He gave her shelter from the storm, nursed her back to health, just as any good man might do for a damsel in distress. But Tremain Colson is more than just a small town vicar performing a gallant duty. He’s an ex-soldier whose spirit has been ravaged by war, a nobleman hiding his aristocratic heritage. Yet despite his secrets, he cannot help but feel drawn to the fallen beauty and soon asks her to stay and care for the orphan in his charge…
And hers is lost…
Disgrace sent Eliza Winston out into the world, a governess in ruin. But once she finds herself in Tremain’s home—and in his bed—she realizes her handsome rescuer is the one in need of healing. No sooner does Eliza thaw the vicar’s heart than she realizes her own is in danger. For Tremain is not only the man she dreams of marrying, but a blueblood whose noble birth makes him an impossible match…
About the Author
As long as she can avoid being hit by a runaway moose in her wilderness paradise she assumes everything is golden. Karyn’s been happily married for a long time to her own hero. His encouragement keeps her moving forward. Visit the author at www.karyngerrard.com, find her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter
Read an Excerpt
January 1882, Yorkshire
Eliza Winston experienced many dressings down in her life, but none as vicious and hurtful as the one Lady Bowater gave her. Standing in the drawing room with the housekeeper, Mrs. Travers, Eliza faced the firing squad with her chin jutting out in stubborn defiance.
"I will not tolerate this sort of loose morals in any member of my staff, Miss Winston. Especially not in a governess," Lady Bowater huffed with indignation. "Do you deny you've had carnal relations with my son?"
Which one? The pert reply nearly escaped her lips, but instead Eliza decided staying calm and stemming the sarcasm would be a more prudent plan. "I do not deny it. If you ask William, he will inform you the consensual assignation was of a brief duration." In fact, their scandalous affair lasted barely two weeks with three mediocre tumbles between the sheets. Well, perhaps more than mediocre, not that she had any vast sexual experience to go by.
"He is Mr. Winters to you, my girl!" Mrs. Travers snapped.
Lady Bowater held up her hand to silence the housekeeper. "The Honorable Mr. Winters is no longer on the premises. He's decided the time has come for a stint in the army. It will do him a world of good. Build character. Quite a shame we cannot do the same with you."
Now here she stood and he'd been sent off to the army. Eliza winced inwardly. Poor William. They never would have been discovered if his loud, enthusiastic yells had not been heard through the entire servants' wing.
"You've worked here two years and I am extremely disappointed to find my trust in you sorely misplaced. You are dismissed immediately." Mrs. Travers bobbed her head in agreement at Lady Bowater's admonishing tone. "You will be given thirty pounds, but I will have assurances you will not turn up on this doorstep again, even if you find yourself with child. Nor will you have contact with any member of my family or this household. Those are the conditions."
It sounded as if Lady Bowater had done this before with female servants. Thirty pounds? Eliza did not expect such a sum. Not a chance. With knowledge comes power and she had made bloody sure his nibs wore sheaths. Regardless, she gave her ladyship a stiff nod in agreement.
"Mrs. Travers has written you a letter of reference. It is not exactly glowing, but adequate enough for your needs." The housekeeper thrust a sealed envelope into Eliza's hand. "Your trunk has been packed and brought downstairs. Furthermore, I've hired transport to take you far from this estate and Yorkshire."
Goodness, Lady Bowater was not wasting a moment. "It's seven o'clock. Couldn't my departure wait until morning?" Eliza asked, her voice shaking on the last two words as the reality of what was happening began to sink in.
"I want you gone from the premises straight away." Lady Bowater handed an envelope to Mrs. Travers, who in turn handed it to Eliza, disgust clear on both their faces. Eliza's heart tumbled in trepidation, the ramifications of her brief dalliance hitting her hard at last. Through hard work and determination she'd managed to secure a good position and now she'd ruined it. All on me. Well, not completely her fault, there was enough blame to share with William. But she should have shown forbearance in the face of a tempting seduction. She was smarter than that. At least, she had been. Eliza turned her attention to Lady Bowater. "The men I hired will be escorting you through the night to Dover. The farther you are from here, the better."
Eliza blinked rapidly. "But your ladyship, wouldn't traveling by train the entire distance be more expedient?"
