Book Review Tour- A Scarlet Woman by Lorna Peel

BOOK 1: The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Book 1
GENRE: Historical Fiction/Historical Saga



Can an idealistic young doctor and a fallen woman find love when Victorian society believes they should not?

Dublin, Ireland, 1880. Tired of treating rich hypochondriacs, Dr Will Fitzgerald left his father's medical practice and his home on Merrion Square to live and practice medicine in the Liberties. His parents were appalled and his fiancée broke off their engagement. But when Will spends a night in a brothel on the eve of his best friend's wedding, little does he know that the scarred and disgraced young woman he meets there will alter the course of his life.

Isobel Stevens was schooled to be a lady, but a seduction put an end to all her father's hopes for her. Disowned, she left Co Galway for Dublin and fell into prostitution. On the advice of a handsome young doctor, she leaves the brothel and enters domestic service. But can Isobel escape her past and adapt to life and the chance of love on Merrion Square? Or will she always be seen as a scarlet woman?

By four o'clock on Sunday afternoon, she was fit to drop as she arrived at the Harvey residence on Merrion Square. Mrs. Black brought her upstairs to a tiny attic bedroom which she was to share with the other as yet unnamed parlourmaid. She longed to simply crawl into the narrow single bed allocated to her and sleep, but she had to go back downstairs to the servants’ hall to meet the other servants at dinner.

Mr. Johnston sat at one end of the long dining table and Mrs Black sat at the other. Mrs. Harvey's lady’s maid, Edith Lear, Mrs. Gordon the cook, Claire – the other parlourmaid – and Bessie and Winnie – the two housemaids – sat along one side. Down the other side, she was placed beside Frank, the footman, and Mary, the tiny kitchenmaid. She couldn’t help but notice a large number of servants for what was actually a very small household.

They all seemed friendly, asking her where she had been born, why she had come back to Ireland after her mother’s death, and telling her the Harveys were a good and fair couple to work for.

As early as she dared she excused herself and climbed the stairs to the bedroom with a small oil lamp. Unlike the rest of the house, Mrs Black informed her, none of the servants’ bedrooms was lit by gas lighting. There was no rug on the bedroom floor either, only a small threadbare mat, and the window and door were draughty. She smiled all the same, as she unpacked her few belongings and ran her fingers over the two uniforms. She really needed two of each, but the others would have to wait until she received her wages. Being a parlourmaid was going to be hard work but it was infinitely better than being a prostitute.

This was my first read by this author. This story was set in 19th century Ireland. Isobel and Will managed to pull me into their story in the first half of the book. The characters were developed. The story was moved along at a believable and moderate pace. You can fell the despair by Isobel and she kept facing challenges with no end in sight. She and Will had a cute bit of banter going on as well. The relationship was a necessity to Will and you can feel his determination.  The author has spent time or did her research well in regards to Ireland and its scenery and customs. Both were described in vivid detail.
The author brings in several twists and issues into the story including rape, sexually transmitted disease, domestic violence and lots of sex-explicit sex. I think the way these and other topics were introduced caused the story to get away from the author at times. You no longer knew what to expect and it caused the development of the characters to cease. In addition to these elements, the story dealt with betrayal, a touch of romance amid all the sexually explicit scenes and dramatic reactions that didn't seem to quite fit. 
All in all, I think this was an interesting plot that kind of got lost in the second half of the book. If you are over 18 and not easily offended by explicit content (which the book does warn you about), you should read and let me know what you think. 
Note: I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest feedback.  


Lorna Peel is an author of historical fiction and mystery romance novels set in the UK and Ireland. Lorna was born in England and lived in North Wales until her family moved to Ireland to become farmers, which is a book in itself! She lives in rural Ireland, where she writes, researches her family history, and grows fruit and vegetables. She also keeps chickens and guinea hens.





Lorna Peel will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


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