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The Ill-Kept Oath

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Two cousins. A dark family secret. A looming rebellion.

In Regency England, a mysterious inheritance draws Prudence Fairfeather and Lady Josephine Weston out of candlelit ballrooms and into the shadows of insurrection.

A newcomer to London society, Prudence longs for the enchantment of love and instead finds real magic in her late mother's ring. But power brings peril, and strange mishaps culminate in an assassin's bullet. Ensnared by the web of a malevolent socialite, Prudence forsakes romance to fight for her freedom.

Josephine fears an eternity of confined country life until rampaging trolls, a gang of drunken vigilantes, and a flirtatious officer bring her all the adventure she craves. Compelled by birthright to take up arms, she embraces her newfound, unladylike abilities to shield her loved ones from harm.

As danger drives a wedge through their friendship, Josephine and Prudence must face their magical legacy and the enemy who will kill to control them.

416 pages, Paperback

Published September 27, 2016

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C.C. Aune

2 books19 followers

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5 stars
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15 (26%)
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7 (12%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 32 reviews
Profile Image for Janet.
2,162 reviews25 followers
November 16, 2016
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Historical fiction mixed with paranormal is a rare combo that seems to work here. Prudence and Josephine are cousins who discover they have special abilities. This is a veritable treat to read with some mile romance and dashing heroes. A beautiful page-turner that will appeal to a wide range of readers. When I read the blurb for this book, I was excited to read it and now I'm looking forward to future releases from this author.
Profile Image for Veronica.
682 reviews15 followers
October 6, 2016
I was entranced by this book from the very beginning. I have always been fascinated by the Regency era and am a huge Jane Austen fan. I have to say that C.C. Aune definitely nailed this time period very accurately.
Prudence Fairfeather and Lady Josephine Weston are cousins who have "come of age". Prudence receives her late mother's ring and is sent off to London for her season debut to hopefully find a husband while Josephine stays at home in the country.
This seems like a typical Jane Austen style novel until the regiment and the trolls show up. Yes, trolls. Apparently, all is not what it seems in Regency England.
I had so much fun and enjoyment reading this and am very intrigued by the magical world that the author has created. I am really hoping for a book two.
I received a copy of this book from W.I. Creative Publishing for free in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Divya Agrawal.
162 reviews18 followers
September 20, 2016
It was like a magical history ride with the handsome strangers. It delivered every aspect of the story genre it holds.

Even though Prudence was the main lead, I loved Josephine more. She was more like a character I would love to stumble across.

I loved the Inheritance- the oath, which was the reason because of which every odd things were happening. I didn't knew at first when I requested it to review that this will also become a series but I'm happy it will.

Waiting for the next book!
Profile Image for Shai Williams.
817 reviews5 followers
November 4, 2016
This book really tickled me. It reads like a historical romance with bits of the paranormal painted around the edges.

The reader really gets to know the cousins through their correspondence they send back and forth. Yes this was back in the days where a person would write long letters to keep in touch. Along with the letters, we are privileged to see what is really happening in their lives. I enjoyed being able to see what they did and did not share.

There is enough going on with these cousins that there is never a dull moment in the story. The dialogue is witty and the writing is elegant. There is just enough hinted about on the paranormal side to keep the reader entranced.

I do highly recommend THE ILL-KEPT OATH to any reader who enjoys historical romances as well as the paranormal. Personally I am hoping that another book will come out in this series as I still have questions.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions expressed within are my own.
3 reviews
March 3, 2017
A read guaranteed to leave any fan of historical fiction, Jane Austen or just a good book waiting anxiously for this tale to continue.
This novel is true to its promise of mystery, drama, suspence, romance and a believable touch of magic. The tale is artfully written in prose true to the period and reminiscent of the great Jane Austen. I anxiously await the next installment.
Profile Image for Rosie.
573 reviews3 followers
October 24, 2016
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Historical fiction at its finest, The Ill-Kept Oath blends an Austen-esque story with magic and mystery in a beautiful story about love and family.
Set in 1819, it follows two girls, cousins and best friends as one moves away from the country to start her Season in London. Even though they are miles apart, the girls remain in close contact through letters and it is these letters which connect their two stories as romance, adventure and a touch of magic befalls the both of them.


There is no one plot to this book. While the description given on Goodreads implies that the girls’ magical legacy is going to be the central focus of the book, it is actually their romantic endeavours which gets centre-stage. Each of the girls’ confusion over their feelings and the feelings of the men they’re interested in is explored in interesting ways and this meshes perfectly with the more supernatural elements of the story, with the magical side of things playing a driving force in those relationships. While the novel itself does feel slow-moving in places, particularly towards the middle, the beginning and ending are perfect, with the final quarter of the book being a pay-off of all the different threads in the novel.


Aune has created incredibly well-structured characters in this novel, each one fitting perfectly into the setting and the role given them. Josephine was an instant favourite of mine – her personality was lively, entertaining and translated well into her story line. Prudence, on the other hand, was very different and it was difficult to relate to her at times. Her irrational behaviour in certain parts of the books is explained later on. She strikes a perfect balance with Josephine and, if she had been any different, I don’t think it would have worked quite as well.


