“Tess can’t run far enough or fast enough to escape the prophetic dreams that haunt her. Dreams bring nothing but death and grief, and Tess refuses to accept that she may be destined for the same madness that destroyed her mother. Until her disturbing dreams become the only means of saving Lord Ravencross, the man she loves, and her friends at Stranje House from Lady Daneska and her lover, the Ghost-agent of Napoleon, who has escaped from Elba. Can the young ladies of Stranje House prevail once more? Or is England destined to fall into the hands of the power-mad dictator?”
Aww. Dudes, I’m such a sucker for this series. Even though I generally enjoy historical fiction, this series is my first regency era series. (Seriously, I haven’t even ever read Jane Austen. I know, I know, so sue me…) But I don’t think it’ll be my last.
I loved the heck out of it.
The plotting is extremely consistent with book #1 (A School For Unusual Girls) and I love how all the characters got involved in this book as well as the first. I’m not sure what to call the style since I haven’t run into it before (not much anyway.) It makes it seem as if the book doesn’t have a single or two main characters. I guess it’s just a narrative style? I don’t know, because it is written in first person, so I don’t think I can call it that. It just overlaps personal storylines and blends them well into the next novel.
LORD RAVENCROSS. Omg. Or should I say something more era appropriate? Oh my stars? I don’t know guys. I would probably remember terms from the book but I actually read Exile for Dreamers in February. I’m just writing the review now because I kept getting reviewer’s-block. It sucked.
But I’m here now and that’s all that matters, right?
Anyway, Gabriel is adorable, and not in the fluffy-kitten sort of way. Nope. Not at all. It’s in the…. Rugged way I suppose? The wounded hero way. (Y’all know that gets me nearly every time.)
Gabriel was moody, and broody, but not in an annoying way. More in a scarred, confused, longing way. I don’t think he quite knew how to handle his affections for Tess, but it was so sweet to see him work it out, and the way they butted heads on the stubborn-persistent front.
I absolutely adored the way that Gabriel was doing things to be strong for Tess. BUT what sealed the deal was that it was a two-way street. Tess did things, for the good of Gabriel. They both came off as very equal individuals, which is something that doesn’t happen in a lot of novels.
Yay for strong female characters!
Of course, Tess is still somewhat bound by the societal rules and expectations of ladies in the regency era, but strangely (or should I say, Stranjely, hahaha) Kathleen has made the two mix well.
Everyone knows that strong women have existed since the beginning of time, but for whatever reason, strong female characters are hard to find in regency novels, due to the societal-expectation structure.
In the USA, when we think of strong female characters, we tend not to think of needlepoint, and being caught in the presence of a man. Alone.
But the two can in fact co-exist and Kathleen displays it in both of these novels (not the needlepoint…The strong female part.) I’m not sure if this is because the world was set up in A School For Unusual Girls, or if I just meshed with Tess better, but I think overall Exile for Dreamers was even stronger than ASUG.
One thing has been made clear, Kathleen’s strength lies in her endings. Exile for Dreamers ended on an extremely strong ending. I love that she doesn’t do the Happily Ever After endings. (It’s more like a Happy for Now ending..) As much as my heart longs to see these independent women get happily ever afters, the happy for now endings maintain the strength of the novels and the series itself. (I’ll wait for gratification of possible Happily Ever Afters till the end of the series.)
But back to the ending. The last sentence had three words in it, and it was PERFECT. It left me grinning like a fool. You remember when I brought up chapter capping?
*it’s a term I use, when speaking about chapters that start with a saying, sentence or concept, and end the chapter with the same thing. Though, you or the character’s view/perception has been changed because of the in between content.
This novel ended itself with a chapter cap, except it wasn’t a chapter cap, it was pretty much a book-cap. It brought back a simple sentence from much earlier in the book, and it was heart melting and lovely.
That being said, I HIGHLY recommend the series. I haven’t seen/read any Austen movies/books but I’d dare to say that if you love Austen, or want to get into Austen stuff, these books would be a perfect place to start.
They have the setting and terminology right, without being straight up overwhelming. It also mixes in lots of fun stuff that you know happened (but you don’t hear about.)
Like lady-spies, lady-villains, lady-leaders… lords with survivor’s guilt.
Lots of good espionage stuff in general. Like with ASUG, this book seems to be overlapping and indicating as to which girl/couple will be the subject of the next novel.
I could be wrong, but I’m thinking the next book (Sanctuary for Seers) will be about the young scientist Mr. Chadwick, and the lovely Jane.
Picture this: Jane, a well-mannered, well brought up, English miss, ending up with a chaotic, quirky American scientist. That’s going to be so amazing. So much. Anyway,
Tldr; Read this, it’s good. Strong characters + Interesting plot. I can’t wait to read book #3 (Refuge for Masterminds.)
I’m hoping to perhaps do an interview with Kathleen, so I’ll keep you guys posted on that!
*FTC disclaimer: I received this arc from the author in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way effected my opinion or review of this book.