An Honorable Life
Daniel Banks is a man of the cloth whose vocation is the last comfort he has left-and even his churchman's collar is beginning to feel like a noose. At the urging of family, Daniel attempts to start his life over as vicar in the sleepy Kentish town of Haddondale, family seat to the earls of Bellefonte.
Challenged by Passion
Resigned to spinsterhood, Lady Kirsten Haddonfield welcomes the new vicar to stay at her family's home while his is under renovation. Suddenly the handsome visitor has Kirsten rethinking her ideas about love and marriage, but a dreadful secret from Daniel's past may cast a shadow too long for either of them to overcome.
Contains mature themes.
About the Author
Grace Burrowes is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Lonely Lords series and the extensive Windham series. Her debut, The Heir, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2010, and its follow-up, The Soldier, was named a Publishers Weekly Best Spring Romance of 2011.
James Langton trained as an actor at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. An AudioFile Earphones Award winner, he has performed many voice-overs and narrated numerous audiobooks. James was born in York, England, and is now based in New York City.
Read an Excerpt
Daniel's True Desire
By Grace Burrowes
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2015 Grace Burrowes
All rights reserved.
"Why must all and sundry entertain themselves by telling me falsehoods?"
Daniel Banks's teeth chattered as he put that conundrum to his horse, who had come to a halt, head down, sides heaving, before the only building in sight.
"'Ye can't miss it,'" Daniel quoted to himself. "'The only lane that turns off to the left half a mile west of the village.'"
This lowly dwelling was not Belle Maison, the family seat of the Earl of Bellefonte. Daniel had listened carefully to the directions given to him by the good folk at the Queen's Harebell. They'd sent him, in the middle of a roaring snowstorm, to a mean, weathered cottage, albeit one with a light in its single window.
"I'll be but a moment," Daniel promised his gelding.
Daniel's boots hit the snowy ground and agony shot up limbs too long exposed to the cold. He stood for a moment, waiting for the pain to fade, concocting silent epithets when he ought to have been murmuring the Twenty-Third Psalm.
"Halloo, the house!" he called, thumping up three snowy steps. The porch sheltered a small hoard of split oak firewood. Somebody within burned that oak, for the frigid air held a comforting tang of wood smoke.
The wind abated once Daniel ducked under the porch's overhang, while the cold was unrelenting. He longed for a fire, some victuals, and proper directions, though only the directions mattered.
A man of God was supposed to welcome hardships, and Daniel did, mostly because his store of silent, colorful language was becoming impressive.
He raised a gloved fist to knock on the door. "Halloo, the —!"
The door opened, Daniel's sleeve was snatched into a tight grasp, and he was yanked into the warmth of the cottage so quickly he nearly bumped his head on the lintel.
"I said I'd be home by dark," his captor muttered, "and full dark is yet another hour away. I was hoping this infernal snow would slow down." The young lady turned loose of Daniel's sleeve. "You're not George," she said.
Alas for me. "The Reverend Daniel Banks, at your service, madam. I lost my way and need directions to Belle Maison, the Bellefonte estate. Apologies for intruding upon your afternoon."
Though, might Daniel please intrude at least until his feet and ears thawed? Beelzebub was a substantial horse who grew a prodigious winter coat. He'd tolerate the elements well enough for a short time.
While Daniel was cold, tired, famished, and viewing his upcoming visit to the earl's grand house as a penance at best.
"Your gloves are frozen," the lady noted, tugging one of those gloves from Daniel's hand. "What could you be thinking, sir?" She went after his scarf next, unwinding it from his head, though she had to go up on her toes. She appropriated his second glove and shook the lot, sending pellets of ice in all directions.
What had he been thinking? Lately, Daniel avoided the near occasion of thinking. Better that way all around.
"You needn't go to any trouble," Daniel said, though the warmth of the cottage was heavenly. A kettle steamed on the pot swing, and the scent of cinnamon — a luxury — filled the otherwise humble space. Somebody had made the dwelling comfy, with a rocking chair by the fire, fragrant beeswax candles in the sconces, and braided rugs covering a plank floor.
