Helena Standish knows that a good marriage will complete her father's social standing, but she s her papa's daughter and not about to accept any fool. Marriage to the handsome and charming Oliver Faraday appears to offer a perfect match, so what cause does she have for misgivings?
Dr. Nicholas Carstairs has scant patience with frivolous pleasure-seekers and an upper class that closes ranks against outsiders. Why then is he haunted by the lovely girl in the window, someone entirely beyond his reach?
A champagne celebration at Broadway Manor marks the start of a happy future for Helena, but what no one can predict are the consequences of her decision or the appalling danger it will bring.
"Margaret Kaine's previously won the RNA Best Newcomer Award and the Society of Authors Sagittarius Prize in 2003"
Born and educated in the Potteries in Staffordshire, Margaret Kaine now lives in Eastbourne. Her short stories have been published widely in women’s magazines in the UK, Australia, Norway, South Africa and Ireland. Ring of Clay, her debut novel, won both the RNA’s New Writer’s Award in 2002 and the Society of Authors’ Sagittarius Prize in 2003. She has now published seven romantic sagas about life in the Potteries between the 50’s and 70’s; and Dangerous Decisions (Choc Lit), a romantic suspense Translations include German and French and all details of her books can be found on her website - www.margaretkaine.com
This is one of the worst books I have ever read. Well, most horribly written, probably.
Dialogue is basically non-existent, big applause for the couple of scenes that had a page or two of it, I was shocked to come upon that.
The chapters are really short and there are no long scenes here, oh I don't know, let's say a ball or any social event, it lasts for a couple of paragraphs, that's it. And mostly it is portrayed in characters thinking about the ball or thinking about themselves or thinking about another person. This book is just them thinking about something or other, no actual scenes of something happening!!!!! I guess I am used to quality writing, where a book transfers me into the world I am reading, especially if I am reading a historical.
I won't even say anything about the story which is so damn stupid I have no words for it.
I received this book for a contest as judge and this has taught me never to accept something like that again. I don't want to waste my time on horrible writing.
It took me a month to finish this damn book and I have to say from now on I will try to stick to authors who know how to write! Scenes that last more than two or three pages!!!!!!
Dangerous Decisions is a well-written and very readable piece of historical fiction set in the Edwardian Era in which the situation of women in society - their lack of independence, limited choices and their position as little more than the chattels of fathers and husbands - is forcefully brought home.
Helena Standish is a well to-do young lady whose father, though wealthy, made his money “in trade”. Even in 1905, with the world on the verge of a massive change in attitudes, people who acquired their wealth through actually working for it were still looked down upon by those who were born with silver spoons in their mouths, and women were still constrained by the rules laid down by society when it came to their behaviour and expectations.
Helena is young, beautiful and vivacious and possessed of intelligence and an inquiring mind. She is courted by Oliver Faraday, a handsome gentleman of property, who seems to be the perfect prospective husband. Oliver has recently come into his inheritance and is now looking about him for a wife so that he can beget himself an heir to secure his property. Helena’s father promotes the match, seeing Oliver as someone who will be able to help to further his political aspirations. Helena is naturally flattered by Oliver’s interest, although she can’t quite forget the face of the handsome young doctor she has glimpsed on occasion from her window and whom she once met briefly.
Oliver is attentive, although somewhat austere, and right from the start, it’s clear that there is something about him that isn’t quite right. As they further their acquaintance and he begins to court her in earnest, Helena admits to herself that she has misgivings about his suit, although she can’t put her finger on exactly why she feels that way.
Helena does her best to set aside her qualms, telling herself she is just being silly; and when Oliver finally proposes, she accepts, knowing it is her father’s wish. As soon as preparations for the wedding begin, Oliver begins making demands, insisting the marriage takes place in London, rather than from the Standish’s home, and generally manipulating Helena and her father so that Oliver gets exactly what he wants regardless of the wishes of anyone else.
Once they are married, Helena begins to recognise that perhaps her misgivings about her new husband were justified. He is autocratic and frequently dismissive of Helena’s wishes, and, she comes to realise, has an almost fanatical abhorrence of anything remotely imperfect or ugly. He shows her none of the consideration due a new bride, and has no desire for emotional intimacy or interest in her other than in her capacity to give him an heir.
Helena’s father and aunt come to see that Helena is not happy in her marriage, and – to his credit – her father feels guilty at the fact that he put his own political ambitions before his daughter’s happiness. But it’s too late. Helena is married, and thus little more than her husband’s property.
