Cover Image: The Mersey Mistress

The Mersey Mistress

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Member Reviews

I have been a fan of Sheila’s work for a little while now.  I read, loved and reviewed her two previous books called ‘The Mersey Orphan’ and ‘The Mersey Girls’.  So when I heard that she was due to release another book, I knew that I had to read it as soon as I could.  Well ladies and gents the wait is over because Sheila’s new book called ‘The Mersey Mistress’ was released on 6th April 2021.  It is another corker of a read, which I thoroughly enjoyed but more about that in a bit.
 I loved the character of Ruby Swift and I took to her from the start.  In fact she began to feel more like a friend than a character in a book.  She hasn’t had it easy herself as events happened in her past that led to her having to move away and create a new life for her and her husband.    Ruby hasn’t let it keep her down as she and her husband have made a success of things.  Her success hasn’t changed her and she has been known to help those in need.  She has known hardship herself and she can’t bear to see others suffer.  Ruby is a kind, compassionate, sensitive young woman.  She doesn’t suffer fools gladly and she won’t take any nonsense from anybody.
It’s no word of a lie when I say that I was drawn to this book by the fact that I saw Sheila Riley’s name on the cover of the book.  The synopsis left me wanting more and I dived straight into the story.  To say that reading ‘The Mersey Mistress’ became addictive is a huge understatement.  I picked the book up only intending to read a chapter or two but I ended up becoming so wrapped up in the story that I was still sat there reading over half a dozen chapters later.  ‘The Mersey Mistress’ developed a hold over me and it was a hold that I wasn’t willing to break.  Despite my best efforts to ration how much I read in one go to prolong my enjoyment of the book, I finished reading ‘The Mersey Mistress’ in just under 12 hours.
‘The Mersey Mistress’ is superbly written but then I think the same to be true of Sheila’s work in general.  Sheila has a writing style that is easy to take to and easy to get used to.  She certainly grabbed my attention and drew me into what proved to be a compelling and emotional read.  Sheila describes Merseyside so well that I feel as though I know the place without ever having visited.  I hope that makes sense.  I felt as though I was part of the story and that’s thanks to Sheila’s very vivid and realistic storytelling.
In short, I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘The Mersey Mistress’ and I would definitely recommend it to other readers.  I will certainly be reading more of Sheila’s work in the future.  The score on the Ginger Book Geek board is a very well deserved 5* out of 5*.
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Sheila Riley’s newest book, situated in the Mersey area, is simply amazing. This historical fiction novel will grab you by the heart and keep you turning page after page.

Please note this is a stand-alone entry in the Reckoner’s Row set. This story revolves around Ruby Swift and Anna Cassidy. As their lives become more entwined, what starts as duty, turns to love. We follow along as tragedies are overcome and truly generous, giving people show there is decency among our fellow men.

While Ruby and Anna are the main characters, the large cast of people in the book is what makes it the most appealing. Without Archie, where would Ruby be? Can Anna find her brother Sam? Will Ned travel the world? I could go on and on, but I’ll let you discover the joy of these characters for yourself.

The Mersey Mistress is a family saga that deals with familial duty and the male dominance of the era. It touches on the earliest days of the suffrage movement. I learned more about the orphans called Home Children sent from Britain to Canada as indentured servants to rural farmers.

The poverty of the area is its own character in this story. The stark differences in how each family deals with their dire existence shines through as a moral to the story. While some will beg or steal to make ends meet, many others vow to let their work ethic and personal strength carry them through the most trying of times.

The author does a great job of giving us enough closure to be satisfied while waiting for the next book. There simply must be another book, as I need to know what’s next for these wonderful people.

