The Girls with No Names by Serena Burdick. (2020).
**3.5 out of 5 stars**
**Thank you to Harlequin Australia for sending me a free advance readers copy of this novel; published 20 January 2020**
Luella and Effie live in a large family mansion near the House of Mercy, a workhouse for wayward girls. The sisters know that even though they are wealthy, freedom comes with limits. After discovering a secret about their father, Luella becomes emboldened to do as she pleases. But one morning Luella is gone. Effie suspects she has been sent to the House of Mercy and hatches a plan to get herself committed to save her sister. But she makes a miscalculation and nobody believes her story so she needs to escape. To do so she needs to trust an enigmatic girl named Mable. As their fates entwine, they must rely on each other to survive.
I liked this historical drama set in the mid 1910s. Alternating chapters are told from Effie’s, Jeanne’s (Effie’s mother) and Mable’s viewpoints. Effie was a fascinating character to follow particularly because she is a teenager who thinks of herself as permanently dying due to her heart condition, that made for an interesting attitude from her I thought. I think one couldn’t help but admire Jeanne in her dedication to finding Effie but her attitude towards Luella was a bit disappointing (although probably suited to the time period). I didn’t warm to Mable much and can’t really pin down why. I really enjoyed the chapters involving the ‘gypsy’ camp; I thought the author described them respectfully and beautifully and the time spent there were probably my favourite sections. Overall it’s probably not a book I’d reread but I did like it and it felt like something different; with many positive reviews it’s definitely worth a look.