A gothic tale full of mystery and romance about a willful female surgeon, a resurrection man who sells bodies for a living, and the buried secrets they must uncover together.
Hazel Sinnett is a lady who wants to be a surgeon more than she wants to marry.
Jack Currer is a resurrection man who’s just trying to survive in a city where it’s too easy to die.
When the two of them have a chance encounter outside the Edinburgh Anatomist’s Society, Hazel thinks nothing of it at first. But after she gets kicked out of renowned surgeon Dr. Beecham’s lectures for being the wrong gender, she realizes that her new acquaintance might be more helpful than she first thought. Because Hazel has made a deal with Dr. Beecham: if she can pass the medical examination on her own, the university will allow her to enroll. Without official lessons, though, Hazel will need more than just her books – she’ll need bodies to study, corpses to dissect.
Lucky that she’s made the acquaintance of someone who digs them up for a living, then.
But Jack has his own problems: strange men have been seen skulking around cemeteries, his friends are disappearing off the streets. Hazel and Jack work together to uncover the secrets buried not just in unmarked graves, but in the very heart of Edinburgh society.
Gothic tale, willful female surgeon, a man who sells bodies, and Edinburgh 1817 – there’s just nothing bad here, folks. Everything about the description made me want to read this novel. And then there’s the cover – what a stunning work of art!
Hazel is a woman ahead of her time. Although from a wealthy family, she’s continually reminded by her mother that Hazel’s brother will inherit their estate, and she must marry her cousin to maintain her lifestyle. But that’s not important to her. Hazel is determined to become a female surgeon, which is unheard of in her time. Women can’t possibly comprehend the complexities of the human body. Dressed as a man, she attends classes and is an exemplary student, until being tosssed out after it’s discovered she’s the wrong gender. That’s only a minor inconvenience – she soon makes a deal with a renowned surgeon. If she passes the medical exam on her own, he’ll train her himself. You’ll immediately root for this strong-willed, intelligent girl.
To pass the exam, Hazel needs bodies to practice on, and it seems she’s destined to meet Resurrectionist Man Jack, who’s been unable to find honest work. When people begin disappearing off the street but then turn up alive with fewer body parts, Hazel and Jack have a mystery on their hands. The title may lead you to believe this is primarily a love story, but that’s not exactly true. Yes, there’s a romance, but it’s not at all the main focus of the story. I believe the title refers to Hazel’s love of anatomy over most anything else in her life.
The novel moves along at a brisk pace, but I was a little surprised at how quickly this standalone wraps up. Despite that, I thought the ending was perfect for these characters and the story setting. I haven’t read anything else by this author, but you can be certain I’ll be checking into her backlist. If you’re a fan of historical fiction and strong female protagonists, you can’t go wrong with this book.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.