Summary from BN.com: Female journalists are rare in 1879, but American-born Clara Endicott has finally made a name for herself with her provocative articles championing London's poor. When the backlash from her work forces a return home to Baltimore, Clara finds herself face-to-face with a childhood sweetheart who is no longer the impoverished factory worker she once knew. In her absence, Daniel Tremain has become a powerful industry giant and Clara finds him as enigmatic as ever. However, Daniel's success is fueled by resentment from past wounds and Clara's deeply-held beliefs about God's grace force Daniel to confront his own motives. When Clara's very life is endangered by one of Daniel's adversaries, they must face a reckoning neither of them ever could have foreseen.
I've been looking forward to this book for quite a while. It all started several months ago when this title appeared on Amazon for pre-order. I didn't know who the author was and couldn't find anything about her online. After some detective work and speculating, thanks to My Friend Amy an interview with the author was procured and the anticipation began.
I have to admit that I was expecting something different while reading this book. From the cover, I thought the book would be more about the upper class and there would be talk about balls, dresses and high society. Instead, it's a historical romance with suspense, politics and drugs thrown in. It's like expecting sugar candy in your stocking and getting chocolate with nuts instead. You expect fluff and get something a bit more sustaining.
The parts that fascinated me the most actually didn't really involve Clara that much. She was an interesting character being both a female journalist and a musician. However, it was the two male characters, Daniel and Bane that really caught my attention. The two men come from different backgrounds and though they may not be for the right reasons, they have such a zeal for what they do. Each has a personal vendetta that their life's work is focused on. They are both very driven men. I also found all the talk about opium to be very interesting as well. It was the drug of choice back then and all the historical information on it was fascinating.
This book felt very Christian-y to me. I'm not so sure that I really like that in books that I read. Throughout most of the book, Clara kept trying to witness to Daniel so that he could become a Christian. She doesn't really do much though other than keep using all the Christian phrases and jargon that seem repetitive and also would turn away a non Christian. She then does the same thing to Bane. It just seems that she's all talk and not walk so it's wonderful when she finally does get called out on it. I do find it interesting that even with all her talk about her faith, she has no qualms about her career in journalism and the things she has to do to get a story. Also, she never really questions her father about his prejudices against those who are not well off so it seems a bit hypocritical that he's in the clear about what he believes simply because he's already a believer.
Overall though, I found this to be a good debut novel. I really hope that there will be a sequel or at least another book that features Bane. I really found his character fascinating and it kills me that there is unknown stuff about him that is only hinted at in this book. This is just my personal preference but if in Camden's next book she tones down the preachiness, I think she'll have a real winner.
The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden is published by Bethany House (2011)
This ARC was provided by the publisher