Before we begin, I must preface this review by saying that I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, before I even thought to begin reading this book, that I was going to love it. I’ve loved everything Hannah has written up to this point (that I’ve read, at least), and I know her writing is positively exquisite. Sure, I’ve never read a full-blown novel by her...or a Regency one, for that matter...or a Gothic romance. BUT I had it already ingrained in my mind and heart that I would simply adore it.
It rarely occurs that I, despite several reasons from trepidation, am entirely and wholly certain I will love a book—even if I had no just cause not to. So this in and of itself in an anomaly.
It is even more so an anomaly that this book could be so trope-y and cliché and yet so fresh and welcoming. I just gotta say, when I finished Beneath His Silence, I mused to myself in silence (*coughs* title pun) about how the story felt so familiar and almost overdone. Adventures in the forest? Crazy relatives? Kidnappings? Broody lords (gah, I’m such a sucker)? Governesses? Lying-about-my-true-identity trope? A heroine who puts herself in every compromising and dangerous situation possible (word from the wise: don’t talk to strangers, let alone accept transportation from them)?
Y’all, maybe it was overdone, but it sure as shootin’ felt like coming home to me. I’ve grown SO tired of stories that are trying to be unique or relevant but end up feeling hyper-secularized, outrageously feminist, cliché, and meaningless. All I really want out of a story these days (ESPECIALLY romance) is one that makes me feel. I get scared for the characters, yell at the characters, chant KISS HIM KISS HIM twenty-five times under my breath, resist the urge to chunk my Kindle at the wall. I want a story that transports me into it, that I get lost in, that I become a part of. (I legitimately had book hangover for days and could not get myself out of Wyckhorn Manor.)
I wasn’t over-analyzing everything the heroine said. I wasn’t shaking my head at how toxic the relationship was. I wasn’t facepalming because of how stupid or under-developed some element was.
I actually got to enjoy reading and stay up way too late to finish it and good goshing gravies have I MISSED THAT!!! God bless you, Hannah Linder, for giving me that back, even for just a night.
Now, onto the review…
(Because, yes, that was just the preface.)
I will be honest here, for a moment in the very beginning, I did question my earlier assumption that I would love the book. The story started WAY too quickly and just plunged right into a situation I was clueless about. Worse yet, all throughout the novel, the scenes were FAR too short—which can work for heightening suspense...but not every scene. Then it’s repetitive and loses its poignancy.
HOWEVER, I was very quickly dragged into this story. I eventually didn’t mind or notice the short scenes. I picked up on all that was going on (and totally called everything...plot twists ain’t got nothin’ on me, babe *winks*). (Also, for the record, it is not an issue to me at all if I figure out the plot twist or whatever, because it really just adds another layer of suspense, because I know, but the characters don’t. It’s fun to watch—read?—them run around like headless chickens because they have no earthly idea what’s going on. *cackles*)
ANYWAY. Where was I? Ah, yes. (Boy, have I missed writing stream-of-consciousness reviews. I don’t even have my notes with me right now.)
*returns with her notes, although she promises not to follow them too closely*
First off, let’s talk characters. Y’all know how I usually hate heroines—especially snarky, independent ones? FUHGET ABOUT IT!!! Y’all, Ella was GOLD. I kinda actually adored her?? Like WHAT???
No, she wasn’t perfect, but boy howdy! was she witty and actually tolerable enough to dance with! (*coughs * Totally a Pride and Prejudice reference...I can’t help myself.) Yes, she did get on my nerves, but she was so genuine and authentic that I let it slide. Seriously. A little bit of real development and genuine characteristics goes a whole heck of a lot farther than forcing your heroine to be something she’s not.
I literally do not even have words for this beautiful man. There is no question that I fully adored him—no kinda about it.
But the best part? THEIR DYNAMIC. The classic repartee and witty dialogue between them was my favorite, and the tension...the doubt...the e v e r y t h i n g. Augh. I just loved them and their interactions.
(This is where I must interject that THIS IS LITERALLY THE GOTHIC VERSION OF PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. IT’S LIKE AUSTEN AND THE BRONTE SISTERS ACTUALLY LIKED EACH OTHER AND CO-WROTE A NOVEL. IT IS PERFECT.)
(What makes it more perfect is that Austen hated Gothic fiction and Charlotte hated Austen. *sighs* I love this pair.)
(Seriously, though. Henry seems full of pride, and Ella is totally prejudiced against him. It doesn’t get any better than that.)
Moving on...Peter was a doll. My doll, because I have officially claimed him as my child. Step aside, Ella, he is mine, and I’m taking his daddy with me too.
*coughs* Hannah did do a fabulous job of writing Peter and making him seem realistic—and SO adorable!!! Two things I cannot abide are annoying kids and unrealistic kids. But Peter was my perfect baby.
On the note of Peter, I loved how Ella actually chose to love him and learn to care for him, even though she initially didn’t like kids—especially one that belonged to him. SEE? YOU CAN BE A MATURE, INDEPENDENT FEMALE AND STILL LOVE KIDS. THANK YOU.
But the very, very best part? (Cue the spoilers). The way even though Henry claimed to hate Ella after the truth came out, ELLA STOOD HER GROUND. She was like, heck no, am I gonna turn my back on you just because you are blinded by your righteous fury. I love you, man, and I ain’t leavin’ you, no way! Like YAS QUEEN!!! That, my friends, is how you write a love-to-hate-to-love romance. *drops mic and walks away*
*comes back because she has more to say*
I have been wanting to read a Gothic romance for so long now, and let me just say that this was so deliciously Gothic and I love it. Not freaky or depressing, but tense and suspenseful—even when you pretty much know what’s coming?
Speaking of not being depressing, have I mentioned yet how much I LOVED the themes and the authentic faith (subtle but present and poignant)??? No? Okay, then, I LOVED IT. Hannah did what so few authors do anymore—let her characters live out their faith in a genuine way, in a way that actually speaks to the reader. Not from a soapbox or with watered-down ideals and trending terms—but heart-to-heart speaking.
Finally, the prose. If there is one thing Hannah Linder is a master at, it’s prose. I just...gah, I am so jealous. And yet so in love with the way she spins words into such beautiful tapestries. NOW, I will be honest, Beneath His Silence was written a little more simply than her self-published works, BUT everything was still delightful. The emotions, the descriptions, ACH! So. Good.
*turns pea-green with envy* *okay, not really* *but definitely feels the need for improvement in her own writing*
I think that covers everything. *glances back at notes* Yep. All good.
Long story short, READ THIS BOOK. IT IS GORGEOUS. Simply gorgeous. Lovely prose and even better dialogue, well-written characters you can’t help but love, suspense and tension and Gothic-ness galore, literal perfection...yep. Y’all need to read it. Hannah Linder has done it again, just as I knew she would! Now, when is this one gonna win an award? I’m thinking a Christy or a Carol this go-round.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary review copy through NetGalley on behalf of the publisher/author. All opinions expressed are my own.
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about the author
HANNAH LINDER resides in the beautiful mountains of central West Virginia. Represented by Books & Such, she writes Regency romantic suspense novels. She is a double 2021 Selah Award winner, a 2022 Selah Award winner, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).
Hannah is a Graphic Design Associates Degree graduate who specializes in professional book cover design. She designs for both traditional publishing houses and individual authors, including New York Times, USA Today, and International bestsellers. She is also a local photographer and a self-portrait photographer.
When Hannah is not writing, she enjoys playing her instruments—piano, guitar, and ukulele—songwriting, painting still life, walking in the rain, and sitting on the front porch of her 1800s farmhouse. To follow her journey, visit hannahlinderbooks.com.
yours in spirit and script,