Thursday, 11 December 2014

Latest Regency Romance!

Reviewed by Francine.

Alethea is a traditional Austenesque Regency tale, in which chance encounters lead to love and romance for two cousins. Of course, there are trials and tribulations along the way for both, and while Alethea is a somewhat headstrong young lady, Eleanor is older and more reserved. Both being borne to the genteel existence of a countryside abode Alethea is utterly naive in the ways of aristocrats who take liberties at will with unsuspecting females. But once she’s introduced to the possibilities that infamous Almack’s can afford her, the world is suddenly her oyster.
Warned that one man is best not trifled with, for it would seem he delights in trifling with young ladies hearts, Alethea’s heart is soon suffering from romantic flutters whilst she remains utterly determined to resist any notion of surrender to his charms. But another, by far more dangerous man is soon taking more than he deserves and trouble suddenly abounds with the mere mention of his title. After all, mystery and intrigue is all very well until it comes too close for comfort. And while Alethea stands up to the bounder as a true heroine should, he nonetheless wreaks unknowing revenge that may well destroy any hope of happiness for her future. And there I shall leave you in suspense, for I thoroughly enjoyed Alethea’s initiation from innocent country girl to that of a young socialite caught up in the darker side of London Society. All the while, Eleanor, sweetly misguided into the belief she’s destined for spinsterhood, discovers otherwise! A lovely, lovely story.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Latest 17th century novel.

Reviewed by Francine.
Historically accurate in every detail, this is a time slip novel that rips a reader from the 21st century and casts them back to Scotland in the year of 1658. It is the very year in which a great storm raged across the British Isles ripping up trees and flooding the land, and all on the very night Oliver Cromwell died. It is the year people throughout the Commonwealth held their breath in anticipation of “what now?” For with the Lord High Protector gone, and the populous wearied by two Civil Wars, a new Stuart era was secretly in the making.
And so, A Rip in the Veil begins in 2002 with Alexandra Lind, a typical 21st century woman, whom, accustomed the instantaneous age of electronic devices, is suddenly caught up in an electrical storm. Worse, the storm not only scares the proverbial out of her, every electronic device to hand malfunctions. What next? What to do? And little does she know Hell is about to open up and swallow her: literally.
In Mathew Graham’s world it’s 1658, and as a man given to strong belief in God, angels in his mindset don’t wear strange blue breeches nor are they devoid of wings. Trusting in God and instinct Mathew sees only a woman in need, and whilst tending to Alex’ needs he struggles to understand the complexity of her fate whilst his own is dire in itself. And when Mathew’s lifetime suddenly intervenes and danger is close at hand, Alex knows her life can never be as it was before, not unless she can find a way back to her own time.
Fate works in mysterious ways, and as time passes Alex is torn between the past and the present, or is it the present and the past? And while she’s not alone in comparing love in the past with love in the here and now, true hearts cannot let go, no matter the cost and no matter the losses along life’s path. Thus the Graham Saga begins.
Reader note: I fail to understand why some readers (Amazon) have taken affront at A Rip in the Veil and thus implying it is a rip-off of Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” Series. Publishing dates are far from proof that a series of novels were devised before or after one another, and for this very reason editors at publishing houses are oft quoted as saying “books drop on their desks with similar (almost identical) plots within weeks of one another, and while one may get taken up, others will be discarded”. Thousands of authors ply their novels to numerous publishers over a period of years, and few if ever are lucky enough to have their books snatched up and published. Coincidence of plots and even character names are more common than might be imagined, of which I can testify to, for a fellow author and I (FB friends) both dreamed up the same titled character and both of us were penning Regency novels, neither aware of the other’s project until both were published!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Latest Regency Review-Charlotte by Karen Aminadra

Those of us authors who write Regency Romances often also tackle the canon of Jane Austen and try to take her creations and add our own twist to them. This falls into a few groups, one that take the historical Jane and use her in their story, others who take her creations and are exceedingly true to them, as best they can, or take those characters beyond the short few paragraphs she left us at the end of her stories. I have done so and by so doing have put on paper my thoughts on how those characters would change. Ms. Aminadra has done so as well, using as her heroine, Charlotte Collins nee Lucas.

We are all familiar with the tale of Pride and Prejudice, and the farcical Mr. Collins whom Lizzy Bennet and Mr. Bennet both make fun of, though Lizzy for the sake of her friendship with Charlotte, when visiting and actually meeting the esteemed Patroness, understand more of what is in the nature of Mr. Collins. But that is the canon, and as Ms Aminadra weaves her tale, she has to embellish the few lines of what we guess will happen to the Collins'.

Charlotte of course is caught in the middle with what will occur post Pride and Prejudice as she will one day be the Lady of Longbourn and we know Mrs. Bennet the mother of her BFF is assured that she will be turned out right quick. Not that Mrs. Bennet should think that this is now as dire as it was before. From all the movies we have seen, Directors have chosen to show us that ten Longbourns could fit into any Pemberly and a room certainly could be found for her there, or at Netherfield. Yet back in Mertyn, one can be sure that Mrs. Bennet has something to say about Mrs Collins, the daughter of Lady Lucas who still is one of her closest friends, and rivals for attention in that neighborhood.

