York, England, 1819.
As a once happily married woman, Rebecca Parker lived a charmed life, but now widowed and working for a living, she feels alone and living a mundane existence. That is until the day a valet speeding by on a horse nearly runs her off the road. Mr. Malcolm Henry is apologetic, gentle, and very handsome. She’s instantly drawn to him, which is why, rather than stopping him from kissing her, she finds herself kissing him back, reigniting a nearly forgotten passion in her. But love at first sight only happens in fairy tales—never to an ordinary woman like her.
Still, she cannot stop thinking about Mr. Henry and the kiss they shared. The more time she spends with the earl’s valet, the more she knows she cannot in good conscience allow Mr. Timoltson to continue to court her, even though a marriage to him would provide her financial security and independence from her overbearing father’s control. The heart wants what it wants, and her heart wants Mr. Henry.
But while working in the kitchens during a fancy dinner party, she sees something strange: the valet—the valet she kissed—is sitting at the right hand of the baroness. She realizes that Mr. Henry is not the earl’s valet; he is the earl—Kenneth Winterton.
Heartbroken, angry, and betrayed, Rebecca isn’t sure she can trust Lord Winterton, much less accept his apology. But when Lord Winterton proves he is as kind and gentle as “Mr. Henry” was, she finds herself willing to give him a second chance. But will he still take a chance on her, when choosing a commoner means he might lose his inheritance?
Trust, love, loneliness, and passion collide in this story about a man who will risk it all to fight for the woman he loves and a woman who no longer believes in fairy tales—until she finds herself living in one.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 34 members
A totally fantastic story! This book will keep you reading, waiting to see what new twist or turn is around each bend. Just when you think you know what is going to happen, it surprises you by going a different way. It is so good. Kenneth, a widower, has raised his two boys and is pleased to see them moving towards their chosen fields. He has a small estate and is content with his lot, when he receives word that his cousin has suddenly died making him heir to an earldom. Something he never expected or wanted but he finds himself heading to his uncle’s to be trained in all the responsibilities this new position entails. Hoping to escape the looming pressures, if only for a few moments, he exchanges jackets, boots and hats with his valet and takes off on a brisk ride across the countryside. The spirited horse he has acquired has no desire to follow Kenneth’s directions and soon runs Rebecca, who was walking along the footpath in the woods, onto the side of the path to escape serious injury. Rebecca was a widow and former maid who had raised her daughter, Rose, so well that Rose had been able to get a position as a companion. Now Rebecca was living with her father and helping him in his business. She was entertaining the idea of remarriage to a man who she did not love but would provide companionship and an escape from her father’s drunken rages. As Rebecca pulls herself out of the bushes, Kenneth approaches to apologize for the accident. As they meet and begin to interact, they both find themselves drawn together but Kenneth presents himself as his valet making a romance possible. But eventually the truth of Kenneth’s identity will be discovered and any romance made impossible. Add in a stern uncle, a conniving cousin with three daughters, and a powerful and understanding baroness and you get a story that continues to engage and surprise right to the end. A great read! I highly recommend it. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the copy. This is my review and all thoughts are my own.
The Valet’s Secret by Josi S. Kilpack is an excellent historical romance that had me engaged, enthralled, and cheering through till the end. Rebecca and Kenneth both are at fairly uneventful spots in their respective lives- both having raised their own children and both widowed. Their assumed futures are abruptly shaken when they meet one another as Kenneth is on his travels to accept a surprising, and uninvited, Earldom after a death in the family. Kenneth masquerades as his valet in a last minute attempt to hold off the responsibilities and change in status and life if for just a few moments, one last time. It is at this moment of escapism that these two destined souls meet and chemistry blossoms. Unfortunately, duties and societal roles, as well as many family obstructions, are obstacles in what should be an obvious romance. Rebecca finds out whom the real Earl is, and despite their feelings for one another, there are so many mountains placed in their path. Can they overcome all of the challenges to find love, happiness, and a happily ever after? It was so sweet and romantic to see these two treasured characters overcome so many external difficulties: family, duty, expectations, societal restrictions…and find one another and the future that they both truly deserve. The chemistry was most definitely there…they were perfect for one another, and I am glad to see how wonderful of an ending the author was able to give to two such memorable and well-rounded characters. The twists, turns, and surprises all added a bit of complexity and added to the enjoyment that I experienced while reading this story. I finished it happy, light, and satisfied. 5/5 stars Thank you NG and Shadow Mountain Publishing for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately ( as of 9/25/21 no BB listing has been created and will be posted when it is updated with links added below) and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.
As a once happily married woman, Rebecca Parker lived a charmed life, but now widowed and working for a living, she feels alone and living a mundane existence. That is until the day a valet speeding by on a horse nearly runs her off the road. Mr. Malcolm Henry is apologetic, gentle, and very handsome. She’s instantly drawn to him, which is why, rather than stopping him from kissing her, she finds herself kissing him back, reigniting a nearly forgotten passion in her. But love at first sight only happens in fairy tales—never to an ordinary woman like her. But while working in the kitchens during a fancy dinner party, she sees something strange: the valet—the valet she kissed—is sitting at the right hand of the baroness. She realizes that Mr. Henry is not the earl’s valet; he is the earl—Kenneth Winterton.. Will there be a happily ever after? Add in a drunk father, interfering uncle, evil cousin with three daughters... it's a lot of obstacles standing in the way of true love. The twists and turns keep me reading. :) I really like this version of Cinderella. Love both main characters a lot. :) Very enjoyable. Thanks to the publisher for providing an arc
I couldn’t put this book down! It was amazing from start to finish. One of those books you want to go back and read your favorite parts over again, so that you can savor them a little longer. The storyline is loosely the storyline of Cinderella, with a few role reversals at times, and a wonderful regency twist. I loved the nods to the original story, but loved even more the parts that made it unique. Rebecca was so lovable. How can you not love a walnut throwing woman with good aim, who’s a hard worker, and loving mother. Kenneth was a worth male lead, who really wanted a woman who he could love, not just live companionably with. In most Cinderella stories the couple is young and naive, but in this story they are both widows, and the wisdom of an older than usual couple made this book even more enjoyable. I received an advanced copy of this book by Josi Kiloack from Shadowmountain via Netgally. The opinions are my own. This book will be available March 2022! You won’t want to miss it.
Widower Kenneth is on his way to his uncle’s estate, now that he’s the heir presumptive to his uncle’s Earldom but he has one last bit of rebellion in him, and he changes clothes with his valet and rides to the estate. He meets widowed Rebecca Parker and there’s instant attraction. Unfortunately for Kenneth, he introduces himself as his valet. Several meetings later, Rebecca realizes he’s not who he said he was. And this means their roles in society are very different. Overall, I liked this book. I thought the idea that true love wins over restrictive society roles was nicely done, even if it was a bit unbelievable at times. I loved the baroness, who turns into a champion for Rebecca and Kenneth’s love. I adored that we got a book with “older” main characters instead of the fresh out of the schoolroom haven’t seen anything characters. Unfortunately, I didn’t think they were well written in terms of maturity. I felt like Kenneth in particular was written like a twenty something man who doesn’t understand the reality of life at that time. That’s what really keeps me from giving this a higher rating. I did enjoy this book as a whole, even though I don’t consider it a favorite. 3.5 rounded up to 4.
As a Cinderella story, this one had cute moments. Other moments were difficult to swallow though. The whole hiding your identity then being found out before you could come clean feels very overdone, and it wasn't convincingly done in this case. At times it feels like you start to really get to know the characters, at others it feels like the author is just skimming the surface and contradicting what we previously knew about the character. For example, Rebecca is feisty and fiery when she first meets the supposed valet. But quickly melts into his kiss with no hesitation only moments later, with no explanation other than she's lonely and he's good looking. The story went on like that - with completely out of character moments happening because plot. When it went well, the story flowed easily and was enjoyable to read. But certain aspects felt forced, and made it difficult to fully enjoy. While a fairy tale isn't necessarily meant to be realistic, part of the wonder of them is that you can imagine it really happening, and I did not find that with this one.
There is something special and unique about Josi Kilpack's stories. Her novel, Lord Fenton's Folly was one of the first regency era stories that I read and there began my love of historic novels, especially all things regency. I have been a fan of her work for a long time and am happy to add The Valet's Secret to my list of favorite books by Ms. Kilpack. The Valet's Secret is charming with a fun twist and unique nods to the fairy tale Cinderella. I loved that the characters has to make decisions for themselves that would lead to their happiness, despite what others and the world thought they needed or should do. When everything and everyone appears to be working against the very happiness that they sought, they learned to follow their hearts. Sometimes the heart wants what it wants, even if it doesn't fit into a perfect box or society's demands and expectations. Other times, it takes great courage to follow your heart. True, not everyone gets the chance to chase after their heart's desires, but in this novel it was very endearing and satisfying to see. I highly recommend The Valet's Secret and enjoyed reading it, probably too much, judging by how late I stayed up to finish it one sitting.
Thank you to Josi S. Kilpack, NetGalley, and Shadow Mountain Publishing for my eARC of “The Valet’s Secret” in exchange for my honest review. In “The Valet’s Secret,” we meet Rebecca and Kenneth, two folks who end up falling in love but are on opposite sides of the class hierarchy. Since it’s a HEA, they are able to overcome the limitations and expectations of their stations to reach their HEA. It’s a very sweet and tender read. I enjoyed reading about two adults, in their 40s, finding a partner again and falling in love. I also really loved some of the humor - I won’t spoil a certain scene but it made me laugh out loud. I do wish there was a bit more action or interaction between Rebecca and Kenneth. While we get to see them interact a fair amount and you can see their relationship grow and strengthen, I think I wanted even more. And in some ways, I almost wish Kenneth impersonating the valet, Malcolm, went on a bit longer since that’s the title of the book. I was expecting the reveal to be much later or somehow really make a mess of things but that was not the case. Overall, I did thoroughly enjoy “The Valet’s Secret” and I will be certain to read another one of Kilpack’s novels again.
This was absolutely delightful. Josi Kilpack has done it again! The plot was well-paced and captivating to the very end. The characters were charming. I highly recommend this fun and quick read. Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the advanced copy of the book.
This proper romance doesn’t disappoint. It has a Cinderella theme to it with a regency background. I really enjoyed this. I read this very quickly. I would definitely recommend this to those who love a story with depth and feeling that is sweet.
Excuse me, but why did this book have to end?!? I was swept away in a world with Rebecca and Kenneth. These two people never should have worked being from "opposite sides of the track" but their love overcame all the obstacles. This was definitely a book I was expecting to be as outstanding as it was which are my absolute favorite stories! Author Josi Kilpack has a way with words to lead us all to the happily ever after.
Firstly, I would like to thank Shadow Mountain Publishing, and NetGalley, for the privilege to read this eARC! Brief Plot (without spoilers): The Valets Secret, by Josi S. Kilpatrick, is a regency era romance. Oh Kenneth is an earl, and one day to get away from the stress he dresses up as his valet for the day. While he’s out he almost runs over Rebecca with his horse, but their chemistry is so strong they end up kissing. What ensues is multiple more encounters with Kenneth hides his true identity and Rebecca falls harder and harder. When the truth comes out Kenneth hast to decide if you wants to maintain his title, or try at love with a commoner, Rebecca. My review: 3.5/5 ⭐️ While I thought the story was cute, and I love anything that’s referred to as a hopeful fairytale, I just couldn’t get invested enough with this book to read it higher. With the opening scene being the characters meeting and kissing, I hoped for more chemistry. Recently I’ve been reading more historical fiction, and the storyline seem to fall a bit flatter than compared to others. It was still cute, but just not my cup of tea.
Thanks Netgalley for a arc copy of this book for a honest review.. The Valet's Secret had a lot of twist and turns I was all for it a very delightful read 5 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Happy Reading Lisa 📚
This is a unique take on Regency romance. I so enjoy an older love with adults. The heroine was a widow with a 20-some year old daughter and the hero was older with two sons 'in university', as they say. They were only about 4 or 5 years apart in age, which is a wonderful age gap. The hero was just into his title and was also an heir to an earldom, when he was tired of trying to mold himself into his new position. He had been a small landowner with an estate in Sussex. He switched places with his valet so he could ride a horse to his uncle"s estate and have a little freedom. He almost ran down the heroine because he was on a rented, spirited chestnut gelding. (My daughter has ridden her fair share if crazy chestnuts!) By the time he brought the horse under control and walked it back to where he saw the heroine, she had finally extricated herself from the bushes she went into trying to not get trampled by the run away horse. The heroine worked with her abusive father, doing silhouette portraits. She was running errands when she was almost run down. The hero helped her up and overcome by her presence, kissed her. He then escorted her to near her home. They couldn't forget about each other. He was intrigued by this lower class lady and she was intrigued by the valet she just met. The hero lied to her about his identity because he was embarrassed. She was picturing herself in almost-love with someone of the same class as her. I will let you read how it goes. I enjoyed this story because of the different perspective it gave of a widow of that time period and the sacrifices women had to make since they couldn't own companies, run estates, or have bank accounts without a man. I also like the different perspective of the age of the main characters. Normally you have a young lady and slightly older man. The age differences brings up different perspectives and responsibilities. This was a well written book that was very descriptive. At some times it seems slow, but this book was about life in a small village. The only action and adventure was going to church on Sundays, lol. I was never bored with this story and I enjoyed the entire read. I give this book 5 stars and recommend reading with all due haste.
