Thursday, September 12, 2013

Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson

Blackmoore 
by Julianne Donaldson
Read: August 14 - 15, 2013
Published: September 9, 2013 by Shadow Mountain
Source: April - you're best, dear!
Category: A Proper Romance, Historical Fiction Adult, but great crossover
Find: Goodreads | Amazon

Official Summary: 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 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. (From Goodreads)
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Kate Worthington feels trapped in the conventions of her life, especially an unwanted marriage that her mother is determined to force upon her. Instead, Kate longs for two things: 1) to visit Blackmoore, the family estate and summer home of her childhood best friend Henry Delafield, and 2) having the freedom to live her own life. 

Kate is hopeful that her wishes are about to come true. She has finally been invited to spend the summer with Henry and his sister at Blackmoore (Kate's lack of a previous invitation has a lot to do with her mother's feud with Mrs. Delafield). Kate cannot believe that her wish of seeing the grand, house on the coast of northern England, is finally going to be granted. Kate's second wish for freedom also seems attainable, when she gets invited to go to India with her single Aunt Charlotte. But Kate's scheming mother has her own plans, and Kate knows that she must follow her mother's rules, or she will risk losing everything. 

Of course you are wondering now, "but what about a marriage between Kate and Henry? From the description of the plot, they seem perfect for each other." Exactly my thought when I started Blackmoore, but  remember that feud between Kate and Henry's mothers? Well, Mrs. Delafield has someone else in mind for her son instead of Kate. As for Henry's views on the matter, you just have to read the book to discover them. Also, Kate states very clearly at the start of this book that she doesn't ever want to get married. Hmm. Nothing is easy, or completely clear, is it?

When I started Blackmoore, I was worried that I would not like it as much as Edenbrooke. But once I got past the first few chapters and some issues I had about the set up (more on that below), I became completely engrossed this story. In fact, I ended up liking this story even better than Edenbrooke. Blackmoore is a darker and moodier story, with heaps of tension between Kate and Henry. Of course adding to that is the Blackmoore estate. The rambling house, featuring hidden passages and ghost stories, all set between the moors and the sea. 

An aching longing underlies the entire book, and there is a deliciously high degree of swoon, although it is the subtle kind. Kate and Henry have known each other their whole lives, so there is a history that adds depth to their relationship. They care about each other on a deep level, and because of their extended friendship through childhood, their relationship felt stronger and more weighted to me. Julianne Donaldson masterfully manages to keep her story clean, while expertly building a slow burning heat between Kate and Henry, and unraveling the secrets between them at the same timeI felt every moment of the tension between them.

I also really love the desire within both Kate and Henry to balance their own wants with that of the other. Kate longs to be free of the confines of the world in which she lives, and sail to India with her aunt. Henry understands this about Kate, and it is one of the things that he respects and admires most about her. He also very clearly sees what his family expects. Beyond her desire to make her own decisions, Kate has her own demons to contend with, including her inner struggle and confusion about what it means to love and be loved. This story doesn't always feel inevitable between them, which adds to the depth and longing, as well as my satisfaction with it

I will admit to thinking that some of the set up of this story was weak, especially regarding Kate's bargain with her mother. The whole thing seemed far-fetched and also overly convenient. But still, I love the conflict and tension-filled moments that came out of that bargain. I also think that some of Kate's decisions and desires are difficult to connect with at first. It's hard to understand why she's stubbornly adamant about visiting Blackmoore, or sailing to India. But as we began to uncover the details that her heart was protecting, her actions became clearer. 

I'd also like to discuss Blackmoore and the dreaded Other Book Comparison Syndrome.  Although, I realize it's sometimes hard to combat, I think the danger comes in getting too caught up in thinking about how this book relates to classics. Yes, Edenbrooke felt much more Jane Austen based - a spunky heroine, with lighter, more comedic themes - while Blackmoore follows the Brontë tradition of windswept moors, lots of brooding, and houses that are nearly characters themselves. But that's where I tried to end my mental comparisons. 

Love Triangle Factor: Mild
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone


21 comments:

  1. I did not realize this was the same author as Edenbrooke but both are on my list (my seemingly always growing list) to read; I'm more of an Austen girl so I may prefer that one but I want to check out both.

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    1. I have a lot of friends who liked EDENBROOKE best, but they are both fun, swoony books. This one isn't THAT Bronte. Though there's more romantic tension in BLACKMOORE than in EDENBROOKE, it's still fun and not so heavy moody as a Bronte book. Hope you love both!

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  2. I haven't heard of this one or Edenbrooke, but they seem to be extremely popular novels. I love gothic romances - anything akin to Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, or Nine Coaches Waiting is bound to make me love it - so thanks for putting this on my radar, Lauren. I'll definitely have to check it out, especially when I'm in the mood for a romance, despite its slow start. Wonderful review, dear!(:

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    1. WAIT! Are you saying that you've NEVER hear of these books? WOW. I think I need to note this momentous occasion, since you've heard of EVERYTHING. Anyway, both Edenbrooke and Blackmoore are lots of fun! They are clean but delightful reads. As Carrie summed it up, Edenbrooke has more comedic banter and Blackmoore has more sexual tension. I'd recommend them both when you want to read something that makes you happy.

