Monday, February 12, 2018

The Runaway Wife: Historical Novel by Rosie Clarke

Welcome!  Plum Tea Crazy by Laura Childs will be published on March 6.  It is 19th book in A Tea Shop Mystery series (my favorite cozy mystery series).  Rosie Clarke is a historical author who has written The Mulberry Lane series, The Workshop Girls series, The Downstairs Maid, Emma Trilogy, and Jessie's Promise.  Ms. Clarke writes under the pen names of Anne Herries and Cathy Sharp. You can follow Ms. Clarke on Amazon, Goodreads, and Bookbub.  You can find out more about Rosie Clarke and her books on her website.  

The Runaway Wife by Rosie Clarke takes readers back in time to just before Christmas in 1929.  Annabel Tarleton’s family lost most of their money in the recent stock market crash thanks to investments made by her deceased father.  Annabel is expected by her mother to marry a well-to-do gentleman and take her place in society like her mother and generations of women before her.  At a dance, Annabel encounters Richard Hansen.  Richard is handsome, mysterious and has a bad boy reputation which attracts Annabel.  Richard, though, states he is not the marrying type.  Annabel gets an invitation to spend time at Kendlebury Hall with her friend, Georgie Barrington.  While there Annabel meets Paul Keifer (a printer) and they spend time together.  Paul soon proposes to Annabel, but she knows her domineering and critical mother will not approve of the match.  She turns him down and returns home.  Annabel encounters Richard again at a dance where Annabel has indulged in too much champagne and she finds herself in a compromising position.  After a quick engagement, Annabel finds herself married to Richard.  She soon discovers why people warned her away from him.  One night after Richard is particularly cruel, Annabel escapes and hopes that he will not find her (and follow through on his threats).  Will Annabel ever be free of Richard? 

The Runaway Wife took me back in time to the late 1920s in England.  I found The Runaway Wife to contains good writing and nicely developed characters.  I like that were a variety of characters from the different classes (not everyone was Annabel’s social class).  Annabel is a woman who has been controlled by her mother her whole life.  She would like to pursue job opportunities, but her mother is pressuring her to marry (and take her place in society). We get to follow Annabel as she gets married and finds that she has traded her controlling mother for a domineering, abuse husband.   It did take me a couple of chapters to get into the story, but then I was hooked.  I wanted to find out what would happen to Annabel.  There are a couple of slow spots (every book has them), but overall the pace is steady (picks up pace later in the book).  I found the story to be realistic (gritty).  The violence that Annabel suffers is described as well as other cruel acts performed by Richard.  Rosie Clarke captured the era with her descriptions of the locale, the language used by the characters, hairstyles (women cutting off their long hair) and the clothing (hemlines were on the rise).  She portrays the changing roles of women, the nightlife (drinking and dancing at nightclubs), the rich finding themselves without money (thanks to the stock market crash), life as a politician’s wife and the big estates in trouble.  One of the lessons in The Runaway Wife is about choices.  Every choice we make takes us down a path.  It is important that we learn from our mistakes, so we can make better decisions in the future.  I found the ending to be satisfying.  I like it when I find myself smiling when I finish a story.  Find yourself back in time and experiencing a wide range of emotions in Rosie Clarke’s The Runaway Wife.  For a taste of The Runaway Wife, read the excerpt below:

Annabel’s heart missed a beat as she caught sight of him across the room, her stomach clenching with nerves. She had been so sure he wouldn’t be here this evening. He seldom attended little dances like this, because he was more often in London or at Newmarket for the racing. They had met on only one other occasion and she’d felt an instant attraction, though she wasn’t certain he was interested. He’d smiled, asked her to dance, talked about his passion for racehorses, briefly mentioned the business passed on to him by his late father, and then left her to rejoin his friends.

Tall and lean, with dark hair, and an attractive face, Richard Hansen was very wealthy. Everyone knew that he was the heir to a vast manufacturing empire. His grandfather had started with some mills in the North Country but his father had expanded the business and become both wealthy and influential. Richard had been sent to the best schools and then to Oxford, where he had somehow managed to survive without being sent down despite his reputation for being wild. Perhaps because of his charm, which seemed to embrace everyone he met and sent more than one young woman’s heart on a dizzy whirl. It was a little way he had of making you feel that you were special that drew women to him, as moths to the naked flame.

Even as Annabel watched, she saw him charming an older woman who was known for her sour disposition but who now simpered and blushed as he twisted her around his little finger. Annabel watched the woman laughing like a young girl and then flushed herself as his eyes told her he’d become aware of her gaze.
‘You’re wasting your time,’ a mischievous voice said at her ear and Annabel turned to smile at her friend Georgina Barrington. Georgie was dark haired, pretty and full of fun, a year or so younger than Annabel. Wearing a short dress with fringes that sparkled as she moved, she was a true reflection of the age. Much more than a flapper, she was intelligent and full of the joy of life. ‘Ma told me to give him a wide berth, Belle. Mr Hansen is a charmer but spoiled – and some say he’s bad, though they won’t say why.’

‘What do you mean – bad?’ Annabel asked, unwilling to accept that Richard could be less than the perfect young god he appeared and yet knowing that her friend was far from malicious. ‘He seemed pleasant enough to me when we met.’
Georgie had been her best friend since they’d met two years earlier, when the Barringtons were staying with friends in Cambridge. The family visited every few months and Georgina had written to say she would be at the Munsters’ dance that evening.

‘It’s just whispers,’ Georgie said. ‘I think he probably gets drunk and does reckless things – but Ma never tells me the whole story. You know what mothers are like.’

‘Yes, I do,’ agreed Annabel with a rueful look. ‘Your mother is better than most though, Georgie. She gives you a lot of freedom. This is 1929 but I sometimes think my mother is still living in Victorian times. She hardly lets me out without a chaperone.’

‘Lady Tarleton is a little anxious for you sometimes,’ Georgie said diplomatically and glanced across the room to her own mother. ‘She wants you to make a good marriage. Priscilla says she doesn’t care who I marry as long as I am happy. That’s partly because of Jessie, I believe. She’s wonderful, Belle.’

The Runaway Wife is available for purchase on Amazon, iBooks, GooglePlay Store, and Kobo.  Thank you for stopping by today.  Tomorrow I will be reviewing Words from the Heart by Kathleen Fuller.  May you have an enchanting day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

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