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)
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 time. I 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