Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Blackmoore - Julianne Donaldson
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. It is Wuthering Heights meets Little Women with a delicious must-read twist.
Summary and cover art from Goodreads.com
My review: After falling in love with Donaldson’s Edenbrooke*, I moved on to Blackmoore. Another regency-era, sweet romance, Donaldson uses her recipe from Edenbrooke—romantic settings, a dashing hero, chaste love, and a saccharine heroine with a flummoxed heart—then adds a layer of tenebrific weight.
Oh, Kate. Let's chat. You should have seen it earlier. The deal you struck with your mother--luring in suitors only to reject them--makes you no better than her. But you're just as scheme-y as she is, so I knew you'd find a way. Yet somehow, you've forgotten that all those schemes have a price.
Kate's mother never said the proposals had to be from three different men. It seems so simple. So Kate enlists the help of childhood friend Henry Delafield—who is SO OBVIOUSLY more than a friend—to help her out. He's got an almost-fiancee waiting in the wings and Kate has sworn she'll never marry. Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom. Henry will propose three times, Kate will reject him three times. India, here she comes! Except…well, Henry. (Swoon…I think Henry Delafield is my favorite book boyfriend. He's just…perfection.) Even Kate has to see that rejecting him three times is not going to be an easy feat.
Kate, one more thing…I know you have very good reasons why you've decided to never marry, but did you SERIOUSLY think you could weather THREE proposals from HENRY and walk away unscathed? Lady, you're a masochist.
During the first third of the book, I wasn't even sure why I was reading it. Everything was so awful (what was happening to Kate, not the writing) that I was not enjoying it at all. Disappointent after disappointment. Setback after setback. Horrible neighbor and horrible mother. It was too painful to read! But there was Henry. I fell instantly in love with Henry, so that kept me turning the pages. And I loved Julianne Donaldson's first book, Edenbrooke, enough to be persistent with Blackmoore.
The mid-third of the book was de-lic-ious. Things were getting goooood and the plot unraveled and went in a direction I could get on board with.
The final third of the book — I was terrified of the ending! How could it end decently? I could think of a sad but okay ending, an awful ending, and an even awfuller ending. Nothing was going to be okay. I was panicking and a fit of nervous energy as I kept turning pages. Things kept getting worse and worse and worse for poor Kate. And poor Henry! GAH! (Though I was quite willing to pick up the pieces of poor Henry's broken heart.)
I persisted and found an extraordinarily perfect ending that I could have never imagined. It was stressful to read, but so perfectly wonderful in the end. The chemistry between Kate and Henry is palpable through the pages, and as a reader, I just wanted to smack Kate over the head and say, “Stop it, dummy! He’s right there!” Kate isn’t truly that thick-skulled, and her reasons to never marry are less about her and more about Henry. A more complex character with a more complex background than Marianne in Edenbrooke, Kate’s secrets had me desperate to turn each page. As soon as I finished Blackmoore, I flipped back to the front and started reading it again.
My rating: 5 stars. Blackmoore is to my library what Dirty Dancing is to my DVD collection. It may be cheesy, and it may not change how I see the world, but I devoured every bit of it like a luscious chocolate cake and immediately went back for seconds. It’s a guilty pleasure I know I’ll return to time and again.
For the sensitive reader: Unless you have problems with amazingly noble, dashing heroes or pure selfish sacrifice and heartbreak, then you'll be fine.
*Read Mindy's review of Edenbrooke