Form: Kindle e-book
Genre: historical romance
Target audience: adults
“ ‘Well’, Miranda said. ‘It’s a sweet tale about kittens and puppies and rainbows and love.’ “
If I were cruel I would leave you only with that quote (loc. 4736) which is great, true, cynical and deceptive at the same time. Officially it is a romance novel but it also reminded me of Eugene Sue and Jane Austen – not bad authors to be compared to!
Miranda Darling is a gifted girl like no other. She has been raised among actors and had a fairly happy childhood. Unfortunately she was soon left alone because her father couldn’t get over the death of her mother. Not only alone but also burdened with another child, Robbie, abandoned by an actress and left to her tender care.
Now they try to survive in Bristol’s slums watching each other’s back. Miranda sew and make wigs but it is hardly enough to make the ends meet. She is under the paid protection of a shadowy crime master called the Patron – in return she must use her acting talents whenever they are needed. For example in a court. There she catches the eye of Smite Turner, one of the magistrates with total recall, a sense of justice and a logical mind which is like a knife all blade (Rabindranath Tagore, I owe you!). You can figure out the rest…their romance will be not only inevitable but also very funny…wait, I almost started the next section without being aware of it!
What I liked:
The sense of humour. I found it the biggest asset. I really laughed out loud at least several times reading this one, you must admit not a mean feat for a romance book. There were plenty of highly entertaining scenes – let me just list the best ones: the first visit to a theatre with a mistress in tow, a night in a country inn with the same mistress who pretends to be your wife (Mr and Mrs Dashwood – any Austen fan will howl with laughter!!!), a ‘date’ in a prison and a supper afterwards…overall whenever Miranda showed her freckled face and her mop of red curls things immediately got interesting – well-done! Not to mention an underestimated, humble punctuation mark which here was tantamout to love…or lack thereof. I will try never to forget a comma any more!
All in all the above-mentioned lead female character (ladies first) was sensible, clever, resourceful and as level-headed as I like. In fact Miranda Darling is currently my favourite romance heroine. Why? She speaks her mind. She knows what she wants. She uses every opportunity to get it. No stupid secrets, no hasty decisions, no hysterical regrets or useless crying the morning after, when you cannot change anything anyway. She knows when to say ‘no’, she knows when to say ‘yes’…that’s my girl!
Smite Turner was a perfect Introvert who’s been through a lot and has to deal with it. In my humble opinion the author rendered his character in a great way, making him a really three-dimensional romantic nerd (no kidding – his sentimentality quota are the best proof!). If only there were more of such romantic heroes I would read these books more often…
Now perhaps you wonder: what about the baddies? I am proud to say that the baddies here are…not exactly bad. They are human and sympathetic (I can’t say more without spoiling you so let’s stop here) so closer to real life than you could reasonably expect in such a novel. Once again I was very pleasantly surprised.
The narration was so good that I devoured the book during one evening – not because I wanted to know what would happen (it is a romance book with a pretty much predictable plot – they fall in love/lust/ go to bed/ have some troubles/ reunite and/or marry) but because I was so entertained that I didn’t want to stop.
Let me add that, aside from a number of hot and heavy make-out scenes, there is also unexpected depth and emotion in this story. These characters are layered and feel very real so this book pushed a number of buttons for me.
Finally the research behind the book (it is a historical romance from the 19th century) was flawless – the ship, the petty court records, everything fitted. Ms. Milan – I truly appreciate!
The dress and the colours are nice, I love this deep emerald -blue, but I doubt Miranda would appreciate a portrait of her when about 3/4 of her face are invisible…
What I didn’t like:
Well, you know me. I am yet to find a flawless romance book but this one came very close indeed. One negative remark – the ending could have been a bit more bitter-sweet but still it was very amusing, mainly because of the cynical Miranda.
I actually had to design a new button for this one. Let it speak for itself.