Ellen O’Casey has put the horrors of the villain Donovan’s trial behind her, married her true love Dr Robert Monroe and has spent twelve years in America. She and Robert return to London with their five children, and Josie her daughter by her first marriage to take up a post at the London Hospital.
Josie discovers that her childhood sweetheart Patrick Nolan, whom she believed to be dead as his letters stopped coming, is alive and well. However despite his family trying to keep it from her, Josie finds out Patrick married and has two small children. His wife ran off with another man, but he is still not free .
Josie tries to forget about Patrick and settle back into life in the East End, though she has not forgotten her roots and keeps loyal to Patrick’s sister, Matty who is due to be married soon. . Josie tries to keep a distance from Patrick, but finds herself pulled back to him at every opportunity.
Patrick has his own problems as an East End Boatman, he wants to bring his daughter, Annie and son Mickey up the right way, and avoid the rocky road persistently offered him by Ma Tugman and her two reprobate sons, Harry and Charlie. He finds this increasingly difficult however, when the Tugman boys target Josie as Patrick’s weakness. Ma Tugman is a wonderfully convincing villain with no redeeming features other than her love for her two dreadful sons, the three of them running a criminal regime that terrifies the East End.
Goaded beyond endurance, Patrick decides enough is enough and he will do what Ellen did all those years ago and trap Ma Tugman into incriminating herself. But not all members of the authorities have the welfare of the inhabitants at heart, some prefer to line their own pockets along the way.
Josie also comes up against her stepfather’s mother, who openly resents her and prefers her own grandchildren. When Ellen recuperates in Scotland with Robert after a stillbirth, Mrs Monroe sees her opportunity to inflict a harsh regime on her grandchildren. Josie runs up against the Tugman brothers and when she is brought home by Patrick, Mrs Monroe declares her ruined beyond help and throws her out.
Ms Fullerton’s first book, ‘No Cure For Love’ was an excellent read, and if possible this book was even better. With her penchant for historic detail, and the way she handles the roller coaster of events that strive to keep this couple apart, I was glued to this book until it's satisfying conlusion.
Jean Fullerton's Website is here.