14 September 2011

Review: A Gentleman's Homecoming by Ruth Axtell Morren

Roberta (Bobbie) Gardner is a 28-year-old spinster, the daughter of one of London's most respected engineers. She is also the 'mother' of her nephew, 13-year-old Sam Travis, as his mother (her sister) is dead and his father is working in America as an engineer. The story opens just after the death of Roberta's father and the arrival back in England of Luke Travis, Bobbie's brother-in-law, who she has secretly been in love with since she was 14. While Bobbie is pleased to see Luke, Sam is not, as he considers the late Mr Gardener to be the only father he has ever known, and he is resentful towards Luke. Luke faces the challenge of developing a relationship with an intelligent and gifted teenager - and with Bobbie, who has raised his son since toddlerhood.

I really enjoyed this book. As a Love Inspired Historical, it follows the standard romance formula which can easily get predictable. Equally, people read Love Inspired and other Harlequin novels because they want a happy ending without too much angst, so predictability can be a positive. What can get tiring is when a predictable plot is combined with an unoriginal setting, resulting in a feeling of de ja vu. These novels slip easily from the mind.

What raised A Gentleman's Homecoming (Love Inspired Historical) above average, for me, was the original setting, being 1888 London and the building of one of the first Underground train lines. Ruth Axtell Morren has combined an obvious interest in the subject of civil engineering with a great deal of research to produce an excellent novel, with the original setting being the icing on the cake, especially as I used to live in London and recognised many of the places she mentioned. It is so nice to see a book not set in the US or in Regency London! I also liked the Christian aspect (Love Inspired is one of Harlequin's Christian lines). The Christian element was present but not overpowering, with no preachiness.

A Gentleman's Homecoming (Love Inspired Historical) is available from http://www.koorong.com/, http://www.christianbok.com/, or Amazon (follow the links above).

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