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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mark of Distinction by Jessica Dotta

Read first chapter excerpt here 
London is said to be the glittering jewel of society, a world unto itself—but to Julia Elliston it is a city of shadows. Her life is swiftly dissolving into scandal. And in Victorian society, even a whisper of scandal—substantiated or not—can be the death of a young woman’s reputation.

Now under the watchful eye of Lord Roy Pierson, one of most influential men in England, Julia begrudgingly accepts his protection. But Chance Macy’s power is far-reaching as well, and he is eager to assert his claim over her.

Thrust into society as the Emerald Heiress, Julia is the toast of London, a celebrated curiosity. But in reality she’s trapped between the clutches of two powerful men. Aided only by a gentleman whose intentions she prays she can trust, Julia must finally take control of her own fate—but outwitting one’s foe rarely goes according to plan.

In this second installment of the Price of Privilege Trilogy, Jessica Dotta is a genius. I do not know of many books other than Mark of Distinction that ends on a cliffhanger because the novel ends happily. If someone just picked up and read the last couple pages of this novel, they would think that all was well and there did not even need to be a third novel. However, after reading Born of Persuasion and Mark of Distinction, I knew that there was no way events could end happily for Julia. Plus, after reading this second installment, I was rather annoyed with Julia. Julia certainly had more than her share of misfortunes and deceptions in her short life, but at the same time she remains complacent and allows the men in her life to just walk over her. I understand that during this time period women did not have a lot of say in their choices and lives, but Julia refuses or is completely unable to respond to what is going on around her even when she has the opportunity. It was not until the end of the novel that she begins to make her own decisions, which I was glad to see, but she still turns to malleable putty and tells all to Macy when she meets him near the end. That is not to say that Macy is not a fantastically charming character and makes it very hard for Julia (and the reader) to believe all the wicked things he has done. Still, I hope she can grow a backbone around him in the next novel before she gets more people she loves killed.

Needless to say, Julia is not my favorite character. However, Lord Dalry, who is seen briefly at the end of the first novel, quickly became my favorite character in this trilogy. He cares for Julia,  befriends her, teaches her about society, intercedes for her, and even begins to help Julia understand who God is and about His Word as she struggles to understand who she is and what she is to do. I liked how Julia began to turn to God and to trust Him. I did wish that it showed up a little more in her life after the fact. It did not really change how she acted nor how she treated particular people. I was glad though to see Julia and Isaac's relationship grow, and I enjoyed seeing them grow closer to one another and to God. As a result, I was not too happy with how it all culminated, though I understood Julia's choices, just not how it was implemented by certain characters. I am also intrigued to see how it will all turn out in the next novel. Julia's relationship with her father is also an interesting part of this book. Julia is very intimidated by her prickly and temperamental father, and she just wants to be loved, but he has trouble showing that to her. I hope that they are able to break through each others' barriers more and learn to love one another in the next installment.

Overall, I highly enjoyed Mark of Distinction with its intriguing plot, suspenseful twists, and captivating characters. I was pulled in from the beginning, and I read it all in one afternoon. I would definitely recommend this trilogy to any reader who loves the novels of Jane Austen and Charlotte and Emily Bronte.

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