Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Scene 8: 2-for-1

Two weeks ago I finally got my hands on Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson.  Last week, I got Blackmoore.  I adore these books.  Julianne Donaldson is an Austen-esk genius.  Seriously.

I loved the fell of both books.  It was like reading a new Austen or Bronte novel.  The language.  The landscape.  The love.  It all makes me very homesick for England.  Donaldson balances the right amount of detail to action, giving the reader just enough to be feel at home in the world she has created, never giving a feeling of over-saturation or wordiness.  This I love.

First up, Edenbrooke.  From the author's websiteMarianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she’ll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry.

From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will Marianne be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke.

I love that Marianne is ready to run away from Bath.  Most novels that include Bath are about people running away to Bath.  On a side note, I've been to Bath and, personally, I can't imagine running from it.  Bath is amazing.  Sadly, while I was there my camera died and these are the only two pictures I got:

Roman Baths in well, Bath :)
Beautiful architecture that is Bath... seriously, it's like driving into Rome.
Anyway, back to Edenbrooke.  Even though I could guess the ending from the beginning, I adored every step of the journey.  Philip is sigh-worthy.  Marianne is clueless, akin to Austen's Emma, but without the matching-making tendencies.  Their relationship is fun and funny and real.  All in all, it's just a feel good read.

Now, number two, Blackmoore.  From the author's website:  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?

Set in Northern England in 1820, Blackmoore is a Regency romance of a young woman struggling to learn to follow her heart with a delicious must-read twist.

Here's the thing.  I LOVE Kate!  She might be one of my favorite heroines.  Second on my list to Jane Eyre.  Like Jane Eyre, Kate has a great sense of right and wrong.  But also, like Jane, she is young and immature and can be a bit rash.  However, she does have a great sense of sensibility about her, like unto Elizabeth Bennett.  To add to the mix, she has no idea of her own power and strength.  I love being able to discover those things with the character as they set about their journey.  

I think what I love most about Kate though is how relatable she is.  It was almost a little too close for comfort for me in some scenes, especially those involving her family.  The longing to leave her past behind and forge her new road, the need to be in control of her own destiny regardless of her upbringing; those things pierced my soul.  Oh, how Kate's longings to be free and to follow the desires of her heart sang in my bones.  I loved Kate's connection to birds, both the free and the caged.  It was poetic.

I think that's ultimately what I loved about both books: these strong, intelligent (though not all-knowing or superbly mature), funny, and powerful women and the daring journeys they embark on, intent on acting for themselves and not merely being acted upon.  Isn't that what we all want.  For me that's what true feminism is, the opportunity to simply, bravely choose for oneself the life one would live.  To have the liberty and freedom to make one's own way in the world.  

Donaldson has taken something very timely and valid and woven it into both of her books.  Both great reads for any female over the age of thirteen.  And she gets extra kudos for writing engaging, emotion-filled love stories that are clean and pure, no smut involved.  Take that, 50 Shades. 

Plus, who doesn't love a man in trousers and a cravat?

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