Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Victims of Circumstance of Epic Proportions

"He who cannot endure the bad will not live to see the good."
--Jennifer Donnelly, The Winter Rose

Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: 707
Publication Date: January 1st, 2008
Source: Borrowed...then promptly bought
Previous Books in Series: The Tea Rose
Goodreads Description

It has been twelve years since a dark, murderous figure stalked the alleys and courts of Whitechapel. And yet, in the summer of 1900, East London is still poor, still brutal, still a shadow city to its western twin. Among the reformers is an idealistic young woman named India Selwyn-Jones, recently graduated from medical school. With the help of her influential fiance--Freddie Lytton, an up-and-coming Liberal MP--she works to shut down the area's opium dens that destroy both body and soul. Her selfless activities better her patients' lives and bring her immense gratification, but unfortunately, they also bring her into direct conflict with East London's ruling crime lord--Sid Malone.India is not good for business and at first, Malone wants her out. But against all odds, India and Sid fall in love. Different in nearly every way, they share one thing in common--they're both wounded souls. Their love is impossible and they know it, yet they cling to it desperately. Lytton, India's fiance, will stop at nothing to marry India and gain her family's fortune.

Fractious criminal underlings and rivals conspire against Sid. When Sid is finally betrayed by one of his own, he must flee London to save his life. Mistakenly thinking him dead, India, pregnant and desperate, marries Freddie to provide a father for hers and Sid's child. India and Sid must each make a terrible sacrifice--a sacrifice that will change them both forever. One that will lead them to other lives, and other places...and perhaps--one distant, bittersweet day--back to each other.

The Drama

Ok. Seriously, I wasn't sure how invested I would be in this story after how much I LOVED Joe and Fiona and their lives. I have NO IDEA why I was worried because Jennifer Donnelly brings the heat again. The difference? The slow burn and inevitable conflict that you know will drive our two characters apart...le sigh...but I'm getting ahead of myself. Ok, so now we have India, a newly graduated doctor, which is unheard of in this time. Sid, Fiona's brother, who continues to be the mob boss of the underworld. Circumstances bring these two together and from there they are drawn to each other both knowing that it is objectively the worse idea ever...but the heart wants what the heart wants. *sigh* These two fight their feelings for most of the book and when they FINALLY admit their feelings it is fire. These two are just amazing. I loved their love story. Their individual characterizations are complex and intricate and all their actions make complete sense with what we know about them.

The villain in this installment is just...awful. He is manipulative, conniving, selfish, uncaring. Just the worst. The lengths and lies he tells to get India to marry him are just atrocious. I wanted to physically maim this fictional character, I was seeing red! However, props to Donnelly for evoking this kind of emotion from me. It hurt A LOT but it was all worth it in the end because she breaks your heart and then puts it back together.

The Characters

Like I said above, India and Sid are fantastic characters. Imperfect, driven, real, selfless. They put others before themselves constantly and sometimes to their own detriment. India is a female physician in the ultimate man's world. Her work and what she does to the poor community of Whitechapel is AMAZING. I looooved reading about her work and her dream of opening up a clinic. It is inspiring, truly. And while there were several times I wanted to shake her in her shortsightedness, she comes around and starts to really open up her eyes to the plight of this community. Sid is equally complex in all of his dealings. He is stuck in this conundrum of wanting to be with India and be the man he thinks she wants and struggling against everything he represents. I loved seeing his growth throughout the book of accepting who he is and realizing he is enough. He is worth it. Beautiful. What I love about these books and Donnelly's characterizations is that her characters are real. They are imperfect humans who make mistakes and do the best they can. Their hearts are in the right place most of the time and that's all you can really ask of them.

The Landscape & The Politics 

Part of our story travels to Africa and holla! Loved being reminded of this beautiful land. It made me long for tent in the woods of Kenya all over again. Take me back! Anyways, the way this story progresses (no spoilers) eventually brings us here and I loved reading about the political agenda and issues of this time. The research put into these novels is detailed and intricate. How the author weaves the events of the novel to tie in perfectly with real events in history is so freaking perfect. This is not just a romance, it is historical fiction and so much more.

The Original Players

This book would not be complete without visits back to our original characters. Joe and Fiona are very present in this book and so much happens that affects them. Seamie is here too and we get a lot of lead up to where the next book will go and how his story will be affected. I loooooved reading about Joe and Fiona and Seamie and Sid. There is one scene in particular that broke and put together my heart in the best way. I loved seeing them together and it was like *sigh* finally. These characters are what makes these books and I miss them when I'm not reading.

The Feels

Just that I feel like my heart might explode when reading. So many feels! (not a bad thing, just my face when I get mad)

If you loved The Tea Rose, if you love historical fiction with amazing character development and a deeply emotional romance, this book is for you.

1 comment:

  1. I still need to read The Tea Rose! I got that one on your recommendation, and still haven't cracked it open (as is often the case in my life, apparently. I need to be more like you.) The Winter Rose sounds fabulous too, though! (And your "beast" made me laugh a little, just imagining an explosion of feels...)


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