Ms Kane has written a thoroughly engrossing story which moves between the lives of the privileged and the slums of 1900s London. The idyllic façade of Helena’s marriage hides something cruel and unpleasant in much the same way as the bustling city hides its less fortunate inhabitants beneath a surface veneer of progress and prosperity. The novel is set during a period of great change and there are a number of references to the political situation of the time, especially in regards to the growing movement for female emancipation.
The story is well-written and the pacing is generally good, although I feel that the last few chapters are very choppy; by which I mean there are lots of short paragraphs coming one after the other, engendering so many fast changes of scene and points-of-view that those chapters seem somewhat disjointed. This means that the ending feels a little rushed and it is also rather a jarring change of style from the rest of the book.
Helena and Oliver are both well-drawn characters, although of necessity, Helena is probably the most well-rounded. Ms Kane does an excellent job of communicating her thoughts and feelings as she struggles to preserve the appearance of a happy marriage. Even though Oliver is a far less sympathetic character, he is similarly well-drawn, the more unpleasant facets of his character being revealed slowly and creating a degree of tension as the reader begins to share Helena’s concerns and then to wonder to what lengths he will go in order to get what he wants.
Dangerous Decisions is an interesting and very enjoyable read. It is not primarily a romance, although there are strong romantic elements; rather it is the story of a young woman’s frustration at her limited choices and how even the most sensibly taken decisions can have disastrous consequences.
This makes two-for-two Choc Lit Publishing books that I’ve loved! Yay!
This novel, billed as Downton Abbey-esque, begins in London in 1905. Helena is a young debutante, and what she lacks in noble blood she makes up for with her merchant father’s wealth. Her father has political aspirations and is eager for Helena to make a prosperous match. Oliver Faraday, a man with an unforgivable blond mustache, has recently inherited and wants to ensure an heir quickly so that his gambling cousin doesn’t inherit.
Helena happens to look out her window one afternoon and sees a handsome young doctor walking past. He glances up, they are instantly in love with each other, and then he walks on. Their differences in social status are too great for either of them to do anything but daydream.
The story is written in third person with multiple points of view. I found it a little confusing at first, when I thought it would just be two main characters, but then I adapted to the style. Third-party POVs didn’t drag on to become boring, they just added extra color to the scenes.
As a nod to Downton Abbey, the downstairs servants are given a fair amount of time onstage. Because I am old, I had some difficulty keeping track of the various servants. I didn’t worry about it too much, though, the author was good at giving subtle reminders. The servants didn’t have major plot lines, I felt that they were there more to give a complete picture.
The plot was not what I expected at all. First, when I connected the debutante to the doctor, I was reminded of a Sunfire romance that I read when I was 14, about a New York socialite named Emily falling in love with a poor doctor. That book was, of course, awesome, and I expected this book to follow the same star-crossed lovers plot. But it didn’t!
Second, the way Helena’s life was shown through multiple lenses gave me a sense of her character and her longing. Oh, the longing! Based upon two glances and a brief encounter on a sidewalk, Helena and the doctor crave each other, and they’re tortured with missed opportunities. It reminded me of an Edith Wharton novel. I don’t think I’ve actually read any Edith Wharton, but I’ve seen the movies. You know the part where Daniel Day-Lewis unbuttons Michelle Pfeiffer’s glove and kisses her bare wrist? And they know that’s the best they’ll ever get? That’s the tense, suppressed desire that I’m talking about.
And then! The last third gets kind of crazy but my adrenaline was pumping and I couldn’t put it down. It was a rush. The ending manages to be restrained but happy. The heat level of the whole book is low, but, you know, simmering. Oh, the simmering. Plus all the other stuff.
Wow. I'm not sure what I was expecting with this book, but the actual experience way exceeded my expectations. I was completely hooked from the start.
The characters were vivid. Oliver was initially unsettling, then really disturbing. Helena is likable and her motivations and feelings are always understandable. Nicholas is really likeable and a wonderful contrast to Oliver.
I normally don't like so many points of view, but in this book, it worked very well. I'd never read anything by Margaret Kaine before, but I will read more in the future!
Soon after starting Dangerous Decisions,I realised that I was in the hands of a master story-teller, and could relax and enjoy the tale. I trusted and soaked up all historical details,totally believed in the characters and liked the clever way their stories were interwoven and drawn together - upstairs,downstairs and in a lady-of-the-night's chamber. Those later chapters where tension is really racked up between Helena and her husband kept me reading until the early hours. Loved it.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the author as part of a Goodreads giveaway.
I thoroughly enjoyed Dangerous Decisions. It is a beautifully written, well researched novel with a gripping plot. I particularly enjoyed how Kaine captured the social classes of the time as well as the political issues. A great page-turner, overall.
