A #HistoricalMondays blog tour | feat. #INSPY Historical novelist Rachel Fordham with her novel “A Lady in Attendance”

Posted Monday, 25 October, 2021 by jorielov , , , 1 Comment

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Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring. Whether I am reading selections from Indie Authors & publishers to Major Trade and either from mainstream or INSPY markets – I am finding myself happily residing in the Historical past each year I am a blogger.

What I have been thankful for all these years since 2013 is the beautiful blessing of discovering new areas of Historical History to explore through realistically compelling Historical narratives which put me on the front-lines of where History and human interest stories interconnect. It has also allowed me to dive deeper into the historic past and root out new decades, centuries and millenniums to explore. For this and the stories themselves which are part of the memories I cherish most as a book blogger I am grateful to be a part of the #HFVBTBlogTours blogger team.

I received a complimentary copy of “A Lady in Attendance” by the author Rachel Fordham in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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On what drew my curious eye towards this novel:

Last year, I was attempting to read Yours Truly, Thomas wherein I realised the story was linked to the first novel Fordham released The Hope of Azure Springs. I believe only in setting rather than a forwarding of characters/storylines, however, the ways in which I was able to receive a copy of her sophomore release is through my participation in the 2019 Christian Fiction Reading Safari which was hosted by Singing Librarian Books – as referenced on my 2020 participation announcement. The three years I joined the readathon, I was able to ‘win’ books by INSPY publishers and authors; both traditionally published and independently published which was a lot of wicked fun! I was able to expand my knowledge of the INSPY markets whilst getting the chance to become introduced to new and/or emerging writers of INSPY Lit.

I’ve previously disclosed throughout my eight years of blogging on Jorie Loves A Story, I’ve been a hybrid reader of INSPY and mainstream literature the full of my life as a reader. I regularly visited Christian bookstores as much as I ducked into independent bookstores and other big box chain bookstores or the occasional mall bookshop, too! I hung out in libraries too which of course inspired my tagline of my blog’s title! Laughs. INSPY Lit has always been a mainstay in my life and is eagerly sought out alongside all my mainstream haunts in literature.

Although I read all genres which interest me as a reader, when it comes to INSPY – I tend to weave through Contemporary and Historical Romances the most! Unless I’m reading INSPY Suspense from Love Inspired — I predominately love exploring the romantic stories the INSPY writers are writing through both historical and contemporary settings and timescapes in History. These are generally gentler reads unless they are delving into more realistic storylines which are openly honest in their presentations and give a truly reckoning of insight into the topics and subjects they’ve approached to explore within the wider realm of INSPY.

I appreciate both approaches and within A Lady in Attendance – I was curiously hopeful to find a bit of both sprinkled throughout the story. Where I could hug close to a gently told slow burn romance but with the beauty of a realistic story about one woman’s determination to make a go of her life after she felt she might have been robbed of a future after circumstances she could not change but had to leave in the past as she embarked forward. She wanted to change her future by choosing her present course and there is a lot of soulful grit in that choice and I knew this was a story I wanted to read from that small glimpse of her character in the synopsis. I like to feel inspired before I read a story and finding a story about personal redemption and a will to succeed in spite of circumstances is definitely a keen story I want to explore and see told.

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A #HistoricalMondays blog tour | feat. #INSPY Historical novelist Rachel Fordham with her novel “A Lady in Attendance”A Lady in Attendance
by Rachel Fordham
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Five years in a New York state reformatory have left a blemish on Hazel’s real name. So when she takes a job as Doctor Gilbert Watts’s lady in attendance in 1898, she does so under an alias. In the presence of her quiet and pious employer, Hazel finds more than an income. She finds a friend and a hope that if she can set her tarnished past in order, she might have a future after all.

As Gilbert becomes accustomed to the pleasant chatter of his new dental assistant, he can’t help but sense something secretive about her. Perhaps there is more to this woman than meets the eye. Can the questions that loom between them ever be answered? Or will the deeds of days gone by forever rob the future of its possibilities?

Rachel Fordham pens a tender tale of a soft-spoken man, a hardened woman, and the friends that stand by them as they work toward a common purpose–to expunge the record of someone society deemed beyond saving–and perhaps find love along the way.

Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction

Places to find the book:

ISBN: 978-0800739737

Also by this author: A Lady in Attendance

Published by Revell

on 1st June, 2021

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 352

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The novels of Rachel Fordham:

The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel FordhamYours Truly, Thomas by Rachel FordhamA Life Once Dreamed by Rachel FordhamA Lady in Attendance by Rachel Fordham

The Hope of Azure Springs (2018)

Yours, Truly Thomas *I won a copy! (2019)

A Life Once Dreamed (2020)

A Lady in Attendance (2021)

Published by: Revell (@RevellBooks)

an imprint of Baker Publishing Group

Converse via: #INSPY, #HistFic or #HistoricalFiction and #HistRom/#HistoricalRomance,
and/or #ChristianFiction, #INSPYRomance and #INSPYbooks,
+ #RachelFordham and #HFVBT

Available Formats: Hardcover, Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

About Rachel Fordham

Rachel Fordham

Rachel Fordham has long been fascinated by all things historical or in the words of her children “old stuff”. Often the historical trivia she discovers is woven into her children’s bedtime tales. Despite her love for good stories she didn’t attempt writing a novel until her husband challenged her to do so (and now she’s so glad he did). Since that time she’s often been found typing or researching while her youngest child naps or frantically writing plot twists while she waits in the school pick-up line. In addition to her passion for storytelling she enjoys reading, being outdoors and seeing new places. Rachel lives with her husband and children on an island in Washington state.

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prior to reading the story:

I was so thankful to find there were bookmarks enclosed with this novel!! I felt like Christmas had come early this year – as there was a bookmark for each of the novels, save Azure Springs which had a postie! (ie. postcard) I cherish receiving these as I’ll be using them as I move through the novels of Ms Fordham, as I’ll be gathering them for my personal library as I continue to read her collective works. I happily had the marker all set to use for A Lady in Attendance which made reading this story quite wicked lovely. My gratitude to the author for signing this copy of the novel and for the unexpected JOY she gave me with those enclosures! They shall be happily used and treasured.

my review of a lady in attendance:

We barely get a proper glimpse into Hazel’s life at the reformatory before the story shifts forward to where we find her after her sentence was fulfilled. In some respects, I had a feeling this story might transition back and forth between the present and the past; to show a better kaleidoscope of her life and how she came to be where she is now as a lady in attendance. Yet, there was a small moment in the Prologue I wished could have been lengthened – to explore more of her in that particular state of arrival, where she was first speaking to the other girls’ at the reformatory. She was hinting towards a secret about her sentencing and about the circumstances which led her to being placed there – almost as if there was another reason others might not be aware of which caused her fate to be altered into the one she was now living. I had a forethought of curiosity that what if she wasn’t the main cause of the crime or incident but was simply present when whatever had happened had occurred? Or was it more than that? I definitely would have liked to see her thoughts reveal a bit more of what she was withholding but of course, as said, I knew it most likely would come through a series of flashbacks or redirects of memory.

Gilbert was an instantly likeable character despite the fact he was quieter than the moon. He wasn’t a natural conversationalist like Hazel and he was living a life of solitude similar in vein to Hazel all the same. She was fixated on focusing on how to live a proper life wherein her past was in the past and her present would now dictate her future rather than the opposite way round. For Gilbert, he was a man of few words but a lot of what motivated him to remain quiet had less to do with inclination towards being silent and more to do with a lack of experience. As even in his own words, Gilbert was lamenting about his experiences were limited to being around boys his own age or men in dental school. Having learnt that about him, you felt a bit sad for him. His confidence was in his work but not in life. And, yet, his observational skills – especially in regards to Hazel were quite bang-on as he noticed things about her I doubted she knew she was revealling.

Hazel had a purpose in her work and she had a purposeful approach to how she was living now. She didn’t want to reveal any inch of her past in this towne or in her new life as she attended to the men, women and children Gilbert worked on as a dentist but internally the past was never too far afield from memory. It haunted her and it acted as a shield in some respects because she would use her time at the reformatory as a marker of how to live, act and be in society. She credited it with given her what she needed to work in this kind of field and job but in other respects, I think it also robbed her of bits of her humanity and the bits of her personality she might otherwise would have repressed if she hadn’t started working for the doctor.

