Monday, November 19, 2012

Rouge by Leigh Talbert Moore

When Leigh first told me about her book, I was… not disappointed, but I certainly didn’t expect it – a Cabaret Theater novel set in the 1890s. I thought, Okay. I’ll read it. Someday soon. Then I kept seeing updates for it. The cover. The synopsis. Her excitement for the release. At the time, I was only about 15,000 words behind my NaNo goal – having a two year old will do that – and I had already blasted to bits my personal promise of no TV and books. This book was really starting to intrigue me, and I was feeling particularly antsy that night, so I purchased it and started it right away. And spent the next two days swept away (still ticking away at that NaNo goal, so I couldn’t completely immerse myself). 

If I didn’t expect the summary, the novel pushed my expectations over the edge. It pierced my heart with a fishhook and tugged and tugged and tugged until my ribs cracked under the pressure. So here I am, with my displaced heart, and a knot in my stomach, swelling by the page, and then – She did what? He did what? They did WHAT?

Goodreads Summary
Trapped in the underground theater world of 1890s New Orleans, Hale Ferrer has only one goal: escape. But not without Teeny, the orphan-girl she rescued from the streets and promised to protect.

Freddie Lovel, Hale's wealthy Parisian suitor, seems to be the easy solution. If only his touch could arouse her interest like Beau's, the penniless stagehand who captures her heart.

Denying her fears, Hale is poised to choose love until an evil lurking in their cabaret-home launches a chain of events that could cost her everything.


I loved Hale. She was loving and generous and only slightly hardened by her upbringing. Other souls would’ve been more so, but she was a soft-tough cookie. And her motherly love for Teeny, while she was only seventeen herself, was so real. I felt it. Her emotions were so strong and THERE that I experienced them with her.

Beau… What can I say about Beau? He was beautiful, soft, manly, wonderful. Heroic, protective, and strangely impulsive yet patient. Some of his actions shocked me, but they humanized him, and he redeems himself.

Leigh really had a way with her secondary characters, as well. I wanted to be courted by Freddie, mother Teeny, and accept the shadow of Roland’s protective wing. Teeny – I wanted more of her. She was the typical semi-selfish twelve year old, but bright and good to the core. She broke my heart. Roland was a great friend to Hale, and – as a fellow pianist who’s never smoked a cigarette – I loved his ultra-confidence, and could picture perfectly him going at the piano with those big man hands, a burned down cigarette glowing from the corner of his mouth. Even Evie cracked my heart a little.

And the evil that lurked beneath the surface threw me. Leigh makes some bold choices in her story, but I can kind of see Hale pulling the strings and telling her, It has to be this way. I can relate to that – the character making a choice you wouldn’t even consider.

Overall, this was a wonderful novel. Set in the 1890s with the pace of a contemporary story, meaning there weren’t gobs of paragraphs of historical background/setting descriptions. I felt this fast paced life in my bones as I read it, could smell the cigarette smoke and all of Freddie's beautiful red roses. I could feel the rosin crackling beneath my feet. Leigh painted a world with just enough words to bring the scenes to life, perfectly showing how this time in New Orleans was vivid, wild, changing, and unpredictable, while hurrying us along with the characters. Be warned, this is the first of a series, and will leave you wanting oh so much more.

I am looking forward to the oh so much more…


  1. Oh, thanks so much for this wonderful review, Megan! I'm just thrilled that the characters were as vivid to you as they were to me! That makes me so happy. Best~ :o)

  2. I already have it on my iPod. :D I should be reading it soon.

    Judging from your book list, it looks like you can start recommending kickass NA books for me to read. :D

    1. Looks like you already have a bunch on your site, too, Stina :)