Thursday, 13 February 2014

Once Upon a Masquerade: The Maid, Her Man and Some Murder

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Author: Tamara Hughes
Publishing House:
Entangled: Scandalous
293 pages
Publication: 10th February 2014
Review written by Lady Entropy

(ARC given by NetGalley)

A Prince Charming meets his match...
Self-made shipping magnate Christopher Black first spies Rebecca Bailey at a masquerade ball and is captivated by her refreshing naivete and sparkling beauty. 
A Cinderella with a secret...
Rebecca is drawn to the charismatic Christopher from the first, but she cannot risk him discovering that she is really a housemaid impersonating an heiress. Her father's life depends on it.
A Happily Ever After that could never be...
When Christopher's investigation of the murder of his best friend leads him straight to Rebecca, he fears his ingenue may be a femme fatale in disguise. Now he must decide if he can trust the woman he's come to love, or if her secrets will be his downfall.

I rather enjoyed this book -- oh yes, I confess I didn't expect this retelling of Cinderella to be located in New York, and half the time, I'm convinced it was written with the English society in mind, but I can understand the choice -- not only nationalist but also because this entire premiss would be far harder to pull off in the much stricter and informed society of the English Ton.

Oh sure, there were still moments of "damsel in distressness", but I couldn't but help liking the protagonist: she cared for her father (but came to a point where she didn't want to keep slavishly throwing her life away for him), when she was attracted to someone, she took charge, and she at least tried to save herself. She was genuinely a nice person, and I found myself rooting for her.

The mystery isn't particularly brilliant (and could be quickly guessed who the involved parties were from halfway the book) but it still keeps us entertained -- the end of the second act is a bit deflated, and the arrival of Victoria, which should be a big "issue" brings hardly any consequences.

The love interest was... okay. Not particularly memorable, but not an asshole (almost) either. His flip-flopping about marriage left a bad taste in my mouth (especially because it makes him seem that he only wants marriage when he finds out she is descended from "high society") although I'm fairly sure that wasn't the intention.

I did love the secondary characters (even if Victoria needed to be more developed)so, with Mary as the fairy godmother, the long suffering father and, my favourite, the insane Hamlet. So, all in all, it was a fun read and one that kept me gripped. Also, it made Cinderella look like a much more intense and interesting story, rather than just the "girl sitting down and wishing for a better tomorrow" then letting others do all the work for her.

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