He’s doing what he can to save the Prince Regent’s life . . . but can he save his new marriage as well?
Evan Eldridge never meant to be a war hero–he just wanted to fight Napoleon for the future of his country. And he certainly didn’t think that saving the life of a peer would mean being made the Earl of Whitelock. But when the life you save is dear to the Prince Regent, things can change in a hurry.
Now Evan has a new title, a manor house in shambles, and a stranger for a bride, all thrust upon him by a grateful ruler. What he doesn’t have are all his memories. Traumatized as a result of his wounds and bravery on the battlefield, Evan knows there’s something he can’t quite remember. It’s important, dangerous–and if he doesn’t recall it in time, will jeopardize not only his marriage but someone’s very life.
Readers who enjoy Julie Klassen, Carolyn Miller, and Kristi Ann Hunter will love diving into this brand-new Regency series filled with suspense, aristocratic struggles, and a firm foundation of faith.
When I first saw this book I had to look twice at the cover. I had read The Earl’s Betrothal by Karen Tuft just the month before and was surprised by the covers being nearly identical. The stories have a few similarities as well.
Both heroes are soldiers recently returned to England after the Battle of Salamanca and suffer from PTSD with recurring nightmares. There also are adorable tots in the stories and the main lady and gentleman are forced to wed under different circumstances. I firmly believe these are coincidental similarities as the rest of each book’s plot is unique. I hope you read both these elegantly written Regency novels.
Evan Eldridge is just a commoner. While recovering from a traumatic injury, he receives a request to appear before the Prince Regent as reward for saving the Prince’s godson. He has no recollection of most of the battle or saving Percival Seaton. The Prince doesn’t just offer him his appreciation but grants him an earldom as reward for his heroic deed.
At court, Evan meets lovely Diana Seaton, Percival’s sister and the daughter of a duke, who is being introduced to the Queen as her entrance into Society. He is befriended by Marcus Haverly who is the second son of a Duke. With his new friend’s help and further assistance from the Prince, Evan is introduced into Society where he meets Diana again.
He also meets Percival whose lewd friend Viscount Fitzroy ruined Diana’s sister last Season leaving Catherine broken and with child. These rakes try to tempt Evan in joining them in their leacherous pursuits
Surely such infidelity couldn’t be acceptable in a society so strict about everyone’s actions.
After Catherine was compromised, her father sent her to the countryside to hide her shame. She begged Diana to raise the baby, Cian, as her own and protect him from the duke before she died shortly after giving birth.
The duke threatens to send the baby to an orphanage if Diana crosses him. He schemes to get ahold of half of Diana’s inheritance her grandmother willed to Diana’s future husband. Duke Seaton’s marriage negotiations for Diana begin at Almack’s.
Evan attends Almack’s the first time that same night upsetting the duke’s plans. Unaware of all the rules, Evan attempts to save Diana from the demeaning attentions of Fitzroy by drawing her into a waltz without permission. The Prince appears at this interesting juncture and unwittingly saves both Evan and Diana from censure through his approval. He is struck by new inspiration and “suggests” the Earl of Whitelock, Evan, propose to Lady Diana.
The Duke of Seaton is outraged by the proposal and the ensuing engagement. His anger and abuse terrify Diana. Evan is shocked the duke would strike Diana and insists they marry within seven days to protect her from suffering more abuse.
Diana is afraid to trust any men after living with her father and half brother, Percival. She reluctantly agrees with her father to keep her inheritance a secret from her new husband.
But secrets have a way of coming out into the open and causing trust issues. The Prince invites himself to their wedding feast and announces how rich Evan now is because of Diana’s inheritance. He also invites himself to visit the new Earl and Countess of Whitelock, Evan and Diana, at their country estate in a couple months time.
Diana hides her nephew in a basket when they leave for the countryside secretly removing him from the duke’s residence. She claims the baby is her maid’s child when he discovers her hungrily crying nephew.
The Prince’s impending visit makes it essential that Evan and Diana prepare their new home. The inheritance will be necessary to accomplish everything needed. Neither Evan nor Diana, nor Evan’s army friend, now employed as estate manager, are prepared for how derelict their new estate has become.
Evan’s worst fear is being sent to an asylum if anyone learns of his flashbacks, loss of memory, and nightmares. There is something mysterious about what he cannot remember that of course is vitally important. Their relationship begins to progress despite the secrets both of them are guarding.
Diana’s secret about the baby’s identity is revealed one night. Before she finds the courage to tell Evan, Cian becomes deathly ill. This was such a sad scene but it was also very…fun. I don’t know about you, but when I read about one of my favorite hobbies in a book I get kind of geek happy. I loved reading about the camphor oil and other herbal remedies used to treat Cian. The treatments reminded me of countless times I’ve cared for my children when they were very ill.
Just as things are beginning to improve, disaster shows up at Whitelock. The fate of many lives rests on the decisions Evan and Diana make.
My reason for rating this sweet romance four and a half stars instead of five is because of my dislike of withholding information as a plot convention in books. It seems a lot of pain could be avoided by being honest in the first place. Not always easy to do in real life but I’ve learned things turn out better when we trust God to help us be open and honest with our fellow men and women. Since I enjoyed the book so much, I will possibly round up to five stars on other review sites to reflect my opinion this book is worth owning.
That said, I was joyfully surprised by The Lost Lieutenant! The painful episodes I anticipated were better than I anticipated with some lovely surprises. I loved that the plot was unique throughout the book and not cliche.
This tale of compassion, faith, endurance, and trust is an entrancing read. I hope you enjoy reading it!
I received a free advanced reader copy of this book. All opinions are completely my own.
What I might tell Evan, Earl of Whitelock, if he were a real person:
“Try Emotional Freedom Technique, Lord Whitelock! I know people who benefit from EFT!”
Emotional Freedom Techniques, also known as EFT, is a therapy treatment for overcoming anxiety and PTSD. One of the first and most popular uses, was in relieving the painful memories and phobias of war veterans. It has, since 1995, been used by many people for other types of trauma.
There were a lot of quotes just begging me to share them, so I made a few extra pics just for you!
About the Author
Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate.
Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.
A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.