Saturday, February 28, 2015

An Affair Downstairs by Sherri Browning

The Basics:
An Affair Downstairs by Sherri Browning
Sourcebooks Casablanca
Historical Romance
Book Two in the Thornbrook Park series
Published January 6, 2015
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Amazon Kobo Goodreads

Why I picked up this book:

I enjoyed Thornbrook Park, the first book in the series, and I generally enjoy books from this publisher and genre!


The Countess of Aberford is determined to make a match for her sister, Lady Alice Emerson, but each man she brings to Thornbrook Park only inflames Alice's improper interest in unsuitable Logan Winthrop, a rugged man once accused of murdering his great rival.

Logan's determined to shelter himself from the pain of unrequited love—he knows the feeling all too well—but something about Alice stirs his desire to start living again. Though they fight their urges, the pair can only resist for so long; eventually they must choose between bowing to society's rules or breaking them...

My thoughts:

An Affair Downstairs brings readers back to Thornbrook Park, where Alice is quite determined to maintain her independence by never marrying, but longs to indulge in an affair with estate manager Logan. This book takes place in 1907, a historical time period that I so rarely read (in historical romance or otherwise) so it was a nice departure from my norm.

There are some really nice references to the upstairs/downstairs nature of the relationship. While the estate manager stands slightly above servants on the social class hierarchy, it's clear that despite being the younger brother of a Baron, Logan's considered 'beneath' Alice (certainly her sister Sophia sees it that way). 

The unfolding of the romance made me smile. Logan goes to some serious lengths to try to push Alice in the direction of men he deems more suitable, but cannot seem to shake his own attraction to her. I loved Alice's tenacity and optimism and it's easy to cheer for her. Even with Logan himself pushing her away, and Sophia trying to throw suitors at her.

Sophia, in fact, drove me absolutely batty. It seems she'll be the focus of a third book in the series, due in August 2015. Her relationship with her husband, Gabriel, is shaky at best and while I understand that there are good reasons such as the loss of their first and only child, causing Gabriel to bury his head in work and I imagine Sophia to feel as though she's let him down/become less desirable/feel very alone in her grief... I still found myself heavily in the dislike camp. Her efforts to re-secure Gabriel's attentions, combined with her general attitude and demeanour made me cringe and want to throw things at her. That said, it makes her a *great* secondary character in An Affair Downstairs! I'll have to take it on faith that the next book will be able to redeem her.

One of my favourite things about An Affair Downstairs is that the attraction between Logan and Alice isn't a big secret. This felt much more realistic than those couples who think they're carrying on secret affairs in such close quarters. Of course everyone notices their longing looks, the amount of time they spend together, and so on! I liked that the various members of the family chimed in with their opinions. The few little hints we get of the servants' opinions on it all also entertained me. I almost wish there had been more opportunity for insight into how the servants saw the romance unfolding.

I'd call this one fairly mild when it comes to love scenes. There's a few moments, and some spectacular kissing scenes, but this is probably on the slightly scandalous end of 'gentle romance.'

Bottom line:

An Affairs Downstairs is an entertaining romance. It's got some heft to it - this one might take up more than a single afternoon - and I think the story here supports that longer time investment. Though the plot revolves entirely around Alice's romantic prospects, I think there's enough happening there to satisfy the reader. 

4.5 stars
For fans of historical romance, Edwardian romance, vaguely cross-class romance

But don't just take my word for it! I grabbed a few links to other blog reviews of An Affair Downstairs:

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