Maulever Hall by Jane Aiken Hodge
Published by Ipso Books
Publication Date: May 17, 2018
Genres: Historical Romance
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After a violent coach accident, Marianne wakes with no memory and no idea who she is or where she was going — a name on her brooch the single clue to her identity.
Accompanied only by a young boy, Marianne finds herself lost, afraid, and penniless. Convinced she’s being followed, she pleads for help at the nearest village and is offered refuge by a lonely widow at her grand country home, Maulever Hall.
Marianne settles into life at the Hall, finding fast companionship with Mrs Mauleverer. The days pass and no hint of memory returns, but Marianne’s need for answers is growing urgent. An unexpected visit from Mrs Mauleverer’s aloof son, Mark and his soon-to-be-betrothed, Lady Heverdon has thrown life at the Hall into disarray. They suspect Marianne has come into their lives under false pretences. But the longer she spends with Lady Heverdon, the more Marianne becomes convinced the opposite may be true.
As tensions within the family rise, and Marianne finds herself growing closer to Mark, she begins to wonder whether her arrival at Maulever Hall may have more to do with fate than chance.
Marianne has amnesia. She woke up riding in a mail coach and was told by the other passengers that there had been an accident. Not only does she not remember the accident, she doesn’t remember who she is or who the little boy is who is next to her. The brooch on her dress says “Marianne” so she assumes that’s her name. She had originally instructed the coachman to leave her and the boy (who the passengers say is named Thomas) off at a crossroads where they don’t normally stop. When they are let out, she has no idea why she’s there or if anyone was to meet her. She walks miles before coming to a small village. She decides to head to the vicarage, hoping that the vicar will take her and the boy in as it’s pouring rain. The vicar is anything but welcoming and is affronted that she has the gall to ask for help. (How did this guy become a priest?) Luckily for Marianne there is a woman visiting the vicar who is far nicer and states she’ll take her and the boy in. Marianne and Thomas settle in to Maulever Hall and Marianne becomes a sort of companion to Mrs. Mauleverer, the woman who took her in. Marianne still has no clue who she is and no matter how hard she tries, she can’t remember. Determined to discover who she is, Marianne combs the countryside for clues but only finds a new friend in an older woman.
Mrs. Mauleverer’s son, Mark, shows up with a woman who was married to his cousin. The cousin and her step-son have just died and she’s trying to find her way. Mark seems smitten with Lady Heverdon and not so much with Marianne. He doesn’t treat Marianne all that well and is suspicious of the reasons she’s there.
While I found the blurb of this book incredibly intriguing, unfortunately I didn’t find the story to be all that good. There are large portions of the book where nothing much happens and the story dragged. Marianne was not my type of heroine. She made unwise decisions over and over but the author tried to make her seem like she was the key that held everything together. I didn’t see that – I found her incredibly gullible and easily swayed to the point of view of whoever she was talking to. It was a bit frustrating, I must say. She did have her own thoughts at times, but I found those to be few and far between.
Mark is the “hero” of the story but he was an ass. He treated Marianne like dirt but then suddenly they were professing their undying love for each other. What? There was no romance, no build up, nothing – just sudden undying love. Made me crazy.
When Marianne finally gets clues to who she is does she trust the man she just professed her love to? No! She run,s and then it’s almost like a whole other small book was inserted in – I just didn’t like it. Then there’s the boy who she pretty much fobbed off on one of the Maulever Hall maids. Thomas is hardly mentioned at all and until later in the book couldn’t quite figure out why he was included at all since Marianne had nothing to do with him.
In the end I found I didn’t care for the book all that much and can’t say I recommend it.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5