This was a decent effort from Kingsley. Will visits the widow of his army buddy to return to her the letters she had written to her husband. He is a little in love with her from her letters but falls more in love with the reality when he sees the difficult straits her family is in and realizes her marriage was not as ideal as he had believed. He conceals his identity since it is plain she wants nothing to do with soldiers, and stays on to help on her farm.
There were definite weak points: Louisa's odd motivation in writing such glowing letters to a husband she despised is one, and I can think of several ways Will could have lied quite a bit less and still established himself at the farm to help Louisa. However, the building romance between them, and the way Will falls in love with her despite her protective shell, is charming (though he prods too hard to get her to open up; that dialogue could have been more polished). Louisa's daughter Pip is delightful. Too many things are wrapped up too quickly at the end, including an unlikely reversal of fortune for Louisa's family and the fortuitous death of Will's too-villainous brother. However, as I said, Will and Louisa's romance (not to mention Will's very real attachment to Pip) carries the day and this is a book I will likely read again.
She was a new widow....about to lose her family and her farm. A stranger darkens her door and becomes her savior. Was this fate? Or was this a comrade of her lost husband...who had fallen in love with her before he had even met her?
Katherine Kingsley has written a few of my all-time favorite romances including the unforgettable "No Sweeter Heaven" so I began this book with very high expectations. Expectations that disappointingly were not met once the story really got going.
Major Lord William Fizpatrick is sick of war and death. After his best friend Val dies in his arms he resigns his commission and heads home. But first he makes a pit stop to visit Val's widow, to bring her the letters she'd written to Val. In those letters Louisa had vividly described her happy home life and Will, who never had a happy home of his own, fell just a little bit in love with her.
Louisa wasn't honest in her letters though and she and Val had had anything but the idyllic love life that she hinted at. Val left Louisa and their young daughter Pip in dire straits and Louisa only wrote the letters in an attempt to soothe her pride and to make Val feel a little guilt at his desertion. As a result of her doomed marriage Louisa has hardened her heart and become grumpy.
When Will arrives she mistakes him for a handyman. Will becomes tongue-tied by her beauty and pretends to be a handyman named "Will Cutter". He sees this as a chance to become free of his past and longs to spend more time with Louisa.
This setup was often emotional and held much promise but the romance that followed did not live up to its potential. Louisa is a screechy, stubborn and mostly unlikeable heroine right from the get-go. She is desperate to keep Will at arm's length and spends most of the book treating him to harsh, uncalled-for tongue-lashings. After a few of these outbursts I was really shocked when he decided to stick around. But stick around he did, and emotionally abused he was. Sucker!
Will was a great hero, and the only reason that I continued to read the story. He's kind and has a fantastic sense of humor that really comes in handy when he's dealing with Louisa's red-hot temper. Louisa eventually warms up and the plot takes a temporary turn for the better. The story becomes entertaining, moving and highly sensual for a bit but then things begin to slide downhill again. Several annoying plot twists occur including a frustrating and simple to resolve misunderstanding, a catastrophe where Louisa acts in a embarrassingly pathetic fashion and a three-month long separation that occurs near the end of the story.
Despite the plot contrivances and irritating heroine this book had some genuinely touching moments, some way better than average love scenes and a beautiful spiritual element. But in the end, there were too many problems for me to give "In The Presence of Angels" anything more than a lukewarm rating. There are too many great books out there to stick with "meh" when you don't have to.
Could he really have fallen in love with her but just reading her letters to her deceased husband? Wounded and on her doorstep how could he now tell her why he had come? So begins the story of Will Cutter and Louisa Merriem.