Happy Thursday, my friends! I'm delighted to be part of the Isabelle and Alexander Blog Tour! This book sounds amazing and from the book description, maybe be an emotional roll-a-coaster. I hope you enjoy the excerpt!
An Excerpt from Chapter 6
“Post’s come, and here’s a letter for you, ma’am.” Mrs. Burns handed Isabelle an envelope.
When she saw Edwin’s handwriting, she clasped it between her palms and allowed herself a smile of relief.
“Thank you,” Isabelle said, feeling like she’d been saved from drowning. She took the first full breath in what felt like weeks. Her thanks hadn’t felt like enough. “Thank you,” she said again.
Although Isabelle well recognized the look of compassion on Mrs. Burns’s face, the housekeeper continued to behave with propriety.
If, in the course of her duties of the next hour, Mrs. Burns passed the sitting room and saw her mistress alternating between laughter and tears, she made no mention of it to Isabelle.
Reading her cousin’s letters once was never enough. Isabelle knew that Edwin’s style—galloping over news and gossip—would both make her lonesome and somehow connected to all that was happening at the Lakes. What she did not expect was this line, placed in the midst of a report about the weather and their favorite horse’s colt: “Dearest, you remember I told you about Charlotte Owen, don’t you?”
Isabelle remembered no such name, but she knew this was another part of Ed’s style. He was preparing her for something. The next line clarified.
“I’ve decided I simply can’t live without the both of you, and since I can no longer have you here with me, now that you’ve been carried off to the steel jungles of Manchester, I’ve asked her to marry me.”
Isabelle gasped aloud. Past the pounding of her heart in her ears, she heard Mrs. Burns enter the room.
“I am fine,” she tried to say, but a sob broke through the words. She stood from the chair, clutched the letter in her fingers, paced to the window, looked out at the damp, chilly city, and reread the words. I’ve asked her to marry me.
Isabelle did not know how long she stood at the window, clutching the letter in her hands while Mrs. Burns stood at a polite and proper distance, but when she could stand there no longer, she wiped her eyes and moved back toward the couch.
“I hope all is well,” the housekeeper said.
“Very well, thank you.” She knew her voice sounded anything but well. Oh, what Isabelle would give to have a friend who understood this cruel mix of betrayal and devastation she was experiencing! Come to think of it, Isabelle would be very happy to know exactly why she felt so heartbroken.
Perhaps because Edwin was still quite young, only having come into his majority last year. This news was a bit of a shock.
Perhaps because she never imagined he would survive without her. Of course, whatever he felt for Miss Charlotte Owen was vastly different from the familial relationship he and Isabelle had fostered. But would Charlotte replace Isabelle in Edwin’s heart? If Isabelle was no longer to be Edwin’s dearest, who then would she be?
Where could she turn to sort through her feelings?
There was only one place she’d felt sure clarity since coming to Manchester.
“Mrs. Burns, I am going to visit Mrs. Kenworthy for a short time. I shall be home before anyone misses me.” For who, indeed, would miss her? She felt the truth of those words as surely as she knew an hour in the Kenworthy parlor would shake loose the pieces of her heart that were stabbing at her.
“Shall I call the carriage?” Mrs. Burns’s voice held the sympathy she could not, within the bounds of propriety, give words to.
Isabelle wiped her eyes again, grateful for the lace handkerchief tucked into her sleeve. “Thank you, no. I should enjoy the walk.”
The walk to the Kenworthy home, though wet and dirty, went by in a blink. Her feet seemed to lead her there with no need for her mind to plan the next steps.
When the Kenworthys’ housekeeper opened the door, she startled Isabelle by saying, “Law, Mrs. Osgood. You’re wet through.”
“Oh, I beg your pardon. Mrs. Kenworthy is not expecting me.”
“I daresay not on foot in weather such as this,” she responded. Her smile removed all possible judgment from her words. “Please, come into the parlor, and I’ll let her know you’re here.”
When Isabelle realized how damp she’d gotten, she refused to sit on any of the furniture, standing at the window and watching the rain. Feeling her skin chill, she began to question the advisability of her choice to walk when Glory came into the room at a bound.
“Mrs. Osgood, how nice of you to come for a visit,” she said, the proper words accompanied by flapping hands and a loud laugh.
Isabelle felt herself begin to warm immediately. She reached for Glory’s hands and pressed her fingers. “Thank you, Miss Glory. I was so eager to see you that I couldn’t wait for our usual Tuesday.”
Glory nodded. “Instead of Tuesday, you’re here on a painting day. Would you like to watch me make a painting?” “If you wouldn’t mind,” Isabelle said, surprised to find she meant it. Her heart lightened at the thought of taking her mind away from Edwin’s upcoming marriage by watching Glory work. “What will you paint today?”
"Anderson’s first foray into historical romance is an atypical, yet satisfying story set in Victorian Manchester’s upper middle class. Hand this to readers looking for a book that navigates the peaks and valleys of two strangers attempting to make a life together despite the hardships life throws at them."— Library Journal
"Isabelle transitions from an unaware, leisure-class woman to a more enlightened spouse and supporter of the working class. Intimacy and romance develop between Isabelle and Alexander because of simple gestures, like a long look or a thoughtful gift, and their conversations. Their slow, stately courting is reader appropriate for any age or audience. Manchester also gets its due as a place of grit and incredible production. Descriptions of bustling mills reveal their impact on the couple’s family and its fortunes. Isabelle and Alexander is an intimate and touching romance novel that focuses on women’s lives in the business class of industrial England."— Foreword Reviews
"Isabelle must use her quiet spunk, busy mind, and compassionate spirit to woo her husband in a wholly new way. Anderson's debut is a lovely northern England Victorian romance about confronting the seemingly impossible and the power of empathy. Anderson also addresses the time period’s treatment of physical and intellectual disabilities. Most of all, she beautifully depicts love in its many forms beyond romance, such as compassion, patience, and vulnerability; and her characters illustrate the ways that these expressions of love carry us through even the darkest hours. Isabelle’s loving and persevering fervor and devotion will resonate with any caregiver’s heart."— Booklist
romance novelist Becca Wilhite, author of Wedding Belles: A Novel in Four Parts, Check Me Out, and My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions. Isabelle and Alexander is her debut historical romance novel.