"I do not trust you. You could disembark from any stop. I want you delivered personally to the Southeast Coast," Lady Bowater answered haughtily. "However, I gave the men permission to use the train part of the way should the weather deteriorate."
Eliza gulped. "I've never been to Southeast England. I do not know anyone...."
"Exactly. Now, be gone from my sight. Wretched wanton. Vixen." Lady Bowater's face flushed with self-righteous anger or abhorrence, maybe both, as Eliza couldn't be sure. The woman's eyes narrowed. "Seducer of innocent boys."
Boy? Granted, pretty William was three years her junior, but at nineteen years of age he was certainly old enough for sex. And hardly all that innocent, as he seemed to know what he was about in bed. Regardless, the words hit their mark, churning her insides.
Mrs. Travers clasped Eliza's elbow tightly and steered her from the room. "A fine mess you've got yourself in, my girl. All to have a young lordling between your legs. Stupid, stupid," Mrs. Travers whispered fiercely as she pulled Eliza toward the downstairs entrance.
Eliza wriggled out of the housekeeper's clutches. "One moment, please. I want to go through my room one last time and collect my coat and reticule, at least grant me that."
Sighing, Mrs. Travers did an about-face and then pulled Eliza upstairs to the servants' quarters. For an older lady she could move quickly. An enormous ring of keys bounced against her hip with each long stride. Mrs. Travers stopped in front of the door and released her. Eliza rubbed her arm. Thanks to the housekeeper's tight grip, she would no doubt have bruises.
"Make haste. I grant you five minutes. I'll wait right here."
After slipping into the room, Eliza closed the door behind her. Tears welled in her eyes the instant she found herself alone. Hell. Bloody hell. She'd made a complete muck of things. With no family to turn to she had no choice but to go where told. If she refused, the money and reference would be lost to her. Wiping the hot tears from her cheeks, she frowned while glancing about the room. It was bright and pleasant with a comfortable bed and a good size window to let in the sunlight. Better accommodations than at the orphanage.
During the past two years, Eliza had added little touches to make her living space her own, a rug, a framed picture of a calm ocean, and a blue quilt with a star design. The items weren't there; hopefully they were placed in her trunk and not tossed in the rubbish bin. They had certainly cleaned out her belongings. Opening each drawer, she made sure nothing was left behind. Empty. Slamming them shut, Eliza spied her shawl hanging on a wall hook near the bureau. She pulled it down, opened the envelope, and carefully separated the pound notes, tucking a few in each of the shawl's hidden pockets.
Long ago she'd learned that when travelling with money, hiding it on your person was the sensible thing to do. The wool coat and reticule must be with her trunk. Standing in the middle of the room, a tug of regret filled her. How she would miss little Lady Susanna, her charge. A delightful child. They wouldn't even allow her to say good-bye.
Eliza had been raised at the St. Ann's Industrial School and Orphanage to be a governess, a respected position within the pecking order of the servant world. Not an easy situation to obtain, but she accomplished it thanks to her abundant nerve and clever intelligence. Only she abandoned her intelligence as soon as William's lips touched hers. Perhaps she was a wanton. Truth be told, she rather enjoyed carnal activities.
Too late for regrets. A brave face was needed for this sorry situation. She would walk out of the Estate with her head held high though her insides tumbled with uncertainty. Like it or not, it was time to move on with the rest of her life.
* * *
Eliza could not say how many hours had passed. The rocking of the carriage made sleep impossible, not that she could relax. Instead, she relived the humiliating calling-on-the carpet she'd received. How arrogant of her to think she could indulge in a clandestine dalliance with the earl's youngest son. His handsome face, golden hair, and broad shoulders awakened something inside her: a vast, deep passion she had no inkling existed. Eliza liked it when he kissed her, thrust into her, held her close when they completed the act. Such intimacy. Perhaps William sensed her desperation for warmth and human contact. Somehow, she doubted the young man was quite that clever. He'd wanted a shag, pure and simple, and it seemed she had as well.
Rubbing her burning, tired eyes, Eliza pushed aside the curtain and glanced outside. Complete blackness filled the horizon except for the snow tumbling from the sky. For the middle of January, she supposed a clear road for passage was too much to ask. In fact, the snow looked deep. With a sudden jolt the carriage came to a halt.
