Can Isobel leave her past behind and allow Will to show her she is worthy of his love?
Dublin, Ireland, 1880. Tired of treating rich hypochondriacs, Dr Will Fitzgerald left his father’s medical practice and his home on Merrion Square to live and practice medicine in the Liberties. His parents were appalled and his fiancée broke off their engagement. But when Will spends a night in a brothel on the eve of his best friend’s wedding, little does he know that the scarred and disgraced young woman he meets there will alter the course of his life.
Isobel Stevens was schooled to be a lady, but a seduction put an end to all her father’s hopes for her. Disowned, she left Co Galway for Dublin and fell into prostitution. On the advice of a handsome young doctor, she leaves the brothel and enters domestic service. But can Isobel escape her past and adapt to life and the chance of love on Merrion Square? Or will she always be seen as a scarlet woman?
My Review ~ 5 stars
Bewitching Victorian Romance
In Lorna Peel’s latest novel the lives of a fallen woman and an idealistic young doctor become unexpectedly intertwined after they meet in the most inauspicious of settings, a brothel. Their ensuing relationship challenges both their own future and society’s mores. It is a heartfelt and bewitching read, which transported me to the past as I became totally immersed in Isobel and Will’s lives. Although at times it brought a tear to my eye, the book also contains some humorous scenes. A predominently sweet romance, it has some frank sex scenes.
The read explores the double standards between men and women, specifically the hypocrisy when it came to sexual relations. Isobel is regarded as a fallen woman, a woman who by modern sensibilities, had simply been unfortunate to have been seduced and left high and dry by a man. This event has had a huge impact on her life, reducing her to poverty which called for desperate measures. The book also focuses on the differences between the lives of domestic servants and those ‘above stairs’, who view themselves as their betters. I enjoyed how the author explored these themes and also how she delved into the underbelly of Dublin and the sexual preledictions common amongst all classes.
Will is a wonderful hero – principled, caring and non-judgemental. He refuses his father’s offer to work alongside him in his practice, prefering instead to set up on his own in a less salubrious part of the city where his talents are sorely needed. The advice he gives to Isobel- to leave her life of vice, she takes to heart and she applies for a position as a domestic. Imagine the surprise of the couple when their paths once again cross. Relations between servants and their social superiors are frowned upon however and they begin a touching friendship, gradually revealing themselves to one aonother and becoming ever closer. Their romance is a slow burn but when the couple reveal their feelings for one another there are some scorching scenes.
Isobel is unwilling to commit herself as she has been let down brutally in the pasr and fears that she is not good enough for Will. Will thought he would never love again after his fiancée threw him over, yet once he realises he has fallen for Isobel nothing will stand in his way. I just LOVED how determined he is to make her his. However, he did not bank on Isobels’s reluctance to commit and also how others react to their relationship. Also luck is not on their side as a number of obstacles from their respective pasts get in the way of their HEA! I wanted to tear my hair out at times! Can Will persuade Isobel that her past doesn’t mater to him and make her his? Can Isobel escape the shame of her past? Can Will’s family accept her as a future wife for Will?
All in all a stellar read, one of my favourite from this author yet.
Reviewed by Tina Williams
Please note, an ARC of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.