The Fireside Inn
By Lily Everett
Publisher: St. Martin’s
January 7, 2014
Miles Harrington, the oldest of the fabulously wealthy Harrington brothers (heroes of Everett’s 2013 novella trilogy, Billionaire Brothers) is about to wed Greta Hackley, the Sanctuary Island native who stole his heart in Island Road (July 2013), and he asks the Honorable Lord Leo Strathairn, Zane Bishop, and Cooper Haynes, three friends whom he sponsored for membership in the Biltmore Club, irreverently known as the Billionaires Club, to play a part in the wedding. They agree, but they are unanimous in their conviction that Miles must be mad to give up his freedom. Miles makes a bet that the magic of Sanctuary Island will change their lives as it has his, and the three come to the island to honor their friend’s request and to take up his challenge. The three will have their stories told in novellas that will be released one each week for the first three Tuesdays of January, with Shoreline Drive, the second novel in the Sanctuary Island series, released on the final Tuesday in the month.
The Fireside Inn is Leo’s story. Because Leo has a fund of quotations from Shakespeare and other sources that he speaks “trippingly on the tongue” at appropriate moments, Miles asks him to select and present a reading at the wedding. Leo can think of no way to avoid the request, but he is troubled by it. Leo, the younger son of an earl, has inherited aristocratic bloodlines and great wealth, but he sees himself as the son who never measured up to his father’s expectations. He has spent much of his life finding ways to compensate for a problem that has plagued him since childhood and which he fights to keep secret even from those who know him best.
Leo hits upon the idea of asking Serena Lightfoot, Sanctuary Island’s public librarian, for help in locating a reading for the wedding. Serena is initially wary of Leo’s practiced charm, but she soon finds herself all too susceptible to his good looks and British accent. She has a long history of being used by males who are interested in her only to take advantage of her considerable intelligence, and she has determined never to allow a repeat of that experience. She agrees to help Leo but only in exchange for an invitation to the wedding and introduction to the Harringtons and other wealthy islanders who might be persuaded to help keep the library open.
Neither Leo nor Serena expects the chemistry that flares between them. They are even less prepared for the connection that lets them talk to each other with surprising depth. But the differences between them are also great, and they both have fears that make complete trust difficult.
I confess that I am a reader who winces at the word “billionaire” in connection with romance fiction, a reaction even more pronounced in the wake of the Fifty Shades phenomenon. But I have learned as a reader that I can usually trust writers whose earlier books I have loved not to mislead me. I read Lily Everett’s Billionaire Brothers series because I enjoyed the books she wrote as Louisa Edwards, and I was not disappointed. They sold me on the magic of Sanctuary Island, and I was eager to return with the new books. The first one met all expectations.
Leo is a swoon-worthy hero, and his vulnerability in light of his secret makes him even more appealing. The wedding scene left me smiling with teary eyes. I also liked Serena a lot. Intelligent heroines who are passionate about books are almost certain to earn two thumbs up from me. Their romance is sweet and satisfying. The first kiss happens awfully quickly, but the pace is balanced by the conversations during which Leo and Serena share on a surprisingly intimate level. The glimpses of the wedding of Miles and Greta were a bonus.
If you are looking for a quick read that is rewarding and almost certain to make you impatient for the stories of the other Billionaire Bachelors, I suggest you download The Fireside Inn this coming Tuesday. Readers who read the first series will definitely enjoy the references to familiar characters, but readers new to Sanctuary Island will have no difficulty following Leo and Serena’s story.
How do you feel about billionaire heroes in romance fiction?