Nancy Brody is different from the rest of the folk in Angel Meadow, the appalling slum where her drunken mother Kitty was a prostitute . . . Only nine years old, Nancy decides to save her sisters Mary and Rose from the workhouse. She gets work for them all at the Monarch Cotton Manufacturing Mill - and then sets out to better herself and her sisters. Saving every penny, working every waking hour, Nancy succeeds, becoming a manufacturer herself. But happiness seems as elusive for Nancy as it was when she was a mistreated child. Though he once said he loved her, Mick O?Rourke has become Nancy?s worst enemy, and seems destined to take a terrible revenge on her and her sisters. And Josh Hayes, the man who truly loves Nancy, seems destined to be parted from her.
Driven by her idealism and courage, Alex Goodwin will make any sacrifice to win votes for women. Her despairing family, unable to rescue her from yet another dangerous prison sentence, is overjoyed when Patrick O'Leary comes into her life. A hard-working young surgeon, Patrick is as idealistic as Alex and loves her with all his heart. Then they are separated - first by a quarrel, then by the terrible war which engulfs their world, and finally, after a miraculous reunion, by a tragedy that seems to make it impossible for either of them ever to love again ...
When Lily Elliott?s father dies she loses everything - not just a beloved protector and his wonderful ship the Lily-Jane, but also the way of life she has always known. As her mother sinks into a dream-world and the money which had always seemed sufficient turns out to have been mostly debts, Lily watches, bewildered, as destitution comes ever closer for the Elliott women and their loyal housekeeper. Then two rescuers appear. One is the most unlikely saviour: Liam O?Connor, a poor seaman who selflessly befriends the unhappy little girl. The other is Joshua Crowther, the wealthy owner of Oakwood Place, a grand country mansion where the desperate women finally find refuge.
As they dazzle all the men at Queen Victoria's jubilee ball, Beth and Milly Goodwin seem to be mirror images of one another: beautiful, graceful and rich, they can take their pick of any man in St Helens. Only those who know them best realize that Milly's dark brown eyes hide a wild, untamed wantonness, while Beth's silvery-grey ones betray her idealism and kindness. But the only man in the room either of them wants is the one who could destroy both their lives. Hugh, sixteenth Lord Thornley, is a rake who needs to marry an heiress to restore the fortune his father gambled away. Even a lowly daughter of a glass manufacturer will do - provided she is biddable and strong and willing to bear the son he needs. Beth, he decides, will make him the perfect wife. But it is Milly who traps him into a loveless marriage - and sets in motion a chain of events that could destroy everything they hold dear.
Charlotte Drummond knows she has a duty to obey her father. Girls, especially well-bred upper-class ones, are expected to be submissive to the men in their lives. But Charlotte?s father is a cruel man, viciously beating her and her brothers for the slightest reason. He even wants to marry her off, at just sixteen years old, to a man she does not love. Lion-hearted Charlotte wants to defy him ? but to protect her brothers from his fury she agrees to become the wife of Brooke Armstrong. Charlotte does not understand that Brooke adores her, and that he would never have forced his enchanting new wife to agree to the match. As they begin their ill-starred marriage, Brooke welcomes her brothers into his home and sets out to make her love him. And when Charlotte turns her back on her social duties to turn the Dower House into a home for Wakefield?s fallen women his patience is tested to the limit. Only when tragedy strikes will she will be able to admit that she loved him from the moment they met. But will it be too late?
Briony Marsden has led a hard life, forced to do the work of a grown man while enduring her drunkard father?s taunts and blows. But when he goes too far one day, her fate becomes even worse as she makes her way alone in a heartless world. Not quite alone. She has a friend - Lizzie Jenkins - who will do anything to help Briony re-open Moorend Mill. And Chad Cameron, the richest man in the district, has always admired Briony?s spirit and determination. When her fortunes are at their lowest, he falls in love with the elfin waif and decides to make her his wife. But the only way he can win her is by trickery - by betraying her naive trust in the man who came to her rescue when all seemed lost. Can their marriage survive when she discovers his deception?
Amy Pearson's family is desperately poor - even by the standards of Edwardian Liverpool - but they have each other. Until Amy is torn from her home by her rich aunt, a woman obsessed by religion and snobbery who wants a girl she can mould as she wishes. Clever and pretty, ten-year-old Amy is perfect for her purposes. It is the beginning of a long journey for Amy, as she desperately searches for the family she lost, and a home where she can be free at last from her aunt's possessive tyranny. But she will have to endure a forced marriage and a tragic war before she can at last find what she seeks.
Set on a 19th century farm in rural Lancashire near Liverpool, this heartwarming saga is the story of Poppy Appleton, a girl who grew up in ignorance and poverty but has been adopted by a prosperous farmer's wife. At Long Reach farm, Eliza Goodall teaches Poppy all the skills she would have passed on to her own daughter: the skills that would enable a young lady to become the mistress of a farm just like Long Reach. And when the time comes for Eliza's son Richard to choose a wife, it seems only natural that he should choose Poppy. But though she feels nothing but affection for Richard and all her new family, the only man for whom she has ever felt love is an Irish boy, Conn MacConnell. And when he returns unexpectedly, Poppy has to choose between loyalty and love.
