Not By Sight
I was intrigued by the opening scene of Not by Sight: wealthy suffragette Grace Mabry infiltrates a masquerade ball in 1917 to hand a white feather to playboy Jack Benningham, who has refused to enlist in the Great War. This is a time period and topic I’m familiar with, so I expected to enjoy the story.
Jack is an engaging combination of Erik from Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera and Rochester from Jane Eyre. His motivations and behavior are believable, aside from one exception regarding his prior engagement to another woman. But Grace is more difficult to like. Though she has plenty of spunk and a kind heart, her tendency to feel guilty about actions she isn’t responsible for and her preachy, goody-two-shoes attitude to other characters grated on me.
This is an inspirational romance and Breslin does create believable chemistry between Jack and Grace. I enjoyed the way their relationship develops, though I could have done without Jack’s teaching Grace to be a good novelist by encouraging her to describe scenery with excruciating passages of purple prose. One question-and-answer session between them also reads like an info-dump. I liked the mystery and espionage subplot, but it won’t be enough for fans of mystery or spy thrillers. The inspirational elements are subtle except at the end, which seemed both rushed and contrived.
Readers who know about the women’s suffrage movement in the early 20th century will find the term “suffragette” misleading: Grace is in no way a suffragette (a term properly used only for the militant wing of the movement), nor does she even seem particularly concerned about women’s rights.
I would cautiously recommend the novel to fans of inspirational romance, but it will likely not appeal to others.