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on Jan. 20, 2013 :
Good historical fiction is difficult to find, but I think I've found a gem here. Historical fiction (especially romance) is usually either so stilted and stuffy that you feel like the author is making fun of the past, or the writing is totally anachronistic and out of place. Having read "My Secret Life", "Romance of Lust" and other actual contemporary Victorian works in this genre, I think the writing and dialogue are near perfect to the period. The terminology is period correct as are the...unfortunately...societal attitudes. Bawdy, but clever; suggestive, but blunt. Lot's of fun, when the author isn't tormenting your precious characters and making you weep for them!
I will try not to make spoilers here, but the story is a wonderfully complex piece of intrigue that will leave you dying to see the outcome. Note, however, that the pace and writing style are for those who like to think and savor a story slowly. This is not some cheap bodice-ripper written at a 9th grade reading level. Enjoy =)
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on Dec. 21, 2012 :
I am not a huge fan of historical fiction, and it was the last thing I expected from Eastonfield after his contemporary novel, ‘Devoted.’ However, after I came across this sentence in the first chapter as the protagonist reflects on a woman in his office: ‘Eli’s father used to contend that all an unhappy woman needed was a thorough fucking. His mother’s prolonged melancholy reflected either a defect in the philosophy, or in his father’s application of it.’ I was hooked on the brash and stylish language.
The premise seems to be that although people in those times were constricted into seemingly stolid lives by Victorian morality, that didn’t stop them from expressing their sexuality. I wouldn’t consider this erotica, although there is plenty of sex, because it is not written to titillate, more to heighten the drama, and there is plenty of that, too.
Like all good main characters, Eli has an obsession; Elizabeth, the haughty daughter of a gentleman. Eli is not a gentleman, but a mere merchant, so naturally, she hates/loves him, and their repartee is about as entertaining as it gets. There are plenty of other willing women, but he holds them at arm’s length (one slips under his guard), in favor of his one true love. Elizabeth gets herself into trouble, and with the help of interesting London characters, Eli tries to rescue her. You might guess how this is going to end, however, Eastonfield seems averse to being predictable, and their situation at the end is surprising. It is only book one, so perhaps their bliss is only deferred. I am looking forward to book two.
(review of free book)