A Promise Given

Written by Michelle Cox
Review by Kristen Hannum

A Promise Given is an entertaining romp through the social mores of 1930s Chicago and England, with the American upper crust proving themselves every bit as elitist as their British cousins. Henrietta Von Harmon is the beautiful oldest daughter of the ne’er do well daughter of a leading Chicago family and the butcher’s boy. She is raised in poverty with a disagreeable, perhaps mentally ill mother, providing what mothering she can for her younger siblings. In the first two Henrietta and Inspector Howard books, the inspector, Clive Howard, scion of a wealthy Chicago family, and the beautiful, kind and down-to-earth Henrietta fall in love.

The first half of A Promise Given gets the two married and off on their honeymoon to England and Europe. Cox does a terrific job of getting inside her various characters’ heads—the book is about the tangle of relationships of a family, with the added complication of class differences. All the characters are engaging, and Henrietta and Clive are especially appealing. She’s plucky and does the right thing even when it’s tough, while he struggles with his desire to protect her and his promise to treat her as an equal partner. In a parallel story line, Henrietta’s sister Elsie must find her path amidst suitors who may or may not have her best interests paramount. Both women must figure out when to be compliant, as their times insisted, or resistant.

Enjoyable, escapist read with some truths to savor.