The Great Estate by Sherri Browning

STATE
The Great Estate by Sherri Browning
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (352 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Bluet

Pulled apart by past mistakes…

Sophia Thorne was young and inexperienced when she married the dashing Earl of Averford . . . and through dark and troubled times, their relationship nearly came to an end. Now she’s determined to transform herself into the fiery, ardent lover she always wanted to be, giving them a second chance at love . . . before they’re lost to each other forever.

Driven by a passion neither could deny…

It took nearly losing Sophia for Gabriel to realize he had allowed his love for his great estate to distract him from his beautiful wife. But that time is over. Despite all the obstacles standing in their way, Gabriel vows to teach Sophia what it is to truly love . . . and to be loved by a husband devoted heart and soul to her every desire.

The Great Estate opens with a bang, with Sophia Thorne, Countess Averford, looking at her own portrait and reflecting on the mistakes she’s made. Her marriage was already on shaky ground, when she gave into temptation and kissed another man. Her husband, Gabriel, walked in to find her willingly in another man’s arms. As their marriage deteriorated further, Gabriel decides he has to get away, and leaves for Italy, where he ends up spending a year. Sophia only learns of his return to England second hand, and decides to travel to London to welcome him home, and work on repairing their marriage. As seems to happen with this somewhat star-crossed couple, Gabriel is travelling home at the same time, and the two miss each other.

I’m a great fan of the trope of estranged couples getting back together, but not when it’s due simply to a lack of communication, and this couple could win the prize for not communicating, especially Sophia. I admit that Sophia showed some growth over the course of the book, but I never totally warmed up to her. For example, she greatly enjoyed her initiation into physical love, and Gabriel could tell. Then she remembers that her mother told her that ladies don’t enjoy sex, only whores do, so she turns from hot to barely lukewarm in Gabriel’s arms, leaving him baffled about the change. I hated that she kept pushing Gabriel away after the loss of their child. When he finally stops trying, she seeks out another man to feel wanted.

On the other hand, I adored Gabriel, and found him almost too good to be true. Despite catching Sophia with another man, he remained faithful. His trip to Italy was for self reflection and to learn how to be a better husband and more romantic man in order to win his wife back. I was amazed at the thoughtful and generous gift he planned for Sophia, only to have her all but throw it back in his face.

Sherri Browning writes very well, and I found myself engrossed in this compelling story, wanting to see if this troubled couple could really make a go of it. I plan to read the first two books in this series, perhaps to gain more insight into Sophia’s and Gabriel’s past, as The Great Estate picks up at their estrangement and separation. If you enjoy a story of reconciled lovers, this one’s for you.

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