Diamond In The Rough by Jane Goodger
The second book about a pair of sisters in Jane Goodger’s Brides of St. Ives series, Diamond In The Rough is the love story of Clara Anderson, older sister of Harriet from The Earl Most Likely, which I also read and enjoyed. And while I enjoyed Harriet’s story, the ending didn’t quite work for me, so I was intrigued to see how Clara’s story played out.
Incidentally, this book takes place at the same time as most of the events in The Earl Most Likely. You definitely don’t have to have read the other book to enjoy this one.
Clara is one of those heroines who is practically perfect - beautiful, accomplished and wealthy - but despite that, she’s very easy to like because she isn’t happy. Her social-climbing mother is determined for Clara to marry well, so well in fact that no plain Mr could ever be considered. Only a title will do. But Clara has been exposed to too many aristocrats who are indolent at best, and thus far even if they might have considered her as a tin miner’s daughter, she wants none of them.
Nathaniel Emory, Baron Alford, is in St. Ives posing as a common gardener for one reason; to find the only thing which can save his ancestral home and estates from total ruination, a priceless blue diamond his grandfather buried in the garden of a house there. A house which now belongs to the Anderson family. Astute Clara, interested in gardening, is immediately aware he is not what he seems, but allows him to keep his secrets. An unlikely friendship evolves between the pair, and of course soon progresses into more.
The story of the blue diamond from Brazil was fascinating; I had no idea Brazil was the centre of the diamond trade at that time in history, and found myself looking the topic up to read more about it once I finished the book. Goodger has obviously done her research, and the book felt very legitimate for the Victorian era, with train travel slowly beginning to replace horses and the aspiring middle class mixing uncomfortably with the hereditary aristocracy.
Clara and Nathaniel’s romance was an absolute delight. Knowing Nathaniel’s story, and understanding his desperation, from the very beginning of the book meant I as the reader never grudged him his secrecy, even while I agonised over the angst his deception would surely cause once Clara discovered the truth. I was rooting all along for him to find the diamond and marry Clara. There are a fair number of trips and pitfalls along the way, of course, but I was utterly delighted with the ending of this one and I’m happy to give it five stars and say I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys well-written historical romance.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.