From this Ms. Aminadra is able to relate to us that Charlotte Collins has complexities, as well as from the Canon's reveal that Charlotte was never one to think she would wed for love. That clearly puts her on the quest to find love. And while Jane Austen left us with several ladies still in need of marrying at the end of Pride and Prejudice, of the men, their is but one, Colonel Fitzwilliam (discounting Denny and other men of the Militia Regiment we hardly met)

Close in approximation to reading one of Jane's works, we sometimes leave the POV of the women and see inside such men as Mr. Collins, or the Colonel. That is a depth Jane did not give us, but it adds to the brushed that Ms Aminadra paints this canvas with.

Here we are taken to a part of time, (though the idea that the Colonel and other officers could leave the theater of war easily is perhaps something that wasn't researched as well as it could have been) in the latest stages of the Peninsula Campaign years, (Wellington being referred to as Duke which came after that was over) that I believe the author means to be about 1812 to 1813. Shortly after Lizzy has accepted the marriage proposal of Darcy.

Charlotte, our hero is faced with trials that aid her to grow, and to have Mr. Collins see his life afresh, for now he is more than the client of Lady Catherine, but a husband, and as all married couples hope, to perhaps one day be a father as well. Yet there must be conflict and here Ms Aminadra adds lacquer to her painting, adding depth and dimension and perhaps a modern way of thinking of flirtation and dalliance that puts her on a part that causes change from the canon at a more accelerated pace, and even a different pace than those last few paragraphs in Pride and Prejudice might have allowed.

Some of these changes a reader will either enjoy very much. some elements that are added may cause the reader to feel that the characters have progressed much as they should. Other readers fearing that any change to the themes of characterization that Austen left us with is sacrosanct may have difficulty here. My favorite Lady Catherine, is the one of Edna May Oliver in the Olivier/Garson version of P&P where at the very end we see Lady Catherine telling Darcy to go offer for Lizzy is just the challenge he will need. Huxley changed Austen's intention in that 1940 screen classic, but I think it adds to the mystique.

Charlotte is a worthy read and should be explored by those who like all P&P sequels, and I am interested to see where Ms Aminadra is able to take us with her Austenesque work as well.

Available at Amazon US or Amazon UK

Reviewed by David

Monday, 3 November 2014

Historical Romance during the English Civil War

Gillian Bradshaw's
London in Chains

While this is a romance, that is not its strength. The romantic elements are not really developed as opposed to the historical context and background that Ms. Bradshaw provides us in what becomes an excellent glimpse into a time that perhaps most know little about.

London, after the victory of Parliament over Charles I was not all celebration and happiness, but was in turmoil, the victors fighting over the spoils of war as happens frequently when the victors are not led by one mind. We see this as our heroine comes to London for the first time and has to deal with allies who were oppressors, family that loves and hates her, and a city that is tightly held in an inflationary spiral which happens when a country has been beset by a war that has ravished it.

Add the religious pressures that Parliament was suffering as well to this mix where all those who know the truth of their vision of god tried to wrest control of the nation, and London is indeed in Chains as Ms Bradshaw names the book. What we see also is the rise of printing in this era and a comment that is made, about how no General would dare go to war without their own press, (which reminds me a great deal of Douglas Macarthur) and we see that our Heroine is poised to show us a glimpse of this period that I had no idea of. Before this work, I thought Parliament won, Charles was incarcerated and eventually Parliament voted to behead him, and then Cromwell was made supreme. Yet much was to be done before that happened as I now know. (I am a product of the US education system)

Though there is a romance for our Heroine, and some little time is devoted to it, it does not seem fully fledged as the hero of this action is taken away off stage. That there is some interaction and words between hero and heroine to put the building blocks for a relationship and that they view each other philosophically similarly might breed true, but still, if romance be ones first inclination, more should take place. If History is what you would like to delve into in a period piece, than look no further for the period of 1647 and 1648 one can do little better. At every turn of the page Ms Bradshaw is able to add depth to her world, painting with words details that little occurred to me, but that I think all would find enriching. I recommend this to those who find history of an interest in their reading.

At Amazon US or at Amazon UK

Reviewed by David

Monday, 29 September 2014

Latest Regency Romance/Mystery-The Regent Mysteries by Cheryl Bolen

Cheryl Bolen has brought together three of her stories of the Regent Mysteries together in a 'Boxed Set' which in digital form means three stories bundled as one. In the age of the cloud, we no longer can pull from our shelves these books that are all encased in a card board themed box.

The protagonists of these tales are Captain Jack Dryden and Lady Daphne Chalmers. Jack, an agent of the Earl of Wellington when the stories take place, has been seconded home to London at the request of HRH George, the Prince Regent. There is a serious problem that needs dealing with and George has decided he needs the 'best' so asks Lieutenant-General Wellesley to send him a man. Then, realizing the man is not rounded enough to deal with the Ton, the Prince asks that Lady Chalmers, a blue-stocking in the making that has everyone who meets her, forgive her for such antics, aid the hero.

