Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother’s old school friend, a duke–with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she’s heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marlow, her brother’s new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.
When Marlow accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men–one she’s never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marlow is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda’s heart is far from all that’s at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.
I do wonder why talented authors limit themselves to Christian publishers when their books – exactly as they are! – could be published mainstream and find a much bigger audience. My favourite thing about Christian historical romance is that even when it’s preachy (this one isn’t; there’s about one mention of a Bible, and that’s about it) you get characters who behave more appropriately for the era. I’m more than a little over anachronistic silliness and endless sex in an era when that meant endless babies!
A Noble Masquerade is an imperfect read, but it is definitely a different book to what I was expecting. There is really no way to tell this story is supposed to be religious. I requested it for review before I even read a blurb, just because I loved the cover!
Now, it’s true this story incorporates many tropes I despise. The “duke is a spy” is one of the silliest trends to ever happen in historical romance, and it is present here.
However, when it comes to other things the blurb suggests, and I was worried about: don’t worry! I HATE love triangles, but this isn’t what you’d expect from reading the book’s description.
I did have a bit of an issue with how obvious the twists and turns were, but then the author was smart and didn’t drag it out for ages, and so in the end I thought it was fine. The “secrets” were really bleeding obvious, but she seemed to acknowledge that and didn’t treat us like idiots.
I read a number of reviews before starting this book, and people were accusing the author of being anachronistic. Yes, sometimes this book is, but it’s better than most Regency romances around at the moment! The biggest issue is with the modern, non-British dialogue.
One problem I had was that the author (and it didn’t help that I read her website in advance) strongly admires Julia Quinn, and – like many authors before her – has tried to emulate her. She is a THOUSAND times better as a writer when she’s not trying to be slapstick funny (like Julia Quinn) as she is when she decides comedy is in order.
As I said, this is an imperfect read. However, it is also a satisfying read, and unless you knew in advance, you would never know it was a Christian book. If – like me – you are attracted to the gorgeous cover, you could do much worse.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.