Thursday, 21 January 2016

Review: The Highwayman's Daughter by Henriette Gyland

2.5 stars
EDIT 19/03/17: I was randomly looking through highlighted excerpts on my Kindle the other day, and I think that, if I was rating the same way I do now, this would be 2 stars. However, it seems futile to change a rating over 12 months after posting the review, so I'm leaving it as it is.

Class differences in historical romances alway pique my interest, and the The Highwayman's Daughter had a farm labourer heroine, while the hero was the titled son of an earl. The heroine, Cora, took to robbing coaches to pay for medicine for her father's rheumatism. When she holds up Jack and his cousin, they both notice that the highwayman is a woman rather than a lad, and make a bet as to who can track her down first. Only, once Jack finds her, he's not sure he wants to hand her over to the magistrate, both because she intrigues him, and because he thinks the that there is more to her story than she's letting on. 

The premise was good, but the reality was disappointing. It was like a snowball that just...kept gathering tropes as it rolled along: cross-dressing heroines, insta-love, old secrets, baby switching, unremittingly evil villians-slash-family-members and apparently unresolvable complications that are easily resolved. 

Combine the simplistic and unoriginal use of tropes with large doses of melodrama and convolution, and the result was like an early Georgian Bold and the Beautiful.  

And don't even get me started on the characters. The heroine ran away from the hero about a bazillion times, and while this made for predictable and repetitive reading, it was the most sense she showed in the whole book. Jack was the 18th century equivalent of a spoiled loafer-wearing Ivy League boy: Oh, poor me, I have to accompany my cousin whoring and gambling because who else will keep him in check if I don't? The male characters' attitudes toward women - while undoubtedly realistic - were dealt with heavyhandedly, although Jack did show some improvement in this area. 

To top it all off, I had trouble buying the ending. The class barrier between Jack and Cora, which had seemed so insurmountable and preoccupied all of the characters throughout the novel, just melted into thin air to allow for a HEA. 

It's getting 2.5 stars, for the premise, the cover and the first half that didn't send me completely round the bend. 

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