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  3. This one definitely sounds like one I might read as a palate cleanser (and that's a good thing), though I'd prefer the Jane Austen-esque one to the Wuthering Heights-y one (never a Heathcliff fan. Really wished he'd just fall into one of the marshes on the moors and sink. Call me unromantic!). Gothic romances can be hit or miss with me but I grew up with Victoria Holt so I do love them in my heart of hearts.

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    1. YES! The perfect book when you want to read something that makes you happy. Don't worry, none of these characters resembles Heathcliff or Cathy in ANY WAY. This is good clean fun, but with some delicious sexual tension underlying it all. I wouldn't go crazy with the gothic comparison, this is such as sweet story. Edenbrooke has more comedic banter though, so you'll like that too.

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  4. AHHHHHHHHHHH!!! Best Review! Took the words right out of my brain! So very glad to have gotten that ARC to share with you dearest! We really do need to sit down with the book and have a proper chat. It is indeed, delicious!

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  5. Damn it, Lauren. The first paragraph or so, I was thinking "okay, this is historical so you're probably safe," and then you had to go and say it was about a trapped woman. And there's swoon. And there's ACHING LONGING. And ghosts! Adding it, adding it, adding it. Stop reading wonderful books, you're making my nightstand groan.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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    1. Okay, I may have overplayed the ghost reference. BUT I really do think this story is delightful fun, as is Edenbrooke. Both for when you want something that is going to make you happy! And yes, there is some really great tension building in this story.

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  6. At first I was like hmm anoter historical fiction book? Nah i never get into that but then you mentioned the ghosts and i was like hmm 'surely that could be a fun twist?' I might just look for this one sometime. Great review :)
    Lily @ Lilysbookblog

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    1. Okay, I think I overplayed the ghost reference, as I told Wendy above. THere is one, but it's not really the main point of the story at all. Just a bit of a hint. This is historical fiction, but much more of the romance variety - albeit the clean kind. Truly a delicious and delightful story all the way through. AND yes some nice twists and fantastic tension.

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  7. Okay, so I haven't heard of this author and I have read some historicals in the past but it's only Julia Quinn and Jennifer Ashley types. I like how different Blackmoore is from them. For that reason alone, I'm very curious about it. Thanks for sharing, Lauren.

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    1. This book feels a bit more traditional than those stories, BUT though it might emulate an Austen or a Bronte, it's historical nature should not be taken that seriously. This would be a really good way to ease into something historical. It's very readable, swoony and fun! Hope you enjoy.

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  8. Good review. Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

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  9. Okay, I haven't read Edenbrooke, but this sounds FANTASTIC OH MY GOSH. Twists, tension, ghosts, and so much more, I can't even formulate a coherent comment. It seems like it takes the whole "life long friends of opposite sexes" idea and really makes it unique. Love. Getting it asap. I want this badly. Great review, Lauren!

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    1. YOU WILL LOVE EDENBROOKE! That one is more of the Austen, comedic banter, fun romance. This one is a little bit moodier with more tension. BUT they're both lots of fun. I love that they stay clean but are also quite romantic. YES when the characters already have a history, they have a bit more of a foundation to build on and you can avoid stories going too fast or any sort of insta-love. Hope you're able to read these at some point soon.

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  10. Where on GOd's green Earth did you find these gorgeous Team Adam buttons?! Please let me know somehow, I want them so badly it hurts.
    And now onto the actual review, lol.
    It's too bad that this story had some weak points as well because aside from those few far-fetched things, it sounds pretty great for me. I have a soft spot for ghost stories and historicals, and the combo is next to impossible to find.

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    1. I'm glad you like the banner! I actually made it. Maybe I'll put a grab button so that people can put it on their sites and show their Adam support. That boy better step it up in the next book. I cannot wait!! I'm also freaking out.

      I think you'd like this one Maja. If you can manage some of the weak beginning, it truly is delightful. Lots of delicious swoon and tension, but also a story to read when you want something to make you happy. HOWEVER, the ghost elements aren't as strong as I made them sound. I think I need to rewrite this review as lots of people have mentioned that aspect of the book. It's much subtler than I think everyone is thinking and I don't want to disappoint you.

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  11. I hadn't heard of either this or Edenbrooke before reading your review, but now I am certainly curious! I love Regency stories, especially those written by Austen and the Brontes. I haven't really read any about that time period but written by a modern author (at least, I don't think so) so I'm interested in how that turns out. This definitely sounds like something I'd be interested in reading at some point. Lovely review, Lauren!

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  12. I actually just reviewed this one last week, Lauren, and I noticed many of the things you did. I think I may have ended up a little more on-the-fence on this one than you, but I think you nicely articulated both the strengths and weaknesses of the book. I'm definitely with you though - I almost wish they didn't try to market these with comparisons to classics because that's where these books fall short for me. They just don't have that depth or richness, so I just wish they didn't even try to draw that comparison in the first place.

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