Since the death of her parents when she was just a girl, orphan Ann Felton has had to struggle to survive. The grimy and gruelling Black Country is no place for a girl all alone and Ann is relieved when she gets works at The Bell public house, and is befriended by the local ladies of the night.
These bawdy, brave women take Ann under their wings, but with poverty gnawing hard at the people of Wednesbury life is a continual struggle. Ann can't bear to think how her friends make their money, but their friendship keeps her safe.
Victoria Beckett and Viscount Richard Wyndham have none of Ann's worries. Both grew up with silver spoons firmly in their mouths, and neither can understand Ann's struggles. But before long Ann will change both their lives forever, and in turn one of them might just save Ann from a fate worse than death...
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The Fallen Women by Lindsey Hutchinson has readers journeying to Wednesbury in England’s Black Country. Ann Felton has been on her own since she was thirteen. She lived on the streets, but she attended school each day until she turned fifteen. For the last three years, Ann has been working as a kitchen maid at Bell Inn, the local pub, where she also resides. Len and Gladys Pritchard own the public house, and they created a room called the snug where the local ladies of the evening can relax and enjoy a pint. Those women are Ann’s friends, and they look out for each other. One evening, Ann is out for a walk near the Theatre Royal when she sees Victoria Beckett having a temper tantrum. Ann suggests that her father give her a good spanking which Lord Richard Wyndham finds amusing, but it infuriates Victoria. This one incident is the spark that will ignite the flame that changes the lives of Richard, Victoria and Ann along with her friends. Then someone starts killing the local prostitutes and Ann is worried about her friends’ lives. Who is behind these vicious attacks?
I enjoyed reading The Fallen Women. I like the author’s writing style which drew me into the story. She created characters that I liked, and that I was rooting for them to succeed. There are other characters that are the type that readers love to dislike. Ann Felton has worked hard to stay off the streets and earn a respectful living. She wants to help her friends improve their lives and find a different way to earn their money. Ann is a hard worker with a realistic view of life and she has a large, loving heart. I like the strong and colorful female characters (except Victoria) in the book. There is mystery and suspense in The Fallen Women. I like how they add depth to the story and provide shocking twists along with revelations. One woman is bent on revenge and there is a Jack the Ripper type killer in their small city. I like the romance between the unlikely pair of Lord Richard Wyndham and Ann Felton. There is humor sprinkled throughout the story especially when the ladies get together for a pint. There are some historical inaccuracies in The Fallen Women, and I felt the book could have been shortened (just a wee bit too long). I am giving The Fallen Women 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it). The Fallen Women is a multi-faceted story where the author combined romance, strong women, friendships, humor, intrigue, hard work, and a mystery into one engaging story.