ASHES ON THE MOOR, by Sarah M Eden, Shadow Mountain, March 6, 2018, Softcover, $15.99 (young adult/ new adult/ adult)
The latest addition to Shadow Mountain’s Proper Romance line is Sarah M. Eden’s Victorian novel, Ashes on the Moor.
Evangeline has lived a life of privilege. Although her family is not on the highest tier, they’re upwardly mobile, and she’s expected to make a good match. But when her parents and all but one sibling pass away from a sudden illness, Evangeline and her sister, Lucy, find themselves at the mercy of their grandfather who holds the purse strings of Evangeline’s large inheritance.
Evangeline is sent to live in a small mill town in Northern England as a schoolteacher while Lucy is to go to a boarding school. The girls who have lost almost everything, now have lost each other.
Evangeline vows to reunite with her sister, but in order for that to happen, she has to prove herself a competent teacher. The problem is, Evangeline has no training as a teacher. Beside that, she was raised in a high-class Victorian home, and the values she learned are far from those needed to connect with her poverty-stricken students.
The gritty factory town of Smeatley, is so far from anything Evangeline has ever known. She can barely understand the locals’ Yorkshire accents, and yet she’s supposed to teach them to read and write in the “proper” English.
As Evangeline finds herself alone in a broken down schoolhouse, she turns to the one person in town who has shown her kindness–an Irish brick mason, Dermot, and his son, Ronan. With their help, Evangeline gains the skills to care for herself and finds the companionship she so desperately needs.
Evangeline works hard and begins to make breakthroughs with her students, especially when she enlists the help of a local family to write down familiar stories in the Yorkshire vernacular. But when the town learns of her ties to the factory owner — her grandfather — Evangeline loses ground, and finds herself working harder than ever to regain their trust.
Ashes on the Moor is a Proper Romance novel, so you can pretty much bank on it being clean and having a happy ending. But that’s OK. And in the case of Ashes on the Moor, the book has enough twists and questions to help ease its otherwise predictable plot.
The truth is Ashes on the Moor is probably the strongest Proper Romance novel Shadow Mountain has published since Josi S. Kilpack’s All That Makes Life Bright. It’s not quite as powerful as Kilpack’s novel, but it’s certainly one of the more enjoyable reads I’ve had in a while.
Sarah M. Eden’s writing is warm and inviting. Her characters are likeable, and she has a knack for setting a scene. Her cinematic writing made me feel like I was walking through the moors with Evangeline.
Ashes on the Moor is a fast and addictive read you won’t want to put down.
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