This is probably the area I was least convinced by in the novel. I loved the era The Ill-Kept Oath was set in and I thought both the story and characters fit in beautifully with the setting. However, I had a lot of trouble, especially towards the beginning of the novel, trying to understand the Inheritance – what is was, what the history of it was and why it could not be revealed to the heirs. While it was explained a little better towards the end of the novel, it was a long wait to get that explanation and I found that wait a bit frustrating and confusing.

Final thoughts

While there were a couple of minor things which did not quite work for me in The Ill-Kept Oath, I can’t deny that it is a fabulous book. The amount of work that must have gone into it is evident and the writing is reminiscent of Austen’s novels, but brought up-to-date for modern readers. I thoroughly loved the letters between Josephine and Prudence – they brought the story together and really solidified the relationship between the two girls, which quickly became one of my favourites in the novel, despite them rarely being in the same scene together. Aune had created a brilliant novel and I cannot wait for the sequel.
Profile Image for C.T. Phipps.
Author 73 books584 followers
July 11, 2018
An entertaining but slow build book set in the Victorian era. A lot of fascinating characters with a mystery at the center. I enjoyed it from beginning to end. There wasn't a lot of action and all the characters were reserved but the sense of time as well as propriety made the book feel very authentic. I was recommended this book by Amanda Justice (A Wizards' Forge) and was glad she did so.
Profile Image for Olivia.
3,041 reviews68 followers
October 15, 2016
"The Ill-Kept Oath" is a historical fantasy which alternates between Prudence and Josephine, two young women who are cousins. They live in different places but exchange frequent letters. Both women are at an age where they are mainly thinking about marriage. Prudence is given a box of objects that were her parents' from her aunt and caretaker, and Josephine finds a similar box at her house. The objects are strange and slowly they begin to suspect that there is a magical quality to them. However, it's clear that the adults in their lives are keeping things from them.

The main element of the story is each of the women's romantic interests. Prudence is poor and her options ate limited but she is pursued by Underwood, who is dull but wealthy. However, she seems interested in William MacNeal, who seems to be blowing her off, even though the chemistry is undeniable when they are together. Josephine becomes interested in Quimby, the young military man starting near her estate on a secret mission. However, he would not be up to society's standards for her. She also spends a lot of time arguing with Prudence's brother, sometimes in a way that might hint at more. I won't say more to avoid spoilers.

The magical/fantasy elements are a smaller part of the story, and we only get hints about what the objects from their parents are/mean until near the end. If you like clean historical romance, this book would probably be great for you. However, if you are looking for an action-packed fantasy, this book might be too slow for you. I like elements of both styles, so overall, this book was pretty good for me after the slow start (about the first 10% was a bit too slow for me). I liked the letters between the two cousins interspersed with their lives; it made it more unique. The hints of these objects and their histories drove a mystery that kept me reading to learn more. It certainly is a unique style!

Please note that I received this book from the publisher through netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Juli.
1,879 reviews474 followers
February 9, 2017
**I received a copy of this book from W.I. Creative Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for a fair, honest review.**

Set in Regency England, the Ill-Kept oath is about cousins Prudence Fairfeather and Lady Josephine Weston. The two young ladies are coming of age, and will discover true magic, adventure and family secrets that will change their lives forever. This isn't a run of the mill historical romance. Not even close. Take a London Season for Prudence and the excitement of uniformed soldiers for Josephine and add in magical talismans, trolls in the forest, and dangerous family secrets. It makes for a fun, exciting, supernatural-fantasy-historical-romance thrilling romp!

I loved this book! The two main characters are very different in personality but both are engaging and believable. The side characters were well-developed and the story engaging throughout. I loved the threat of trolls wandering through the woods outside the Manor. It made the story a bit like Pride and Prejudice and Trolls. Who needs zombies when you have trolls?

The plot was not predictable. It left me guessing until the end. There were several twists and turns that I didn't see coming. I was engrossed in the story the entire time!

I love the fact that C.C. Aune took a basic story added in some zigs and zags and created a combination romantic-fantasy-supernatural tale! Although she has been writing for most of her life, this is C.C Aune's first published book. What a kick-ass debut novel!!! I absolutely LOVE IT when I read a first book that just knocks my socks off!! I will definitely be looking for more books by this author!

This book would definitely make a great movie!

The Ill-Kept Oath will be published by W.I. Creative Publishing on September 27th. For readers who enjoy period romance, sci-fi, fantasy or action-adventure, I highly recommend reading this book!! Pick up a copy and help a first-time author, or ask your library to get a copy for their shelves! You won't be sorry!!
Profile Image for A.M. Justice.
Author 15 books165 followers
December 4, 2016
I know the author, and I read this book in manuscript, but every word of this review is my honest opinion.

C. C. Aune ’s work beautifully captures Jane Austen’s England in a gossamer net of magic and intrigue.

“Prudence cast furtive glances round the salon, taking in the splendor of more gentlemen than she’d seen in her life. The place abounded with broad shoulders, tobacco-scented jackets, and booming male laughter.”

So one of the heroines of The Ill-Kept Oath enters a drawing room filled with prospective beaus, hoping for romance but finding harrowing intrigue instead. Likewise, readers who open this book will find themselves drawn into rich townhouses and grand country manors, where they might expect to find only young women aiming for marriage and hoping for love, but where a pair of old trunks filled with magical items soon drive the plot in a wholly unexpected direction. A talking ring, rampaging trolls, and a secret society of mages and warriors all conspire to lure heroines Prudence and Josephine away from the typical and into the extraordinary. While Aune revels in the fanciful, she keeps her prose and setting firmly grounded in the historical. Beautifully written in Austen-like language, the novel is filled with authentic details, from the delicate choreography of early waltzes to the gory horror of an amputation without anesthesia or antibiotics.

I rarely give out five stars, but this story outdoes Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell in its literary mix of the mannered and the magical. It was one of those novels I truly couldn’t put down—I stayed up late and resented every intrusion by family, friends, and pets until I’d read the final word. I cannot wait to see where the series goes next.
Profile Image for The Damsel in the Library.
442 reviews17 followers
July 28, 2019
*Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for providing me with an early copy in exchange for an honest review.*

I came pretty close to giving up on this book. Five chapters in and it wasn't grabbing me. Then chapter six happened and I was hooked.
It has the familiar feel of every Regency era book I've read, but I liked it anyway. Great romances with plenty of drama and fist-shaking moments. The mysteries of the Talismans may have been dampened in light of the romance, but it will undoubtedly get more attention in the second book.
At the start I liked Prudence because she seemed more level headed. Then Josephine got her act together and I preferred her character. (I think one of them should've had a shorter name to avoid confusion. They don't have the same personality but I had trouble keeping their names apart.)
Overall I had a fun time reading about all the mishaps and triumphs of our female leads and am looking forward to more regarding their stories.
Shout-out to the author for making the men pine over the women too. That is not seen enough.
95 reviews1 follower
August 10, 2016
I had the privilege of reading "The Ill-Kept Oath" prior to its release. It was a great read. The beginning of the story follows the pattern of a historical fiction. There is a young heiress and her cousins who were orphaned and raised as her siblings. Prudence needs to find a husband with a fortune, but she is torn because she doesn't want to marry someone she can't love. Josephine is a bit of a rascal that is known for her dramatics. Edward is struggling with his place and leaves school to pursue other interests. Somewhere in the middle, this story takes a turn from the usual and veers toward the fantastic. There was anxiety over who to trust, abilities begin to take form, a curse is placed and a love/hate relationship that ensues. The ending left me anxious to find out what happens next in the story. If you are a fan of historical fiction or sci-fi/fantasy, I would recommend you read this book.
Profile Image for Katie Montgomery.
294 reviews192 followers
November 4, 2016
Delightful as fuck. In fact, I think this warrants the return of everyone's favorite checklist ...

Things Katie Enjoys In A Novel, As Correlated With "Ill-Kept Oath":

_X_ Period-appropriate prose

___ Talking cats

_X_ Strong, sassy heroines who have no trouble kicking it with the boys

_X_ Believable, likable characters

___ Pandas

_X__ Swashbuckling

___ Magical colleges and/or general graduate-level spell nerdery

___ Dragons

_X_ People wearing awesome hats

_X__ Perfectly executed genre mashups

___ Fairytale flavors that induce minimal eyerolling

___ Spaceships and/or lasers

___ Princes/princesses who have their shit together

_X_ Romance that keeps it classy

_X__ Sword fighting

___ Dimension-jumping

_X__ Character that could be played by Maggie Smith in the BBC dramatization

_X_ Satisfying endings
1 review1 follower
May 5, 2017
Great read- didn't want to put it down and anxious to read #2. I wasn't sure historical fantasy was my genre, but love history and Ms. Aune did a masterful job of intertwining fantasy in a Victorian romance. Twists and turns I didn't anticipate. I'm viewing my family heirlooms with a new respect and wonder!
2 reviews
November 21, 2016
Absolutely the smoothest book I've ever read. It has everything that Downtown Abbey doesn't have and more. I love Jo and Prudence's writing notes to each other. The Ill-Kept Oath is a must read! McNeil and Quimby add to the mystery of Jo and Prudence's life. Definitely can't wait to read the next book coming out. This book is going to be like binging on a TV show in the near future.
Profile Image for Kerry.
Author 53 books139 followers
September 24, 2016
"The Ill-Kept Oath" is a compelling and complex story with a strong lead character. It mixes the manners of times gone by with magic in the best possible way. Although this book stands well on its own, I am looking forward to the sequel and reading how C.C. Aune continues this intriguing tale.
14 reviews4 followers
September 26, 2016
Love this! Been on an Austen kick lately and didn't think you could improve those types of stories. I was wrong! Turns out you just need to add magic!

