Following her childhood rescue from the gutters of Calcutta, Mary Grace’s life has been an astonishing rags-to-riches tale. The Wellings raised the half-Indian orphan with all the love and care the childless couple possessed, allowing her to grow into a beautiful and refined woman. But upon Mr. Welling’s death, it is time for Mrs. Welling to take Mary home to England―home to Meriden Park.
Despite her genial nature, Mary is received with suspicion by the villagers. For his part, however, Mr. Robert Markham is intrigued by the curious new beauty in town. Determined to make her acquaintance, he offers Mary a bargain she can’t refuse: a hot cross bun for a kiss. That seemingly innocent exchange is the first of many encounters between Robert and Mary, whose friendship blossoms into love during long walks in the privacy of Sherwood Forest. But the shadows of the forest hide a sinister secret, one Mary fears Robert might be a part of. As the mystery of the recent string of murders creeps closer and closer, Robert and Mary are drawn into a dangerous game, and unless she can unearth the truth, the couple risks losing one another forever.
Disclaimer: Although I received a copy of this book from the publisher as part of a JustRead Blog Tour, the opinions below are my own.
What do an Anglo-Indian orphan and a landowner’s stepson have in common? At first, it might seem not a lot except for a tendency to do what isn’t exactly proper. Robert Markham isn’t exactly a gentleman when he makes his audacious proposal to Miss Mary Grace, a proposal she accepts without much thought. But gossip is a popular social activity in a small village, and their actions add to Mary’s ostracism. Moonlight walks follow, and soon Mary is torn between practical matters and her emotions.
Meriden Park is a social commentary on the Victorian era, with a dash of Robin Hood legend thrown in. The mill is the main source of work in the area, but the employer is a suspect character. There are people who live in mansions while others are forced to live in caves in the area. Mary also faces discrimination because of her upbringing, often mistaken as a servant, although one minor character wonderfully points out that, “Different is not the same as less.” This is a novel that is easy enough to read. My favorite scenes come towards the end; with revelations I hadn’t expected.
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Publication Date: 05 December 2022
Julie Daines is an award-winning and best-selling author. She was born in Concord, Massachusetts, and was raised in Utah. She spent eighteen months living in London, where she studied and fell in love with English literature, sticky toffee pudding, and the mysterious guy who ran the kebab store around the corner.
She loves reading, writing, and watching movies—anything that transports her to another world. She picks Captain Wentworth over Mr. Darcy, firmly believes in second breakfast, and never leaves home without her vervain.
Julie Daine’s website: https://www.juliedaines.com/
(1) winner will receive a signed copy of book, $25 Amazon gift card, bookmark, stickers, and button.
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