Book Review: An Unlikely Suitor by Nancy Moser

Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: May 1, 2011

Synopsis of book as provided by the publisher: 

New York dressmaker Lucy Scarpelli befriends socialite Rowena Langdon as she's designing her 1895 summer wardrobe. Grateful for Lucy's skill in creating fashions that hide her physical injury, Rowena invites Lucy to the family mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, encouraging the unusual friendship.

One day Lucy encounters an intriguing man on the Cliff Walk, and love begins to blossom. Yet Lucy resists, for what Newport man would want to marry an Italian dressmaker working to support her family?

Rowena faces an arranged marriage to a wealthy heir she doesn't love, but dare a crippled girl hope for anything better?

And Lucy's teenage sister, Sofia, falls for a man well above her social class--but is he willing to give up everything to marry a woman below his station?

As the lives of three young woman--and their unlikely suitors--become entangled in a web of secrets and sacrifice, will the season end with any of them finding true happiness?


Nancy Moser has penned a truly enjoyable read, a tale rich with unconventional characters trying to make their way in a society with clear dividing lines between the haves and have-nots. In Lucy Scarpelli, Moser has created a character that will inspire women of all ages as she refuses to let circumstances define her future and instead lives with courage and determination. She is rendered in sharp contrast to high-born Rowena, who seems destined to follow the path others have set for her, but who manages to grow throughout the story in a way that contributes to a satisfying conclusion. The characters were beautifully developed and their unique stories skillfully woven together.

Moser writes with beautiful prose, and yet the amount of detail was just right as the book flew by and was difficult to put down, with some unexpected surprises. I have to admit that I never grow tired of reading historical novels of people born to poverty who, through their determination and God's grace, manage to rise above their humble beginnings. And, though I would not seek out a purely romantic novel, I enjoyed watching these characters find love in unexpected places and in spite of social mores that forbade that love. I do wonder if, in reality, love really would have conquered all, including greed or the promise of financial security, as is portrayed in this novel. But I am a sucker for a happy ending, so I chose to put aside such cynical thoughts and just enjoy the story that Moser so expertly tells!

I highly recommend this novel for those who enjoy historical fiction. I always look forward to reading a book by Nancy Moser, and this one is absolutely another winner. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

My sincerest thanks to the publisher, Bethany House, who provided a copy of this book for the purposes of this unbiased review.