Great Expectations meets Grantchester in this story of love and lies, secrets and second chances, set in Edwardian England.
Beaten and left for dead in the English countryside, clergyman and reformer Tom Cross is rescued and nursed back to health by Miranda and Simon Thorne, reclusive siblings who seem to have as many secrets as he does. Tom has spent years helping the downtrodden in London while lying to everyone he meets, but now he’s forced to slow down and confront his unexamined life.
Miranda, a skilled artist, is haunted by her painful past and unable to imagine a future. Tom is a welcome distraction from her troubles, but she’s determined to relegate him to her fantasy world, sensing that any real relationship with him would be more trouble than it’s worth. Besides, she has sworn to remain devoted to someone she’s left behind.
When Tom returns to London, his life begins to unravel as he faces the consequences of both his affair with a married woman and his abusive childhood. When his secrets catch up with him and his reputation is destroyed, he realizes that Miranda is the only person he trusts with the truth. What he doesn’t realize is that even if she believes him and returns his feelings, he can’t free her from the shackles of her past.
Clarissa Harwood holds a PhD in English Literature with a specialization in Nineteenth-Century British Literature. In addition to being a proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Clarissa is a part-time university instructor and full-time grammar nerd who loves to explain the difference between restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses. She lives in London, Ontario.
"A smart and highly civilized tale about love, temptation, and second chances."
– Kirkus Reviews
"Historical fiction fans with a penchant for complexity in their romances will appreciate this story of two ardent people overcoming the pasts they can no longer escape."
– Library Journal
"Harwood has taken the villain from her last novel and turned him into a sympathetic, if flawed, protagonist. Both historical-fiction and historical-romance fans will relish this novel, in which characterization is strong and realistically informed by backstories and in which two damaged people come to truly know themselves and find their missing pieces in each other."
"An impressively and deftly crafted novel that will engage the readers complete attention as the author presents more unanticipated plot line twists and turns than a Coney Island roller coaster."
– Midwest Book Reviews
"An intriguing study of a flawed man. All the characters in this novel, even the minor ones, are complex and surprising, and Harwood deftly blends social realism with fairytale lyricism in a way that is moving without being sentimental."
– Historical Novels Review (Editor’s Choice)
"Readers who enjoy a tender love story will want to keep turning pages to learn these characters' secrets and find out whether and how they come together."