REVIEW: Duking Days: Revolution by Anita Davison
Dear Mrs. Davison,
Earlier this year I read your first novel “Duking Days:Rebellion.” As I said, it took me back to my early days of reading historical fiction rather than true romance books. When I finished it, I already had plans to read the sequel, “Duking Days: Revolution.” This story does take up exactly where the first left off so I would not recommend readers start here. Even I had to stop a few times at the beginning and recall names and events from “Rebellion.”
“Revolution” is more saga-ish than a standard historical romance, following multiple people and story threads over a seven year time frame. It doesn’t really feel quite like either a romance novel or a historical novel – more bit of both with touch of something different. Kind of like the more old fashioned stories of the sixties and seventies but without the soap opera melodrama that so often dragged those stories far past my tolerance level.
Like “Rebellion,” it’s filled with great period detail but I got tired of Helena constantly being the ignorant one to whom things get explained in order to tell them to the reader. Yet, it does reflect the norm where women would probably not have known things since men controlled everything, including what their womenfolk read/saw/were exposed to.
I knew a lot about the events surrounding the Duke of Monmouth’s play for the throne but not as much as I thought about what happened during the short, tumultuous reign of his uncle, the last King James. The major events of the day were incorporated into the story by having the Woulfes or their associates involved yet it didn’t take on the feel I get from some historical books of major contrivance to allow this. Guy, Aaron, William and Robert Deveroux all felt like they should be at these events or involved in them instead of tacked into the battles, or bank building, etc in order for us to see them.
Helena voices her frustrations/fears/anger at Aaron and her father. Yes! She loves/d them and yet I would have felt it unnatural for her to keep all this anger simmering inside her when she finally gets the chance to vent it. It’s also realistic that there would be tension over Tobias and his place in the family. Aaron probably did feel displaced as ‘eldest son’ and some guilt that Tobias was there in England to help Helena and Henry when Aaron was in Holland. I hated that Tobias never saw the family restored to Loxsbeare yet his death and that of Sir Jonathan were more realistic rather than having everything tied up in neat happy package at the end.
Guy and Helena – you give Helena enough to feel anger about and reason for what she does – or the start of a reason – yet avoid turning Guy into some maniacal villain at the end. He’s basically a decent person just doing what is considered normal for the day. He and Helena never married for an overwhelming passion / love but did care for each other. I wondered how you would manage Helena’s true HEA and again, it fits with the times and dangers of the day. I enjoyed the snapshot of Guy as a patient father and also his obvious love for his children. His attempts to win back Helena’s affections were a welcome change from the usual way The Other Man is depicted rather than painting him into a corner of villainy.
As for William and Helena – their relationship is trickier. Yes, they’re in love – truly in love – yet some will balk at what they do. I had moments of disappointment at them but as Adella informs Helena, it’s what lots of other women of the time were up to. And this isn’t an age where divorce was an easy option.
I love the chance to read about an era when social mobility was still more flexible as opposed to Georgian or Regency society- trade was accepted and noblemen could work and not be snubbed. Or perhaps the whole construct of this is something invented and presented to us in romance novels as truth?
I’m more used to the Irish being shown as downtrodden/oppressed by the English and not hearing English characters express fear of them. Again, good job in presenting the Battle of the Boyne. We get enough detail for the purpose of the story without going overboard and bringing the narrative to a halt.
Helena has moments of independence and yet will allow the men in her life to arrange things – dictating her movements after the birth of the twins, designing and decorating the Palmer’s new house, Guy’s funeral. Thanks for not making her a strident feminist, three centuries too early. Your depictions of childbirth (ye Gods!) make me think you speak from experience. Poor Helena with no mother to comfort her and take pain away. I loved that she’s not an immediate, natural mother-of-the-year.
Lord Bladen – hmmm. The ending compresses and deflates him. There’s no major showdown yet the Woulfes quietly showed him up by surviving, thriving and restoring Loxsbeare to it’s former glory. Thank you for giving poor Henry the HEA he so richly deserves. Did you base the trials of his lady love on any historical facts. If so, it’s yet another instance of how much these women were at the mercy of men.
All in all, I’m well pleased with the resolution of the story you’ve invented for the Woulfe family and how neatly it dovetails with historical fact. Yes, I am the type of person interested in the nuggets of information you sprinkled throughout the books and I laughed when I read about the correction of the menus based on your whispered comment to the proprietor that his dates were incorrect. Thanks for sending me copies of these books and I look forward to what you’ll write next. B+
May be purchased from Amazon. No ebook found.