A Middlesex Workhouse – for orphans and others, plus Bow Street Runners from Historic England.
ARC – free book from author
A story where the heroine is not what she seems – by a long way. She is not an aristocrat and perhaps has not actually married her ‘husband’ – and she certainly isn’t a Tarot card reader – or is she? And is she a Lady who makes charitable donations to an orphanage. Well, she certainly presents herself as one, and it’s true the Orphanage needs money.
And then you have the real Aristocrat who ‘plays’ according to his friends and Society, at being a Bow Street Runner. The original police force in London. The force originally numbered six men and was founded in 1749 by magistrate Henry Fielding (who coincidentally was also the author of The History of Tom Jones. A rather famous novel for its somewhat bawdy nature.
Bow Street is in the heart of the East End and at that time was a centre of crime and gin palaces – if they could be called that. Gin had become a major problem for London especially as it was very cheap and provided an easy way to forget the misery of being poor in London.
Tom Jones was a Foundling – or an Orphan – and an Orphanage plays a prime part in this story by Darcy. You really didn’t want to be an orphan at this time, or even later in the nineteenth century as dickens made people more than aware. Orphanages were nasty places, cold, over-crowded, without the money (or often the will of those in charge) to feed and clothe the orphans, let alone educate them. And in her book, Darcy also demonstrates the lure of crime for orphans – and for criminals to find easy pickings for everything from theft to prostitution.
Of course, the Bow Street runner did not believe in the orphanage his mother was giving money to, after all, she already was being swindled by a Tarot card fortune-teller – who he was determined to find and unmask. But he finds she has rather more secrets than he anticipated. And life becomes more complicated. So we have a nicely told historical romance from Darcy with a significant amount of commentary on Society and what life was like for those who did not hold titles nor wealth, and in addition had no training to fall back on to make a living. And for women, the choices were even fewer – if you wanted to be respectable – which was why so many were not. And who could blame them