Clara Endicott lives a charmed life in Bolton Hill as the daughter of a doting, prestigious minister. Daniel Tremain, on the other hand, lives in poverty, working in the same steel mill as his father. Despite their differences, the two become the best of friends. Then, tragedy strikes. Daniel's father dies in an accident, and Clara's father ships her to England. Overseas, Clara becomes a respected journalist and a champion of the working class. Meanwhile, Daniel has patented new railroad technology that makes him a very wealthy man. When Clara is forced to leave England, she is reunited with her childhood friend. The early romantic feelings they felt for each other are stronger than ever, but there are many problems the two face. Daniel is a bitter man, blaming a rival businessman for his father's death, and he does not share Clara's faith. Suddenly, Daniel's troubles find Clara and put her very life in danger. There are enough twists and turns to keep you reading until the very end, which is a very satisfying conclusion, indeed.
This book kept me entertained from the very beginning. Clara is not a shrinking violet, and she's not a perfect character, either. She does something in the book that I just couldn't believe, and I completely understood Daniel's anger with her. Daniel is irresistably charming at times--a complete flirt--and shockingly harsh and almost cruel at others. They were unpredictable and very realistic.
This is, first and foremost, a romantic story. Daniel is a great love interest and balance for Clara. He is a revered and even feared man, but with Clara he is very gentle and practically worships her. I found myself rooting for his redemption all along. The action scenes are susepenseful and well-paced. The villainous character, Alexander Bane, is a wonderful addition and comes at just the right time to increase the pacing in the latter half of the book.
The only criticism I can offer is that there were a few loose ends. In particular, we never find out what happens to a cruel professor who deals in the lucrative opium trade. With so many other ends tied up so neatly, I wonder how the author managed to forget about the most villainous of characters in the story.