Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: Love by the Morning Star

Love by the Morning Star
By Laura L. Sullivan
Published: June 3, 2014

Upstairs, downstairs, and in which lady’s chamber?  

On the brink of World War II, two girls are sent to  the grand English country estate of Starkers. Hannah, the half-Jewish daughter of a disgraced distant relative, has been living an artistic bohemian life in a cabaret in pre-war Germany and now is supposed to be welcomed into the family. Anna, the social-climbing daughter of working-class British fascists, is supposed to be hired as a maid so that she can spy for the Nazis. But there’s a mix-up, and nice Hannah is sent to the kitchen as a maid while arrogant Anna is welcomed as a relative.

And then both girls fall for the same man, the handsome heir of the estate . . . or do they? 

In this sparkling, saucy romance, nearly everything goes wrong for two girls who are sent to a grand English estate on the brink of World War II—until it goes so very, very right!

My review:

Hannah is hardworking and has a positive and cheerful outlook on life and she is also a dreamer. She is a terrible maid but she tries her best and her coworkers can't help but like her because of her charm and disposition. She believes that her relatives mean for her to be a maid in their home because they are disappointed in her mother's choice of husband. Her pride keeps her from confronting them about her treatment at their hands and she decides to make the best of her situation. 

Anna doesn't really feel as strongly about Fascism as her father does but she jumps at the chance to serve the National Fascist Front when it involves going to an English estate as a spy. Anna wants to set herself apart from her low upbringing and embrace the opportunities she has been presented when she is mistaken for Lord Liripip's niece. Her goal is to marry well and she sets her sights on the heir, Lord Winkfield, otherwise known as Teddy. 

Love by the Morning Star is a comedy of errors with one likable but naive protagonist (Hannah) and one not-so-likable but naive protagonist (Anna) who turns out to be not so bad in the end. The story is rather silly and over the top but I liked Hannah and wanted to see her get a happy ending. The romance didn't quite work for me because I thought that Teddy wasn't good enough for Hannah and I thought things wrapped up too neatly but this is not meant to be realistic historical fiction. Even though some serious topics are covered, the book maintains a humorous tone. I enjoyed it because I knew what to expect and it definitely made me laugh at times.

It is supposed to be teen fiction but I think the writing style and tone do not quite fit the genre. Normally teen historical fiction still has a somewhat modern feel to it at least in the dialogue even if the characters don't sound like 21st Century teens. With this book, it really did seem like something that my grandmother or mother could have read as a teen. Hannah's way of speaking and thinking (very similar to the way film heroines spoke in the 30's and 40's) may take some time to get used to. I think that might make it a hard sell for teens at my library. I think adult readers of historical romance might appreciate it more although the protagonists are young and the romance is relatively "clean" and fairy-tale like. Teen readers of historical fiction who can get past the unusual voice of the protagonists (mostly Hannah) might find themselves really enjoying the story. If you liked A Countess Below Stairs (The Secret Countess) and The Reluctant Heiress by Eva Ibbotson, Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl or The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons then you will probably enjoy Love by the Morning Star.  Pick it up if you are in the mood for something light and silly with a happy ending. 

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher


  1. Not sure if this one is for me but it's nice to have a light, fun read after a number of weightier stories.

  2. Sounds like an amusing mix-up!

    Nice review :)

  3. This seems like a fun book set in serious times. Will definitely keeping an eye out for this.

    Great review!


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