Review

Summerset Abbey: A Bloom in Winter

by T. J. Brown

This second installment of Summerset Abbey takes romance to a new level, based on development of character and respect rather than sex appeal and social similarities defined by class. Readers of this classical romance trilogy --- particularly fans of “Downton Abbey” --- will not have forgotten the three delicate heroines introduced in book one, all of whom play an equal part in this action-packed sequel. This is a heavily romance-based experience grounded in some fascinating history.

Victoria’s story centers on her quiet aspirations to become a botanist and writer. Victoria is physically delicate, an asthmatic with an idealist nature. She is wistful about discovering her unique talents in the scientific fields, secretly confident enough to submit an article in a reputable publication called The Botanist’s Quarterly. Her private wishes are initially fulfilled beyond her wildest dreams when the managing editor invites her to submit future articles and compliments her work. Everything seems to be going in the direction of fulfilling Victoria’s dreams, except some hidden instinct tells her to use only her first initial in submitting her article. This leads to the greatest possible letdown and possibly the most impactful moment of her life.

"Fans of 'Downton Abbey' will find A BLOOM IN WINTER a very similar historical romance, appealing to readers of many ages, even teens. Author T. J. Brown has left us with a classic story full of suspense for the third installment, which releases in August. I cannot wait."

Once Victoria’s editor eventually discovers that the author of the article is a woman, he retracts his previous offer, leaving her discriminated against, disgraced, humiliated, stunned and publicly outraged. In her grief, Victoria joins a radical women’s rights movement pushing her toward frequent fundraising efforts with the rich and infrequent protests, which quickly land her in prison. Victoria’s best intentions seem to work against her because of her own naievete. She appears to be a lost soul by the age of 18 and, out of the blue, is stuck in a poorly run criminal justice system. Clearly Victoria has been duped somewhere; the question is, by whom? Her closest friend, Kit, roots for her but is unable to find her once she’s been imprisoned. Kit seems to have fallen in love with Victoria despite his better judgment. But whether Victoria will love him in return, or whether love will ever save her, remains to be seen. Through everything, Victoria remains the ultimate idealist and individualist, unwilling to consider marriage while caught up in in her own independence and the tragedy of her situation.

Rowena’s love for a pilot continues throughout this second book, becoming increasingly passionate and permanent as each day passes. But because Jon’s family is bitter enemies with Rowena’s, their relationship has forever been strained. Rowena pursues her newfound passion for flying while Jon teaches her aeronautics. But meeting Jon’s family becomes a major ordeal in A BLOOM IN WINTER, and having to cover up the physical aspect of their relationship becomes an even greater test once Rowena’s aunt sees the two in a passionate embrace and assumes the young man is actually Sebastian (who loves her sister, Prudence). Rowena covers the identity of her true love by claiming an engagement with Sebastian, and this farce continues throughout much of the book. Whether Jon is truly committed to her remains to be seen in the third volume. 

Prudence, the sister forced to perform as a ladies’ maid, finds herself in quite the predicament in this second installment. Against the wishes of her heart, Prudence married Andrew, a poor veterinary school student with integrity and a man who could accept her as she is. But Prudence is still young and helplessly attracted to Sebastian, an upper-class suitor who seems absolutely crazy for her. Prudence struggles with love and devotion throughout book two, feeling intellectually devoted to her husband while physically attracted to the other man.

Fans of “Downton Abbey” will find A BLOOM IN WINTER a very similar historical romance, appealing to readers of many ages, even teens. Author T. J. Brown has left us with a classic story full of suspense for the third installment, which releases in August. I cannot wait.

Reviewed by on April 5, 2013

Summerset Abbey: A Bloom in Winter
by T. J. Brown