Book 1, South Landers
This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.
An aspiring dressmaker, orphaned Starling Smith is accustomed to fighting for her own survival. But when she’s offered a year’s wages to temporarily pose as a wealthy man’s bride, she suspects ulterior motives. She can’t lose the chance to open her own shop, but she won’t be any man’s lover, not even handsome, infuriating Alisdair Seymour’s…
To prevent his visiting sister from parading potential brides in front of him, Alisdair has decided to present a fake wife. He lost his heart once, and had it broken—he doesn’t intend to do it again. But stubborn, spirited Starling is more alluring than he bargained for, and Alisdair will risk everything he has to prove his love is true…
Set against the sweeping backdrop of 1866 South Australia, Starling is a novel of cherished dreams and powerful desires, and the young woman bold enough to claim them both…
A subtle romance that grows incrementally
Feeding into my love of historic romance, I’m always looking for the new and unusual to find books set in places other than England or the Americas, or even set in Regency / Late Regency period. Virginia Taylor brings a story set in the Adelaide area of South Australia in the mid-19th century in this, the first in her South Landers series, Starling.
Starling is an orphan, an aspiring seamstress with an eye for appropriate fit and a dream to open her own business where she can then afford to offer other orphans a chance at a trade. To finance her dream, she has obtained a position in the Ladies Department in an upscale shop, Seymour’s Emporium. Amidst the fabrics and trims, she is noted as a solid worker with a determined and very vocal sense of what works, and that doesn’t always mean she is flattering the ladies for a sale. Noticed discouraging more costly (thus profitable) options more than once, she is fired from her position, but offered one rather unusual proposition.
Alasdair is the owner of Seymour’s Emporium and a bit of an uptight and rigid man. With his sister’s imminent arrival, dragging along his ex-fiancé for a dash of matchmaking, Alasdair is unwilling to appear ‘in need’ in front of the faithless and feckless Lavender. Offering Starling the princely sum of 40 pounds to pose as his wife, in name only, for the duration of his sister’s visit, this scandalous offer seems plausible as Starling was the laundress for a house of ill repute, and he believes her experienced.
Taylor has created these characters with skill and presented their backgrounds in such a way as to make the premise of a marriage of show plausible and possible, while giving the characters personalities that are solid and convincing. Starling is a lovely woman with a solid belief in right and wrong, her own sense of style and her determination to make something of herself. Alasdair needed to pull the very splintery fence post out of his rear, but once he started behaving like a man and not a spoilt and bossy child, it was easy to see how he and Starling were more alike in their hopes for the future than not. The secondary characters presented disparate agendas and dramas, and only helped to illustrate the good qualities of both Starling and Alasdair. A subtle romance that grows incrementally with each interaction, both characters and setting are clearly presented and leave you wanting more.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
This book was a true surprise. Once I started reading I just couldn't put it down, I was looking for light easy reading but this story reached out and grabbed my attention. I read the entire book in one sitting. It held my attention and made me turn the page to find out how Starling and Dare come together.
It was well worth not getting any sleep to get to the happy ending. Love the book!
I loved this book! Starling is a sweetheart! I was pulling for her the whole time I was reading the story.