Hey, guys! Today we will be discussing Masquerade by Victoria Vale. This is an adult romance novel set in the 1800s, and I really enjoyed this book. Since it is an adult novel, there are many graphic and sexual scenes, so if that makes you uncomfortable, I think you should steer clear of this one, but if you are okay with that kind of thing, I definitely recommend you check this one out because I think it was really great! But let’s go ahead and get into the review.
“Margaret Seymour is bored by the stifling constraints of society dictating her behavior as a debutante in search of a husband. Her prospects are promising by the standards of London society, yet, not one of them causes her heart to flutter, or her head to fill with scintillating, forbidden fantasies. Those feelings are reserved for Camden Rycroft, Duke of Avonleah—a man who isn’t even aware of her existence.
While attending a scandalous Vauxhall Gardens masquerade, Margaret finds herself in the duke’s arms. His promise of a night of pleasure is tempting, but is it worth it when Avonleah is a known rake notorious for his short attention span and avoidance of marriage?
Camden Rycroft is intrigued by the masked vixen he encounters in the Gardens. After one night with her leaves him hungry for more, his desire for her turns into a fiery obsession. Despite the scandal that could ensue from their affair, he finds himself unable to extract himself from a situation destined to end in pain. When faced with losing Margaret to a potential husband, will he rise to the occasion, or risk living without her?”
This is the second time that I have read this, but I actually really wanted to reread this because, in a couple of my classes, we had been covering the topic of the Cult of Domesticity. This was largely popular in the 19th century, which is when this book takes place. The Cult of Domesticity is all about being a True Woman, meaning that as a woman, you have four unique virtues that you possess. One is piety, so you are a Protestant Christian. You also are pure, so you are a virgin. You are submissive, so you’re more of a wallflower. You do what men tell you what to do, and you do not try to attract attention to yourself. And the last one is domesticity, so you stay in the home. I was so intrigued by reading this book again because our main character pretty much says, “Screw it.” to all of that.
The Cult of Domesticity also says that women do not have sexual drives. Men do, and women only have sex for children and because their husbands want them to. With Maggie, she is a very sensual woman, though she does hide that spectacularly well. She is very intrigued with sex, and she does have a desire to have sex. That is pretty much how she dons a mask, an attention-grabbing red dress, and goes to a masquerade ball and ends up in the bed of the Duke. Clearly, she did not stay in the home, she went out without a chaperone or family member (which is what you had to do back then because everyone was so worried that a woman with no sex drive would just cheat, which makes perfect sense…), she had premarital sex, and she definitely was not submissive. I loved seeing her just throw that True Woman bullshit out the window.
Camden, the Duke, defies expectations as a male in this society as well. Men generally viewed women as a doormat, almost. Or a piece of furniture. You’re there to sit there and look pretty and have no intellectual ability at all while you stay home with the children while they go out and live their life. But Camden is the one who encouraged her to be who she wants to be, to say, “Screw it.” to what people say she should be like and to be the beautiful, sensual woman he knows her to be. He wants her to stop trying to hide from society and to be herself, and I just loved that.
But ultimately, what I enjoyed the most was the romance. I loved seeing how much Maggie really loved him, how much they could not stay away from each other, and how, in the end, he realized he truly does love her, and he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. I think it was really sexy, but also beautiful to see their romance progress beyond the physical attraction they felt for one another. I think that Victoria Vale is a fantastic writer, and had her writing skills not be this fantastic, I would not like this nearly as much as I do.
Overall, I loved the story line, the romance, the historical aspect, and the beautiful writing. I am really looking forward to reading more from Victoria Vale, and I am so glad I picked this one up again because I enjoyed this even more than the first time around. It was just absolutely fabulous.
And there you have it! That was my review of Masquerade by Victoria Vale. What are you currently reading? Sound off in the comments below! And that is going to be it for this review today. Thank you all so much for reading this, I hope you enjoyed it, and I will see you next time!