Review; Follow the Heart by Kaye Dacus

Set during the Industrial Revolution and the Great Exhibition of 1851, Follow the Heart is a “sitting-room romance” with the feel of a Regency-era novel but the fashions and technological advances of the mid-Victorian age.

Kate and Christopher Dearing’s lives turn upside down when their father loses everything in a railroad land speculation. The siblings are shipped off to their mother’s brother in England with one edict: marry money.

At twenty-seven years old, Kate has the stigma of being passed over by eligible men many times—and that was before she had no dowry. Christopher would like nothing better than to make his own way in the world; and with a law degree and expertise in the burgeoning railroad industry, he was primed to do just that—in America.

Though their uncle tries to ensure Kate and Christopher find matrimonial prospects only among the highest echelon of British society, their attentions stray to a gardener and a governess.

While Christopher has options that would enable him to lay his affections where he chooses, he cannot let the burden of their family’s finances crush his sister. Trying to push her feelings for the handsome—but not wealthy— gardener aside, Kate’s prospects brighten when a wealthy viscount shows interest in her. But is marrying for the financial security of her family the right thing to do, when her heart is telling her she’s making a mistake?

Mandates . . . money . . . matrimony. Who will follow the heart?
This is the first historical I’ve read by Kaye Dacus – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed her contemporaries and looked forward to this foray into the past.
I’m the first to admit that I don’t know much about the Regency era but I’m learning – thanks to an increase in books in that era [or at least an increase in my reading of them] and a couple of critique partners who write Regencies. There’s several others in my To Be Read stack.
I hope they all measure up to this one.
I loved Kate and identified with her struggles. An “old maid” in her late 20s, what are the odds that she’ll find love? Or even a man willing to marry her with all of her unconventional preferences? Her brother, Christopher, is younger, but feels just as much pressure to help secure their family’s future.
Andrew, the gardener at their uncle’s home, and Kate are smitten with each other from the beginning, but a working class man isn’t who Kate needs to find. They fight it, but at every turn, find themselves drawn to each other. Rich neighbors and Kate’s cousins, particularly the oldest one and her friends, do everything they can to make her life miserable.
Christopher finds himself drawn to Nora, the governess of his youngest cousin. He doesn’t feel the same pressure Kate does, but there’s plenty there.
Ms. Dacus draws us into the web of intrigue found in the days leading up to the Great Exhibition and tops it off with a glimpse of both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in the end.
I look forward to the next offering in this series and hope she returns to contemporaries at some point in the future as well :).
Overall rating: 8.5 out of 10 stars
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ecopy in exchange for my honest review.