One of the men clamored down and opened the door. "'Tis cold ridin' up there. Thought I'd get a wee bit of warmth from ye, lassie."
Even in dark shadows there was no mistaking the lascivious look on the older man's face. Oh, no. "Where are we, what is the time ... wait, what are you doing?" Eliza cried.
He pushed his way into carriage, slammed the door, and banged on the roof. The carriage lurched forward, slowly at first, as if struggling to push through the snow. Unpleasant odors of sweat, whiskey, and cheap pipe tobacco filled the interior. A horrible scar down his left cheek pulled the man's mouth into a sadistic leer. "I searched yer trunk up top. No money. Give over, lass. Where 'tis it? Don't be lyin' to me, I 'eard the whole sorry tale in the servants dinin' 'all. I know the old 'ag gave ye money." With a rough tug, he snatched the reticule from her wrist, snapping the straps. He looked inside, frowned, and with a grunt tossed it to the floor. Suddenly he pushed her down and lay on top of her, his large hands running up and down her body. Then he crammed them in her coat, searching her pockets.
Eliza shuddered in horror when the man's erection pressed against her thigh. "Give it over or I'll take the amount out of yer juicy cunny. 'is young lordship left ye well oiled, I'll be bound."
Her eyes widened in fright. No. Not like this. I will not allow it. A hand closed about her throat, the callous tips of his fingers scraping her skin. Scar leaned in and whispered, his foul breath turning her stomach. "Give it to me or I'll fook the truth from ye." His other hand fumbled with the fall of his trousers.
No. No. No.
After pulling off one of her wool gloves with her teeth, she raked her nails over his eye and down his cheek, causing him to scream in pain and release his hold on her neck. Scrambling backward, he buried his face in his hands, droplets of blood oozed from between his meaty fingers, splashing on the floor.
The driver must have heard the screech for the carriage slowed slightly. Turning, she fumbled with the handle of the door. I must escape! Her heart banged against her ribs at a frightening pace. Scar recovered quickly, grabbing her arm and wrenching her shoulder, then smashed his clenched fist into her face. Bone cracked and blood trickled down over her lips.
A jolt of intense pain spiraled through her and caused her vision to blur, but she finally grasped the handle and gave it a turn, causing the door to fling open wide. The carriage was still moving. Jump. What choice did she have? About to lunge forward, Scar caught a fistful of her shawl and pulled her back in. Blindly she fought him, her breathing labored, landing blows where ever she could. He swore obscenely and shook her hard. In the fracas, her shawl came off. The money! Eliza made a desperate grab for it, but Scar shoved her and she tumbled backward out of the swaying carriage. Hitting the ground hard, she rolled and rolled, gathering cold snow as she did until she came to a halt in a ditch. Searing pain covered her entire body.
"Whoa, there." The driver called out. Drifting in and out of consciousness, she heard snippets of conversation and raised voices wafting in the cold night air.
"What did ye do, ye great lummox! Ye were to get the money, nothin' else."
"Bitch fought me ... she rolled down a hill, probably dead."
"Be damned if I be checkin'. Throw her trunk off and...."
"Look, here 'tis. Hidden in 'er shawl. Aye, let's ditch the trunk and 'ead to London. I could do with a pint and a 'ot slice of kidney pie."
More chatter, sprinkled with smug laughter. They were going to leave her here to freeze to death. Eliza lay perfectly still in case they did come investigating. They did not. Satisfied with finding the money--oh, my money-- she heard the trunk hit the ground with a decided thud. A snap of the reins and the men drove off.
Snowflakes gathered on her lashes. Could she stand? She groaned. Instead, she tried to crawl. Could it be light ahead amongst the trees or did her scrambled mind play tricks? Tasting blood, she pulled herself through the snow. How far, she had no idea. A white hot, stabbing ache shot through her head and everything turned black.CHAPTER 2
As of late, Tremain Colson had become a fitful sleeper. The incessant pain in his leg often woke him several times during the night since he had sworn off the laudanum. After lighting the wick in the oil lamp beside his bed, he glanced at the wall clock--half past four in the morning.
