Sunday, July 28, 2013

Review of "Blackmoore: A Proper Romance"

Rating: 5 Stars
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Review: After reading Julianne Donaldson's first novel, "Edenbrooke," I knew she as an author who would soon become one of my favorites. "Blackmoore" more than confirmed that first impression. Donaldson's romances truly are "proper romances." They are clean with a satisfying degree of tension between the hero and heroine. Along with some adventure, subplots, and an English setting, the novels are almost impossible to put down.  "Blackmoore," like "Edenbrooke" is a fairly quick read because it is so easy to get engrossed in the plot!  I was actually disappointed when I noticed that I was 90% through the book on my Kindle.  My disappointment stemmed from not wanting to finish such an enjoyable book so soon. 

Donaldson's plot is worthy of a Austenesque-style movie.  A caged bird is a poignant symbol throughout the novel, existing songless in a dark room while other birds sing freely outside. The themes of freedom, love, and devotion resonate through the plot and find wings through the main characters, Kate and Henry. Kate is a strong-willed young woman who is fighting for freedom while resisting the urge to embrace the future that Henry offers. The romantic feelings between Henry and Kate are fairly obvious to the reader, though both characters withhold the desires of their hearts. Kate's personal reflections give more background into her relationship with Henry and her conviction to never marry. Watching her reject Henry's love is painful, especially in light of his heartwarming devotion.  The obstacles to a future relationship between Kate and Henry keep the plot interesting as their time spent together becomes charged with the electricity of their love. Until the end, Donaldson keeps Kate and Henry teetering on the brink of flying on the wings of love or falling from a broken heart.

The setting of "Blackmoore" is as alive as the characters.  Donaldson paints a vivid scene of contrast between the English moors and the powerful ocean.  The sprawling estate of Blackmoore makes me think of "Northanger Abbey" and "Jane Eyre" with its Gothic style and hidden secrets.  England's countryside always holds intrigue for me; and combined with an irresistible story, books like "Blackmoore" and "Edenbooke" quickly become some of my favorite novels.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Shadow Mountain Publishing through Net Galley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Summary from Shadow Mountain Publishing: At eighteen, Kate Worthington knows she should be getting serious about marriage, but her restless heart won’t let her settle down. To escape her mother’s meddlesome influence, she dreams of traveling to exotic India. When the opportunity arises, Kate finds herself making a bargain with her mother: she will be allowed to go only if she spends a season at the family’s wealthy estate, Blackmoore, where she must secure— and reject—three marriage proposals. Enlisting the help of her dearest childhood friend, Henry Delafield, Kate sets out to collect her proposals so she can be on her way. But Henry’s decision to help threatens to destroy both of their dreams in ways they could never imagine. With hints of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, Blackmoore is a page-turning tale of romance, intrigue, and devotion.  

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