Lady Elizabeth “Libby” Sinclair, with her love of microscopes and nature, isn’t favored in society. She flees to the beautiful Isles of Scilly for the summer and stumbles onto the dangerous secrets left behind by her holiday cottage’s former occupant, also named Elizabeth, who mysteriously vanished.
Oliver Tremayne–gentleman and clergyman–is determined to discover what happened to his sister, with the help of the girl now living in what should have been Beth’s summer cottage . . . especially when he realizes it’s the curious young lady he met briefly two years ago, who shares his love of botany and biology. But the hunt for his sister involves far more than nature walks, and he can’t quite believe all the secrets Beth had been keeping from him.
As Libby and Oliver work together, they uncover ancient legends, pirate wrecks, betrayal, and the most mysterious phenomenon of all: love.
Disclaimer: Although I received an electronic advance copy of this book from the publisher, the opinions below are my own.
Do you have a common name? I was told my parents didn’t want to name me after a family member, and so they chose what they thought was an uncommon name. Which was fine until I came upon another Sally at my school, learned she and I shared a birthday, AND that she was born at the same hospital! The reason I ask, however, is that the inspiration for The Nature of a Lady comes from a writer noticing she was signing books for readers with the same name: Elizabeth.
The importance of a name is an important aspect of Roseanna M White’s new novel. Authors usually take care to separate their characters by giving them different names. I often say that if the Bible was fiction, it wouldn’t have so many Marys in it, especially in the New Testament gospels. Here White individualizes her Elizabeths by giving them different nicknames. But names aren’t only about people; Libby soon learns that giving a name to a situation means that it’s real. Names mean power. When you give someone or something a name, you hold power over them.
But the naming thing isn’t the only important aspect of this novel. The story starts at the height of the English Civil War in the 17th century, with a pirate turned privateer deciding to keep a portion of his gains from the monarchy he supports. This, then, is the treasure that’s sought by two different parties in the early 20th century, with innocent lives caught in between. Despite their own family rivalries, the local vicar and school master find themselves working together to protect those closest to them.
There are other enjoyable elements to the first of White’s new Secrets of the Isles series. I liked reading about an area of England I’d never visited, and of which many readers may not have heard. In a time before radio and television, it was fascinating to imagine how rural communities might’ve existed. There’s also an ongoing debate between science and religion, and I appreciated the conclusion to which White had her characters come.
Overall, this is an enjoyable turn of the century piece with just enough danger and romance to satisfy fans of either genre. Look carefully, and you’ll find a cliffhanger as well… because one character’s story is not neatly resolved. I’m eagerly anticipating future titles in this series, and the sooner they can arrive the better!
Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)
Publication Date: 04 May 2021
Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary.
Roseanna M. White’s Website https://www.roseannamwhite.com/