That there are hints of a mystery that one can decipher the whodunit, as the only suspects we meet who are not historical by process of elimination have to be the culprits in each story, that leaves the love story. You must disregard the elements of the story to put this in that light. There are areas that have been well researched. Who the Prince Regent had affairs with and when, for instance.

There are parts that are not. Our Heroine decides to create characters, and give the hero a background, of diamond miners, fantastically wealthy diamond miners from South Africa. Where Diamonds and diamond mines are yet to be discovered and put into production. Further, Castlereagh and his agents, many of whom could interact easily with the Ton, would be closer to hand for the Prince Regent's needs.

So we have Daphne and Jack then, who through three mysteries, begin their courtship, their marriage and their honeymoon. With many improbables that we must put aside. Ms. Bolen seems to get inside the head of our blue-stocking and give her sense, reason, and the ability to think through situations like a chess match. Her hero, has those qualities of heroism that young ladies might idolize, but inside their own head, a man would little think of. But circumstance and events often have a way of making a match as well, and certainly that psychology works well here.

If you put aside the historic errors, and the jumps of logic that put these particular two into the mysteries that Ms. Bolen presents, then for a quick afternoon romp in the regency, you will find enjoyment. What we have is all a part of a series that is not fully mystery, not fully historical, not fully romance, but when mixed together each third makes for a pleasant whole.

At Amazon US or at Amazon UK

Reviewed by David

Friday, 26 September 2014

Georgian Romance - Seventh Heaven

Seventh Heaven by Elizabeth Bailey
Reviewed by Francine.
A Classic Georgian Romp!
The usage of Latin numerals for the renowned rather extensive and impoverished Berowne family is sheer author genius, and whilst all the respective siblings’ character traits shine through, Septimus [poet] outranks them all with his theatrical gestures and poetically inclined satirical wit. And how can the wealthy heroine, Lady Louisa, bedevilled by a surname that immediately draws the poet’s ear, ever hope to escape his inclination to verse? What is worse, no matter which way Louisa turns Berowne males step across her threshold or path with intent to wrest her from widowhood and to the altar quick sharp.
Louisa is far from a walkover conquest and her abrasive tongue temporarily quells specific male desires, but she becomes so embroiled in the affairs of the females of the Berowne family, she cannot see the danger of one male Berowne’s ambitions to outflank his brothers and gain due reward from villainous means. If not for the affable if irritating poet who wins her regard, Louisa’s fate might have proved dire to that which inevitably befalls her. And love it seems, as of old, blossoms in the strangest of circumstances. Hence, Seventh Heaven wins the day and will no doubt rule the proverbial home roost, and pray to heaven the happy couple’s future existence bears no resemblance to a theatrical farce, for this novel had me roaring with laughter from start to finish. This is a classic Georgian Romp!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Swept Away by Vanessa Riley

Review by Katie

"Swept Away is a Regency retelling of Cinderella with a twist."

Overall, I believe many weary evening readers will enjoy this short fairy tale.  Swept Away follows the [by now] familiar pattern for inversion of gender stories.  We all know how hard authors work to make sure heroines are strong, independent, fully functioning beings with beauty unsurpassed.  That is, they don't *really* need anyone; therefore it takes a fairy tale, or incredible sexual prowess, to make everlasting love believable these days, snuggling with your stuffed bear and / or eating too many M&Ms is optional.

The writing was pleasantly free of grammatical torment and sentences joyously complete, making this an easy read.  Usage of terms wasn't overly modern just ... nudging it a bit here and there.  For those familiar with fairy tales but not the Regency period, there is a mini-glossary found at the back.  There are enough little surprises to lead a reader on to the next chapter and a gentle amount of tension. Subliminal faith-lite italics are not random insertions; they do fit the characters/story and were well handled. Secondary characters are not distracting and the happily-ever-after no more unbelievable than the original tale.

Charlotte is slightly spoiled, beautiful as an angel, conflicted but determined [this description is surely trending in the top 5 somewhere].   I confess I had difficulty hand-waving the Duchess thing since the character spent much of the book in angst over both the title and responsibility of "a girl with a man's title.  How much did the duke pay the Mad Kind to keep his legacy."  At the end of the book, Ms. Riley explains the character's title is based on the 2nd Duchess of Marlborough.  [Anyone slightly familiar with the Regency period will know this took an Act of Parliament, not the King's whim; gossip and disdain notwithstanding, there was a reason for this singular exception] Money does not buy everything, not even in fairy tales, or so I used to think.

Regardless of the manipulation to create a young, unmarried Duchess, the character was too modern to reach me.  She was all about her delayed teenage rebellion to a man she adored in one chapter, resented as a tyrant in another [perfectly normal for the modern miss].  Most of her frustration would never have occurred to a young woman of the time.  Fathers were expected to rule and run a daughter’s life even from beyond the grave, that’s what a guardian, dowry and marriage settlements were for, to safeguard a daughter’s interest for *her* lifetime, not just her parent’s.   Yes, it is a fairy tale, but if the tale is set in Regency England, then there are certain parameters that apply to assist the reader in remaining in the story, fairy tale or not.   Modern woman angst just doesn’t exist there, at least not for me.

