I just...I don't...All the feels!
How does she do it!?! I cannot figure this out!
Julianne Donaldson's first book, Edenbrooke, was filled with cliche regency tropes. This one was incredibly predictable. And yet both times, I found myself tearing up during the story. Which NEVER happens! Donaldson is able to take an overdone story and make me care again. I honestly had thought that I had played out the regency genre (much to my chagrin) because after a while, they all just start to blend together and it's rare to find something new. But Donaldson does it.
So I don't typically like to recap the premise, but I feel like the blurb is a little misleading so I'm gonna, but I'm going to reveal things in a different order than the book does, so if you feel like this could ruin the book for you (I won't give away anything major, don't worry), then stop reading now. Anyway (for those still with me), Kate is in love with her best friend from childhood and neighbor, Henry Delafield. However, because they can never be together, when Kate is 16 she swears she's never going to get married. Now the Delafield's own a house, Blackmoore, which Kate has heard about the entire time she grew up and dreams of visiting. After that she hopes to go to India with her aunt (in large part to escape her love of Henry). Her mother lets her go on the condition that she receive and reject three marriage proposals. And the story goes from there.
Now, as I said, the story is incredibly predictable. Even the "big secret" that Kate is keeping which starts to be hinted at in the beginning, I had figured out within a few chapters. So what makes this book so good? The characters. Once again, Donaldson has created characters that pull at your heart strings. I can't even place my finger on what exactly makes them better than what you would find in any other book. Perhaps it is that in each of her books, it feels like the whole world is against the heroine, but in a realistic way. A friend who has grown apart, a sister who doesn't understand her, a mother who doesn't care, a jealous rival, etc. Nothing is overdone to make these things things that each and every person cannot personally relate to at some point in their lives. So you can sympathize with these common feelings of lose, hurt, loneliness, etc. And it feels real.
So, Julianne Donaldson, 1) thank you for creating characters I could become invested in and 2) brava for revitalizing a played out market.