As much as I enjoyed “The Captain’s Daughter”, “The Heart’s Appeal” really struck a chord with me. Being book two, it can be a standalone, although Rosalyn’s story does make an appearance as a potential spoiler for book one’s ending. “The Heart’s Appeal” touches on many of my interests from the get-go: women’s life in the nineteenth century, the practice of medicine, and educational studies. Julia Bernay makes a captivating heroine; she is an independent, forward-thinking woman who challenges the status quo of 1881 London by working toward a degree in medicine. First, however, she must pass the Queen’s College matriculation exam, the main hindrance of which is the Latin language portion. A fateful experience saving a barrister’s life intertwines his and Julia’s fates in unexpected ways as they both seek to further their careers.
The London Beginnings series offers a thought-provoking foray into the lives of women living in the city during the latter part of the nineteenth century and their journeys of faith. “The Heart’s Appeal” demonstrates the entrepreneurial zeitgeist that was starting to take hold among the female population and highlights the double standard with which they were repeatedly confronted. The novel does not shy away from these contentions, illuminating both the aristocratic and less well-to-do classes and their interactions. Through it all shines the backbone of the Christian faith. The narrative is not preachy and does not sugarcoat controversial and antagonistic situations, lending it credence and real-life applications even for contemporary society. “The Heart’s Appeal” is a stellar addition to Christian historical fiction and to this wonderful series.