"The Valet's Secret" is a charming Regency Proper Romance by gifted author Josi Kilpack. Featuring an older couple, both widowed, this tale explores class differences and expectations. There are shades of Cinderella, complete with a fairy godmother. This is not, however, a fairy tale. There are no magic wands or transforming pumpkins. Working-class Rebecca Parker and Kenneth Bartholomew Winterton, heir to an earldom, are engaging main characters. Walnut-throwing Rebecca is a delight, while fish-out-of-water Kenneth is coping with his new responsibilities. Secondary characters are also entertaining. Rebecca's daughter Rose and the baroness are endearing, while Lady Beth and Mr. Seffton (Rebecca's father), are detestable. Kilpack's prose is lovely, and this well-edited book is clean. Although I'm unaware if this tale is the first in a series, there are characters here that deserve their own stories. Thanks to NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for an ARC of this engaging novel.
I really enjoyed this story. I really liked how different it is from other proper romances. I loved that the characters are older, experiencing a second change at happiness later in their lives. A true regency Cinderella story. Rebecca Parker had had a wonderful life, that is until her loving husband dies and forces her to live again under her father's roof. While she enjoys helping with her father's work as a silhouette artist. She knows her only means of escape from her father's home is through marriage and she resigns herself to a marriage of convenience. That is until she is nearly run over by a handsome man on a horse. A man, who she believes is a valet named Malcolm Henry and who also kisses her with such passion, giving her the chance to think there might be more out there than a marriage of convenience. But not is all as it seems. Mr. Henry does exist and is a valet, but he is not the man who nearly ran over and shamelessly kissed Rebecca. That distinction belongs to Kenneth Winterton, a soon to be earl, who simply wants to enjoy the simple life a little bit longer and disguises as his valet to enjoy some simpler pursuits before assuming his role as earl. Kenneth too is a widower and knows he must find a wife as he assumes his new title, knows Rebecca is far below his social rank, but cannot seems to avoid the chemistry and the fact that he might just love her. But the chasm between their social stations is too large. This is a wonderful story of second chances and finding true love.
Kenneth Winterton is the heir presumptive to the Earl of Brenston. Rebecca Parker is a widow working with her father in his business of making shadow art. Years ago she was in service and must take it up again after leaving her father's home. Almost run over by a horse ridden by Kenneth, he and Rebecca kiss. What a kiss! They both want more, but Kenneth has lied about his identity and continues to do so every time they meet. It's not long before Rebecca finds out who he really is. A heartwarming love story that is built on the difference in class and the impossibility of a life together, or is it? This reads at a fast pace with angst, heartache and a happy ending. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book.
If you're looking for a proper romance book that is outside of the typical mold, this is the author for you! She has several books that feature characters or situations that aren't typical of the genre. In this particular book, the main characters are middle aged widowers with grown children, and they first meet by chance on a road, where they share a passionate kiss. Kenneth tells Rebecca that he's a valet to the earl... but in reality, he's actually the earl himself. Rebecca works with her father as a shadow artist, and her status is nowhere close to that of an earl. While I had difficulty getting over the idea that, in this time period, two strangers kissed on a road and then the woman went out of her way to find the man again, Josi Kilpack presented the idea in a way that made me believe is was reasonable. We got insight into Rebecca's hopes, fears, and challenges, and it lent some credibility to the otherwise unbelievable action. This is a lovely story about finding love a second time, overcoming obstacles, and figuring out what is worth fighting for. I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion and review.