As a third in the Triad of Determined Duchess and Slippers, I found Edwin Cinder endearing in a Beta Hero sort of way. He has a step family that is, thoughtless and self-centered but hardly wicked.  Maybe I was raised by wolves or I am incredibly thick skinned but if verbal slights and jabs from your family are the worst thing to cope with in life I say - WOW! how blessed you are.

He certainly did not need rescuing from his sad life.  He was not sleeping on any hearth, was in fact supporting his step-family in style while maintaining a business and his own home - an amazing accomplishment in any century.  Neither was he treated disrespectfully by the world or especially unhappy, just busy, too busy to fuss over stylish attire.  What on earth he found charming about the Duchess of Charming, in the brief time they spent together, I never quite grasped.  What type of help mate she'd make him, or vice versa was left to the ethereal mist [no doubt sprinkled with dust from fairies, not coal].   In other words, as a Cinder[feller] he was pretty much a flop for me.  As a hero in any other romance, I might have adored him if he'd been given more page time.

Of course, it is a fairy tale with a twist. The twist being there isn't one, not really, except for the reversal of genders and the strangest proposal I've ever read.  It made me sigh, in an old biddy sort of way because the final twist was how the power to purchase triumphed.  Therefore, I am as conflicted as Charlotte about recommending this book.  I think it will appeal to many readers and annoy others, the middle ground is probably best advised to read the sample pages.

Purchase Swept Away 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Latest Historical-True Soldier Gentlemen by Adrian Goldsworthy

True Soldier Gentlemen

Adrian Goldsworthy

Mr Goldsworthy starts us in his tale of the exploits of a fictional English regiment ahead of the action that was to take place in the Peninsula Campaign by several months with the conquest of Madrid by the French. Such a terrible time can only be conveyed into words with tales of atrocities, which might not recommend such a work to the many woman who read of the Regency Era and the romances that are created for it.

Goldsworthy further mixes in, with a hint here, and a glimpse over there, a very familiar George Wickham, the well remembered Rake we have met through Jane Austen's creative work, Pride and Prejudice. He has a part to play here as well. Later, rather than earlier, we find that Goldsworthy's Wickham, along with his wife Lydia, and a personal favorite, Colonel Fitzwilliam, all have parts in the drama. But they are not central to our story.

Goldsworthy's regiment, the 106th Glamorganshire Regiment is central and several characters within are our heroes who we follow. There are moments where POV shifts rather rapidly and so that detracts from a solid read of the material, as is always the case when a writer attempts to be so omniscient. And a giant caveat, as this is a piece of Military Historical Fiction, one might ask where is the romance?

We best not forget we have re-met Lydia Wickham nee Bennet, and though she is not central to our romance sub-plots, that Goldsworthy has given us this lady, shows his affection for Austen. And he has painted a picture of other romances as backstory, as well as the central quest of one of our fine young heroes of the piece.

One should not look to True Soldier Gentlemen for the romance, for that is secondary. (There is much that occurs in the Regency Era that can expand our knowledge of all that occurred in that era, so I read and review a great deal more than just traditional Regency Romances.)

Where this book shines is as a Military History, it is well researched to give one the sense of what regimental life was like at this time, and though Goldsworthy makes his heroes the first to stop dyeing their hair, cutting their queues, and the first to form a regimental mess, ahead of the other regiments serving under Sir Arthur Wellesley, once battle is joined he follows the scripts of what happened in those early days in Portugal in August of 1808. His use of language is vivid and evocative (those of faint heart, be prepared) and this is what makes the book shine amongst others that have also told us of these battles (Rolica and Vimeiro). If you ever would look to find out more detail of what occurred on the continent for the heroic troops of England, this may be the very place to start.

You can find a copy at Amazon com (US) and (UK)

Reviewed by David W. Wilkin

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Please Bear With Me!

I'm in the process of updating archived pages, some of which are newly categorised in respective historical sub-genre. It's going to take a while to copy-paste all the listed books but I will get there eventually, it's a day by day slow slog.  
As you will see there are images in the right-hand column, each leading to the listed reviews. At the moment all pages are still available in the text listings.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

News Update!

Hi, I'm Francine, your new host at RRM.

First let me extend a big Thank You to Suzy who started this blog from scratch! And please extend heartfelt commiserations, as I do, in her recent loss of a loved one.  
I joined Suzy as a reviewer in the earlier phase of RRM as did Liza (a young lover of chick-lit novels) Nigella (a historian), a fellow journalist of Suzy's (Charlotte), and then along came Katie, Lorraine & Persephone. 
From Suzy's previous world at News International, Suzy thus stepped easily into the author sphere of books and that of up and coming new authors. Her ethos was to support Kindle Direct Publishing, and of course, authors who were signed up with small press publishers.  I think she did a grand job, and if I can do half as well, I'll be a happy bunny.
Unfortunately Suzy and I have encountered one major blip in the transfer of this blog to my blogger platform. The original admin facility has ceased to function, so we can't switch it from one to the other. Nor can we add authors to the direct post facility. However, Suzy did set up an email address especially for this blog, thus the e-mail portal is now mine and I have access to the blog. So folks, we're back in business...    

