Imagine inheriting a manor and discovering two-hundred-year-old love letters addressed to you. Would you assume it was fate leading you into the stranger’s words or something more?
Josie De Clare has had the worst year of her life. After losing her father, she is unsure what she is to do with her life. Feeling hollow, Josie ventures to Atteberry in Northern England to explore the estate her father left her in his will. Searching for ways to feel close to him again, Josie is surprised to find a stack of love letters in the study’s desk draw. Even more shocking, the letters are dated two hundred years prior, yet they’re addressed to her; but, how is that possible?
Elias Roch believes he has met the love of his life. Josephine De Clare captured his heart from the moment he laid eyes on her, but soon after their introduction, she disappears, and he is unable to find her. Determined to be reunited, he begins to write love letters to her in hopes that she will one day read them. Born a bastard, Elias struggles to understand his new role as lord of the estate; however, as fantasies of Josephine De Clare control his mind, the rest of the world seems to fade away. Nothing will be right until they are together, or that is at least what Elias believes.
Jumping from narration to letters, letters to emails, emails to texts, and texts to an unpublished manuscript, Dearest Josephine was initially a bit confusing to piece together.
In the 21st Century, Josie must try to unravel the meaning of the letters and manuscript that have pulled her into their storyline. Could she really be the Josephine this Elias Roch writes about?
Meanwhile, in the 19th century, Elias Roch must decide whether he will live within the dream of ‘what ifs’ or find peace in the present. Time separates the two lovers, but is it true love? How can one know for sure by just reading words on a page?
Dearest Josephine was a clean romance that takes readers through the ages. Filled with mystery, love, friendship, grief, healing, and literature, it was a delight to read. I loved how Caroline George made it feel as though we were reading everything through Josie’s eyes, experiencing the agonizing time it takes to get through books when friends are messaging you, and life calls for our attention. Grief has a way of swallowing people into its abyss in different ways, and this novel depicted the many forms of mourning we all experience.
While I found Josie’s infatuation with Elias a little much, I can understand the desire to feel connected to a person whose words bring so much truth and honesty about the person you are. It was entertaining to listen to Josie and her friends, Faith and Oliver, as they read through Elias’ letters and novel. Going between the three worlds made it feel like a soap opera. The drama, passion, mystery, and self-discovery made Dearest Josephine relatable. The characters were real, and the things they went through spoke to my heart. I think we all long to have friends like Faith and Oliver; through their love for Josie, they never let her feel alone and always told her the truth, even when she was too blind to see it.
For an introduction to Caroline George, I was impressed with how she managed to fit three narratives into one, creating a seamless work that will entertain and leave readers wanting more. This is a great novel for teens, especially those searching for a heart-throb to drool over without needing to skip over explicit scenes. I will say that the narrator was fantastic with her Northern accent, though her American could do with a bit of work. Nevertheless, she was wonderful to listen to and pulled me into the story with each word!
*Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a pre-release copy of this book. My thoughts and opinions are entirely my own!*