Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Not Close Enough to Downton Abbey For Me

Expected Publication: January 15th, 2013
Summerset Abbey (Summerset Abbey # 1)
By: T.J. Brown
Gallery Books
ISBN-13: 9781451698985

Sir Philip Buxton raised three girls into beautiful and capable young women in a bohemian household that defied Edwardian tradition. Eldest sister Rowena was taught to value people, not wealth or status. But everything she believes will be tested when Sir Philip dies, and the girls must live under their uncle’s guardianship at the vast family estate, Summerset Abbey. Standing up for a beloved family member sequestered to the “underclass” in this privileged new world, and drawn into the Cunning Coterie, an exclusive social circle of aristocratic “rebels,” Rowena must decide where her true passions—and loyalties—lie.

Victoria Buxton 

Frail in body but filled with an audacious spirit, Victoria secretly dreams of attending university to become a botanist like her father. But this most unladylike wish is not her only secret—Victoria has stumbled upon a family scandal that, if revealed, has the potential to change lives forever. . . .

Prudence Tate 

Prudence was lovingly brought up alongside Victoria and Rowena, and their bond is as strong as blood. But by birth she is a governess’s daughter, and to the lord of Summerset Abbey, that makes her a commoner who must take her true place in society—as lady’s maid to her beloved “sisters.” But Pru doesn’t belong in the downstairs world of the household staff any more than she belongs upstairs with the Buxton girls. And when a young lord catches her eye, she begins to wonder if she’ll ever truly carve out a place for herself at Summerset Abbey.


     Rowena and Victoria Buxton were raised along Prudence Tate and look upon her like a third sister.  But when their Father dies, the girls are thrown into the world of their less liberal Uncle (an Earl), who doesn't look upon Prudence favorably.  All he can see is that she is the daughter of a governess and as such, one of the servants.  So when the girls are forced to leave behind their home and live at Summerset Abbey with the Earl and his family, Prudence goes with them as their ladies' maid and nothing more.  Rowena, the oldest, is listless and unable to commit to any one goal.  She claims that she will try to help Prudence gain her rightful place, but treats her as sub-human like any other servant once in the Abbey.  Victoria is very frail and though she's open-minded, most times her attempts to be taken seriously are ineffectual.  But there is a deeper secret lurking in the Abbey's past - one that will reveal Prudence's true birthright and the identity of her Father.  Meanwhile, all three girls struggle with romantic quandaries and   
learning how to change along with the times.  But when the truth comes out, will it be shocking enough to tear them apart once and for all?  I went into this wholeheartedly excited about the comparison to Downton Abbey, which I am crazily obsessed with.  However even though the characters are somewhat similar they are infinitely inferior.  I did like Rowena, beginning to end.  Which was a surprising accomplishment due to how the author portrays her.  But she seemed so adrift that I couldn't quite fault her for her often  tactless behavior.  Victoria was annoying and babyish, with her temper tantrums and constant asthma attacks.  She used them to try and get her way, which was disgusting.  Victoria also wanted to play amateur detective with Prudence's heritage and Mother's past, which was insensitive to her friend.  She was a plot device and mostly an un-enjoyable one, for all the wit she was supposed to possess.  
     Prudence was the most disappointing because at first I liked her pretty well.  But as the novel moved along, she allowed herself to become bitter and used instead of taking charge of her own future.  On top of that, when she was falling for one of the Lords visiting the Abbey she treated him to a hot 'n cold display of affection.  Then when she finds out the secret of her parentage, she runs away and marries a servant boy she's not in love with and has been stringing along!!!  That made me want to strangle her for the carelessness she showed.  Overall, the plot had some holes and moved very slow.  It never quite caught the magic feel of Downton Abbey and the characters made me sad, because they had such promise.  I will most likely not read the next one (I say that now, but I most likely will anyways) as I do not want to watch the train-wreck that is coming from Prudence's poor choices.  Not recommended to anyone who likes self-respecting heroines.

VERDICT:  2.5/5  Stars

**received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via Edelweiss.  No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication date is January 15th, 2013.**

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