Sunday, September 30, 2018

Review: The Wicked Gypsy by Mary Lancaster

Title: The Wicked Gypsy
Series: Blackhaven Brides
Author: Mary Lancaster
Read copy: eBook (Kindle)
Published: August 21, 2018
Publisher: Dragonblade Publishing

An old Blackhaven tragedy merges with a new quarrel...

When Gervaise, the Earl of Braithwaite, first sees beautiful gypsy Dawn, he is struck by her likeness to his political enemy, Julius Gardyn. In his cups, he grasps the opportunity for a little vengeance and sweeps her off to his ancestral castle. In the morning, he is frustrated in his attempts to make things right by Dawn herself, who refuses to return to her family.

Dawn, dazzled by the handsome earl, has several reasons for staying with him. Pretending to be Eleanor Gardyn, lost heiress to Haven Hall, begins as a fun means to upset the earl’s enemy, but when memories begin to tug at her, everything becomes much more serious. As she falls heavily in love with Gervaise, she starts to believe that happiness might be possible. Until the earl’s prospective bride arrives at the castle.

However, many people, including Julius, fail to see the steel beneath Gervaise’s good nature. Few have noticed that he always gets what he wants in the end. And he wants Dawn.

My rating:

Gervaise Conway, frustrated with his inability to make things better with his politics and slightly in his cups, concocts a cunning plan to take some revenge on his political enemy. He decides to take a beautiful gypsy girl on loan from her family, since she bears the uncanny resemblance to his nemesis's family. He'll pass her for the long lost, and presumed dead, Eleanor Gardyn, in order to prevent her uncle Julius from inheriting Haven Hall and evicting the Benedicts.

Dawn has her own motives to stay at Braithwaite castle. First is rather petty; she wants to get back to her father for having sold her to the earl (and then presumed she'd steal from the man). Second is much more personal; there's something about Gervaise that draws her, and soon she finds herself falling in love with him.

But even if she is Eleanor Gardyn, the gap between them is still too big. And gets even bigger as the dowager countess returns from Scotland and brings a prospective young countess with her. But no one counts with Gervaise and what he wants.

This was a lovely story. Romantic, slightly suspenseful (it was more of a mystery that straight-up suspense), with a little bit of angst, drama and star-crossed love thrown into the mix.

I liked the heroine, and especially her predicament as she straddled both worlds while not really belonging in either. Her struggles, both with accepting the truth about herself, but mostly as she dealt with her feelings for Gervaise, were nicely portrayed.
On the other hand, I have nothing much to say about the hero. He was a rather formulaic romance hero, with a deceptively calm exterior that hid a will of iron and determination that only few knew about or recognized. But since this was mostly Dawn's story, it helped that her hero didn't really overshadow her. He had his moments, mostly at very opportune times, when either Dawn or his mother needed a push or a shove, and he accomplished his mission with aplomb. I have a problem with his name, though, but that's probably just me.

Since this was a story of love blossoming on two opposite sides of the society spectrum and a story of self-discovery, the supporting cast did an excellent job of supporting the two protagonists, and create a suitable backdrop of support, disdain or scorn (provided by the hero's own mother, who I never really liked, but luckily she came around, since she had no other option).
The suspense/mystery subplot seemed rather superfluous, not really pushing the plot forward; it served more as filler and the actual catalyst for the initial meeting and the overall plot. The real reason behind the disappearance of Eleanor Gardyn was never really explained and the villain and the motive came out of the left field and seemed to be written more as an afterthought to make it all come together nicely.

But, as I said, this was a love story and a story of self-discovery and it didn't need much else to keep it afloat, so the disappointment in the suspense/mystery department didn't really impact the overall reading experience.


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