Saturday, September 7, 2013

Review- Mask of the Highwaywoman by Niamh Murphy



Mask of the Highwaywoman

By Niamh Murphy

Dec 3, 2012

Historical/ Lesbian

Pgs 161 (Kindle Edition)

Pub: Freya Publications

Evelyn Thackeray, the spirited daughter of a wealthy aristocrat, is en route to meet her future husband, when a gang of vicious outlaws attacks her stagecoach. In spite of Evelyn’s terror, she is intrigued by the leader of the gang, a beautiful Highwaywoman called Bess. Increasingly entranced by Bess and the prospect of adventure, Evelyn puts up little resistance when she is kidnapped. However, she begins to suspect there is a lot more to her captor than she initially thought and what started as a light-hearted escapade rapidly turns into a desperate escape and a frantic struggle for survival.
Niamh Murphy’s debut novel is not just a swashbuckling lesbian romance, but also a gripping tale of love and betrayal.

OK, I’m just going to come right out with it, I just don’t know what the heck this is. This story is so full of plot holes and TSTL moments. And character development is practically non-existent. This book is one long string of chase scenes with constant angsting and whining by the main protagonist.

This story starts out with Evelyn getting robbed and then kidnapped. Then there are flashbacks to her life until that moment. She’s living with her widowed father and being wooed by a man that her father is doing business with. According to her, she’s bored with her life of luxury. Nothing exciting ever happens. While this new suitor seems nice enough, he’s not floating her boat that much. She decides it’s time to marry though because that’s what women of her station do. But before doing so, she’s convinced to go see a friend of hers , a two day ride by carriage, by her suitor so that she will get a chance to see what married life might be like.

Along the way, the carriage is robbed. One of the robbers is a woman who captures Evelyn’s attention, not being like any other woman she’s known. Having everything stolen from her, she’s forced to offer to work for a night’s stay at the crappiest inn in a nearby village. Suddenly, the highwaywoman shows up, coming through her bedroom window and gives back her stuff. Even more intrigued, she insists on knowing who this woman is but is left alone again. The next morning she takes the next carriage out and is then kidnapped by this same woman. From there on out it’s a constant cat and mouse game with Evelyn trying to run from her captors and caught between her attraction to the highwaywoman and her fear about who’s side this woman is on.

As a character I didn’t like Evelyn. She insists on taking a “public” carriage to her friend’s house when her father has his own because she wants to feel the freedom and adventure of it. But then bitches non-stop about how crowded and uncomfortable it is the whole way. After being kidnapped by the highway woman and under the guise of helping her, she is led to a country village where she muses about how lucky those country people are with their simple little lives, getting to work the land all day and having their cozy little houses with their loving families and not having to think much about all those boring, pesky things like tedious rich people tea parties and socials and long days of nothing to do.

She also constantly vacillates between feeling an attraction to this woman who represents the adventure she craves and never knowing if she can trust her. This, even after having been betrayed by this woman over and over. I felt like screaming at her, shit or get off the pot because it went on and on.

Then, towards the end she acts so stupidly. Well, she’s acts stupidly through the whole book, but the end, the last big chase scene was a huge WTF for me.

The romance: there was no romance really. The women end up with a few moments together while on the run and Bess, the highway woman, is in love with Evelyn. She doesn’t know why, she just is. She doesn’t know jack about Evelyn. At least I could see something from Evelyn’s POV because Bess represents anything but her boring life. But we get ZERO POV from Bess as to why she’s madly in love with Evelyn from the start. I felt no real emotional connection between the women.

The frequent chase scenes got bogged down in too much detail and I ended up skimming through a lot of them. The author also went into lots of descriptive detail on the scenery, but barely expressed any of the usual and subtle nuances in interaction that show two people have a growing attraction.

If you’re looking for a book with a lot of action you’ll love this book. For me, it was lacking on so many levels and was a wall banger on others. 

Heat Level: 2 one or two non-graphically written sexual interactions between the women.

Grade: Didn’t like it

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