Utah Book Month Versus: Edenbrooke vs. Blackmoore

Utah Book Month Versus: Edenbrooke vs. Blackmoore

Versus is a feature in which two books face off. Anything goes in the judging, but only one can be the winner.

Welcome to today’s special Utah Book Month edition of Versus. Two books by Utah author Julianne Donaldson battle it out.

I have a history with both of these books. I initially read Edenbrooke in August 2012 and loved it so much I immediately reread almost all of it. I reviewed it here (and talked about how my book club got to Skype with Julianne Donaldson)! I got an advanced copy of Blackmoore in June 2013 and read it in one sitting. I reviewed it here. I recently obtained audio versions of both books via Audible and listened to them back-to-back for Utah Book Month. One just can’t help but compare them.

Let’s start with the similarities. These are both Regency romances that take place around the beginning of the 19th Century. They are both “proper romances,” which means that they are largely clean, with no explicit sex scenes or swearing or violence. They both feature heroines who are struggling with who they are and who they will become in the fairly limited world females faced at the time. And, of course, the titular estates both feature heavily in the books.

And now the differences. Blackmoore definitely has a brooding atmosphere about it, which is enhanced by Blackmoore’s proximity to both the ocean and the moores. I liked Kate as a heroine, though it was sometimes hard to not know her back story until the very end of the book. I liked Henry a lot too. Donaldson did a good job showing how it was not just the women during this time that had limited options. I loathed both of the mothers and Kate’s sisters. I was frustrated by the fact that Kate often references the need to be proper, particularly in light of her sister’s scandals, and Henry even sleeps at a different inn at one point to preserve Kate’s honor, but then they apparently think nothing of flitting about the estate alone every night. But the scene where everything is unleashed is quite intense and good. As for the audio performance, I liked this narrator a bit better.

Edenbrooke, to me, feels lighthearted, in a good way. I love Marianne as a heroine. She has a quick wit and a good heart. And the sparring with Phillip makes me almost giddy. (I laugh every time I just think about the barmaid song.) I love that you see their relationship develop, granted over a pretty short period of time, on shared interests. And the love letter scene? Whew! *fans face* I like that there was no real villain trying to keep the couple apart – it was all relatively reasonable misunderstandings and the social strictures that constrained frank and open exchanges. While I enjoyed the audio performance, the narrator was a bit breathy for my taste. Anyway, I can’t put in to words quite how much I love Edenbrooke. It has earned a place on my shelf both as one of my favorite books of all time and also as an excellent comfort book. For these reasons, it comes out ahead.

Winner: Edenbrooke

I know that not everyone would come down this way on the judging. Vote in the poll below (by the end of August 2014) and leave your reasoning for your decision in the comments. Thanks for playing!

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