Rating: 4.5 🌈
Just that fantastic cover draws you to Below Stairs at Crofton Hall, third story in the Modern Crofton series by Rebecca Cohen.
Yes, that’s definitely Karl Vinter, new under butler, on the cover. The very portrait of his profession. Karl is maybe one of my favorites, aside from the main couple of course, and Dara.
From his unexpected exit from his last employer to the way he starts making Crofton Hall and it’s inhabitants, his home and extended family, is a subtle and charming story.
It’s a two-way love story. For Karl is in need of a place and people who not only accept him enthusiastically in every aspect, but allow him, through respect and kindness, to shine and grow his responsibilities (and friendships) in ways he never expected. And Crofton Hall, Ben, Ashley, Dara, get a subtly inspired under butler who’s becoming one of them, and irreplaceable.
Watching Karl fall in love with Crofton Hall, maneuvering through the hallways, and staff,and realizing he’s finally home? It’s everything.
The other element? That’s Val Blake, a younger gardener who’s come off an abusive relationship, lost a business, and a home. All at once. Prickly, basically a emotional mess when we meet him, Val and Karl start a friends with benefits relationship that fraught with anxiety and issues from the beginning.
Honestly it’s not really a relationship I rooted for. I liked Karl far more than Val. And while Val was admitting he was parroting the same toxic characteristics as his ex, it took a while and some pain he inflicts, before he seeks therapy. Realistically true to a person recovering from being gaslighted. It wasn’t until the end that he turned around, and it still seemed a little bit fast for everything that went before.
Maybe I got the timeline wrong and it had been longer since they’d seen each other.
Val’s section was written to feel like you had a window into the mindset of someone who was still so screwed up by the person who’s narcissistic personality had damaged him so badly to the point he was using it himself. It felt real, he was a train wreck, and he needed help.
That’s terrific writing.
The relationship between Karl and himself? Along the same lines. I loved Karl so much and Val had just started his therapy that I’d almost have loved to have seen them have a 2-part story to pull it out naturally.
But I’ll settle for this . That was a lovely ending. And of course there’s a fabulous secondary or even main romantic thread running with Ben and Ashley, that follows directly into the next story to be released in September.
Ben and Ashley’s thread is a romantic winner and absolutely sigh worthy at the end.
Highly recommending all the stories. It’s fantastic reading full of great characters and entertaining, romantic, and heartwarming plots.
Read them all in the order they are written.
Cover Design: Garrett Leigh – Black Jazz Design
🔹Book #1 – Saving Crofton Hall – Buy Here
🔹Book #2 – Making History at Crofton Hall – Buy Here
Modern Crofton series:
🔹Saving Crofton Hall #1 (orig released 2014
🔹Making History at Crofton Hall
🔹Below Stairs at Crofton Hall
🔹Getting Married at Crofton Hall-TBR September 2022
A spin-off from The Crofton Chronicles-historic romance series
🔹The Actor and The Earl #1
🔹Duty to the Crown #2
🔹Forever Hold His Peace #3
Karl Vinter joins the staff at Crofton Hall as the new under butler. He’s too busy to bother with relationships, but he’s more than happy to explore a friends with benefits arrangement with gardener, Val Blake. He couldn’t imagine a more perfect way to settle into is his new life at Crofton Hall. Pity pesky things like feelings start to get in the way.
Meanwhile, Ben Redbourn, 16th Earl of Crofton, is trying to find the perfect way to propose to Ashley, his boyfriend. He’s going to need all the help he can get, especially after at least one misstep and that he’s never given Ashley any indication he wants to get married.
This is the third Modern Crofton novel, featuring Benjamin Redbourn, the 16th Earl of Crofton and descendant of Anthony Redbourn, 1st Earl of Crofton from my historical series, The Crofton Chronicles.