My Steadfast Heart
I have read, and loved, almost everything Jo Goodman has written. As far as I’m concerned, My Steadfast Heart is her best yet.
The handsome Thorne brothers, Colin, Decker, and baby Greydon, are orphaned one dark night when the carriage in which their family is traveling is set upon by thieves. Their parents are murdered. Assumed to be orphans, the brothers are sent to a London workhouse where they are parted by separate adoptions. As the eldest, 8-year-old Colin realizes he is the only one of the brothers who will have any real memory of their parents, his brothers, or of what happened. He knows he alone must be the one to find Decker and Grey when he is grown and able, and it is this burden and his efforts to find the brothers he loves that set the tone for Colin’s character.
Beautiful Mercedes Leydon is the niece of the Earl of Weybourne, a cruel and vicious man who uses threats and calculated brutality to control Mercedes. The eldest of several cousins for whom she acts as governess, Mercedes will do anything to protect her wards from the abuses their father plies on them. Colin and Mercedes cross paths when Weybourne, who has wagered and lost his estate to now ship’s captain Colin Thorne, threatens to beat one of his own children possibly to death unless Mercedes seeks out Captain Thorne at the local inn, and murders him. In a panic, Mercedes tries to find a compromise to her uncle’s dictate, and in so doing, rouses Colin’s anger, curiosity, and no small amount of lust.
Thrown together due to estate legalities, Colin and Mercedes cannot deny their intensely mutual attraction. While they are each wary, they begin to see qualities in each other that allow them to finally open their hearts enough to let love squeak in. Colin is a good man, and it is he who is the first to confess his love. Mercedes, who has known only cruelty and betrayal, has a harder time, but she is a smart and strong woman. Once she allows herself to acknowledge her feelings for Colin, she submits to his passion and protection.
There is never a dull moment in this book: plenty of action, two creepy villains, interesting secondary characters, a plot that twists and turns, and sex steamy enough to keep your bedchamber windows fogged for the next fortnight. A couple of monumental coincidences, which the author explains as a certain serendipity (okay, I can live with that), weren’t enough to keep me from enjoying every page of this book. And, I was glad that the real conflict is external to the characters’ relationship, for Colin and Mercedes, each having suffered heart-hardening losses, nonetheless are willing to let go of the past in order to love each other. A very satisfying read.
To complete the trilogy, My Reckless Heart tells Decker’s story, while With All My Heart will be Grey’s.