Profile Image for Alex Thorne.
131 reviews7 followers
February 21, 2017
Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars

Set in the early 1800s, The Ill-Kept Oath is a cross between historical fantasy and paranormal romance, though it leans heavily in the latter of the two genres for the majority of the novel. Prudence Fairfeather and her brother Edward are orphans taken in by Lord Middlemere. Raised as nobility, Prudence has nothing to her name and must wed well for her future. Her cousin, Josephine Weston, is Lord Middlemere’s only child and, a couple years younger than Prudence, also finds herself in the path of a relationship that, though she desperately wishes, is beneath her. As if the stress of needing to marry wasn’t enough, the two discover that they have the Inheritance, which is, more or less, magic that has been passed on through the generations. Both girls are also recipients of Talismans that once belonged to their mothers and these items appear to have a gravitational pull that neither girl can withstand, which lands them in trouble on more than one account. In addition to romance and magic, there are trolls, rebellious magic users, and a very real reason for Prudence to fear for her very life, lending a sense of urgency to the book.

That sense of urgency is not dealt with in a timely manner though, it seems. While I adored reading The Ill-Kept Oath, I can’t help but feel that there were moments in which the book simply dragged on. Granted, I’m not much of a fan of romance and what truly piqued my interest in regards to this book was the idea of magic and rebellion, two topics that I am most definitely a large fan of. These two subjects, though largely used in the book’s description, are almost minor elements in comparison to Prudence’s debut for the London Season. In fact, the main conflict of the book itself seems to take a backseat to the romance side of the story which, while bittersweet in its telling, might strike the reader as something that ought to come second to the fact that there are trolls rampaging around the countryside.

It isn’t until near the end of the book that things begin to pick up and start falling into place. Here we learn that the romance side of things play a very important, unseen role in a vile plot to rebel against laws put in place several years prior. Without giving away spoilers, the parts of the book that we slag through are all, despite how mundane they appear, vital to the situation that unfolds. Every element finds a way of coming together, and there are certainly moments that, as I read them, I was able to appreciate the earlier, seemingly pointless interactions of characters. In that regard, I must commend C. C. Aune’s ability to implement small pieces of seemingly pointless knowledge that are, in fact, pivotal to the story. With that in mind, even without being a fan of romance, I was able to at least appreciate Prudence’s involvement in the Marriage Mart.

One of the things I actually liked about The Ill-Kept Oath is the depth to each of its characters. Unlike many of the books that I’ve read lately where the characters are one-dimensional with no point of existence except to fill a certain role and none other, the characters that Aune has breathed life into are colorful and real. Josephine is sixteen, on the cusp of adulthood, and bears the qualities of a teen-aged girl, soon to be woman, that we expect to see, from immaturity to accepting the changes in her own feelings and emotions. Prudence has just crossed into adulthood, and as a reader I was able to sense and truly feel her reluctance to accept a marriage out of necessity, rather than love. Her frustration, and her way of deflecting offers, are not merely glazed over, but written with depth. Even Edward, Prudence’s brother, shows the awkwardness to be expected of a young man still in university that has, unfortunately, developed some less than favorable emotions.

I really wish that more had been explained about the Inheritance and that there wasn’t so much left open to guessing. I assume this is something that will be more fully addressed later on, assuming there will be a sequel, and if that is the case I certainly look forward to reading it. What The Ill-Kept Oath gives us is a mere glimpse into a dark, dark world with many secrets left to be uncovered. A place where things happen with little care for the results, as long as an end is obtained. Overall, I enjoyed the book, though I feel that the story could have had a heavier focus on the magical side of things, along with a quicker pace.

Finally, I would like to offer a heart-felt thanks to Netgalley, Wise Ink Creative Publishing, and C. C. Aune for an advanced copy of The Ill-Kept Oath in exchange for an unbiased review.
Profile Image for Vee.
901 reviews7 followers
November 7, 2016
For the full review, click on this link: https://veereading.wordpress.com/2016...

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One of the things I loved about this novel was the language and style of the writing. As I had mentioned earlier, anything from Regency England is going to get my approval, and the author did a fantastic job of bringing that world to life. I enjoyed the details of life during those times and the struggles of both Prudence and Josephine to act as expected rather than as they desired. I also loved how unique their characters were; they were powerful forces to pay attention to all on their own, but they didn't clash when put in scenes together. I enjoyed reading parts of the story through letter format, as the girls would communicate to each other that way - it allowed the reader to know exactly what each girl thought about specific things that happened to the other character. Sometimes, it could be a little confusing because I couldn't tell which letter had arrived to which girl when, but overall the effect was brilliant. The other characters that were introduced were also interesting and unique, which is always a good thing in a novel; no one wants to read a book where all of the characters seem the same.

