Friday, September 11, 2015

"A Noble Masquerade" by Kristi Ann Hunter - a delightful Regency-era novel of etiquette and espionage

Cover Art Lady Miranda Hawthorne does not fit the mold of the typical Regency noblewoman: her emotions are far too volatile to be respectable. And, scandalously, she has been secretly penning letters to her older brother's best friend since she was eight. Not that she ever sent them, mind; it has merely been a form of release for all her pent-up thoughts. Until, that is, her brother's new valet mails the most recent with the rest of the post, and the Duke of Marshington writes back. As the war with France rages on and spies operate across England, Miranda finds herself intrigued by both the mysterious Duke and her brother's suspicious valet.

Kristi Ann Hunter's debut novel is a delight. It's always thrilling to find another author who can blend humor with depth. There were multiple times I laughed out loud while reading the story, while at other times I sympathized with Miranda's feeling of inadequacy in the shadow of her mother and little sister.

The romance was impressively well developed. Whenever a story involves a case of masked identity, it's always hard to reconcile what one believes to be the truth with the actual truth--no matter the noble intentions, it's hard to not be wounded by the lies. Hunter goes into greater depth than most in the reconciliation period, providing adequate time for forgiveness and getting to know each other as they really are.

I'm glad to know this is the start of a series based on the Hawthorne family. In the course of one book and a novella, we get a pretty good grasp of the four Hawthorne siblings, and I can only imagine the fun the coming stories will be. Graham, the responsible oldest child, already a Duke; Trent, the affable younger son; Miranda, whose strong emotions fail to fit the mold of a gentlewoman (A Noble Masquerade); and Georgina, the spoiled baby of the family, who just might have more depth than most of her actions lend us to believe. I can't wait for the next!

Fans of Jen Turano and Karen Witemeyer should love this new voice that brings humor to the strict formalities of the regency period.

Thank you Bethany House for providing a free book to review; I was not required to make the review positive, and all opinions are my own.

Hawthorne House
0.5 "A Lady of Esteem" - a free novella introduction to the Hawthornes and friends!
1. A Noble Masquerade
2. An Elegant Facade
3. An Uncommon Courtship 
4. An Inconvenient Beauty

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