It was published in the U.S. in 2002. It got pleasantly reviewed in Lambda Book Report (when that was still in print!), and Mara Math reviewed it favorably for The Irish Herald, but my favorite notice was this online review printed below, which came out a few years ago.
So here’s what the site Rainbow Reviews (run by talented erotica writer and publisher J.M. Snyder and no longer printing new reviews) said about Time of Grace:
TITLE: Time of Grace
AUTHOR: Gabriella West
PUBLISHER: Wolfhound Press
RATING: 4.5 stars
Review by Carole
Shy young Caroline has come from England to Ireland in 1916 to work as a governess. But beautiful Grace, with her mysterious past and her fierce dedication to Ireland’s freedom, opens Caroline’s eyes to worlds she has never imagined.
As their friendship blossoms into romance, Caroline finds the greatest happiness she has ever known. But can their love survive the condemnation of a repressive society-and Grace’s involvement in the approaching Easter Rising?
A passionate story of personal, sexual, and national liberation, set against the backdrop of an unforgettable moment in Irish history.
This novel is not at all what I expected. This is not lesbian erotica couched in a historical plot, as often happens, but rather is a beautifully written historical novel that happens to have two female main characters in a romantic relationship. And it’s totally enchanting.
Gabriella West takes us back to the Ireland during the buildup to the Easter uprising of 1916. Caroline, a young English woman mourning the death of her brother in the European war, goes to Ireland to work as a governess in a large country estate. There she meets Grace, a sympathetic servant, and she finds herself falling into a relationship that she did not expect. She did not expect to fall in love at all, and especially did not expect to fall in love with someone from a different social class, different upbringing, different religion and most especially with someone so different politically.
Caroline is introverted and is wrapped in her personal sorrow. Grace breaks her out of her shell, but their relationship is anathema to their employer. As they move from friendship into a physical relationship, the very real danger of being ‘different’ rears its ugly head.
But ~ the real story is about Ireland in 1916, a people longing to be free. Caroline’s personal liberation from sexual repression is set in train against the backdrop of the liberation of the Irish people from political repression. The characters are sensitively, even delicately, drawn, and their relationships, their dialogue, their feelings ring true.
Time of Grace is a thought-provoking novel that has led me to want to read more about this period in history. Sexually, it is a true romance, not explicit, but delicately exploring a love not in tune with its times. Historically, it is a passionate exploration of an unforgettable time period in Irish history. I will be looking for more from Gabriella West.
*Note to readers–Want a signed copy? If you order at this Amazon link, you can purchase one from my online storefront at a bargain price.