A British clergyman struggles with his habit of falling for unavailable women in this Edwardian-era love story.
When the novel opens, Canon Thomas Cross is in the midst of an extramarital love affair with Julia Carrington, a wealthy parishioner. His guilt over their ongoing tryst has reached a crescendo, and he insists they put an end to their meetings. Several hours later, after Tom has conducted church meetings and visited sick patients at a hospital, his conscience is eased by having performed these good deeds. Unfortunately, as he heads home, he is kidnapped and driven far outside the city, where he is beaten and left for dead. As he languishes in the woods, he is discovered by Miranda Thorne, a local artist, who brings him back to the remote cottage where she lives with her brother, Simon. As Miranda and Simon nurse Tom back to health, the three form a bond, with Tom and Miranda taking extra-special notice of each other. As Tom regains his strength, he must return to London and attempt to find stability in his life. He hopes to discover the identity of his attackers and to live a more moral life. Unfortunately, he is unable to forget Miranda nor the pull he felt toward her. When Miranda’s brother marries and the Thorne family moves to London, Tom and Miranda rekindle their connection. As Tom and Miranda grow more deeply attached, unexpected obstacles to their relationship continue to crop up. Told at a slow and steady pace, this is a tale not meant for rushing. Details about the story's setting are conspicuously absent, as the author focuses instead on the characters’ thoughts and actions. Even so, the descriptions of characters’ interior emotional lives are sufficiently engaging to keep readers turning pages. The novel also contains many interesting details about the art circles of the era as well as the political inner workings of the English church. Written as a sequel to Harwood’s Author of Impossible Saints (2018), the book can also stand on its own.
A smart and highly civilized tale about love, temptation, and second chances.