Saturday, February 23, 2013

Blindspot, by Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore

Blindspot: By a Gentleman in Exile and a Lady in DisguiseBlindspot: By a Gentleman in Exile and a Lady in Disguise by Jane Kamensky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An enjoyable read, if a bit perplexing at times solely due to my feeling that I was being shifted back and forth from one genre to another all the way through. I know I shouldn't judge a book by its cover, or by the synopsis on the back of it, but I think that a synopsis should at least give a flavor of the contents. Reading the back cover of this (audio) book, one would think this was going to be a nice historical murder mystery. It is that, if you're willing to wait until about halfway through the book for the murder. That's kind of a stretch for a first plot point, at least it would be if that were the first plot point.

This book really seems to me to be more of a historical romance. The first plot point concerns the heroine and her choice to break from an almost literal pit of despair and make a grab for a better life. Since the story is told in letters by the two protagonists, we are also set up with a male protagonist who has his own desperate situation to overcome. It's an intriguing setup which pays off nicely by the end of the tale, but...


I was not prepared for the bodice-ripping soft-core sections. At all. Frankly, I found it all a bit out of place in the story. I'm not saying there shouldn't be sexual tension, but when the sex finally happens it felt like I was reading excerpts from a trashy romance novel pasted in to a solid historical murder mystery. This would be bad enough, but for two-thirds (more?) of the story, our heroine is disguised as a boy, which is always entertaining, but of course our hero is "strangely attracted" to him/her. That's a nice, if overly done, bit of tension. My problem with this particular story is that our heroine exploits that attraction and deliberately tempts the hero with no apparent thought for the turmoil this is causing him. I found that more than a little disturbing and not an admirable quality in her.

Much is made of both characters having distanced themselves from "the church" and apparently any kind of Christianity, but homosexual temptations would still have been very disturbing to an upright, moral man of the times and this is ignored utterly.

All that said, the good guys win, so it ends well. Nice evocation of the period with very few faux pax concerning clothing, usually a big problem in this genre. Nice treatment of the political situation in Boston in 1764. Worth a read.

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