Secrets of the Heart by Jillian Kent
www.jilliankent.com Published by Realms, 2011
Not Your Typical Regency Novel!
Jillian Kent has done a superb job with her debut regency era novel, Secrets of the Heart. This is not your typical regency era novel, full of balls, tea parties, and gowns, but rather one filled with suspense, romance, and intrigue. I was hooked from the first chapter, and although some of the subject matter was not so pretty, I still found myself having a hard time putting this one down!
The first chapter finds us in Yorkshire, England, in 1817, with Lady Madeline Whittington horseback riding in the dense forest of Richfield, her family home. In the woods she encounters a scared, filthy, half-starved girl in tattered clothes, who doesn't speak a word. Madeline hides the girl and seeks to restore her back to health, and find out where she is from. Lady Madeline is emerging from a period of mourning, but still can't get over the loss of her beloved father. On a hunting expedition, Madeline has a minor accident and is attended by the handsome Earl of Ravensmoore, whom she despises, believing he was responsible for her father's death.
Although of nobility, Devlin Ravensmoore, is studying to be a doctor, wishing to make a difference in the deplorable conditions he sees in the hospitals and mental institutions. As their lives become entertwined, what horrifying secrets do Madeline and Devlin unearth and who is this strange girl in the woods? Will Madeline ever learn to trust doctors, especially Devlin? Can Ravensmoore and Madeline make a difference in the horrible conditions at Ashcroft Mental Institution? And when Devlon goes to the asylum to treat an outbreak of smallpox, who does he find there that shocks him to the very core of his being?
This book was full of excitement from beginning to end...a real page-turner! Some of it was very difficult to read, however, because of the reality of how the mentally ill were treated in those days. Jillian Kent is one of the finest debut authors I've ever had the pleasure of reading her work, and has the ability to evoke powerful emotions from her readers. And that's what fine writing is all about...
* Warning-Not for the very squeamish...some graphic content.*