Viscount Sir Edward Marchmont’s new wife, Bernadette, is spending his money like water. Unbeknown to her, he takes the family gem, a huge ruby called the Heart of Fire, to pay his gambling debts. But on the way to his creditor, Edward loses the jewel. In a fit of despair, he throws himself from Blackfriars Bridge, plunging his family into poverty.
With a heart harder than any ruby, Bernadette abandons her stepchildren to a life on the streets of London. Sarah and Josiah are forced to make their living by dragging flotsam from the banks of the Thames to sell for food. Sarah cares for several street urchins, while her young brother goes to work for a gang, cleaning chimneys and acting as a paid mourner—both covers for a theft ring.
Handsome law clerk Andrew Witherwood seems to be Sarah’s champion, despite the fact that Bernadette has retained his services. When rumors of the ruby resurface, greedy treasure hunters will stop at nothing to get their hands on it. Kidnapping, theft, betrayal, and murder are all on the table. Will Sarah find someone she can trust before it’s too late?
When the Marchant children find themselves destitute, and the victims of a malicious step-mother, they run away to support themselves in a dark Dickens-like world of poverty on the streets of London. One of them will succumb to the temptation of crime, which carries a heavy toll, the other will be manipulated and used by those whose greed seeks a valuable stone. I found myself immersed in this grimy world where integrity was a rare commodity, but as Sarah is confronted with insurmountable odds, she finds that her integrity is all she has left. The ending was perfect. By the time I read it, I thoroughly agreed with Sarah’s decision. Highly recommend this book—something I rarely do.
I loved this beautiful story. Thoroughly entertaining and easy to read and yet poignant enough to tease many of my sensibilities. So much more depth than your typical romance. Thought provoking--What is my part to play?--What can I do?--What is the mission that I need to fulfill in order to build a better world? All good thoughts to have (Without the guilt. :)) I enjoyed the story immensely and did not want to put it down. I felt that my time and money invested were certainly worth it!