Katy Madison~~ 4 1/2 and 5 Star Reviews
The product of a noble family, Caroline Broadhurst married her mill‑owner husband when she was fourteen. He was an old man then and even older now, and in fifteen years they have never conceived a child. Now Caroline learns he is infertile. He wants a male heir for his mill; so he has hatched a horrifying plan: He will hold a hunting party, inviting only single, handsome, aristocratic men. Caroline is to choose one of these men to be her lover and sleep with him until she conceives. She is rightly horrified by this scheme, but Mr. Broadhurst has rewritten his will so that she will lose everything if she does not bear a son.
Jack Applegate works at the mill and has been fighting to improve himself for years. His disabled father, stepmother and multitude of siblings have prevented him from leaving, but he finally has a job opportunity in London. This chance is in jeopardy of slipping away when his ankle is crushed in mill machinery. To his great embarrassment, Caroline brings him to her house to recover. Caroline cannot bear to think of using any of her houseguests to conceive a child (though she does try), but she could bear it with Jack. Maybe she'll ask him when he has recovered.Katy Madison's latest crosses class lines in Victorian England while shedding light on the plight of the poor, particularly children. This tale will not be for everyone, as Caroline endures several degrading situations before finally succeeding in committing adultery.
The mood of the piece can be unrelentingly bleak, but the slow‑building love story of Jack and Caroline is glorious and magical, keeping this reader glued to the page even through a power outage.
Heather Nordahl Files
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