In her book, In Name Only, author Ellen Gable takes her readers back to the Philadelphia of the 18th century with a Cinderella story full of drama, romance, and tragedy.
The book's front cover shows two of Gable's distinctly symbolisms: first, the ledger book, symbolizing something old and valuable; second, a photograph of a woman standing in front of a window while looking outside, symbolizing enlightenment and security. These symbols are tangled with the storyline, as well as with Caroline Martin's predicaments, and her interaction with the two O'Donovan's brothers, Liam and David.
The book begins with Caroline Martin traveling from Boston to Philadelphia in a train, accompanied by her chaperone, Mrs. Shepherd. After the death of her father, Caroline finds herself alone in Boston. The only other living relatives that she has are her wealthy uncle Edward Martin and her cousin, Elizabeth, both of whom live in Philadelphia.
Tragedy and death seem to be Caroline's companion lately. Sadly, her chaperone dies on the train ride on their way to Philadelphia. Caroline is devastated and not thinking clearly. Luckily for her, Liam O'Donovan, a neighbor and business associate of her uncle Edward, is riding on the same train. Liam assists her during the remaining of the train trip and up to her arrival at Philadelphia's train station, where she is picked up by Kip, one of her uncle's servants.
Upon her arrival at uncle Edward's mansion, Caroline immediately realizes the class difference between them. Caroline's father was disinherited by her grandfather due to his marriage to a lower class woman, her mother. Caroline's mannerisms, the callous of her hands, and her attitudes toward the treatment of the servants hinted her lower class background.
As the story unfolds, Caroline finds love and despair on a marriage that appears to offer a way out of her past and hidden low class status. However, appearances could be deceiving, as Liam has a couple of secrets of his own that threaten to end her newly found happiness.
Just when Caroline is starting to enjoy peace and the love of her beloved husband Liam, death strikes once again and throws her into an earthly Purgatory with only one way out - an “In Name Only” marriage. Will Caroline accept and follow through with the marriage proposal to give her child a father and have financial security, or would she contempt it and deal with the consequences of her decision? Caroline's dilemma and decision will lead to an unforeseen end.
Gable's novels stand out from the rest based on her ability to create female characters with high moral standards and convictions. A male figure who is strong, caring, and protective of the woman he loves. And the tenderness of the courtship scenes are refreshing and, at the same time, nostalgic, considering the lack of elegance, gentleness and respect in today's relationship between a man and a woman.
In this book, David O'Donovan is an enigmatic man who also portrait those typically Gable's male's characteristics. He is the prodigal son who is humbled by life's circumstances, but after his ordeal is over, he comes out as a stronger and better man.
The only weakness that I found on this novel in contrast with her first book, Emily's Hope, was that I felt the family dynamics were not true to the knowledge we have about that time period.
I recommend this book to readers looking for a clean romance novel.