Title: Marry Me At Willoughby Close
Author: Kate Hewitt
Series: Willougby Close #5
Genre: Women’s Fiction/a Romance
Welcome to Willoughby Close… a charming cluster of cozy cottages, each with a story to tell and a happy ending to deliver…
Alice James has been a drifter her whole life, working her way through several foster homes before ending up in Wychwood-on-Lea, feeling anchorless and invisible. When a chance encounter leads to Alice accepting a position as a caretaker and companion to Lady Stokeley, she starts to feel as if she might finally be able to put down some roots and live the way other people do.
Then, Lady Stokeley’s nephew, city banker Henry Trent, storms into Willoughby Manor, seeming to find fault with everything, including Alice. As the next in line to the manor and title, he threatens to upturn everything she’s started to build. But Henry is hiding his own secret fears and weaknesses, ones he’s desperate for no one to discover. A surprising and inconvenient attraction that simmers between them leaves Alice feeling more confused than ever, and Henry torn between duty and desire, fear and love.
When circumstances become even more difficult, both Alice and Henry must decide who they really are, and what they are willing to fight for. Could Alice possibly the next Lady of Willoughby Manor?
Source: Review copy from Tule Publishing via NetGalley
The fifth and final Willoughby Close book closes the whole series out in style. Like the other books, it features a heroine who has been through a lot and who finds strength, friendship and even love within the small but increasingly tight-knit community of the close. We also finally get to know Lady Stokely’s mysterious nephew and learn a little bit more about Lady Stokely’s own feelings.
I really enjoyed this. Alice is a great character. She might only be twenty-two, but she’s been through a lot in her short life and had to fight for everything she has. I loved how she grew in strength throughout the story, starting off pretty meek and mild, but gaining confidence as everything progressed. She’s kind and caring and incredibly forgiving, but that doesn’t mean she’s a doormat. I think I loved the relationship she builds with Lady Stokely/Dorothy even more than the one with Henry.
Not that I didn’t like Henry, but he’s quite stiff and very proper and hard to read. For Alice, anyway. It’s fairly obvious at times that he feels something for her – even if she doesn’t realise it – but he’s also constrained by the large age gap between them and other social restrictions. He changes too as the book progresses, and I did wish at times we had some of his POV to see what was really going on inside his head.
The romance itself is very slow going and sweet. There’s a lot going on in this book – emotionally – so there isn’t always time for Alice and Henry to explore their feelings. But the romance is there, subtly, and given the huge differences between the two of them, I liked that it took time to grow and progress.
But beyond the romance, and almost more important than it, is Lady Stokely. Dorothy’s presence has been steadily increasing through the previous books and she plays an important and prominent part in this one. I loved how she and Alice came to an understanding, not to mention the return of her fairy godmother role. It is all rather tinged with melancholy, thanks to Dorothy’s illness, but it was great to see she still had her spirit and independence. She’s a wonderful character and it was lovely to finally know her better.
In all, this was a fine and fitting end to this series of love, friendship and life-changing moments. I’ll be interested to see what the author comes up with next.
Marry Me at Willoughby Close is Out Now.
Visit Kate Hewitt for more details.