24 October, 2012

Gothic/Gaslamp Wednesday Review: Ours Is Just a Little Sorrow by Gwen Hayes

The colony of New Geneva has risen from the ashes of her dying mother planet, Earth, by rebuilding a society based on a time before everything went horribly, horribly wrong... the Victorian Era...

Violet Merriweather first sets eyes on Colonel Winston when he purchases her at auction from Witherspoon Academy, the orphanage where she’d been raised after her rescue from Earth. Dutifully, as she was taught, Violet pushes away her fear of the monstrous, forbidding Thornfield Abbey, and throws herself into her work as governess to the Colonel’s youngest son.

But the Colonel's elder sons have other ideas.

John and Gideon Winston are as different as night and day, and each wants to claim Violet for his own. John immediately charms her with his intelligence and cordial demeanor, while Gideon, the dark rogue, delights in flustering her at every opportunity, awakening a yearning she doesn't understand and most assuredly does not want. She tries to deny her pull to both men, but an uneasy midnight bargain with one forges a new alliance as she’s dazzled by an underground New Geneva she hadn't known existed. And temptations she cannot resist.

But something is preying on the women of New Geneva, something that threatens to unleash the ghosts of Thornfield and drag them all into hell. And that something wants Violet most of all.

OURS IS JUST A LITTLE SORROW starts out at an auction, where orphans are sold into service to wealthy families. Sounds a bit harsh for a beginning? Gwen Hayes is adept at capturing trepidation Violet Merriweather feels as her story opens. The story thrusts the reader into a futuristic world, which has reverted to the Victorian way of living, post-apocolypse. A world where the serving class happens to be those that are raised in orphanages, and the upper class can hold some dangerous secrets.

The reader lives mostly in Violet's head, getting a chance to experience her life in the household of Colonel Winston, where she meets his two sons, John and Gideon. Now, here's where Hayes impressed me. The two guys/one girl trope could have turned into a typical love triangle, but it didn't seem there just for the sake of being there. Violet's attraction and friendship with the two brothers is a revelation for how she had grown up. For someone who is supposed to know that she is lesser and not worthy of the same affection between her and her "employers", it is quite interesting to see how the two vastly different personalities of the brother affect and beguile Violet.

Hayes has a lyrical quality to her writing that is perfect for this novella. The darker aspect of the plot is a gothic tale at its best. Though Hayes throws in several different themes -aspects of steampunk/gaslamp culture, mystery, suspense, romance, and shades of JANE EYRE- she twists all of these together to create a novella that read like a 400 page sci-fi/fantasy. My attention was captured throughout, even though the action was low-key. The autumn season is a perfect time to try out OURS IS JUST A LITTLE SORROW. It's short enough to be just the tidbit for a chilly weekend indoors, but fulfilling enough to not be left wanting.

Book Rating:
4.5 Stars

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About The Author:
Gwen Hayes lives in the Pacific Northwest with her real life hero, their children, and the pets that own them. She writes stories for teen and adult readers about love, angst, and saving the world.

Gwen's first novel, Falling Under, was released in March of 2011 by NAL/Penguin and followed up by the sequel, Dreaming Awake, in January of 2012.

She is represented by Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency.

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This book was provided by the author, in exchange for my honest review only


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