"I can offer you tea, and bread and butter, but then surely we'll be on our way. I'm Kirsten Haddonfield, Mr. Banks, and we can ride to Belle Maison together."
Haddonfield was the family name that went with the Bellefonte title.
"You're a relative to the earl, then?"
She wore a plain, dark blue wool dress, high necked, such as a farmer's wife would wear this time of year. Not even a cousin to an earl would attire herself thus unless she suffered excesses of pragmatism.
"I am one of the earl's younger sisters, and you're half-frozen. I hope those aren't your good boots, for you've ruined them."
"They're my only boots."
Swooping blond brows drew together over a nose no one would call dainty, and yet Lady Kirsten Haddonfield was a pretty woman. She had good facial bones, a definite chin, a clean jaw, and blue eyes that assured Daniel she did not suffer fools — lest her tone leave any doubt on that score.
Daniel was a fool. Witness the ease with which the yeoman at the inn had bamboozled him. Witness the ease with which his own wife had bamboozled him.
"At least sit for a moment before the fire," the lady said, arranging his scarf and gloves on pegs above the hearth. "Did you lose your way because of the weather?"
Daniel had lost his way months ago. "The weather played a role. Are you here alone, my lady?"
She folded her arms across a bosom even a man of the cloth acknowledged as a fine bit of work on the Creator's part.
"I am on my family's property, Mr. Banks, and they well know where I am. The weather is not only foul, it's dangerous. If you must prance out the door to die for the sake of manners, I'll not stop you. The groom or one of my brothers should be here any minute to fetch me home. We'll note into which ditch your remains have fallen as we pass you by."
The fire was lovely. Her ferocity, though arguably rude, warmed Daniel in an entirely different way. Nowhere did the Bible say a Good Samaritan must be excessively burdened with charm.
"You aren't much given to polite dissembling, are you, my lady?" For an earl's daughter was a lady from the moment of her birth.
She marched over to the sideboard and commenced sawing at a loaf of bread. "I'm not given to any kind of dissembling. You should sit."
"If I sit, I might never rise. I've journeyed from Oxfordshire, and the storm seems to have followed me every mile."
"Why not tarry in London and wait out the weather?"
Because, had Daniel spent another night in London, he'd have been forced to call on a bishop or two and explain why his very own helpmeet hadn't accompanied him to his new post.
"I am here to assume responsibility for the Haddondale pulpit," Daniel said, moving closer to the fire. A copy of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman lay open facedown on the mantel. "I was given to understand filling the position was a matter of some urgency."
Her ladyship swiped a silver knife through a pat of butter and paused before applying the butter to the bread.
"You're the new vicar?"
Amusement made this brusque, pretty woman an altogether different creature. She had mischief in her, and humor and secrets, also — where on earth did such thoughts come from? — kisses. Fun, generous kisses.
When she smiled, Lady Kirsten looked like the sort of female who'd pat a fellow's bum — in public.
The cold had made Daniel daft. "Do I have horns or cloven feet to disqualify me from a religious calling, my lady?"
She slapped the butter onto the bread, her movements confident.
"You have gorgeous brown eyes, a lovely nose — though it's a bit red at the moment — and a smile that suggests you might get up to tricks, Mr. Banks. You could also use a trim of that brown hair. Ministers aren't supposed to look dashing. I have two younger sisters who will suffer paroxysms of religious conviction if you're to lead the flock."
Olivia had found Daniel's nose "unfortunate." Daniel found his entire marriage worthy of the same appellation.
Feeling was returning to his feet, and hunger writhed to life along with it. Lady Kirsten passed him the bread without benefit of a plate.
"It's not quite fresh, the bread, that is. The butter was made this morning. I'll fix you some tea."
Daniel took a small bite, then realized he'd forgotten to send grateful sentiments heavenward before he'd done so. I'm grateful for this bread — also for the company.
