Foreword Reviews

Hearts of Briarwall

A spirited maverick with a passion for cars meets her match in Krista Jensen’s ebullient Edwardian romance, Hearts of Briarwall.

Lydia, whose parents died in her youth, is shepherded by her conscientious brother, Andrew, though she’s less concerned than he is about keeping up appearances. Surrounded by friends who are inspired by Wendy’s adventures in Peter Pan, she’s encouraged in her beliefs—which include suffragism—and pressed to consider her future.

When Andrew brings home Spencer, whom Lydia once knew, she’s struck by how Spencer’s changed. But Andrew has different ideas about Lydia’s prospects. And Spencer, who is focused on presenting a business proposal, isn’t sure about seeking new love.

Evoking feminine frivolity about securing a match and turning English social rules toward their own benefit, Lydia and her charming friends offer each other bemused support. Their whimsical experiment involving perfumery inspires a recurrent motif about attraction and self-empowerment, and they have intriguing discussions about how women’s rights dovetail with their personal desires. The friends’ interventions at Lydia’s manor are a highlight of the novel. Meanwhile, Spencer’s interwoven perspective reveals his struggle to reconcile his growing interest in Lydia with his reluctance to upset her brother.

Chaste interactions tinged with meaningful undertones draw the two leads closer. But misfired communications lead to restraint, and Spencer’s doubts about his Birmingham background threaten to divide the pair, despite their mutual enthusiasm for motorcars, which showcases Lydia’s passion and Spencer’s foresight. Through their clever hot-and-cold exchanges, their relationship mirrors the period: it’s sometimes energized by modern possibilities, yet is still bound by traditional propriety. When setbacks loom, it’s people’s sincere resolve about love being worth saving that resounds.

Hearts of Briarwall is an entertaining historical romance about lovers who learn to risk being honest with themselves.

Reviewed by Karen Rigby

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the publisher for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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