cover image Circle of Gold

Circle of Gold

Karen Harper. Dutton Books, $20 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-525-93453-0

Rebecca Blake, heroine of this appealing historical romance, is a child of the Kentucky mountains, gifted with a generous heart and a bold tongue. But in 1825, when she is 13, her mother dies, and her father, unable to care for her and her younger brother, relinquishes parental rights to entrust his children to the Shakers. Religious strictures chafe Rebecca initially, but she grows up to become a highly regarded member of the community. Enter Ramsey Sherborne, a British lord hoping to learn Shaker skills and then teach them to the poor back in his native Dorset. He persuades Rebecca to marry him, and so she trades the Shaker setting for British aristocracy. Rebecca's convictions are strong and deep, and her new title as Lady Sherborne doesn't alter her belief in social justice, not even when her sympathy for the commoners shocks the local gentry. However, Rebecca is to be uprooted yet again, her resilience unshaken. Harper ( Almost Forever ) has created a winning cast set in the midst of unusual locales. (June)