Isabelle and Alexander. Rebecca Anderson. 2021. [May] 324 pages. [Source: Review copy]
First sentence: Isabelle Rackham stood in the morning parlor staring into the mirror, grateful to be alone for a moment; that nobody was fidgeting with buttons, bows, fasteners, or pins. She took as deep a breath as her corseting allowed and ran her hands down the waist of her bridal gown, allowing herself a little shiver of delight.
Premise/plot: Isabelle and Alexander have an arranged marriage, a bit of marriage of convenience. The two certainly aren't madly in love with each other at the start. Living side by side as strangers, the two face quite a challenge when Alexander is thrown from a horse and suffers severe injuries. Will his injury (and his recovery) bring them closer together or drive them further apart?
This one is set in 1850 in northern England. The two mainly live in a
manufacturing town (Manchester) and he is a mill owner. Her husband also
owns a country estate.
My thoughts: Isabelle and Alexander isn't your typical romance novel. For better or worse. This one isn't all about the swoon-y falling-in-love moments that happen before saying I do and making vows before God. This one is about marriage and the testing of marriage. For better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. They face challenges both together--as a couple--and as individuals.
I would say this one is more about the knitting together of two souls than focusing on the physical lusts. True it's a proper romance title so it wouldn't get too smutty anyway.
I believe this is my second title in my nearly thirty years of reading romance novels where one of the leads is in a wheel chair and is differently abled. (The other I read was an Amish romance.)
I also loved getting to know the Kenworthy family. I loved, loved, loved the character of Glory.
I have seen other reviewers comparing this one to North and South. I don't know that I'd stretch it that far. There are some surface similarities for sure: the manufacturing town setting, the owning of a mill, the awkwardness of a couple who barely know how to communicate with one another. But really the two are quite different.
This one doesn't really focus in on class differences nor does it focus in on unions, strikes, and disagreements between owners and workers. There's a tension in North and South that just isn't there in Isabelle and Alexander.
I would say upon further thought that this one is about Isabelle reorienting herself to her new circumstances. She's newly married, newly moved, adjusting to a new house that doesn't yet feel like a home. She doesn't have friends in the neighborhood--at least not at first. She is hoping that her husband will soon start to feel like a husband instead of a stranger.
© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews