Author: Kenley Davidson
Series: The Andari Chronicles #2
Genre: Fairy tale, YA Fantasy
Received for review from the author
Summary (from Goodreads)
In this re-telling of “Rumplestiltskin,” a timid young woman must confront her deepest fears if she is to escape the chilling consequences of her father’s secrets…
Elaine Westover is a talented artist, but for much of her life she has hidden from the world. Now, jilted by her fiancé and left penniless by her father’s death, Elaine is desperate to resolve her financial difficulties and save her family home. Despite a deep fear of strangers, she feels she has no choice but to take up a public career as a painter of portraits.
When she is asked to create a final tribute to wealthy banker Torbert Melling’s dying wife, it soon becomes clear that there is far more at stake than her commission. Disturbed by Melling’s revelations, Elaine refuses his request, but finds herself imprisoned by Melling and his sinister butler until she agrees to his impossible demands.
Held captive in a house filled with darkness and despair, haunted by sadness and secrets, Elaine must call upon every bit of her courage merely to survive. But can she do more than just survive? With her freedom and her livelihood at stake, Elaine has no choice but to accept the aid of a mysterious benefactor who may or may not have her best interests at heart.
I blathered a little last time about how much I loved Traitor’s Masque, the first in the Andari Chronicles. I’ll endeavour to be a little more succinct this time.
Goldheart picks up the story in the same wold as Traitor’s Masque, featuring a character who is a familiar name, if not face. Elaine is another young woman in a desperate situation. She has people depending on her to keep her household running, but events of the previous book and history in general have left her not wanting to leave her room and her paintings.
Elaine is a somewhat quieter character than Trystan, and the plot is quieter too, leaving this a much quieter book. It’s half the length of Traitor’s Masque, too, which is good or bad, dependent on your point of view. Personally, I really enjoyed the shorter, sweeter Goldheart.
Perhaps because of the smaller stakes, I wasn’t as swept up in the story as I was in Traitor’s Masque, but I still read it in near enough one sitting. The relationships and the romance were what really carried this one for me. Elaine’s blossoming friendship with Torbert Melling’s son and his friend Will is really sweet, and the personal journey Elaine has to go on requires her to overcome so many fears that you can’t help but root for her. I wanted to see her succeed and save her household, and maybe just find love along the way.
As a villain, Torbert Melling is reprehensible, but utterly believable. A man who demands control and perfection in all things, his actions are awful, and you really feel for Elaine, trapped by his machinations. And there are plenty of obstacles, hidden truths and misunderstandings to get in the way of love, even when Torbert Melling is taken out of the equation.
It was the right decision to make Goldheart a shorter work – the story wouldn’t have sustained the sort of bulk that Traitor’s Masque did. As it is, it’s a really cute romance, with some clever uses of the story beats from Rumplestiltskin. A wonderful edition to the Andari Chronicles and I look forwards to seeing where the series goes next!