Friday, 29 August 2014

Latest Guest Review - A Sweet Regency


Reviewed by Francine.

Make no mistake this is a 'sweet' romance in the traditional vein of Regency novels bearing chaste content. Albeit Sophie (the heroine) has led a relatively free and adventurous lifestyle within the protective custody of her doting father, and that of young officers at her father's Jamaican garrison, she is nonetheless a well brought up young lady. Her father's death comes as a double blow, for her loss is hard to bear and her fate suddenly lies within the hands of Sir Charles Wentworth who resides in England.
Upon arrival in London her worst fears are realised. It is made quite clear to Sophie - by Sir Charles' sister - that her presence is an encumbrance to the family, which duly bodes ill for conviviality and sense of belonging. And of course, flights of a romantic bent in the direction of Arthur Wentworth (the eldest son) or his brother Henry, will not be tolerated.
Lady Fate (chance, luck, call it what you will) has other ideas, and whilst Sophie's heart flutters, and young gentlemen warm to her charms, the Wentworth household is turned on its axis, and Sophie takes flight. Thus romance has blossomed in wrong quarters, hearts have been torn as affections waver, and an elopement sets precedence for shameful recriminations. All in all, Jericho's Child lives up to a good old fashioned Regency caper. It's a lovely and lively read.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Latest Review - What a Rake Wants

Reviewed by Lorraine.
What a Rake Wants – Maggi Andersen
1820. Visiting his impoverished family estates in Ireland, Kieran Flynn, 4th Viscount Montsimon, receives word that his services are required in London.  He is a diplomat, investigator, and spy for the King, and these are delicate times, with the coronation coming up, and the war between George and his estranged queen, Catherine, coming to a head. He is given a mission, but not an explanation.
A year after her unpleasant and unfaithful husband was killed in a duel, Althea Brookwood lives in a rented house in Mayfair during the Season. She has vowed never to marry again, but her Aunt Catherine has other ideas, and suggests that Flynn would be the ideal match. He is a rake, but there is no serious scandal attached to him. Althea is adamant that one unhappy marriage is enough. After Christmas spent with her aunt, she retires to Owltree Cottage, the only property left to her, in search of peace. There she is accosted by Sir Horace Crowthorne, owner of the surrounding land, who demands that she sell to him, as her husband had promised to do, ostensibly so that he can build a road there. He offers to let her stay if she becomes his mistress.
Determined to fight for what is hers, she consults her solicitor, who informs her that such is Sir Horace’s power, he could make a successful, if dishonest, claim upon her estate, which would leave her with nothing. She had better sell to him.
Instead, she seeks help from Lord Churlston, the best of her late husband’s friends, but he is murdered soon after their meeting. Sensing danger, Flynn advises her to leave London, but she approaches another of Brookwood’s old friends, Sir Percy Woodruff. In collusion with Crowthorne he tries to trap her, but she escapes through a window and climbs down a tree. Flynn rescues her.
He tells her that Crowthorne and his cronies believe that she has something of Brookwood’s that they desperately want to find, though no-one else knows what it is. In order to protect her against her will, Flynn abducts her and takes her with him to Canterbury, where he is spying on some of Crowthorne’s friends. When they return to London, they find her house has been ransacked. She recalls that Brookwood’s London house was also broken into immediately after his death.
Althea goes to stay with her Aunt Catherine, who now advises against choosing the impoverished Flynn as a husband; but she realises that she needs his help. He drives her to Owltree Cottage, where a trap is set to induce Crowthorne’s men to break in once more. Althea leaves with the housekeeper for London, but the coach is stopped and she is abducted on Crowthorne’s orders.
After her rescue, she decides that she will return to her old life, and that Flynn can offer her nothing.
His time is taken up in pursuit of Crowthorne, but it is Althea who works out where the mysterious missing object has been hidden.  Its recovery, and the implications for the Crown, mean that the whole affair is to be kept secret, and Flynn is to be given a reward that he does not want.
With Crowthorne still on the loose, Althea goes to Ireland to stay at Flynn’s home for safety’s sake.  Hearing that Crowthorne has taken ship from Liverpool, and fearing for Althea’s life, Flynn enlists the help of two old friends and goes after him.
This is a convoluted tale of people chasing people hunting for unspecified objects, and partial information being supplied to those who need it most. Spies, villains, murderers, and royal secrets put at risk all tangle together to make a likeable story.
The title is misleading; Flynn is rather an accomplished flirt than a rake, and behaves like a gentleman throughout. 
Owltree appears as both Cottage and Manor. The King’s residence is Carleton and Carlton House. Crowthorne is Sir Horace and Sir Henry.
Various plot devices are well-flagged in advance, and there is homage to Heyer in the shape of Flynn’s dog; but this is an entertaining novel, spoiled only by the very late introduction of characters from previous novels. This works better if the reader is familiar with them; otherwise they are an awkward and unnecessary intrusion, serving solely as a reminder that this is the third of the Spies of Mayfair series.
Point of sale Amazon

