The Name I Choose
by Holly Brough

"It is not our name that defines us but how we conduct ourselves in the moment. You are so much more than a name."

Set in nineteenth-century Spain, this novel depicts a young woman’s struggles to make her own destiny in a male-dominated society. As a teenager, Amalia learns that her parents have sold her into service to work for a wealthy family. Her employer is alarmingly forward with her and makes mysterious references to her family’s past. As his behavior escalates, Amalia begins to fear for her safety. She spends as much time as she can away from the estate and falls in love with a young nobleman. Amalia’s tryst turns sour as her lover abandons her, and she discovers she is pregnant.

Fleeing heartbreak and her violent employer, Amalia takes refuge with an old woman who cannot believe Amalia’s resemblance to her late daughter. The woman helps in her escape, and with the aid of some Englishmen, Amalia starts a new life on the island of Menorca. Tragedy follows Amalia as she ends up in a job that barely pays for her and her child’s living. She uses her wit and skills to evade forced prostitution and to better her position but cannot extricate herself from poverty alone. Fortunately for Amalia, the friends she amasses along her journey provide comfort and aid. When her friends dig into her ancestry, they discover a family history that connects Amalia with a sordid but rich heritage.

The compelling drama and historical setting of this novel recall the works of the Brontë sisters, but Amalia’s desire to make her own way in a repressive society is refreshingly modern. This spin on traditional period drama is reminiscent of the Bridgerton series, especially in the romantic subplots. The text expertly combines fast-paced action with tender emotional moments and historical context. These elements all work together to bring Amalia’s gripping story and her fascinating world to life.

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