I am thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for Isabelle and Alexander by Rebecca Anderson. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. This is another book that I loved making me even more glad to have found myself on the list for these fun ARCs. Thanks to Shadow Mountain!
This book intrigued me because…
- It immediately sounded like North and South which I love.
- It’s a unique love story that begins with a wedding and ends with love.
- It is a Victorian Era novel which I was excited about because it gives it a different setting than most Proper Romances.
According to Goodreads, “Manchester, 1850. Isabelle Rackham knows she will not marry for love. Though arranged marriages have fallen out of fashion, hers has been settled for some time. Alexander Osgood is handsome, well-known, and wealthy, but he is distant and aloof, spending much of his time at his textile mill. Moreover, Northern England is nothing like Isabelle’s home in the Lake Country, and her marriage is far from the fairy tale she expected. Conversations with Alexander are awkward, when they happen at all, and Isabelle struggles with loneliness.
Sensing his wife’s unhappiness, Alexander brings Isabelle to his country estate. During their time together, the couple begins to build a friendship, opening up to each other about the details of their lives. But when a tragic accident leaves Alexander unable to walk, their fledgling relationship is tested.
Isabelle is determined to see to her husband’s recovery, and in caring for him, she discovers within herself an untapped well of strength and courage. In learning to rely on each other, the couple has an opportunity to forge a love connection that they both have longed for but never dreamed could be.”
I loved this book start to finish. The Victorian Age setting intrigued me from the start. I haven’t read many modern published novels set in this time period and loved this one. It reminded me of everything I love about North and South. I loved all the details about Manchester and the Industrial Age. I was fascinated by the details of Osgood Mill and the process for creating their goods from the machines, the floors, the workers, the potential for fire, the shipping, and the potential to expand and upgrade. With all this and the twist that happens early in the novel, this story l is unlike any I have read in an historical romance. I appreciated all those new details that made this book so engaging for me.
Isabelle is a fantastic protagonist. In true Victorian form, we get the story exclusively from her perspective and I admired her growing strength and confidence. Anderson does a great job balancing Isabelle’s growing role in her household with her personal dreams. She isn’t a completely modern woman that doesn’t quite fit in with her time period but rather a lovely celebration of the changing roles for women at this time. I was cheering for from the moment we meet her. And I was constantly amazed at her abilities to hold her temper in check and serve her husband through so much. I loved following her journey and her strength in helping and healing with Alexander.
Alexander is a classic brooding character–reminiscent of Mr. Thornton and Mr Rochester. He is successful and hard working. He has built his mill business himself and gained the trust and love of his employees. His accident is tragic and difficult for him and all who know him. I was fascinated by the details of his recovery from the muscle exercises to the wheelchair and slow return of motion. I have never read a novel with historical accounts of that type of injury and recovery. It was so interesting to read about that intricate process in this novel. I would have loved some chapters from Alexander’s point of view to understand his thought process and his slow burning love for Isabelle. It was a relief to see his actions show his love later in the story. But I would love to get inside his head and see his love grow.
Their love story is slow burning and beautiful. They begin with an arranged marriage and then Alexander’s accident happens so quickly. I wasn’t sure how they could really fall in love. But it was possible and beautiful. It happened in small moments of Isabelle serving Alexander. In stories shared with each other. In understanding the mill and the livelihood they both needed. In being alone and being patient together. My favorite moment is when Alexander comes rushing to Isabelle’s aid and she can’t believe he has dropped everything for her. Then he nurses her as she did for him. Their love is not perfect but a process of service, honesty and patience. I loved the unique frame for their love story and the beautiful ending they deserve.
The other characters are also beautifully developed. This story has so many well rounded characters that surround our protagonists. From Mr Connor and Mr Kenworthy at the mill. To Mrs Kenworthy and Glory and their friendship with Isabelle. I loved Mrs Burns and Yeardley for their loyalty and gentle encouragement to our protagonists. Cousin Edwin and Isabelle’s changing relationship with her childhood best friend as they marry other people. The kind country doctor that is Alec’s dear friend and becomes Isabelle’s confidant and support. Even the rude doctor and truly horrible nurse who want to heal Alexander in different ways. Each help create a more full backdrop for the story.
A truly delightful novel that I read in about 24 hours. I loved the characters, the setting, historical details, and the slow and satisfying love story. High recommend for any historical fiction and proper romance fans!
What are your favorite Victorian Era novels?
Why do you love historical fiction? Or why is it not your cup of tea?
Rebecca Anderson is the nom de plume of contemporary romance novelist Becca Wilhite, author of Wedding Belles: A Novel in Four Parts, Check Me Out, and My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions. Isabelle and Alexander is her debut historical romance novel.
High school English teacher by day, writer by night (or very early morning), she loves hiking, Broadway shows, food, books, and movies. She is happily married and a mom to four above-average kids.