This Regency Era historical novel by Julie Klassen started a bit slowly for me. I think the reason is that the opening scene is not focused on the main character. But as we meet Hannah Rogers and the rest of the cast of this story, as events and people fall into place, we are swept along on the tide of intriguing characters, questionable motivations, and unexpected developments.
To hide the birth of her son, Hannah Rogers has fled her position as ladies’ maid to Lady Marianna Mayfield. However, Hannah desperately needs money to pay the woman who looks after little Danny, so she asks if she may return to the Mayfield household.
Lady Marianna accepts Hannah’s proposal, because she and her husband are leaving Bath for another town and she doesn’t wish to go without a personal maid. The reason for the move is that Sir John Mayfield is trying to keep his wife from seeing her lover.
On the journey, a storm forces the carriage off the road and almost into the sea. When Hannah regains consciousness, only she and Sir John remain. The doctor who finds them assumes Hannah is Lady Mayfield, and that the red cloak he sees floating away in the tempestuous waves is the ladies’ maid. The misunderstanding lingers, since Sir John is insensible and near death, and cannot correct them. When Hannah realizes that people think she is Lady Mayfield, she keeps her secret, hoping to stay until her injured arm heals and she can return to Bath to pay her debt and collect her son.
To complicate plans, Sir John’s solicitor arrives, and although he’s never met either Lady Marianna or Hannah, he is suspicious about her identity, even as he is drawn to her kind manner and gentle ways. She does not match the description he has been given of Lady Mayfield, in looks or in character.
The tension hinges on whether Hannah can execute an escape before someone reveals her true identity. The plot continues to surprise, until the reader has no idea how it will end. I sensed a touch of Jane Eyre at times, a mystery in both storyline and characters.
Author Julie Klassen has written many other books in the Regency Era, all well-crafted and researched. They are generally gentle reads with strong moral values and faith lessons, all woven seamlessly into absorbing stories.