The plot itself could at times be a little ....
Profile Image for Rebecca.
2,355 reviews27 followers
November 8, 2016
I should say up front that I've known the author for more years than either of us can remember, and I read the first incarnation of this story way back when. I'm so thrilled for my friend that she put in all the hard work to finish, revise, revise, revise, and then do all the other hard work to get it out in book form. Brava! I always loved the premise of this and the historical period, and love all the period detail the author has put into it--and all the research that went into getting it right. Josephine was always my favorite character (well, in this part of the series!), for her cheerfulness and chutzpah, and look forward to what will happen to her in the next volume. I remember that Mr. McNeal annoyed the heck out of me in the first incarnation, but he's great in this one--yay! So much more appealing, whether or not Prudence could finally make up her mind about him. And of course the writing is smooth and articulate, with a great ear for dialogue. That has not changed. I look forward to volume two!
Profile Image for Patti.
725 reviews99 followers
December 15, 2016
I loved this book!!! I read a review of it, and it said it reminded the reviewer of Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, which I also loved. In this book, two cousins write letters between London and an estate, and both seem to be developing magical abilities, but do not receive any training. They are quite confused; additionally each has met a man who makes them happy.

Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Tracey.
1,078 reviews244 followers
March 12, 2017
I don't understand why this book was such a slog. The writing was … fine. I had no objections. I didn't want to wrap myself up in it and stay there forever, but there was nothing I can put my finger on that drove me off, either (except the ARC formatting, but that's not the book's fault) (and some unfortunate typos – the classic "discrete" for "discreet", and … well, you can't really lisp a sentence that contains no sibilants). The characters were … well, fine. I liked the two girls at the center of the story well enough, was fine with spending time with them, believed their tempers and stupid decisions and so on rather than being aggravated by them … but just didn't care very much. On the whole, the thing just seemed like it must be about 800 pages – I just felt like I couldn't make a dent without a bit of determination.

Part of my frustration with it was the manner in which information was doled out – or not. The story begins with those two fairly ordinary, clever, pretty young women who have grown up like sisters, one about to embark on her first Season in London, the other sorrowfully staying home. The latter has only her father; the former has only her brother, their parents both being long dead. And, of course, it is the story of those three dead parents that becomes very important in the two girls' lives. Each girl almost simultaneously receives or finds a box of artifacts which belonged to their mothers, about which they are told absolutely nothing (for one of them, it was "I don't want to give you this but here, don't ask any questions, it belonged to your mother but despite your obvious need for more information I'm not saying anything else, no really I will not talk about it, it's only old junk so don't touch it or even look at it, goodness I need to go and lie down") and things begin to change almost immediately.

While I respect a writer's wish to avoid the dread infodump and not to baby her reader, I kept feeling as though I'd missed a page. Or a chapter. Wait – when was I told about that? Or that? Or the other? As best I can tell, unless all of my reading comprehension has gone, the answer to that question was never. Information suddenly just became part of the narrative. Characters changed at what seemed like the flip of a page, from ally to enemy or vice versa or from pauper to convenient prince, suddenly the girls knew things without the revelation being shared with the reader, and it was all very irritating. Titles like "Oathbreaker" and "Protector" suddenly become part of the conversation; Prudence determines that the last thing she wants is a trip to the Refuge, when I still had no idea what that might be, and as far as I could tell neither ought Prudence to have. The villain of the piece is not only one of the whiplash moments of "wait, what?" but is pretty unconvincing – I never felt any whiff of danger from that quarter.

There were some very nice moments. Prudence's love affair was nicely handled; it was more romantic than most of what passes for romance novels I've read. "In that tiny enclosure, she couldn’t fail to notice the ragged quality of his breathing. A hint of gin in the air bespoke of nerves that had required some calming." … "In the half-darkness, he stooped and closed his mouth over hers. Prudence sank against his body, welcoming the radiant heat of his strength. Never in her life had she felt safer than this." There were a few quite nice scenes. A few. The language was mostly appropriate to the period, there were passages when the setting, time and place, came through very well, and there were some excellent character moments.

But just about every one of the secondary characters was enigmatic. Should the girls trust various and sundry people or not? Was Edward a buffoon or not? Was Aunt Amelia a fluttery old fool, or a sharp and able protector? Did MacNeal really have valid excuses for his disappearances? And what on or off the earth is "The Druineach Legacy" (the title of the series) supposed to mean? Oughtn't I to have a hint by the end of the first book? Honestly, by the end, I just didn't really care that much.

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.
Profile Image for Emily Wrayburn.
Author 5 books40 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
October 27, 2016
DNF at 25%.

I feel a little bit bad about DNFing this one. In another time, I might have pushed through a bit more but I have a lot of demands on my time at the moment, including other ARCs, and this book didn't seem to be giving me what it promised, so I gave up.

I read an entire quarter of the book, by which time I expect something to happen. Apart from a few references to trolls and some mysterious comments about Prudence's mother's ring, this was barely fantasy at all, and instead was just the two girls writing letters to one another and worrying about the men they fancy not coming to call. From the blurb I expected far more magic and excitement, not just calling cards and boring country life.

(Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book)
Profile Image for Elizabeth (Miss Eliza).
2,243 reviews138 followers
March 16, 2023
*Special Content only on my blog, Strange and Random Happenstance during Regency Magic (April-May 2023)

Prudence and Josephine are the very best of friends as well as family. Therefore when Prudence heads off to London with their maiden aunt Amelia for her debut season it's no surprise that the letters fly back and forth between the cousins from the metropolis to Wiltshire. Josephine feels left behind and Prudence just wishes she were home. But Prudence knows the realities, unlike her cousin, she is penniless and therefore must make a great match. Which is complicated by what she and Josephine are about to uncover. The start of the season also coincides with Prudence's eighteenth birthday. Eighteen is a milestone birthday and she is surprised by her aunt with a box. Aunt Amelia claims it's full off nothing but rubbish but has been keeping it for Prudence as a bequest from her parents. Prudence knows next to nothing about her parents, she and her brother were orphaned at a young age, and to get a mysterious box and to be told they had a rare set of talents called the Inheritance, well, it makes her question everything she's ever known. But the box appears to be rubbish indeed, relics that are better off in the trash; an Elizabethan velvet overgown, a pair of elbow-length gauntlets missing a couple of digets, a stained wool cloak, a sword with a broken blade and a dented cross-guard, and a shining gold ring which needs repair. Despite their decrepitude Prudence keeps being drawn to them and even gets the ring repaired and takes to wearing it. She's wearing the ring in fact when her aunt agrees to accept an invitation from a Baroness Revelle. It turns out that Aunt Amelia and Lady Revelle have a history, as did Lady Revelle and Prudence's mother. Which might explain why Aunt Amelia wants to keep them apart. Lady Revelle claims to know about the ring Prudence wears as well as other things. Could Lady Revelle be the answer to the cousins' questions? Because Josephine has been dealing with magical artifacts of her own discovered in the attics of Greenbank Manor; a man's costume cut for a woman that must have belonged to her own mother as well as a pair of pistols. She's woken up more than once sporting the clothes and welding the weapons somewhere on the grounds of Greenbank. Plus, not that she likes to eavesdrop, but there's an encampment of troops in Wiltshire and she could have sworn that she heard Lieutenant Quimby talking about trolls to her father. Could all of this be related? Could magic really exist? And if so, Prudence and Josephine have been lied to by those whom they love the most and they need to know why.

Many lovers of Regency Magic were first introduced to this historical fantasy subgenre through Caroline Stevermer and Patricia C. Wrede's Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot . Released in the late eighties this epistolary novel is really the go-to recommendation for this subgenre. I see why historically, but there are so many better books out there that whenever I see the recommendation to read it I instantly want to horn in on the conversation and be like, "but have you read..." and start just listing books. I can actually do it for quite awhile. But now I specifically want to say "but have you read The Ill-Kept Oath?" And then avoid shouting in someone's face that it's Jane Austen but with trolls! The non-troll reason being is that The Ill-Kept Oath has the same basic framework, two cousins who are best friends separated because one of them is having her first season and magical things start to happen which they write to each other about. I mean obviously the Regency and epistolary novels go hand in hand because of how Jane Austen herself originally wrote Sense and Sensibility , but the epistolary format has limitations. You only get access to what the characters are willing to tell their correspondent, not what else is happening in their life or what they are excluding. The Ill-Kept Oath uses an expanded epistolary form, we get letters, but we get so much more. So while this is very Sorcery and Cecelia meets Les Liaisons Dangereuses with a heavy helping of Sense and Sensibility it is so wonderfully it's own unique voice that I fell in love with it almost instantly. What's more it gave me hope in books again. A renewed love of reading. My mood is effected by what I read and for the week it took me to devour The Ill-Kept Oath I was walking on air. I had so much work to do and when I head to bed if I'm tired I will forgo reading. But it didn't matter how tired I was, I had to keep reading. I had to know more. I had to know what Lady Revelle was up to, The Ill-Kept Oath's own Marquise de Merteuil. I had to know all about what Prudence and Josephine's parents kept from them. And right there I have to call out the brilliance of this book. Often when adults keep secrets from their children in books the reasons are often lame. I mean, if it was my kid I'd totally tell them. Here it actually made sense for Amelia and Lord Middlemere to keep quiet. Of course now I can't wait to read about the fallout of that decision... Oh how I long for the sequel.
Profile Image for The Critiquing Chemist.
16 reviews15 followers
January 4, 2017
After recently finishing and thoroughly enjoying reading Emma for the first time, The Ill-Kept Oath was recommended to me as a book that would fit well within my reading tastes and the endorsement did not disappoint! Aune skillfully knitted together the Regency and fantasy genres, creating an enchanting hybrid that contains the intrigues of London society and the mystery of emerging, strange unexplained powers. The tale follows two cousins, the oldest, Prudence is making her entrance into the complex world of London society, while the youngest, Josephine is stuck at her country estate where she encounters more adventure than she possibly imagined. As the story progresses, both characters find themselves the object of multiple romantic suitors, however their lives become increasingly complicated as the hidden secrets of their past come trickling through the cracks into present day, manifesting themselves in inexplicable episodes and baffling antique objects, not to mention the trolls. As these events become more bizarre, their lives and the secrets that have been kept from them their entire lives are on the verge of being unraveled, however do they really want their peaceful, normal existence spoiled? Overall, as a testament how ardently The Ill-Kept Oath arrested my attention, I finished this fast paced novel in one sitting. The characters were delightfully unique and captivating, however the book finished without revealing anything of significance regarding the fantasy aspect of the tale. As I realize The Ill-Kept Oath is going to be part of a larger series, I can acknowledge this first book successfully laid out intriguing groundwork for a glimpse at a storyline that has captivated my curiosity.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,112 reviews5 followers
March 18, 2017
I really wanted to like this as it has many of my favourite ingredients, but I just couldn't. It was clunky. The character's behaviours and motivations just didn't seem plausible to me. Plus, they seemed to flip-flop in order to further the plot, rather than from any reasons that I could understand. The girls' behaviour was also far too emotional and outspoken for the period, never mind their age.

