Review: Kate Worthington is ready to break free of her trappings – her mother is a stern woman whose appalling public displays and flirting has been inherited by her daughters. Her eldest sister has already sullied her name, and Maria is well on her way to following suit. This leaves Kate, the one daughter who wants nothing more than to escape the life her mother wishes for her daughters. The place she wants to go to is, Blackmoore, the seaside estate of her dearest, childhood friends, Henry Delafield and his sister, Sylvia. When her mother reneges on permission for Kate’s stay at Blackmoore, in desperation, she strikes a bargain – if she receives and rejects three marriage proposals, Mrs. Worthington will give in to Kate’s greatest wish; to travel to India with her aunt. With high expectations, Kate finally sees her long-held hope realized when she arrives at Blackmoore. Things go array when her heart realizes that she cannot give up everything she knows… and loves.
It’s confession time. This book wasn’t really what I had expected of it. From various conversations and synopsis’ I’d read my impression of Blackmoore was something akin to a dash of mystery and maybe even some gothic elements. How wrong I was. Instead of the mystery – although there are a few examples of gothic story-telling, the book is really one of forbidden love and of finding out ones mettle and self-worth. Kate is an interesting heroine. Her one chance at happiness she has given up out of fear of what it will do to the man who holds her heart and as such, she is willing to let lies and logic cloud their relationship. Donaldson does a splendid job paralleling Kate’s restless spirit with that of her love of birds. It’s not only a pretty prose, but also a definitive parallel, offering examples of her need to feel “free” and have control of her life instead of watching her mother continue to give the family a bad rap – one that Kate suffers for.
Early on, there were moments in the book in which there were a few repeated words and this was setting up to be a repeat offense in the novel which when meshed with the first person narrative, didn’t “click” for me. Fortunately, the prose evens out and sets a kind of stage for a beautiful book! Throughout there were gorgeous, descriptive passages of the area surrounding the titular estate as well as the tours of the home itself – seriously, it’s like the cover art comes to life and if you close your eyes, you could be there – and yet, as a girl who doesn’t like a lot of details, I didn’t find the book over-populated with needless specifics, which was nice. Spaces are also reminiscent of Austen (Kate having the family such as she does is something Lizzie Bennet would likely relate to) and another fun bit was the cute dialogue and lovely romance – both were only in small doses which opened the doors to a richer, more complex heroine and while not every one of the flashbacks were necessary, they too added some interesting dimensions. Imperfect in only minimal ways, Blackmoore is written with class and charm. Its visuals are threaded together poignantly and its protagonists easily liked. Sweet as it is, I’d have liked to see a bit more from the epilogue but this is a journey worth taking – the story is engaging and I think I can safely say, you won’t regret exploring Blackmoore.
Synopsis: Kate Worthington knows her heart and she knows she will never marry. Her plan is to travel to India instead—if only to find peace for her restless spirit and to escape the family she abhors. But Kate’s meddlesome mother has other plans. She makes a bargain with Kate: India, yes, but only after Kate has secured—and rejected—three marriage proposals.
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?
Coming Next from Jualianne Donaldson: Unknown
Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.