only to find he has no money and impoverished tenants. Sarah offers to help him with unlimited funds if he will marry her in name only since she understands how she devastated him before. He agrees and then surprises himself when he becomes attached to young Andrew, whom he still believes is Sarah’s child.
When Andrew’s real father returns to blackmail Sarah into giving him money, the story revs into high gear with Andrew torn between his love for Justin and his loyalty to his real father. While the father doesn’t care whether he hurts the boy or not, Justin wants to protect Andrew from emotional harm . Meanwhile, Sarah has her hands full running her estate and watching over her father whose dementia is getting worse.
This book is remarkable to me because Wilson beautifully shows Andrew’s dilemma: He wants to love his father, but clearly sees the man’s many flaws, and he wants Justin to love him and accept him as his son even though Justin is trying to give the father a chance to reform and love his child. Some of the dialog expressing all of this is truly heartbreaking.
Wilson’s Andrew is the glue that holds the entire story together. Without a realistic young boy, the tale would fall flat, but Wilson nails his character which in turn makes the book magical.