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Book Review: The Caretaker's Daughter by Gabrielle Goldsby

Friday, June 7, 2019 - 07:00

I've decided to give myself persmission to DNF (did not finish) books if they don't grab me in the first couple chapters (or first couple stories for a collection). With that as preface, you can guess that The Caretaker's Daughter ended up falling in that category. So why didn't it grab me? This is a f/f Regency-era romance featuring the abused wife of a disabled gentleman ("gentleman" as a class label, not a personality description) and a woman who works on her husband's estate (hoping no one notices that the father whose duties she took over has actually died quite some time ago). The first elements that made me realize the book was going to be a tough sell were the cartoonish villainy of the husband (plus the unfortunate trope that physical disability makes you bitter and abusive), plus the fact that both women have been assigned surnames as their given names: Brontë(!) and Addison. I'm not going to apologize for the fact that improbable naming in a historic setting grates on me.

The book could have risen above those flaws and held my attention if the writing were better. Unfortunately it relies heavily on info-dumps and shifts point of view too abruptly on a regular basis. There's also slut-shaming of a secondary female character (apparently for no other reason than that she isn't the love interest but wants to be so). Maybe the book gets better after the first two chapters, but I'm afraid I'm not going to stick around to find out.

The book also features italicization of random half-sentences but that's the publisher's fault, not the author's, since it's clearly a formatting glitch not an intentional technique.

Major category: 
historical