By Rebecca Anderson
Published by Shadow Mountain
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.
"Anderson’s first foray into historical romance is an atypical, yet satisfying story set in Victorian Manchester’s upper middle class. Hand this to readers looking for a book that navigates the peaks and valleys of two strangers attempting to make a life together despite the hardships life throws at them."— Library Journal
"Isabelle transitions from an unaware, leisure-class woman to a more enlightened spouse and supporter of the working class. Intimacy and romance develop between Isabelle and Alexander because of simple gestures, like a long look or a thoughtful gift, and their conversations. Their slow, stately courting is reader appropriate for any age or audience. Manchester also gets its due as a place of grit and incredible production. Descriptions of bustling mills reveal their impact on the couple’s family and its fortunes. Isabelle and Alexander is an intimate and touching romance novel that focuses on women’s lives in the business class of industrial England."— Foreword Reviews
"Isabelle must use her quiet spunk, busy mind, and compassionate spirit to woo her husband in a wholly new way. Anderson's debut is a lovely northern England Victorian romance about confronting the seemingly impossible and the power of empathy. Anderson also addresses the time period’s treatment of physical and intellectual disabilities. Most of all, she beautifully depicts love in its many forms beyond romance, such as compassion, patience, and vulnerability; and her characters illustrate the ways that these expressions of love carry us through even the darkest hours. Isabelle’s loving and persevering fervor and devotion will resonate with any caregiver’s heart."— Booklist
This book had a lot of really interesting elements. As much as I love a good Regency story, I'm loving the trend of publishing more books set during the Victorian era. I found the details of Isabelle's life as a business owner's wife, as well as the details of Alexander's business really interesting. I thought it was awesome that the book had featured two characters with disabilities--Alexander with his physical paralysis and secondary character Glory with her developmental disability. Getting glimpses of the struggles and the recommended treatments for both as well as their limitations and what they could do was really engaging. (Side note: before knowing what the book was about, I really liked the cover; however, now, while I still think it's a beautiful cover, I wish it actually showed Alexander in his wheelchair. A visual depiction like that would have been really powerful.) Isabelle's character really resonated with me; her emotions fluctuated in a way that seemed very real as she struggled with her new situation and not knowing how to connect with Alexander. I appreciated her resilience and determination as she struggled to figure out how to interact with Alexander and his medical staff, and it was gratifying to see her find her voice. Alexander's character, with his moodiness and frustrations, was also very believable but not as enjoyable. Not having any of the book written from his point of view made it harder to truly see the good aspects, and it was pretty late in the book that we finally got a look at his heart. I wish there had been more of that, both when it did finally come as well as earlier in the book. The tone is understandably somber and the romance is hard-fought rather than fluffy and fun, but the book is well-written and engaging.
I read an ARc provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Rebecca Anderson is the nom de plume of contemporary romance novelist Becca Wilhite, author of Wedding Belles: A Novel in Four Parts, Check Me Out, and My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions. Isabelle and Alexander is her debut historical romance novel.
High school English teacher by day, writer by night (or very early morning), she loves hiking, Broadway shows, food, books, and movies. She is happily married and a mom to four above-average kids.
Join the virtual blog tour of ISABELLE AND ALEXANDER (Proper Romance Victorian), Rebecca Anderson’s highly acclaimed historical romance novel, May 3–16, 2021. Over forty popular blogs specializing in historical fiction, inspirational fiction, and Victorian romance will join in the celebration of its release with spotlights, exclusive excerpts, and reviews of this new Victorian-era novel set in Manchester, England.
BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE
May 03 Lu Reviews Books (Review
May 03 Timeless Novels (Review)
May 03 Our Book Confessions (Review)
May 04 Literary Time Out (Review
May 04 My Bookish Bliss (Review)
May 04 The Book Diva's Reads (Excerpt)
May 05 Heidi Reads (Review)
May 05 Laura's Reviews (Review)
May 05 Wishful Endings (Review)
May 05 Gwendalyn's Reviews (Review)
May 06 Margie's Must Reads (Review)
May 06 Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen (Excerpt)
May 06 Relz Reviewz (Review)
May 07 Randi Loves 2 Read (Spotlight)
May 07 The Reading Frenzy (Review)
May 07 Nurse Bookie (Review)
May 08 The Christian Fiction Girl (Review)
May 08 The Bibliophile Files (Review)
May 09 Reading with Emily (Review)
May 09 Fire and Ice (Spotlight)
May 10 My Jane Austen Book Club (Excerpt)
May 10 The Caffeinated Bibliophile (Review)
May 10 Booked Solid (Review)
May 10 From Pemberley to Milton (Spotlight)
May 11 Greenish Bookshelf (Review)
May 11 Captivated Reading (Review)
May 11 The Green Mockingbird (Review)
May 12 For Where Your Treasure Is (Excerpt)
May 12 Bookworm Lisa (Review)
May 13 Books, Teacups & Reviews (Spotlight)
May 13 Library of Clean Reads (Review)
May 13 Robin Loves Reading (Review)
May 13 So Little Time (Excerpt)
May 14 Eli's Novel Reviews (Review)
May 14 The Lit Bitch (Review)
May 14 The Bluestocking (Review)
May 15 Reading Is My Superpower (Review)
May 15 Christian Chick's Thoughts (Review)
May 15 A Darn Good Read (Review)
May 16 The Silver Petticoat Review (Excerpt)
May 16 CozyNookBooks (Review)