"Your tea, Mr. Banks. Drink up, for I hear sleigh bells."
Daniel downed the hot tea in one glorious go, the sweetness and substance of it fortifying him, much as Lady Kirsten's forthright manner had. She swirled her cloak around her shoulders, then draped his scarf, warm from the fire and redolent of cinnamon, around his neck.
"Let me do the explaining," she said, passing him warmed gloves when he'd bolted his bread and butter. "The sleigh will afford us hot bricks and lap robes, but once we get to Belle Maison, we'll hear nothing but questions. Nicholas is protective, and my sisters are infernally curious."
She crossed the room to bank the fire, then blew out the candles one by one.
Lady Kirsten had been gracious to him, and Daniel wanted to give her something in return for her hospitality. Something real, not mere manners.
An impoverished vicar had little to give besides truth.
"I'm not lost," he said. "I was misdirected by some fellows at the inn. I asked for the way to Belle Maison, and they sent me here. I did not confuse their directions, either, because I made them repeat their words twice."
He'd been taken for a fool, in other words. Again.
"The joke is on them, isn't it?" Lady Kirsten said, blowing out the last candle and enshrouding the cottage in deep gloom. "They might have entertained an angel unaware, and instead they'll have a very uncomfortable moment when it's their turn to shake the new vicar's hand. I will enjoy watching that. My sisters will too."
She wrapped up the bread and butter and stuffed it in a brown brocade bag, then set the teakettle on the mantel.
The sleigh bells went silent, and Daniel sent up a few more words of gratitude. Hot bricks and lap robes would be paradise itself compared to Beelzebub's cold saddle. After he'd tied his horse behind the sleigh, Daniel climbed in beside Lady Kirsten, who wasn't at all shy about sharing the lap robe with him.
And that was a bit of paradise too.
* * *
You're not George.
Had a woman ever uttered a stupider observation? Kirsten put aside her self-disgust long enough to arrange the lap robe over her knees. Mr. Banks was on her right, Alfrydd, the head lad, on her left, at the reins.
A great deal more warmth was to be had on her right.
They reached Belle Maison in what felt like moments, before Kirsten could mentally rehearse the version of events she'd offer to her siblings. Not lies. She never bothered lying to them, though they doubtless often wished she would.
"Come along, Mr. Banks. Alfrydd will spoil your horse rotten, and very likely the countess will do the same with you."
"I'll be but a moment," Mr. Banks said, untying his shaggy black beast from behind the sleigh. Ice beaded the horse's mane and tail, and balls of snow clung to its fetlocks. "Beelzebub has seen me through much this day. I can at least unsaddle him."
A parson who named his horse Beelzebub?
Kirsten's brothers typically handed their horses off with a pat and a treat, then went striding away to the house, there to track mud, make noise, call for their brandies, and otherwise comport themselves like brothers.
Mr. Banks wasn't George, wasn't a brother to Kirsten of any variety but perhaps the theological.
"I'll help," she said, "but you need not fear your reception with the earl. Unless you hurl thunderbolts from the pulpit and insult women in the street, you'll be an improvement over your predecessor."
Mr. Banks led his mount into the dim, relatively cozy stable, the scents of hay and horse bringing their familiar comfort. Kirsten didn't share her sisters' love of all things fine and pretty, though Mr. Banks had an air of careworn male elegance.
"If you'll take the reins, I'll tend to his saddle," Mr. Banks suggested.
Kirsten obliged, stroking her glove over a big, horsey Roman nose. "Why did you name him after an imp?" An imp of Satan.
"He's blessed with high spirits and a fine sense of humor, though little stops him when he settles to a job."
"Your owner treasures you," Kirsten told the horse. The gelding had dark, soft eyes, much like his owner's, and equally fringed in thick lashes. On both man and horse, those eyes had a knowing quality, nothing effeminate or delicate about them.
