17 February 2017

A Discovering Diamonds Review of: MASK of DUPLICITY by Julia Brannan


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Romance
18th Century / 1745
England

Jacobite Chronicles Series

There is a great deal to say about this novel, the first in the Jacobite Chronicles, and most of it good.

Beth lives happily enough in her deceased father's house with the servants as her friends, but the return from the army of her half-brother, Richard, is not a cause for celebration. Coerced into approaching their estranged family, Beth is forced into the role of a society lady who has to follow convention when all she wants to do is run home to Didsbury. However, she makes new acquaintances including the foppish Sir Anthony Peters, but is all as it seems?

Beth Cunningham is a very likeable character who manages to be sweet, strong, and sympathetic without descending into sentimentality, and you have to like her. She is quick-witted and clever. Her brother, and indeed almost every other main character, is the opposite: you do feel for Beth being stranded among them all.

Sir Anthony Peters is, from his first appearance, obviously important, not only to the plot but to London society, however, one of my two criticisms would be that we are never told why this close confidante of the king should ever cultivate the acquaintance of the Cunningham family. They consist of an over-bearing snob, two ageing spinsters and a third sister who was widowed far too young and lives in the past, never seeing a future. They are a thoroughly unlikeable lot but we never discover why Sir Anthony bothers with them. 

On the whole, the novel is written very well. The story flows, the details are addressed for the most part, and the characters are nicely drawn and addictive. Beth is brilliantly done, and she carries the story. The point of view has a habit of slipping, quite alarmingly in the final dénoument of the story, with no fewer than six characters having their say, rather than sticking to the thoughts of just one. 

However,  these points can be completely forgiven. The perfectionists, and those not keen on unsettling 'adult' scenes, will perhaps think otherwise, but that would be their loss as the story and the potential that is set up by the book are otherwise excellent and quite carry you away. It is a longish read, but it still manages to end too soon, and although the reader can see where it is heading, you remain eager to learn how it gets there. I am very much looking forward to the second instalment of The Jacobite Chronicles  - maybe the secret of why Sir Anthony retains connection with those awful Cunninghams will be revealed? 

© Nicky Galliers


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