Sir Harland Hayward, Baron Strathmore, is something of an oddity among the nobility, in that he insists on not only continuing to run a shipping company, but he works as a practising physician, treating aristocrats and commoners alike. A less widely known fact is that he also helps his sister, the headmistress of the prestigious Haverhall School for ladies (a profession she has kept up with, even after becoming a duchess) to each year train some select students who are interested in becoming doctors as well. Harland knows that women can be just as capable, if not better, at certain things than men. He doesn’t have a lot of illusions left after surviving and treating survivors on the battlefields of the Napoleonic wars.
When his parents died, Harland discovered that the family fortunes were nearly gone. He tried his best to save the family shipping business, but after some devastating losses, had no choice but to make a deal with ruthless underworld crime boss King. Now he has no choice but to run a smuggling operation along the Kentish coast, taking advantage of many of the people on his lands. When one of his smugglers, Matthew, is shot during an operation, he shows up to help in his guise as the local benevolent physician, only to discover that Katherine, Matthew’s sister, has the situation well at hand. She’s able to deal with the complicated gun shot in a way that shows she has a lot more skills and experience than your regular village healer and wise woman. Harland is both impressed and intrigued by Katherine, but his guilty conscience for the situation he’s put her family in wars with his attraction for her.
Katherine hates that her father and brother are involved in smuggling, and determined to get them to go straight, if she can just ensure that her brother survives being shot (and the possible following infection). Like Harland, Katherine has extensive battlefield experience in France, having fallen in love with and followed a manipulative nobleman to war, only to discover he only saw her as a passing fancy, and ended up abandoning not only her, but his dying men on the field towards the end of the war. So Katherine doesn’t trust handsome nobles anymore, and clearly being the most intelligent member of her family, seems to be the only person who questions why the local baron suddenly shows up to offer medical assistance after her brother’s “accident”. Who exactly told him there was a need?
Full review on my blog.