Books

The Vagabond Vicar, my debut novel, is available now!. Set in late Georgian/early Regency England, this is a "sweet" historical story you'll fall in love with! Fans of traditional regency romance and high-quality clean romance novels are raving about this book...

"I am completely, unabashedly in love with this book."
"Brentwood’s original story filled with interesting plot twists kept me turning page after page..."
"Just marvellously done."
"You won't be disappointed."
"Completely romantic, completely enchanting... pure entertainment."
"The best book I have read in a long time."


The Vagabond Vicar

by Charlotte Brentwood

The Vagabond Vicar
Where to Buy

Book Description
Excerpt

What Readers Are Saying

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Ask your local bookstore to order The Vagabond Vicar from Ingram. 

Publication date: 15 October 2014 (eBook)
21 May 2015 (Paperback)
ISBN: 978-0-473-30268-9 (Kindle Edition)
978-0-473-30267-2 (ePub Edition)
978-0-473-31449-1 (Paperback Edition)

What's It About?

William Brook is an idealistic young cleric, desperate to escape dreary England for a mission adventure in exotic lands. It's his worst nightmare come true when he is posted to a parish in a small backwater village, populated with small-minded people and husband-hunting mamas. He’s determined not to form any ties and to escape the country as an independent single man.


A free spirit, Cecilia Grant is perfectly content to remain in her family home in Amberley village - when she's not wandering the countryside at all hours painting. Marriage options are few, but that won't stop her mother from engineering a match with one of the ruling family's sons. Cecilia attempts to win the man, but what is it about the new vicar and his brooding ways that is so appealing? Could he be the only one who has ever really understood her, and can she discover what he is running away from?

As William struggles not to fall in love with the lady's intoxicating beauty and mysterious eccentricity, he finds himself drawn into the lives of the villagers, despite their best efforts to alienate the newcomer. When he makes it clear he's not sticking around, Cecilia strives to restrain her blossoming feelings for him. Just when it seems love may triumph, dark secrets are revealed in Amberley and a scandal from William’s past may see the end of not only his career, but his chance at finding an everlasting love.

Sensuality level: sweet (only kissing) 
Please note, although there is some mention of religious subject matter due to the hero's occupation, this is not an "inspirational" novel.