Rubbing his eyes, he tried to recall what sort of racket awoke him. The whinny of horses and men's voices raised in excitement and anger. What brain- addled individuals would be out traveling at this time of night, and in inclement weather no less? A thud, as though something had been tossed to the ground, invaded his quiet room. The temptation to roll over and attempt further slumber crossed his mind, but something kept nudging him to investigate. Tremain would receive no peace until he did. That something being tossed to the ground could be human, and no one could survive for long in these conditions.
Tremain swung his legs around the side of the bed with an exasperated sigh and sat upright, grunting at the twinge that shot up his right limb. Pushing his nude self slowly into a standing position, he moved to his small wardrobe and dressed as quickly as he could. Glancing at his silver-knobbed cane standing by the night table, he decided he would have to struggle on without it. Tremain limped down the hall, found a lantern and lit it. After slipping on his wool greatcoat and gloves he wrapped a thick scarf about his head and face, then ventured outside. A blast of icy wind slammed into him, seizing the breath from his body.
Holding the light aloft, he cautiously ventured across his property. A large trunk lay upside down in a drift. The deep ruts left behind by a carriage were already filling in. Snow swirled all about him as the wind howled with a woeful wail. Turning in a circle, he looked about. Nothing but white as far as the eye could see. His gaze skirted across a large mound then came back to settle on it. There in the ditch a bare hand lay exposed.
Tremain lurched toward the trench, taking his time as the ground inclined downward. Sitting the lantern at his feet, he swiped away all the loose snow from the top of the mound. Good God, an unconscious woman. Blood covered the lower part of her face, which turned the nearby snow crimson. At that moment, a gust of wind blew out the lantern and complete darkness descended.
Good thing he knew his way back. He'd have to carry her, and her weight would place ungodly pressure on his mangled leg, but there was not much else he could do. With great effort he managed to slip the woman over his shoulder, and when he tried to straighten, his right leg turned numb and started to buckle under him. Good God. He went down like a sack of potatoes, yet kept his grip on the lady.
Taking several deep breaths and then exhaling forcefully, he tried again, and after a couple of attempts, stood on his feet. To hell with the lantern, he'd fetch it later. Same with the trunk. With great care, he made his way toward his residence, carried the lady to his room, and then collapsed on his bed with a great groan. Tremain landed on her, but the woman did not stir. Out of breath, he sat back, taking in the vision before him.
A female in his bed. How long had it been? More than three years. Leave it to him to think amorous thoughts when in fact she needed his assistance. Shaking his head, he removed her bonnet and auburn curls spilled into his hands. Her hairstyle was askew, pins hanging from the long, luxuriant locks. Unbuttoning her wet, wool coat, he nearly groaned at the ample curves clearly evident even with her shapeless gray wool skirt and starched blouse buttoned to her neck. The collar was stained with numerous droplets of blood.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Vicar's Frozen Heart"
Copyright © 2015 Karyn Gerrard.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Eliza is a determined survivor. She loses her position as a governess, is robbed, and left stranded in a snow storm. Tremain is a man with a secret and is damaged body and soul. He rescues Eliza, and the two spark off each other. Their feelings grow but Tremain's secret threatens to tear them apart. I loved Eliza's determination to follow her desire and heart no matter what. She helps Tremain heal even though she does not know everything. When the secret comes to light, hurt feelings abound. Friends help her realize that the governess and the aristocrat can have a future together. I look forward to reading more of this series and recommend this story.
Loved the wonderfully flawed characters. Will be looking for more books from this fine writer.
Damaged hero and a fallen governess. Great read!
A fine story about brother #2, a man damaged from the war, trying to find some peace. This is not an inspirational romance, it is sensual, and also full of emotion.
Eliza and Tremain meet when both wounded in both body and spirit. They journey together toward healing and redemption. Well written. Enjoyed Drew. received ebook from netgalley.
