Book Review : The Ruby Ring by Grace Macdonald

I enjoyed Grace Macdonald’s guest post that I shared with you on tour in February.  Grace posed the question “What makes a Victorian heroine tick, is she so different from a contemporary one?”  and having now read The Ruby Ring, I have to say Victorian heroine Mary Rose Marchmont is the lead that hooked my emotions in the most.

Format: Kindle Edition

File Size: 1416 KB

Print Length: 418 pages

Publisher: Corazon Books (22 Feb. 2016)

Language: English


A spellbinding timeslip story of two young women, each with a secret. A ring unites them, a century divides them. An international bestseller, set in a seaside town in Devon in Victorian times and the present day. From the pen of bestselling author Sophie King, writing as Grace Macdonald.

After a whirlwind romance, Laura Marchmont marries the charming Charles Haywood. Leaving her old life behind, she struggles to fit into Charles’s world, and to be accepted by his young daughters from his first marriage. Laura also hides a terrible secret from her new husband, which casts a shadow over her life. Then, she discovers the story of a young girl who lived more than a century before. Laura is compelled to uncover the fate of Mary Rose.

1886. When Mary Rose Marchmont’s widowed father remarries it signals the end of her childhood. A series of tragic events leads Mary Rose to be accused of a shocking crime, after which her life will never be the same again.

A moving family story of history, romance and secrets.

I really enjoyed the format of the alternating timelines as both our heroines lives almost mirror each other.

We’re introduced first to Mary Rose as an 11 year old whose dying mother gives her the family ring and the legend.  1866 is a time of innocence for Mary Rose but she is about to lose that security when the scheming Mademoiselle Laville comes into their lives.  We’re left on a cliffhanger before Part 2 with Laura in present day.  There’s intrigue surrounding Laura as she is recognised at her goddaughter’s christening, but says she’s not that person and immediately phones her mum for advice. Through her work as a botanical illustrator she meets Charles Haywood at an exhibition and after a whirlwind romance, 35 year old Laura moves in with him and his often visiting daughters.  There’s more intrigue surrounding Laura and I guessed at different scenarios … but I wasn’t correct!

As both their stories unfold, there is conflict for Mary Rose from her stepmother and Laura from her step children.  I loved the links between them of their creativity and the coincidences.  Mary Ann grows into a strong woman who does much for others in her enforced environment – I found myself so angry and frustrated on her behalf.  Her father so disappointed me throughout those 20 years.  And when Laura in the present day makes judgements from her own weaknesses, I wanted to shout in her face that she knew nothing (yes, I was emotionally invested in Mary Rose).   For me, Laura was a weak character scared of her own shadow and for the majority of the time, a negative attitude to everything which wearied me.  However, I did feel for her trying to get to know Charles’ daughters and I identified with a mother’s love.  I also understood that what happened as a teen could colour her life but oh! she grated on me … especially compared with Mary Rose and her indomitable character in adverse conditions.  There are moments of kindness in the darkest times too which reinforces that humanity does have its lighter side.

The settings in both timelines felt real.  My favourite was the 1800s with the invention of the bicycle and the opening of the train line at Seamouth.  The clothes they wore, family life and the community fascinated me.  There is a definite difference to how each timeline feels.

The Ruby Ring is a story about the power of society, the divisions in families and redemption.  I’ve felt emotions alongside our characters and had to keep turning those pages to find out not only where the story was taking me but also if innocence wins in the end.   Do both of our leads get their HEA?  As Grace Macdonald said in her guest post “not telling” 🙂 

Recommended Read

I would like to thank the publishers for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Married with two sons in their early 20's, by day I'm an Inclusion Lead in a local school. I recharge my batteries by reading, being out in nature and creating with crochet. I've been blogging for six years, four of those years exclusively about the literary world and during that time awarded Romance Blogger of the Year at the inaugural Festival of Romance. I'm enjoying the freedom of lifestyle blogging and sharing my love of anything that makes life easier! As well as a lover of words, I'm a stationery addict and lifelong learner. I feel passionate about early help for special educational needs, disability and families who are struggling. I'm a member of my local Early Help Operational Board and it's an honour to be working alongside others to instigate change and growth.