Title: Manor of Secrets
Author: Katherine Longshore
Acquired Via: Around the World ARC Tours
Release Date: January 28, 2014
It's DOWNTON ABBEY for teens! Gorgeous gowns, handsome boys, delicious intrigue, and upstairs-downstairs drama collide in the British countryside of 1911.
At The Manor, nothing is as it seems...
Lady Charlotte Edmonds: Beautiful, wealthy, and sheltered, Charlotte feels suffocated by the strictures of upper-crust society. She longs to see the world beyond The Manor, to seek out high adventure. And most of all, romance.
Janie Seward: Fiery, hardworking, and clever, Janie knows she can be more than just a kitchen maid. But she isn't sure she possesses the courage--or the means--to break free and follow her passions.
Both Charlotte and Janie are ready for change. As their paths overlap in the gilded hallways and dark corridors of The Manor, rules are broken and secrets are revealed. Secrets that will alter the course of their lives...forever.
Oh historical fiction, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height... Okay, okay, I won't wax poetic (cut and paste poetic, rather) about Katherine Longshore's Manor of Secrets, but it's hard not to because it has everything I love about period pieces - promise of scandal, fabulous clothes, intrigue, betrayal, and swoonworthy romance. It is pretty typical of what I expect from Edwardian-era stories, but it was still enjoyable nonetheless.
As the synopsis states, the characters central to the story are Charlotte, a lady of culture dreaming of more in life, and Janie, a kitchen maid who is in love with a shoe shiner and dreams of becoming a cook. Both protagonists are extremely likable and easy to relate to, though I've never been a lady nor a maid (thank Bob on both counts). They're both wanting to be more than what they are, which is what I found typical of Edwardian-based stories, and to be expected due to all of the suffrage movements in the early 20th century. Thankfully, there's a little bit more depth to Manor of Secrets than that. Charlotte begins to question everything around her and if there is more to it all than what is at face value. Janie must decide what is her rightful place and whether or not she'll accept the lot that society deals her. Reading about the girls facing those challenges head on was not easy to put down.
The secrets in Manor of Secrets were nothing that surprised me too much. The biggest secret was obvious to me from the start (probably from the number of Marion Chesney novels that I've read), but it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book. What did surprise me was how the characters grew and their true colors once they were revealed. It's always nice to find people to be secretly better than you expected.
Did I say woonworthy romance? Well, of course there's going to be swooning and kissing in a novel like Manor of Secrets! I'm not going to give anything away, but everything ends up as it should with the couples that I was rooting for. And no, it's not a HEA with a nice and tidy bow. But it could be! I'm crossing my fingers for a sequel or spin-off.
I'll be honest - I'm biased when it comes to historical romances. I'm either going to love them or hate them, and I hate very, very few of them. Manor of Secrets was doomed to be a book a adored from the outset, and I'm going to be reading Gilt by Katherine Longshore very soon, as it's been sitting on my shelf for ages.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.