Monday, 30 January 2012

Vice & Virtue - Veronica Bennett

I first saw this book on a Goodreads newsletter and was drawn to the cover straight away, mostly because of the unusual title and tagline.
I have heard of Veronica Bennett before having read her book Cassandra's Sister many times from the library before.
So by finding out that she had released another book, I was intrigued. And again, so when I noticed a copy in my local library (they are real fans of Veronica Bennett aren't they?!), I snapped it up and ran over to join my friend.
I must admit, I was a little worried about this book. Example A: the cover - it was too pink for me and Example B: although I liked the story, Cassandra's Sister, it is far from being my favourite and the last time I read it, I didn't enjoy it THAT much.
So when starting this book, my expectations were hardly high - which is probably a good thing.

Synopsis: The year is 1700, London. A city so crowded and unregulated, it is easy to slip away and become someone else. Much like Aurora finds herself having to do. After the death of her father and being the oldest child, she has to marry for wealth. So when Edward Francis comes and proclaims his love for her with a great fortune - although in poor health - she cannot refuse. But that night, she finds out his secret to marrying her. Here she enters a world of deceit, lies, etiquette and murder.

Review: I'm not quite sure about this book. I cannot say I absolutely loved this book, because I didn't. But then I didn't completely detest this book either.

The concept is interesting. Aurora comes from a rather lower class family, who has only really made their money from her mother's business. She is the eldest daughter of 3 girls, so she needs to marry well in order to help her mother and younger sisters. However, Aurora is clever, witty and knows what is morally right so she isn't JUST going to marry anyone. Until really Edward comes along and she feels she is forced into marrying him because of a deathly illness. Great plan, right? She marries a man who, although she does not know him, is in love with her from afar and marrying him will please him, and then when he does die, she will have her own fortune and estate which she can live on for the rest of her life - sounds a good idea, even if she doesn't love him, right?
Well. I won't spoil it but basically, Edward marries Aurora, not only because he really does love her, but because he wants her to become someone else, 'Miss Drayton', get into the upper class society and become friendly with a certain family in order to find the truth out for him about his father's last deed. So, not such a great idea now.

I think it is the concept that drew me in, as well as knowing of this author before. The story itself is well thought out and becomes almost like a mystery that you desperately want to find out the truth of. However, once this novel gets started, it really starts to take shape. The beginning I found was lacking something, although I was intrigued, like Aurora, from the first sentence, I wasn't totally interested or wanting to know the whole story straight away.  It isn't really until Edward reveals his secret that I was like 'Whoa - where is this going?'. The story does go on to be better than the beginning and the ending really rounds the book off well.

The characters themselves are delightful and add to the treachery and deceit that fills this novel. Every single character in this novel has a secret or something in them that they mostly hide until the very end. For Aurora, this is her marriage to Edward - as an example. The characters of Celia and Joe were, as a reader, kind of start wanting them to be your friends because they seem so perfect (although Celia is way too whiny and demanding at points). Joe, well, if you wanted a guy that every girl swooned over although he is a bad boy, this is your man. The way Bennett describes him is so vivid.
Aurora herself was a lovely voice to listen to. She was clever and not silly like Celia but she was also girly and as a female myself, I enjoyed her descriptions of the luxury and clothing. Edward, at the beginning, I was positioned not to like him that much but by the end, I got used to his nature.

Although, ultimately, this is a historical book, there is also hints of mystery and romance. The mystery is not THAT great really. Although I wanted to find out the truth, I wasn't put on edge constantly (although the culprit at the end is rather surprising, I must say, the person is found out halfway through so it's not very mystery near the end). The romance was underplayed and displayed nearer the end of the book, but because of the situation for it, it was done perfectly and subtly.

Now we come to why I'm not sure if I enjoyed it. I liked the characters, the concept, the romance and mystery but I didn't totally love this book. Why? Well, like I found Cassandra's Sister, this was just flat. I felt  no strong emotions, I did not have an attachment for Aurora nor did I feel on edge in the mystery or romance. I just didn't feel anything at all.
This book is good for the different aspects that make up most novels but ultimately, when it comes to the book as a whole, it is just flat. I would recommend this book to anyone will an interest in mystery/romance/history. You will enjoy it but it won't be your favourite.
Verdict: Good book but not one to be remembered.

I give it a 4 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 224
Publisher: Walker
Challenges: BBC, Historical Fiction


  1. I’ve really been struggling to write a review on this book for school and you've given me some great ideas!
    Thankyou :D

  2. It is not a long novel, just over 220 pages and I found it interesting and satisfying. There are no blatant historical inaccuracies, at least none that I picked up, and the mystery is thoroughly engrossing.

    Highly recommended as an entertaining story.

    Heard about Asbestos Lawyer Lake Charles


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