A Lady in Attendance

Written by Rachel Fordham
Review by Hilary Daninhirsch

Part historical mystery, part romance, A Lady in Attendance is a story of faith, forgiveness, friendship, redemption and, ultimately, love.

It is 1898, and Hazel has had to reinvent herself. After being unjustly accused of a crime, and prior to that, forced to marry a man against her will to save her reputation, she is sentenced to five years in a women’s reformatory. To protect the reputations of their other children, her parents insist that she no longer contact them, so Hazel is left to manage on her own, while trying, thus far unsuccessfully, to clear her name. Hazel manages to get hired as a “lady in attendance”—basically an assistant—at a dentist’s office under the tutelage of Dr. Gilbert Watts. Though Gilbert has made it clear to Hazel that their relationship will remain above-board, the two can’t help but fall for each other. But when his brother returns to town, her past and present collide, which could threaten her future with Gilbert.

The dialogue is trite at times, but the storyline is interesting enough and has a few surprises in store, particularly as Hazel and Gilbert try to unravel the reasons that Hazel was framed five years earlier. The story would have been elevated further had the writer included more scenes from Hazel’s time in the reformatory, but that is left up to the reader’s imagination. Still, the book highlights the treatment of women more than a century ago as well as notions of propriety in a fascinating way. Romance readers and those who enjoy Christian fiction will likely enjoy this one.