Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother’s old school friend, the Duke of Marshington. Since she’s never actually met the man she has no intention of ever sending the letters and is mortified when her brother’s mysterious new valet, Marlow, mistakenly mails one of the letters to the unsuspecting duke.
Shockingly, this breach of etiquette results in a reply from the duke that soon leads to a lively correspondence. Insecurity about her previous lack of suitors soon becomes confusion as Miranda finds herself equally intrigued by Marlow, a man she has come to depend upon but whose behavior grows more suspicious by the day. As the secret goings-on at her family’s estate come to light, one thing is certain: Miranda’s heart is far from all that’s at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.
Even though it only lasted nine years, the Regency era is a popular period for Christian fiction writers. The works of Jane Austen are probably most responsible for this, but it was also a time of great social, technological, and political change in the United Kingdom. Two key events were the War of 1812 with the new United States and the Napoleonic Wars. Newcomer Kristi Ann Hunter has focused on the latter with the first book in her Hawthorne House series. One of His Majesty’s agents has discovered the French have placed a spy within the Hawthorne household, but he doesn’t know who it is. Consequently, he enters the home as a valet in hopes of catching the foreign agent.
We learn Marlow’s identity early on. The excerpt put out by Bethany House gives strong indications that he’s not what he sees and the astute reader will easily join the dots. Miranda makes the discovery about halfway through, which makes the intervening chapters amusing to read as she attempts to treat him as the servant she believes him to be. It doesn’t always work, and shows that love is no respecter of class. Once she knows the truth the narrative then turns to the danger both she and Marsh find themselves in. Marlow must use all his resources – including an eccentric cast of characters who aren’t as they appear – to save them. What no one knows is that the danger might be closer than they realize.
A Noble Masquerade is an enjoyable first novel. The characters shine and the plot twists and turns enough to keep the reader interested. There is humor and drama, with one powerful scene between Miranda and her debutante sister, Georgina, when Miranda must reveal the motives pushing one of her sister’s suitors. Georgina often comes over as a spoiled child, but this scene is a pivotal moment for her. I’d definitely recommend this book to any fans of Regency fiction. There’s also an e-novella, A Lady of Esteem, which introduces the Hawthornes to readers. Since there are references to events in it in A Noble Masquerade it’s probably not a bad idea to read it first. Last I saw, it was free to download.
Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary copy of A Noble Masquerade, which I received in exchange for my honest review.
Have you read A Noble Masquerade? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)
Publication Date: 08 September 2015
Page Count: 368