The Heart’s Appeal

Written by Jennifer Delamere
Review by Rebecca Cochran

Julia Bernay grew up in an orphanage in London, but always planned to become a doctor, despite the fact that society frowns upon women doctors. Now in 1881, fortuitously, she finds herself rescuing handsome barrister Michael Stephenson during an Underground accident. This leads to a tentative friendship, and Michael repays her life-saving actions by helping her with Latin in order to pass the medical exams needed to enter the London School of Medicine for Women. Their friendship fast develops and deepens. But, Michael is torn between his heart, brain, and professional and social obligations. His superiors are involved in a scandalous lawsuit with that very School; his sister, Caroline, expects Michael to pursue a rich socialite instead; and most importantly, Michael isn’t sure about Julia’s complete faith in God and her commitment to becoming a missionary doctor someday.

Readers will recognize the familiar storyline of many Christian romantic historical fiction novels. The two main characters care deeply for one another, but are torn apart by society, faith, and other obstacles. But, love will win out and each will find a happy ending. What’s different about Delamere’s story is her intricate weaving of historical figures such as Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, and her ability to shed light on a darker historical London. Julia spends a lot of time in the slums of London, realizing that she doesn’t need to go to Africa to do missionary work. These glimpses into a “real” London keep the reader interested. The mix of medical and legal storylines also keeps the story alive. All in all, this is a delightful read and one that should appeal to all romance fans.