Gripping drama as Pennington's department store prepares for a glittering Christmas in 1911, but a killer stalks the women of Bath.
Christmas sees Pennington's at its most glorious, thronged with shoppers, its grand staircase and balcony adorned with holly, mistletoe, tinsel and lights. It should be the happiest time, but dramas are seething beneath the surface.
For Cornelia Culford, in charge of jewellery, a divorce hearing looms, where she could lose custody of her young sons to her overbearing and unfaithful husband.
For Stephen Gower, being head of security at Pennington's is the perfect refuge from a tragic past at Scotland Yard. But soon the past will call him back, as Joseph Carter and Elizabeth Pennington beg him to help solve the murder of Joseph's first wife, now that it seems as if the killer has struck again.
For Joseph and Elizabeth, their marriage depends on exorcising the past. But can it ever be laid to rest?
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Third book in Pennington's series
Christmas at Pennington’s by Rachel Brimble is the third installment in the Pennington’s series. It can be read as a standalone for those new to the series (but why not read all three books). Christmas at Pennington’s takes readers on a journey back to November 1911 in Bath, England. Pennington’s department store is beautifully decorated for Christmas and customers are busily shopping for Christmas presents. Cornelia Culford, along with her two sons, has left her abusive husband, David and moved in with her brother, Lawrence and his family. Cornelia obtained at job at Pennington’s working in the jewelry department. She is worried about the upcoming divorce hearing because David is now trying to obtain full custody of their sons. Stephen Gower is a sergeant with Scotland Yard until three women and one constable died. Stephen feels guilty for them being slain and the Board is reviewing the incident. Until they rule on the event, Stephen has accepted a position as watchman at Pennington’s. The last thing Stephen wishes to do is investigate a crime, but Joseph Carter needs his help. Joseph wants his first wife’s killer found especially now that another charitable woman has been found dead in the same manner. Joseph believes Stephen is the man to help him find the ruthless killer. I thought Christmas at Pennington’s was well-written with it moving along at a gentle pace. I enjoyed the author’s detailed descriptions which allow me to visualize the scenes from the book. Cornelia and Stephen start out as co-workers with the relationship slowly developing as time passes. There were some intimate scenes that I wish had not been as detailed or had been excluded from the book (I felt they took away from the story). I like that Esther and Lawrence are helping fight for women’s suffrage and bring awareness to the cause. It was a hot issue at the time. The mystery enhanced the story. Stephen could not help looking into the case and Cornelia ends up assisting him. I like how all the characters storylines are woven together into one charming novel. Rachel Brimble created strong characters that are undergoing personal conflict. It is wonderful how they help each other and that the characters grow as individuals. The author captured the time period with the historical events, the items available, the clothing, language, attitudes and conveyances. Christmas at Pennington’s is a rich historical novel with a cold-blooded killer, a vexing sister, a scurrilous husband and Christmas cheer.