‘Donning The Beard’ is a beautifully written historical romance, set as the French Revolution begins to take hold. Madeline is a servant girl, brought to live in the household where her aunt works for the high-ranking nobleman Lord Guillemot. She becomes the trusted friend and confidante of the daughter of the house, Gabrielle. Their feelings for each other become more intense as the years go by, and come to a head when it is time for Gabrielle’s father to find her a husband. Neither know what these feelings mean, as they have nothing to compare them to, but they both know that Gabrielle being forced to marry is something they can never contemplate. When the situation becomes dangerous, Madeline is force to take drastic action, and disguise herself as a man to save Gabrielle. But that is only the start of their troubles. Can they ever be together? How can Madeline keep up the pretence?
First of all, I loved the historical aspect of the story. The characters were affected in many ways by the political and social machinations of the time. Their love would never be accepted, no matter where they lived, so they had to find a way to fool everyone. It was a high risk game. The tension was perfectly pitched and I could not stop reading. The characters were compelling and I wanted to know more. Madeline was clever and talented and could never just accept her station in life. She showed such bravery and her adoration for Gabrielle helped her through difficult times. Gabrielle was no shrinking violet either. She knew what she wanted and was willing to risk everything for love. The story was romantic and emotional, with passion and love evident throughout. An excellent tale.
I was given this ARC for review.