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Isabelle Rackham knows she will not marry for love. Though arranged marriages have fallen out of fashion, hers has been settled for some time to combine the upper-middle-class wealth of her father’s coal mines with Alexander Osgood’s prospering Northern country textile mills. Though not a man prone to romantic gestures, Alexander is well-known as an eligible bachelor. His good looks have turned more than one head, so Isabelle is content to think of herself as Alexander’s wife.
However, her marriage is not what she expected. Northern England is nothing like her home farther west in the lake country. Cold, dreary, and dark, the soot from the textile mills creates a gray hue that seems to cling to everything in the city of Manchester. Alexander is distant and aloof, preferring to spend his time at the mill rather than with her at home. Their few conversations are brief, polite, and lacking any emotion, leaving Isabelle lonely and desperately homesick.
Sensing his wife’s unhappiness, Alexander suggests a trip to his country estate. Isabelle hopes this will be an opportunity to get to know her new husband without the distractions of his business. But the change of scenery doesn’t bring them any closer. While riding together on horses, Alexander is thrown from his and becomes paralyzed. Tragedy or destiny? The help and care that Alexander now needs is Isabelle’s opportunity to forge a connection and create a deep and romantic love where nothing else could.
Victorian Manchester England is an interesting place and time for a novel. I picked this one up expecting something different. The author details the nitty gritty every day life from the point of view of a caretaker. The main character is the wife of a businessman of a spinal injury.
One of the families has an autistic child and Glory’s family is amazing. They let their girl magnify her talents and abilities at home instead of sending her to an asylum. Isabelle and Alexander are thrown into an arranged marriage and it is awkward, slow to unfold knowing each other.
This felt more history and an exploration of medical practices than a romance. The end chapter where Isabelle and Alexander finally click felt like a tidy wrap up, since the rest of the novel their marriage is such a grind.
If you are looking for a light, fluffy escape, probably not for you. I enjoyed the talk of the mill and the elements of caring for one’s workers. The side characters who work there were well described. A completely clean book. Thanks Eidelweiss and Shadow Mountain for the read!