Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Book Review: Moonlight Masquerade, by Ruth Axtell

Lady Celine Wexham seems the model British subject. French by birth but enjoying life in 1813 as a widowed English countess, she is in the unique position of being able to help those in need--or to spy for the notorious Napoleon Bonaparte. When Rees Phillips of the British Foreign Office is sent to pose as the countess's butler and discover where her true loyalties lie, he is confident he will uncover the truth. But the longer he is in her fashionable townhouse in London's West End, the more his staunch loyalty to the Crown begins to waver as he falls under Lady Wexham's spell. Will he find the proof he needs? And if she is a spy after all, will he do the right thing?
--image and description from Goodreads.com

Moonlight Masquerade was an interesting look into the Regency period, one that I especially love because of Jane Austen's books. Add that to politics, spies, and a sprinkle of romance, and I'm hooked.

What I loved about Moonlight Masquerade was how much I enjoyed the characters. Celine and Rees complimented each other well--Celine especially drew me in with her kindness and wit. Despite her aloofness due to her social standing, her head was very interesting to be in. And watching Rees struggle between loyalty to his country and the woman he loved had me feeling really bad for him. Their attraction and the journey they follow as they grow closer had me breathless at moments with the beauty and sincerity of their attachment. I could completely understand their affection for one another, and if I were a lady of high standing with a butler like that, I'd probably throw away my chances at high society for him, too. ;)

This book was full of sneaking around, complete with costumes and a masquerade ball scene that had my heart thumping. However, I felt as though not a lot happened in this novel, and there was no sense of urgency. The bad guys were a little too obvious, and as nobody really got hurt I did not feel as though any one was actually ever in any danger. This disappointed me a little because I feel as though this could have gone above and beyond the average 'regency romance' book. I've read A Tales of Two Cities by Charles Dickens about the French Revolution; that book makes you DIE for the characters because you know people are going to die and happiness comes at a cost. That is one of the things authors have to balance with the romance when they tackle the French Revolution, because it was a bloody time and the aftermath of it was mentioned but not really shown in this book. I don't love sorrow any more than anyone else, but I think that might have heightened the tension and made the love story all that much more satisfying in the end.

Despite all this, I truly did enjoy this book and I'm looking forward to the companion novel that focuses on a very minor character from this novel and her journey to true love.

Four Stars!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Revell and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Their generosity has in now way affected the contents of this review.