One woman's journey to find herself and help secure the vote. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.
1911 Bath. Banished from her ancestral home, passionate suffrage campaigner Esther Stanbury works as a window dresser in Pennington's Department Store. She has hopes and dreams for women's progression and will do anything to help secure the vote.
Owner of the prestigious Phoenix Hotel, Lawrence Culford has what most would view as a successful life. But Lawrence is harbouring shame, resentment and an anger that threatens his future happiness.
When Esther and Lawrence meet, their mutual understanding of life's challenges unites them and they are drawn to the possibility of a life of love that neither thought existed.
With the Coronation of King-Emperor George V looming, the atmosphere in Bath is building to fever pitch, as is the suffragists' determination to secure the vote.
Will Esther's rebellious nature lead her to ruin or can they overcome their pasts and look to build a future together?
About the Author
Rachel Brimble lives in Wiltshire with her husband of twenty years, two teenage daughters and her beloved chocolate Labrador, Tyler. Multi-published in the US, she is thrilled to have a new beginning writing for Aria in the UK. When Rachel isn't writing, she enjoys reading across the genres, knitting and walking the English countryside with her family... often stopping off at a country pub for lunch and a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
What a fascinating insight into life in 1911 Britain this historical romance proved to be! It is a story of divided families, aspirations, caring and romance set in a time when the suffrage movement tried to resist the temptations to join the more militant suffragettes, when women had little say in the world but were striving to make their voices heard. The main characters both are estranged from their parents for different reasons and have had to make their own way in the world. The heroine is Esther Stanbury who works at Pennington's after being sent to live with her Aunt after her father and stepmother objected to her work for the Cause of suffrage. The hero is widower Laurence Culford, a father of two, who owns a prestigious hotel . . . . This is a story of learning to trust, sharing what happened and moving forward to leave the past behind you. It has adorable children, family schisms, and a couple who definitely want to fight their attraction to each other - to start with, anyway! It is a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you enjoy historical romance which uses real events to bring the story to life I think you'll also find this a brilliant, entertaining read. I requested and was gifted a copy of this book and this is my honest review after choosing to read it.
Esther Stanbury is living in Bath with her aunt, having been forced from her childhood home after her mother’s death and her father’s remarriage and his increased frustration with her unwillingness to scale back her activities regarding women obtaining the vote. Her stepmother is particularly vile, playing both sides against the middle, telling tales and generally poisoning Esther’s reputation with her father, and the option of moving to her aunt Mary’s house, while not ideal and a far cry from the acceptance and love she felt from her mother, is a safe place that offers her reasonable freedom of movement. Set in the years leading up to World War I, the changes in British society are coming, too slowly for Esther and her like-minded friends. Lawrence Culford is a widower with two young children: a self-made man, he’s turned his back on his childhood home and ‘estate’ after years of physical and mental abuse. With the death of his wife in childbirth, and the realization that the loveless marriage may have brought him the best opportunity to ‘reframe’ his life with his children in ways completely different from his own life, he’s tightly controlled and close-mouthed about his childhood and background, determined to make a success of his life without another woman who may see the broken boy hidden within himself. Working as the head of the team that decorates the displays and windows at Pennington’s, a successful store (think Selfridge’s) run by the daughter of the founder and her new husband. Esther’s designs are modern and eye-catching, and she never misses an opportunity to push the votes for women and equality issue forward. I wanted to really enjoy this book as both Esther and Lawrence are two people who clearly are built with a more modern sensibility than was common in their time, and truly they both did have a ‘better future’ in mind for society. But, something kept me from truly grabbing onto the characters and truly becoming involved in their lives. The writing was solid, and descriptions were clear and often vibrant, there was just a remove from the emotional connection I had hoped to find, and it made this story far too easy to put down and aside in favoir of other tasks. Not being set in London, the contrasts of vehemence in support of the cause of equality and the quick race to wrap up the loose ends and make a happy ending wasn’t justified in the often repeated determination of both characters to ‘careful thought’ and caution. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
The first book in this series, The Mistress of Pennington's, was a superb read and when I noticed that the sequel was being published I was desperate to add it to my list. You can read my review of the first one HERE. In this second novel, we get to know the head window-dresser of the department store. Esther Stanbury is not only committed to her job, but is also a member of the suffragist movement; aiming to achieve the vote for women through peaceful means and promote equality for all. When she meets Lawrence Culford, they each make assumptions about the other, and as they meet again it becomes apparent that they have much in common with both hiding their past. But is that enough? It's fair to say that I really enjoyed the first novel; I expected this one to equal it but it far surpasses it (both are stand-alone reads). The story sparkles and is full of interesting historical tidbits. Covering the lives of both the wealthy, the working class and - inevitably - touching on the plight of the poor, this book gives a real insight into life in the capital in 1911 as well as indulging the reader in a most wonderful dance of romance. Beautifully written, this is an enthralling tale and I most definitely hope there is more to come in this series. Such a fabulous read deserves no less than a full house of fat, glowing stars! My thanks to publishers Aria for my copy via NetGalley, and to Victoria Joss for inviting me to be a part of this Blog Tour. This is my honest, original and unbiased review.