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After reading Jilted in January, I proceeded to reading the fourth book in the series, An Affair in Autumn. I decided to skip forward because I was intrigued by the relationship between the hero and heroine of Haymore's contribution, and also because the author tied in her House of Trent series to this current one.
The new Duke of Beckworth has been found, and he is Marcus Hawkins's childhood best friend, Nathaniel Hughes, who is living New York. It took the solicitors, with the help of Marcus's brother, Theo, a year to ascertain that Nate is the last remaining member of the Hughes family, and they can't risk sending the notification through the mail. Marcus has been tasked to go to New York, and deliver the message personally to Nate, but he needs the help of another childhood friend.
Lady Caroline Addison is pleased to hear that her dearest friend, and former love (not lover), Nate is the new Duke of Beckworth. She's not so pleased that it is Marcus Hawkins who has informed her, and who will also inform Nate. Caroline and Marcus grew up together, but something changed in Marcus when they were 17 years old, and they haven't spoken ever since.
But now, they're both on their way to New York to find Nate, and, on a ship at sea during a storm, it's not as easy to avoid each other.
It's very obvious why Marcus behaves the way he does around Caroline, but, apparently, it wasn't obvious to our heroine. I really enjoyed the tension between the two of them -- Marcus tries to hide his feelings for Caroline, because he knows that she has always been Nate's girl. But Marcus also feels a real resentment towards Caroline for marrying Lord Whytestone, believing that she had sold herself to the highest title and deepest pockets. (He actually accuses Caroline of wanting to go after Nate again because he is now a duke. Ouch.)
While there's a sweet and slow spark in Kate Pearce's Jilted in January, Haymore's An Affair in Autumn is the intense fire of rekindled love. Marcus and Caroline are well-matched in temperament, intellect, and passion --
Their conversations are, at times, painfully honest, but also very revelatory: of how we can experience and view love in different ways. As a younger girl, Caroline was very certain of her feelings for Nate, but, now, an older, widowed Caroline isn't as certain that it was a love that would have survived a marriage, or the subsequent change in her father's fortunes. The older Caroline is now able to view her argument with Marcus from a different light -- and is now able to view Marcus from a different light, especially after Marcus reveals his feelings for her.
But while love may change, love may also remain the same -- and that is what Marcus represents. But even Marcus's love for Caroline wasn't able to overcome his disappointment when he believed that Caroline had jilted Nate and married Lord Whytestone for money.
The conversations between our hero and heroine also made me curious about Nathaniel Hughes, who had won Caroline's affections when they were younger. Unlike Marcus and Caroline, Nathaniel grew up poor, and this was the reason why Caroline's father rejected his suit. But Nathaniel was driven, and left for America where he built his own fortune from copper mines. It's wonderful that he is receiving such a substantial windfall, but it's also ironic, because he doesn't need it anymore. Nate has also lived in America for half his adult life, so it would be very interesting to see him return to England and live as the Duke of Beckworth. (I'm reading his story right now.)
An Affair in Autumn is the fourth book in the A Year Without a Duke series. To find out more about Jennifer Haymore and her books, click below: