Author: Marthe Jocelyn
ISBN:  978-0-385-73846-0

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This novel of romance and difficult choices is set in the magical world of Victorian London.  Two stories of two extremely different characters are intertwined throughout this somewhat depressing tale, as the writer slowly brings the reader to a conclusion that they never saw coming.

Mary Finn is one of those characters.  Mary is a young lady of fourteen who spends her time caring for her small siblings.  Living in the country, this poor, uneducated, but, hardworking girl, has to take over from where her dear mother left off.  Mary's mother bore five children in her young lifetime, and a week after the last child was brought into the world she passed away, leaving Mary with an adult life full of responsibilities that could crush her young, teenage shoulders.  Mary didn't mind the care and work, however; she loved her family more than anything else in the world.  Unfortunately, her father did not feel the same way; he needed a mother-"figure" in his household, and soon moved in Margaret Huckle. Ms. Huckle was most closely related to the evil stepmother of the Cinderella tale.  She was extremely snarly and ugly, and liked to pretend that the first Mrs. Finn hadn't existed at all.  She also is not fond of Mary and sends her out of the house, convincing Mary's once loving father that the girl would be better off on her own.

Mary finds herself working in a somewhat horrific Inn where she is basically a workhorse.  One evening a man and woman stop at the Inn, and Mary finds herself playing nursemaid to a wee baby whose mother is likely the biggest idiot that London has to offer.  The man - Mr. Bates - pays Mary to continue their journey with them so she can help with the screaming baby, and transports her back to his house where Mary becomes a scullery maid.  One day, as she's going about her chores in the city, Mary runs into a dashing young man by the name of Caden Tucker - who sweeps her off her feet and takes advantage of the country girl who is not yet educated in the ways of the world.  Not only does she find herself in the midst of a relationship that may turn sour, she also has to deal with another nursemaid in the Bates' home by the name of Eliza.  Eliza wants nothing more than to marry the master of the house and is getting extremely angry that the master seems to have dumped her for his pursuit of the new young girl.

The other character that is brought to light is named James.  James is a young man who has lived with a foster family for quite a long time, but now the day has come where he will be transported back to The Foundling Hospital where he must conform to the orphanage's rules and regulations and leave his caretaker - the only mother he's ever known - behind.  The friends he makes and the sites he sees makes James want to jump the high wall and take off back home as soon as he possibly can.

As the story of Mary Finn and the young child begin to merge into one, the tale becomes a mixture of love, courage, and the power to overcome some of the worst that men have to offer in order to find happiness and support.  Although well-written, unfortunately the story was not my "cup of tea."  But the writer, Marthe Jocelyn, is an award-winning author who certainly has something to say - and powerful words with which to say it.

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