by Heidi Kimball
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc. (March 2, 2020)
A broken man. A fiery young woman. Neither one’s heart will come away unscathed.
Juliet Graham fervently counts the days until her twenty-first birthday, when she can claim the inheritance that will grant her the freedom she has always craved and the guardianship of her younger brother. Until then, she is trapped under her aunt Agnes’s domineering will. When forced to accompany the family to a house party at Shaldorn Castle, Juliet’s only objective is to keep to herself. That is, until a chance encounter with a boorish stranger stirs up an unexpected whirlwind of emotions in her. Thrown off-balance, Juliet does the unthinkable: loses her temper and insults the man—who turns out to be her unwilling host, the Duke of Halstead. Fully expecting to be sent away, Juliet is surprised when the brusque and callous duke instead takes an interest in her.
Drawn to the duke in unguarded moments, Juliet finds herself more and more intrigued by the man who shuns Society’s rules as completely as she does, and over the next few weeks, their unlikely friendship deepens into a connection neither expected.
But even as Juliet comes to recognize her true feelings, her scheming aunt issues an ultimatum that threatens the future she was just beginning to hope for. Juliet must choose: either break the promise she made to herself years ago, or lose the man who has captured her heart and soul.
I love when a story pulls you right in, and even in just the first chapter I already feel extremely interested in the main characters.
“Sometimes it is nice to be reminded how insignificant we are.”
The Duke of Halstead vows to never marry and Juliet Graham never wants to marry outside her station like her parents did. She is, however, fascinated with finding out what the Duke is really like and why she is so affected by him.
“I was the daughter of a sailor, and no matter how fancy my borrowed ball gown, I would never belong in a setting like this—in Halstead’s world.”
They are both grieving and need each other to work through it. Juliet is still grieving for her father and Halstead is grieving for what he lost in the accident and trying to figure out his new normal.
Halstead scrubbed a hand along his clenched jaw. “Did you ever stop to think, even for a moment, that I push you away for a reason? There’s a chasm inside of me so deep and dark I sometimes think it will swallow me whole.” He paused, breathing heavily. “And I fear if I give you even the smallest glimpse, I will frighten you away.”
Halstead’s struggles resonate with me. His body is constantly in pain and he tries to mask his emotions so no one can see how bad it is. Though along with masking that pain, he is masking so many other things and building up walls around himself. I think that someone who has not walked through this situation might have a harder time understanding it on the same level.
I loved Halstead and Juliet’s moments alone together, and I selfishly wanted more.
This book was well written with characters you will pull for as they struggle to find their happy ending. The minor characters were just as strong as the major ones. I loved Hugh and the Duke’s sister but I found Robert needy and annoying. Halstead’s grandmother had an overbearing personality but she was a sassy old lady.
“If you had known Halstead before his accident . . . well, he was a man with every door open to him. He possessed political power, wealth, good looks, the latter of which he of course got from me.”
The Guarded Heart is one of my all time favorite books, and I really enjoyed this book as well. I can’t wait to read more from Heidi Kimball.
“I try not to hope. Better to face the reality of what is.”
“I can’t decide if that is admirable or troubling. Perhaps both.”