Sunday, October 13, 2013
An Untitled Lady by Nicky Penttila
An earl’s second son, Nash chose a life of Trade over Society. When protest marches spread across Lancashire, the pressure on him grows. If he can’t make both workers and manufacturers see reason he stands to lose everything: his business, his town, and his marriage.
As Manchester simmers under the summer sun, the choices grow more stark for Maddie and Nash: Family or justice. Love or money. Life or death.
Set in Manchester rather than London, and focused on the emerging merchant class and the problems of industrialization rather than the endless round of balls and entertainments for the ton, this historical romance was a refreshing change of pace in many ways. Maddie, haunted by a past she cannot remember, is a wonderful heroine. Her desperation to carve our a place for herself and to secure someone's love was heartbreaking, especially as the reader can see more clearly than can Maddie that the various people she wants to accept her are too self-interested to do so. Nash is a less successful hero as he too often ignores Maddie's very real need for support and comfort in favor of his commercial interests. The choice he forces upon her is almost the end for Maddie, and made it very difficult for me to like him.
I felt more could have been made of Nash's family- why did he and Deacon have so contentious a relationship with their father? What were his mother's real thoughts on any of it? Why did Nash run away at such a young age, and why didn't his family go after him? These lingering questions aside, the book was interesting, especially the information about the Peterloo Massacre and the insights into the problems of the working class during a time of industrial change in England. All in all, a quite engaging read.