If you are a lover of historical romance who also happens to have a penchant for Gilbert & Sullivan, you are in for a real treat with this novel. Then again, even if you don’t know a bar of Gilbert & Sullivan’s music there will be plenty to please, because it’s such a unique setting and so well brought to life.
Rosalyn Bernay and her sisters have been raised in George Müller’s orphanage since their mother died several years earlier. Their father—a ship’s captain—disappeared at sea two years before their mother’s death and is presumed dead (except by Rosalyn’s youngest sister, Cara, who still holds out hope. I'm guessing this will be a story-line that arcs across the series.)
At the opening of the novel, Rosalyn is seventeen, and therefore moving on from the orphanage to take a position as a maid. Skip forward six years and she’s fleeing a wrongful accusation and being propelled on a journey not of her own choosing. But it leads her to a small London theatre, where a whole new world opens up before her.
You’ve got to love a hero who’s working double-time so that his injured brother will still have a job to return to once his broken leg has healed. Nate is quiet, gentlemanly in his manner (although the soldier can come out if necessary), but really only biding his time until he is able to rejoin his regiment and return to India so that he can atone for a lapse in concentration that weighs heavily on his conscience. As Rosalyn gets to know Nate and his family, their friendship quietly blossoms into something deeper, but Rosalyn knows all too well the perils of sea travel. She won’t leave England, and nor could her heart handle a husband who would leave England. It seems they just aren’t meant to be.
It was so easy to slip into the world of this novel. The details of theatre life, and even the glimpses at working-class Victorian life with Nate’s family, were abundant, and yet never overwhelming. I did feel as though the story’s momentum plateaued across the middle of the novel, and the plot surrounding the false accusation against Rosalyn had a somewhat anti-climactic resolution, but I was quite happily immersed in the story setting, so it didn’t become as much of an issue as it otherwise might have been.
I would also have loved for the writing to go deeper into each character’s point of view, rather than prefacing sentences with declaratives like ‘Rosalyn noticed’ or ‘Rosalyn saw’, and for the writing to have let the characters’ actions speak for themselves rather than interpreting them or pointing them out to the reader. But overall, the writing was nicely in tune with the era and a pleasure to read.
I look forward to reading Julia’s story in early 2018.
I received a copy of this novel through Litfuse Publicity. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
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