Mistress of My Fate: Book One of the Confessions of Henrietta Lightfoot – Hallie Rubenhold (INCOMPLETE)

I can’t remember the last time I gave up on a book (i.e. didn’t finish it). It doesn’t happen often, and it kinda makes me sad when it does happen, but holy smokes, there was NO WAY I was going to finish reading Mistress of My Fate.

“Set during a period of revolution and turmoil, Mistress of My Fate is the first book in a trilogy about Henrietta Lightfoot, a young woman who was abandoned as a baby and raised alongside her cousins, noble children of a lord and lady. At just sixteen years old, circumstance and a passionate love affair tear Henrietta away from everything she knows, leading to a new life fending for herself on the streets of 18th century London as a courtesan, gambler, and spirited intellect of the city.”

Where do I begin?

It started off with a great premise: who doesn’t love 18th century London and scandals?! But the writing made me angry.

For one, it’s written as a memoir so you know that no matter what terrifying things happen to her, she is going to survive because she is writing fifty years (or something like that) after it happened. Also – and this is a personal annoyance, maybe some people like it – I absolutely hated how she kept talking to the readers i.e. “dear reader, you must be wondering how I got myself into this mess.” Yeah, Henrietta, I am wondering, but since I’m only on page 15 of 425, I’m PRETTY SURE you’re going to tell me about it at EVENTUALLY.

And she called out to her “dear readers” constantly, a recurring interjection that I felt was distracting – it broke my concentration when I was already finding it difficult to focus. Plus she kept saying she was writing her experiences down to counteract the rumours her cousin had spread but a) we don’t know what those rumours were and b) her gossip-spreading cousin didn’t show up in the 120 pages that I read.

It also moved unbelievably slowly. I get that it’s book one of a trilogy and I’m all for setting up a story, but if it had been rearranged a little, her love interest would have been introduced sooner and it would have speeded things up a bit.

As I mentioned, I only read 120-odd pages. I had been considering abandoning the book while only on page 60-something, but I tried to give it a chance. My decision was made when Henrietta – a snivelly seventeen year old if there ever was one – referred to her own breasts as “snowy hillocks”. WHO DOES THAT?! AND WHY?!

Apparently – according to reviews and the author’s note at the back – some historical figures show up later in the book (presumably Henrietta becomes a “lady of the night” at some point), and I’m sure they’re well written, but I just can’t be bothered to read the rest of it when I’m not enjoying it. Not when I have so many other books stacked in “To Read” piles around my room.

I always feel bad when I don’t like a book – I know how much time, effort, and passion is put into it, but this one rubbed me the wrong way. I couldn’t keep reading it, and, since it’s only the first book, I doubt there’s any sort of satisfying conclusion.

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