This is my first Carrie Lofty book. And I loved it! Alex and Polly come alive the moment you meet them. Their relationship pulls no punches, and even when they’re at their worst, they’re at their best. They have a tempestuous relationship laced with lust and eventually love, and going along on the ride with them is wild, heated, at times full of fear, and oh-so-much fun.
Alex pretty much has his life set. Since the death of his wife, he’s found someone to help take care of his infant son and he’s on his way up at the university where he teaches astronomy. Then everything begins to crash around him. His father’s will stipulates that for Alex to receive his inheritance, he must make a success of Christie Textiles – in Scotland, his father’s homeland. Then his father-in-law begins to threaten to take Edmund away from him, and Alex will be damned if he’ll allow his son to be raised by that monster of a man. The beast inside Josiah Todd ruined his own daughter by the time Alex could rescue her by marrying her. So after confronting Todd, Alex decides perhaps Scotland is the best place for him and his son after all.
Having been mentored by her father, Polly is now the one in charge of running union meetings and any negotiations with the masters of local factories. But those masters would rather see the workers beaten down instead of making safe workplaces and guaranteeing decent wages. She’s determined, however, to keep the peace and make the working situation better for all of her people. Taking a chance that perhaps the new master of Christie Textiles may agree with the union’s position, Polly is willing to do anything to make sure that happens. So the dance of distrust, attraction, suspicion, and lust between Alex and Polly begins.
There’s such a connection between them, it doesn’t take long before they’re so caught up in each other, they can’t keep their hands to themselves. Every time they explore one another, there’s an explosion that blows every emotion imaginable off the page. Then they come to their senses, know nothing of the like will ever happen again – only to end up in each other’s arms once more. This is an attraction that just won’t quit. I love Polly’s optimistic attitude. It’s needed to offset the seriousness of Alex. And it’s such fun when they tease one another. Especially when Polly can coax a smile out of Alex.
In and around all of this, however, is the mystery of the saboteur who has been busy with explosions and fire at the factories, including Christie Textiles. Alex knows his board of directors could call a halt to business at any time if repairs are too expensive or too slow, but he’s determined to prove he’s where he should be and does all necessary to get the factory running once again – all the while trying to find the culprit himself. Trying to keep Polly away from investigating is a whole other matter, so they do some digging together, another chance for them to find more out about the other, even when being chased by constables.
There are some very memorable scenes in this book. Alex agrees to a game of football with the locals workers. He once thrived on competition, and it feels good to throw some weight around – literally -and some punches to relieve a little stress. The star-gazing scene with Alex and Polly is wonderfully done -the start of Polly being given the opportunity to see and do things that a girl like her would otherwise never have. Alex demanding Polly’s release from jail after being wrongly accused – again – by the local constables, with a little help from a factory supervisor who has it in for her. This man is a piece of work, and I want to kick him in the bollocks as much as Polly does. And the scene at Todd’s ship near the end of the book is full of tension and love and fear and death.
Ms. Lofty has done her research well. I feel the strife of these people when life decides to be hard on them, but then I feel their happiness when playing a friendly game of football or their children are running and laughing among them. Money and intimidation, along with a few well-placed punches or kicks, are the signs of the times, and they’re each used quite effectively to try to keep the union members in line. Even when everything is out of control and the workers are close to turning violent, it’s Polly who keeps the clam, as much as possible anyway. Tempers are rampant, never a good thing when it comes to a man’s ability to care for his family. All of these things, and more, are portrayed so well that you feel every last emotion of these characters squeeze your heart.
I’m going to try to pick up the first book in the series. I’ve fallen for the Christies, one and all.
Esteemed astronomer Alex Christie, the eldest and most steadfast of the Christie siblings, has never possessed his late father’s ruthless business drive. But to protect his frail infant son from his cruel father-in-law’s bid for custody, the young widower must undertake Sir William Christie’s posthumous million-dollar challenge: to make a Glasgow cotton mill profitable. At sea in an industrial world of sabotage and union agitation, Alex meets Polly Gowan, daughter of a famed union leader, who hopes to seize a mysterious saboteur without involving the police.
Because a sympathetic mill master would aid her cause, Polly becomes Alex’s guide to urban Scotland. From soccer games to pub brawls, Alex sees another side of life, and feels free for the first time to reveal the man–vital and strong–behind his intellectual exterior. Polly is utterly seduced. Their ambitions, however, remains at odds: Alex vows to earn the mill bonus to save his child, while Polly fights for the needs of her people. Is there strength enough in their sparkling passion to bind them together in their quests–and in a lasting love that conquers all?
Read an excerpt.
Other books in this series: