Presumably this will go on the romance shelves in libraries, but it is more a woman’s coming-of-age story than a pure romance novel. It opens in 1890 and tells the story of fourteen-year-old Susan Wood, who is looking after her two younger brothers in a cottage on the Yorkshire Dales after her father has been falsely imprisoned for fraud. She starts working for the neighbouring farming couple, Martin and Ellen Gill, but after Ellen dies, she moves to the Mermaid Inn in Ripon. Feeling abandoned by Martin, she nevertheless manages to make a life for herself, alone except for the occasional Sunday meeting with her brothers, one at school and one an apprentice. Now twenty, she moves to a better position as cook, serving the solicitor who defended her father at his trial. Here she meets Martin again.
Despite the flaws – there are only a few period details, characters come and go, and we do not find out what happened to them all – I enjoyed this novel, with its accurate descriptions of the countryside and farming activities, and I think Ann Cliff is an author to look out for.