This heartbreaking yet uplifting tale deeply touched me. It has earned the highest of my recommendations for historical fiction lovers, family sagas, and well-written prose. Please pick up a copy today; I’m sure you won’t be able to put it down.
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Ruby has a child by her fathers groom Archie whom she loves very much. The child is taken away. Eighteen years later and Ruby and Archie are living as man and wife although not married. This is 1910 and would be frowned upon if certain members of the community knew. However both Archie and Ruby run successful businesses and the local community depends on them. Ruby is strict but fair- she has to be- Archies business is a pawn shop and hers an emporium where things can be quietly bought on the never never for those who either can’t afford things or wish to be seen on the rise. When her very trusted employee Emma Is off work, her daughter Anna fills in for the day and one thing leads to another in a bad way, leaving Anna in hospital and her brother being looked after by the church. Ruby steps in to help- too late to help Sam but she can look after Anna. I loved this- it's not my usual genre but something struck me when reading the synopsis and I'm very glad I did. A story of not being bullied into who you “should” be, but of being who you are and going with your heart. I greatly admired both Ruby and Anna. Both women who overcame adversity and found their strength in doing so. I very much look forward to the next in the series. 
( amazon done- misfist farm)
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You know how we are always told to not judge a book by its cover? Yet we do it anyway? The Mersey Mistress is why we shouldn't! Ignore the title and the cover, and dive into this amazingly detailed plot! Spanning decades and focusing on the years before World War 1, this is a book that was hard to put down.

Ruby Swift's story starts in 1892, when her illegitimate newborn daughter is legally kidnapped by her brother-in-law with the approval of her tyrannical father. Due to her underage status, there is nothing she and her lover Archie Swift can do. To spite her father, Lady Rowena Ashland becomes Ruby Swift, a woman who refuses to marry until her father dies. Ruby and Archie move to the Merseyside docks and over the course of years, create several successful businesses.

Emma Cassidy was Ruby's loyal employee, and when on her way to work she breaks her ankle, her daughter Anna offers to help take over her mother's duties so that they are not without income. This begins a convoluted and ultimately heartbreaking train of circumstances. Due to a devastating house fire that kills Anna's mother and 5 year old twin brothers, Anna and her surviving brother Sam are accidentally separated. Anna wanders the frigid streets of Liverpool in shock and ends up in the hospital with a life-threatening case of pneumonia. Sam, who missed the fire was taken to the local priest.  Despite the fact that Ruby Swift had told the priest that she would take care of the orphaned siblings, the priest conspires to send Sam away. The events of the next few years hinge on the fact that this decision.

The Mersey Mistress is a breathtaking historical novel full with the richness of the human experience. There is kindnesses balanced by cruelty, people who better themselves, and people who refuse to do the same.  It shows unflinchingly the struggles of those of all classes through the eyes of the pawnbroker, and the perils of judging others by the moral majority without knowing their pasts.
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The Mersey Mistress by Sheila Riley is the third in her Mersey-based Reckoner's Row series and has as its protagonists Sam and Anna Cassidy with a cast of characters too long to list but include Ruby Swift and Ned Kincaid. They all live in Mersey, a poorer section of Liverpool, but still middle class in many areas. Sam and Anna's mother, Emma, had worked for Mrs. Swift for years and here the story begins. Jerky Woods was the local delinquent and had been messing with manhole covers. Between not putting one back on properly and the streetlight being out, Emma tripped and sprained her ankle. Anna was dispatched to do her work for Ruby so they would not miss a day's pay, with Sam assigned to meet her later so he could accompany her as she collected rents. He got tied up running errands for people who paid and Anna was accosted by Jerky. She refused his demands and fortunately was rescued by Ned, who was sort of a ward of Ruby's and her husband Archie's. Jerky decided to get back at Anna by starting a fire at her house while she was out and only her mother and smaller twin brothers were there. It went worse than even Jerky planned when the fire took off and Emma and her sons were killed. Things changed in the blink of an eye and through the machinations of a sour priest and a corrupt orphan master, Sam was whisked out of England and sent to Canada as a home child.

