In India, Rena was a Brahmin - then she married an English soldier around the time of the Great Rebellion, when tensions between the British and the Indians were high. Following the deaths of both her father-in-law and her husband, she decides to accompany her bereaved mother-in-law back to England to look after her. On their arrival, though, she is treated as an outcast or worse, and the pair are all but starving when Lord Barric takes pity on Rena after finding her taking a small amount of grain from his fields to keep them from starvation. But his protection comes with consequences to the reputations of both, and the growing attraction between them doesn't make matters any easier. Which will win out for Lord Barric - his (and his family's) reputation and position in society, or his unacknowledged love for Rena?
I found this book a little hard to rate. I enjoyed the story overall, and the writing was good, but I found the position to which Rena and her mother-in-law were relegated (scum) a bit hard to take. It may be realistic for the time - but if so, that is a shameful thing. Also, Lord Barric's constant blowing-hot-and-cold attitude towards Rena, when he effectively held her life in his hand, bothered me quite a bit. Again, perhaps understandable at times - but it seemed to be constantly putting Rena down and treating her as worthless. From the point of view of a comparison to the story of Ruth and Boaz, it was interesting and thought-provoking, but I get the feeling that (a) Ruth was greeted reasonably kindly due to her attitude towards Naomi, and (b) Boaz was more consistently kind to her, even if from a distance (not that we know much).
Overall, a good story, but not a five-star book because I spent too much time wishing Rena could just tell Lord Barric to go jump and then being frustrated by her absolute helplessness. However, I have to admit that the ending was reasonably satisfying. I may or may not read this again, but would be happy to try another by the author. 3.5 stars.
Note that I received a complimentary copy of the book from NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review and this is my considered opinion of the book.