I...LOVED...THIS...BOOK! A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter was a wonderful read!
My thoughts: I've read several good reviews of all of the books so far in this, the Hawthorne House, series and was delighted to find the prequel e-novella A Lady of Esteem was free! I took this author for a "test read" and loved the prequel novella so I quickly bought the next three books in the series.
This book makes my heart happy. Miranda has been in society for a few years, has yet to meet someone she wants to marry, and is beginning to resign herself to spinsterhood. Miranda is not interested in acting the part of a lady, much to her mother's dismay, and throughout her life, has been subjected to many of her mother's "lady lessons".
Rather than venting about her frustrations and sharing her dreams in a journal, Miranda writes letters to a college friend of her brother's, the Duke of Marshington, whom she's never met. Miranda never intends for the letters to get mailed, she even writes them on special blue paper that all of the servants know never to mail, and collects them in a box under her bed. Miranda inadvertently left a letter with some other correspondence she instructed her brother's new valet to mail and since he didn't know the "never mail the blue paper" rule, it disappeared with the rest of the correspondence and was received by the Duke of Marshington. This starts some correspondence between Miranda and the duke while at the same time, Miranda becomes more and more intrigued by her brother's new valet.
Miranda is a spunky heroine and there is some fun dialogue between her and her brother's new valet, the duke, and her brothers that is fun to read. There are some great twists as well as a little intrigue in this book that made it hard to put down.
I loved this line said by the Duke of Marshington: "Women tended to go a bit queer in the attic about things like this."1 It took me a few seconds to process what this meant, but then I got a good chuckle out of the phrasing of it!
I was inspired by the Duke of Marshington's realization that although he didn't have any family, God had provided him with several good friends and mentors throughout his life to encourage and guide him. I've come to the same realization in my life. Having come from a small family, God has provided a wonderful network of friends and somewhat of a surrogate family for me as well, all of whom I am very thankful for.
From the back of the book: Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother's old school friend, the Duke of Marshington. Since she's never actually met the man, she has no intention of ever sending the letters and is mortified when her brother's mysterious new valet, Marlow, mistakenly mails one of the letters to the unsuspecting duke.
Shockingly, this breach of etiquette results in a reply from the duke that soon leads to a lively correspondence. Insecurity about her previous lack of suitors soon becomes confusion as Miranda finds herself equally intrigue by Marlow, a man she has come to depend upon but whose behavior grows more suspicious by the day. As the secret goings-on at her family's estate come to light, one thing is certain: Miranda's heart is far from all that's at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.
1 - Hunter, Kristi Ann. A Noble Masquerade. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2015. Print.