Madeline Whittington, daughter of the deceased Earl of Richfield, emerges from English society’s prescribed period of mourning in the winter of 1815. Madeline believes that she no longer belongs in a world of gossip and gowns; instead she wants to help the orphans living within the walls of Ashcroft Insane Asylum. Once there, she discovers a dark secret within the asylum walls.
Because of his elder brother’s unexpected death, Devlin Greyson becomes Earl of Ravensmoore and struggles between two worlds: one of affluence and privilege and one of poverty and disease. Torn between his desire to become a doctor and the numerous responsibilities of his title, he wrestles with God’s will for his future. Will he be able to honor this God-given gift and win the woman he falls in love with in a society that does not value gentlemen who work? And will Lady Madeline Whittington be able to honor her father’s memory when she is attracted to the one man who could destroy the promise she made to her father?
Secrets of the Heart is Jillian Kent’s debut Regency romance and Book One in The Ravensmoore Chronicles. A compelling romance set in 1817, with elements of intrigue and suspense that delves into the darker side of life in Regency England.
Devlin Greyson inherits the title of Earl of Ravensmoore after the unexpected death of his father and elder brother. He continues studying medicine at a hospital in York, despite strong disapproval from society and his peers.
Lady Madeline Whittington is grieving the loss of her beloved father and younger siblings, and she is distressed by her mother’s attraction to the mysterious Lord Vale. Lord Vale claims to be an old friend of her father’s, and Madeline distrusts Lord Vale’s intentions toward her mother.
Lord Ravensmoore aka Doctor Greyson provides medical assistance to Madeline after her horse stumbles during a hunt. She is drawn to Devlin but later recalls that he was the attending trainee doctor at the hospital when her father died, and Madeline holds Devlin responsible for her father’s death.
Devlin is smitten with Lady Madeline, but he is holding his own secrets that jeopardise a potential match between them.
Madeline shows kindness to a disturbed girl she comes across in the woods, and who she later learns is an escapee from the nearby Ashcroft Lunatic Asylum where Lord Vale is a benefactor.
Secrets generating from Ashcroft Lunatic Asylum threaten to destroy both Devlin and Madeline’s lives. Danger lurks and their faith is challenged as they fight for what is right in a world where polite society would prefer to ignore the plight of the mentally ill.
Secrets of the Heart provides an insightful and honest look into life in a nineteenth century lunatic asylum. Human rights take second place to the agendas and greed of those in authority. The powerful story has engaging characters and exciting plot twists that will keep you turning the page until the very end. I highly recommend this book to those looking for a thought provoking regency romance that addresses the tough issue of mental illness.