Excerpt


    Cecilia slipped out after breakfast on Saturday, intent on painting the late summer wildflowers. She worked near the river for several hours. On her way back home, she saw a distant view of the churchyard, and some movement caught her eye near the vicarage. There appeared to be someone working in the pottage garden next to the house, which she knew was well overgrown. She moved closer, with the intention of striking up a conversation with the worker, and asking about what he was planting. The Grants had an abundance of spinach seedlings, so she could offer a few.
    She walked down around the base of a mound, and through a grove of trees. Upon emerging from behind a large oak, she gave a start. It was Mr Brook working in the garden, furiously tilling the hardened soil. He always gives his all to whatever endeavour he sets his mind to. He hadn’t seen her, and though she felt she shouldn’t disturb him, she found herself stealing closer, pressing herself behind another oak only about twenty feet from the plot. She couldn’t help but examine him closely, as the sight of him was unlike she’d ever seen a gentleman before.
    William had worked up a sweat. His dark hair was tousled across his forehead, and dirt was caked on his cheeks and neck. His torso and arms were only clad in a shirt, with no coat, cravat or waistcoat. Apart from her father and brothers, Cecilia had only ever seen gentlemen in jackets or coats. And she had never seen a shirt, or the man within it, in such a state as this. He had torn it open at the neck, and she could see a broad chest speckled with hair. The damp fabric clung to his shoulders and well-formed arms. Cecilia watched him drive his hoe into the soil again and again, breathing hard with the effort. She swallowed, realising she had been gaping with an open mouth, which had suddenly dried out. She knew there was no way she could talk to him, her agitated mind flitting from one thought to the next. She emerged from the tree, intending to creep past the vicarage and on her way home. Her heart beating wildly, she began to shuffle through the grass.
    William chose that moment to pause in his work, stretching backwards and causing his shirt to pull out from his breeches. The glimpse of the muscles of his stomach made Cecilia gasp, and she clamped a hand to her mouth, too late. He bolted upright, and instantly his eyes were on her, freezing her steps. He held her stare for just a moment, before conflicting emotions washed across his face. First he smiled, then frowned, and then mumbled something as he looked down at himself. Even from her distance she could see colour creeping up his neck to his face, and she felt remorse for embarrassing him. He was working his own land, after all. She had no business spying on him.
    “Oh Miss Grant, I do apologise…” William looked about the yard frantically, locating his coat hanging on a fencepost. He started towards it, but did not advance two steps before he landed on his rake. The instrument jumped up and smacked him squarely on the nose.
    “Mr Brook!” Cecilia started towards him, coming to the low stone fence and hesitating for only a moment before sitting on it and swivelling into his plot. “Oh my goodness, you are bleeding!”
    He touched a hand to his nose then observed the thick red liquid on his fingers. With dazed eyes he took in her advancing frame.
    “I am so sorry, Mr Brook. I was on my way back home from the meadows and elected to cut through the glebe. I never thought… oh do let me help you.” She hovered close to him as he produced a handkerchief and held it to his nose. She regarded his injury pitiably, her eyes widening at the sight of the blood in close quarters, before her gaze drifted irresistibly lower.
    “Really Miss Grant, I am quite all right. You should be on your way immediately. I did not consider female passers-by when I reduced myself to this state.”
    “Well, I shall go then,” Cecilia said reluctantly, her eyes clinging to the tail of his shirt. “But are you sure you will not let me attend to your wound? I feel terrible for causing you pain.”
    William stifled a laugh. “It will only bleed for a few moments more, I am sure. Then I will resume my work. Your concern is most kind, but I am afraid it is wasted. And I must be grateful to you for teaching me a lesson about leaving my rake lying on the ground.”
    Cecilia went back over to the wall, pausing as she sat.
    William averted his eyes as she swung her legs over, and said, “Good day, Miss Grant.”
    She turned back just as his eyes met hers. He looked a little woozy, but magnificent. “Goodbye,” she breathed.

***

    As Cecilia looked up at the vicar in church the next morning, she tried to keep her mind on the words he was saying. But it was no good. All she could see was the dishevelled young man she had encountered the day before. Instead of the confident authority which masked his eyes at this moment, she remembered the shy sparkle she had glimpsed, and the dark curls which had strayed across them.
    Mr Brook pressed his fists on to the lectern as he spoke passionately about Jesus being every person who needs help. The message impacted Cecilia for several minutes and she was moved by his kind spirit and conviction. Then she also remembered the toned arms that had worked the earth, and as she watched his fists she was sure his muscles must be flexing under his jacket. When his eyes connected with hers, heat washed over her body. As she felt the crimson rise over her chest and creep up her neck, she yanked her eyes away from him.
    She blinked hard and looked down at her hands. Cecilia! she scolded herself. This is the vicar! You cannot have impure thoughts about a man of God! This must be a sin.

Copyright 2014 by Charlotte Brentwood. This excerpt may not be reproduced without permission.

What Readers Are Saying

As an avid admirer of Jane Austen’s work, this sweet Regency romance was right up my alley. As a young good-looking vicar of marriageable age and a forward-thinker, William and his troubles reminded me a bit of Sidney Chambers (of the TV series Grantchester), despite the difference in time period. The romance between William and Cecilia was nicely woven together with the happenings of the village, which gave it a nice village chronicle feel, similar to Cranford and other such stories. Great story with interesting characters. I look forward to the two follow-up novels that are planned! Can’t wait to read them!
Midnight Attic Reader (5/5 stars)

I thoroughly enjoyed this delightful read. Highly recommend it.
The characters were perfect together. Well drawn and realistic.
Barbara Silkstone, a reader at Amazon.com (5/5 stars)

