The Vicar's Daughter - Josi S. Kilpatrick
"The road to hell is paved with good intentions".
I fully expected someone to say that to Cassie in this book; with both her parents constantly moralising at her, it seemed an obvious line.
I felt deeply for Cassie in this book; the youngest of six sisters, her strict parents have decided to firmly enforce the rule about only one daughter permitted to be out in society at a time. Their first four daughters married themselves off easily enough before the next was even old enough to come out, but poor Cassie is stuck behind Lenora, who suffers from crippling social anxiety. Lenora is twenty-three, Cassie is twenty, and Cassie is frankly getting desperate because there isn't even the hint of a suitor on the horizon for her sister.
The book begins with a frustrated Cassie trying to argue the point with her mother, who is immovable on the subject. Desperate, when Cassie hears of a slight interaction between Lenora and Evan, she tries to take matters into her own hands by forging a letter from her sister.
Of course, this is where things go horribly awry. Evan falls for the artistic soul of the woman penning the letters, and Cassie in return falls for the intelligent gentleman the returning letters reveal. Once she meets him in person and finds him to be both charming and handsome, the story becomes a freight train hurtling towards disaster.
The story is very cleverly written and the main characters really came to life on the page; every move Cassie made seemed utterly logical at the time, and it was obvious that she wasn't just being selfish, she genuinely did want her sister to be happy.
I admit to feeling a little frustrated that nobody pointed out to Cassie's parents that their rigid adherence to social pressures actually caused the problem in the first place. Fully aware of Lenora's disability (because she did have a disability) letting Cassie out into society at her side would actually have made life easier for Lenora because Cassie could have been right there to help her. After three seasons of hiding from company, it was more than obvious that Lenora might never make a match, and it was deeply unfair to keep twenty-year-old Cassie from having her own chance. Having someone (other than Cassie, who was obviously self-interested) point this out to them would have felt quite satisfying.
I have to admit that I'm also put off by the price of this ebook. As an author myself, I know exactly what costs are involved in the production and distribution of ebooks vs. paperbacks, and to have them at virtually the same price is basically a greedy profit grab. Pricing any fiction ebook over $5 is entirely unnecessary.
I'm happy to give the story four stars, but I can't recommend purchasing the ebook. Grab the paperback instead or wait for a price drop.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.