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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Review: Once Upon a Masquerade by Tamara Hughes

Format: .mobi (I received the book in exchange for an honest review)
Release Date: February 10, 2014

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 fiancee, 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 one of those reads that left me on the fence.

There's so much to talk about with Tamara Hughes' work that I don't know where to begin. The idea of a Cinderella-esque romance mixed with murder and suspense was something I looked forward to from the first page.

Unfortunately the overall execution of Once Upon a Masquerade left me unsatisfied in many ways.

Rebecca is one of those historical heroines who may be somewhat restricted by the time period she lives in and she tries to make up for it with what she perceives as “independent” decisions and actions. However, she fell flat for me through most of the book. I wanted to like her but I just couldn’t get past her childish mentality that led her to do the stupidest things. Mistakes I understand and expect but I also expect the characters to learn from their mistakes. Rebecca didn’t! She just kept acting before thinking and that just lead me to the conclusion that she was mentally incapable of making an adult decision.

She wasn’t a complete write off though, Rebecca genuinely cared about her father even though she knew she had to stop helping him get out of his problems and make her own life. She did do the best that she could with what life gave her and I couldn’t fault her for that.

Christopher was a decent character but it seemed like he couldn't decide if he wanted to be a hero or just fade into the background while he conducted his search for a killer. He had his moments though where I really liked him and started rooting for him to get the answers he so desperately needed.

Personally, I am used to reading historical romances that take place in England so it was difficult to adjust to the fact that this book takes place in 1880's New York. What would have made it a little easier for me would have been a bit more back story about what life was like for people in New York at that time and how did the social classes regard/treat one another. That might have helped me engage with Rebecca more.

Once Upon a Masquerade, while not entirely my cup of tea is one of those books that a reader has to judge for themselves. I'm not a history buff and I do understand what romantic fiction means but I also need the setting to at least sound realistic and it needs to help me understand where the characters, particularly the female character is coming from.

Final Verdict: While the story intrigued me, the end result didn't quite live up to the expectations I had. The characters didn't fully engage my attention or elicit any sympathy from me. Christopher and Rebecca have some lovely qualities but often times they were eclipsed by their ridiculous actions that I couldn't even count as believable flaws. Once Upon a Masquerade was a decent read that could have been much more had the characters been better developed. It still is a decent read though and has a few scenes that are like little gems buried in the sand.

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Heat Rating:

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