Friday, March 16, 2018

A Most Noble Heir

A Most Noble Heir. Susan Anne Mason. 2018. Bethany House Publishers. Pages: 369. [Source: Netgalley / Bethany House Publishers Review Program]


When stable hand Nolan Price learns from his dying mother that he is actually the son of the Earl of Stainsby, his plans for a future with kitchen maid Hannah Burnham are shattered. Once he is officially acknowledged as the earl's heir, Nolan will be forbidden to marry beneath his station.

Unwilling to give up the girl he loves, he devises a plan to elope – believing that once their marriage is sanctioned by God, Lord Stainsby will be forced to accept their union. However, as Nolan struggles to learn the ways of the aristocracy, he finds himself caught between pleasing Hannah and living up to his father's demanding expectations.

At every turn, forces work to keep the couple apart, and a solution to remain together seems further and further away. With Nolan's new life pulling him irrevocably away from the woman he loves, it seems only a miracle will bring them back together.



I shouldn't have to say this warning, but if you haven't read the book and don't want to be spoiled, don't read!

When I was first introduced to this book through an email from Bethany House Publishers, I was super excited. The synopsis made the book sound fantastic, so I found myself waiting impatiently to see whether or not I would make it onto the reading list and be sent a link to the book on Netgalley.

The story began rather well. Nolan Price is one of the stable boys of Stainsby Hall, and friends with servants such as the earl's personal blacksmith, the other stable boys, and most of the other servants of the hall. He's in love with the kitchen maid Hannah, and his mother is the head housemaid. He has only one enemy - one of the footmen, who seemed determined to woo Hannah, despite the fact that Hannah has told him no several times and that she's Nolan's girlfriend.

This book was really good for about the first-half. I felt myself connecting with Nolan, and I was so excited for him to get the farm he wanted so he could marry Hannah and leave his job as a servant of the Stainsby household.

But as things started to happen the prose shifted a little in style, in my opinion, and I started to feel a bit disconnected from the whole story. Hannah's blatant mistrust of Nolan after he agreed to learn from his biological father after he found out who he was seemed extremely out of place since she's known him since she was 14 years old.

On top of that, the revelation of Hannah's insecurities of whether or not she was loved by her mother and others seemed like it came too late in the story. There weren't enough hints building up to the revelation of that fact.

The whole story had so many side-plots surrounding the main one. The main plot was the whole thing about Nolan and his father, learning to become the heir his father desired. There were at least three side-plots – one involving Hannah's family, another involving Nolan's relationship with Hannah, and one involving Nolan's biological father, Edward, and Hannah's aunt, Iris.

There was also another side-plot, but it didn't pop up until my kindle said I was 97% of the way through the book. There were the obvious seeds of the beginning of this plot near the beginning of the story when Nolan first met his half-sisters and his half-brother-in-law, but Nolan didn't seem to dwell on it for very long. The only reminder of it seemed to be the random threatening notes that, also, Nolan didn't seem to really worry about.

I hate that I had to be so nit-picky with this story, since it kept me enthralled to the point I could hardly put it down even though I read most of this on my Digital Media Retreat! I brought my kindle to a camp and retreat centre in the middle of an extremely isolated valley, and could hardly put it down even when I was dragged about to different activities out in the middle of hip-deep snow.

Unfortunately, the thing that bugged me the most was how disconnected I felt from the characters when things started to pick up. I feel the story could have been stronger if we could have been inside the heads of the characters a bit more.

All in all, though, it was done rather well for a story that took place in England and written by a Canadian who may or may not have ever been to England...

I apologize this took me so long to write! I finished reading this story back before March even began! My only excuse is that college has been killer. In a bad way. I've been so busy that I've found it hard to breathe.


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