Monday, 26 August 2013

Latest Historical Release - The Lion's Embrace


Reviewed by Francine Howarth
It’s Algeria 1845 and Harriet Montague has a dilemma. Although her father is a dedicated archaeologist and highly intelligent man, he nonetheless tends to place quests for historical truths and that of discovery before any thought to his safety: even when venturing to far distant lands. Inevitably having placed his trust in others to watch his back and without question, has led to his capture by Tuareg tribesmen thus posing a nightmare for his daughter. Forced to engage the services of a guide in order to follow her father’s trail in the hope of securing his release, she quite naturally looks to her fiancĂ© for support and companionship for the arduous journey ahead. Unbeknown to Harriet, Archie is not all that he seems any more than that of Lucas Saintclair, guide extraordinaire.
The very fact that Harriet is no shrinking violet in the face of adversity warns Lucas of trouble ahead.. Nevertheless he still doubts her ability to survive more than a few kilometres across rough terrain and, that his chance will arise to send her back whence she came with a suitable escort. She proves him wrong, and by horse or by camel or whatever, he’s soon tempted to present her with a mule for her persistence in annoying him at every turn. To Harriet’s chagrin Lucas seems more akin to the native properties of the Barbary Coast than that of a gentleman, and further qualities are markedly different than those of her fiancĂ© Archie. Lucas stirs feelings to which she dare not succumb, no matter how tempting his attentions upon her. Thus Harriet and Lucas are on course for a sensual collision that will change her life forever. Throughout shared adventure, heartache and the solving of a complicated mystery Harriet’s life then suddenly changes for the worst. Nothing was quite as it seemed, and putting her trust in others has dealt her a deadly hand and a devastating twist of fate.
Back in England and soon to be married against her wishes and no feasible way out, a growl from the bushes denotes a lion of a hunter can be as real as though he had never left her side, albeit imagination and love for a lost one has brought the past to momentary life. Or has it?


Sunday, 25 August 2013

Latest Historical Review


Reviewed by Fran

Although I am far from a fan of first-person narrative, I do love the period of the English Civil Wars. Therefore, I decided to lay aside the fact Royalist Rebel is written wholly from the viewpoint of Mistress Elizabeth Murray. I'm glad I did because Ms Seymour paints a vivid picture of life at Ham House. Given that Elizabeth's earlier (un-chronicled) life is the author's creation it blends well with known facts of the young woman's rise from relatively modest beginnings to that of wealth and title. It's a well-researched book in terms of the political scores and all credit to the author for a thoroughly enjoyable read.

I like the way Elizabeth Murray's story begins with highlighting her present circumstances and the staunch allegiance of her parents to the Royalist cause. All the while her haughty manner and fundamental belief the enemy consist of nothing but filthy (smelly) Puritan folk (of low-birth) seems to imply Mistress Murray is indeed ignorant to the fact members of the aristocracy are fighting on both sides of the great divide. Nor does she seem cognisant to the fact that not all Parliamentarian soldiers are of Puritan mindset. I confess there were times when I despised Elizabeth's conceited grandiose self image and her prejudiced outlook, but she's not a fictional character and I didn't have to like her to admire her unstinting desire to keep Ham House in the family.

As time moves on and Ham House is under threat of seizure by the Parliamentarian Sequestration Committee, (a method of punishing supporters or suspected collaborators of the Royalist cause), Elizabeth resists at every given turn, though is often forced to capitulate when events and circumstances are beyond her control. But, if something is wanted badly enough, then feminine guile to deceive Cromwell and feminine wile to gain a titled husband is worth the risk in the overall scheme of bettering her position within society and gaining a long for coveted title.

Latest Contemporary Review - The Green Hills of Home


The Green Hills of Home by Emma Bennet.

Reviewed by Emma Harvey

As sweet romances go this novel is a sweet as they come. Emma Bennet gives us Gwen, a young Welsh author desperate for money. If only Gwen can secure a three-book deal her dream might be realised and her beloved home won’t be sold from under her feet.  She loves her mam and adores the family dog Oscar and she can’t think what they will do if they lose all that is precious and dear to them. Miracle of miracles sweet Gwen is summoned to the offices of a London publisher. Oh crikey, she meets someone who helped her out of a rather awkward situation hours before and although handsome and kind he was a little gruff. Convinced John Thatcher doesn’t remember her she’s a little disappointed and that’s not all, he’s her editor. Little does Gwen know John Thatcher wonders whether he can work with her. John thinks Gwen is too damn attractive and does everything he can to prevent his having to edit her novel. His boss insists and John is forced to visit Gwen at home because she has a sick mam and a farm to look after. A city man at heart the countryside is at first alien to John and he suffers it the same way he suffers their working relationship. Friendship does slowly build between them and John becomes as confused as Gwen as love blossoms. All the while as a reader you’re left pondering who will tell the other of their feelings first. It’s an agonising wait for the romantic finale and when it does happen it’s a fitting end to a thoroughly sweet tale of a caring natured girl who will always put others first before herself. No way is this a Chick-lit
novel. The heroine is too selfless and adorable.