Title: The Woman at the Light by Joanna Brady
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Imprint: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Historical, Romance
Length: 346 pages
Book Rating: B+
Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through NetGalley
One afternoon in 1839, Emily Lowry’s husband vanishes from Wreckers’ Cay, an isolated island off the coast of Key West where he tends to the lighthouse. As days stretch into months, Emily has no choice but take charge of Wrecker’s Cay and her husband’s duties tending the light to support her three children–and a fourth on the way. Unexpected help arrives when a runaway slave named Andrew washes up on their beach. At first, Emily is intensely wary of this strange, charming man, whose very presence there is highly illegal. But Andrew proves himself an enormous help and soon wins the hearts of the Lowry family. And–far from the outside world and society’s rules–his place in Emily’s life, as steadfast now as the light, will forever change their futures. When Emily’s family is ripped apart once again, she faces untold hardships that test her love and determination and show how the passionate love of a defiant, determined woman can overcome any obstacle.
The Woman at the Light is a beautifully written historical romance that details the social and racial prejudices of the 1800s. Joanna Brady brings Key West vibrantly to life in this fascinating story of heartache, tragedy and love.
Emily Lowry is a strong heroine whose life has more than her fair share of devastating losses. Yet, she emerges from tragedy triumphant and more determined than ever to survive. Emily is an independent woman whose circumstances force her to rethink long held beliefs and prejudices. Some of her decisions end with disastrous results and while she sometimes wallows in self-pity and could have beens, Emily is remarkably resilient.
What makes The Woman at the Light such a compelling and captivating read is Ms. Brady’s incredibly descriptive writing style. I could feel the sultry Florida humidity and the cooling breeze of the trade winds. I could easily visualize the stark, raw and untamed beauty of Key West during its early days and the stark and primitive splendor of Wrecker’s Cay.
Ms. Brady’s research is extensive and she weaves real and fictional events and people together seamlessly. Interspersed amongst the fictional events unfolding are interesting facts about the Seminole Indian Wars, shipping routes, cigar factories and the arduous duties performed by lighthouse keepers.
The Woman at the Light is a well-written novel that is full of unexpected twists and turns. There is an intriguing mystery surrounding Emily’s husband’s disappearance. There are shocking villains and unexpected betrayals. Emily’s life has ups and downs, bitter disappointments and setbacks. But she shares an enduring love that will survive despite seemingly insurmountable odds.
Fans of historical romances do not want to miss this stunning debut novel by Joanna Brady.