~ About the Book ~
When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage.
A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind.
Series: #1 London Beginnings
Release date: 6 June 2017
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
~ Excerpt ~
“You!” he exclaimed. “You’re all right? You’re not . . . harmed?” Setting down the object he was holding, he took a step back, falling into a brighter pool of light near the gas lamp on the wall. Rosalyn took an unconscious step forward, following him into the light. His gaze continued to take her in with a kind of wondering disbelief.
She offered him a tentative smile. “It was a rough night, I admit, but no harm came to me.”
His eyes closed for a brief moment. When they opened again, the anxiety he’d shown was erased by relief. “Thank God.”
Hearing this, she saw how wrong she’d been at the station to presume he had malicious intentions toward her. “Yes, His divine hand helped me.” It came out with a slight stammer. “I should apologize for my rude words to you last night.”
He shook his head. “I blame myself for the way I barged into the situation. You already had one man harassing you. I must have looked like one more scoundrel trying to take advantage of you.”
“It did seem that way,” Rosalyn admitted.
“You two know each other?” Mrs. Hill’s surprised voice interrupted them.
“Not really, but perhaps we should remedy that.” He tipped his head in a crisp bow that would have been perfectly suited for when he was in uniform. “My name is Nate Moran.”
“I am happy to make your acquaintance.”
He extended a hand. His shirt sleeves were rolled up to his elbows, revealing the full length of the scar Rosalyn had noticed at the station. It was seven or eight inches long, running well above his wrist. She hesitated, then reached out to accept the handshake. His grasp was firm but gentle, and she found her reaction was completely different than when he’d taken hold of her yesterday. Warmth traveled all the way up her arm. His smile widened, lightening his eyes. The heat from his touch continued to diffuse throughout her body.
After a moment, she recollected herself and withdrew her hand.
Nate said, “Tell me, how did you wind up here, of all places?”
“I believe it was Providence. Mrs. Hill has offered me work.”
He blinked in surprise. “You’re going to work here? So you have a place to live then. You went to the charity house after all?”
“Charity house?” Rosalyn repeated, mystified.
“I wasn’t sure if you heard me calling out the name and address to you at the station yard. The carriages were making so much racket.”
“Well, I . . . that is . . . ,” Rosalyn stammered, flummoxed.
Another yell echoed down the hallway. “Nate! Hurry it up, lad, or Mr. Gilbert will have all our hides!”
“Coming!” Nate called over his shoulder. But his gaze held hers for a moment longer, and she could see he was brimming with as many questions as she was.
“Perhaps we might talk more later?” Rosalyn suggested.
“Aye,” he said, looking pleased at her request. “I will look for you.” He picked up the wooden frame he’d been carrying and gave her a brief smile before turning to hurry down the hallway.
~ Review ~
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.
~ Giveaway ~
Enter to win a copy of The Captain’s Daughter. Five winners will be chosen! Click on the image below to enter to win. The winners will be announced July 10th on the Litfuse blog!
~ About the Author ~
Jennifer Delamere’s debut Victorian romance, “An Heiress at Heart,” was a 2013 RITA award finalist in the inspirational category. Her follow-up novel, “A Lady Most Lovely,” received a starred review from “Publishers Weekly” and the Maggie Award for Excellence from Georgia Romance Writers. Jennifer earned a BA in English from McGill University in Montreal, where she became fluent in French and developed an abiding passion for winter sports. She’s been an editor of nonfiction and educational materials for nearly two decades, and lives in North Carolina with her husband.