A Lady of Hidden Intent

When I get stressed, I read. When I get really stressed, I don’t read because if I do it will take the place of everything else. Which is why I’ve read nothing more substantial than graphic novels and newspaper comics since the end of Christmas break. It sounds silly, I know, for someone who loves books, but I’ve been working full-time with two part-time jobs and just don’t have the mental energy for much else.

image from Amazon

On Saturday, however, I finally had some free time without tests to grade and settled in to browse at the library. I had seen Tracie Peterson’s novels on the shelf before and even read the back of  A Lady of Hidden Intent. Anytime I look at something a second time I usually trust my instinct and go with it; in this case, it was the perfect light book for a return to reading.

A Lady of Hidden Intent is billed as the second in the prolific author’s Ladies of Liberty series, though the books seem to be unrelated other than the setting of 19th century Philadelphia. In this one, Catherine Newbury first meets American Carter Danby as a young debutante in Bath, but must flee to Philadelphia the next day when her father is wrongly accused in a shipping scandal. She begins working at the low rung in a sewing house, secretly saving all her money for her father’s legal bills, and soon wins acclaim for her sense of design. Even wealthy Mrs. Danby wants Catherine “Shay” gowns for herself and her shy daughter Winnifred. As Catherine grows closer to Winnie she is terrified that her brother will remember her and reveal her past. Carter, on the other hand, is entranced by the new girl who somehow seems familiar. When Catherine receives threats from another source, she has to decide whether to flee again or face the situation with courage and faith.

This was the perfect book to get back into the swing of reading. I love historical novels, I love clean romance, I love Philadelphia, and  I love beautiful dresses. We get tidbits about drafting muslin patterns and the possible effects of tulle. I know the book is meant to entertain rather than to have literary pretensions, but that’s fine with me. I couldn’t put it down and finished in about four hours! The characters are very likable even if a little flat. Catherine’s devotion to protecting her father is touching, while Carter’s generous heart is surprising given the character of his parents. The villain was even somewhat believable, or at least given motivation.

The novel is billed as Christian fiction, and the characters do pray and make reference to their faith, especially when faced with difficult decisions. One of Catherine’s dilemmas is learning to trust again after all that she is been through. Some might feel uncomfortable with this; I don’t mind because I’m Christian myself, but I also view it as more of a cultural aspect. We praise authors who include authentic Latino or Irish elements in their work, so why not religion as well if it’s part of who people are? The book is meant to be a reflection on a character’s beliefs, not a conversion tactic.

I don’t necessarily feel compelled to read other Tracie Peterson books, but it’s nice to know they are available if I need another entertaining comfort read.

Published in: on February 15, 2010 at 4:16 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] my January total up to five already. It’s funny, really. A year ago I was going through a reading slump, and all the time now I find myself dying to curl up with a book, even though I have a million […]

  2. […] of this is due to the religious elements in the books. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t mind Christian fiction as long as it’s not heavy-handed or overly […]

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