As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

August 10, 2015

BLACKMOORE by Julianne Donaldson, 2013

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. (Goodreads)

Reviewed by Valette M.

Kate was a determined, stubborn, wild heroine, and I loved her. A good heroine has weaknesses, but usually there are only a few, if not just one, surrounded by infinite piles of loveability. But Kate has many, many weaknesses. So much so that when I started reading BLACKMOORE I wasn't sure if I would like her. She's easily angered, she cries a lot, she has a lot of emotional turmoil to work through. Usually any one of these would make me toss down a book in disgust, but Kate is not the usual heroine. Rather than detract from her or bring her across as a petty, foolish girl, these weakness only highlighted her strengths and the growth she had over the course of the book. I'm still not sure I could ever be bosom friends with her, but as a character, I love her! Though she doesn't think so, she is strong and won't let anyone trample on her dreams. Sometimes I wanted to throttle her, but for the most part I was cheering for her whole-heartedly.  So rarely do romance heroines have the depth to look beyond their current circumstances and become the person they want to be. Seriously, phenomenal! On the other hand, I couldn't really make sense of Henry. He had his shining moments, but at others he seemed stereotypical. He was almost too perfect. Of course, I'm only being so picky because of the very high-caliber this book set. The book easily gets five-stars. And after all that pickiness, I can honestly say that Henry is completely swoon-worthy and utterly sweet and totally a gentleman. And there are all sorts of hidden gems in the supporting characters, but I'll leave those to you.

I was wondering where Julianne Donaldson would go with this. My thin mind could not imagine anything left uncovered after Edenbrooke. Suffice it to say I was dead wrong. Kate comes from a totally different family situation than we experienced in Edenbrooke. We get to see her deal with a less than supporting mother and the dissolving of friendships. But besides all that, I felt the main plot was Kate's journey to freedom as she batters herself against her multiple cages. It was beautiful! I wanted to cry for her and laugh for her and scream at her. Not to mention, that her romance with Henry did not take the easy way out. There was none of the ridiculous mis-understandings or the unfaithfulness that modern romances are built on. And the ending! Though I did think it felt a bit rushed and abrupt, I loved how Kate did not sell herself short! Julianne Donaldson hit it on the head when she realized that for a romance to mean something, her characters have to hold a worth of their own beyond the relationship.

After Edenbrook and Blackmoore I think Julianne Donaldson could start releasing dishwasher manuals and I would love every minute of them. The regency period, and the romance genre in general, have never been particular favorites of mine. It's a difficult combination to get right--one missed step and the whole story is a failure. But Blackmoore embodied all the strength of the genre without any of the pitfalls. I am adding Blackmoore to my favorites shelf, and have hopes for future Julianne Donaldson works getting the same treatment. Over all? If you're looking for "A Proper Romance" look no further!

Market: Young Adult
Language: None
Sensuality: Mild
Violence: Mild
Mature Themes: None

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