Marie Maxwell is better known as Bernardine Kennedy, author of seven contemporary novels. I can remember clearly reading her first novel Everything Is Not Enough, in Cyprus, in 2001. I was hooked and have read each of her books as they were released. It's been a while, but she's back - with a new genre, a new publisher and a new name.
Ruby is 15 years old and has been living in the peaceful town of Melton for five years. An evacuee, she was sent to live with Dr George Wheaton and his wife Babs who have treated her as their own daughter. When Ray, Ruby's older brother arrives unexpectedly and demands that she returns home to London, Ruby is devastated. She knows that with her Father now dead, and bully Ray as the head of the household, she will be expected to cook, clean and look after her elderly Grandmother. Her dreams of continuing her educations and becoming a nurse are dashed.
Once back in London, Ruby's fears are realised. Ray appears to be more evil and hateful than ever and her Mother shows her no affection. She does find affection from bad-boy Johnnie Riordan - Ray's arch-enemy, older and quite intriguing to her.
When Ruby realises that she is pregnant, she knows that she has to leave London and flees back to her beloved Melton.
Ruby grows and matures and deals with heartbreak and tragedy along the way.
Ruby is a feisty character, she sometimes makes the wrong decision, she can be headstrong and stubborn, but her story is a great read. With a cast of characters that are so well drawn this is a gritty tale of family and relationships. Tackling some hard-hitting social issues including unmarried mothers, mental illness and black market dealings incorporated with charismatic characters, this is a really satisfying read. A great start to the series - I'm really looking forward to reading about Gracie next.