Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Julianne Donaldson - Blackmoore

Kate Worthington knows her heart and she knows she will never marry. Her plan is to travel to India instead—if only to find peace for her restless spirit and to escape the family she abhors. But Kate’s meddlesome mother has other plans. She makes a bargain with Kate: India, yes, but only after Kate has secured—and rejected—three marriage proposals.
Kate journeys to the stately manor of Blackmoore determined to fulfill her end of the bargain and enlists the help of her dearest childhood friend, Henry Delafield. But when it comes to matters of love, bargains are meaningless and plans are changeable. There on the wild lands of Blackmoore, Kate must face the truth that has kept her heart captive. Will the proposal she is determined to reject actually be the one thing that will set her heart free?
Set in Northern England in 1820, Blackmoore is a Regency romance that tells the story of a young woman struggling to learn how to follow her heart.

Comment: I've had this book since last year, months after having read and really enjoyed the first book published by the author too. I was, again, very curious about this book because the author had a style that I enjoyed and the story promised to be interesting.
This book presents us to Kate Worthington (my paper copy has an image of how she should look like, I liked that originality), a young lady whose family members are all unsuited for proper company for one reason or another. Kate has realized she is the only one who seems to have sense and she has cultivated friendships with her neighbors, Henry and Sylvia, and that has helped. Now Kate only wants to avoid marriage and travel to India with her aunt Charlotte.
Her mother, however, has other plans and makes a bargain with Kate, something she feels won't be easy to accomplish but agrees to only to escape. However her task proves difficult indeed and only her friend Henry can help her. But then her mother shows up at Blackmoore, where Kate has been staying against her host's wishes. Things take a very complicated turn to Kate...
I think the very best thing about this author's work is how we learn so many things from small details about the characters and how that makes it look like a more complex novel that way.
All the characters here have different personalities but we learn a lot from things they do and not just from what they say and the author managed to do this smoothly, and not making it look something done o purpose. I applaud this style.
On the other hand, though, I wish the author wouldn't stick to a first person narrator. I think we miss important things because of the limit a 1st person narrator has and in a way I find it annoying I have to guess what the hero, for instance, is thinking from things the heroines says or their conversations. This isn't something in your face all the time, and for the most part I like Kate's head, but there are some key scenes I wish another POV would be available.
The story is very much to my liking, poor Kate, the only sensible person in a family prone to scandal and lack of morals. She really wanted to have a cozy, simple life, she always dreamed of visiting Blackmoore because it was something Henry enjoys and cherishes and we learn quite fast she loves him. Kate is pragmatic, I wish she could have a bit more realistic notions about certain things but overall I found her to be a good heroine. There are scenes with her that really made me feel sympathetic, like when she had such a bad experience after dreaming for so long of visiting Blackmoore with Henry and Sylvia, or how her behavior was when she didn't know a certain fact about someone. Of course the author made it so, but I was very impressed with her ideas and reasoning.
Henry is the hero and sadly we only have glimpses of his feelings although it gets to a point where it's rather obvious his feelings for Kate and this is one of the reasons a POV of his should work too because at the end, before the HEA there is a moment where it would have been great to see his mind. He's close to perfect but he sure shows his flaws and lack of action when I think it would have eased up Kate's life and decisions.
I know the author aimed for evocative and angsty tones at some point but nothing exaggerated.
The secondary characters are a real piece. Almost all of them have some sort of problem that I know it's to emphasize the protagonists' characteristics first but also to show us flaws are in everyone and different experiences and ways of behaving can affect everything in one's life. Kate's mother is quite evil, not in the sense she magically destroys or kills, but the way she influences her daughters, her husband, even her own behavior...I mean, I understand Kate's need to escape. Sylvia was a character more neutral but she also bowed to conventions and laziness and just let things go because she wasn't brave enough, in a way. I feel the author did a good job with the character's development and personalities.
In the end, there's a sweet HEA, a very small epilogue that brings hope too but overall I feel this was slightly less amazing than Edenbrooke. Still, a great book, one of the most unique historicals I've read in the year.
Grade: 8/10

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