A sparkling debut from a new author we're all going to want more from."-Susan Meissner, bestselling author of The Nature of Fragile Things
When an ambitious female artist accepts an unexpected commission at a powerful earl's country estate in 1920s England, she finds his war-torn family crumbling under the weight of long-kept secrets. From debut author Courtney Ellis comes a captivating novel about finding the courage to heal after the ravages of war.
Alberta Preston accepts the commission of a lifetime when she receives an invitation from the Earl of Wakeford to spend a summer painting at His Lordship's country home, Castle Braemore. Bertie imagines her residence at the prodigious estate will finally enable her to embark on a professional career and prove her worth as an artist, regardless of her gender.
Upon her arrival, however, Bertie finds the opulent Braemore and its inhabitants diminished by the Great War. The earl has been living in isolation since returning from the trenches, locked away in his rooms and hiding battle scars behind a prosthetic mask. While his younger siblings eagerly welcome Bertie into their world, she soon sees chips in that world's gilded facade. As she and the earl develop an unexpected bond, Bertie becomes deeply entangled in the pain and secrets she discovers hidden within Castle Braemore and the hearts of its residents.
Threaded with hope, love, and loss, At Summer's End delivers a portrait of a noble family--and a world--changed forever by the war to end all wars.
Unlike most well-born women her age who aspired only to marriage and motherhood, Alberta “Bertie” Preston dreamed of having her paintings hang in the poshest salons of London. Her parents refuse to accept that this is what she desires most from life - even after her modest win in the Royal British Legion’s art contest.
Bertie is now faced with a decision. Live as she chooses or become that which society says she must be. Her mind is instantly made up when a letter arrives with an unexpected offer. So she’s going to spend the summer painting for the Earl of Wakeford – regardless of the consequences.
Someone—a bloody earl! - wanted me to paint for him. For money. This had been my goal when entering the contest. But how could I ever have expected such a commission? An earl might display my paintings where his titled friends could see. It wouldn’t be long before more commissions came through and I had the income for a solo show, to submit a piece for entry in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, to rent a flat with a view of Hyde Park.
Life at Castle Braemore isn’t at all what she thought it might be. The Napier family is shrouded in mystery and in secrets. With the Earl being the most mysterious of all.
Julian Napier has shouldered the responsibility of his title since a very young age. Taking care of his family has always been paramount and every action was always taken with them in the forefront of his mind. But after the war scarred both his heart and his body, he’s been hiding from them.
The arrival of Bertie Preston is the greatest of blessings and the worst of curses. With her independent spirit, she’s worked her way right into a heart that he long believed to be dead. But would she still dare to love him when all his sins are laid bare?
I fell in love with the way his teeth touched when he said my name, the crooked bottom row peeking out from behind his lip. His lip—my God, did I want to know what it tasted like. I thought perhaps it was time I stepped away to gain some composure, but Wakeford had a firm hold on me.
With At Summer’s End, Courtney Ellis delivers the kind of historical that I’ve always wished for! With a breathtaking combination of fiercely independent female characters unafraid to walk their own path, tender romance, and opulent landscapes, I was instantly captivated.
She somehow fashions the Napiers themselves into a microcosm of the modern world. They embrace each other and Bertie with a devotion that never ever waivers. And it’s what makes them something truly exceptional.
This is everything a historical romance should be. And so much more…
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