Book Review: ‘An Independent Woman’, by Frances Evesham

When I chose An independent woman to read and review for Rosie’s Review Team, I was thrilled even before I started reading it, because when I read the blurb I realized it’s my favourite type of book. I enjoy reading neo-Victorian novels, so although I’m easy to please with this genre, it’s also not easy to surprise me with something new.

Well, I’m glad to say that I was pleasantly surprised, because I found an entertaining, moving, exciting, and romantic novel, set in Victorian England, which I would highly recommend.

The novel is beautifully written with prose that flows smoothly, enticing the reader to turn the pages. There are just enough descriptive elements to submerge the reader comfortably in Victorian England, moving effortlessly from foggy, filthy London, to the tranquil countryside.

Philomena’s intriguing character keeps the reader connected to the story, feeling for her plight from the first sentence, as she creeps up the twisted stairs and flees from London, to the last line.

I loved the first chapters, when she was disguised as a young boy in order to escape from London, and her ‘chance’ arrival at the country estate on Christmas Eve after a fateful train accident.

We also feel we get to know the other characters such as the mysterious Lord Thatcham, his mother, the demanding Dowager Lady Thatcham, her frivolous yet charming daughter, Selena, and the kind Mrs. Rivers and Mrs. Bramble. There’s naturally a despicable villain, who causes havoc, and whose real motives are not revealed until the end, keeping the plot moving forward with mysterious twists and surprises.

It has many gothic elements which will remind readers of Rebecca, Jane Eyre, and Oliver Twist, three of my favourite novels. Firstly, the mansion where the action takes place, Thatcham Hall, becomes a character, with its servants’ quarters, main living areas, bedrooms, and the dark, forbidden wings. The reader will also find a gloomy widower, a wife deceased in unclear circumstances, a rich and lonely child, an exploited and abused child, and a well-read governess, among others, all leading to an eventful and enjoyable read.

Frances Evesham shows expert knowledge of Victorian England, which she transmits wrapped up in an enjoyable parcel of mystery, action, and romance.

Review of A Single Step (eBook 1 of the Grayson Trilogy) by Georgia Rose

 

Review of A Single Step (eBook 1 of the Grayson Trilogy) by Georgia Rose.

For Rosie’s Book Review Team, by Luccia Gray.

A single step is an enjoyable and entertaining, contemporary, romantic suspense novel, which I highly recommend.

It is well written with easily flowing prose, which invites the reader to sail into the smooth narrative. The author is in no rush to expose the plot, spending the first part of the novel gradually showing us where the action takes place, and who the characters are.

It is not a fleeting romance in which love at first sight leads to a brief and intense affair, followed by lifelong commitment, which often proves to be too escapist. Quite the opposite, the romance is compelling, yet presented in a ‘no rush’ approach. Tension is gradually built up, with a few twists and turns, until the incipient romance between two complex characters materializes. This well-devised, progressive build up becomes part of the enjoyment.

The suspense elements keep us gripped to the story, avidly turning page after page (I couldn’t put it down), as the characters’ motivations and backgrounds are slowly revealed. Many surprises await the reader as nobody is who they seem, even the idyllic location where the story develops, holds surprises.

I don’t want to give anything away, because I hope all of you who are looking for a cozy afternoon-evening read, will spoil yourselves and read this lovely story, but one of the characters says: ‘I enjoy the chase, and let’s face it, no one has had to chase a girl as much as I have had to chase you.’ And that’s how the readers will feel, that they have been chasing Grayson, too.

Emma Grayson, the narrator, is the most developed character. We feel we understand her tormented feelings, and sympathize with most of her actions, by the end of the novel. On the other hand, I thought it was a pity that the other characters did not come fully to life, and served mainly to support Emma. When this happens, especially when one of the characters is the only narrator, I often feel sorry for the other characters we’ve been introduced to, but are unable to get to know.

Although there is no cliffhanger ending, there are some untold stories, within the novel, and most importantly, the reader has built up an interest in Grayson, and what happens to her. As it is part of a trilogy, I trust we will discover more about the characters and events in the following installments, which I look forward to reading.

Finally, I would like to thank Georgia for gifting me a copy of her book to review, and Rosie for organising her Book Review Team, and making it all possible.