Keli Gwyn
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Recommended Read: The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow

Do you enjoy historical romances that tug on the emotions.

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow by Olivia Newport will do just that.

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow

About the Story

While the rest of Chicago focuses on the enormous spectacle of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, Charlotte Farrow’s attentions are entirely on one small boy–her boy–whom she has kept a secret from her wealthy employers for nearly a year.

When the woman who has been caring for her son abruptly returns him to the opulent Banning home, Charlotte must decide whether to come clean and face dismissal or keep her secret while the Bannings decide the child’s fate. Can she face the truth of her past and open her heart to a future of her own? Or will life’s struggles determine her path?

This compelling story of courage, strength, and tender romance captures the tension between the glittering wealthy class and the hardworking servants who made their lives comfortable.


My Thoughts

I met Charlotte Farrow in the first book of Olivia’s Avenue of Dreams series, The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, and fell in love with her as a character. I’d been waiting for Charlotte’s story, eager to see what happened to the spunky maid who stole my heart. While The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow is the second book in the series, it’s not necessary to have read the first, although it was a good story, too.

Olivia does a great job bringing Chicago of yesteryear to life. Her attention to historical detail is impressive. I felt like I was experiencing the bustling days when the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition was taking place. The clash of the classes adds to the tension Charlotte faces as she attempts to find a way to keep her son and her job. There’s plenty of emotion as she contemplates giving up what she values most in order to give her son the best life possible.

Charlotte is a strong character, but there are others who add to the story. Self-serving Sarah, a scullery maid given the task of caring for the baby, riled me many times over. I felt for kindhearted spinster Emmaline Brewster, who sought a way to ease her lonely life. And I loved Archie Shepard, the caring head coachman who longs for a better life–one that includes Charlotte.

The story moves along nicely, with a few surprises to keep one guessing what will happen next. While I enjoyed being a party to Charlotte’s struggle, the romantic in me would have liked a bit more interaction between Charlotte and Archie. However, this fan of history enjoyed those elements of the story greatly. I recommend The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow to readers who enjoy a satisfying historical tale with a side of romance.


Questions for You

Do you like an equal mix of history and romance,
or do you prefer one over the other?

Do you enjoy historical romances that
explore the differences between the classes?

Keli Gwyn


  • Beth K. Vogt says:

    I’m looking forward to reading this novel too, Keli.
    For me, a historical romance works best when the history is woven organically into the story. And if a novel is labeled a romance, then I like to see the romance be a strong beat in the story.
    I will say that you did this quite well in your debut novel!
    Thanks for the review of Olivia’s book!

  • Keli, I love historicals because I can get the vicarious thrill of another age, another culture. When paired with a good romance, I love it more. Thanks for always introducing us to new works … ways to explore new worlds 🙂

  • Melissa Tagg says:

    I’d definitely echo, Beth: I love historical romance when the history is woven in very naturally and the romance makes me sigh happily. I read Olivia’s first book and really enjoyed it, so I’ll be reading this one, too.

  • Okay, I’m echoing what Beth said, too. I do find that I’m more receptive to learning historical details, etc. when there’s a great love story in the making! 🙂

  • Some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned about history were woven into incredible love stories! There has to be both, in my opinion, to capture the interest of the reader. Olivia’s story sounds wonderful!

  • I love historical romances (heavy on the romance) that explore social classes. I find it interesting. 🙂 I have this book, but I haven’t gotten to it…yet.

  • Thanks for sharing this book recommendation, Keli. Sounds like a fascinating read! 🙂 My personal preference is pretty much equal parts of romance and history, but a little more of the romance. I also enjoy reading about the difference in classes in historical romances (which is one reason I love Downton Abbey!). 😉