Yours Until Dawn
This is the Teresa Medeiros that I love. This book has my favorite element in a romance, internal conflict, and a bond between the characters based on emotion, not a bunch of annoying external circumstances. There is no distracting subplot to remove focus from Gabriel and Samantha, the supporting cast plays an integral, yet secondary role, and the reader actually learns what makes these two a great couple. So why isn’t this a Desert Isle Keeper? For most of the book, I was sure this would be the ultimate read, then very near the end, Samantha’s character takes a downhill turn for the worse. It was almost like reading about two entirely different people.
Gabriel Fairchild, Earl of Sheffield, has returned from the battle of Trafalgar as a much different man than when he joined the Royal Navy hoping to impress his fiancé. Apparently he impressed Cecily in the wrong way, for when he returned, she fled from the hospital after taking one look at his face. The handsome man women swooned over is no more; his face is scarred and he is blind. Retiring to his favorite home, Fairchild Park, he terrorizes the staff and all the nurses hired to help him. The fun and carefree youth has turned into a bitter and angry man.
The newest nurse hired, Miss Samantha Wickersham, is not about to let the earl get the best of her. She believes very strongly that the war heroes have not gotten the respect they are due or the help needed if they are scarred or maimed. She has other, more secret reasons for wanting to help Gabriel, too. As a former governess, she is not about to take any sass from Gabriel, although he tries his very best to scare her away.
It is very hard for Gabriel to accept help from anyone, since he is still feeling sorry for himself over all that he has lost. Samantha provokes him at every turn and performs a few simple feats (like moving the furniture out of his path) to make his life easier, and more important things, such as giving him a reason to live. It’s the emotional development between these two people that is the brilliant centerpiece of this novel. Samantha needs Gabriel just as much as Gabriel needs her. There is a deep and abiding attraction between these two. Watching them develop their relationship was touching, and funny at times. Also, the servants of Fairchild Park, namely Beckwith and Mrs. Philpot, are drawn perfectly in sync with the story; they are interesting, yet not overwhelming.
However, as Samantha’s secrets begin to unravel, so does the wonderful relationship between her and Gabriel. When she flees Gabriel’s estate, her character changes dramatically and I didn’t enjoy the results of that change. As a result, parts of the rest of the story were rendered unbelievable. Gabriel’s situation also changes, which adds to the disappointment I felt at the abrupt shift in plot direction. The author manages to salvage the book, thankfully, but it was a very near thing for me. However, I will be keeping this book anyway, since most of it was superb. It’s nice to see Medeiros almost perfect again.