09 March 2013

Moonlight Masquerade by Ruth Axtell, Book review

Publisher: Revell (March 1, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-0800720896


(From the Back Cover)
Sometimes it is hard to tell if you are the cat or the mouse.Lady CĂ©line Wexham seems the model British subject. French by birth but enjoying life in 1813 as a widowed English countess, she is in the unique position of being able to help those in need--or to spy for the notorious Napoleon Bonaparte.

When Rees Phillips of the British Foreign Office is sent to pose as the countess's butler and discover where her true loyalties lie, he is confident he will uncover the truth. But the longer he is in her fashionable townhouse in London's West End, the more his staunch loyalty to the Crown begins to waver as he falls under Lady Wexham's spell.

Will he find the proof he needs? And if she is a spy after all, what then will he do?

With sharp wit, fast-paced dialogue, and infectious intrigue, Ruth Axtell deftly creates a world where black and white burst into a confusion of colors--and no one is who they seem. 

My thoughts:

In 'Moonlight Masquerade' Lady Celine Wexham, leading member of London's Bon Ton and a widowed Countess of French origin, lives the life of most emigres in early 1800's. She holds intimate meetings in her boudoir and gives dinner parties and balls gathering any information she might be able to pass on to French Royalists to reinstate the rightful throne. 
It is 1813 and Napoleon, facing a massive defeat in the harsh winter of Russia, orders a retreat of the Imperial army after losing thousands of French soldiers on the battlefield. 
The Comte de Provence, brother to the late beheaded King Louis XVI is not the ideal choice for the Royal throne but better him than the self proclaimed Emperor.
Lady Celine, Valentine, her supercilious Abigail (slang aside, only an older servant would be allowed such an acerbic attitude) and Gaspard, her French Cook are part of a spy ring. 
Rees, the object of Celine's interest is none other than her own Butler. An ambitious young man and a devoted Christian, recently pulled from an obscure department of the Home Office in part due to his linguistic talents, Rees' task is to spy on his mistress with the express purpose of implicating her in the conspiracy if such exists and report to his superior. 

Danger lurks and he soon finds himself battling his loyalties as Celine 'with her 'brandy hue irises' eyes touches his heart...Does anyone else remember Barbara Cartland's novels?
None of the characters are likely to provide much entertainment in this slow historical romance but if light, fluffy and harmless is your preferred choice, you will enjoy Moonlight Masquerade! 
The portrayal of  the Masquerade ball held at the Comte de Provence exiled court even defied my imagination with its lackluster details and the overall impression was soporific!
Finally, I saw little of the 'witty, fast paced dialogue or infectious intrigue' mentioned in the synopsis and if this novel was in fact a music sheet, it would read as humming...It droned on and on... The few historical notes such as the mention of William Wilberforce as dinner guest at one of her lavish parties, or Voltaire's quotes, a man of note in himself, brings no relief to this plot. 
I hardly think it necessary to dust my shelves for this novel! 

Regretfully, 3 (generous) stars!  

 “Available March 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”
About the Author:
Ruth knew she wanted to be a writer ever since she wrote her first story--a spy thriller--at the age of twelve. She studied comparative literature at Smith College, spending her junior year at the Sorbonne in Paris. After college, she taught English in the Canary Islands then worked in international development in Miami, Florida, before moving to the Netherlands, where for the next several years, she juggled both writing and raising her three children.

In 1994, her second manuscript was a finalist in Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart competition. In 2002, her sixth manuscript took second place in the Laurie Contest of RWA's Smoky Mountain chapter. The final judge requested her full manuscript and this became her first published book, Winter Is Past, which was spotlighted in Christian Retailing magazine. Since then, Ruth has gone on to publish thirteen historical romances.
Visit her website (HERE).

 I received this book free from BAKER REVELL as part of their blogger review program. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.


  1. Hi Noelle,

    This sounds like an interesting book! Thank you for introducing it to us!

    Wishing you a lovely new week! I love the Dutch windmill in the background :-)

    Madelief x

  2. Thanks Madelief! I always wanted to live in one or perhaps on a barge...Childhood dreams!


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