Monday, April 21, 2014

Review: Once Upon a Masquerade by Tamara Hughes

Release date: February 10, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Entangled: Scandalous
Pages: 293
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Netgalley
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon
New York City, 1883

A Prince Charming meets his match...

Self-made shipping magnate Christopher Black first spies Rebecca Bailey at a masquerade ball and is captivated by her refreshing naivete and sparkling beauty. She's a stark contrast to the hollow behavior of the ton and the guile of his former fiancée, but the closer he gets to her secrets, the further she pushes him away.

A Cinderella with a secret...

Rebecca is drawn to the charismatic Christopher from the first, but she cannot risk him discovering that she is really a housemaid impersonating an heiress. Her father's life depends on it.

A Happily Ever After that could never be...

When Christopher's investigation of the murder of his best friend leads him straight to Rebecca, he fears his ingenue may be a femme fatale in disguise. Now he must decide if he can trust the woman he's come to love, or if her secrets will be his downfall.
Once Upon a Masquerade is certainly not my normal fare, but I requested it on a whim from Netgalley because the story sounded fun and the cover was pretty. (I am indeed, superficial.) And, while it's far from a perfect read, if you like historical romance, it's a light, fun, and quick read that left me smiling at the end.

The premise is interesting enough, and the plot moves at a good pace, keeping you entertained throughout, both with intrigue in the story and romantic tension. I did have the ultimate ending figured out really early, but that didn't especially detract from my enjoyment of the story.

I found myself quite liking Rebecca, even though she was a little dumb in some of her decisions. She loves her father deeply, and feels a lot of loyalty towards him, which makes her take care of him and continue bailing him out of his messes, even though he truly needs some tough love. She isn't delusional about the situation she brings herself into and carries herself with a lot of dignity. I certainly didn't agree with a few of her choices, but I understood them and her motivations.

The attention to historical detail here likely isn't especially well-maintained, since the social constraints of chaperones and using others' Christian names seemed quite lax. But the only thing that really bothered me was the dialogue. There are times, especially in the beginning of the novel, when the dialogue felt very stilted and unnatural, even like filler in moments. It gets better as the novel goes on, but there are still moments where the conversation felt forced and unnecessary--and definitely not intentionally.

But, all in all, Once Upon a Masquerade is a kind of Cinderella retelling that adds a dose of mystery and back-alley drama. It's quick and fun, an enjoyable read.

About the author:

A small town girl with a big imagination, Tamara Hughes had no idea what to do with her life. After graduating from college, she moved to a big city, started a family and a job, and still struggled to find that creative outlet she craved. An avid reader of romance, she gave writing a try and became hooked on the power of exploring characters, envisioning adventures, and creating worlds. She enjoys stories with interesting twists and heroines who have the grit to surmount any obstacle, all without losing the ability to laugh.

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