Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Spotlight & Review: The Mistress of Pennington's by Rachel Brimble

The Mistress of Pennington’s by Rachel Brimble

1910 – A compelling tale of female empowerment in Bath's leading department store. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.
Elizabeth Pennington should be the rightful heir of Bath's premier department store through her enterprising schemes and dogged hard work. Her father, Edward Pennington believes his daughter lacks the business acumen to run his empire and is resolute a man will succeed him.
Determined to break from her father's iron-clad hold and prove she is worthy of inheriting the store, Elizabeth forms an unlikely alliance with ambitious and charismatic master glove-maker Joseph Carter. United they forge forward to bring Pennington's into a new decade, embracing woman's equality and progression whilst trying not to mix business and pleasure.
Can this dream team thwart Edward Pennington's plans for the store? Or will Edward prove himself an unshakeable force who will ultimately ruin both Elizabeth and Joseph?

Edwardian Britain isn't an era I'm too familiar with especially the history surrounding the women's suffrage movement and the rise in popularity of socialist politics. My only recollection of any reference to suffragettes featuring in a book or film I've seen or read is Mrs Banks in Mary Poppins! As I've not seen either of the dramas mentioned in the blurb, I began this novel with great expectations and happily the narrative not only kept my attention, but the setting inspired me to read more about this pivotal time in history.

Elizabeth Pennington is eager to make Pennington's the premier department store in south-west England. The only person standing in her way is Edward Pennington; her father. At a time when women are seeking change, Elizabeth knows she is more than capable of running the store but has to be content with overseeing the ladies' department. When Joseph Carter makes enquires about supplying Pennington's with his gloves, he knows its the right place to help fulfil his late wife's dreams. Only working alongside Elisabeth, they discover a link between their families which could destroy both of their plans for the future.

I found the narrative engaging and enlightening. Both Elizabeth and Joseph are likeable and relatable. Elizabeth is slightly aloof when dealing with people new to her, but manages to express her passion for her work to the delight of customers and staff alike. Joseph is charming and polite, a gentleman struggling to atone for the past to pave way for the future. He's the opposite of the controlling Edward Pennington, who has the power to ruin everything they strive to achieve. The secondary characters are fascinating, adding to the overall ambience of the novel.

The different elements within this first instalment of Pennington's of Bath will delight many readers. The tentative attraction and romance between Elizabeth and Joseph as well as an insightful look at the day to day happenings of an Edwardian department store. Lastly, the history of its time and how it shaped the attitudes of the people. I wonder if in a future book in the series we learn if Joseph finds the killer of his wife. Both he and Elizabeth declared they would strive to gain justice for her death, but as yet we don't know if this happened.

I've previously read a contemporary novel by this author, however, I'm definitely a fan of her historical works and look forward to continuing with the Pennington's.

***review copy generously received courtesy of Aria Publishing***

Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.
In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a brand new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s released July 2018.
Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

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