Isabelle Rackham is a new bride in Manchester England in 1850. She barely knows her new husband, but knows he is a handsome successful mill owner. Marriage does not go as Isabelle has expected. She knows they didn’t marry for love, but she had hoped they would be able to form a relationship. That seems unlikely as Alexander spends all of his time at the mill and barely talks when he is at home. Alexander makes an effort to spend more time with his wife by bringing her to his beloved country estate. While there, an unfortunate accident occurs that changes their entire world. Will they be able to recover and have a more loving union?
Isabelle and Alexander is a heartwarming love story. It’s about two people learning to understand one another and open themselves up for love. Isabelle and Alexander both work towards understanding more about each other. It’s a slow burn novel that starts from the two of them as silent strangers to learning to love. I greatly enjoyed this novel.I was also fascinated as the novel is set during Victorian times and deals with disability. This is not something I have read about much. I do know that during this time, it was common to send away family members who did have a disability. Besides weathering Alexander’s disability, Isabelle befriends the Kenworthy family who have a very special daughter, Glory. Although she goes through manic phases, the family cares for her at home and she is a very special young woman. I love how Alexander dismisses her at first, but then over time, realizes he has underestimated Glory.
I also loved learning about mills in this novel. Isabelle opens herself up to learning about Alexander’s business and getting to know how it works and the people who work there. I thought it was fascinating.
I enjoyed Isabelle’s development as a character. She gathered strength throughout the novel and the courage to speak out for what she believed in. I love that she was open to learning new things and to go beyond the training as a lady that her mother provided.
“You are a great deal more than well enough. You have offered your strength when I had none, your patience as I pushed you away again and again.”
“No decision you make affects you alone; therefore, you cannot decide crucial things in isolation. All choices made about our family should be made by us together.”
Overall, Isabelle and Alexander is an inspirational Victorian nontraditional romance. I read this one quickly and enjoyed every minute of it!
Book Source: Review Copy from Shadow Mountain Publishing as part of the Blog Tour put together by Laurel Ann Nattress from Austenprose. Thank-you!
• Title: Isabelle and Alexander (Proper Romance Victorian)
• Author: Rebecca Anderson
• Genre: Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction, Victorian Romance
• Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing (May 4, 2021)
• Format: Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook (368) pages
• Tour Dates: May 3-16. 2021
Isabelle Rackham knows she will not marry for love. Though arranged marriages have fallen out of fashion, hers has been settled for some time to combine the upper-middle-class wealth of her father's coal mines with Alexander Osgood's prospering Northern country textile mills. Though not a man prone to romantic gestures, Alexander is well-known as an eligible bachelor. His good looks have turned more than one head, so Isabelle is content to think of herself as Alexander's wife.
However, her marriage is not what she expected. Northern England is nothing like her home farther west in the lake country. Cold, dreary, and dark, the soot from the textile mills creates a gray hue that seems to cling to everything in the city of Manchester. Alexander is distant and aloof, preferring to spend his time at the mill rather than with her at home. Their few conversations are brief, polite, and lacking any emotion, leaving Isabelle lonely and desperately homesick.
Sensing his wife's unhappiness, Alexander suggests a trip to his country estate. Isabelle hopes this will be an opportunity to get to know her new husband without the distractions of his business. But the change of scenery doesn't bring them any closer. While riding together on horses, Alexander is thrown from his and becomes paralyzed. Tragedy or destiny? The help and care that Alexander now needs is Isabelle's opportunity to forge a connection and create a deep and romantic love where nothing else could.
• "Anderson’s first foray into historical romance is an atypical, yet satisfying story set in Victorian Manchester’s upper middle class. Hand this to readers looking for a book that navigates the peaks and valleys of two strangers attempting to make a life together despite the hardships life throws at them."— Library Journal
• "Isabelle transitions from an unaware, leisure-class woman to a more enlightened spouse and supporter of the working class. Intimacy and romance develop between Isabelle and Alexander because of simple gestures, like a long look or a thoughtful gift, and their conversations. Their slow, stately courting is reader appropriate for any age or audience. Manchester also gets its due as a place of grit and incredible production. Descriptions of bustling mills reveal their impact on the couple’s family and its fortunes. Isabelle and Alexander is an intimate and touching romance novel that focuses on women’s lives in the business class of industrial England."— Foreword Reviews
• "Isabelle must use her quiet spunk, busy mind, and compassionate spirit to woo her husband in a wholly new way. Anderson's debut is a lovely northern England Victorian romance about confronting the seemingly impossible and the power of empathy. Anderson also addresses the time period’s treatment of physical and intellectual disabilities. Most of all, she beautifully depicts love in its many forms beyond romance, such as compassion, patience, and vulnerability; and her characters illustrate the ways that these expressions of love carry us through even the darkest hours. Isabelle’s loving and persevering fervor and devotion will resonate with any caregiver’s heart."— Booklist
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.
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