"I treasure my horse, while Zubbie treasures his fodder," Mr. Banks said, unfastening the girth and removing the saddle but not the pad beneath it.
Mr. Banks's words held such affection, Kirsten envied the horse.
"Have you had him long?" she asked, for there was a bond here, such as Nicholas enjoyed with his mare and George with his gelding. Kirsten's brothers confided in their horses, were comforted by them, and fretted over their horsey ailments as if a child had fallen ill.
Men were sentimental about the oddest things.
"Beelzebub was a gift," Mr. Banks said, taking the reins from Kirsten and looping them over the horse's neck. "A parishioner getting on in years foaled him out and saw that Beelzebub would be too big and too energetic for an older couple. He was given to me when he was a yearling, and we've been famous friends ever since."
Mr. Banks produced a disintegrating lump of sugar from a pocket, and held his hand out to his horse until every evidence of the sugar had been delicately licked away.
He patted the gelding, slid the saddle pad from its back, and led the animal into a loose box boasting a veritable featherbed of straw. The bridle came off, and some sentiments were imparted to the horse as Mr. Banks stroked its muscular neck.
"Alfrydd will see that he's properly groomed," Kirsten said, because under no circumstances would she allow Mr. Banks to announce himself. She and the vicar would storm the sibling citadel together.
Susannah would be especially vulnerable to the kindness in Mr. Banks's eyes, a patient compassion that spoke of woe, sin, and the magnanimity of spirit to accept them both. Della would like the friendliness of those eyes, and Leah, though besotted with Nicholas, was ever one for intelligent conversation.
"He likes the chill taken off his water," Mr. Banks said, giving the horse another pat, "and he's a shy lad around the other fellows."
"Nicholas prides himself on a well-run stable, Mr. Banks. Beelzebub will be fine. He's nigh three-quarter ton of handsome, equine good health, not a sickly boy on his first night at public school."
A shadow crossed Mr. Banks's features, bringing out the weariness a day of winter travel inevitably engendered.
"You heard the lady," he said, tweaking one big, equine ear. "Be a good lad, or I'll deal with you severely." He turned to go, and the horse made a halfhearted attempt to nip at his sleeve, which Mr. Banks ignored.
"Biting is dangerous behavior," Kirsten said as Mr. Banks left the stall and closed the door. "Why didn't you reprimand him?"
She'd wanted to smack the horse. How dare Beelzebub mistreat an owner who plainly loved him?
Mr. Banks pulled his gloves out of his pocket and tugged them on. "He wants me to tarry in his stall, and if I turn 'round and spend another minute shaking my finger in his face, he'll have succeeded, won't he? You must be cold, my lady. May I escort you to the house?"
He winged an arm. Bits of hay and straw stuck to his sleeve, as well as a quantity of dark horse hairs. Kirsten longed to tarry with him in the barn, to put off the moment when she had to share him with her family.
She was not a mischievous horse, however, intent on pursuing selfish schemes that had no hope of bearing fruit. She took Mr. Banks's arm and walked with him out into the gathering darkness.
* * *
"Where the hell could she be?" Nicholas Haddonfield, Earl of Bellefonte, muttered, though his countess knew better than to answer. "I've never seen it snow like this so late in the season. Why must Kirsten dash off, playing Marie Antoinette in the wilds of Kent during such rotten weather?"
Outside the library windows, snow came down in pale torrents from the darkening sky. Leah, Countess of Bellefonte, brought her husband a glass of brandy. Nick accepted the glass, then held it to his wife's lips.
"To take the chill off," he murmured, though Leah's offering was doubtless intended to take the edge off his temper — and his worry. Leah obliged by sipping the drink — she was an obliging sort of woman, until she wasn't — then held the glass for him.
"The nice thing about late storms is they're soon forgotten, Nicholas. This time next week we'll be looking for crocuses and checking on the Holland bulbs. When is the new vicar supposed to arrive?"
