Friday, April 27, 2018

The Heart's Appeal ~ a Bethany House book review

Bethany House, book review, historical fiction, romance

Julia Bernay applies pressure, quick thinking, and her nursing skills, to save the life of a man injured during a wreck on the London Underground. When she later learns this man might be the very person who closes down the Medical school she wishes to attend to become a Doctor, and then a Medical Missionary to Africa, she is not quite sure what to think.

Thus begins The Heart's Appeal, the second book in Jennifer Delamere's London Beginnings series from Bethany House. Julia is the sister of Rosalyn Bernay from Book One of the series, and while there is a small bit of overlap of characters, you can enjoy The Heart's Appeal even if you have not yet read The Captain's Daughter.

Like all good historical fiction, The Heart's Appeal contains realistic scenes from London's various social circles of the time. While Barrister-at-law Michael Stephenson and his sister Corinna run with the likes of Viscounts and other wealthy Londoners, Julia is a former nurse, a poor college student, and a solid representation of London's middle class from the 1880's. Michael and his set are the type to give money to fix a problem, while Julia and her classmates are the ones who give their time to help others in similar circumstances, or those who are destitute. Reading through this book gave me a stark reminder that there has always been poverty, and only through action and compassion can we overcome it on a person by person basis.

Spoiler alert

Julia and Michael interact upon several occasions, the first time after the accident on the underground is when Julia seeks him out at his sister's home, after her fellow female students tell her more about him. Michael is intrigued that she would seek him out, and surprised that she is doing so because she genuinely cares about his welfare and if he is healing properly from his wounds. In the circles Michael runs in, every action and conversation has an ulterior motive, and he is somewhat stunned and a little skeptical of Julia's lack of artifice.

When Michael makes a hasty request as to how he can repay Julia for her care in saving his life, he never expected her to want his time instead of his money. Julia realizes that as a barrister, Michael must understand Latin well, and that is where she is struggling the most in her studies. As she asks him to tutor her in Latin, Michael begins to realize just what a predicament he has gotten himself into with his generosity. His current legal case involves a libel suit against the Medical School Julia is working to get admitted to. He understands that his rash offer could get him in big trouble with his superior, and possibly even jeopardize the case. His sister Corinna, while concerned with his legal position, is even more concerned that his agreement to tutor Julia will upset her social scene and his chances of marriage to Miss Laura Maynard if anyone finds out about it.

I found The Heart's Appeal to be an interesting and entertaining read. It travels along at a decent pace, but does not draw you so far in that you cannot put it down to make dinner. The characters are believable, and just might make you think of someone you already know. Having heard accounts of how London was always a mix of the three social levels, I was drawn in by Mrs. Delamere's descriptions of the vastly different levels of societal living. Her passion for historic detail makes this a delightful book, but I am sure she could have put the interactions between Julia and Michael in any setting and still had them be enjoyable charters. They are so achingly human - foibles and all.

I recommend you pick up your own copy of The Heart's Appeal, either from the Bethany House website, your local bookstore, or request your local library to add it to their collection. I look forward to book three in the London Beginnings series. I sincerely hope she is already working on it!

Connect with Jennifer Delamere  

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. I was not require dot write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions are mine. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

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