I cannot possibly tell you enough how much I love your characterisation.
Helena is absolutely stunning in the depth you give her, and the way you describe her makes her come alive. I can't help but feel sorry for her, because there is definitely something off with Venn and the way he behaves around her.
However, they also seem to be getting more and more intimate; that makes me even more worried because I don't want Helena to get hurt.
Me, emotionally attached to your characters? Nope, not at all.
What I think is perfect with Helena (yes, I'm still ranting about her) is that she's a very subtle, balanced mix of socially regulated aristocracy, but also has a very childlike, innocent side to her. And I repeat, I have a nagging feeling that I'm eventually going to abhor Venn - but I'll have to wait and see!
Rowena seems much colder now than she was at the beginning. Obviously, her relationship with Salazar is deteriorating, but it's the first time your description of her sends shivers down my spine (and I'm sitting with my back to a radiator). Your last line, particularly, made her seem dangerous.
As for the abundance of fluff... So I've said and said again that Helena and Venn's future worries me, right. That set aside, I absolutely love the way you manage to write fluff in Founder's Era - it never seems off key, and just fits in perfectly.
There was one minor detail that put me off a bit - I think you used the phrase 'sort of' somewhere? It just didn't seem quite as historically fitting as the rest.
Oh, and of course: THEY KISSED! Venn, you sly, conniving person, how could you? I wonder how Rowena is going to confront Helena about this.
Author's Response: Hi Val! This review response has taken ages, which is shameful considering how grateful I was for you to pop over and review this chapter!
I love that you're so attached to Helena! I want to protect her, too, because I feel like she has a bit of naivety given her mother's protective nature and her high standards. She was so crushed following Venn's behavior at the joust and I don't know if she could take any more nasty surprises. Right now, she's just a girl falling in love, and she has every right to expect her prince to be just perfect. Unfortunately, I doubt it will stay that way.
Ooh, I'm glad the description of Rowena was so powerful. I like to think of her as a complement to Helena because she's sharp and world-weary and knows just how cruel and imperfect other people can be. On the one hand, I admire her for wanting to shield her daughter from the nasty parts of the world, but on the other, I'm like Helena, yearning for her to break free and live her life.
I'm happy the fluff worked, too. I don't write a lot of fluff, so I always worry a teensy bit whenever I post something fluffy. But how else are the two going to fall in love? Haha. You make a good point about that phrase; I'll have to go back and re-examine that later.
Thanks again for this lovely, lovely review :)