Published by Samhain Publishing Listen to the Moon (Lively St. Lemeston, #3) on January 5th 2016
Genres: Historical Romance
When upstairs valet meets downstairs maid, the line between work and play blurs. Lively St. Lemeston, Book 3
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 Her manners are provincial, her respect for authority nonexistent, and her outdated cleaning methods-well, the less said about them, the better.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 facade, 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."
Reviewed by: E & Lou
E: I have read a few of Lerner’s stories in the past so when she asked if we were interested in reviewing her latest I eagerly accepted. I then read the blurb and thought this tale of opposites certainly had potential. Most of the historical romances I have read focus on the upper class and while enjoyable on a steady diet of weak lemonade, vouchers, balls, the scandalous second or even third waltz in a night, it can become repetitive. I enjoyed reading this marriage of convenience set against a backdrop of loneliness, impending poverty, and tangled familial bonds.
Lou: Rose Lerner is fast becoming an auto-read author for me. From enjoying her last release, which both E and I reviewed here, I was excited to read the next book in the Lively St. Lemeston series. Listen to the Moon’s (a beautiful title) blurb had me all excited, and happily I had a book giddy feeling reading Sukey and John’s romance. There was a background of loneliness and impending poverty, especially when your entire livelihood is at the whim of an employer who can easily sack you at their whim. The secondary characters storylines were so engaging and I loved seeing how they had their own system and there was also an hierarchy amongst the servants.
E: I really enjoyed Sukey and John’s attraction to each other and their interactions as the story started. Both had their fair share of flaws but each had a very caring heart–they just didn’t know how to express it. I thought John’s internal struggles against his attraction and how he kept trying to come up with reasons to be around Sukey, while being appalled at the direction of this thoughts, was amusing. I wondered at Sukey’s seeming dichotomy between her physical actions towards John and her fears of losing her job until I was able to understand her more as a character.
Lou: I loved Sukey and John’s romance. It was exciting with fantastic sensuality and I enjoyed the conflict that arose from John giving orders to Sukey working in their new employment and home, and a little from their age gap and of John growing up in a higher position as a servant compared to Sukey. John’s parents instilled in him a strong work ethic and he also took on some very stern and controlling qualities of his father that he disliked. After her father’s abandonment, Sukey was terrified of giving her heart away to a man she knew she could deeply love.
E: As the story progressed it was almost heartbreaking to see how poorly John and Sukey knew how to say what they really thought. The only way they seemed to be able to speak was with their bodies. John showed he carried by Acts of Service because the only way he grew up feeling good was when he had correctly cleaned, straightened, and cared for objects. Sukey showed she cared by trying to maintain peace and harmony yet each saw the other’s actions as pointing out something lacking. Their struggles became all too real when John’s family and his former employers reentered the picture. Lerner certainly kept me on the edge of my seat as I wondered how their relationship, which looked so promising, was going to survive.
Lou: Yes, it was really heartbreaking at times. John and Sukey didn’t communicate to one another and when they did it only separated them future. I too was worried about their HEA and whether or not I could believe in a future for them because of their differences. Their fights lasted almost to the end of the book. John’s parents were snobby, especially towards poor Sukey, and John felt trapped between the love and excitement for his future with Sukey, and the love and loyalty he felt for his parents. I really did like John, despite the fact he did have higher expectations and made things a little sticky and messy in the vicarage. But his heart was in the right place and Sukey brought out the best in him by her own caring and cheerful nature.
E: Overall I enjoyed reading Listen to the Moon. Lerner lived up to my expectations and this very unconventional romance was one I had to read in a single setting. Sukey and John’s marriage of convenience was such a delightful twist and I can’t wait to see what Lerner comes up with next.
I give Listen to the Moon a B+
Lou: I really enjoyed Listen to the Moon and I was happy to see Sukey and John making compromises for their HEA. I do adore Rose Lerner’s writing and characters and this marriage of convenience romance will probably end up on my favourites list of 2016. I did think the ending sizzled out a little but nonetheless this was a lovely read with a hero and heroine who really do have to work for their HEA and it was so worth it.
I also give Listen to the Moon a B+