This novel opens in 1815 England with young Elyse being mistreated by her alcoholic and totally mean stepfather. She sews and sells her wares on market day but her stepfather takes all the money for his gin.
On this market day she rescues a toddler from being trampled by a horse and the father takes the time to express his gratitude. Preston is somewhat taken by the young woman and when he sees her mistreatment, he hatches a plan. He asks Elyse if she would be the nursemaid to his young Kent. Elyse recognizes a possible escape from her mean stepfather but insists that her guardian give his permission. Her stepfather agrees to the job but only if she will give him all the money she earns.
Thus begins the troubled relationship between Elyse and Preston. It seems a romance demanding to happen but there are many obstacles to overcome. The village thinks Preston's wife is dead, but Susan was never his wife nor is she dead. Elyse thinks Preston is a commoner but he is really a titled man. He lost his fortune when he went to sea and Susan and his manager squandered all the money. Preston barely returned in time to rescue his son from being sold to support Susan's drug habit.
So Elyse steps into a situation based on deception. Preston is a Christian man but believes the pretended life is necessary. As Elyse comes to love Kent more and more, Preston and Elyse find themselves being attracted to one another. Circumstances and society seem to provide insurmountable obstacles to marriage, however.
This is a pretty good Regency Romance. The class differences are well presented. Women generally had no rights and Elyse is under the power of her mean stepfather without recourse. Preston must reestablish his fortune before he could ever consider marriage. There are always obstacles to romance in novels and there are many in this one. And I have to admit, the ending comes out just a little too neatly for me. But this is an enjoyable novel to read. I think it would be a good choice for teen readers.
Jennifer Hudson Taylor is the author of several novels set in historic Europe and the Carolinas. She gives presentations on the craft of writing, marketing, and the publishing industry. She earned her BA in Communications from Elon University. She lives with her husband and daughter in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. Learn more about her and her books at http://jenniferhudsontaylorsbooks.blogspot.com/
Upon the Rock Publishing, 235 pages.
I received a complimentary digital edition of this novel from the author for the purpose of this review.