Book Reviews, Let's Talk Books

Mistress of my Fate, by Hallie Rubenhold (DNF)


Title: Mistress of my Fate
Author: Hallie Rubenhold
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 978-1455511808
Genre: Historical


Set during a period of revolution and turmoil, Mistress of My Fate is the first book in a trilogy about Henrietta Lightfoot, a young woman who was abandoned as a baby and raised alongside her cousins, noble children of a lord and lady. At just sixteen years old, circumstance and a passionate love affair tear Henrietta away from everything she knows, leading to a new life fending for herself on the streets of 18th century London as a courtesan, gambler, and spirited intellect of the city.


Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear! This is not, and I repeat NOT my kind of book. So, how did I come by a historical novel with the absolutely gorgeous cover? A gift. A birthday gift from—well, I think it was given to me either in 2011 or maybe 2012. And, at the time, I did scratch my head wondering how it was someone thought I might like to read this. And again, at the time, on receipt, I probably thought (when looking at said snappy cover) I might actually like reading it.

Oh boy, was I wrong. And, just maybe, I knew deep in my heart that despite the gorgeous cover, this wasn’t my kind of read because, after all, it’s taken me till now to rediscover this gift and start reading. Reading? Well, that too is something of an understatement, as I never really got past 10-12 page before I had to stop.

Written in a rather farcical first-person POV that is meant to (I suspect) be funny and witty, and in the style of an arm slung over one’s eyes and ‘woe is me’ period-piece dramady. All of which might work well as a BBC bodice-ripping bawdy comedy, but that falls flat really quickly, as a novel. A novel you will either love straight away (judging by other reviews) or hate. I fall into the latter camp, not that I dislike Mistress of my Fate so much as think it’s just really bad writing, full stop!

That said, however, I can hardly lay claim to giving a well-balanced review on this once since it is most definitely a DNF, and never will be. But I’m happy to send this sumptuous looking hardback anywhere in the world to someone who might like to read it, for no more than the cost of postage and packaging. Let me know if you want it!


  1. Ermm….no, thanks, Alex. Doesn’t sound like my kind of read AT ALL. When I have that kind of experience, I’m almost more annoyed at the loss of the time it took to try the book than I am at anything else.

    • Alex says

      Indeed, Margot, it really wasn’t mine either. I did give it a try, but 10 pages was enough to tell me everything I needed to know.

      Maybe I’ll find a good home for it at my local library where someone might like to read it!

  2. I love this review; it made me laugh, which I’ve needed to do for several days. Thank you, Alexandra.

    • La Blonde says

      Oh, dear me, while I’m happy to have made you laugh with my dry wit, Kenny, I’m sorry if you’ve been at sorts these last few days. I have to say, I have missed you and your guiding counsel.

  3. And a hardback too – why that should make it worse, I don’t know! There are books which I know, just a few pages in, that I will simply love. Yet I will often give books at the opposite end of the spectrum far more pages than that before I turn away. At least this one was so far from your taste that you didn’t waste too much time on it. Hope the next read is better, Alex!

    • La Blonde says

      Yes, it was tough going from the get go, Sandra, and I’m surprised I let myself get as far as I did. I usually give a dud until the second chapter before going DNF on it.

      I recently tried reading Peter Blauner’s Proving Ground. I got almost to the middle in that one before I gave up. If a novel is supposed to be suspense, give me suspense. If it’s categorized as a thriller, it better be.

      And yes, you can usually tell from a page or two in whether or not you’re going to love a book. The author is that good at hooking you in within a matter of paragraphs.

      As to my next read? The Fire Court, an historical by Andrew Taylor, which is a follow-up to the immensely enjoyable The Ashes of London.

      • It sounds like the follow up read will be much more enjoyable than the dnf. Both historical yet poles apart in terms of personal preference 🙂

        • La Blonde says

          Indeed, Sandra – so far, The Fire Court has picked up where the first book left off, and has been intriguing from the get go. Much better writing and writing style.

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