Captain Charles Wyvern owes a great debt to the man who saved his life—especially since Major Richardson lost his own life in the process. The major's dying wish is for his love to be relayed to his fiancée, and for the captain to look after her needs. But along the way, Charles learns of another obligation that has fallen on his shoulders: due to a death in the family, he is now the Earl of Rothwell.
His new role includes an estate in need of a leader and a trio of orphaned girls, all wards of the former earl. Wyvern understands war; young ladies and properties he does not. As a solution, Charles proposes a marriage of convenience to the late major's betrothed, the bereaved Lady Sophia Haverly.
Sophie is surprised to find she isn't opposed to the idea. It will help her care for Richardson's elderly mother, and she's already fallen in love with the wayward girls on the Rothwell estate. This alliance is a chance to repay the captain who has done so much for her care, and a distraction from her grief. When Wyvern returns to his commission at sea, she'll stay behind to oversee his property and wards.
It sounds so simple. Until the stalwart captain is arrested on suspicion of smuggling, and Sophie realizes how much he's come to mean to her. Now she must learn to fight, not only for his freedom but also for his love.
The Indebted Earl is the concluding volume in the Serendipity & Secrets trilogy by Erica Vetsch. Like the preceding titles The Lost Lieutenant and The Gentleman Spy, this final tale is one of adventure, romance, and unexpected entitlement. As implied prior to the book’s summary above, I hesitate to offer too many details about the overall storyline. For my part, I began reading the novel with very little knowledge of what lay ahead. My enjoyment of The Lost Lieutenant and The Gentleman Spy was strong enough that I agreed to read and review this novel solely based on my experience with those earlier titles. The assumption was made that The Indebted Earl would be a good match for me. Fortunately, that small gamble paid off.
Similar to the main male character Evan in The Lost Lieutenant, Captain Charles Wyvern is the lead here. He too is returning to his home country from war, although he does not struggle with memory issues as Evan did. He does carry an emotional burden however, and he works through that encumbrance through most of the story. The debt he feels that he must discharge is related to Lady Sophia Haverly, sister of Marcus Haverly from The Gentleman Spy. When they meet she is grieving the loss of her fiancé, the man who saved Charles’ life in battle, Major Richardson.
While paying a visit to Sophie (in part to deliver the deceased Major’s sea chest of belongings), events begin to transpire which rapidly change the lives of the characters. This leads to major life choice decisions emerging on a fairly regular basis. Both Charles and Sophie find themselves in positions they never expected to hold, with their hearts pulled in multiple directions simultaneously.
In the latter portion of the novel, a feeling of uncertainly and subterfuge begins to emerge. Questionable details in the lives and manners of particular characters lead the narrative into an area of intrigue that I did not expect. The story builds to an exciting climatic scene at sea that was positively riveting. Captain Wyvern at the helm made for very compelling reading, and a quiet scene after that perilous episode truly brought tears to my eyes.
Erica Vetsch has produced a fine trio of family-friendly novels in her Serendipity & Secrets series. Not only in The Indebted Earl, but in all three titles she has brought to her readers compelling characters, exciting adventure and intrigue, as well as sweet romance. While these works do have Christian themes that emerge from time to time, discussions of faith are not heavy-handed and involve issues that believers face on a regular basis. Many of us sometimes find ourselves in challenging situations, wondering what God must be up to in our crazy lives. We face murky seas in life, and we ask God for direction, for a heading on our journey. We laugh, we fall in love, but we also face unexpected storms that can test our faith but also prove our mettle. Charles and Sophia are on a similar journey in The Indebted Earl, and it was a pleasure to follow along that odyssey with them. Congratulations to Erica Vetsch, and I am pleased to recommend this series to anyone.
About the Author
Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate.
Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.
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