My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In a historical romance by Tasha Alexander, I read about a character engrossed in a work by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, a popular nineteenth century author but one I had never heard of. My curiosity was aroused so I went on Amazon to see if this 145 year old work was available for my Kindle. To my amazement it was. I was able to acquire, not just the book in question, but the complete works of this prolific woman author, complete with scholarly annotations. So far I have read only one of the myriad works in the collection, but I shall read them all. They are a most interesting study for anyone who reads or writes in the romantic suspense genre. While not strictly speaking “romance” there are strong romantic elements. The annotator of the collection states they were the forerunners of the mystery and suspense novels of today. In their day they were marketed with “lurid yellow covers” and were sold cheaply. However cheaply they may have been sold, it is a recorded fact that 'Lady Audley’s Secret' made both M.E. Braddon and her publisher very rich. The work went on to become a stage play and was, in the time of silent films, even made into a movie.
The story is told in the voice of the nephew of Lord Audley, whose supercilious moralizing, which probably pleased the audience of the day, drove me nearly mad. His character is, to me, thoroughly unlikable, while the “villain” of the piece, poor Lady Audley whose only proven crime was marrying a second time when she believed and hoped her first husband who had deserted her, was dead. She is pursued and persecuted by said nephew.
This is not, of course, the take that would have been placed on the story when it was written during good Queen Victoria’s reign. It is a viewpoint from the 21st century by a woman who is appalled at this recorded position and treatment of women in the 19th century.
It is an interesting read. I recommend to those who enjoy reading mystery and romance, and, even more, to those who write in those genres.
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"This book is a terrific suspense/romance book. I loved that it covered so much of the world in telling the story. I felt as if I were viewing the sites myself, not second hand. I could relate to the female main character. I've had friends who went from "nobody" to "Mrs. Park Avenue". I loved the uniqueness of it as well. It touched me deeply. You'll enjoy this easy read." ....More
Celia Lewis, Pres., Romance Writers of America, Greater Vancouver Chapter
"A challenging love story, a deadly dangerous secret, a mysterious quest from New York through Europe, the latest story from Blair McDowell has it all!... I love romantic suspense, and this story was very fascinating to me, not least because of the unusual locales, adding an exotic flavour. I'm already wanting to read the next story by Blair McDowell!"
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