Donning the Beard by EA KafkalasDonning The Beard by EA Kafkalas is a historical romance that highlights the endurance of women in order to love freely.

When Madeline is orphaned and sent to live with her aunt at Guillemot Manner, the most she can hope to find is a place to call home as a maid and personal caretaker to the Lord’s daughter, Gabrielle. Madeline finds in Gabrielle a beautiful girl who wants to be her best friend. But as the two girls grow into adolescence, feelings that were once innocent develop into a passion and desire neither have experienced. Their bond draws unwanted attention, prompting swift action to keep them apart. Gabrielle’s father presents a suitor for his daughter, much to Madeline’s anguish. When Gabrielle’s life is threatened by her fiancé, Madeline must pull off the ultimate disguise to save Gabrielle, and hopefully win her heart.

Will Madeline be able to pull off the charade and secure Gabrielle’s love? Or will her secret tear the two women apart forever?

The Characters

When introduced to Madeline and Gabrielle, you clearly see there is a line of privilege between them.

Madeline is an orphan who comes to work with her aunt as a maid and personal companion to Gabrielle. She works hard to please her mistress, yet she’s also very intelligent. She observes with a keen eye, retains information during Gabrielle’s lessons, and loves learning everything Gabrielle teaches her. In addition to all of this, she is enamored with Gabrielle and will do everything in her power to make her happy.

Gabrielle is similar to Madeline in her intelligence, but she is able to do something about it. As the daughter of Lord Guillomot, Gabrielle has all the opportunities available to her to be educated. She also has something her father wish did not exist: a very strong will and a big heart. Gabrielle doesn’t see Madeline as a servant. She sees her as an equal, someone who deserves all the opportunities afforded to herself. It’s a belief that propels Gabrielle to defy her father time and again, and it will soon develop into a love that she never expected to experience.

Though separated by class, Madeline and Gabrielle understand that the heart is the most important issue when it comes to love. They will be tested as the women they become and the women they need to be in order to love each other in a world that wants to keep them apart.

The Writing Style

Historical romances can be tricky because a writer is dealing with a time period they do not have first-hand knowledge. It’s what makes research so important, even in a work of fiction. The research paints a picture for the reader and allows them to be immersed in a time long forgot. Kafkalas has done extensive research and it shows in her depiction of these two women and the multiple obstacles they must overcome. She gives us staggering conflicts to illustrate the insurmountable odds they endure to be together. In addition it keeps the story intriguing and moving forward. You find yourself breathing a temporary sigh of relief when the first conflict is resolved and immediately propelled into the next one.

The Pros

Kafkalas does an amazing job of writing interesting and fun characters who are allies to Madeline and Gabrielle. They highlight a crucial piece to the proverbial puzzle of being with the one you love when the whole world is telling you it’s wrong. Allies, friends, and confidants, especially in this time period, are needed and depended on to achieve a happy ending.

The Cons

First, I must say that I don’t see this as a con, yet it is something to make note of. The summary accompanying this story is a little misleading. The initial conflict with the suitor happens fairly early in the story and is resolved quickly. It’s more of a catalyst than the primary conflict. It beautifully sets up the choices Madeline and Gabrielle must make in order to be together, in addition to setting up an even bigger obstacle.

annas favourite booksThe Conclusion

This was the first book I’ve read by this author, and I have a feeling I’m going to check out the rest of her work. Her writing allows you to walk along with Madeline and Gabrielle as they encounter friends, enemies, and a once in a lifetime love. If you’re wanting a good historical depiction of women overcoming all odds for love, this will definitely satisfy your palette.

Excerpt from Donning The Beard by EA Kafkalas

Madeline Bonte had never seen a house so grand as the large stone building that loomed in front of her. She clutched the hand of her aunt, the only living relative she had left. Her aunt had helped her tuck her wild mane of hair underneath the tight white cap. She felt hot and sticky in the summer sun, and the frock she was told to put on was not helping.

“What will I do here, Auntie?”

Aimee smiled down at her. “Help me, my child.”

Before Madeline could pursue further questions, she saw a young girl, around her age, standing by the window. The wind teased her dark curls, tossing them about. She was enchanting. “Who is that?”

“The mistress, Gabrielle.”

“Does she help you too?”

Aimee laughed. “No, little one, she is Lord Guillemot’s daughter.”

“I’ve never seen anyone so pretty.”

“She is a beautiful child.” Aimee touched Madeline’s face. “Come. Let me introduce you. Lord Guillemot has given his permission for you two to play together.”

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Bits and Bobs

ISBN number: 978-1951186012
Publisher: EAK Arts
EA Kafkalas Online

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Note: I received a free review copy of Donning the Beard by EA Kafkalas. No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site.

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Reviewer at The Lesbian Review
Anna Gram works in entertainment in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not working she loves watching and playing softball, as well as reading lesbian romances. Her favorite authors are Rachel Spangler, MJ Duncan, Kenna White, and Andi Marquette…just to name a few.