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Latest Historical Review


Reviewed by Lorraine:

Forever Winter by Amber Daulton

1834. Susanna, spirited and determined youngest child of Lord and Lady Lorican, has planned her wedding to take place on Christmas Eve, to commemorate the first kiss she shared with Camden, Viscount Beckinworth. She declared when only six years old that she would one day marry Camden, the son of family friends; and now, aged twenty, after two failed Seasons, her dream is about to come true. They have already shared one night of illicit passion, proving that they are compatible in every way, and are very keen for the wedding to go ahead as planned.

On the appointed morning, however, Susanna wakes up to snow. It’s the first of several catastrophes to strike, including the unhorsing of the celebrant, and the failed delivery of the dress. Finally, Lord Lorican decides that the wedding must be postponed.

Susanna realises how selfish she has been to take over Christmas, with no regard for the people of the estate, or her own family and friends. She agrees that it should be delayed until the spring, even though she yearns to be with her beloved Camden.

Falling foul of her brother-in-law Lord Gaynor’s lust, she is forced to fight for her virtue. Her eldest sister’s disastrous marriage serves to underline how lucky she is in her choice of husband – if only the wedding can go ahead, and if they can avoid a scandalous law suit from the wealthy earl.

There are a few problems, particularly with characters stomping, and tunnelling their hair. Camden wears his tied back in a ribbon, which would be seen as very odd for a fashionable gentleman in 1830s England.  He would not have been leaving for Eton for the first time at eighteen.

There are Americanisms that grate: huckleberries and galax make very unlikely appearances in the decorations, and Susanna would not have used the expression ‘hogtied’.  

This is a sweet novella, in which the heroine, who at first appears a demanding and spoilt girl, learns a little humility.  The hero is a reformed rake, with the care of his chosen and much-loved bride at the heart of everything he does. They are depicted as modern aristocrats, involved in the welfare of their dependents and also having an interest in business; but the darker side of upper class mores is also shown.

A short romance set against a well-sketched background of 1830s England, this is a pleasant, unchallenging read.


Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Latest Historical Romance - A Western.

Reviewed by Katie

I admit, I'm jaundiced about Westerns these days.  Too often they're more about re-writing history than they are about telling the story.  Ms. Lynch was all about the tale.  Silver is a delight to savor.  It's more fun when you read it out loud - tryit!


First off ... I LOVE the cover!  It's like a movie poster folks pay big bucks for on e-bay.  I instantly felt Jerry Goldsmith style theme music rumbling through my head and was ready for an adventure.  FINALLY a cover representative of the author's hard work! The blurb is a bit scattered, but I was too busy scrolling through the credits to notice.


Adelaide Johnston is a character. Originally from Indiana [as am I] she brings her practicality along with her books, her optimism, a piano and that unconquerable romanticism Hoosiers aren't really known for and would earnestly deny if confronted openly; but it's there, trust me, and Ms. Lynch captures the voice/ tone perfectly!  She leaves behind three spinster aunts and the flatlands, traveling far to find her self and a home where she truly belongs.


Arriving in Silver City to retrieve her father's remains, Miss Addie was surprised to find a "bustling and efficient town not ramshackle cabins and derelict taverns."  Since she had no idea what to do with the mine her father named in her honor, and seeing a need, she offered to become the town's school teacher.  Persuading the Mayor and other important folks to claim an abandon house, she proceeded to put her education to good use for the benefit of others.  A schoolteacher she may be, but she's no trembling miss or prune-faced dragon.  On the side, she is fulfilling her dream of becoming a writer by reporting for the Idaho Garnet, a local paper that is published when the owner, Mr. R.E. Smythe can do so.  She hopes to be a woman of letters, facts and inspiration to her fellow citizens of Silver City.  Of course, she makes mistakes, alarming and unintentional, but her earnest spirit smooths the rough edges of her humble beginnings and eventually folks accept her ways, even if they don't always understand them.


Sheriff Daniel Forrester is a remarkably level headed, easy going man with a firm commitment to law and order; he doesn't generally see the need to make a production of it.  A native of Minnesota, veteran of the Civil War, he served with the Army after the war then followed friends West when the loneliness got to be too much for him. With his boon companion, an over sized mutt named Yankee, and Deputy Jonathon Hastings, one of the brothers he traveled West with, he keeps the peace in Silver City.  If only Addie would realize how perfect they'd be together, his life would be just about perfect.  Alas, Miss Addie doesn't realize this because every time she is near and he looks directly at her, his brain freezes and his tongue gets stupid.  It could demoralize lesser men, but not Sheriff Forrester.  He keeps on trying and does manage to converse and become a good friend as the months go along.


