Miraculously spared from death, Malcolm Sinclair erases the notorious man he once was. Reinventing himself as Thomas Glendower, he strives to make amends for his past, yet he never imagines penance might come via a secretive lady he discovers living in his secluded manor.
Rose has a plausible explanation for why she and her children are residing in Thomas's house, but she quickly realizes he's far too intelligent to fool. Revealing the truth is impossibly dangerous, yet day by day he wins her trust, and then her heart.
But then her enemy closes in, and Rose turns to Thomas as the only man who can protect her and the children. And when she asks for his help, Thomas finally understands his true purpose, and with unwavering commitment, he seeks his redemption the only way he can -- through living the reality of loving Rose.
In this book Malcolm Sinclair, the villain from The Taste of Innocence, is saved from death and takes the opportunity to become a new and better man. In that book our last sight of him is as he is falling to his death from a bridge over a waterfall. At the beginning of this one, his mangled, nearly dead self is discovered on a Somerset beach by a group of monks. They take him in and he begins the long, slow process of healing.
At the end of the other book, Malcolm had realized what he had done and taken steps to right the wrongs he had committed. Now that he is not dead, he has to make a decision on what to do with is life. He decides to leave Malcolm where he was, and become Thomas Glendower, an alias he had set up many years before. As Thomas, he begins to learn how to be a better man, thinking of others rather than himself. He takes his talent for making money and uses it to help the monastery become self-sufficient. His injuries were so severe that it takes him five years to recover. At that point, it is suggested to him that he was saved because God/Fate has something in mind for him to do, and that staying in the monastery isn't going to help him discover what that is. So he sets out for the home he bought as Thomas, to finish his recovery and wait for Fate to find him.
Arriving in Cornwall he discovers that the elderly couple he left in charge of his home has retired, and been replaced by a young widow with two children. He senses right away that she has secrets, but having plenty of his own he doesn't pester her for answers. He settles in to his home and continues his financial work, but feels the lack of something more meaningful. Being accustomed to doing many physical things with the monks, he starts doing work around the manor too. He also begins to get to know Rose and the two children. He develops a strong attraction to Rose, but because of his past feels that he is completely unworthy of her and tries to resist doing anything about the attraction.
Rose has been in hiding with the children for the past four years. Thomas's home has been the perfect place because of its isolation and they have felt safe there. Thomas's arrival worries her at the beginning, but his acceptance of her and her story reassures her. Thomas himself intrigues her. She sees a deep sadness in him, but he doesn't talk about his past, other than to tell her he hasn't been a good man. But everything she sees in him contradicts that. She is surprised by his down to earth behavior and moved by his kindness to the children. She is also attracted to him, but because of her secrets doesn't see a future for them. However, the attraction wins out, and they begin a relationship with the intention of taking just one day at a time.
When Rose's past catches up to her, she knows she needs to tell Thomas the truth before taking the children and fleeing again. What she doesn't expect is for him to take command of the problem and work to fix it. Thomas convinces her that it's time to face up to it and that with his help it will be fine. Rose gets a good look at Thomas the champion and the attraction she feels begins to turn to love. I loved the protectiveness that Thomas has toward Rose and the kids. He will do anything to keep them safe and ensure their future safety, even give himself up to pay for his crimes.
I really loved Thomas and his efforts to pay for the sins of his past. He is well aware of his faults and his efforts to overcome them don't always go smoothly. He has to really work at thinking about how his actions will affect other people. When he arrives at the manor house, I really enjoyed seeing the way he fit in so easily with Rose and the children. I loved his times with the children and how wonderful he was with them. The part with Homer and the books, and with Pippin and the apple tree, showed that he had a good heart when he allowed himself to listen to it. I also loved Rose's ability to look past Thomas's scars to the man he was now. Even after he told her about his past, she still saw the good man he became.
There are glimpses throughout the book of the person who is looking for Rose and the children. Thomas brings them to London, and enlists the help of Barnaby Adair and others to discover the truth. As more information is uncovered, there are some inconsistencies in the background of the suspect that throw the investigation into some confusion. As they learn more about him I suspected that there was more to the story than they thought. The final confrontation was intense, with an interesting twist on the culprit. The outcome for Thomas was not what he expected, and I loved seeing what he did with it.