Sunday, 24 February 2013

Review & Giveaway: Strands of Bronze & Gold by Jane Nickerson

Strands of Bronze and Gold (Strands of Bronze and Gold, #1)

Strand of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: March 12th 2013
My rating:  4.5 stars 

The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . .

When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.

Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.

Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale.

I’m not usually drawn to historical romances, but I’m so glad I picked this one up because it was an exciting ride!  Strands of Bronze and Gold was filled with mystery and opulence, and oozed suspense.  I was on the edge of my seat for much of this read!

Sophie is a girl “genteel, but only in a theoretical way.”  As she goes on to explain, theoretically she knows how to live a fancy life but in practice can’t afford it.   This is all about to change when her father dies unexpectedly and her godfather, Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, collects her to live at Wyndriven Abbey.  Although Sophie has not seen M. Bernard since she was a little girl, he’s sent extravagant gifts to her over the years.  She assumes he’s old and married but soon finds out he is neither.  He’s not more than forty, he’s stunningly handsome and a widower. 

Sophie is both shocked and flattered by his treatment.  He doesn’t behave like a father figure but she’s captivated by his enigmatic personality and good looks.  He lavishes attention and gifts on her and it’s wonderful, but also too much.  Sophie soon feels the shine of this opulent life wear off and soon she finds M. Bernard’s demeanor can change in a heartbeat.  He’s happy and all charm one minute and the next his temper flares.  He wants Sophie only to himself, keeping her isolated from any outsiders and even frowning on her becoming friendly with the servants.  Little curiosities start popping up, and Sophie starts to wonder about M. Bernard’s past. 

This was dark, romantic, and mysterious.  The suspense notched up in intensity chapter by chapter and I was anxious to discover what would happen next.  M. Bernard’s character thrilled and attracted me in one moment, only to repel and frighten me in the next! 

“I worried you might be huddled in your bed terrified. I tried to come reassure you.”

“Did you?”

“I did, but your door was locked. Do you lock it every night?”

“I do.”

“Do you think someone is plotting against your virtue?” A gleam of amusement twinkled in his honey brown eyes.

“No sir, I simply feel more secure with the big dark house shut out.”

“You know I have all the keys, don’t you? I could enter at any time I wanted.” *

*heart beats wildly*

Sophie, who’s only seventeen, is forced into dealing with things beyond her years.  She was just the type of heroine I love:  admirable, brave, and resourceful.  She wasn’t whiny or frustrating in her choices but you wonder nervously how this will all turn out.  I will say there is romance, for those of you like me that need to know.  But I won’t elaborate any further.

The descriptions of the lavish surroundings brought this extravagant world to life. You’re impressed but at the same time a little disturbed by it too:

Knowing my past predilection for luxury, I should be in raptures to reside in such surroundings, showered with lovely things. But everything was too much. It was as if the world here were coated with glamour, as in some fairy tales, with nothing really as it seemed. *

I starting reading this knowing it was a re-telling of Bluebeard, but I’ve never been real clear on the story.  I knew it involved killing his wives, and you really don’t need to know more than that.  It doesn’t make a difference in your enjoyment one way or the other, but if you’re curious the author has the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale on Ms. Nickerson’s blog.  There’s also an interesting history of the tale on Wikipedia and I found a few details carried into this story. 

As I said before, I don’t gravitate toward historical romance.  Usually all the descriptions make me yawn, but not in this case.  There was a lot of description, but Ms. Nickerson gave just enough to immerse me in the world without bogging down the plot.  It was a thrilling read!

I’m curious to hear what the next book will be about since this wraps up nicely.  I think it’s a companion novel set in the same world. 

*Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may change in the final copy.
Fill out the rafflcopter below for a chance to win an ARC copy of Strands of Bronze and Gold!  The giveaway is INTERNATIONAL with the only requirement being that you follow the blog.  Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

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  1. I love History but don't read many historical novels. This, though, sounds amazing! I love that Sophie is a pretty tough heroine despite living with such a creepy man and having to suffer isolation. Brilliant review, Rachel! :)

    Thanks for the giveaway as well. :)

  2. Ahhh HISTORICAL ROMANCE? I haven't read one in AGES and I totally miss it! It's one of my favourite genres<3 I'm so glad this was a thrilling read for you; now I can't wait to read it too<3
    Thank you SO MUCH for the giveaway!!!

  3. I'm also usually not drawn to historical novels, but this one sounds really interesting, so I might even pick it up seeing you liked it :) Great review!

  4. I would normally stay away from this one because I'm simply not a fan of re-tellings, but you made it sound irresistible. I think Sophie is a heroine I'd like very much and I'm determined to give this book a chance.
    Fantastic review, Rachel.

