Elizabeth Camden. From This Moment. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 2016. See here to buy the book.
From This Moment is set in the nineteenth century.
Romulus White is the editor of a well-respected scientific magazine that is published in Boston. For years, he has been trying to convince Stella West to work for his magazine, since he is impressed by her illustrations.
Stella has her own agenda, though, and she is in Boston for her own reason. Stella’s sister, Gwendolyn, recently died in Boston, and Stella suspects that Gwendolyn was murdered. Gwendolyn had written that she (Gwendolyn) was uncovering corruption in Boston, and she referred to a mysterious ally whom she called “A.G.” In her pursuit of the truth about her sister’s death, Stella has been challenging the police and the doctor who performed Gwendolyn’s autopsy, much to their annoyance.
Romulus is attracted to Stella and initially tries to help her, but he is disappointed when she alienates his friends and contacts in her pursuit of the truth about her sister’s death. Things especially come to a head when Romulus receives an injunction closing his magazine!
There were many things that I liked about this book. First, there was the suspense and the mystery. Even after I learned who “A.G.” was, the book still left some aspects of the mystery open, which encouraged me to read on to see how the mystery would be resolved. And it turned out that the mystery did not just relate to recent corruption in Boston, but it had roots going back to A.G.’s childhood. That story can give one goosebumps!
Second, there were the endearing characters. Stella was an intimidating woman, yet she was still kind to a bespectacled archivist, who had an obsession with fonts. Evelyn was Romulus’ cousin, who also worked at the magazine, and Clyde was Romulus’ lifelong friend. Evelyn and Clyde had been married and became separated, and (like many readers, I’m sure) I was rooting for them to get back together! Romulus for a long time had trouble finding work, since his interests were so varied. He lost a relationship on account of that. But he eventually landed on a line of work that was appropriate to him: editing a scientific magazine. There was also the crusty, no-nonsense private investigator, Riley McGrath.
Third, there were endearing scenes. I think of the scene of camaraderie among Stella, Evelyn, Clyde, and Romulus, after the magazine had been shut down. There is also the story about how Clyde helped Romulus when they were younger, in a significant and self-sacrificing way.
Fourth, I appreciated some of the themes about relationships. Evelyn assessed her relationship with Clyde, and Romulus learned that, even though he had failed in a previous relationship, he could still thrive in another relationship that was better suited to how he was as a person.
In terms of things I did not like, I did not care much for the flirtation between Romulus and Stella, as necessary a part of the story as that was. I did not really care for the physically ugly character being a major villain, while the physically attractive characters were the heroes. That was balanced out, somewhat, by the physically attractive characters having their own set of vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and eccentricities.
Overall, though, I enjoyed this book, enough to give it five stars. I think that it deserves a Christy Award.
I received a complimentary review copy of the book from the publisher through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.