Your own heart ached for Hazel. To be turnt away from her family and to be told she couldn’t come home – the magnitude of that request was deeply felt as you read the sequences where Hazel reflected back on her life speaking with her Mum and the last letter she had received from her parents. They hadn’t intended to be cruel-hearted but that is how I felt after reading their words. Unfortunately for Hazel, during the 19th Century (and even more centuries before it) reputation was everything. Both for a girl who wasn’t yet wed and for her family. If that reputation was shattered or even caught in a conspiracy of rumours – well, that girl might never find herself righted by the view of society. What was more awful of course were the families that might turn against their own daughter for fear of how society would react to whatever circumstances would pit them against the shadows of the rumours themselves. You can feel so much for Hazel in this part of the story – for the hopeless vacuum of uncertainty – of not knowing if she can reunited with her parents or her siblings and what that reunion would even be like if she could? Would she be welcomed back without condition? Would time ease their judgements?

Their time together had led into a familiar companionship and it was a new awakening for them both which neither had expected. I enjoyed seeing how Fordham was bridging their lives together whilst also focusing on Hazel’s best friend Ina who had a facial mark which everyone judged her against and would be less kind than they ought to be being a faith-filled community. Ina shined from the inside out and her friendship was beyond true and reliable. You could sense she wished for Hazel to trust her more and to confide in her a bit more than she chose to do – but overall, it was Ina’s friendship which helped Hazel find comfort in this new life she was building. It allowed her heart to soften to the possibilities and since Ina was still full of hopefulness, it enabled Hazel to find her own path towards healing the hurts of her own past.

Gilbert was locked in his own past as much as Hazel; as they both had resolved they were only owed the life they were now living. Mutually finding that solitude and contentment were part of what they had to accept in the simplicity they found their lives had encircled. They hadn’t seen past their current paths and nor had they entertained they’d find true love and unconditional acceptance – but part of me feared that in order to find their way past their first hints of romance, they’d have to truly accept each other without regret and judgement. Gilbert is a humbled man full of faith and with a solid character but I knew Hazel’s past could test him or he could surprise us all and accept Hazel for the woman he’d grown fond of whilst working near her everyday. It was that bit of unknown which held me into the text and gave me a smile of joy to continue reading the story.

And, yet somewhere in the telling of this sweet romance I never would have expected a turning point in the storyline to take such a darker undertone! Hazel’s past felt quite forthright to me all along but of course, there was enough foreshadowing by Fordham to elude to the fact there was something wicked afoul in her past. Yet, I never suspected how deceitful some in her past would have been to ensure her future was fated against her nor that her own safety would be put at risk. The ways in which Fordham chose to reveal this darker side of her past was quite brilliant – as it does take you by complete surprise but once the story shifts back round to Buffalo, the pacing increases quite a bit and some of the resolutions which came out of this change of scenery and focus of the story were well-timed.

It tackled a lot of suspense in such a short expanse of the novel – the last quarter of the story is focused on how Hazel and Gilbert need to team together to resolve Hazel’s past. Of course its much more complicated than it eludes too and there are quite a few unsavory characters to be had as well but throughout all of it, Fordham remained true to Hazel and Gilbert. She kept their relationship together and she encouraged them to push past their own comfort zones. Hazel had to find the courage to trust and Gilbert was on a trajectory towards finding out the kind of man he wanted to be rather than the man he always had been. In that regard, I found the story was satisfying because both of them were works-in-progress to where you weren’t sure where they were going to end up but the journey towards somewhere was quite enjoyable.

on the inspirational & historical styling of rachel fordham:

There is a quiet resonance of life and friendship in how Fordham approached writing about Hazel and Gilbert. Theirs isn’t a traditional friendship in the sense they had sought out each other and/or were willing to develop a relationship – platonic, romantic or otherwise – as theirs was a working relationship which seemed to bridge itself into a friendship whilst the two of them hadn’t quite noticed it happening. Fordham changes the lens of the story from Hazel to Gilbert – shifting our perspectives and giving us a more insightful pause on how each of her characters are observing each other. In that way, Fordham has found a lovely way to pace this story – as given Hazel’s determined choice not to reveal her past and Gilbert’s insecurity with being around a woman whose confident in her own right – it allowed for a story to find its own voice and cadence in the simpler moments which so oft go overlooked.

Fordham allowed Gilbert, Hazel and dear lovely Ina to guide us into their story bit by bit. They were each trying to find a way to walk into a future on their own terms but with the fears everyone has at some point in their lives. About what kind of future was waiting for them – if they would find someone to walk through life with and if they had, would that person see them and accept just as they are without putting a condition on that acceptance? Fordham knitted into the background of the story a pulse of faith and fortitude for her characters; as she gently lets them mention their walk in faith as much as how they leant on their faith to move forward in life. None more than Hazel though of whom was battling through the regret and judgements which she herself had cast against her own character.

