Anna’s Refuge

Written by Kerryn Reid
Review by Anne Leighton

London, 1817. Anna Spain’s beguiling innocence spells tragedy for her. During her first London season, she falls in love with dashing Gideon Aubrey, who seduces her with promises of marriage. He leaves her pregnant and a virtual outcast. Her parents disown her and banish her to Leeds to live in squalor and await the birth of her child. She has very little money and only the company of a faithful maid.

Lewis Aubrey, Gideon’s younger brother, has always loved Anna. When he learns of her predicament, he rushes to declare his intentions only to find she has disappeared. Will he be able to rear the child of his hated elder brother? It is this question that torments both Lewis and Anna and threatens their budding relationship.

This first novel in the Wrackwater Bridge series leaves the reader wanting more. The storyline is tightly constructed and, despite its Regency setting, deals with many very modern themes: single motherhood, the treatment of the mentally ill, and the inequities of a burgeoning society thriving on the edge of the industrialized age. The character of Gideon Aubrey is somewhat formulaic, an obvious “bad boy,” and would have benefited from more dimension and backstory as to what molded his personality. This is a story that swiftly engages the reader, and the next book is eagerly awaited. Strongly recommended.