***** 5 Stars for me! This story wouldn't let me go!
1898 Yorkshire--Aurora Pettigrew has it all, a loving family, a nice home, a comfortable life. She's waiting for the right man to offer her marriage, and the man for her is Reid Sinclair, heir to the Sinclair fortune and the love of her life. But, Reid's mother, Julia, is against the match and her ruthlessness unearths a family secret that will tear Aurora's world apart.Unwilling to bring shame on her family and needing answers to the allegations brought to light by Reid's mother, Aurora begins a long journey away from home. She leaves behind all that is familiar and safe to enter a world of mean streets and poor working class. Living in the tenements of York, surrounded by people of a class she'd never mixed with before, Aurora struggles to come to terms with the way her life has changed. By chance, she reconnects with a man from her past and before he leaves with the army to war in South Africa, he offers her security through marriage. Aurora knows she should be happy, but the memory of her love for Reid threatens her future. When tragedy strikes, can Aurora find the strength to accept her life and forget the past?
My Review: Brear paints a gritty, but vivid picture of Victorian Yorkshire which held my interest until the end with wonderfully detailed and authentic descriptions of the poorest parts of Yorkshire and the characters who inhabit them. They all seem very real and leap off the page. The protagonist is a young, well born woman, Aurora Pettigrew who is forced to abandon her wealthy family, and becomes determined to find her birth mother. Discovering her is quite a shock. Aurora finds she must develop new skills to survive in the slums. Strong and determined she is constantly tested in a sometimes violent world. I stayed up late finishing this novel. Brear's stories are so unpredictable I couldn't guess the ending. There's a tender love scene, a handsome hero and the minor characters too are exceedingly well drawn. Made me a bit teary at one point, but the ending is heart warming.