Janet Woods’ latest novel, Moon Cutters, is set along the English coast in the mid-19th century. Homeless and hungry after the deaths of her parents, young Miranda Jarvis is forced to steal a loaf of bread to feed her sick sister, Lucy. She is soon caught by Sir James Fenmore, a well-respected ship owner from whose home she stole the bread. Rather than turn her over to the law, however, Sir James takes Miranda and Lucy into his home. Miranda is grateful for the kindness shown by Sir James, but it soon becomes apparent that there is much more to Sir James than suggested by his courteous demeanor. This becomes especially apparent after Miranda falls for Fletcher Taunt, Sir James’ estranged nephew, which pits the two men further against one another and catches Miranda in the middle.
There is much to enjoy about Moon Cutters, the most significant of which is that the novel is full of dark secrets and deceit, the truths of which are slowly revealed as the plot unfolds. Set on the English coast, smuggling, while not front and centre, is an important and interesting component of the storyline. Detracting from the novel is the somewhat choppy flow of the narrative and that the characters, with the exception of Sir James, have little depth. At only 224 pages in length, Moon Cutters is a quick read. Despite its short length, I feel more could have been done to flesh out the characters and further develop certain aspects of the story without bogging the novel down. Despite these concerns, Moon Cutters is an entertaining novel that should appeal to a variety of readers.