Victorian set . Book 2 in a series . Hero is Tremain . Heroinine is Eliza We have a governess that had $ex with an Earls son and was found out . She was dismissed . Tremain is playing a Vicar Tremain is a Dukes second son actually. Eliza was robbed and almost Raped by some men in a coach once she was dismissed. She was thrown out of the carriage with her luggage . She rolled down the hill and hit her head . Tremain came back from a war in Africa . He is a broken man with a leg that is hurt that he needs to walk with a cane He wanted to escape from being a Viscount . His nickname is Hawke . He wanted to save his soul . Tremain also wanted to make up to humanity the terrible things he thought he did in the war . Tremain had nightmares and couldn't sleep ... Thing is something was nagging him . He goes outside and sees a bundle and sure enough it is Eliza . He takes her in and cleans her up . . Their bodies react to each other . Tremain is fighting it . Eliza is tempting him to give in . A little boy that is Orphaned his name is Drew that tries very hard to unfreeze Tremain stone heart . This is a great story with lots of twists and turns. Grab it and see what happens to Tremain ( Hawke ) who actually throws him for a loop . How does Eliza find out .
Although it is the second installment in the Hornsby Brother series, The Vicar’s Frozen Heart can definitely be read as a standalone. From the moment we meet the heroine, we get a good glimpse of her passionate nature. She was no innocent bluestocking in spite of being raised as much a lady an orphan could be and then getting a job as a governess. Given the times the story is set, there were moments she seemed a bit too frank or overzealous but this is a work of fiction after all so I’m willing to overlook that fact for the sake of a well-thought-out plot. Now, I did read the first book in the series, Bold Seduction, and Tremain, the hero in this story, is completely different to what I was expecting. I don’t want to spoil either story but here he is a damaged soul trying to make amends with the world and trying to make up for past mistakes. I think I got a much broodier version than what I had pictured in my mind of him. As a matter of fact -and although I’d already pointed out this story can be read as a standalone so it wouldn’t matter which one is read first- I found this installment much more nostalgic than the first one. It also felt a bit slow compared to other works by the author given the amount of pages but that may just be me. 3 stars. NOTE: Adult read. May not be suitable for some readers. ** I received a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review **
Book 2 "The Hornsby Brothers" series, can be read as a stand alone. Although, I would suggest ready #1 as well, "Bold Seduction". First, let me say this is an awesome series thus far. A quick Victorian Romance. Filled with mystery, suspense, seduction, secrets, healing, passion, and the premise of love and romance. Finding a HEA isn't as easy as it seems for some. Well written. The characters are well developed, engaging, and interesting. The storyline is unique in and of itself. A wounded ex-soldier turned vicar, with war scars, both inside and out, he may never forget or forgive himself. A disgraced governess, and an orphaned child all seeking to find their HEA. A must read romance with turns and turns abound! Highly recommended for fans of Victorian Romance, wounded souls, heartbreak, Historical Romance and an entertaining tale. An enjoyable and satisfying read! Another hit from Karyn Gerrard! I can't wait for the next installment. *Received for an honest review from the publisher via Net Galley* Rating: 4.5 Heat rating: Hot(due to mature content) Reviewed by: AprilR, courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
Eliza Winston has just been dismissed from her post as a governess, and her former employers send her away to Dover with some money, her trunk and a not-so-glowing letter of reference: she was dallying with the family’s older son. On her way, she is brutally attacked and injured, the villains steal her money and her reticule along with her letter of reference, and throw her trunk on the road where they left her. Tremain Colson, Trey, the vicar, is a light sleeper, hears the commotion and carries her home where he will tend to her injuries. However, Trey is quite the lusty vicar and he has many secrets… THE VICAR’S FROZEN HEART was not quite what I expected. I thought it would be a rather “sweet” story, regardless of the cause for Eliza’s dismissal. Trey did not become a man of the cloth for religious reasons, and I thought his motivations were lame, selfish, and somewhat hypocritical. At heart, he more or less remained the rogue that he was, and I’m afraid to say that it irked me. He’s not a bad man, far from it, but for a Reverend, it’s a tad too obsessed with thoughts about sex; I know a vicar is a man, but still. I did like Eliza a lot though. To me, it didn’t feel like the story took place in Victorian times, but maybe I have misconceptions about that era. There was also a character I think I was supposed to despise, and I couldn’t because she was right about a few things. This said, THE VICAR’S FROZEN HEART is nicely written and a quick read; if you like your Victorian romance with quite a bit of steamy sex, this is for you. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
There is nothing to recommend in this book.