I absolutely adored this novel. It’s a beautiful, historical version of boy-meets-girl that manages to never fall into the dreaded classification of “cliché and predictable.” The narrative is wonderfully written, with exquisite attention to detail. Brentwood has a definite talent for showing, without telling too much.
I loved that the Cecilia, while she is the heroine of the story, doesn’t lose her strong self-identity just because of romantic possibilities. She stays true to her personality, and even grows along the way. William does the same thing, possibly even to a larger extent. He was whiny and bitter at the beginning, but soon falls into his role with gusto. He definitely matures during his residency in the small village, and we clearly see that as the reader.
I’ve never been one to “fall” for a religious man, but William Brook is likely to get fans fluttering and cheeks flushing. Dare I say he’s a strong contender against the famous (and my literary love) Mr. Rochester?
Verdict:
There is no doubt about it, this is a 5 out of 5 star read. I’m greatly looking forward to the sequels, and highly recommend potential readers to grab a copy. It’s affordable, and completely worth the money. Charlotte Brentwood writes beautiful historical romances of love everlasting.
Alexia Bullard for eBook Review Gal (5/5 stars)

I am completely, unabashedly in love with this book. Many books claim "fans of Jane Austen will love this"  - this one lives up to the claim. It's an enchanting read that pulls you into it and carries you happily along. I loved the heroine who appeared flighty on the surface but really had a depth of character matched by few - and the hero who was a genuinely good man, struggling to find the path he was meant to be on. The book makes it clear it's not an inspirational novel, though I thought there was something to be said about the character figuring out his true calling in life; that's something many Christians struggle with. You certainly don't have to be a Christian to appreciate the book. There are no awkward sermonettes in it or anything - but the Vicar's faith is very much a part of his character, of who he is.
It was so refreshing to read a high-quality book that was clean all the way through. The author beautifully captures the romance and the passion the two characters have for each other without telling way more than I ever wanted to know. I didn't cringe or face-palm once during this book, which is becoming a rarity for me these days. The characters were intelligent and rational - likable.
Though the main storyline was a common one - I wasn't surprised by the results of the book, but there were twists and turns in the getting there. The book felt fresh, unique. I truly think it's because the characters had more depth to them than is sometimes seen in the genre. I seriously cannot wait to see what else this author releases. She has a new fan in me.
Heather from Word Menagerie (5/5 stars)

How often does a romance from the past and across the pond ride the edge of completely romantic, completely enchanting and is completely devoid of heaving bosoms and the snobbery of the Ton? Charlotte Brentwood’s The Vagabond Vicar has all of the trappings of a time in history where station, reputation and having the right pedigree are of utmost importance.
Secrets, lies, scandal and misunderstandings, they are all in this delightful tale from Ms. Brentwood, as well as young love.
Want a “Mom-safe” romance to share that is warm, has tension, is driven by characters that are so very likable? Here it is, The Vagabond Vicar, a gem of a find, pure entertainment, and a trip back to a time when social proprieties could make or break a young woman.
Dii, a reader at Amazon.com (5/5 stars)

One of my favorite things about The Vagabond Vicar was Brentwood’s original story filled with interesting plot twists that kept me turning page after page... The [cover] art is simply gorgeous....The added suspense and action of the second half of the novel was the right impetus to force the characters into their own surprisingly relatable revelations and backstories... I enjoyed The Vagabond Vicar’s unique plot and characters, beautiful cover, and lovely romance. The suspense, action, and development of characters rose as the novel neared its close, bringing the ending to a touching conclusion. This is a Regency novel worth adding to your to-read list.
Katie Patchell at Austenprose (4/5 stars)

I loved this book. I find it extremely frustrating that there are so many historical romances which are merely fronts for endless, anachronistic sex scenes and so few genuinely affecting love stories like The Vagabond Vicar. A truly moral hero who holds true to what is right even though it threatens to cost him his livelihood and the woman he loves, a heroine who isn't just after a husband and who grows throughout the book into a strong, independent character, a wonderful setting and an interesting cast of supporting characters made this the best book I have read in a long time. I couldn't put it down and enjoyed a wonderful day of relaxed reading during the post Christmas period.
Carolyn Cooke, a reader at Amazon.co.uk (5/5 stars)

