A Heart’s Rebellion (Revell),
the second in the London Encounters series by Ruth Axtell, is a Regency-era
romance set in the city of London. It follows the story of Jessamine Barry as
she spends her first season in London and struggles to overcome the heartbreak
of her youth.
Jessamine Barry, a vicar’s daughter from a small village in
the country, is staying with her benevolent godmother, Lady Beasinger, for the
season. Her best friend, Megan Phillips, has accompanied her. Still heartbroken
and saddened over the rejection of Rees Phillips – Megan’s older brother – she
tries to find solace in her new surroundings. Everywhere she turns, however,
she is reminded of his neutral feelings and her unrequited love. While out with
their older godmother, who is less in touch with society now than in her prime,
Jessamine and Megan struggle to make the acquaintance of any eligible young
men. It seems that dinner parties and card games with Lady Beasinger’s
associates are not the best place to make the proper social connections – until
the girls meet Lancelot Marfleet.
Lancelot Marfleet, a vicar, has recently returned from a
missionary voyage to India. A quiet and humble man, he is not concerned with
socially expected obligations. However, as a Baronet’s youngest son, his
parents are pushing him to marry and produce an heir, due to his brother’s
current lack of children. After the two young ladies amuse and spark his
interest, they soon become invited to more social gatherings.
When news of Rees return to town with his new French wife
reaches Jess, it makes her single state all the more real. With her newfound
social status, Jess turns to more frivolous pursuits, determining to move past
her small-village image. She proceeds to alter her dress to fit the fashion of
the times, which happens to be immodest for a young lady of her character. As a
result, her flirtatious manner attracts the attention of several “gentlemen” of
The social scene of London consists of an endless array of
dinner parties and balls – anyone who’s anyone is to be invited. Lancelot’s
character continually finds himself at odds with Jess over matters of
propriety. This serves to make her weary of him. She won’t admit that she’s
fond of his interest in botany or his quiet manner because he reminds her of
her father. And that’s the last kind of man she’d be interested in. Jess is
faced with circumstances and decisions which cause her to question her actions
and the person she’s become.
Axtell includes beautiful details of this era in London,
from the dinner parties, dances, ball gowns, fashionable buggy rides in parks,
and visits to gardens. Botany is an uncommon and refreshing element in this
novel, complete with a visit to the famed royal Kew Gardens.
Axtell includes snippets about practices of the Anglican
Church of England and the radical evangelical tendencies of the Baptists and
Methodists at the time. One example of such radical ideas is the act of sending
evangelists and missionaries to foreign lands. This added an interesting historical
perspective to the growth of Christianity during that time.
At the opening of the story, Jess is already brokenhearted
and determined to guard her heart from anyone else. As the story unfolds, the
reader glimpses small bits of compatibility between Jess and her eventual hero.
Her character faces challenges and must learn to rely on others to help her
overcome them. Ultimately, the characters experience that real love forgives as
Christ forgave, and trusting your heart and future to God is the best thing to
Courtney Clark is a small-town girl from Arkansas who
loves Jesus, reading, photography, cooking, crocheting, and hot tea (in any
combination). When she’s not doing any of those things, she’s working at her
family’s restaurant or teaching at the local community college. Catch up with
her at her blog, thegreenmockingbird.wordpress.com, or follow her on twitter