Woman of Iron

Written by Catherine King
Review by Rebecca Roberts

Set in 1830, during the Industrial Revolution in Britain, Women of Iron depicts a story of poverty, deceit, and revenge. Luther Dearne is rich, powerful, apparently above the law, and has everything he wants—except children. When a woman turns up in a tavern with an orphaned little girl for sale, Luther does not hesitate to buy her, despite his drunken wife’s instant hatred of the child. Lissie grows up to be a great beauty, but her mysterious origins prove to be Luther’s deepest heartache, and eventually his ruination. A young, hotheaded Blake Svenson one day shows up in town working on the barges, with a secret agenda to avenge his murdered father’s death.

A chance encounter brings Blake and Lissie together, and they fall instantly in love, but must confront their differences. When Lissie’s father suddenly dies, seemingly at the hand of Blake, Lissie faces a bleak future. When Blake disappears, and her mother tries to sell her into prostitution, with no one to turn to, Lissie runs away, fearing for her life.

A gritty and realistic tale full of star-crossed love, sexual exploitation, murder, and vengeance, this is not for the faint-hearted, nor for the gentle romantics. Side stories, such as those about the woman who sold Lissie, add to the overall dark outlook. King has created a disturbing, powerfully written story in which only the toughest survive.