I love the cover of Dangerous Decisions, it is so beautiful and the description had me very interested from the moment I read it. I was soon swept up in the story and the character’s lives.
I really liked Helena, and I warmed to her straight away. I liked that she is very intelligent and a strong woman, but at the same time I felt for her where she was aware of her father and the effect that a marriage will have on him. Like Helena I was wary of Oliver, he seemed like an ideal match for her but there was just something about him that put me on edge. Although I had misgivings about Oliver, I was absolutely fascinated by his character and trying to figure him out, and I was gripped to the story wanting to read on to find out what would happen with Helena and Oliver.
Nicholas…Oh Nicholas I really loved you! I actually felt the same sense of longing as Helena did for Nicholas, and it made my heart ache for them!
I thoroughly enjoyed the historical aspect of the novel. Margaret really focused on the attention to detail in this and she brought the scenes to life with her descriptions of the settings. Margaret’s writing was so powerful that I could feel the difference between the upstairs and downstairs. I really enjoyed that both the upstairs and downstairs were included, it gave the book more layers and the contrast between their lives was interesting to read.
I was HOOKED to this story, I couldn’t put it down…with a title like Dangerous Decisions I was expecting a bit of conflict but the tension quickly rose and nearer the end I was racing through the pages desperate to know how it would end. Margaret has cleverly weaved lots of different threads into such an intriguing and compelling story. I loved Dangerous Decisions and I’m very excited for Margaret’s future releases!
The publisher provided me with a copy of this book for an honest review. So here goes…
I made the mistake of reading Dangerous Decisions expecting a traditional romance. It’s not, and when I adjusted my thinking, I got a very worthwhile read. While there’s a handsome, wealthy suitor, a wooing and a wedding, all is not what it seems and as the books suggest, decisions – even when made for the right reasons – can lead to dangerous consequences.
Even though she is loved by her father, his political ambitions still mean that, as a woman of her time, Helena is helpless to make her own decisions about her future, about who she marries, about the class of man she marries – and so, despite slight misgivings, she marries Oliver.
The book provides a detailed picture of life in London during the reign of George III and against this backdrop Helena lives out the chilling results of her decision to marry Oliver.
There’s a happy ending of sorts with true love finding its way, but I have confess I would have liked more time spent on that aspect of the story, or perhaps even a second book.
I hesitate to call Dangerous Decisions an historical romance. It’s more an engaging, intelligent story with a romance as part of the whole. It's a commentary on women's role as chattels, mental illness and the foolishness of the class divide.
This is not a romance, this is romantic fiction and cos of that there is a long way to Helen's HEA.
She is a nice young woman, and when a nice man courts her she does think he seems ok. But there is something about Oliver that gave me chills from the start. But they marry and we see their married life, the happy and unhappy parts.
There is also someone else in the shadows, a doctor called Nicholas. Oh she should have chosen him but how could she as they were not the same class and therefore never introduced. Those were the days. The whole social issue is shown throughout the book, we get the whole downstairs upstairs thing and comments about social issues at the time.
Now do not think it's an unhappy book. No there is romance at first and then a bit of dangerous things happening too. I liked it as it felt more real. She did not have time to think over things and therefore chose rather quickly. He was a respectable nice man. It was a step up for her.
A good book that even had a bit of suspense at the end.
I downloaded Dangerous Decisions just at the right moment. The last episode of Downton Abbey had played and I wanted to read something in a similar vein. This novel ticked all the right boxes. The manner in which the author described the difference between the lives of the characters upstairs/downstairs and the sad lives of the women who inhabit the demi monde was spot on. I felt an immediate rapport for the innocent Helena and, as her marriage approached, wanted to shout: DON'T DO IT. But, do it she did - and the consequences of that 'dangerous decision' reverberate throughout this well-written novel, making us turn the pages to know what happens next. I won't give the plot away, I'll just say that I was rooting for Cora (the tart with the heart of gold), detested the unfeeling Oliver Faraday and loved Doctor Carstairs. I switched off my kindle with a feeling of satisfaction, glad that Helen got the happy ending she deserved.
Dangerous Decisions is set during the Edwardian era, with all the plot twists and turns and beautiful characterisation which made me enjoy the TV series Downton Abbey so much.
Margaret Kaine's beautiful writing style pulled me right into that bygone era. The plot was engrossing, clever and unusual and never predictable, and the characters so gorgeously portrayed I was very moist-eyed in a few parts.
I read it in two sittings, which is quite something when you've got two active young daughters.
Initially I was attracted to this book by the beautiful cover, and then by the blurb which hinted at a supposedly idyllic situation where a lot more was going on beneath the veneer of good manners than one would imagine. I was so glad I read it, having just finished an African-set thriller, so was ready for a more measured, cleverly crafted historical romance.