Excerpted from Daniel's True Desire by Grace Burrowes. Copyright © 2015 Grace Burrowes. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is book 2 in the True Gentlemen series. Daniel Banks is starting his life over with a new parish where he meets the intriguing Kristen Haddonfield. Unfortunately for them both, Daniel is married. He has been estranged from his wife for over a year, but that doesn't change the fact that he can't start something with Kristen. Daniel and Kristen start working with some of the local boys on their studies and deportment but have to continue fighting their attraction for one another. With everything working against them, can they ever find their happily ever after? I really enjoyed this story! It's not too often that the hero of your story is the local vicar. Since Daniel has a complicated past, he needed to be paired with an unconventional woman. Kristen was definitely not your typical society miss. We see glimpses of this in Tremaine's True Love. She helps Daniel with boys and is basically his right hand man...err woman. Definitely a great addition to the True Gentlemen series. I can't wait to read the next installment which comes out in February. Thanks go out to Sourcebooks for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
What a wonderfully complex tale. Burrowes weaves class distinctions with different ways of life. She shows what is expected of her characters, yet at the same time allows them to make their own choices. The mix is so very real and realistic. The dynamic between the main characters is complexly rewarding. The obstacles that Burrowes places in their road not only strengthen their relationship, but also allowed me to get to know them on many levels. It also created some very unique plot twists that took the story from good to great. Once again Burrowes has created a wonderfully romantic tale that is both original and easily takes readers back in time in a memorable way. (And yes, the word of the day when it comes to this novel seems to be ‘wonderful’, and it definitely fits) Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.
Daniel is just so good a man I couldn't help but love him. This my second time reading this book and probably won't be my last.
Grace Burrowes just keeps getting better and better and then even better. This story was absolutely delightful. Didn't think she could top Tremaine's story but she did. now on to Will's.
I love series and this doesnt disappoint
5 out of 5 for this reader folks! I am really beginning to think there isn’t anything Grace will write that I won’t gush over. I adore her historical romance style, her true knowledge of the era she sets her novels in, the language used and the descriptions where I really feel like I have been transported in time. Daniel’s True Desire is Grace Burrowes second book in her True Gentlemen series and I must admit I was interested in how this one would turn out. This book tells the story of Lady Kirsten Haddonfield (Nicholas’s spitfire of a sister) and Daniel Banks the new vicar of the town. After many broken engagements, Kirsten has somewhat resolved herself to living life as a spinster. When a cold blustery morning introduces her to the new town vicar, she must admit she is somewhat smitten. Daniel is taken a back by Kirsten’s forwardness and quite frankly finds her rather refreshing .. if not beautiful. Feeling completely drawn to one another it’s only a matter of time when something more than friendship comes to surface. Only one problem … our handsome vicar is already married. Daniel has a horrible wife, and one he is estranged from. After learning of her true disposition in a previous book (The Lonely Lords book David), he agrees to live apart from her. He also is nursing a broken heart where his nephew/son (read the book and you’ll understand how he is both) is concerned. Being a man of the cloth he certainly cannot break his marriage vows .. so what is he to do about his feelings towards Kirsten? Kirsten knows he is hands off, and surely she can work with him on a major project without worry. SURELY??? What would happen however, if Daniel was no longer married?? What would happen if his wife perished?? What would happen if it was all an evil plan??? I had a bit of reservation where this novel was concerned. A man of the cloth?? HMMMM … how do you get passion and love from that? Well Daniel certainly is the right man for that task and Grace Burrowes sure did deliver. I adored Kirsten and her practical ways. If any obstacle was in her path, she just jumped right over it and/or found a way to work with it. These two were a perfect match, and their ease of friendship flourished long before their love did which just adds to the believability. Another FANTASTIC read and I am lucky to already have a copy of the next book in this series. I will be eagerly diving in soon! HAPPY READING!
Another wonderful story by Grace Burrowes. DANIEL'S TRUE DESIRE, the second book in the True Gentlemen series brings us back to the community of Haddondale and the family of the Earl of Haddonfield. This time the match-up is his sister, Kirsten, and the new Vicar, Daniel Banks. The handsome and kind new Vicar comes with secrets and a broken heart. His situation strikes accord with the outspoken and secretly broken Lady Kirsten Haddonfield. They quickly develop a bond of friendship. Together they take on the unruly boys from the local families which brings about healing and admiration between the two. A romance grows despite the possibilities. This is a story of sacrifice, integrity, virtue, kindness, and sincere and honest love, both romantic and familial. The Reverend Banks is indeed a true gentleman, yet a man of fierce devotion to the beliefs he's passionate about. And Kirsten, a true Lady. Daniel's True Desire was delightful to read and a lovely addiction to Ms Burrowes' newest series. 4 stars. ~Complimentary copy downloaded from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.
As a fan of this author, I was excited to read the companion story to her novel "David". The story and characters did not disappoint. Daniel and Kirsten are engaging, but I also liked the parts where we learn the thoughts of the young scholars on Daniel's care. The mystery of how things will be resolved keeps the pages turning. Looking forward to Grace's next book.
I loved this book! I really enjoyed both Daniel and Kirsten, plus the plot is perfect. The tension and love show through every word. There is just a page or two of steam and it’s sweet. Some may not like that there is quite a bit about Daniel’s position of vicar. It felt very honest and not slanted for or against.
Daniel Banks is the new vicar and teacher for Haddondale. He is also the nicest, most caring hero I've read. Lady Kirsten believes she can't have children and is trying to accept being a spinster aunt to her numerous siblings' children. They have an immediate attraction to each other. Kirsten is also pleased that with Daniel, comes his son Danny. But, as in all good stories, a villain lurks. Who and why I will not say as I refuse to spoil the story. Some characters from previous books put in an appearance in this one. Grace Burrowes writes wonderful books and you won't be disappointed. Having siblings, I will share my favorite lines from this book. The village boys, who are to attend vicar's new school and get ponies, are discussing the fact that Danny already has a pony. "How'd he get a pony if his papa's only a vicar? Frank asked. No sisters, Matthias suggested. Sisters cost a lot of money. On this, the other boys seemed agreed."
I don’t think I’ve ever read a story where the hero is a vicar, and prevented from following his heart by the constraints of his profession. Curiouser and curiouser, this story is a match of opposites in social standing and approaches to life. Daniel has reached a repeated series of roadblocks in his life, and a new parish just might be what he needs. Offered the position by the Earl of Haddonfield, he’s got plans and hope for brightness in his future, he’s left behind feelings of failure and an estranged wife. Lady Kirsten, daughter of the Earl had encountered Daniel previously with less than stellar results. But, she’s intrigued by his plans to work with the boys on the estate, and has decided to put her not inconsiderable intelligence to helping out. She’s far from demure and retiring: outspoken, sharp tongued, with two failed engagements and a tendency to bristle like a hedgehog, the working relationship moves from tentative and at odds to both characters readjusting their initial impressions. Despite Daniel’s interest, divorce is not an option for a vicar, so the relationship is stalled with both Daniel and Kirsten wishing for more, yet knowing it is impossible. The growth of their relationship and their connection is palpable, and these two are truly well-suited. When word comes that Daniel’s estranged (and wholly nasty) wife has died, plans for a wedding are quickly made, and everything is coming up roses. But, of course, nothing is as easy as it seems, and our roses have thorns: with a threat to the wedding and their future in danger, can it all work out? Wonderful characters that were first introduced in The Duke’s Disaster, these two develop and grow, and grow on readers as you empathize with and admire their ability to move through adversity. While Kirsten touches on some familiar territory in her variation from the norm of the day, she shows a true heart and desire to be useful, as both a wife and woman, making her development the more striking and welcome. With secondary characters that are clever in their moments, a bit of drama from the villain, and some truly clever hijinks the story moves forward to a happy, and appropriate, conclusion. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
I have read all her books and love them all !!!