First sentence: It always came to this, didn’t it? Amid the glittering swirl of music and gowns, I looked up into the handsome face of Lord Cumberland and forced a smile as if nothing at all were about to happen.
Premise/plot: Willa Duvall is a determined, strong-willed heroine who has one thing and one thing only on her mind: becoming a doctor. The problem? The year is 1859 and she hasn't found a medical school to accept her into any program. So she nurses and continues to pursue knowledge and provide the best possible care for patients. Another problem? (You didn't think they'd only be one problem to solve, did you???) Her father is determined that enough is enough is enough. It's time for his daughter to MARRY. And since she's turned down the last five--possibly four or six (since math isn't my subject) proposals, it's his turn to pick. The solution? Well, a trial of sorts. Willa gets her father to agree that she can keep on nursing--for a bit--and if she has one successful patient, she'll get to keep pursuing her dream of medicine. (But who determines what makes a case successful??? The patient living? The patient getting better? The family agreeing that you've helped a patient??? Reaching a point where your services are no longer necessary????) She chooses a case that will take her to Crestwicke. Her patient is Golda Gresham. She lives with her son, Gabe, and her stepchildren, Burke and his wife, Clara, and her spinster daughter, Celeste. Why did she choose Crestwicke, well, THE LOVE NOTE, of course. She discovers a letter from a secret admirer hidden within a secret compartment in her writing desk that mentions Crestwicke, I believe. Plus the writing desk originally came from there. The letter doesn't say WHO it is for or who it is FROM, but she's determined to find out because it is a mighty powerful letter.
My thoughts: I really LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. That being said, I wish it didn't include a jarring error: having the characters be familiar with Alice in Wonderland and discussing it like it was a beloved classic or even a new classic. NEWS FLASH: Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1865 and the book opens in 1859 and the epilogue brings us to three years later. Still way too many years before its actual publication. What makes it even more cringe-worthy is the fact that they are specifically talking about the second book which was published in 1871.
“Oh, it is. Wonderfully so. Have you read Alice’s Adventures in the Looking Glass? It’s something like that, I believe. A person simply falls down this hole, completely against his will, and finds himself in this foreign yet completely enchanting world.” “Crestwicke doesn’t have those sorts of holes,” Celeste mused. “The people here all remain on solid ground, I’m afraid.”
Someone had fallen in love the way Alice fell into that rabbit hole. I would find them, and the letter would be delivered—it was merely a matter of time.
Now that negativity is behind, I will just say that I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the storytelling, the writing, the relationships. Not just the potential romantic ones--but ALL of the relationships. The character development is strong in this one.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible