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REVIEW: Pride and Passion by Charlotte Featherstone

Dear Ms. Featherstone:

I confess that I read this book because I just loved the cover.  The positioning of the characters, the color of the dress, the frills at the cuff of the man’s outfit. It was very evocative.  The soft against the hard.  It’s a clinch but an evocative, sophisticated clinch.   This is the second book in the Brethren Guardian series and I have not read the first one.

Charlotte Featherstone Pride and PassionLucy Ashton seeks passion.  She thought she had found it in the arms of an impoverished artist, Thomas.    The night that she offered herself to this artist she had given him a lace handkerchief with her initials embroidered on it.  Lucy believed that this handkerchief was lost to her when a fire consumed her beloved’s rented rooms.  She seeks his presence  through seances and soothsayers, exploring the occult for answers.

Lucy’s father, however, wants her to marry the “passionless and priggish Duke of Sussex.”  What is worse is that the Duke of Sussex has returned Lucy’s handkerchief but while the Duke of Sussex wants answers about where Lucy’s handkerchief was found, Lucy begins to weave fantasies of reuniting with her artist beloved.

Sussex is part of a group known as the Brethren and they guard some artifact, as far as Lucy  knows.  ”Their business was mysterious and secretive, and dangerous.  From what she knew of their secrets, there existed  an onyx pendant, which was the very essence of evil,  and some sort of chalice they protected.”  Lucy took the necklace and swallowed one of the seeds inside the pendant in hopes that it would connect her with her dead lover.  Now Lucy is being told that Thomas is an enemy of the Brethren, a rogue Freemason, and thus an enemy of good.

Lucy’s portrayal is one of a hapless but privileged young woman who had no control over her life.  Her taking the lover, her seeking out the occult is her way of taking control.  Accepting her father’s choice would be an acquiescence that she is powerless.  I think that is an interesting concept but I couldn’t really understand Lucy’s thought process here.  Could a passionless and priggish man be part of a secret and mysterious and dangerous society?

Lucy’s constant reference to Adrian York, the Duke of Sussex, as passionless isn’t effectively carried off because the reader sees Adrian’s point of view and thus we know he is full of passion.  Repeated protestations by Lucy ring hollow.  This is likely a more effective technique if the story is told primarily from Lucy’s point of view, either in limited third or first person.

Instead the alternating point of view made it hard to drum up sympathy for Lucy’s position.  The reader knows her artist is the bad guy.  The reader knows that Adrian totally loves her.  The reader knows that he burns to get her into bed.  I objectively understood what was supposed to be portrayed here but it wasn’t convincing.

Adrian is not passionless and priggish.  He’s in love with Lucy and torn up that she appears to be in love with a man who killed a friend of his in cold blood, a man who is an enemy of the Brethren Guardians.  Fortunately, Adrian’s quest to win Lucy’s hand is aided in part by his sister and Lucy’s own cousin.  Adrian has enjoyed what Lucy seeks and that is rigid control over his life and his emotions (because of a secret!) but he seeks to lose himself in Lucy.

The secret society, the grail artifacts, and the rogue freemasons were probably there to provide suspense but the it seemed more like a game amongst men than a true and riveting danger.  I also felt that it took away from the romance even though part of the conflict arose from the secrets and artifacts.

I did enjoy the close friendship that Lucy enjoyed with her cousin and Adrian’s sister and once the romance got rolling, I enjoyed Adrian and Lucy together.  The secondary romance between Adrian’s sister who is blind and the supposedly philandering Marquis of Alynwick is heartwrenching and ends in a cliffhanger.

There were a couple moments of in the book that had my eyebrows raised including one love scene which took place when both were supposed to be in imminent danger and may have been brought about by slightly drugging both of them.  And there was a huge coincidence that brings the story full circle.   Suffice to say I liked the cover much more than I enjoyed the book. Finally, I wasn’t sure whether this was supposed to be a play on Pride and Prejudice with the Duke of Sussex playing the part of Darcy. C

Best regards,

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

14 Comments

  1. Lil
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 12:36:00

    I know this sounds dumb, but I just love the author’s name. I want to read the book just for that.

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  2. DM
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 12:54:57

    I agree–this cover is terrific. So are Courtney Milan’s HQN covers, and Nicola Cornick’s. I think the thing that I like about them is that they suggest story and conflict without clutter. This one is particularly good because it feels tactile–the fabrics have texture, the landscape has detail, the colors have depth. Much more appealing than pastel ruffles!

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  3. vita
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 14:28:48

    Jane, this was a particularly intriguing comment within the body of your review: “The secondary romance between Adrian’s sister who is blind and the supposedly philandering Marquis of Alynwick is heartwrenching and ends in a cliffhanger.”

    As series bait goes, this sounds great! Are you hooked enough (or at all) to want to read a continuation of their romance?

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  4. Christine Rimmer
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 14:29:45

    I love the cover too. And her name. Jennie Crusie did a blog on covers once and said they should be “tasty.” they should make you want to reach out and touch them. Even lick them. I confess. I want to lick this cover. :-O

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  5. Jane
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 14:59:25

    @vita I am ambivalent. It is intriguing but I don’t think I would buy the third book. I’m not interested enough to read the first book.

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  6. Joanne Renaud
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 15:59:16

    Does anyone know who did the cover illustration? It’s pretty amazing!

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  7. Christine
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 17:39:31

    I haven’t read this book either but I agree wholeheartedly about the cover- the clothes look rich not costumey. The whole vibe of it is sexy without being cheesy. I can think of a few great books that deserve a cover this nice.

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  8. etv13
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 19:35:34

    I too, think the cover is gorgeous, but she appears to have awfully long legs.

    Do you think the reference to The Bride of Lammermoor is deliberate?

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  9. Kay
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 20:27:32

    I have to agree about the cover being tactile, and it’s too bad the book doesn’t live up to it. Beyond his lace, other details I like are her earrings and his ring (the picture enlargement especially shows them) and how the black of that ring and of his coat is echoed in her lace. Each fabric has just the right body / drape. I’m not sure how the artist has all that orange and rust without making it look like the 70s, but perhaps it’s with the constrained palette and the depth of contrast, and the orange shaded just red enough and a little grayed.

    The view to their left shows the setting and looks so old-school in a good way. The view reminds me of another mostly orange book that I can’t place, I want to say orange with purple shadows, maybe a fairly famous one, maybe with an author’s name that has initials before the last name, possibly with the Taj Mahal? Am I dreaming?

    Though I can’t speak for her legs, her left arm does look positively twiglike and I keep worrying about her neck. Time to go enlarge the scene and admire her ruffles some more. :^)

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  10. Margot
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 20:38:47

    Charlotte Featherstone is the name of a courtesan in one of JAKs earlier Amanda Quick novels. The one where she’s publishing her memoirs, which include the hero, and the heroine won’t give in to Featherstone’s blackmail.

    I confess that in my head, the name is derivative, and I have trouble taking her seriously. I find myself wondering about the copyright issues involved…but hey, maybe JAK borrowed it from her.

    Either way, it’s a great cover on a book I’ll never read.

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  11. Susan/DC
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 22:19:02

    I love this cover. No historically inaccurate shirt open to the waist (him) or off the shoulder dress with lack of period-appropriate undergarments (her). The open shirt and cliched kiss on far too many books are supposed to let us know the book is a romance, but this cover is far more beautiful and romantic, and it is sexy in the very best way. Why are some authors so lucky and others, just as good or better, stuck with such terrible covers (thinking of Loretta Chase here)? I think the authors should make note of the cover artist and have it written into their contract that this artist does their books.

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  12. Emily
    Nov 12, 2011 @ 00:22:56

    I love this cover too Jane. I also would buy a book for the cover— I just did! (The Lady Gambles by Carole Mortimer)

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  13. Charlotte Featherstone
    Nov 12, 2011 @ 11:08:24

    Jane, thankyou for taking the time to read and review my book–oh,and for loving the cover, too. This one is absolutely my favourite cover.

    Just wanted to respond to the comment about by name by Margot. Featherstone is my legal surname. Kudos to hubs for giving it to me on our wedding day! Works perfect for a historical writer. Charlotte, however is not my first name, and is indeed borrowed. However, not from a character in a book. When I decided to take a different name, my husband threw out, Charlotte, after his fav NASCAR race track. I liked the ring to it, and thought it might be too long. But given the length of my own first name, Charlotte ended up shorter! Plus, I liked the historical sound of it. It was only after I was published that I learned of the character in the Amanda Quick book. Which, btw reminds me, I have to track down that book!

    Thanks again for the review. All the best

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  14. April V.
    Nov 19, 2011 @ 19:53:28

    I agree, stunning cover. I read the first book and ended up not liking Lucy very much so I’m not all that fired up about this one but I do like Elizabeth and Alynwick so I might have to pick up the second to find out more about them before reading the third.

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