SERIES: London Beginnings #2
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Romance
PUBLISHER: Bethany House Publishers
RELEASE DATE: March 6, 2018
Strong-minded and independent, Julia Bernay has come to London to study medicine and become a doctor–a profession that has only just opened up to women. When she witnesses a serious accident, her quick action saves the life of an ambitious young barrister named Michael Stephenson. It’s only later that she learns he could be instrumental in destroying her dreams for the future.
Coming from a family that long ago lost its status, Michael Stephenson has achieved what many would have thought impossible. Hard work and an aptitude for the law have enabled him to regain the path to wealth and recognition. His latest case puts him in the middle of a debate over the future of a women’s medical school.
He’s supposed to remain objective, but when the beguiling and determined Julia reappears with an unexpected entreaty, he begins to question what he’s made most important in his life. But Julia may be hiding her own motivations. As the two are tangled into spending more time together, will their own goals be too much to overcome?
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“That is why we have a Savior.”
The Heart’s Appeal is another vivid historical from Jennifer Delamere, focusing on the contrast in society’s classes as well as the pull for women’s rights in Victorian England.
I imagine most of us take for granted our access to female physicians, particularly for those less than desirable annual exams. But in Julia Bernay’s day, this was still something rare and not widely accepted, in fact often outright dismissed by people who thought they knew best. In this same time period, there was a big push in Parliament for their ‘Contagious Diseases Act’ which further treated females as a commodity at best.
Into this setting comes practical and driven Julia, who for all her strength and determination still very much has a heart that can be broken. She also loves God deeply and has a heart for those who don’t know Him. This passion motivates her desire to go to medical school, her longheld dream of becoming a missionary doctor to Africa at the heart of her goal. So focused is she on these dreams of her own making that she nearly derails her own chance at true love – and, more importantly, nearly misses the dreams that God has for her instead. And what I love about those dreams is that He takes her own dreams, the ones she is fiercely clinging to, and makes them even better. He doesn’t dismiss them; after all, He created those dreams in her heart – He just shapes them into something that sees the bigger picture.
Oh – and I mentioned true love, didn’t I? Well that’s where Michael comes in – a barrister with a huge conflict of interest where Julia is concerned. That doesn’t, however, stop his heart from getting involved. He also can’t ignore the fact that she saved his life (a great scene – I can’t wait for you to read it!) or that she’s become inextricably a part of his life.
My favorite part of this story, however, isn’t the romance (I can hear your collective gasps!). It’s instead Julia’s heart for her Savior and her tenderness toward those who haven’t met Him yet. Y’all know I don’t like stopping my story for a sermon, but Delamere does a great job of weaving this into the framework of Julia’s character so that her discussions of the Gospel feel organic and natural. I love the thread of the spiritual heritage she and her sisters were given at George Mueller’s orphanage (he is a longtime faith hero of mine), and his practice of Jesus and prayer in every aspect of life has intrinsically shaped Julia’s own walk with God.
Bottom Line: The Heart’s Appeal continues the story of the Bernay sisters in another richly atmospheric and poignant love story. Not only the love between a man and a woman (demonstrated at various levels with different characters) but also the love of a dream and the love of God. Delamere’s writing style is warm and engaging, as are her characters, and the history she includes is intriguing. I am most interested in the ongoing arc related to the Bernay sisters’ father and can’t wait for Cara’s story to see how it all plays out!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4 stars / Love it!
KissingBook Level: 3 / May forget to breathe on occasion
Jennifer Delamere’s debut Victorian romance, An Heiress at Heart, was a 2013 RITA Award finalist in the inspirational category. Her follow-up novel, A Lady Most Lovely, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and the Maggie Award for Excellence from Georgia Romance Writers. Jennifer earned a BA in English from McGill University in Montreal, where she became fluent in French and developed an abiding passion for winter sports. She’s been an editor of nonfiction and educational materials for nearly two decades, and lives in North Carolina with her husband.
Other Books by Jennifer Delamere
Perhaps that’s not a concept that initially comes to mind when one thinks of Victorian England! And yet, they did exist. I love to include real people from history in my books, and in The Heart’s Appeal, Julia Bernay meets two inspiring real-life couples who will make a positive impact in her life.
In 1865, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson became the first woman to qualify as a physician in Britain. She did this through a legal loophole, but soon the laws were changed to open the medical field to all women. In 1874, Dr. Anderson co-founded the London School of Medicine for Women. She remained involved in the school in various capacities for the rest of her life, even as she continued to run her own busy practice. In The Heart’s Appeal, she becomes a mentor for Julia, opening doors for her education and introducing Julia to people who can help her succeed in medical school.
Dr. Anderson’s husband, James Anderson (Jamie), was the joint-owner of a successful shipping line and also served on the boards of several organizations (including a children’s hospital). He was a handsome man, very much in love with his wife, and fervent in supporting her choice of a career.
In a letter he wrote to her while they were engaged, Jamie explained his vision for their future—how they could keep their professional and private lives separate, yet still give each other plenty of love and support:
“I think we had better lay it down once for all as a rule that I am under no circumstances to bring people ‘favorably under your notice’ or ‘exert any influence’ or anything of the sort. It will give people a wrong idea of you unless I take a decided line in this matter — and as I mean to be if I can a successful man of business, neither interfering with your pursuits nor being interfered with by you (but having our confidences on all feasible subjects at off times of the day and week and mutually advising and fortifying one another), I must let people know unmistakably not to come bothering me about your public affairs. Will you think about this, dearest?”
Who couldn’t love a man like that?
Jamie Anderson’s outlook on life comes into play later on in The Heart’s Appeal, when he provides advice and aid to Michael Stephenson, the book’s hero, at a critical time.
Julia also has an inspiring encounter with Dr. Anderson’s sister, Millicent Fawcett. Millicent was married to a Member of Parliament and actively supported her husband’s career in many ways, including acting as a scribe for him since he was blind. She is most remembered for her role in the women’s suffrage movement. In fact, a statue of her will be placed in Parliament Square in London this summer. She was not a militant suffragette, but rather campaigned for suffrage under the banner “Law-Abiding Suffragists.”
Both couples raised families, too, and their children’s successes in life show they were raised to have the same energetic and “can-do” attitudes that their parents had.
Julia initially believes she must remain single to achieve her life’s goals. But soon she finds her heart drawn to successful barrister Michael Stephenson, who admires Julia’s intelligence and ambition. She learns that love and the freedom to pursue her dreams do not have to be mutually exclusive. A meeting of minds to spark a true romance? Yes, please! I hope readers will agree this can be the most satisfying of all.
To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away a grand prize package of that includes All four March Bethany House historical releases (The Heart’s Appeal, plus A Most Noble Heir by Susan Anne Mason, A Chance at Forever by Melissa Jagears, In Places Hidden by Tracie Peterson) and a $20 Starbucks gift card!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!
This giveaway is hosted by Celebrate Lit, not RimSP
Follow along with the tour for more chances to win!