Mercy’s Refuge

Written by Rita M Gerlach
Review by Thomas j. Howley

Twenty-one years old, Mercy McCrea is living a hardscrabble life with her aged grandparents in 1620 England. She supports her tiny family by employing her prodigious skill at cooking. Soon she is offered a desirable position in kitchen service with an aristocratic English family. Almost immediately, however, the master of the house makes unwanted advances. Mercy resists the repulsive lord’s clumsy efforts and finds herself accused of attempted thievery. At the risk of the hangman’s noose, she must flee England to join a community of English Puritan separatists in Holland, where she has an older uncle.

Mercy finds both friends and solace among the separatists. She also meets a young former sailor who is also fleeing from the wrath of a female English aristocrat who has branded him a thief. The two refugees take comfort in each other’s company, and romance grows. Both decide to join the separatists on the hazardous ocean journey to the unknown in the new world aboard the good ship Mayflower. But first they must finally rid themselves of the vindictive lord who has been stalking Mercy.

This book is a well-researched, dialogue-driven, intensely emotional inspirational romance. Any historical account of the first pilgrims is welcome. The author captures the strife between the Anglicans and the separatists. There is also what seems an odd and gratuitous hit against Dutch Catholic nuns in an orphanage. More thorough copy editing would have helped immensely. Yet the historical detail and lucid descriptions of the harrowing maritime crossing of the Mayflower for the men, women, and children aboard add some adventure to what would otherwise be just another romance novel. Well worth reading.