Each chapter opens with an article for the Garnet, a hint of things to come or interpretation of what just transpired.  These articles are wonderful and anyone that has dug through old newspapers from Back in the Day will see the attention to detail in Ms. Lynch's research.  Her phraseology is so well done, you can *see* Miss Addie chewing her pencil and furrowing her brow over every sentence.  The tid-bits of news, opinion and yes, at times, admonishment that is sprinkled in each report is a story all on it's own.  The action in between is delightfully narrated with delicious elements of quirk and fun, balanced by just the right amount of boring old reality and sad truth to vindicate the time you spend reading instead of attending to - well whatever you should be doing instead. 


The dialog is in keeping with the tone of the time without murky dialects or regional slang.  You hear it though it isn't making your eyes cross as you read.  Secondary characters are as interesting as Miss Addie and the events unfolding before our eyes familiar enough to be comforting, strange enough to be refreshing.  This is not a hot and heavy romance and it is blessedly far-far removed from chick lit.  It is a courtship of characters, town and reader.  We're wooed by the discovery of more than silver and gold in the mountains, more than rough beauty all around us, more than compatibility of soul between Miss Addie and Sheriff Forrester - it is an awakening of that pioneer spirit we have buried in our ancestral past, somewhere, that rises [somewhat indignantly in my case] and says, "Ha!  You think standing in line at Wal-Mart is a hardship!"


With a lively tune, the plot unfolds, plausibly.  Silver is without apologetic political correctness that re-writes the Western, leaving the facts in the dust with the burden of hingsight robbing us so we can't see the truth, can't truly admit our mistakes or feel the sorrow, won't ever learn there's more to us than we ever thought; especially when we're starting with nothing but dreams.  The minor notes of villainy is a haunting harmony that brings out goosebumps, without one graphic description or word that would offend your sainted grandmother, but the point gets across all the same.  Youth, impatience, anger, greed, lust, envy, and vengeance create a story between and in the Idaho Garnet's Addie's Attributions that is worth sharing with others, knowing you'll re-read the book again and again.


Best part?  No epilogue.  An author that trusts her readers to carry on because the personal answer is sufficient. I eagerly recommend Silver as a savory anytime, anyplace read. Be careful though, if you read it while commuting or sitting in the dentist's office, you might make friends explaining why you were laughing!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

RRM Submissions for Review!

Due to the increased popularity of historical romances RRM is no longer accepting contemporary romance novels for review.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Latest Review - WW2 Novel 1944.

Reviewed by Katie


This is a love story with Americana as the anti-hero.  L.C. Moore flirts with cultural ideals of the good ole days and does nothing to destroy them, only bring them more fully in to the light.  Four young people, coming of age, in two different timelines give a weathered diary feel to the chapters that enhances the experiences of dislocation adolescents and young adults often know better than their parents.And the backdrop of war and the tension increases....


Like a Leo Kotke album, each suite is uniquely its own yet still part of the larger whole.  There are just enough clich├ęs to make the eras accessible for understanding or nostalgic, depending on your age. Each perspective is skillfully used to prevent the characters from becoming trite.  There are no secondary characters.  Everyone is a precise note or extended measure for the suite.  We know some of these people.  They're our parents, grandparents, cousins - maybe a neighbor, maybe ourselves.  They are the folks we might not think of as knowing anything about Real Life.  


The evocative, tightly written prose disturbed me even as it held me captive.  Choppy sentence fragments set the mood with conversational narrative that carries us away, back to where we've never really been, but thought we knew so well because we studied history and watched the Discovery Channel.  Jumping from one timeline to another with no pattern I could establish made the book seem a bit longer than it actually was.  I wanted more from each chapter, more for each character; they felt like my family long before the middle of the book. And it doesn’t take a genius to know the ‘happily ever after’ in war stories is seldom white picket fences and orange blossoms, so my tension increased with each turn of the page. 


I did not want to finish the tale but I could not not know.  It made my stomach burn, literally, as I rolled to the last forty pages or so.  This is not a romance in the traditional sense.  It is a condensed epic tale, spanning generations, the conclusion bittersweet.  I would not have chosen this as a book to read but that's why I enjoy reading for Romance Reviews Magazine, I'm exposed to different explorations of what is a good romance.  


I have two quibbles.  First, the entanglement theory don't work for me, personally.  The descriptions of dreams and emotions felt were too vague in comparison to the strength of the narrative's other aspects.  However, I welcomed the thoughts of what if...  all the same. I still found the individual stories enthralling, so in the end, the entanglement did not matter, at least to me.  


Second, there were many editing issues in my copy of the text that I did not convert {ex: "Roomer was he was repeating ninth grade for the third time." "there was more darkness then light..." “My general approached to things was….”} I hope these issues have been corrected in the final version.  Unfortunately, in such a tightly written book they Stand Out, especially in key moments and jarred me brutally from the tale.  Even so, I recommend All I Long For Long Ago Was You as a thoughtful weekend read that will remain with you for days.


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Latest Historical Review - Lady Highwayman

Reviewed by Lorraine.

1743. Rosie Davey possesses the kind of fatal beauty that makes men desire her and women jealous. Sent to London for her own safety to work for her Aunt Elisa at the Nag’s Head, Drury Lane, she finds herself in the underbelly of society. She is expected to earn her keep through prostitution, and there are many men eager to take her innocence by force.