I received a free preview copy from NetGalley and this is my freely given review. I gave this a 4.5 stars; this was a beautifully written historical romance that touched me deeply. This was the first book I read by this author and I loved the blurb about this because there were so many things that appealed to me. The hidden identity/mistaken identity, the differing classes... but it was so much more than that and it was a story that really riveted me. The hero, Mr. Kenneth Winterton is a widower, father of two nearly grown men, and an ex-Navy man. He is a mature 48 year old who recently found out that he is to be the heir to his uncle Lester, the Earl of Brenston, since his cousin died suddenly, with no children. His uncle is hail and hearty, but in his 70s, and concerned about his legacy. He wants to ensure that he passes on his knowledge to Kenneth, and ensure that he is well established in the community in the North of England. Especially considering Kenneth did not expect to inherit and his status will be raised significantly, his duties will be augmented, and he is from the South, and an unknown entity to the local gentry. Part of ensuring his status before he inherits is to see that Kenneth marries well, which to the Earl, means a woman from the community, raised to manage the duties of being Countess, and supporting the gravitas and prominence of the earldom. Kenneth is aware that he is being given a grave responsibility, as well as a significant inheritance, and wants to live up to his uncle's expectations. But he is a grown man of 48 years old, and he is struggling on how to maintain his own individual identity and his needs without losing himself in the quest of learning to becoming the Earl. Part of his angst is the fact that he loves to draw, and loves to ride wildly. He knows he needs to marry, but also wants to find a wife that he connects with. As part of his minor, hidden rebellions, he sometimes trades identities with his valet, Malcolm, so he can rent horses and race them around the area. On doing so one day, he nearly runs into Rebecca, forcing her off the road while she was walking to meet her daughter. He stops to help her and when she gets over her initial ire with him, they realize they feel a mutual attraction and kiss. Neither one of them can forget the kiss. But Rebecca is a commoner, and poor, forced to move back in with her father when she became widowed, to raise her daughter. Her daughter is now an adult and has work as a paid companion to a member of local gentry. Rebecca continues to live with her father, and help him with his work, but also coping with his alcoholism and abusiveness. Regardless of knowing that she is not an appropriate option for him, Kenneth continues to meet with Rebecca, in the guise of his valet, and their attraction becomes stronger, and Rebecca hopes for more with the valet she is falling for. But of course, as with so many lies, the truth is revealed... I enjoyed reading about the complexities of their various relationships. The real valet made a nice foil, as both a conscience and an enabler to Kenneth. There was nice depth and realism in the complexities of Rebecca's relationship with her father, and also with her daughter to; including the sacrifices she made to give her daughter some opportunities. She is a character that seems very real and relatable. It was also wonderful to read a historical romance that was about the hope of mature love and second chances at love. This was not a story about young 17 year old virginal debutantes and their 20-ish rakehell suitors. This was a story of a widow and widower in their 40s, with adult children, and knowledge about the world, and it's unfairness. But also about how hope, desire, passion, and the magic of new love can also exist at that age. So - as a passionate woman who believes in magic and love, and who is in her 40s; I have to say that I loved this book. I just wish that there was an epilogue or something to let us know how the couple managed in their relationship after they came together. The final road to the HEA was rather rushed for me, especially with the uncle's capitulation, after all his lessons and mechanisms to get Kenneth to select an appropriate wife. Also it would have been nice to see Lady Beth get some of her comeuppance too - snobby, manipulative bitch.
Wow, this must well be the best book I've read all year! I just wish it had an epilogue! Josi Killpack's use of language is excellent and her writing flows effortlessly, enhancing the story in the best way. From the moment Kenneth and Rebecca meet, there's a power and depth to their connection that takes them both by surprise, yet neither are able to deny those feelings. From the beginning, Kenneth knows they're unequally matched—based on his lies, Rebecca believes him to be a valent to Mr. Winterton when, in fact, he is Mr. Winterton, an heir to his uncle's earldom. With each encounter, they see these feelings only strengthened, and the impossibility of their growing closeness only grows too, especially after she finds out who he really is. I have read many good stories this year but this one took hold of my feelings from their first encounter. I couldn't help but go along with Kenneth and Rebecca as they fell in love and ultimately fought to be together. I just wish it had an epilogue. I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley and this is my honest opinion.