Vibrant and headstrong, Ally Pearce loves working on the Edith, her family's narrowboat, proving she's the equal of any man on the Leeds to Liverpool canal. Betsy, delicate, calculating and sensuously beautiful, wants only to become a 'lady' -- and will use the most unladylike means to become one. When Dr Tom Hartley enters the sisters' lives after a tragic accident both are attracted to him -- but for very different reasons...
To Sir Robert Blenkinsopp, his frail, exquisite wife Amy is just another possession - to be used, misused or discarded like anything else at Newton Law, his grand estate on Northumberland's wild moore. The gamekeeper they call Duffy thinks he has never seen anything quite so brave as Amy Blenkinsopp as she faces up to her husband - and is overjoyed when the brute is found unconscious at the bottom of his own staircase, deprived of the power of speech and movement. With the help of Sir Robert's servants and the increasingly devoted Duffy, she makes the estate not only happier but richer as well. But Sir Robert Blenkinsopp is not dead. Imprisoned in the wreck of his body, his only companion a loathesome servant, he is plotting a vicious revenge on Amy, on her children, and on the man who has come to love her.
When Abby Murphy discovers she?s heiress to one of St Helens? largest glass works, her whole life is turned upside down. Torn from her poverty-stricken family and forbidden to see her childhood sweetheart, Roddy Baxter, she is forced by her tyrannical grandfather to become a lady. Then Roddy disappears and soon, it seems inevitable that Abby will have to marry her grandfather?s chosen successor, Noah Goodwin, and bear his children. Trapped in a marriage where she is little more than a possession, Abby is determined that no matter what else might change, nothing will stand in the way of her steadfast passion for Roddy. But is she prepared to give up everything she has now for a love from the past?
Beautiful, wilful and untameable, Kitty Hayes has only ever loved one man. From the moment she met him, she believed with all her heart that her adopted brother Freddy would one day be her husband. When he chooses to marry her pretty, feminine, despised sister instead, it breaks more than her heart. Torn between fury and sorrow, Kitty makes her own brilliant match. She doesn't love Ben Maddox - she scarcely notices him, even though he is fascinated by his headstrong bride. It is only when her selfishness leads to an unforgivable accident that she realizes what she has lost. And by then, it may be too late.
Rose Alley is one of the city's worst slums - a place where hunger, filth and violence are a way of life. It's no place for proud Queenie Logan and her daughter Gillyflower. And it seems Queenie's dreams of escape will come true. Transformed by Miss Hunter's School for Girls, Gilly opens a successful dressmaking shop. And though she always thought she would marry the boy next door, soon she is courted by one of the richest young men in the city. But they have made a terrible enemy, who lurks in the Liverpool slums and seeks his chance to destroy them. And in the respectable new world they have joined someone else will prove even more dangerous to Gilly and those she loves.
Zoe Taylor is born into poverty and hardship. But her beauty marks her out as someone special, and when local schoolmistress Joanna Dale adopts her, Zoe is given her chance for a new life far removed from the violence and squalor of her past. But fate conspires against her, and she is forced back to her old home where her father's violence threatens her yet again. Her only escape is to run away to the wild and rolling moors, and it is there she meets the only man she will ever love, a man forever out of reach ... .
Lally Fraser, widowed at twenty, seeks comfort with dashing young mill owner Roly Sinclair. But when she finds she is expecting his baby, she turns to his dour brother Harry for help. Secretly in love with her, Harry offers her marriage. Roly, though, is anything but pleased. Threatening scandal or worse, he sets out to destroy them both. And when Harry is injured in a vicious attack, Lally must take charge of the mills to protect her children and the man she is growing to love from his worst enemy - his own brother.
Efficient but rather bossy, Sally Grimshaw runs her brother's pub until he gambles it away and she is reduced to being a barmaid. Salvation arrives in the form of Adam Cooper, who is fascinated by this proud yet vulnerable girl. He marries her, but life still has some shocks in store for them both.
When Lucy Dean - eighteen, with no money - marries James Buchanan - a man of thirty-four with a great fortune -it is anything but a happy match. For James is hopelessly in love with his wife while Lucy - too young, too serious and too determined to sacrifice happiness to duty - doesn?t know what love means. Then the Great War comes, and Lucy?s heart wakens, with truly shattering results for them both.
Tomboy Grace Tooley meets Rupert Bradley when her eldest brother's sudden death forces her to take on burdens beyond her years. From then on, Grace gives her heart to her brother's wealthy friend, but he sees her as a mere girl and marries a woman from his own station in life. They meet again when the Great War has changed them both. Grace has suffered loss and pain and emerged as a strong, passionate woman. Rupert, nearly broken by the horrors he has endured, has been humiliated by the bride who once seemed so right for him, and he rejects Grace's love and any hope of future happiness. But Grace is determined to rediscover the spirit of the only boy she ever loved in the man who is ready to die.
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