Publication Date: May 4, 2021
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Genre: Victorian Romance
Dates Read: April 25-27, 2021
Format: Paperback ARC from publisher
Isabelle Rackham knows she will not marry for love. Though arranged marriages have fallen out of fashion, hers has been settled for some time. Alexander Osgood is handsome, well-known, and wealthy, but he is distant and aloof, spending much of his time at his textile mill.
Moreover, Northern England is nothing like Isabelle’s home in the Lake Country, and her marriage is far from the fairy tale she expected. Conversations with Alexander are awkward, when they happen at all, and Isabelle struggles with loneliness.
Sensing his wife’s unhappiness, Alexander brings Isabelle to his country estate. During their time
together, the couple begins to build a friendship, opening up to each other about the details of their lives. But when a tragic accident leaves Alexander unable to walk, their fledgling relationship is tested.
Isabelle is determined to see to her husband’s recovery, and in caring for him, she discovers within herself an untapped well of strength and courage. In learning to rely on each other, the couple has an opportunity to forge a love connection that they both have longed for but never dreamed could be.
This is hard to rate because I really liked the story, but there were a few things that just didn’t work for me.
Overall I truly did love the story. This wasn’t your typical Victorian/Regency romance where they meet and eventually fall in love. Instead, you start off the novel with Isabelle and Alexander getting married as part of an arranged marriage.
I really liked the obstacles and struggles that our MC’s face and overcome throughout the book. These difficulties are the times I saw the most growth and strength in the characters. I also really liked the premise of the arranged marriage and then having love grow between the two MC’s. I was looking forward to a slow-burn with a twist.
Unfortunately the characters and their love story were hard for me to get into. Isabelle was not as bold of a character as I typically like in my heroines. She cowered at almost every turn, or rejection. The only time we finally see her standing up for herself and we see her independence is at the very end of the book.
I think multiple POV/alternating chapters really would have done a favor for this book. Because we don’t see his POV, Alexander fell super flat for me. There were times when I liked and understood him and his motives and other times that I did not.
The romance almost felt non-existent until the very end. I am usually a fan of slow-burn, but this was just a bit too slow with no burn.
That being said, I absolutely LOVED the snippets we got to see of our side characters. Dr. Kelley was fabulous. A kind and gentle giant that reminded me a lot of my grandfather. We also have Mr. and Mrs. Kenworthy and their daughter Glory who is special needs. I loved their little side narrative, and as a mother to a special needs child I loved the representation being in a Victorian era novel. It’s something you typically do not see.
Overall, I thought that the story was a good light read, and if you are looking to read something quick and not wanting a deeply moving character-driven story than this is a great choice.
Special thanks to Shadow Mountain Publishing who gifted me an early paperback copy and early ebook copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
About the Author
By night, Rebecca Anderson writes historical romances. By day, she sets aside her pseudonym and resumes her life as Becca Wilhite: teacher, happy wife, and a mom to four above-average kids. She loves hiking, Broadway shows, food, books, and movies.
You can find her online at beccawilhite.com
“Anderson’s first foray into historical romance is an atypical, yet satisfying story set in Victorian Manchester’s upper middle class. Hand this to readers looking for a book that navigates the peaks and valleys of two strangers attempting to make a life together despite the hardships life throws at them.”-Library Journal
“Isabelle transitions from an unaware, leisure-class woman to a more enlightened spouse and supporter of the working class. Intimacy and romance develop between Isabelle and Alexander because of simple gestures, like a long look or a thoughtful gift, and their conversations. Their slow, stately courting is reader appropriate for any age or audience. Manchester also gets its due as a place of grit and incredible production. Descriptions of bustling mills reveal their impact on the couple’s family and its fortunes. Isabelle and Alexander is an intimate and touching romance novel that focuses on women’s lives in the business class of industrial England.”
“Isabelle must use her quiet spunk, busy mind, and compassionate spirit to woo her husband in a wholly new way. Anderson’s debut is a lovely northern England Victorian romance about confronting the seemingly impossible and the power of empathy. Anderson also addresses the time period’s treatment of physical and intellectual disabilities. Most of all, she beautifully depicts love in its many forms beyond romance, such as compassion, patience, and vulnerability; and her characters illustrate the ways that these expressions of love carry us through even the darkest hours. Isabelle’s loving and persevering fervor and devotion will resonate with any caregiver’s heart.”