Go ahead, judge this book by its cover. It's that good. It's a sweet love story about two people who aren't supposed to fall in love--with anyone. She's destined for an arranged marriage and he's determined to spend his life ministering to people far away from the tiny village he finds himself in. Lots of good stuff that I don't want to give away, so just read it!
Rescue Mom, a reader at Amazon.com (5/5 stars)

Discovering new authors is always so rewarding. I am incredibly swayed by a beautiful cover, and The Vagabond Vicar just makes my heart sing. I look forward to what she comes up with next. Check out The Vagabond Vicar. You won’t be disappointed.
Laurel Ann at Austenprose

Delightful Jane Austen-like story with the right dose of romance. There is some love triangle action that causes a bit of anxiety, but the heroine handles it well.
The tension and stress of the times for young ladies in want (need) of a husband comes through well through the various entertainment gatherings and socials. I enjoyed the interactions and dialogue during the dancing scenes between the main couple in the story.
The characters were likable and perspectives from the main couple were portrayed equally. I especially liked hearing from William's viewpoint in regards to his struggle with falling in love. 
Velvet from VVB32 Reads (5/5 stars)

This is one for the romantics, the detail-oriented, those who love a good plot twist, likeable characters and believable dialogue. You'll find yourself torn between dismay and relief as the hero and heroine come to terms with their growing attraction for each other - an attraction which neither of them initially welcomes. And while the inevitable romance slowly unfolds, there is plenty of entertainment to be had in the myriad subplots - mysteries, intrigue and scandal amongst the upper class of picturesque Amberley.
The Vagabond Vicar is a light-hearted, refreshing romp through the ins-and-outs of small town politics and romance. The attention to detail will astound you, the humour will amuse you, and the characters will captivate you. And before you know it, just like me, you'll be sitting around impatiently awaiting a sequel.
Jillian, a reader at Amazon.com (5/5 stars)

I really warmed to the sincere, gentlemanly hero in this tale... I thought the heroine's shock at her first rush of attraction was well portrayed, she is confused, ashamed and taken completely by surprise... The story rolls along at just the right pace and includes various challenges for the h&H to overcome without descending into soap opera. Although not meant to be a religious book, themes of repentance, forgiveness, friendship and community spirit appear regularly and it is a clean traditional romance.
A reader at Amazon.co.uk (4/5 stars)

If you like original, Austen-like stories without any fanfiction play, with just a few chaste kisses between two main leads, this is definitely a Regency novel worth adding to your to-read list. Normally, I'm not a romance fan. I like my stories darker, with a lot of suspense, shadowy characters and death lurking around the corner; some purple prose doesn't hurt either. Still I shamelessly admit I enjoyed The Vagabond Vicar a lot: it was a breeze to read, it was sweet and pretty straightforward without being simplistic. I guess from time to time everybody needs a little sugary snack – this was my bookish equivalent.
Anachronist at Portable Pieces of Thoughts (5/5 stars)

I really, really enjoyed The Vagabond Vicar! It flowed well, I felt immersed in the setting and the story, I liked the characters, and I felt the romance between Cecilia and William. There were also the usual societal niceties from the time and a quaint village with interesting and quirky characters that kept things lively.
I thought this was such an interesting premise, not for the plot alone, but how the story takes two unique characters who appear somewhat opposites in nature, sets them in a small town, gives them expectations that they have no desire to fulfill, and then throws in some sparks. I also liked that the romance slowly built and that friendship came before anything else, well, except attraction. I also liked the humor, such as when Cecilia just presumes that the new vicar will be an old man and then is practically dumbfounded when he is a rather attractive man instead.  And she shouldn't be attracted to the vicar and the vicar shouldn't be attracted to one of his parishioners, right? There were lots of other moments that had me smiling. I also enjoyed the almost-kisses and how the romance became more intense as the story progressed. Just marvellously done.
I really enjoyed these characters! I loved Cecilia in all her distraction, how genuine she was, her eye for beauty and how she would get lost in the moment, but also her sensibility. I also loved William. He's serious, caring, a hard worker, loyal, and above all a gentleman. They each balanced the other out. I also liked the way the villain came to play his role, the town 
gossip, the other townspeople and farmers, William's maid, and Cecilia's family who added a whole other dynamic. There were quite a few different personalities, but they were each unique and added to the story.
If you enjoy historical romance that is traditional and clean, but still with plenty of sparks, I'd definitely recommend The Vagabond Vicar. I'm looking forward to seeing what Brentwood writes next.
Tressa at Wishful Endings (4.5/5 stars)

