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Posted December 3, 2010
After thirteen years of masquerading as a man, will Sarah be able to live as a woman again?
When a tragic fire robbed Sarah Sanderson of her family, she fled and assumed the identity of her brother Sam. Thirteen years later, she has a steady job working as a bricklayer. Though her life is hard, she is satisfied and remembers very little of her life before the fire. Unfortunately, someone has not forgotten her. Suddenly Sarah finds her life in danger. Desperate, she seeks the help of an inquiry agent, William Trenchard.
William is immediately intrigued by Sarah and soon discovers she is a woman. Even though she doesn't have much to offer, he feels the need to protect her and takes the case. When another attempt is made on Sarah's life, William realizes he uncovered a much larger mystery than he or Sarah ever imagined. Through it all, Sarah begins to have feelings for William. She finds herself wishing she knew more about being a woman. Could he ever love someone as sunburned and simple as her? William also finds himself falling in love with Sarah, but is acutely aware that when the case is solved, Sarah will resume her proper place in society, a place beyond his reach. Will their differences tear them apart or will they take charge of their own destinies?
Sarah was definitely an entertaining heroine. She certainly didn't fit the mold of a rich aristocrat. Though her life is in danger, she's not a damsel in distress. She is strong and stubborn and insists on taking an active part in attempting to solve the mystery surrounding the fire as well as the current attempts on her life.
Though Sarah can work as hard as any man, she has no idea how to behave around William once she realizes she's fallen in love with him. While trying to figure out her feelings for William, Sarah also faces a tough choice. She can assume her rightful place in society as an aristocrat, but that would mean giving up the freedom she values when she lives as a man. Will Sarah have to choose between love and freedom? Can she find a way to have them both?
William is the perfect hero for Sarah. At first they seemed extremely mismatched. Sarah has led a simple and rough life, while William has led a privileged one. He also has a fondness for fine clothing. As a result, people tend to underestimate his abilities as an inquiry agent. Even Sarah doubts him when they first meet. However, beneath the velvet and gold is an intelligent and caring man who is more than a match for Sarah's strong will.
Not only is The Bricklayer's Helper a great romance, but it is also a wonderful blend of the historical and mystery genres. I found myself mulling over the clues when I wasn't reading the book and trying to guess who the mastermind behind the fires might be. Ms. Corwin had me guessing right up until the end and I was genuinely surprised when the culprit was revealed.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Bricklayer's Helper. The characters were unique and the romance was sweet. Anyone who likes their romance wrapped in a mystery will definitely want to check out The Bricklayer's Helper.
Originally posted at The Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
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Posted August 24, 2010
London. A pampered rich girl; an overnight with her cousins, Sarah and Sam; arson. One girl survives the devastating fire. A servant whispers "Run, run for your life," before the flame-setting killer finds her. She escapes and is presumed dead with all the rest of the family.
Lost and alone, eleven-year-old Sarah Sanderson assumes her brother's name, Sam, and works for the next thirteen years as a bricklayer's helper. She barely remembers the fire; just the fear, and the certainty that she must live a lie, or die.
Sarah is safe as a boy who builds brick walls--until her job takes her to London and the killer strikes again. A stranger tells "Sam" he has information about the fire but is murdered at their appointed meeting place.
Spunky Sam may be the cleverest and most resourceful heroine of any Regency novel I've read. She faces the worst predicaments -- like being so good at her job, and so convincing as one of the guys, her boss pressures "Sam" to marry his daughter. Or suffering the embarrassment of being a boy who blushes and goes breathless at the touch of a man at the renowned Second Sons Inquiry Agency.
Sam can't work full time and investigate a murder, so she sacrifices her meager bricklayer's wages to hire help. The only available agent, William Trenchard, is a handsome novice with naked cherubs painted on his office ceiling. The comedy of Sam's situations rings out page after page, along with despair and danger. She doesn't guess that William is all but working for free, partly to prove to Sam that he's not the ineffectual pretty boy people think he is, but also because Sam tugs at his heartstrings, somehow.
William researches the fire and reports to Sam, a slim figure competently laying brick at a townhouse. He shrugs off the occasional odd feeling of attraction to this boy. A sniper fires at Sam, but the shot goes wild because the owner of the townhouse tosses a jug of water out the window at just the right time. The jug knocks Sam unconscious and out of work for a few days.
While the injured bricklayer sleeps in the Archers' home, William discovers "Sam" is really Sarah Sanderson, presumed dead in the same fire that killed the Archers' only child, Mary. Sam awakens as Sarah in a lovely house with handsome William advising her not to trust the Archers. She promises to be wary but refuses to give her up her job or her identity. She's been quite safe as Sam the bricklayer--until now. Thanks to her years as a laborer, she has no idea how to act like a woman, nor does she want to learn. Her only safety lies in keeping her independence and hiding her sex.
The plot complications are nerve-wracking and comical. At times the novel feels like a family reunion, or a welcome visit from old friends, as characters from other Amy Corwin novels cross paths with Sarah in the same London.
Surprises never run out, all the way to the breathless end, when Sarah is pressured to step out of men's clothing and character and into the dainty attire of a lady. Will she rise to the occasion, and will pretty-boy William prove himself worthy of Second Sons?
You will be begging for more after you close the book. As luck would have it, more is in store from this beloved Regency author. Watch for those cherubs on the ceiling in Amy's next novel. It will be none too soon for me!