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Publisher: Russian Hill Press

A young widow travels to Paris and ends up caring for two recently orphaned American girls in this historical novel.

Lura Grisham is born into wealth and privilege in the late 1800s in Connecticut, but her socio-economic status does not protect her from heartbreak. After marrying her father’s business associate Walter Myer, she conceives a child. But their happiness is cut short when the couple are involved in a carriage accident and Walter and the unborn baby are killed. During her mourning period, Lura decides to take the trip to Paris that she and Walter had always talked about. While sightseeing at the Louvre, Lura notices two young girls without adult supervision and learns that they have been abandoned by their father. With little forethought, Lura takes full responsibility for the children. As she tries to find their father, she meets Joseph Myer, the half brother of her dead husband. Walter had never known about this brother. With help from friends back home and a detective, Lura learns that the girls’ father was a mobster killed in France. She brings the girls back to the United States with the intent to adopt them. Unfortunately, she makes many mistakes while traveling, such as failing to alert the French authorities to their circumstances. As the story unfolds, Lura’s feelings toward Joseph grow complicated, and she also seems increasingly likely to lose custody of the girls. When a representative of the French government shows up at her home in Connecticut, Lura worries the girls may be lost to her forever. Told alternately from the perspectives of Lura and Joseph, Cramer’s novel is chock full of information about Paris, New York, and law enforcement in the late 19th century. With an action-packed plot, the book features several appearances by notable historical figure Louis Brandeis, who is a longtime friend of the main characters and helps with their legal troubles. The author deftly depicts the era’s American and European societal norms. Full of the period’s technological innovations, old-fashioned behavioral strictures, and elegant language, the work provides a perfect balance of mystery, romance, and history.

A refined and entertaining tale about one determined woman exploring both motherly and romantic love.