  5. I'm not a big fan of historical romances but this does sound great. I love the quotes you picked :) Also Sophie sounds like a great MC. I hope I'll get to read this book soon :) Thanks for the giveaway Rachel :)

  6. Great review! I appreciate when people readily admit 'this isn't my usual genre' ... but then go on to really enjoy the book.
    I'm not one for romances but I've had my eye on Strands of Bronze & Gold for a while now and I'm hoping I still enjoy it even though it's 'not my usual'. It looks and sounds reeeeally good though! Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

    Have a Great Day!

  7. I'm so glad you enjoyed this, Rachel! All the reviews I've read for it so far have been negative, which was a massive disappointment considering its gorgeous cover. I can't wait to read this one now, though! :D Brilliant review, dearest!(:

  8. I am so thoroughly looking forward to reading this one since its based on Bluebeard. I like the sound of it being a little creepy and I am definitely glad you enjoyed this one, Rachel.

    I have to say, those quotes were brilliant and definitely made me shiver a little.

    Fabulous review, dearest!

  9. OMG, I haven't been here in a while. 3problemsofagraduatingstudent BUT I LOVE THE NEW LAYOUT. IT'S SO PRETTY. THE PINK. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.

    I love historical romance and Bluebeard's tale is always darkly intriguing. So a mix of both is just to die for!

    Lovely review! And thanks so much for the giveaway!

  10. Oh, I'm so glad you enjoyed this, Rachel! I've been nervous about it because, traditionally, Bluebeard is a fairly sexist and anti-feminist tale, and the only version I've liked is Angela Carter's. But it sounds like the protagonist of this book isn't weak or silly, and that makes all the difference.

  11. Sophie sounds like a lovely character and I think I'd like to uncover all the secrets that Bernard is hiding. Loved your review, Rachel!

  12. I, like you, tend to not enjoy historical fiction but this sounds really interesting! Thanks for the great and helpful review. I may have to add this to my TBR list!

  13. I've never heard of this or of Bluebeard and I'm also not a fan of historical fiction. But this sounds intriguing. I'm interested in who the romance is with lol and glad you mentioned it. I hope it's not with Bernard before she cops on. Maybe a gardener or someone?? Great review Rachel and as usual, awesome quotes.

  14. Ooooo Rachel this sounds so good! I'm creeped out and fascinated and I want to know what happens even though I sort of already can guess based on the Bluebeard story. *shudders* So glad to know you loved this one so much, I know based on your thoughts that I will likely love it as well. CAN'T WAIT!

  15. I have never heard of Bluebeard before but it is definitely creepy. There's something intriguing in this though and I've read great reviews about this.

    I am curious with Monsieur de Cressac's age and who will win Sophia's heart.

  16. Wow, Rachel! This isn't a book I would just choose, either. I often don't like fairy take re-tellings, but this does sound excellent. I absolutely love the quote you chose to emphasize a point.

    Fabulous review!

  17. Great review, Rachel! I love the sound of this book and think I'll definitely be ordering a copy now. I'm glad not knowing much about Bluebeard doesn't matter here. I'm curious about that tale though so I'll probably have a quick read about it soon. :) Thanks for the giveaway!

  18. I am glad that you liked Strands of Bronze and Gold, Rachel! What drew me to this story was not that it's a historical romance, but that it's a Bluebeard retelling. I haven't read many of those, so I'm interested in how Nickerson pulls off the story (although I hope this doesn't make me a super critical reader). Reading positive reviews like yours though definitely reassures me that I do need to pick up this book at some point soon after its publication!

  19. I'm not into Historical Fictions and Fairy Tale Retelling but the cover of the book is just so pretty (Yeah, I'm one of those people who first look at the cover before reading the synopsis). But I really am interested in reading this, not just because the book cover is gorgeous (though that's a plus) but the synopsis of the books sounds interesting.

  20. oh wow. I am going to start this now so I thought I would check out some reviews but yours had me excited! that little dialogue you put up is SO CREEPY! at the beginning I'm like "oooh potential romance?" then he says his last line and I'm like "OMG THAT IS SCARY AND CREEPY"

    haha awesome review!
    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

  21. A book I've been looking forward to read ever since I stumbled up on it. I love reading historical fiction once in a while :)

  22. I can't wait for this book. I don't usually read historical YA, (maybe there needs to be more of it!!), but I'm looking forward to this retelling. Thank you for the giveaway!

  23. I can't wait to exhibit this book. I want to read this Historical Fictions and Fairy Tale Retelling book..I really to read an historical book...
    Oro Gold Reviews


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