Monday, 16 July 2012

Vice & Virtue - Veronica Bennett

Title: Vice & Virtue
Author: Veronica Bennett
Set in 1700 London, a time of unrest after the civil war of 1640 it tells the story of Aurora Eversedge. The oldest of three sisters, she takes it upon herself to restore her family's wealth by agreeing to marry a virtual stranger, Edward Francis. Little does she know Mr. Francis is not quite what he seems for she is the key to a revenge he has long been planning. From the moment she enters the marriage, she is pulled into the world of secrets, lies and deceit.

So today I decided to take a leap of faith and read something outside my comfort zone- Historical Fiction. Mind you I have no problem reading historical books or fiction standalone but reading historical fiction has been one of those things I avoided doing. The reason being it often features a female protagonist whose helplessness simply frustrates me. So picking up Vice & Virtue by Veronica Bennett felt like a step in the right direction.

In order to asses each book I have device a list of standards starting from aesthetics to the depth and quality of the writing.

You know a saying 'Don't judge a book by its cover' well most people go around pretending they don't but that is total crap. We all do it; in fact I make it my number one reason for picking up a book. It was no different for this book.

I actually like this cover it had the right combination of simplicity and elegance but I was worried it was going to be the Gossip Girl of the seventeen hundreds. Pink and full of sexual scandals.

Structurally the book was flawless; it was easy to read and got me over my fear of historical novels. The protagonist Aurora Eversedge or Aurora Francis as she becomes known very shortly afterward is intelligent and quick on her feet. Her voice was strong and grownup, if not a bit too grown up but I suppose that was intentional on Bennett's part to show how girls were forced to grow up faster back in the 1700s. She is the oldest of three daughters and after her father's death she and her family are forced out of their lavish lifestyle and into the life of poverty.

From the beginning it is clear that Aurora is determined to get their wealth back in the only way a girl can – by marrying a rich husband. When talking about her future husband Bennett shows Aurora's age by expressing her wishful thinking but as great as this was I was left a bit disappointed by Aurora's reactions. Somehow despite her intelligence she seemed to have no reproach about marrying someone she did not love. In fact when she agreed to marry a seemingly dying rich man all she thought about was carrying his heir which seemed a bit too unrealistic.

The relationship between the characters was delightful. Aurora is a wonderful protagonist and you could not help but like her but some of the characters come out as a bit stereotypical – like Richard who is the typical knight in shining armor and Joe who is the typical bad boy.

I liked the mystery element in the book, it was as if every chapter you read there was something new to be found. The romance element was not bad either although I was not too impressed with it since it was done near the end of the book and I felt Bennett could have shown it progression throughout especially since I felt that Edward's confession of love for Aurora seemed a bit unconvincing.

So here comes the verdict.

I can say I mildly enjoyed the book but I am far from a fan. While the characters were believable I did not develop any emotional attachment to any of them, I simply did not care what happened to them rather continued reading for the interesting mystery. Even the mystery as surprising as the culprit happened to be, did not leave me on the edge of my seat.

Overall: I give this book a 3 out of 5  simply because it entice my curiosity enough for me to continue reading it but I was ready to stop reading it after the culprit was found half way through the book.

Product Details
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Walker & Company (December 1, 2011)
Language: English
Author's Website:

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