Ashes on the Moor
Eden sets the bar for quality and sweetness with her new novel in Shadow Mountain’s Proper Romance line. Bereaved and gently born Evangeline Blake finds herself alone, friendless, and forced to support herself as a schoolteacher in the Yorkshire mill town of Smeatley, with her only source of aid the gruff brick mason Dermot McCormick, whose Irish birth has left him friendless, too. Eden’s tight plotting and flawless prose are as pleasurable as the gentle way Dermot and Evangeline open up to one another as he teaches her to cook, counsels her to show her fire, and watches her sensitive handling of his autistic son. If the themes of equality, tolerance, acceptance, self-reliance, nurturing of special needs, mild capitalist critique, and championship of regional dialect over standard usage feel rather modern for the Victorian setting, Eden’s handling of them will only make the story more palatable to readers. This soft, warm blanket of a book is as sweet as Eden’s ear for Dermot’s Irish lilt and as heartening as Evangeline’s discovery of her own inner strength. A thoroughly pleasant romance.