Monday, 3 February 2014
Review: Once Upon a Masquerade by Tamara Hughes
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for a review.
First of all, to state the obvious, the cover to this novel is stunning! It sold the book to me before I had even read the blurb:
"New York City, 1883
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. She's a stark contrast to the hollow behavior of the ton and the guile of his former fiancee, but the closer he gets to her secrets, the further she pushes him away.
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."
Stories with multiple view points tend to grate on me, but in this instance it worked perfectly as it allowed Christopher and Rebecca to each tell their side of the story. Rebecca Bailey is a maid desperate for money to pay off her father's gambling debts, and in a moment of madness she decides to pose as an heiress in the hope of attracting a wealthy suitor. Christopher Black, a dashing shipping magnate who is both captivated and intrigued by Rebecca from the moment he sets eyes on her at the masquerade ball, seems the likeliest candidate, were it not for the fact that he might recognise her for who she really is.
I couldn't help but feel a little infuriated by Rebecca; I liked how she was capable of defending herself - far from your conventional damsel in distress- yet despite Christopher's honest intentions to help her, it takes her forever to muster up the courage to tell him the truth about her situation. As for Christopher, what can I say? Not quite the blue-blooded Prince Charming, but a perfect gentleman - even better in my opinion. I couldn't help but picture Matthew Goode as I was reading the descriptions of him, which only made him all the more lovable. All of the other characters are well written and distinctive, I especially liked the overly theatrical Spencer Henley. From ballrooms to vast country estates and run down side streets, the settings are so well depicted that you could picture the scenes as vividly as if you were watching a film.
The perfectly paced blend of action, mystery and romance had me gripped, and I finished the novel in a day. I predicted the ending, but that didn't lessen my enjoyment of the plot; I almost didn't want it to end.
5/5 stars: Cinderella with a twist; an enchanting read that will hold your attention from start to finish, perfect for lovers of fairytales and historical fiction, with enough action and adventure to appeal to the more cynical romantic.