Friday, March 22, 2013

Review: Mistress of my Fate by Hallie Rubenhold

Publication Date: January 8th 2013
Format: Hardcover 464pp

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"Set during a period of revolution and turmoil, Mistress of My Fate is the first book in a trilogy about Henrietta Lightfoot, a young woman who was abandoned as a baby and raised alongside her cousins, noble children of a lord and lady. At just sixteen years old, circumstance and a passionate love affair tear Henrietta away from everything she knows, leading to a new life fending for herself on the streets of 18th century London as a courtesan, gambler, and spirited intellect of the city."
My Thoughts: 

Living as a companion to her cousin Lady Catherine, Henrietta Ingertion/Lightfoot is treated as nothing more than a poor relation who is bothersome and useless. Although it hurts her not to be accepted as a friend she is still accepting of her fate of solitude among her uncles books, that is until she meets the charming Lord Allenham. Never before has she known such emotion, and never before has someone understood her character so completely, but she is not destined to rise so high in life, and Lady Catherine will be sure to keep her in her place. When a sudden and tragic event occurs, followed by startling revelations, Henrietta must learn to break free of her destiny and become the mistress of her own fate.

This was one of those books where you are captivated one moment, and wanting to skim through pages the next. The redeeming quality that pulls the reader along despite the slow moments was definitely the excellent descriptive detail. From the dresses, to the parties, and the scoping landscape, Hallie Rubenhold did a splendid job of bringing the reader into the heart of 18th century London. Each character faced a certain level of distress, and it was easy to feel sympathy for their plight. Of course this is where the problems started to occur; there is a fine line between sympathy and irritation.

As the story progressed, Henrietta's story began to seem forced. At the beginning her naivete and distress was believable and invoked compassion, but about half-way through she just sounded like a complaining child stomping her foot. In her confessions she claimed innocence, but it came across as stupidity instead. Another inconstancy was the steamy love scenes. They were descriptive and drawn out, which isn't necessarily a bad thing if it fits with the character, but it felt out of place in this story, especially when the character is claiming innocence. Due to these aspects, it was impossible to relate to the main character for the majority of the novel; the secondary characters were much more interesting.

Mistress of My Fate is a novel written in the style of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Confessions, and it is reminiscent of Kathleen Winsor's novel Forever Amber. If you are a fan of either of these novels you will find some pleasure in this tale of a fallen woman's perseverance, but don't expect it to have the same sweeping effect.

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