- File Size: 1069 KB
- Print Length: 253 pages
- Publisher: ORCHARD HILL BOOKS (December 7, 2013)
- Publication Date: December 7, 2013
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00AT4NPTA
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #972,519 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Dark Whisky Road Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Jen Black has done that admirably in Victorian Beauty, which succeeds on a number of levels, where others have failed abysmally. Read the plot synopses elsewhere--I`m more interested in the author's skills at making what could have been a hackneyed tale come alive again, fresh and fun to read. First, her writing is smooth, economical and, in quite a few places, graceful and evocative. There was never one of those moments, on the first page or elsewhere, where I had to sigh, hoping the writing would improve as I turned the pages. It was good from the beginning--what a relief! Second, Ms. Black's setting--the North of England--is one she knows, so now I know it as well, or at least that small part of it. Her descriptions are elegant, imparting exactly what's needed to lead the reader fully into the scene, and then move on. That's a neat trick which many authors have failed to master. Most important, however, are her characters, Melanie Grey and Lord Jarrow. Melanie is neither a beauty nor a typical Victorian noblewoman, but most fortunate for the discerning reader, she is not a "feisty" heroine saddled with the ridiculous trappings of the 21st century. She's vulnerable, to be sure, and she has her moments of fear and weakness, but she leavens those with an endearing nosiness--this woman will pry into things in a heartbeat!--a rather endearing refusal to be obsequious to anyone, including her employer, and a bit of rock-solid strength when she needs it. Jarrow has his moments of brooding, but for reasons that become clear only much later in the book, and are quite a revelation. He may be tall, dark, and moderately handsome, but I don't hold that against him--no one will eventually fall in love with a troll. The interactions between these two provide the requisite sparks, conflicting outlooks on the world and how it works, and an intriguing two steps forward, one step back pas de deux that makes an historical romance so entertaining--when it's done right, as it is here.
Ms. Black consistently writes outside the mold, the formula, the whatever-it-is of historical romance, which makes for a much more enjoyable read. Her style, to include the sometimes wry, sometimes quotidian, and almost always refreshing take on her characters and the period she portrays, is a breath of fresh air. There's a lot of junk out there, folks, so spend your time and money wisely. This is a book I can recommend without reservation, and I don't usually like historical romances. However, the author has delivered a crisp, polished, and well-paced novel with more than a couple of characters worth getting to know.
What we do know is that she is also an aristocrat and yet she is content to wash her taciturn employer's clothes, cook his meals, clean his house and be a governess to his daughter as an `invisible' servant rather than endure her former life.
Jarrow too has something hidden, maybe in his past, but most certainly his present, which is alluded to but not explained and when Melanie discovers what it is, she fears for his future.
Jen Black's characters are beautifully crafted, and her air of mystery pervades the entire book making it impossible to put down. There are no wilting virgins in this novel, both the main characters are grown-ups with tragedies they have learned to overcome and then to live with, so when they come together at the end we cannot help feel they deserve their happiness.
Lord Jarrow harbours secrets, too, for a tragedy from his past haunts his waking hours all too often, and more so on dark nights of his riding across heather and furze-clad moorland. To have a housekeeper is paramount in a house, where there’s a widower, a young daughter, her governess and a lone visitor to cater for. Jarrow’s needs outweigh anxiety as to whether he can trust Miss Grey, and something about her is most unsettling, not least her propensity for being in the wrong place at the wrong moments in time. Hence security all things a secret pastime could so easily be exposed by an interfering busybody. His daughter, though, is quite enamoured with Melanie Grey, and thereby renders Melanie’s life more than just bearable despite her employer’s brusque manner.
But, when Jarrow returns with a gunshot wound, Melanie rallies to his aid despite severe misgivings as to his business transactions. And from thence onward their lives become entwined and no way out for either, for once love takes hold, no matter the consequences, when danger lurks a woman must do what a woman must do to save the hide of a loved one. Equally, Jarrow does all in his power to right past wrongs, and in doing so brings ecstatic happiness to the two most important women in his life. Nonetheless, there are aspects of his dark past that remain and continue to slip through the shadows of night. Dark Whisky Road is a thoroughly enjoyable romantic Victorian adventure, in which drip-fed flashbacks reveal heartrending memories as Melanie and Jarrow come to terms with past heartache and untold mental anguish. IMHO, there’s a touch of the dark and brooding so typical of Emily Bronte’s writings within this novel.
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