I’ve taken a bit of a diversion in my reading habits lately to catch up on some of my favorite contemporary authors, but I was very excited to jump back into my beloved Victorian Era Romance. When this one popped up, I grabbed for it with both hands.
Warm-Hearted Victorian Romance Brings 1880s London to Life
When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage.
A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind.
This one arrived in my mailbox from Bethany House a few weeks ago. It took me a while to get through it, but without further delay, here is my honest opinion:
I always read the author’s note when I begin a historical. If this isn’t a habit of yours, I highly recommend you do because it will set the tone for the whole book! If you read Delamere’s note, you’ll find she has a passion for Gilbert & Sullivan – HMS Pinafore, Pirates of Penzance and all that… This passion very much plays into the story. There is rich detail in the goings on backstage, the historical characters, and theatre, and the production in and of itself. I would imagine Delamere found a bit of herself in Rosalyn Bernay in their shared love of this environment.
The first few chapters are quite the hook and should you pick it up at Barnes & Noble, you’ll probably find yourself sucked into this world of orphans, theft, kidnapping into prostitution, escape, good-hearted soldiers and the backstage whirlwind of the London production of HMS Pinafore. I was immediately curious how all these factors would work together in the end.
But despite the rich and colorful setting, characters and history of the novel, the plot fell a bit flat for me. The play out of Nate and Rosalyn’s romance was rather slow – then picking up all too quickly in the end. If you’ll remember, Rosalyn was accused of theft in the beginning – this was wrapped up far too early and simply for my tastes, especially with her trusted friends pushing her to face the music and trust her innocence to bring about a good resolution (which she does not).
But I think any shortcomings with the plot could have been overlooked but for one thing: Where Nate seems to have a fully developed character arc, Rosalyn does not. That was really disappointing for me. Though Rosalyn’s dreams come true, she doesn’t seem to learn anything save for perhaps a few street smarts, while Nate makes a complete turn around. He seems to make sacrifices for her where she won’t for him. All of this being very convenient on her end.
All in all, I enjoyed the story well enough, but the plot was altogether lackluster. I’d give it three stars and high compliments to the world building.
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