This was unexpectedly both a Historical Romance and a Historical Romantic Suspense novel – wherein, towards the final quarter of the novel, Fordham shifted the main focus from a #HistRom to a Historical Suspense novel which took root out of Hazel’s past and led us into a complicated web which was quite the arduous task to unravel. It was how she choose to use certain characters to become the truth-tellers in this story and how unexpected characters you hadn’t put too much weight on to do the right thing – were the ones who championed justice in the end. It just proved that all the characters you are introduced too in the story have more than one purpose and reiterated the messages of faith and a fortitude of forgiveness throughout the story.

On the Suspense side of the story, I felt the pieces were brought together quite well and although at first I didn’t quite understand all the tangents of connection between that part of the story and the first three quarters of the novel; Fordham won me over by how she tied up the loose ends and gave us the ending we were hoping to find. Sometimes stories take us on different footpaths and sometimes like this time round, we end up right where we wanted to be without realising it!

A note about this story involving dentistry:

At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy reading a story about dentistry as I had overlooked that part of the story when I first sought out to read this title on the blog tour. I generally have shied away from reading medical stories as that part of my life ended a few decades ago. I used to love medical dramas (on tv and in books) but I reached that point where the more descriptive medical scenes took their toll on me and I just found I couldn’t stomach them anymore. There were a few scenes within A Lady in Attendance I was thankful were only momentarily visual in regards to what was going on between Gilbert and a patient but not overtly graphic or visually difficult to read. Fordham definitely towed the line between saying what needed to be described and not shifting us out of the context of the narrative to where we couldn’t proceed forward. I was grateful for it.

I was a bit more fascinated by the historical notes and content about 19th Century dentistry – though those details were a bit more broad – I did enjoy hearing about bridges and dentures from Gilbert’s point of view and how he approached making them in-house. That part was fascinating especially if you look at the evolution of dentistry from the 19th to 21st Centuries.

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Whilst reading A Lady in Attendance, I was inspired to spin a new playlist via #Spotify which is called: “Folksy Covers”. Uniquely, I surprised myself for choosing a more uptempo and contemporary playlist to listen to as I read this novel. I had first hankered after listening to one of my Christian radio stations or playlists – as the music is both uplifting and a bit slower in tempo – depending on which one I’m playing. However, the instruments used in this playlist and the lyrics of the songs felt fittingly right for a story about a woman trying to change her future by having the courage to follow her heart in the present. It was a playlist of hope and courage and one which naturally inspired the listener through the singers who were singing – all of which of course, played a beautiful tapestry in the background of the story I was reading. Music is always a hidden layer ‘behind’ the stories I’m reading – each story finds its own music and the music is lovingly enjoyed as the words transport me into the story.

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBT

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours!

Follow the Virtual Road Map

as you visit others participating: along the route

& learn about the bookaway attached to the tour:

A Lady in Attendance blog tour banner provided by HFVBTs and is used with permission.

You’ll notice a change in tour date on the schedule for my review stop – I succumbed to clustering migraines which plagued me for a fortnight this September. Considering last year, when I was griped by 8x migraines this same month, I am counting my blessings. I was beyond consumed by them, as well as a nasty mix of allergies which disallowed me to read this novel as I had projected to share my ruminations as scheduled originally on the blog tour. I felt bad for the author to have my reactions delayed as much as I regretted missing my original date on the tour itself. I needed time to recover, rest and re-find the joy of reading again – as per my chronic migraines, they first disrupt my life but the road back to any kind of normalcy is sometimes quite arduous in of itself. This past weekend was healing in that regard as it allowed my eyes and mind time to resync together and gave me hours of joy being able to re-settle into reading and blogging once more. Ergo, my apologies extend to the publisher, to Ms Bruno and to everyone following the tour, too.

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 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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Reading this story contributed to my 2021 reading challenges:

2021 HistFic Reading Challenge banner created by Jorie in Canva.

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “A Lady in Attendance”, book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of Rachel Fordham the tour host badge and HFVBTs badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Book covers for “The Hope of Azure Springs”, “Yours truly, Thomas” and “A Life Once Dreamed” are being used with permission by Baker Publishing. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: 2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge banner, #HistoricalMondays banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2021.

I’m a social reader | I tweet my reading life

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 25 October, 2021 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

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