by Gayle Callen

December 2005
ISBN: 0-06-078411-3
Reviewer Graphic Button Avon Books
Mass Market Paperback

Gayle Callen brings us another wonderful tale of love and romance in a new series. The Lord Next Door is the beginning of this series and is Victoria Shelby’s story.

Victoria Shelby has led the life of a rich, banker’s daughter. Rich enough to be taken notice of, but being that her father was not a ‘gentleman’, she would never be noticed by the ton as a prospect for their sons. She spent her childhood befriending the boy next door. They wrote back and forth for years, never meeting each other, only writing in her journal which they kept hidden under the bench in her garden. To Tom, she writes her hopes, her dreams and her fears. Now, her father is dead and has left her mother and her three younger sisters with no funds. Victoria must find a way to save her family from starvation. While trying to discover a way to save her family, she remembers the boy next door. He once asked her to marry him…of course he was ten at the time, but if he is still in service next door, maybe he will still agree to marry her. This way, she can at least put food on the table and save her mother from living on the streets. She was practically in love with Tom the boy, why would Tom the man be any different?

David, Viscount Thurlow needs a bride and needs one fast. His father is dying and he wants a grandchild on his knee before he dies. Unfortunately, the Earl had destroyed the family’s reputation long ago and no female of the ton will have him. He has already been rejected by two women. Where will he find a woman who will be acceptable to his position and be scandal free to boot? When Victoria comes knocking on his door looking for Tom, he realizes that the answer to his prayers is standing right before him. Only how can he tell Victoria that he is Tom and would she ever understand how lonely he was as a young boy, only wanting a friend and a way out of the reality that was his life back then.

When David offers Victoria a marriage of convenience, the real romance starts. How can two people who have known each other most of their lives, but not really know each other make a life together? It will take a lot of love, trust and the help from a few well meaning family members to make it all happen.

This is a wonderful tale of trust, romance and the re-finding of your best friend. Ever wish that you could be given a second chance at a relationship, to make it better than it could ever possibly be? This is what Victoria and David set out to find.

Ms. Callen delivers on all counts. Love, romance and hot, steamy love scenes that fairly set the pages on fire. The sexual tension between these star-crossed lovers is fantastic. Ms. Callen’s ability to set up a scene is superb and never leaves the reader guessing. Her secondary characters set the stage for different stories that will surely follow. This is a definite keeper for any historical romance fan!

Reviewed in November 2005 by Debbie.

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