This is a wonderful story with yet another chapter to come many of the problems will get solved. Ruby and Archie adopted Anna and their back-story is told and pretty much put to rest. Sam's life in Canada is not good, but eventually gets better. Ned leaves to chase his own dream. This is such a masterful piece of story telling. The people are all (except for Jerky) sympathetic characters that it is easy for the reader to identify with and come to love. The plot is basically just their lives, with small plots in amongst the larger story. It is humanizing and revealing to read of these folks living in a different time and place, putting today's problems into perspective. It is a truly enjoyable time reading about all of them. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Mersey and Canada. 

I was invited to read a free ARC of The Mersey Mistress by Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own. #netgalley #themerseymistress
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The Mersey Mistress by Sheila Riley is a great start to a new historical fiction series. I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to where this series will be going within future installments.

I really enjoy WWI and pre-war fiction novels, and this was a great addition to pique my interest. This book starts off pre-WWI Liverpool and mainly stays among the working class within England, however is unique in that it also at times spans to picturesque Canada. I enjoyed the full character cast, especially Ruby Swift. She has fortitude, strength, and is a multi-faceted female lead character that is imperfect, realistic, and likable. I also enjoyed the inclusion of the fundamental aspects of: family, love, loss, forgiveness, acceptance, and overcoming obstacles despite the odds.

I also really enjoyed the author's ability to place the reader within the beautiful, but yet at times real, raw, gritty locations of the early 20th century. It was interesting just to see the daily lives.

I enjoyed the plot, pacing, and I like how the book finished off in regards to giving the reader plenty of characters and story lines to move forth into future books.

A great historical fiction/saga novel that will appeal to a wide range of HF fans.

5/5 stars

Thank you NG and Boldwood Books for this arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately (as of 2/3/21 listings for these have not been created as of yet, will be posted/updated as soon as they are created) and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.
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Really enjoyed this addictive book. Set in 1910 in the Liverpool dock side area.  The story covers heart break and recovery among these gritty people and how they survive against the odds.
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I loved this book. It was set in 1900 and continued on through to the sinking of the Titanic and the First World War. I loved all the different characters and the way it ended I would think there is going to be more of this series. I for one sincerely hope so as I would love to read more . My thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.
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This is such an addictive historical fiction story that fans of sagas will love. The intro to the story is hard and cruel, it is representative of a time gone by.

Set in 1910 in the dock area of Liverpool the author weaves the story of two women. One who has turned her back on all she knows for happiness. The other trying to the best she can. Both women have suffered tragedy in their lives. They have endured the pain of losing family. Yet they have fought through and are survivors.

This is quite an emotional story at times, that did pull at the heartstrings. There are so many ups and downs that I found myself unable to stop reading. The author has captured the feel of society and also of the conditions of the time. She has successfully used her characters to show the good and the bad in a society of the time.

The story is such a fabulous read and even though it has heartbreaking moments, I also felt that it was balanced with a sense of hope. This is one that historical fiction/ romance and family saga readers are going to adore. It has the feel of the start of a much longer story, and I would love to see a follow-up. I read this in one sitting, it was that good and I would definitely recommend it.
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Beginning in 1892, THE MERSEY MISTRESS sets the tone of this enthralling new saga when young lovers, Rowena Ashland and Archie Swift, banished from Rowena's family home of Ashland Hall when it is revealed she is with child. But Rowena's father, Silas Ashland, forbids her to marry Archie and if she does so in his lifetime he will disinherit her. So together they set up home together and welcome their baby girl into the world. But unbeknownst to them, her father and her barren younger sister's husband conspired to steal away Rowena and Archie's little girl when she was barely ten days old for May and Giles to raise as their own, leaving Rowena distraught. She vowed to never forgive her father...or Giles Harrington.

Liverpool 1910: Emma Cassidy is a proud widow bringing up 4 children since the death of her husband at sea before her five year old twins were born. Pregnant and widowed, she knocked on the door of Ruby Swift's Emporium begging for work to feed her family. Ruby took her in and gave her a job in which Emma thrived. Now five years later, as she makes her way to the Emporium on Christmas Eve, she trips over a broken gas lamp and twists her ankle. She manages to hobble home where her 16 year old daughter Anna settles her in with the twins to rest by the fire, assuring her that she will work her mother's job for the day so she will not miss out on her much-needed wages.