Also for a Regency setting, the author made a lot of errors. Some things that bugged me were:

1. As the daughter of an earl Josephine was Lady Josephine Weston or Lady Josephine for short. Not Lady Weston as that implies a different rank altogether.
2. Someone of Maria's class and station would never have socialised with Josephine's family or guests.
3. There was no social or legal impediment to cousins marrying so the whole Edward sub-plot didn't make sense.
4. All that snogging (while a lot of fun no doubt) was scandalously improper. Prudence and William would never have been allowed to spend time together unchaperoned.

I know this lists sounds petty and I tried to tell myself this was an alternate world so different rules applied but it was still jarring.
373 reviews6 followers
December 14, 2016
Title: The Ill-Kept Oath by CC Aune
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishers (Sept 2016) 416pp
Genre: mystery, paranormal, YA, historical fantasy, Victorian, fiction,
3.5 stars
From Amazon's author page: " Aune’s ramblings have led her through 49 states—nine of which she has called home—plus a fair number of countries. She has been a journalist and a contributor for the companion book to PBS’s 2000 series In Search of Our Ancestors. Currently, she directs the blog One Year of Letters, which explores the internal landscape of writers. The Ill-Kept Oath is her debut novel. This is the first of a planned series, with the second Talisman Keepers installment in rewrite."
Story line:
I received an advance copy but after a few chapters found it didn't meet my expectations. It was less paranormal/ fantasy and more scattered romance. I put it aside for more compelling reads, until rainy, snowy weather held me housebound. Then, grasping the central characters, and melodramatic teen writing, it was a quick read. The two heroines Josephine and Prudence, write to each other from their respective abodes, Stanistead House, a country estate, and London during the Marriage Mart Season. Both are interested in obtaining husbands, both have received an inheritance of Talismans, and both find themselves involved in intrigue. Prudence Fairweather and her brother Edward were taken in by Lord Middlemere, who has a daughter of similar age Josephine Weston. All three were raised in ignorance of their blood legacy, as per the Oath. Prudence,18, has limited options because she is poor, but she is pursued by Underwood (dull but wealthy) while she is interested in the unreliable William MacNeal. There is of course an evil socialite. Lady Josephine, 16, is interested in Robert Quimby, a young military man who is socially beneath her. Meanwhile, there are trolls rampaging in the countryside and magic escaping in candlelit ballrooms.
There is some interesting historical detail (the costume and waltzes) with dark magic being slowly revealed. Good character development bodes well for the continuation of this series. I would have preferred to read the series together as I felt much was unexplained in volume one, lose ends abound, and we still don't know what kind of magic to expect. The story feels incomplete. Also, who is the target audience?
Normally, Prudence would never challenge authority, but her guardian, having conjured this evocative subject, might as well have touched a spark to gunpowder. Curiosity gave way to burgeoning wonder.
“They possessed a rare set of talents called the Inheritance.”
She’d spent six weeks in London undergoing this transformation. Gone was the country girl who climbed trees and rode bareback; gone forever her girlhood spent in the idyllic hills of the west. Until now, she had directed no thought toward her future. Love might have found her in Wiltshire...
“Shall we rely on social calls to open the right doors? My heart may not be so sanguine with the purposes of a Season, but I have accepted it as a necessary rite of my passage. I’ve been in London already one quarter of a year but not one event have I attended."
She was doomed to be perceived as an immature child, and the keepsakes seemed to make matters worse. Edward’s point about her reputation had been perfectly valid, however cruelly stated, but the dangers were worse than he could possibly imagine.
Middlemere squeezed the bridge of his nose. Two decades ago, he had postulated that Talismans could, even without ritual, awaken a Keeper’s instincts.
With a crescendo of chords, Middlemere ended the concerto. Everyone applauded, whether they’d been listening or not.
“No one expected the Talismans to exert a force of their own. We called ourselves Talisman Keepers, but our power relied on more than mere objects. Most Keepers formed partnerships that made them still stronger. In the early days, they offered their services in exchange for titles and land and became much coveted by the nobility.
They would descend on our Family and examine everyone for the Trait, identifying you and perhaps Edward before drawing Mr. MacNeal into the net. What would happen to Us then is uncertain, but the Exorcist’s description still burns in my head: a magical Voiding of one’s Memory with the potential to produce unexpected Results.
“Not at all. Think of the quarrels he and I shall have. I’m far too opinionated to be a good marchioness.”
She advanced to the sideboard and poured them all a strong drink, which Prudence and MacNeal accepted with a good deal more alacrity than was strictly necessary.
Do you have any idea what the average man thinks about?” Prudence shuddered and turned bright red.
“I have learned enough to make me proud of my heritage, but if the price of happiness is never to learn another thing about the Inheritance, then gladly will I pay."
Read on
If you like Gail Carriger, Alan Bradley, Seth Graham Smith Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Received as an ARC ebook from Netgalley.
407 reviews51 followers
October 11, 2016
Original Review Here

