Written in Jane Austen-style, Julie Klassen introduces us to Mariah Aubrey. At the age of 19, she has been sent away from the only family she knows to live with a distant relative, Aunt Fran (aka Mrs. Prin-Hallsey). Upon arriving at Windrush Court, she and her female companion, Miss Dixon, are sent directly to the gatehouse - their new home.
What would cause a family to knowingly estrange their own daughter? Written in historical context, Mariah's character had been called into question. Did she compromise herself with a gentleman or was it part of the gossip-mill of the day?
As Mariah and Miss Dixon settle into their new home, she meets her aunt's step-son Hugh. He openly despises her aunt and wishes her gone. He quickly gets his wish as Aunt Fran passes away and he becomes the master of Windsor Court. While living at the gatehouse, she turns to the only way she knows to make a living.... writing novels in secret. (During the 1800s, it was considered improper for ladies to write and the smallest hint of impropriety could change a woman's life forever... not for the good)
With the help of her brother, she is able to sell her first novel to a publisher in London. While she is working on her second, Hugh leases the estate to Captain Bryant, a naval officer. Hugh sends a letter to Mariah implying the Captain has imposed a new monthly rent. Will she be able to pay it? If not, will he allow her to stay? When she meets the Captain, she is only cordial, not friendly.
Captain Matthew Bryant is intrigued by the beautiful, mysterious girl in the gatehouse. While he gets settled in, he begins a plan to win back the heart of Isabella. Will he win her back, or risk his plans - and his heart- for the woman in the gatehouse?
I enjoyed The Girl in the Gatehouse. As with all historical fiction books, I love how the authors intertwine the historical setting with characters with whom you can relate. Mariah - sent away and uses her God-given ability to earn money, Miss Dixon - her who agrees to be "exiled" with her, Captain Bryant - chivalrous, gentlemanly, Mr. Martin - Aunt Fran's assistant who is willed to Mariah at her death, Captain Prince - a long-lost naval man who is living at the poorhouse, Maggie - a child at the poorhouse, and the list goes on. Many women were authors during this time; yet, they used non de plumes. Only after they became known did they use their real names.
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Bethany House Publisher.