Historical Romances and me, that's a very long love story. When this book came up for review on NetGalley I was especially fascinated as it is playing in and around a cotton mill. I visited one of the biggest cotton mills still standing, which was built in the early 1800s, this summer during my holiday in Scotland. Really fascinating! And indeed the author didn't disappoint me. The historical settings are perfect and the descriptions very accurate.
The heroine Caroline is in a moral dilemma. Her husband wants her to get pregnant as soon as possible. As she didn't conceive during the last 15 years of their marriage, he wants her to get intimate with other men. But not just random men, no he wants her to seduce noble men. And now it gets a bit weird because he convinces Caroline's brother to bring over some of his friends for a hunting party so that Caroline has plenty of choice. This is just disgusting, at least for Caroline and me. She refuses but her husband forces her to rethink her decision by telling her that she won't inherit anything in case of his death.
At the same time a cotton mill worker, Jack, fascinates Caroline. Though they never talked to each other both watch each other at every available opportunity. Then Jack gets hurt during a factory accident and Caroline herself takes care of him. I loved these scenes between them. Both clearly adored each other but the social gap seemed insuperable. At the same time Caroline tries seducing other men, not very successfully though. It was obvious Caroline hated this, but the author pointed this out on and on until I really couldn't hear it anymore. The whole situation seems hopeless but then some unexpected allies show up and Caroline herself becomes stronger and more independent.
The end was kind of expected though I didn't expect it to happen that way and I did like it, though it is almost fairy tale like. I'm not sure that social differences as big as between Jack and Caroline could be overcome at that time. But this is a fiction novel and everything is possible. Overall this was an enjoyable though not very memorable read.
* ARC courtesy of NetGalley *