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Ill-Kept Oath honestly disappointed me. The synopsis on netgalley implied there would be real magic rather than the enchantment of love and the girls were moving away from dreaming of husbands and entering a dangerous world where mystery and secrecy clouded everything.

Instead, there were a few mishaps, the girls fell in love and the majority of the book was spent swooning over their respective gentlemen and why they hadn’t come to call.

The story takes place in London and the countryside. Prudence has entered society to find a husband. Her first suitor is boring, but meets the requirements until he vanishes in mysterious circumstances. Her second is exciting and captures Prudence’s heart, but is unreliable and is shrouded in secrecy. Josephine falls for the-ill-kept-oath-3Quimby – who turns out to be a decent match – and worries about him rather than how she slept-walked with her mother’s pistols to kill a troll.

Josephine was my favourite character by far. She had a cool head on her shoulders, even when she shot a troll with no idea how she got there. She saw sense in the danger that was occurring and tried to make Prudence see the truth as well. She handled the men around her with ease – they didn’t stand a chance against Lady Josephine Weston. Prudence, on the other hand, acted like a love-struck girl the entire time. Her character was not helped when the magic started to overcome her and she became irritable. It was far harder to connect with Prudence.

The book should be marketed as romance rather than science-fiction and fantasy as it was their love lives that were the focus, not the mystery. I liked the book – the concept was intriguing – but felt it lacked closure. The artefacts were never truly explained, nor was their history explored in any way. For the majority of the novel, the reader has no idea what they are. Then it felt the girls got their happily ever after’s without anything being properly resolved apart from Prudence realising she had been wrong the entire time.

I would recommend this book if you like romance with some fantasy elements thrown in. If you’re pure fantasy, then this may not be the best choice. Still, it’s an enjoyable tale.
Profile Image for Jacey.
Author 26 books98 followers
November 3, 2016
I almost didn’t finish this one even though it has many of the elements I like in a novel. It’s a Regency romance with magic. Nuff said? Just my sort of thing, usually, but it took me a little while to get into it.

Prudence Fairfeather and Lady Josephine Weston have been raised together as cousins, but have not been told of their magical inheritance. Lord Middlemere (Josephine’s somewhat lacklustre father) has taken an oath to keep them from magic.

Prudence goes to London for her debut season, but when she’s given some artefacts that belonged to her late mother, things start to get weird. In particular the wearing of her mother’s ring seems to imbue her with a talent for the truth. She manages to have a few fairly disastrous happenings which put a dent in her chances in the Marriage Mart. Meanwhile Josephine, still too young to attend the London season, discovers a talent for swordsmanship and an attraction to a certain young lieutenant who is hunting trolls (yes, trolls) in the district.

The characters are well-drawn, though I could have wished that the pace was a little more sprightly, especially in the first part of the book. It picks up in the second half, however and fairly romps home to an ending. It’s not a perfect book by any means, but it’s a competent debut.

Received from Netgalley in return for a review.
Profile Image for Trevor Sherman.
229 reviews21 followers
October 27, 2016
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The best way to describe this novel would be English Regency Magic and Mystery Romance? And I think it turned out rather well. The Regency dialog seemed forced at the beginning and should have been edited more in the first few chapters. Or it may have been that way all through the book but I just stopped noticing after the story had me.

This is not my favorite type of book. but the more Regency I read the more I like it. I only have about 5 or 6 other books in the same genre to compare the Ill Kept Oath too. I would say this one is better then most.

The plot was not the most Original but well written. Prudence was a bit frustrating at times, but that’s how you know you are swept up in the story right? I ended up enjoying this read much more then I had expected and I recommend anyone with even a small interest in the genre check it out. I rate it a 4 out of 5 stars.
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