Set in Detroit in the late 1800s, Amber Stockton's Copper and Candles gives an interesting picture of life in a thriving city as businesses grow and expand. Felicity lives on the right side of town, enjoying all the luxuries that money can buy. But she likes to help the less fortunate, not just by throwing money at them, but even by sharing their lives. When Lucy Gibson falls ill during her latest pregnancy and is told she can't work, Felicity risks her family's wrath by promising to work at the candle factory in her place. Now she learns how it feels to wear rough clothes and walk on dangerous streets, though fate provides her an escort in the form of a young man called Brandt. If only he wasn't just a lowly worker in the copper mill.
Felicity struggles to keep her identity and her feelings from Brandt, afraid that he'll imagine she's using him. Meanwhile Brandt knows he's falling for her, and he's keeping secrets of his own. And their parents, as eager to keep fame and fortune safe as to protect their children, make marriage plans.
The author portrays the attitudes of rich and poor very effectively, and avoids the pitfalls of painting any grouping with a single brush. Felicity's friends come from various social strata, and live in various different parts of town. Bosses mix business needs with genuine concern. The dangers of child labor are all too clear. And the whole comes to life, even to the details of food in the protagonists' lunch pails.
Of course, love wins through, though its course is never simple. Doing right in our own eyes and doing right by others might not always be the same thing, but faith guides these characters, and forgiveness leads them home in a pleasantly satisfying conclusion to this gentle romance.