~ About the Book ~
Strong-minded and independent Julia Bernay comes to London to study medicine and become a doctor–a profession that has only just opened up to women. She witnesses a serious accident, and through her quick actions saves the life of an ambitious young barrister named Michael Stephenson.
Coming from a family that long ago lost its money and its respectability, Michael Stephenson has achieved what many would have thought was impossible. Hard work and an aptitude for the law have enabled him to rise above his family’s stigma and set him on the path to wealth and recognition. But his well-laid plans are upended when the accident brings Julia into his life.
Michael soon discovers he’s met a woman every bit as stubborn and determined to make her mark on the world as he is. Sparks fly–but will they find common ground?
Series: #2 London Beginnings
Genre: Historical Romance
Release date: 6 March 2018
Publisher: Bethany House
~ Excerpt ~
“That you so much for coming tin inquire after me, Miss, er—”
“Bernay. Julia Bernay.”
“Miss Bernay.” He repeated her name with a little sigh of satisfaction. “I’m so very glad to make your acquaintance.”
He thrust out his right hand, then immediately looked both surprised and mortified to remember it was bandaged and splinted. He began to pull it back, but Julia captured it in her hands before he could do so.
She lifted his hand to inspect the splint. “At the time of the accident, I suspected you had fractured one or more of the bones in your fingers. I see Dr. Hartman located the issue.” Gently pressing his fingertips, which were all that were visible of his three middle fingers, Julia was pleased to see the skin changing color, which was a sign of adequate circulation. “The blood is flowing freely. The doctor has done an acceptable job with this splint. In a matter of weeks this hand should be good as new. In the meantime, you may need an amanuensis to do your writing for you.”
“I shall be sure to pass along your assessment to Dr. Hartman.” There was a hint of amusement in his voice.
They were standing quite close, as she still had hold of his hand, but Julia found herself leaning even closer, anxious to get a good look at his neck. She wanted very much to examine the wound, to study how the doctors had repaired it. But it was fully covered by bandages.
“Is something wrong? Please don’t tell me I’m bleeding again.”
He sounded genuinely worried, but when Julia looked up to meet his gaze, she saw a gleam of laughter in his blue-gray eyes, and his lips quirked.
She was surprised that he didn’t seem to be taking her seriously—unlike Mrs. Barker, who was staring daggers at her. Both attitudes, different as they were, annoyed her. She found it hard to suppress her indignation when faced with people who thought women were unable to be competent physicians. How could these two feel that way, after all that happened?
She released his hand, given him a stern look. “I suppose Dr. Hartman has also been watching for signs of concussion?”
“Oh yes. He agrees, as does my sister, that I ought to have my head examined on a regular basis. Isn’t that right, Corinna?”
Corinna’s mouth pursed, and Michael appeared to be suppressing another grin. It was then that Julia understood that he was not laughing at her, but rather that he enjoyed teasing his sister.
~ Review ~
History lovers are in for another treat with this second novel in the London Beginnings series from Jennifer Delamere. I love the way that history often surprises us when we dig past the layers of generalizations, by revealing characters who were very forward-thinking for their time. Such is the case with Dr. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and her husband James Anderson, both of whom are actual historical persons and secondary characters in this novel. Although their role in this story is minor, their advice and example are in some ways pivotal to the development of Julia and Michael’s relationship (two professionals whose spheres of expertise may occasionally run into conflict). What’s more, it was a fairly revolutionary approach to marriage for the time in which they were living.
However, the complexities in any relationship between Julia and Michael aren’t limited to perceived gender roles; Michael is currently helping to represent the Earl of Westbridge, who is suing one of the lecturers at the London School of Medicine for Women for comments she made at a public rally to repeal the Contagious Diseases Acts. If they win, the damages will likely force the school to close its door—meaning this case is in direct conflict with Julia’s interests. And yet, when Julia asks Michael to tutor her in Latin so that she can pass her matriculation exam, how can he refuse the woman who saved his life?
I loved everything about this plot and the way it was firmly rooted in a tiny part of history that I would otherwise have never known about. I also enjoyed getting to know Michael and Julia and watching their friendship develop over Latin, of all things! (Okay, I admit my nerd-girl heart really enjoyed that! 🙂 ) And it’s a well-rounded plot, with a few sub-plots weaving in and out of Michael and Julia’s budding romance. In fact, one sub-plot waits until the very last line of the epilogue to play out, and I’m very curious to know what will follow from that in the next book in the series.
This is definitely a series to check out if you love a solid bite of history with your romance.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
~ Guest Posts from Jennifer Delamere ~
Perhaps that’s not a concept that initially comes to mind when one thinks of Victorian England! And yet, they did exist. I love to include real people from history in my books, and in The Heart’s Appeal, Julia Bernay meets two inspiring real-life couples who will make a positive impact in her life.
In 1865, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson became the first woman to qualify as a physician in Britain. She did this through a legal loophole, but soon the laws were changed to open the medical field to all women. In 1874, Dr. Anderson co-founded the London School of Medicine for Women. She remained involved in the school in various capacities for the rest of her life, even as she continued to run her own busy practice. In The Heart’s Appeal, she becomes a mentor for Julia, opening doors for her education and introducing Julia to people who can help her succeed in medical school.
Dr. Anderson’s husband, James Anderson (Jamie), was the joint-owner of a successful shipping line and also served on the boards of several organizations (including a children’s hospital). He was a handsome man, very much in love with his wife, and fervent in supporting her choice of a career.
In a letter he wrote to her while they were engaged, Jamie explained his vision for their future—how they could keep their professional and private lives separate, yet still give each other plenty of love and support:
“I think we had better lay it down once for all as a rule that I am under no circumstances to bring people ‘favorably under your notice’ or ‘exert any influence’ or anything of the sort. It will give people a wrong idea of you unless I take a decided line in this matter — and as I mean to be if I can a successful man of business, neither interfering with your pursuits nor being interfered with by you (but having our confidences on all feasible subjects at off times of the day and week and mutually advising and fortifying one another), I must let people know unmistakably not to come bothering me about your public affairs. Will you think about this, dearest?”
Who couldn’t love a man like that?
Jamie Anderson’s outlook on life comes into play later on in The Heart’s Appeal, when he provides advice and aid to Michael Stephenson, the book’s hero, at a critical time.
Julia also has an inspiring encounter with Dr. Anderson’s sister, Millicent Fawcett. Millicent was married to a Member of Parliament and actively supported her husband’s career in many ways, including acting as a scribe for him since he was blind. She is most remembered for her role in the women’s suffrage movement. In fact, a statue of her will be placed in Parliament Square in London this summer. She was not a militant suffragette, but rather campaigned for suffrage under the banner “Law-Abiding Suffragists.”
Both couples raised families, too, and their children’s successes in life show they were raised to have the same energetic and “can-do” attitudes that their parents had.
Julia initially believes she must remain single to achieve her life’s goals. But soon she finds her heart drawn to successful barrister Michael Stephenson, who admires Julia’s intelligence and ambition. She learns that love and the freedom to pursue her dreams do not have to be mutually exclusive. A meeting of minds to spark a true romance? Yes, please! I hope readers will agree this can be the most satisfying of all.
~ Previous Book in the Series ~
Read my review for The Captain’s Daughter.
~ 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.
~ Giveaway ~
To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away a grand prize package of that includes All four March Bethany House historical releases (The Heart’s Appeal, plus A Most Noble Heir by Susan Anne Mason, A Chance at Forever by Melissa Jagears, In Places Hidden by Tracie Peterson) and a $20 Starbucks gift card!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/cacd