YA Historical Romance/Fantasy
Last July I was delighted to learn I’d won a contest on NineteenTeen, the historical blog shared by authors Marissa Doyle and Regina Scott. My prize: an ARC (Advance Reading Copy) of Betraying Season, Doyle’s most recent novel set in 19th Century Great Britain.
I was excited, not only because I’m one of those “never win anything” people, but also because the book was the follow-up to Bewitching Season, a novel I’d really enjoyed. Both of these books contain some of my favorite ingredients for a story–magic, romance, and history.
In Betraying Season, Penelope Leland, feeling a lesser witch than her sister, travels to Ireland with her former governess, Ally, to study magic. She soon becomes acquainted with Lady Keating, whose social invitations and handsome son, Niall, distract Pen from her studies. But Pen is unaware that Niall has been ordered to pursue her. Lady Keating, who is also a witch, needs Pen’s growing magic to implement an evil plan.
While Pen deals with the Keating family, including a growing attraction to Niall, she must also attend tutorials with young men uncomfortable with women studying magic. She has no support from the recently married Ally, who’s suffering from acute morning sickness. Pen must handle confusing and tricky relationships, for the most part, on her own. She does so with both great strength of character and naiveté, making her all the more real. Niall develops true feelings for Pen, and when he learns exactly what his mother has planned, he must find some way to protect Pen.
As the plot deepens, there are betrayals–or the possibility of betrayal–on many different levels. Doyle has deftly woven twists and turns in the story, several of which took me by surprise. (Don’t you love being surprised?) This was one of those books that I re-read, watching for all the ways Doyle planted motivation or information that was vital for the last fourth of the book. She accomplished it seamlessly.