I started off March with a slump of DNFs. I had many books on my to-be-read shelf, and I picked many of those up without finishing them because they didn’t have the hook I was looking for.
But then I found Emerald by Karen Wallace, which seemed like a promising historical fiction book.
Emerald St John’s pulled the short straw. Her absent mother is forcing her to marry Lord Suckley (who should’ve been named Lord Assholey, and that’s the least censored version I can give) on the day of Queen Elizabeth’s visit to her mother’s home. Nobody can help her – not the aunt and uncle she stays with, not her brother Richard sailing the seas, and not the arrogant court lady who Emerald puts up with, Arabella. That is until she is offered the only way she can fix this – to warm up to the Queen and stop the plot against her assassination.
This book had potential, along with some well done aspects. The character arc of Arabella was done spectacularly, for one thing. I’ll explain that later down. The language used in it was very vivid and characteristic to Emerald, particularly when things became personal with her.
But then come the disappointments.
Emerald was engineered way too well to fit her role. It was very hard to feel for her because there was only one overarching thing she struggled with. She had the tools and skills to execute her plans from the start. This didn’t feel right. Not to mention she barely developed and the plot was made up quite a bit on coincidence. So late in the book, it’s practically a sin. This would be better if she made a strong impact on the characters around her, but spoiler alert – she didn’t. Most people had their hearts in similar places that she did. At least she did have a flaw with her snappy tongue, but for goodness sake some of the stuff in there!
And relationships didn’t happen realistically enough for me to care about them! I could understand everyone who Emerald hated perfectly, but then it came down to everyone she liked and loved. She’d claim that, but where was it? Nowhere. The romantic subplot in this story was practically a Cinderella romance! So much for her wanting to marry for love when she grasped onto a romance way too quickly and without even explaining why. Okay, she did. It was because he danced well. I know a good dancer when I see one, but that’s not meant to lead to marriage! Surely, not in that time period.
I would have liked the book way more if Emerald was fixed. The structure of the plot and the events that happened were what kept me reading, and they were written well. But I’m going to be subjective in this one and say that the main character can make or break the book because it is their story, and Emerald’s story wasn’t real enough for me to decently score it.
Character I Loved
Arabella was the best written character of them all, who had more of an arc than Emerald did. The way that she learned to consider others and not take advantage of them was so suited to her. She may not have been likeable from the start, but she grew on me the most.
Character I Loved to Hate
When I was reading this I first saw it as either Emerald’s mother or Lord Suckley. After writing this whole review thing, you can probably see who I really hate now. I’m sorry, Emerald, your potential was wasted.
Chapter One set up the scene, the tone, everything so well. That hooked me for sure.
Favourite Serious Quote
“I suggest you spend some time watching that bull over there.” She sniggered. “It should broaden your education.”
I’m just a sucker for quotes containing symbolism and foreshadowing. I’d have never seen the significance of it coming.
Favourite Not-So-Serious Quote
“And I must tell you that I loathe cards.”
Who doesn’t love a good roast? Especially when the receiver of this line is a pig.
I was promised a struggle, and it didn’t suffice. Emerald gets a 2/5.
Yours in writing