I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for Kate Baker’s debut Maid of Steel. Kate Baker has been instrumental in my writing by introducing me to the RNA which led to me finding my writing tribe. I’ve seen her flourish as a writer and was keen to see how she blended the research she’d shared into the novel she’d been passionately working. Julie Morris aka A Little Book Problem explained things more eloquently than I ever could about reviewing books for friends but from the start I knew Kate’s words immerse me into Emma’s world.
Title: Maid of Steel
Author: Kate Baker
Publisher: The Book Guild
Genre: Historical fiction, romance
Release date: 28th Feb 2023
Publisher’s link: https://www.bookguild.co.uk/bookshop/book/486/maid-of-steel-SMwd/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/191535269X/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/191535269X/
It’s 1911 and, against her mother’s wishes, quiet New Yorker Emma dreams of winning the right to vote. She is sent away by her parents in the hope distance will curb her desire to be involved with the growing suffrage movement and told to spend time learning about where her grandparents came from.
Across the Atlantic – Queenstown, southern Ireland – hotelier Thomas dreams of being loved, even noticed, by his actress wife, Alice. On their wedding day, Alice’s father had assured him that adoration comes with time. It’s been eight years. But Alice has plans of her own and they certainly don’t include the fight for equality or her dull husband.
Emma’s arrival in Ireland leads her to discover family secrets and become involved in the Irish Women’s Suffrage Society in Cork. However, Emma’s path to suffrage was never meant to lead to a forbidden love affair…
I’m a sucker for a beautiful book cover and this was with it’s art deco design with the shiny gold on the blue grabs the attention. It calls to you to pick it up from the bookshelf and read.
Once inside it’s the words that captured me. Within pages, I was thrown into Emma’s life, her grief for her twin and hatred of injustice. Highly visual, I could easily imagine the initial dramatic scenes unfolding hooking me into the story. From New York to Ireland, this novel’s sense of place is as strong as the women living there. I’ve never been to any of these places, but I was there walking instep with Emma, Alice and Thomas whether it was across Brooklyn Bridge, celebrating the King’s coronation or protesting for women’s rights.
With a forbidden love story, there are characters to love and hate but all well formed and relatable. While both women entangled in the relationship with Thomas are strong and determined to fulfil their dreams, each sees the same person through different lens adding to the dynamic. This is more than a romance, it is a story of self-discovery, finding the past and the future.
The side characters, such as the inspiring Mrs Walsh hold as much intrigue as the protagonists. Moments and personalities from history are blended into fiction effortlessly so I learnt things I never knew about suffrage, Ireland and this important time period without realising which is how I love my historical fiction. It left me feeling great respect for Mrs Walsh, those involved in the suffrage movement and living during the Irish famine when tough decisions had to be made.
All in all, this is a memorable read which reminds me of Lucinda Riley’s the Seven Sisters series with its heart, emotion and accessible historical depth and I can’t wait to read more of Kate’s work in the future.
Kate Baker wrote terrible holiday diaries as a child, which her husband regularly asks her to read out loud for their entertainment. She has since improved and has written with intent since 2018. Maid of Steel is her second novel; the first is lining drawers in the vegetable rack at their farmhouse.
Do you want to know more about Kate and this novel? Grab a cuppa and pop over to the chat with the witches of Whitby here. They were thrilled to host her and Otis for a while.
Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for the blog invite and advanced copy of this book to so I could give an honest and unbiased review.