Daniel's True Desire, the second book in Grace Burrowes’ True Gentleman series, is a charming Regency romance about a vicar with a troubled past who falls in love with a woman who has resigned herself to spinsterhood due to her own past heartbreaks.
Daniel Banks is the son of a vicar and a vicar himself. He grew up, as he puts it, "only nominally a gentleman." Upon becoming vicar for the village of Haddondale, he promptly falls in love with Lady Kirsten Haddonfield. Lady Kirsten is the sister of an Earl, but she is far more comfortable supervising the cleaning and repairing of the vicarage than she is pouring tea. As she says, "Perhaps I am only nominally a lady." The sharp-tongued but extremely practical Lady Kirsten and the gentle Daniel fall very much in love, but Daniel has a tie from his past that could keep them apart.
Burrowes deftly mixes angst (both Daniel and Kirsten have tragedy in their past lives) and humor (Daniel is tasked with running a boys' school and the mischievous students provide constant comic relief) in this novel. Watching Daniel and Kirsten work as a team is deeply satisfying—they have fabulous chemistry and engage in witty banter and honest conversations while co-running the vicarage and school.
The use of language in Daniel's True Desire is lovely, the characters are fun and interesting, and the setting bucolic. It's a lovely book to escape into, in which problems are overwhelming and yet all are satisfyingly solved—perhaps a bit too miraculously—through the combined forces of romantic love, friendship, family and the machinations of several small boys and their collection of runaway toads.