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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Over Her Head by Nora Fleischer

Over Her Head by Nora Fleischer
Publisher: Drollerie Press
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Short (90 pages)
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Holly

A bicycling young lady scholar writing her thesis on the historical meaning of merpeople tales visits a well-known collector of literature on the subject, determined to get him to let her read his books. She comes armed with cookies, that well-known advent to a man’s heart, and is surprised to discover he’s not at all the old curmudgeon she had imagined him to be. In fact, he’s almost dismayingly handsome, putting her far out of any running, were she so inclined, which of course she’s not. She just wants his books, despite what her landlady may say. Though she wouldn't say no to his friendship.

In 1905 America, it is almost unheard of for a young woman to pursue an education. But Frances Schmidt is determined to complete her dissertation, in spite of the obstacles confronting her. First, there is the dearth of literature on her subject-merpeople. Second is that one of her fellow academians is determined to steal her subject and beat her to the punch. And of course, there is the fact that she is a woman, and not to be taken seriously. She is not overly beautiful, and knows she will most likely be an “old maid” because she is, to her eyes, plain and a bit stout. Her friends at the university, Charlie and Ian, treat her like one of the fellows, and no one sees her as a woman.

After a lengthy search for references concerning her topic, Ian gives her a newspaper article about a collection belonging to a gentleman in Maine, and Frances take a train to see if he will let her view the collection. She stays at a boarding house in Ipsiquinguit Maine, run by Mrs. Cooper, a busybody into everyone’s business. Frances takes home baked cookies to Mr. Hathaway, the man with the library she is anxious to examine. She is surprised upon meeting him, that he is much younger than she expected and quite attractive. Frances convinces him that she is serious in her studies, and he allows her to use the library for her research.

In the days this tale is set in, it was not acceptable for a young woman to spend time unchaperoned with a single gentleman. Frances seems to be a bit more liberated than most women of her time, and she is attracted to Garrett Hathaway. He sees her as an ideal companion; company during the day, but safely gone before dark. It wouldn’t be proper for her to be alone with him at his home in the evening.

Nora Fleischer has given us a story of innocence and romance from an earlier day. She makes Frances a bit of a suffragette, an independent young woman with a mind of her own. There are two wonderful surprises in this story, one that becomes obvious early on, but the second was very unexpected.

The romance unfolds slowly, but most wonderfully. I enjoyed this gentle tale of love overcoming the obstacles, and I would love to visit Frances and Garrett again a few years later in their lives. If you are looking for a sweet happily ever after, this story is for you.

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