Gabriel Fairchild is a war hero, but he doesn't feel much like one. After sustaining a severe injury during a pivotal battle, he was struck blind. He had gone to war to prove his worth to the only woman he'd ever loved, but she left him when he returned incapacitated, and his family treats him like an invalid. Now he lives in a self-imposed exile at his family's country estate. Anger over the loss of his sight, and more importantly his independence, has turned Gabriel into a surly master who spends his days all but terrorizing his servants. Refusing to be coddled, he blunders his way around the mansion, smashing everything in his path. He has already scared off every nurse that his father hired to care for him until he finally meets his match.
Samantha Wickersham comes to Fairchild Park to apply for the position as Gabriel's nurse. When she sees him stumbling around the house, her heart goes out to him. She wants nothing more than to show him that his life isn't over because of his disability. She stubbornly sets about trying to prove just that, but Gabriel will have none of it. He behaves abominably toward Samantha in an effort to get her to resign, but she refuses to be cowed by him. Instead her quiet patience eventually tames his beastly nature and earns not only his respect but his love as well. But Samantha harbors a guilty conscience and a dark secret that she knows will make it impossible for them to ever be together.
Yours Until Dawn kind of reminded me of the story of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan. Gabriel, the blind hero, is stubbornly independent, bumbling his way around the house, because he can't stand to be coddled, yet at the same time he can get worked up into childish piques of temper that have him deliberately destroying things in frustration. Samantha is an admirable heroine who is equally stubborn and determined to prove to Gabriel that his life isn't over just because he's lost his sight, and that with some work, he can lead a fulfilling and relatively normal existence. The banter between Gabriel and Samantha could be quite amusing, especially when he is trying everything in his power to make her resign her position as his nurse, but she persevered with long-suffering dignity, doing everything he asked of her even though he was making a complete pest of himself. I thought that it was very sweet how Samantha was able to bring little joys back into Gabriel's life. The game of blind man's bluff with the servants was hilarious, and the little puppy she brought home for him was just too cute. It was funny how Gabriel's griped and grumbled about the dog, but then was a total pushover for the little beast. While not exactly a seeing eye dog, Sam certainly earned his keep. Best of all, I liked how Samantha stood up to Gabriel's family when they tried to treat him like an invalid. It's no wonder he didn't want them around.
Yours Until Dawn was a likable and entertaining story, but during the first half or so of the book, I found my mind wandering a bit. I think part of the reason for this is that the character development seemed to be somewhat lacking. The author hints at past heartbreak for both Gabriel and Samantha but never takes it much further than that. I just kept finding myself eager to know more about them, but not discovering much. Then there were the snippets of correspondence that act as epigraphs for each chapter. I have to admit that initially I was completely baffled as to their purpose. As the story progressed, Ms. Medeiros revealed enough information for me to realize that they were excerpts from love letters that Gabriel had written to Cecily, the woman he had loved and who had abandoned him after learning of his blindness. Even still, I was a little confused about their meaning, but decided that they were there to demonstrate the confident, charming man that Gabriel had been before his battle injuries had robbed him of his sight. As it turns out, I wasn't entirely correct, because a little over halfway into the novel, the author threw me a major curve ball that I didn't see coming until I was right on top of it, at which point, everything came together to make perfect sense. Then the ambiguous character development which I had initially viewed as a weakness wasn't quite as big of an issue anymore. Even though I still wanted somewhat deeper characterizations, I 'm not sure how the author could have accomplished that and still told the same story.
Although it didn't quite reach the heights of perfections for me, Yours Until Dawn was still an enjoyable read. I think it was generally a little lighter and more cheerful than I was expecting given the subject matter. Gabriel was tortured by his affliction, but perhaps not to the extreme of some other romance heroes I've read. Samantha is a little tortured by her past actions too, but again not in an extreme way. I think this just left me with the feeling that there wasn't as much depth of emotion as there should have been. I also wasn't entirely sensing the love connection. At first, it just seemed like they were only falling in love because Gabriel felt challenged by Samantha and she felt empathy for his situation. However, once it got to the plot twist, the story took a very touching turn. After that, I was very much on board with this couple finding their HEA. I do wish that Samantha hadn't kept running from Gabriel quite so much and had just stood her ground and told him the truth. In the end though, she finally found her courage, so alls well that ends well, I suppose. Yours Until Dawn was perhaps a bit too neat and tidy of a story for my taste with everything coming together a little too perfectly, but in spite of that, it was still an entertaining read that had some decent emotion without being too angsty and was lighthearted without being silly. In some ways it reminded me of the one Julia Quinn book I read a while back, so fans of hers may enjoy Teresa Medeiros's style as well. Yours Until Dawn was my first book by Ms. Medeiros, but it has definitely left me open to trying others by her in the future.
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