Near the Ruins of Penharrow: A Cornish Romance (Book 3), by Deborah M. Hathaway — A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

On the Cornish coast of England in 1815, the copper mines were often the lifeblood of the community, providing wages for the workers and wealth for the owners. The disparity between the two groups is explored in Near the Ruins of Penharrow, the third book of Deborah M. Hathaway’s riveting Cornish Romance series.

Miner’s Daughter

Nobody stronger than a miner’s daugh’er.” (28)

Gwynna Merrick has returned to Wheal Favour copper mine several months after the tragedy there, determined to contribute to her family’s meager earnings even if it means backbreaking work. Meanwhile, her unlikely friendship with a highborn lady has her wishing for a taste of the refined life. But her errant step into the upper-class world where she most certainly does not belong may have dire consequences.

Mine Owner’s Son

Jack Trevethan has returned to Cornwall more than a dozen years after being sent away to live in Bath with distant relations following his mother’s untimely death. His father has purchased Wheal Favour, intending to improve the dangerous conditions, but Jack is bitterly resentful of his father’s dismissal of him, not to mention his mother, years before and is determined to disdain everything related to the man who has always put work before family.

He didn’t want the mine, nor the responsibilities that came with it. Father was the one to make the foolhardy decision to add this to his other ventures.” (22)

Clashing Classes

When Jack encounters the captivating maiden from his father’s mine feigning that she is a proper lady at an upper-class ball, he is intrigued. Later witnessing her breaking up a fight among her lower-class peers, added to her incredible efforts as a bal maiden spalling ore at the mine, he is utterly enthralled by this mysterious, unconventional woman.

No, Gwynna certainly wasn’t a lady. But if a bal maiden could dress as a proper woman one night—then tackle another to the ground the next—she was undeniably remarkable, lady or not.” (80)

Gwynna regrets her deception and is grateful for Jack’s discretion in not revealing her secret, which could mean lost positions for herself and her father and even possibly jailtime for herself, yet she still distrusts the silver-tongued, teasing gentleman, knowing the balance of power is decidedly in his favor. Nonetheless, she adeptly perceives the battle he’s fighting with his hidden grief and pain—feelings she knows all too well herself.

Forgiveness ain’t forgettin’ your mother, or forgettin’ whatever it was your father did. It be allowin’ yourself to no longer be tied down by another’s actions, to no longer restrict your happiness. It means risin’ above, refusin’ to allow bitterness to swallow ye whole. It means ye can live again, sir. And that’s worth forgivin’ for.” (188)

Inexplicably drawn to each other—despite the very great odds against them and the rigid class divide between them—their increasing regard may only lead to a lifetime of heartbreak apart.

Well-Matched Souls

I have been looking forward to Gwynna’s story, particularly because I knew it would not be the typical story of a genteel lady, unlike most other sweet Regency tales. I had previously admired her fierce determination, no-nonsense attitude, and uncommon strength to offer forgiveness when it was least deserved. And I was certainly not disappointed, as Gwynna’s challenging life and her responses to it were inspirational. I learned so much from this book about the functions of and roles at a Cornish copper mine. What a grueling life it was for those workers, male and female alike.

What I never expected was that the smooth-talking hero would eventually become one of my favorite characters of this series thus far. It was Jack’s sorrowful childhood and relationship with his father as an adult that most held my attention and brought me to tears. His vulnerability in this story as he faced his grief was beautifully drawn.

Gwynna and Jack together were such a juxtaposition, the bal maiden and the gentleman, that I didn’t know how it might work, but it simply does. Their sincerity and warmth and yearning shined from the pages. In essentials, their souls were well-matched.

In Conclusion

Near the Ruins of Penharrow is a class-defying love story that historical romance readers will love.

5 out of 5 Stars


  • Near the Ruins of Penharrow: A Cornish Romance (Book 3), by Deborah M. Hathaway
  • Draft Horse Publishing (April 18, 2020)
  • Trade paperback & eBook (374) pages
  • ISBN: 978-1733482035
  • Genre: Regency Romance, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction


We purchased a copy of the book for our own enjoyment. Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image courtesy of Draft Horse Publishing © 2020; text Katie Jackson © 2022,

Hello Dear Readers,

Have you read any of the novel in the Cornish Romance series or by this author?

If you enjoy historical romance with witty dialogue, engaging plots, and endearing characters, Austenprose highly recommends them. 

Drop us a line below and share your thoughts on this review and what you are currently reading! We would love to hear from you!

Laurel Ann Nattress, editor

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