REVIEW: Wheel of Fortune by C.F. Dunn

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1469. England is in turmoil. For almost ten years, the attractive and charismatic Edward IV has ruled with the Earl of Warwick’s support, but now rebellion threatens the fragile peace.

Young and determined, Isobel Fenton is resolved that nothing will separate her from her beloved manor of Beaumancote, even if it does mean marrying Thomas Lacey. But Isobel is unaware of the importance she and her land represent nor of the agenda of the formidable Earl in whose care she finds herself. As an unseen witness to a summary execution, she is propelled into the world of personal feuds and national politics, and as unrest boils into war, Isobel is drawn into the very heart of the conflict. Can she escape from the web in which she is trapped, and can she find her way home?

CW – on page death, on page child abuse, off page rape and later continued sexual assault

Dear Ms. Dunn,

Your new book kicking off a series about the English War of the Roses comes with an amazing cover plug from Elizabeth Chadwick. Plus it’s a gorgeous cover anyway and I’m weak when faced with a gorgeous cover. It’s also well researched and plunks the reader into 1460s England with all the good and the bad. There’s a whole lot of bad. There’s also no romance.

Isobel is a young child when she sees death. In a scene of revenge, the Earl to whom her father owes allegiance and from whom he was awarded the manor house they live in, chases down enemies on horseback and drags them there after which a man is beheaded. Four years later, Isobel’s father dies leaving her an orphan. She is *not* from a powerful family nor is her inherited estate that grand. It is in a strategic location and unrest is simmering. She is ordered to the power base castle where the Earl lives and begins helping take care of the Earl’s youngest daughters – plain Margaret and … hmm, how to describe her … “challenging” Cecily. This whole section is fairly slow.

Isobel’s wants and needs play no part in how she is treated. She is a pawn, she is a person with little standing even though she is the daughter of a knight and a lady. The nursery is ruled by the aunt (who is a bitch from hell) of the Countess (also bitch) who adheres to the belief of “spare the rod, spoil the child.” The Countess couldn’t care less about these two daughters but she is determined to hang onto every jot of power her position gives her. There is a fellow worker in the nursery who is shrewd and also determined to take advantage of every opportunity she can. This is a “dog eat dog world.”

The Earl, who holds the power of deciding whom Isobel will marry and thus who will gain control of Isobel’s estate, decides to deny her marriage to a young man she had thought she would be betrothed to. Isobel is scared of the Earl but is beginning to fall for his widowed brother who always seems to notice when she is around. Isobel is the only person to treat Meg and Cecily with kindness, she has herbal skills taught to her by her mother, her every move seems to anger the Countess and that woman’s aunt, and there is a spymaster always watching everyone’s every move. Oh, and the Duke of Gloucester is friendly to Isobel, too. Then comes the moment when the Earl becomes obsessed with Isobel. This is where the rape comes in.

Yes, the book is beautifully researched and I certainly felt I was seeing a world far, far different from what we have today. These are not twenty first century characters dressed in kirtles or houppelandes. They act as one would expect them to. I just don’t want to read any more about them. I also thought it was bizarre that so many people seem to be obsessed with Isobel. I mean really fixated on this woman who, it has been made clear, is not that important in the overall scheme of a country in the middle of the War of the Roses. She’s not quite a Mary Sue but she’s not far from it. At this point, I was 2/3 of the way through the book. It was also at this point that I realized that I either didn’t like or didn’t care what happened to anyone in the book and that I am not interested in continuing the series. So, I’m calling it quits on this one. DNF

~Jayne

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Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 25 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there’s no TSTL characters and is currently reading more fantasy and SciFi.

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