Vicar Daniel Banks has appeared as a secondary character in several of Grace Burrowes novels. Readers adored Daniel and asked for a story solely devoted to him. I will admit I wasn't one of them. Lady Kirsten's story appealed more to me, not Daniel's. In this novel, Reverend Banks has been adversely affected by scandal. His wife has left him and the child they raised is really Daniel's nephew. Because of this disgrace, Daniel is now a vicar in need of a parish. I didn't view Daniel as a hero-- he's a nice man but, hero material? I had a hard time imagining brusque and impatient Lady Kirsten married to a parish vicar. Wait a minute...Daniel Banks is married. How could my heroine have a "happily ever after" with a married man? What was Grace Burrowes thinking?
I wondered how one of my favorite authors could craft a romance between these problematic characters and that's what kept me reading Daniel's True Desire.
"You're the new Vicar?"
Amusement made this brusque, pretty woman an altogether different creature. She had mischief in her, and humor and secrets, also--where on earth did such thoughts come from?--kisses. Fun generous kisses. When she smiled, Lady Kirsten looked like the sort of female who'd pat a fellow's bum --in public.
The cold had made Daniel daft."Do I have horns or cloven feet to disqualify me from a religious calling, my lady?" She slapped the butter onto the bread, her movements confident.
"You have gorgeous brown eyes, a lovely nose--though it's a big red at the moment-- and a smile that suggests that you might get up to tricks, Mr. Banks. You could also use a trim of that brown hair. Ministers are not supposed to look dashing. I have two younger sisters who will suffer paroxysms of religious conviction of you're to lead the flock.
Olivia had found Daniel's nose"unfortunate". Daniel found his entire marriage worthy of the same appellation.
Daniel's True Desire is the second book In the True Gentlemen series by Grace Burrowes. The novel seamlessly blends the opposites attract and the second chance romantic themes. Kirsten doesn't view Daniel as an impoverished 'has been" vicar whose wife left him. She sees him as an intelligent, kind, patient man who truly enjoys teaching the local boys. Daniel looks past Kirsten's brusque demeanor. He sees a beautiful, intelligent woman whose laughter and kisses makes him happy. He wonders why she has never married. Daniel and Kirsten are attracted to each other but Daniel is married.
Both character's faith, love and commitment to each other and to their families are tested during the course of the well paced novel. The author carefully focuses on Daniel and Kirsten's friendship and the challenges of teaching the "rotten boys". Daniel is an honorable man who has taken vows with his wife and the church and will not break them. He will not cross the line and commit adultery. Daniel receives some news that changes his life. Will his friendship with Lady Kirsten change?
Loved the scenes where Daniel, Kirsten and Susannah meet with each boy's parents, especially when Kirsten and Susannah slyly suggest that the parents send weekly food baskets to their sons. The banter between the sisters and the parents was cleverly written and very funny. And I loved it when the toads invaded the classroom! My favorite secondary plot involved Daniel and one of his students Matthias. Matthias had a difficult time with his classes and horseback lessons. He listened and understood his classroom lessons but could not pass a written exam and Matthias lacked confidence riding his pony. The author cleverly placed several clues throughout the novel regarding Matthias' difficulties. I enjoyed how this piece of the story played out.
The conclusion to the novel has a few surprises for Lady Kirsten and Vicar Banks. Daniel's late father provided him with a solution to his problem. Daniel needed to take time and sort through his father's belongings to understand how to move forward. Together, Daniel and Kirsten face conflict and two well written villains in the last few chapters of the novel. The ending of this character driven novel was perfectly written for this couple.
And, yes Grace Burrowes convinced me that Daniel is a hero an honorable, kind hero to Lady Kirsten, his family and students.
Reviewed by Susan Gorman
ARC provided by Sourcebooks