HEARTS OF BRIARWALL (PROPER ROMANCE EDWARDIAN), by Krista Jensen, Shadow Mountain, Aug. 2, 2022, Paperback, $15.99 (young adult/ new adult/ adult fiction)
Shadow Mountain expands its popular Proper Romance line into the Edwardian era in Hearts of Briarwall, by Krista Jensen.
Lydia Wooding is fascinated by the latest inventions the new century brings, including motorcars. She longs for the independence they represent and believes that women should have a say in the future of the industry ― just as they should have a say in suffrage, adventure, and, of course, love.
Spencer Hayes is a man of practicality and innovation, but he lacks the financial backing to make his dream a reality. When he contacts his childhood friend, Andrew Wooding, about a promising business venture, he is invited to Briarwall Manor to discuss the terms. Once there, he is surprised to find that Andrew’s once shy, younger sister, Lydia, has grown into a young woman of beauty, wit, and a bit of fire. Even better, the two share a passion for motorcars.
Andrew, however, is wary of cars, having lost his parents in a tragic auto accident when he and Lydia were young. And he’s not sure a relationship between his sister and Spencer is the best idea ― not when Sir Lawrence is available and could match both Lydia’s social status and her fortune.
Torn between risking their hearts and being loyal to their dreams in an era of whirlwind change, Spencer and Lydia anchor themselves with the determination they both share: to live life to its fullest. —Synopsis provided by Shadow Mountain
Set during the first decade of the 20th Century, Hearts of Briarwall is as much a story about women’s rights as it is a romance. The book is set near the beginning of suffragette movement and delves into ideas of self-reliance and a woman’s ability to make decisions for herself.
It’s against this backdrop that Lydia and Spencer’s romance blooms. As is the case with all such novels, you go into Hearts of Briarwall knowing that the two main characters are going to end up together, the enjoyment comes in the journey.
Both main characters are likeable, and their interactions gratifying, but the best bits of the novel come in the banter of Lydia’s friends together and apart. Their wit and ability to make things happen when they seem most improbable adds brightness throughout. I have my fingers crossed that each of these women will get their own novel in turn.
Hearts of Briarwall is one of the strong Proper Romance novels I’ve read in a while. Kudos to author Krista Jensen for creating a well-rounded and entertaining novel that readers won’t want to put down.
*Editor’s note: While Hearts of Briarwall is technically classified as adult fiction, its setting and gentle romantic content make it appropriate for teen readers as well.
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