Rating – 5 stars
My love of reading began as a little girl when I discovered magic with The Arabian Nights, mysteries with Nancy Drew & Hardy Boys, adventures with Tintin along with the numerous fairy tales I read. It was as a preteen, that I came around and discovered a new genre when I read my first classic – Pride & Prejudice by the incomparable Ms. Jane Austen and I was hooked. Yes I had discovered Romance as I become one of those innumerable fans who discovered along with Mr. Darcy that one has to overcome Pride, if one ever wishes to find happiness and a love that is worth so much more than a stab at your ego and Elizabeth comes to find Prejudice may be so blinding sometimes you cannot see what has been in front of you all along and if not remedied, the consequences can be too dastardly.
It was with Ms. Austen that I came to love Romance and hence was influenced to find even a fraction of what I did when I read Lizzie & Darcy’ journey when I read other novelists and their romances, the characters, I would find sometimes mere caricatures and the stories so ridiculous I could not help but be utterly disappointed.
It wasn’t until I came across the brilliance of Ms. Georgette Heyer that I would find an end to my search for an the who truly could write romance. It was a chat with a friend of mine that led me to this discovery and I have never looked back since. Heyer’ romances became the books I came to rely on when I desperately needed to read something that truly cheered me. And it was owing to Heyer’ influence that I delved into Regency romances since they provided a detour from the norm and could be ever so charming in the right proportions if the author could pull it off.
Ever since I have read various Regency romances from numerous authors and have been sadly disappointed. Since most of these books which I came across were just Bodice Rippers masquerading as Romance novels. If I want to read about couples going at it like rabbits, without any rhyme and reason, I can very well pick up any erotica I choose and read it. When I look for a book that is just another impersonator it just leaves a sour taste in the mouth. So … imagine my surprise, my complete joy, when I read Julianne Donaldson’s upcoming release Blackmoore: A Proper Romance and was so thrilled that there is finally a book which delivers what it promises.
I came across this book while surfing the new titles on Netgalley and read the blurb, and thought to myself hey, why not ? And I am so happy my hunch was right. Reading Donaldson’ profile on Goodreads I came to know she just made her debut last year with Edenbrooke, and read a few reviews, though not all of them were positive, I wanted to take a chance and so went ahead. Thankfully I was not disappointed.
Blackmoore is Katherine and Henry’ story – a couple who grew up as neighbors and friends and during the course fell in love. But as Shakespeare has said – The course of true love never did run smooth. And so is the case with Kate as Katherine likes to be called not Kitty and Henry.
Without disclosing spoilers I would like to say I so so hated their moms, really. Each of them was … lets say ladies who never failed to grab opportunities – only one was subtle about it while the other was not. The characters such as Juliet and Sylvia were by no means any different. But it was of course, Henry and Kate who were at the center of this all. And it is because I am half in love with Henry myself, that I would say this is one of the most beautiful books I have read in a while. Henry unlike the heroes of most Regency romance novels is not a notorious rake (thank god) and Katherine by no means is a celebrated beauty who is a dimwit. I hate it when authors make the heroine this dimwit who just daydreams about balls, marriage and babies in a regency novel as much as I despise heroes who are rakes and have bedded numerous women as they do not want to be tied down but just looking at the heroine feel a rush to their loins and think She is mine, I must have her and if marriage is the price for it than so be it, we’ll cross the bridge when it comes to it that I lose my attention as soon as I have had my fill and have issues with keeping my fly zipped. This being a common knowledge to the heroine as well who prefers to be discreet and not think he will get bored with her and feels she will and can change him. Yeah right.
I did read two regency novels lately where though there were no rakes I felt something amiss. With Alyssa Everett’ Ruined by Rumor came a plot so cliché I could have predicted it in my sleep and a heroine so boring I fell half asleep while reading about her thoughts and feelings while Leigh LaValle’ The Misbehaving Marquess started off good with a strong heroine it wasn’t long before I landed in disappointmentville. Where Donaldon won me over was with her characters and her writing. Emphasis was not on the seams and petticoats, brooches and skirts, coats or shoes but rather on the feelings, the thought processes and the reasons that made her characters the way they were. Lets face it what good are vast descriptions of embroidery and hairstyles written elaborately if the story itself bores me and the characters don’t connect. The backstory of Kate’ reason for denying marriage was explained in a way that I could understand the motives of her actions. Her wish to visit India didn’t seem like just a girlish dream she has, like a green girl seeking foreign lands and adventures (though there is that) but a definite purpose as well. She oddly reminded me of Arya from George R.R. Martin’ hit series A Song of Ice and Fire, who I just love; owing to her tenacity and tomboyish ways. While the sensitive portrayal of Henry – as a young man who is torn between what he wants and what is expected of him was handled deftly.
Julianne Donaldson’ Kate was a gal after my own heart – she was not a confused bimbette but someone who knew exactly what she wanted and felt. She was kind, strong, smart and caring who contrary to the properly behaved ladies preferred climbing, reading and archery. Despite having a family so pathetic as she did, I loved it that she was not a whiner nor a cry-baby, rather a fighter in her own way. Cora, her cat and her brother Oliver light up her world within the confines of her depressing home while Henry is her best friend, the one person she relies on more than anyone else.
As for Henry – I would just quote one line from the novel uttered by him to Kate – and I don’t feel I need say more.
I think the most profound beauty is found in what our hearts love
And I was a puddle of mush, yeah I know its kinda disgusting and so so cliché but hey I just couldn’t help myself, especially given the context of the scene when it is spoken.
I would recommend this book to fans of Austen, Heyer and anyone who prefers a clean romance not just another bodice ripper coming across as a love story.
I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review but it in no way was influenced on my opinion of the book.