Known as "her ladyship" to some, Ruby Swift did not come from humble beginnings like those who frequented her stores. But life has taught her to be humble since her father forbade her to marry the man she loved and stole their child in the night. Born Rowena Ashland, Ruby took on the name of Archie's beloved aunt and long-serving housekeeper at Ashland Hall and that of Archie's, living together as married despite the fact they are not. Ruby was good to the people of Liverpool's dock area and was revered amongst many, as well as charitable in her donations. But Ruby believed in an honest day's work and never begrudged anyone trying to do their best for their family. When she took on Emma Cassidy, she also became a friend as well as an employee, and a trusted one at that. So when Emma failed to show up at work on Christmas Eve she knew it was not like her at all...and then Anna came knocking, offering to do her mother's job in her place.

Anna Cassidy was brought up to be respectful of others but to also stand on her own two feet. She had no qualms in working her mother's job in her place if it meant giving the twins a memorable Christmas. She took her 12 year old brother Sam along with her to collect the rents for Miss Ruby, but when on her own she found herself cornered by the unpleasant and bullying Jerky Woods, who tried forcing himself on her as well as stealing her takings. A swift kick sent Jerky reeling in pain, giving her the chance to escape, but Anna knew she would need to be on her guard after that as Jerky would not let such a humiliation lie. It was not to be her last encounter with him that day either...but it was one that would change the course of her life forever.

Tragedy rocks Anna's world when Ruby tells her that her house is on fire and she races back to Queen Street to save her mother and little brothers...but arrives too late. After watching her house crumble into charred remains, the firemen carried out the lifeless bodies of her family. But where was Sam? Whilst Ruby faces off with the unscrupulous Father O'Connell, Anna steals away in the night to search for her only surviving brother. She searches all night to no avail and the following morning Archie and Ned, the young man he and Ruby too in, find Anna frozen and unconscious by the docks.

Meanwhile, Sam was discovered by a policeman in the charred remains of his house and taken to the priest who vowed not to let the sinful harlot Ruby Swift get her claws into the child. So he sent him off to the orphanage before Ruby could discover his subterfuge, signing Sam's life away to Canada in one fell swoop. It was to be a new life for Sam...but what was really in store?

Although Anna remained in hospital for many weeks, she was taken in by Ruby and Archie upon her recovery where she started work in the Emporium alongside the woman who had saved her life. Too late, she discovered Sam had been sent to Canada and all she could do was hope she would one day see him again. In one night, Anna had lost everything - her home, her family. All she had left was the silver locket her brother had saved for all year to buy their mother for Christmas.

Life is harsh on the docks, but Anna has been given a second chance. But is it enough? Can Ruby help Anna mend her broken heart? And will Anna and Sam ever be reunited? Or is there something sinister keeping them apart?

An addictive tale that sweeps you back to the early 20th century in this wonderful story of love, family, betrayal, loss and tragedy. THE MERSEY MISTRESSis truly heartbreaking but also wonderfully charming that will warm your heart as well as make you cry.

The grittiness of poverty to the opulence of the middle class, this book has it all. I thoroughly enjoyed it and didn't want it to end. My only complaint is that it ended. I wanted it to go on and on and never have it end. But the story is left open to continue to a second book, which I hope won't be too far away.

Perfect for historical fiction and saga fans, THE MERSEY MISTRESS will tug at your heartstrings and have you reaching for the tissues. Be warned, you will need them.

I would like to thank #SheilaRiley, #RachelsRandomResources, #Netgalley and #BoldwoodBooks for an ARC of #TheMerseyMistress in exchange for an honest review.
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The start of a community saga of families living in the rough world of Edwardian England. 
Anna is one of the main characters, of teenage years but with adult responsibilities as so many were at that time especially when from poorer households. You can't help but like her and her brother Sam. 
I enjoyed the story but did find it rather padded out by repeated description and conversations at times.
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I loved this story ever so much and the characters too.

