The Gentle Wind’s Caress
Orphaned Isabelle will do anything to escape her Halifax, Yorkshire workhouse, where she is harassed by Neville, the matron’s son. She enters a marriage of convenience with Farrell, a moorland farmer, and she and her little brother move to his shambles of a farm near Heptonstall. The marriage quickly sours when Isabelle discovers Farrell resorts to crime to pay the rent. Soon she falls for Ethan Harrington, the handsome landlord, who is also trapped in an unhappy marriage. Meanwhile Farrell abandons her, Neville starts stalking her, and much high drama ensues, culminating in a surprisingly bittersweet ending.
Romance fans will find much to enjoy. Isabelle, though appealing, is not quite convincing as a woman of her place and time, however. It seems unbelievable that, past the age of eighteen, she was not yet employed. As a penniless orphan, she would have worked in the mills from a very young age rather than wait till her late teens to marry a failed farmer and then bake pies for pin money. Aside from the resident lecher, the workhouse itself doesn’t seem bleak enough to justify her unlikely marriage. Perhaps the realities of the industrial North don’t make for very romantic fiction.