As a huge ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ fan this book ticked every box. Yes, it’s a historical romance in some ways but also has hints of suspense and a thread of social commentary running right through the story. It starts in 1905 with Helena who is a young debutante entering her first London season. She is soon steered by her family into marriage with a powerful, rich man who appears to be charming and everything she could wish for. But Oliver has his own dark secrets and Helena realizes she’s made a big mistake. Her unhappiness is made worse by her attraction to a young doctor, Nicholas, who is considered to be far beneath her socially. The contrast between the different classes is well observed and the role of women and their lack of power is well brought out. The deft way in which this story is told goes far beyond a traditional romance but will still leave the reader more than satisfied at the end.
This has been sitting on my shelf for a little bit and I honestly forgot about it. After unpacking my books recently, I looked at this and remembered how badly I wanted to read it. So I got started reading right away.
I was honestly hooked from page 1. The first 90% of the book was addictive. I could hardly put it down even in the more boring parts.
The last 10%? Meh. Sure that was supposed to be the most exciting parts with all the suspense and etc, but I simply did not care. I honestly just wanted it all to end and Nicholas to get a win. Poor lad was so mistreated since page 1 LOL! Sure, Helena too got stuck with psycho-Magee, but at least she wasn’t alone like Nicholas.
Oliver was indeed a crazy person and I could see that from the moment he arrived on the scene. He was off and IDK how Helena and her dad didn’t see it. Fools I say, FOOLS!
This was sad, but a realistic sad. It felt very, very real and I enjoyed the journey even though the ending was a little bit rocky.
I was also in love with the author’s writing style. Very fluid and easy to read, but she sure could build a world and her characters. I am curious to see what else the author has out there.
In the end, this was good. Not amazing, but it was really worth the read. I enjoyed how realistic it felt and how alive the characters and world were. The ending was, well, rocky at best, but it was worth it for the rest of it. If you like Historical Fictions or just a good people story, this is a good one. I’ll give this 4 stars.
For me the concept behind this book is one that could find a home in any literary time frame and still enable the reader to relate. Having read several modern chick-lit style books recently to read something set slight further back historically felt like a refreshing change. Kaine writes in a style that embraces and engages with the challenges of the period while managing to create a believable tale rather than a boring account of restrictions for women.
However, I do wonder if a little more work was needed in terms of the books time frame. For me at least it felt as if a significant amount of time was spent introducing the characters and allowing the reader to create their own personal opinions with then things feeling a little bit rushed and brief in terms of a conclusion after 'the main event' which takes place roughly two thirds of the way through. I think even just a handful of extra chapters adding some more detail to the rounding up would have made me feel happier with the conclusion.
In terms of the genre etc I think Kaine writes well and the narrative is at such a pace that you don't feel bogged down with either too much description of too much dialogue. For me it was the rushed ending which lead me to reduce the star rating. Despite this it was still and enjoyable read and one that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys the chick-lit genre.
Can't believe Choc Lit stands by this. I loved the back of the book, but unfortunately lost interest quickly; halfway through the beginning I started to skim and abandoned reading shortly into chapter one. Then skimmed my way forward. The beginning would have much more impact if it were condensed. Overall the writing is amateur and unprofessional. Hopefully the writer will work on her/his craft and acquire a knowledgeable and Professional editor who can successfully make this a an interesting read. Perhaps lack of a professional editor lead to the downfall of this story which is truly sad. If this book had a professional editor with insight and experience to guide and shape the story; someone with advice and know how about how to write a compelling story, it might have been an interesting story. As it stands, it reads as an amateur attempt with an editor from junior high school.
This is a new departure for Margaret Kaine, a writer I very much admire. Usually, she writes about the middle years of the 20th century, centred on the Potteries. This one covers a few years into the Edwardian period, bringing in the social mores, the political issues of the time and mental illness. There was just the right mix of upstairs, downstairs, reminiscent of Downton Abbey but with more likeable characters. Young socialite Helen marries, out of duty to her father, Oliver Faraday, despite her misgivings about his character. But she also finds herself attracted to a man she has glimpsed only from an upstairs window. Quite how the lives of these three characters interweave cannot be described here because of spoilers. Suffice to say, this is a brilliant, well-plotted novel with a very satisfactory outcome. Everyone gets what they deserve!
I really enjoyed this book. I admire how the author plotted it, so that the tension was maintained right to the end tantalising the reader until the novel arrived to the final resolution. The writing was mature and practised and the author's characterization was both acute and sympathetic. Another really excellent book from Margaret Kaine.