cover image Ashes on the Moor

Ashes on the Moor

Sarah M. Eden. Shadow Mountain, $15.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-62972-402-7

Eden (the Longing for Home series) blends a bucolic historical setting with deep characters for a rewarding tale. Spunky but socially conventional Evangeline Blake lost all her family except her young sister, Lucy, to a sudden illness in late-19th-century England. Her austere aunt takes over their care, separating the sisters and foisting untrained Evangeline into teaching in the northern English mill town owned by the girls’ grandfather. Eden provides solid historical details to highlight Evangeline’s struggles with understanding Yorkshire accents, living in poverty, and being socially isolated because she has to keep her family connections secret. Never having lived on her own, she relies on a neighbor, ambitious Irish immigrant Dermot McCormick. Evangeline’s slightly anachronistic acceptance of his son’s autistic traits captures Dermot’s affections. As they grow more attached, the secret of Evangeline’s true social status slips out and threatens everything. Eden ably captures the changing of an era, the horrors of factory work, and the displacements of being Irish in England, a lady among the working classes, and a Southern Englishwoman in the North. Despite a few moments that feel too modern, the novel will appeal to readers seeking a chaste romance that makes gentle challenges to conventions of feminine propriety. (Mar.)