Last week I reviewed A Daughter’s Inheritance by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller. It took me two trips to the library to find the other two books in the series. Book two of the Broadmoor Legacy is An Unexpected Love, and book three is A Surrendered Heart.
Book two continues the story of the three Broadmoor cousins. It begins quite soon after the first book finishes so that the story is continuous. This time it is Sophie who is the featured cousin, although the story of Fanny and Amanda continues to play out. Josiah, scheming man that he is, decides to get Fanny, and her questions, out-of-town by sending the three girls to England with his wife as chaperone. He sends his chosen suitor for Fanny along with them, after giving him instructions to get engaged to Fanny even if he has to compromise her to do it!
While Fanny is struggling to get away from Daniel, Sophie is headed into a most delicious flirtation with an older man. Wesley is a wealthy widow and flirts right back. Soon Sophie is head over heels in love with Wesley. She knows this because she gets tingles up her back whenever he is near. Fanny tells her this happens to her whenever she falls out of a tree. That made me laugh!
Despite Fanny and Amanda’s warnings to be careful Sophie charges full steam ahead until her ship sinks in the deepest water possible (figuratively speaking! Her ocean liner doesn’t really sink.) Paul, the detested minister who works for her father, comes to her rescue. Will she find real love at last? Will she be able to get the attention she craves from her father?
The story continues in the third book, but from Amanda’s point of view. She’s the oldest of the cousins and daughter of Josiah. She has her heart set on a medical career, but her father has other plans for her. While she is busy apprenticing with Dr. Blake Carstead he is busy trying to find a wealthy man for her to marry, to save them all from financial disaster. His unwise investments have caught up to him.
The Broadmoor family finds themselves in a crisis when cholera strikes Rochester. Do they flee to their Thousand Island retreat or stay in Rochester. The decision is taken from their hands when Amanda is stricken and then quarantined. As she recovers she is sent to the island to regain her health.
In the meantime her father has discovered a path to financial salvation. He secures a loan from another businessman, only to discover that he has been tricked. What will be the price he must pay, and why should Amanda worry about it?
The stories are compelling to read and the characters matter more and more as the books progress. I’ll admit that I was blown away by the third book. I never ever expected that Amanda would actually have to go through everything that happens before she is allowed to have her happiness.
I enjoyed this series quite a bit. It’s fun to read about the opulence of the time period, although to be honest I am glad I didn’t live through it. One of the things that I find interesting in historical series like this is the struggle of women to define themselves outside of their expected roles. Each of the three cousins manages to flout expectations of women, at least for a time period. Fanny marries a servant instead of someone of her “class”. Sophie broke most of the rules for genteel ladies before she settled down into a more traditional role. Amanda choose to follow a career instead of marriage despite her family’s objections.
I see this all the time in historical fiction, and I have to wonder how much of it is due to the author’s reluctance to relegate women to the more passive role assigned to them in previous times in history. I am not sure that things would have turned out so well for any of these three women if they had really lived during that time period. But I have to admit that independent women are usually more interesting heroines to read about than a more passive woman would be.
When I think about my favorite characters in classic literature I think about Elizabeth Bennet or Eleanor Dashwood. Elizabeth is lively and fun, and still manages to live within the parameters of society. Eleanor is more reserved, but she is not really passive or weak. Then there is Jo March. She’s pretty independent, but still manages to live by society’s rules.
Is the difference because of the time periods in which the books are written? Can an author today write successful historical fiction without giving the characters some of the qualities society values now? What do you think?