Blackmoore: A Proper Romance, by Julianne Donaldson – A Review

Blackmoore: A Proper Romance, by Julianne Donaldson 2013 From the desk of Katie Patchell:

In 2012 Julianne Donaldson published her debut novel, the highly successful Regency romance Edenbrooke. Now in 2013, she has written her second Regency novel, Blackmoore, which is set on the moors and windswept cliffs of England, in the halls of an old manor, filled with binding secrets, forgotten memories, and hidden love.

At fifteen, Kitty Worthington decided to change her name and identity to Kate Worthington. From happy child to guarded young woman, she turned her back on ever marrying, feeling as if she was a bird trapped in a cage—a cage filled with her mother’s indiscretions and schemes, and the fear that in letting herself feel and love, she would become just like all Worthington women—cold and heartless, being used and using others in turn.

Now at seventeen, Kate has finally been invited to Blackmoore, the symbol of her freedom and the manor house she has always longed to see. It is the second home of her best friends since childhood, Henry and Sylvia Delafield, who have visited it every summer, leaving her behind to imagine a place as wild as it is beautiful. But her dreams of Blackmoore will be destroyed unless she strikes a devil’s bargain with her manipulative mother. If Kate can manage to receive and reject three proposals during her visit, she can finally leave her broken home and make her own choices. If not, she must stay and do whatever her mother desires—including marrying a man she does not love. While at Blackmoore, Kate must discover the secrets in her heart, the worth of her dreams, and the strength to open her own cage and soar. Continue reading

Jane Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for Summer 2013

Summer is here — and it time to head to the beach or take that well-earned holiday and read great books!

Summer reads are always fun—and little light hearted and playful—and the Austenesque & Regency faire in the queue is so exciting that the Jane Austen Book Sleuth is thrilled to share what we will be reading and reviewing here on Austenprose in the coming months. Included are release dates and descriptions of the titles by the publisher to help you plan out your summer reading. Pre-order and enjoy! 

Austen-inspired Nonfiction 

Walking Jane Austen's London, by Louise Allen 2013Walking Jane Austen’s London, by Louise Allen (June 25) 

The London of Jane Austen’s world and imagination comes to life in this themed guidebook of nine walking tours from well-known landmarks to hidden treasures –each evoking the time and culture of Regency England which so influenced Austen’s wise perspective and astute insight in novels such as Pride and Prejudice. Extensively illustrated with full-color photographs and maps these walks will delight tourists and armchair travelers as they discover eighteenth-century chop houses, elegant squares, sinister prisons, bustling city streets and exclusive gentlemen’s clubs among innumerable other Austenesque delights.  

– During Jane Austen’s time, 1775 – 1817, London was a flourishing city with fine streets, fashionable squares and a thriving port which brought in good from around the globe. Much of this London still remains, the great buildings, elegant streets, parks, but much has changed. This tour allows the reader to take it all in, noting what Jane may have experienced while citing modern improvements such as street lighting and privies! 

ISBN: 978-0747812951
© 2013 Shire   Continue reading

Edenbrooke: A Proper Romance, by Julianne Donaldson – A Review

Edenbrooke, by Julianne Donaldson (2012)I love to discover new authors to gush about. It’s just so hard to find them.

Yes, I can be as fastidious as Mr. Darcy when it comes to reading new works. He enjoyed reading too—and has an extensive library at Pemberley—the work of many generations! I don’t make 10,000 pounds a year off this blog, so I am quite reserved with my purchasing. In the instance of Edenbrooke, a debut novel by Juliann Donaldson, all the features worked to motivate me to pay top dollar for a digital copy for my Nook: Regency-era setting, snappy repartee, clean romance, illusions of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, swoon worthy hero, flawed heroine, and a boatload of beaming reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Donaldson must have gotten it right to have so many raving about her first novel. I had to find out.

After the tragic death of her mother, our heroine Marianne Daventry has been sent to Bath to live with her elderly grandmother, while her beautiful and refined twin sister Cecily lives in London with her more fashionable cousins. She is rather bored with Bath and the attentions of one odious Mr. Whittles, who like Mr. Collins in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice shares an absence of natural gifts that had not been improved by education or society. When an invitation arrives from her sister to stay at Edenbrooke, a country estate in Kent owned by a wealthy and titled man who Cecily hopes to marry, Marianne is ecstatic at the possibility of being in the country again. Her grandmother consents to the plan on one condition: she must change her wild ways and behave like an elegant lady. This is challenge to Marianne who prefers twirling under the open sky to just about any activity. This defines Marianne’s personality perfectly. She is a bit of wild child that does not fit into society’s expectations of proper conduct befitting a young lady. Her grandmother also reveals she is disinheriting her heir, the Nefarious Nephew Mr. Kellet, and is instead bequeathing her fortune to Marianne. She is even more surprised that she must keep it a secret.

Off to Edenbrooke Marianne and her maid Betsy go by carriage on their big adventure. We were worried for her safety, and for good reason. Ladies in this era, young or old, did not travel without proper male escort and we sensed trouble with every jolt of the carriage. It appeared like clockwork in the form of a masked highwayman welding a big gun who proceeds to shoot the carriage driver and steal her mother’s locket before Marianne retaliates and shoots him. This is all highly amusing in a comedic/tragic sort of way. Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey would be thrilled to read this bit of drama made famous in her favorite Gothic-fiction novels. Our heroine in the making also faces other challenges at a local Inn where she seeks assistance and meets a disenchanted young gentleman who does not act like a gentleman.

“I blushed at his disdainful look, and then my nerves, strung so taut with everything that had happened, suddenly snapped. How dare he speak to me like that? Anger flared hard in my chest and pride reared its head. In that moment I felt as strong and haughty as Grandmother.

I lifted my chin and said, “Pardon me. I was under the impression that I was addressing a gentleman. I can see that I was, as you said, mistaken.”” p. 25

There are many mistaken assumptions and misunderstandings throughout the novel. Amusingly, it makes for great comedic moments full of witty dialogue and hijinx. For example, after falling in a river, twice, Marianne meets the man who was so rude to her at the Inn and the banter continues. He is a Wyndham and they soon spend a week together riding the estate and talking in the great library. There are many other page turning episodes which I will not reveal further, but readers can look forward to a ball (Yes, what Regency-era novel would be complete without one?), an abduction (Shades of Georgette Heyer), and plenty of clean romance (That Jane Austen would approve of).

Ms. Donaldson shows great promise. As a debut novel Edenbrooke was delightful and diverting. She particularly excelled at the witty repartee between the main characters and developed the second string beautifully to support the narrative. My disappointment, and there are only a few niggling objections, is with the length of the novel at 222 pages. It was almost as if one hundred pages were lopped and cropped out for some reason that we shall never know of. Once I was at Edenbrooke, I craved more story and felt we were short sheeted. In addition, even though her publisher gave her a stunning cover, I think they should have made pecuniary adjustments because of the length of the novel.

All in all, Edenbrooke was a agreeable excursion into the country and into my heart. I look forward to following this author as she develops into an even more accomplished and elegant writer.

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

Edenbrooke: A Proper Romance, by Julianne Donaldson
Shadow Mountain (2012)
Trade paperback (222) pages
ISBN: 978-1609089467

© 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose