Thursday, 14 January 2016

Masquerade - Joanna Taylor

Lizzy Ward, escapee of the most exclusive brothel in London, spends her days working the streets of Piccadilly, navigating the debt collectors and the gin halls. Lizzy is determined to build a better life, and a chance meeting with a fine Lord has the potential to change her fortunes for ever - if she succeeds in masquerading as a Lady, his Lady, for an entire week.

While the descriptions are vivid and the plot is engaging, the beginning of Masquerade is just Pretty Woman set in the Regency era...even down to the dress shopping scene. At first I thought the parallels were cute, but after a while it really, really felt like it bordered so much on fan fiction that it might be construed as piracy. Following the dress shopping scene, the author did find her own voice but by that point I was already bothered by the story. I think if the author is actually writing fan fiction, it should be clearly stated in an introduction as opposed to being placed after the acknowledgements almost as an afterthought in the back (where it isn't actually declared, but teased about with, "Joanna Taylor took her inspiration for Masquerade from one of her favourite films. Can you guess what it is?").

This is an author with talent and that is evident from her colorful descriptions, pacing, and interesting plot—which would warrant AT LEAST four stars—if she had written her own story and done so in a convincing story line. Unfortunately, the book is let down by unbelievable character interactions. Namely, a highly respected Lord parading a street-prostitute around the Pantheon and Vauxhall Gardens where she screeches and embraces another courtesan in view of all. I am not a stickler for authenticity, but a story does have to be believable. The author is gifted with description and I think if the parts that pilfer from Pretty Woman are edited and more attention is paid to behavioral and dialogue detail (particularly in the parts where Lizzy is in public with Lord Hays), it would lend to the credibility and integrity of the book and the time period it is set in, and be worthy of five stars. As it stands, I can only give it three.

I'd like to thank Net Galley and the publisher for providing a free copy of this book on a read-to-review basis.


Amazon Link: Masquerade

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