The Vagabond Vicar is a sweet and charming regency set historical romance with many swoon-worthy moments. Though I don’t usually read regency romances, I was intrigued by the plot and as I read, I fell in love with the characters.  Cecilia is definitely more interesting than everyone in town makes her to be, especially because she does not want to be pushed into a marriage just for the title, money, and lands that go with it.  William is definitely more that the average vicar, he does not want to be tied down to such a small and dull town, but he is still kind hearted and feels the need to help people where he can.  From William and Cecelia’s first meeting, I could feel their draw to one another. Through the book, their temptation for one another kept me reading.   Even the dastardly villain, Mr. Barrington, intent on taking Cecelia for no reason other than to keep her from William, added suspense and scandal to the story. For a classic romance, the characters felt fresh and complex and I would definitely pick up the next two books in the series which seem to focus on supporting characters in Amberley. 
Stephanie's Book Reviews (4/5 stars)

Ms Brentwood weaves a pleasing tale... Her characters are vivid and she brings them to life on the page, capturing the small-mindedness of a remote community with care. One of the strengths of the novel is that Ms Brentwood keeps track of all her characters – no one is forgotten and few are only there as a plot device... An unashamedly romantic novel, The Vagabond Vicar moves along at a great pace and is never boring. There is enough love and sentiment but rarely too much, and there are plenty of sub-plots to keep everything interesting. A lover of Georgian romance will enjoy this, particularly as it is not solely concerned with earls and dukes, but takes a wider view of the world. An indulgent read.
Nicky Galliers for the Historical Novel Society

It’s a pure Jane Austen feeling... From their first meeting, Cecilia and William are drawn to each other. Their attraction to one another made for interesting reading. A villain enters the picture adding suspense and scandal.
I enjoyed this fast-paced, charming, historical romance. The narrative is so well done with a lot of attention to detail. I loved the description of the countryside – green fields, tiny hamlets and Tudor buildings. The author is obviously familiar with the country and the era.
This debut novel is a delightful, clean read that will capture the hearts of readers who enjoy historical romances.
Sandra at Library of Clean Reads (4/5 stars)

This was a fast and engaging read full of all of the quirky characters you would expect to find in a small village in Regency England. And we all love a will she/won’t she type of romance now and again. I really enjoyed Cecilia and William – they are a delightful pair and they gave me a respite I needed. I would happily go visit them again.
Patty Woodland at Broken Teepee (4/5 stars)

What I liked about this book: there’s the usual intrigue and dastardly villain, but a lot of this book is simply William and Cecilia getting to know each other. William doesn’t want to get married, he doesn’t even want to stay in Amberley. Cecilia has to overcome the wishes of her mother to marry her off to the wealthiest candidate. They face obstacles but they don’t lie to each other or play games. Both characters are completely likeable and both grow as a result of knowing the other.
I also liked that both characters could see beyond their own romance to the bigger issues facing the town. When Cecilia's closest friend is in trouble, William has to risk the censure of the entire town to help her. And that means putting their romance on hold. William also has to confront some difficult issues in his past.
I should tell you, though, while Regency romances aren’t really my thing, I’m a sucker for a good small-town story.
This is a nice, light read (dare I say “sweet”) but with an interesting story and characters. I’m not going to compare it to Jane Austen, because nothing compares to Austen, but it’s Austen-esque. I really enjoyed it. If you like regency fiction and are looking for a good romance, I would definitely recommend this one.
Deb at The Book Stop (4/5 stars)