Goodreads: Exile for Dreamers
Series: Stranje House #2
Published: May 2016
It’s 1814. Napoleon has escaped his imprisonment on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And at Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, five young ladies are secretly being trained for a world of spies, diplomacy, and war.
Tess Aubreyson can’t run far enough or fast enough to escape the prophetic dreams that haunt her. Dreams bring nothing but death and grief, and Tess refuses to accept that she may be destined for the same madness that destroyed her mother. Until her disturbing dreams become the only means of saving Lord Ravencross, the man she loves, and her fellow students at Stranje House. Tess’s old friend, the traitorous Lady Daneska, and Ghost, the ruthless leader of the Iron Crown, have returned to England, intent on paving the way for Napoleon’s invasion. Can the young ladies of Stranje House prevail once more? Or is England destined to fall into the hands of the power-mad dictator?
Kathleen Baldwin won me over with the first book in the series, A School for Unusual Girls, with its spunky heroines and swoon-worthy romance. Yet I admit a I was a little hesitant about this sequel since the protagonist changes from scientist Georgiana to prophetic dreamer Tess. While prophetic dreams are, in theory, interesting, I worried about how they fit into the larger scheme of the school, where basically all the other girls have a more realistic talent. Tess also, though nice, is definitely not as fiery as Georgiana, meaning the series might shift awkwardly in moving from an active protagonist to a shyer one. I needn’t have worried, however, because Baldwin made me fall in love with her characters and her world all over again.
Exile for Dreamers does seem a little more focused on romance than A School for Unusual girls, but, hey, that’s really a large part of what I’m here for. Tess’s romance was simply hinted at previously, but here it absolutely flowers, and I was smitten. Love interest Lord Ravencross is a bit gruff but quite protective–yet Tess also pulls her own and never lets anyone treat her as too delicate or helpless. Its so great that. at this point, I feel like the peak of the romances in the series have been reached, and I’m not convinced Jane’s story in Book 3 will live up to Tess’s. However, I was wrong before, and I’m sure Baldwin will prove me wrong again.
I do wish there were a bit more historical matters in this book. Although the series is alternate history, so far I’ve really only gotten some hazy impressions about what that means. Napoleon is nefarious and maybe invading and the girls might be needed to help stop it. Yet all of this always seems vague, even when it’s ostensibly playing a fairly large role in how the plot plays out. Perhaps the history will be more fully fleshed out as the series progresses.
The Stranje House series is one of the most enjoyable I’ve read in the past year. and I think it’s bit somewhat overlooked in the blogosphere, as I haven’t seen many reviews. However, I believe others will like it if they give it a try. With strong heroines, a dash of mystery and history, and a generous portion of romance, it’s a really immersive story.