Wednesday, April 24, 2024

BOOK REVIEW: The Phoenix Bride by Natasha Siegel

I received this book for free from Netgalley. That did not influence this review.

The Phoenix Bride by Natasha Siegel is a gentle yet gripping historical novel. Set in London amidst plague and the Great Fire of 1666, the novel follows Cecilia Thorowgood, a young widow who lost her beloved husband to the plague. She grieves so deeply that her sister is worried for her health and sanity. After a series of doctors fails to cure her melancholy, her sister takes a bold step, bringing in David Mendes, a Jew.

David understands obsessive grief. He has also lost a loved one, a longtime friend. Because the friend was a man, David never confessed his love. As a Jew and a bisexual, David has to take great care in all he does. Falling for an aristocratic Gentile is perhaps even more perilous than falling for another man.

Gentle and understanding, David is able to reach Cecilia in a way no other physician could. They grow dangerously close. But David learns a secret. Cecilia’s sister’s concern is not as altruistic as she wants it to seem. She wants Cecilia cured so that she can be advantageously remarried. She even has a second husband picked out. And when Cecilia learns what David knows, the fragile band of trust is broken. Can it be restored?

The novel is beautifully written. The setting is richly rendered. And readers will find their heartstrings pulled.

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