Book Review: The Crown Spire by Catherine Curzon and Willow Winsham

Georgian adventure and romance abound in this collaboration from Catherine Curzon and Willow Winsham. Just the tonic to raise those flagging spirits!


Scotland, 1795

When the coach carrying Alice Ingram and her niece, Beth, to Edinburgh is attacked, they're grateful for the intervention of two mysterious highwaymen who ride to their rescue. Beth is thrilled by the romance of it all, but Alice, fleeing her brutish husband, has had more than enough drama in her life.

As the women find sanctuary in a tavern on the Great North Road, Beth is thrilled to meet Edward Hogan, the roguish publican. Despite the difference in ages and backgrounds, the couple have instant chemistry and when Ed invited Beth to visit his Edinburgh tavern, she resolves to get to know him even better. Yet Beth is also taken with the highwayman who rescued her; after all, there's something irresistible about a rogue.

Shaken from the attack, Alice grudgingly allows herself to be seen by Doctor James Dillingham, Ed's best friend. Though Dillingham sees the telltale signs of physical abuse on Alice, she refuses to speak of it. Dillingham is dour and Alice frosty, and the two take an instant dislike to each other, so why does their shared coach journey to Edinburgh the following day seem to sizzle?

Once in Edinburgh, Beth starts secretly spending time with Ed, who she begins to think might know more about those highwaymen than he is letting on. By day, Alice sorts Dillingham's paperwork at the charity hospital he runs yet by night she sneaks off to meet her own highwayman, travelling the backroads of the city with the masked figure. Slowly, Alice is coming back to life. But will the husband she is fleeing find her out? And will her highwayman come to her rescue again?

My Thoughts

This is definitely a character driven novel. They, and their alter egos, bounced into my heart from the start.

Fun loving Beth doesn’t behave as one would expect a young lady of her breeding and education to do so. She is without guile and while not my favourite character, I couldn’t help but like her.

Ed is a roguish character with all the traits one would expect in a romantic lead.

Alice, the aunt, is more reserved, but then she has other things on her mind. The repartee between the Doctor and Alice sparkles with wit and humour, and the thawing out of their relationship is heart-warming. Of the two romances, this was my favourite.

Although the outcomes of the two romances are predictable and some of the characters' actions are dubious given the period in which this novel is set, there is no time to dwell on these elements that could have been off putting, for the narrative whisks the reader along from start to finish.

Fast paced, entertaining, with two gallant heroes and a very exciting denouement, The Crown Spire is pure escapism. I loved it!

Thank you to Endeavour Press for providing a review copy via Net Galley.

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