Monday, September 14, 2015

Hawthorne House

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 Marlow, 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 Marlow 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 Marlow 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.

#1: A Noble Masquerade   -     By: Kristi Ann Hunter
 Published September 8th 2015
 by Bethany House 
5 Stars 

When Bethany House notified me of books available to review this cover caught my attention.  The vibrant colors just drew me to the cover then the pensive look behind the character made me want to find out what she was thinking.  I loved the cover as much as I loved the story inside. 
I know I review a lot of contemporary, but did you know there was a time when all I read were historical books.  I love getting lost in the past.  Regency romances are some of my favorites.  I love this era for many reasons, but I think it's the social norms that fascinate me the most.  
A Noble Masquerade is a wonderful title and gives the reader a hint at the story inside.  My first thought was a masquerade ball, and yes it has one of those, but that's not it at all.  It's about a young man trying to serve his country and put a stop to secret information being shared with the enemy.  
This story takes place in Hertfordshire, England in the early 1800's.  The author uses vivid imagery to bring the setting alive.  She will quickly sweep the reader into the story and keep them entertained through her quick wit.  The characters and setting are both detailed and perceptive.
Lady Miranda Hawthorne captivated me from the beginning.  As an 8 year old she shows her spirit and her spunk.  
"Fat tears well up in Lady Miranda Hawthorne's eyes as she stared at the cake now resting forlornly on the ground.  Her little hands curled into angry fists at her sides.
"You're a cad, Henry Lampton!" Miranda scooped the cake from the ground and hurled it at the laughing boy, her cheeks wet with tears.  The was something satisfying about seeing the creamy dessert smear across his shirt and the smile fall from his face."
I can just picture this scene in my mind.  
  At an early age she had learned that any misbehavior would always be followed by a stern lecture from her mother on deportment and these lectures became a constant in her formative years. She tried to behave she really did, but it was still hard to contain all her emotions.    She needed an outlet and needless to say she found one, but of course it wasn't a conventional one.  For years she had been writing down her frustrations in letters to the Duke of Marshington, her brother's roommate.  Of course she would never mail these letters, but keep them under lock and key because it was unacceptable by society for a young lady to correspond with a gentleman who was not family or a fiance'. 
Miranda at age 20 is considered almost a spinster, esp. since her sister is about to make her debut to society.  Oh she's had offers, but not the proposals she was looking for.  A woman of any age wants to be wanted for herself, not what can be gained through her.  Miranda wants someone who is going to love her flaws and all.  
Ryland, Duke of Marshington, lost his mother at an early age.  His years growing up in Marshington Abbey were not filled with happiness thanks to his Aunt Lady Marguerite.  She was his uncle's widow who  along with her son, Richard,  had moved into their home to serve as hostess for his father.
After leaving school abruptly the Duke went into seclusion from society and his family.  He had plans of returning to society on his terms and no one could sway his decision.  
I loved this story!
From the engaging characters, who you can't help but love, to the beautiful images the author weaves into the story.  This is not just a romance, but a story that has humor, mystery and suspense.  I do wish the journal letters from Miranda had played a bigger part in this story, but to be honest they may have taken away too much away from the plot.
This is a debut novel for author Kristi Ann Hunter.  I will definitely be watching for more of her books. I recommend this book to anyone and can promise they will love it.
I did received this book from the publisher for a honest opinion without bias or outside influence as stated above.  I would like to thank Bethany House for this opportunity.
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.


  1. I love this book. It was such a great book.

    1. I agree completely Sonnetta. I loved the cover and I just knew the inside held a great story. I think Kristi Ann Hunter is going to be hearing acclaims for this story. Thank you for stopping by.