A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter (Bethany House, September 2015)
Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and 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, a duke–with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she’s heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marcus, her brother’s new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.
When Marcus accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men–one she’s never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marcus is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda’s heart is far from all that’s at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.
Books filled with humor and romance alone are fun; well-written books by authors that you know are even better. Add these two elements in with author that you not only know but has a sparkling personality, heart for Jesus and family, and wit beyond measure just makes life all the better. And so this is where you’ll find me right now—reveling in all the goodness of A Noble Masquerade and the blessing that I have in counting Kristi Ann Hunter as an author friend.
Disclaimer: I know Kristi, have written for her website, Regency Reflections, and fully embrace that I am biased in my review of A Noble Masquerade. But rather than take that bias and assume my review will be positive simply because I know her, understand that I only went into reading her debut novel with the hope that it would be good. Instead, I finished A Noble Masquerade thrilled to see that this author is not just a good writer—but a great one. This novel fulfilled my expectations more than I could imagine, and I have every belief that Kristi will become a highly successful author in the CBA industry.
A Noble Masquerade stands out from its historical-romance contemporaries because Kristi makes more of her novel that simply romance infused with historical elements in a setting other than present day. There is romance a-plenty in this novel, but I enjoyed A Noble Masquerade most for its inventive and unique storyline filled with humor, wit, sarcasm, and adventure. Kristi has a writing voice different from other authors in her genre—she writes with a complexity that requires her readers to think, but her characters’ down-to-earth approaches to life make it easy for readers to fall directly into the story. I so enjoyed learning about an era in England’s history that I neither knew much about nor come across much in fiction (the Napoleonic wars). In her future books, I hope to see Kristi continue utilizing these less-often explored topics.
As its title demonstrates, masquerade is a theme of Kristi’s debut novel. I approached A Noble Masquerade with a base expectation of an actual masquerade taking place in the story; however, the deeper I went into the book, the more complexity I found in Kristi’s exploration of the theme. The base approach I went in with belies the depth of the story, and Kristi’s storyline and writing style demonstrate her knowledge of and ability to implement the craft. I will pick up any of her future novels simply because I am confident after reading A Noble Masquerade that this author can write well.
Kristi infuses so much laughter and wit into A Noble Masquerade through her characters. I loved main characters Miranda and Marlowe, along with a few of the secondary characters, such as Miranda’s siblings and Marlowe’s friends. Miranda was a fabulous character because Kristi explored the dynamics of ladylike behavior and independence for women of the 1800s. Much to the chagrin of my family at times, I thrive upon prim and proper behavior and enjoy reading about these qualities in times gone by; however, after finishing A Noble Masquerade, I have a deeper understanding of how chafing the expectations of these traits could be when they were all women had to go off of. As for Marlowe, much of my enjoyment of A Noble Masquerade came from watching the dynamics of his relationships unfold within his friendships. In fact, my favorite line of the story could well be Marlowe’s explanation of what constitutes a family.
For a superb story told of finding one’s place in society, within family, and within yourself; told with humor, wit, and lyricism; and beholding an inventive story with a sweet romance, pick up Kristi Ann Hunter’s A Noble Masquerade.
Rating: 5 stars
Extra: Kelly Clarkson’s “Catch My Breath” inspired Kristi’s creation of main character Miranda Hawthorne. Read more about the inspiration here.
Extra: Find the novella prequel to A Noble Masquerade, A Lady of Esteem, here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kristi Ann Hunter graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Computer Science but always knew she wanted to write. Kristi is an RWA Golden Heart contest winner, an ACFW Genesis contest winner, and a Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award for Excellence winner. She is a founding member and the coordinator of the Regency Reflections blog and lives with her husband and three children in Georgia. Find her online at www.kristiannhunter.com.