The Valet’s Secret Summary
York, England, 1819
As a once happily married woman, Rebecca Parker had a good life, but now widowed, working for a living, and her only child grown, she feels invisible, tired, and lonely. 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 handsome. She’s instantly drawn to him, which is why, rather than stopping him from kissing her, she kisses him back, reigniting a nearly forgotten passion. But love at first sight only happens in fairy tales―never to an ordinary woman like her.
She sees Mr. Henry again and feels the possibilities growing until, while working in the kitchens during a dinner party, she sees the valet she kissed sitting at the right hand of the baroness. Mr. Henry is not the earl’s valet; he is the heir to the earldom―Kenneth Winterton.
Heartbroken, angry, and betrayed, Rebecca does not trust Lord Winterton and refuses to 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 take a chance on her? He needs a wife to help him in his place in society, and nothing about Rebecca s life does that . . . except how he feels when she is with him.
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 does not believe in fairy tales―until she finds herself living in one.
The Valet’s Secret Review
The Valet’s Secret by Josi S. Kilpack is a sweet second-chance romance. The story opens as our protagonist Kenneth disguises himself as his valet so he can enjoy a horseback ride through the countryside. His horse turns out to be a bit more spirited than he expected and he nearly runs down Rebecca Parker, a village resident, along the road. Their chance meeting produces an instant feeling of kinship on both their parts, eventually leading to a tender first kiss.
One meeting leads to another and they begin developing a relationship. Only Rebecca believes Kenneth is actually Malcolm, Kenneth’s valet. Kenneth quickly realizes that he is treading on dangerous ground with his deception. And while he dithers about how to tell her the truth, she discovers it by accident. Rebecca is devastated by his dishonesty and feels used. She determines to put an end to this budding relationship, though she continues to have feelings for him.
While much of the story is about Kenneth and Rebecca’s encounters and interactions, enough of it is devoted to learning their histories and developing them as characters to give them—and their story—a three-dimensional feel in both time and place. The story builds well, though the actual valet doesn’t get much airtime in this tale. I would like to have seen more about him and the relationship between him and the Earl.
And The Village Gets Involved
We do get to know an interesting cast of supporting characters though.
First up is Rebecca’s abusive father who does not ever seem to realize the blessing she is in his life—and their relationship finally reaches a breaking point, further complicating the potential relationship between Rebecca and Kenneth.
There is also the Earl, who is not perhaps as well developed as he could have been. He seems a bit one-dimensional to me. The Earl’s daughter-in-law, who plays an interesting and pivotal role in the story, and finally the baroness. She is rather progressive for a Regency-era character, and I rather like her. I’d like to know her more. I think the baroness could merit a novel of her very own. We can only hope Ms. Kilpack feels the same.
And the climax of the book includes a bit of a fairy-tale twist, but you’ll have to read it to discover which fairy tale it might be.
Even though I’m a “tell me more about that” reader, I still found this to be an enjoyable and recommendable (is that a word? It is now.) novel for fans of clean Regency romance and Josi Kilpack.
About the Author
Josi S. Kilpack is the author of several novels and one cookbook and a participant in several coauthored projects and anthologies. She is a four-time Whitney Award winner—including Lord Fenton’s Folly (2015) for Best Romance and Best Novel of the Year—and a Utah Best in State winner for fiction. She is the mother of four children and lives in northern Utah. You can learn more about Josi Kilpack and her writing at josiskilpack.com. And you can find more reviews of my Josi Kilpack favorites here.
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