Anna has a hard life with her siblings and is trying to just live day by day.
A fire takes away her mother and most of her siblings.  
Anna and her brother Sam are the ones who live because they were not at home. Anna is sick and her borther is sent to Canada. 
She is helped by a rich woman and life gets better. 

This is a story of second chances. It is a lovely saga for fans of historical fiction.

Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.
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This is a lovely story about a group of warm characters.

Set in the 1900's Anna Cassidy lives with her family struggling day to day to survive poverty.
Tragedy sets in when her home is set on fire and she loses her mum and siblings.  
Anna and her brother Sam are the only survivors as they were not at home at the time. Anna is desperately ill and is taken into the local hospital, whilst unbeknownst to Anna her beloved Sam is snatched by the church and sent to Canada. 

Anna is taken in by local businesswoman Ruby whom her mum worked for before she died and her partner Archie.

This is a story about love and tragedy. A wonderfully charming saga that will at times make you want to cry. I didn't want it to end and couldn't put it down.
Thank you, NetGalley for allowing me to read and review this book.
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Set in the 1900's this is truly an heartbreaking story. Ruby and Archie live as a married couple, but are not married. They had a child who was adopted. Anna Cassidy and her brother Sam lose everything in a fire. Sam is shipped of to Canada without Anna's knowledge. Anna is looked after by Ruby and Archie. Everything that can go wrong does go wrong. 

I enjoyed this book. It's very gritty but there are some lighter moments and it is heartwarming. With a strong female lead this book gives you hope. You will need tissues.
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Loved, loved this beautiful and charming book and am pleased it is the beginning of a new series!  So much to anticipate.  Not only is the writing itself gorgeous with sublime descriptions but the story is simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming.  From the first page I practically clung to it and read it in one sitting, fully captivated and ignored responsibilities and life for awhile.  And that ending!  

In 1910s Liverpool, young Anna Cassidy horrifically loses her home and most of her family in a fire and is left with nothing.  She and her beloved younger brother Sam are accustomed to living in poverty and dealing with a terrible bully, so the tragedy means layer after layer of unbearable awfulness.  Sam is immediately taken by the Church under the guise of care and generosity and shipped off to Canada before Anna is even aware of it.  Both of their lives are drastically torn apart.  Sam is treated abominably in Canada but Anna is taken in and kindly doted on by Ruby Swift and Archie.  We see their lives through their perspectives.

What an astonishing book for any Historical Fiction fans...it's a must read and would be a shame to miss.  Can't wait for the next!

My sincere thank you to Boldwood Books and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this marvelous book!  I enjoyed it very much.
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I am so pleased I was given the opportunity to read an advanced copy. Didnt want the story to end. Brilliant start to a new series. Family saga world war my ideal book. Roll on the next one
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An enjoyable story set in the 1910s of Liverpool. This heart-warming tale has likeable characters, especially Ruby, and an interesting plot which will keep readers turning the page. I recommend it for anyone wanting to escape for a time into another world.
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Loved this book.  Ruby and Archie are the kind benefactors who give a home to Ned, saving home from a life of crime. Then they rescue Anna who’s family story will tug at the heart strings bringing tears to your eyes. Anna’s brother Sam is a kind boy who is badly treated by the town bully Jerky Woods then supposedly rescued by the priest who has him shipped off to Canada where he is badly treated working on a far,.
This book is crying out to be read.  The drawback to this book was that it ended.  Recommend it to all ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I loved the characters and the story. I could not stop reading it and l am looking forward to read more in this series .
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I have loved reading  Ruby and Archies story a journey of life and memories.Ruby is so strong and determined to survive and to suceed.Oh and have tissues handy as you will need them.A truly wonderful book 5*
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