Saturday, August 22, 2015

Patricia Gaffney - Lily

Born a lady, but now orphaned and left to the care of distant relations, Lily Trehearne’s fortunes are low indeed. All she inherited from her spendthrift father is a tangled web of debt, and her ultra-pious guardian, the Reverend Roger Soames, seems determined to marry her off to his son Lewis.
 Determined to save herself from that dreary fate, Lily panics and flees to Cornwall. Under the pseudonym Lily Troublefield, she accepts the first position she is offered, as a housemaid at the ominously named Darkstone Manor, property of Devon Darkwell. Lily’s new master is eccentric, deeply troubled . . . and strangely irresistible.

Comment: My most recent read was this book. I'm trying to go through my Patricia Gaffney backlist and although I don't read the books one after the other, I like to pick one now and then.
This month I grabbed this one and I have to say it, when she wants to, Ms. Gaffney sure can make her heroines suffer.
This is the story of Lily, a young woman who's facing some bad times after the death of her father. She has a tutor until she's old enough to inherit the money she's entitled to, but until then there's not much she can do. To avoid marrying the tutor's son, Lily escapes her house and randomly travels to Darkstone Manor, where she fabricates a serving past to gain employment there.
The master of the house is Devon Darkwell, a man facing disappointments from his past, some pain over things he can't change and get back and his new maid is just someone he finds pretty and nothing else.
Lily starts to fall in love but there's so much more than a class system to separate them...can they find happiness at last?
I liked some elements of this story. I also got emotional when Lily faced some of her darkest hours.
But I can't help but think some actions and reactions didn't always make sense.
I think the author did a good job portraying someone who's used to a challenging life but hasn't the total grasp of what entails to be working as a maid.
Lily is someone used to work but nothing heavy, just the expected for someone in a good house and taking care of the necessary tasks. When she starts working at the Manor while escaping from a fate where she would be forced to be someone she isn't, she can't really understand what a maid or a servant really go through.
I liked this aspect of the plot. Lily has to do a lot of things, she has to work hard, she doesn't have much food, her living conditions aren't good at all and to top it all out, the housekeeper is someone who mistreats the maids and those "below" her.
I think there aren't many historical romance writers that show the dichotomy between masters and servants. In this case we see it and the scenes where Lily had to work and just hurry up seemed quite realistic. I kind of wish the author had stressed out this even more.
Lily suffers a lot. Not all the author's heroines have so much hardship and suffering to go through but Lily certainly is top of the list. I cried when Lily was the target of hate and much negativity especially when she wasn't the one causing it. I won't go into spoilers but many people hurt her, one way or another. Those scenes were very emotional and what made this book have some value, the way human emotion was depicted.
What I think ruined this was how Lily, despite all, still let herself be seduced. I really wish things could have been different. We see how practical she is at times, it seemed silly to fall for someone who didn't always treat her well. Even more to forgive him so quickly. One might say it wasn't so, but honestly if someone did to me what Devon did to her, there wouldn't ever be a HEA.
I understand plot and romance techniques, but I was disappointed how things moved along, despite the emotional side.
There are a sort of mystery related scenes part of the plot but I wasn't much interested in those. Sure, they added to the story but the real important issues were related to Lily.
In the end, the HEA does happen but some secondary characters seemed to be there just because.
As for Lily and Devon, sure they find and keep happiness but the rocky path towards there seemed avoidable. Devon really does the most incredible things to Lily. I can't understand how easy his redemption ended up being. No matter how hurt you are, you don't payback to innocent people, you don't accuse before knowing all the facts. He annoyed me and even more so when I had to read about how such a poor guy he was because of his past. Come on, it hurt, learn something and be a gentleman anyway.
I liked some elements but overall, I wished there could be some better balance between the plot devices and character's personalities.
I hope my next read by this author isn't as emotional and unbalanced overall.
Grade: 7/10

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