Sunday, 14 August 2011

A Vision of Lucy - Margaret Brownley


Photography may not seem like a popular career choice in 1882, particularly for a woman, but Lucy Bradshaw is determined to make a living with her camera. However, all of her attempts to impress the owner of the local paper fail drastically, the final one culminating in her falling from a tree on to a stage-coach, which happened to be in the process of being robbed. Following her disastrous shenanigans, no one in Rocky Creek, including Lucy’s own father, is convinced that photography is an aid to journalism or a fitting pursuit for a woman. Her father would much rather that Lucy cultivate the hobbies and interests more appropriate for a young lady and stop getting herself into scrapes that bring embarrassment on him and the other residents of the town.

Lucy’s last failed attempt at taking a photograph for the newspaper brings her into contact with David Wolf, an aptly named supposedly “wild” man living on the outskirts of Rocky Creek who has been shunned throughout his life because of his mixed race. In the confusion between Lucy witnessing a robbery and running into David, her new friend ends up arrested and badly harmed, but not capable of receiving medical aid in a town that believes him to be a half-breed criminal. Carefully, Lucy and her younger brother hide David in the storeroom of the church and nurse him back to health. Lucy has no idea what brought David to Rocky Creek in the first place, but she is determined to help him, even if it endangers her reputation further. But will David accept her help?

I expected this book to be a standard historical romance, but was pleasantly surprised to discover how much action and mystery it contained. Not to mention a colourful array of secondary characters and a vividly described town. I came into this book completely fresh, not having even heard of this series before, but managed to catch up with the characters from the previous books very easily. In fact, although the protagonists from the first two Rocky Creek novels did feature briefly in A Vision of Lucy, very little was revealed about the events in the earlier books, meaning that I can still go back and read the previous novels without having the outcomes spoiled. So if, like me, the beautiful cover of this book catches your eye but you’ve not read the others in the series, it is entirely possible to jump in and be swept away by the wonderful characters of Rocky Creek with little confusion.

When I initially started reading A Vision of Lucy, I only intended to read the first chapter before going to bed. This plan proved to be entirely impossible once Lucy fell out of a tree on to the stagecoach below that was in the process of being robbed, frightening the horses and causing them to gallop off, dragging the stagecoach behind them – with Lucy still hanging on. Like the horses, this book sped along at a fair sped with never a dull moment, making it very difficult to even put down for a moment. Margaret inserted an appropriate amount of mystery and adventure into the book, which kept it from being a standard romance. There was also a fair amount of mischief and trouble on Lucy’s part – from falling out of trees to burning down buildings –and her antics kept me very amused and I found myself giggling all the way through this book.

Lucy has to be one of the most original female protagonists I’ve had in a while, and provided plenty of humour without her escapades seeming at all forced. Sometimes it can seem as if accident-prone characters are being pushed to provide amusement for the readers, but I never felt this about Lucy. Her endeavours to improve her town, help David and achieve something through her photography were always well-meant, even if the outcomes were less than successful. I loved her relationship with David and the chemistry they had together, starting with him kissing her to make her stop talking. He was a bit of a distant character, due to the problems he’d encountered throughout his life which he allowed to affect his present situations and relationships. But ultimately I think their very different personalities ended up working well together. Their romance was made more unusual by the fact that Lucy and David had to stand against those who disapproved of interracial relationships. Both of them faced adversity from some members of the town, which hindered their relationship from progressing as both of them would have liked. I don’t think I’ve read many romances that address issues of interracial relationships in the nineteenth century, so this was a particularly interesting aspect of the novel.

The third Rocky Creek Romance is an absolute delight, even for someone who hasn’t read the rest of the series. The relationship between an accident-prone photographer and a “wild”, mixed-race carpenter unfolds to a background of intrigue and mystery. Readers of historical romances won’t be disappointed by A Vision of Lucy, and those who are looking for something a bit more unconventional should definitely be on the lookout for more from Margaret Brownley.

Review title provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson.

No comments:

Post a Comment