Sunday, May 31, 2020

Review: Near the Ruins of Penharrow by Deborah M. Hathaway

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


She never should have fallen in love with the mine owner's son.

Bal maiden Gwynna Merrick is more than prepared to resume her work at the copper mine, if only to keep her family safe from destitution. But when her upper-class friend convinces Gwynna to have one final night of enjoyment, a borrowed gown and a false identity give her a small taste of the freedom she has always craved. That is, until the mine owner's handsome son arrives and threatens to reveal her identity.

Heir to his father's mine, Jack Trevethan has returned to Cornwall to help with a new venture at Wheal Favour, though he prefers spending his time gaming, drinking, and chasing women—anything to forget the memories of his past. However, when he finds the bal maiden he'd met days before now attending the ball, he cannot resist learning more about this intriguing woman.

After a disastrous first meeting, Gwynna wants nothing more than to avoid Jack, but as her work at Wheal Favour begins, she's continually thrown into his company. As Jack's flirtatious fa├žade falls, revealing the wounds of his childhood, Gwynna begins to see the real gentleman behind the rake. But rumors surrounding their relationship and Jack's past will not yield, forcing the two of them to either trust and lean on each other—or fall victim to ghosts of the past.

My Review

A lower class working girl and an uppercrust gentleman form an unlikely friendship and help each other heal from deep hurts. I loved learning about the rough lifestyle of the miners and specifically the bal maidens that work there. The grit and determination of Gwynna draws the attention of Jack, but it is her thoughtfulness and compassion that endears her to him. I struggled with him since he's selfish and thoughtless in the beginning, but Gwynna's friendship makes him wake up and realize that he doesn't want to be that person. It takes almost the entire book for him to make a genuine transition, including facing his demons and repairing his relationship with his father. All the while, Gwynna is caught up in helping those around her, even when dressing as a society lady brings her more trouble than it's worth. Her grief over her brother's recent death in the mine is a point of connection with Jack as he still struggles with the loss of his mother as a boy. The attraction that builds even as their friendship grows makes things more complicated since they are from two very different worlds, but I was happy with how it all worked out in the end. The setting is very atmospheric and I'm excited to add Cornwall to my list of future travels!

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

Don't miss the previous books in the Cornish Romance series . . .

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