Today’s authors don’t often give us a glimpse into the rougher side of the Regency, but in The Healing Season, Ms. Morren tackles what would have been some of the very real, and pressing issues of the day. The glitter of society is a distant world to Methodist surgeon, Ian Russell, as far removed as Paris Hilton’s existence is from mine. He is driven by his work among the poor. It is his heart’s desire to establish a children’s hospital in the heart of London, at a time when many physicians refused to treat children.
When summoned to help a young woman who has botched an attempted abortion, Ian meets Eleanor Neville, who discovered her friend on the brink of death. Together the two work through the night to try to save the girl’s life.
Mrs. Neville, is Eleanor’s stage name, and she is one of the leading actresses in London’s burlettas. When she and Ian are increasingly thrown together she fights her attraction to the one “good” man she has ever met. Having never been introduced to the Bible or church she find his devotion to his ideals, utterly incomprehensible.
Ian finds the beautiful actress an increasing temptation, and struggles against the attraction. She has been used by several men, while he has kept himself pure for his future wife, and he cannot believe her to be anything other than a trap set to ensnare him.
The conflict sizzles as the two are drawn inexorably together. It is only when they discover the power of Godly forgiveness that they can move beyond their pasts, and their prejudices to fine one another.
My only criticism is that there seemed to be no satisfying resolution of the final situation with the villain. He is portrayed as an insanely jealous man, and Eleanor goes into hiding to escape him. Even with some very strong clues, he doesn’t even attempt to find her. His reaction seems strangely anticlimactic, and I kept wondering when he would come for her.
I found the Healing Season to be well researched and engrossing. Ms. Morren is definitely skilled at developing her setting and giving the reader a sense of time and place. It would have been very easy for Ms. Morren to rely on sensationalism as she presented the harsher elements of the story, but she handled the gritty realities with sensitivity. Overall, I would recommend this book highly.