I may be home alone on Valentine’s Day, but I won't spend it crying into a pint of chocolate ice cream while watching Nicholas Sparks movies (I prefer butter pecan and Period Romance/Dramas). No! Not a single tear will be shed I tell you! Though there may be some drooling...
Despite the amazing qualities these stories have, I can't overlook the fact that these strong women have to live in a world where they 'belong' to these men they fall in love with. It's pretty sad to realize that if I were to live in that society my chances of ending up with a Mr. Darcy or Mr. Rochester would be incredibly slim, as I know for a fact, that I wouldn't be able to pull off that quiet yet tenacious attitude with men like the ones pictured above, staring at me. And even if I did win their heart, I'd have no choice but to be the lady of the house for the rest of my days.
Then in my rabbit trail of a mind, an idea came to me. What would these stories be like if the roles were reversed? What if the woman held control over their lives and the men they could go after? Stranger questions have been asked about history.
Though the son of a wealthy businesswoman, Charles Wright has no claim to the inheritance his mother left behind in her passing. His step-sister, true heir to the family fortune made it clear that he would receive no financial help from her, therefore Charles and his ailing father had no choice but to leave the life of luxury behind and move to the countryside to find work. The two men move in with a cousin of his father’s and though it's far smaller than what they are accustomed to, Charles makes the most of it, focusing all of his efforts on providing for his father.
He befriends a young man who is privy to all of the local rumors and gossip. When Charles notices a grand mansion sitting on a hill in the distant forest surrounding the village, he's told about Ms. Glover, the heiress of the Hillside Mansion and estate. She's rumored to be very rich and beautiful, but has never married because of her apparent cold and brooding behavior. Living with her is Kate Glover, Ms. Glover's niece and heir of the entire Hillside Estate. Kate is rumored to be a floozy and treat men poorly, but nothing has ever been brought to the public eye.
Not long after, Charles walks home from an odd job not far from Hillside. Rain pours down as he struggles to trudge through the muddy path on the road and despite his efforts he trips and falls, injuring his foot. Suddenly, a carriage races towards Charles down the road and the driver appears to not be able to see him through the torrents of rain. He desperately tries to get off the road but is only able to move at a snails pace through the mud. Then right in the nick of time, a woman with boots and a staff comes out from the trees and stops the rider, scolding them for their careless driving.
She goes to Charles and upon finding him injured, asks to help him the rest of the way home, which he accepts. The woman turns out to be Ms. Glover and the rumors about her aren't entirely incorrect as she answers his attempts at conversation with curt responses and often doesn't speak at all. Once they arrive at his cousin's cottage, Ms. Glover takes note of the state of Charles' father and the small space in which they live. She unexpectedly offers Charles a job caring for the grounds on her estate once his foot recovers. Surprised but grateful, he accepts.
Caring for the gardens and grounds of Hillside proves to be a challenge, but Charles revels in it as he enjoys the outdoors and has always shown a proclivity for gardening. He begins to see a different and warmer side to Ms. Glover, as she begins to slowly open up to him and he to her. The two slowly but surely begin to fall for one another. Kate Glover returns to Hillside after a trip to the city and is immediately attracted to Charles, as such she accosts him on the grounds in an attempt to seduce him which he vehemently refuses. This and the revelation that her aunt 'Emily' Glover and Charles may become betrothed, thereby making their progeny be the heir to Hillside instead of her, makes her hate Charles. So she lies to Charles and tells him that Ms. Glover has been engaged to marry another wealthy heir in the village that he's frequently seen visit Hillside; she's been stringing him along, making false promises of love and affection the whole time.
Heartbroken and betrayed, Charles makes to confront Ms. Glover but hears that his father is very close to death. So he decides to leave Hillside without a word instead. He makes it home to be by his father’s side as he dies. Seeing as there is nothing tying him to the village any longer, he makes to go back to the city, where his friend has gotten him a job tending the gardens of a university. Days after starting, Ms. Glover surprises him with a visit. Here he learns that one of Kate's 'endeavors' became very public and resulted in her being shamed out of the Hillside inheritance. Ms. Glover demands to know why he left in the first place and Kate’s lie is revealed for what it truly was, a lie. Here is where Ms. Glover proposes to the overjoyed Charles, who accepts.
You can find out more about the book on Amazon. Use either link.