She is saved by Blake, a highwayman she has encountered before in times of danger, who pays for her exclusive services but respects her virginity.

Others, of low and high degree, are determined to have her, and when she is forced to fight for her survival and stabs a debauched magistrate, she has to flee. Falling in with a Romany gypsy, Micu, she is nursed to health, and then becomes the object of his attentions. Five times she is nearly raped, only for his mother to save her.

Blake finds her, kills Micu, and takes her back to London, where he makes her his own. She joins him in his highway adventures until she is shot and taken to Newgate, from where she is eventually rescued by Micu’s sister. At last she returns home to Windermere, where her mother tells her the truth about her birth.


 Reviewer notes:

Rosie’s many adventures take place at high speed. Pirates, gypsies, highwaymen, debauched aristocrats, and gin–sodden whores are all encountered along the way. She is nearly raped, graphically, too many times to count, though always saved at the very last second, and is depicted throughout as a victim of circumstances, rarely instigating any of the events herself except in error.

There are obvious problems with misused words – broach for brooch, caste for cast - and textual errors: ‘“Yes thank you milord, pausing slightly he realized Lord Bligh was waiting for him to pour the wine.’ There are anachronisms: boss and heist belong to C19th US, not mid-C18th England. Monastral blue is a trade name from the 1930s. Buttoned blouses and chignons were not worn in 1743.

The wife of an Earl is a Countess, not a Duchess (and no Countess would put ‘the wife of Earl…’ on an invitation to her ball). It is correct to say Earl or Duke of, but not Lord of Windermere.

Elisa becomes Eliza, Blake Glenowen becomes Blake Remington.   As for ‘Bene darkmans’, that must remain a puzzle.

This is a novel of two halves. The depiction of the stews of London is good, and promises much; but once Rosie moves from underworld to haut monde, the pace picks up to a gallop at the expense of detail. Coincidences and unlikelihoods abound, and although the author puts every possible block in her progress, in a rather weak and hurried ending Rosie finds her hero once more.

Suzy's notes: Brooch also Middle English Broche = Broach.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Latest Contemporary Mainstream Paranormal.

Guest Review by Fran.

Having enjoyed ‘Mystery at Rosehill’ I was thrilled to receive a review copy of ‘Secrets at Rosehill’, and I’ve again enjoyed time spent with Camilla and Marcus. In the first novel the machinations of a blossoming romance between the hero and heroine was tentative at best, because, not only did Camilla entertain spiritual visitations from the nether world in her role as a psychic medium, one or two tested Marcus’ faith to extremes in his role as the resident vicar to a rural parish. The base line being, could too such opposites come together in united harmony?
In this, the second book (four years later), marital bliss between Camilla and Marcus seems as idyllic as does ‘Rosehill’, the house which Camilla loves as much as she loves old dark furniture and antiques. But it is the ‘others’ whom dwell within the walls of Rosehill, not least the reappearance of familiar ghostly apparitions and favoured characters from book 1, that all in all, make for a delightful follow-up read.
I rather liked the way a diary penned in the 1800s reveals much about the history of the house and captures Camilla’s attention. Whilst the diary owner’s favourite room is not as empty as one might imagine, much of what happens within his private place seems quite logical. Nonetheless, contented reality can all too easily be blighted by real-time secrets. Thus, two chance encounters, two small fibs, and mixed emotions unexpectedly come full circle for both Camilla and Marcus. At this point in time, one begins to wonder can the once happy couple survive a looming crisis? And believe it, when I say, the author takes a great leap of psychic faith with the end sequence, because it’s not only touching in its finality it reminds us to hold onto the now, whilst knowing the past is always at our elbow!


Thursday, 19 June 2014

Latest Historical - Regency.

Reviewed by Katie


In this romantic mystery, Sebastian Alder survived Waterloo, barely.  As he recovers, a woman appears to inform him that now, he is Lord Somerton.  Whisking him off to better chambers and an increased hope of actual recovery, he finds the legacy a great deal more trouble than it seemed to be worth.


The Somerton inheritance was a tainted privilege.  In some ways he was no better off than he would have been if he had remained a penniless officer of the line on half pay. At least then he only had his siblings and himself to worry about. Now he had a household and an estate, all claiming pennies from a purse that looked decidedly the worse for wear....  Where had it all gone and how, in God’s name, was he expected to restore the family fortunes?


He had thought the matter through in the tedious hours in the coach and decided that if he thought of the task ahead as being akin to a sudden promotion to Colonel of a regiment, it did not seem so daunting.


Sebastian meets the new family, assumes his new responsibility and intends to make provisions for his brother and sister.  As soon as he untangles the financial mess Anthony Kingsley left behind.  There are hanger's on, wise granny, an aunt and dozens of cousins, plus tenants, retainers and servants to assess and get to know.  Always near by, ready to offer assistance or subtle guidance, is Isabel.  He sees her wounds, the grief she struggles beneath and that she is trying to reach beyond the sorrows and anger.  Through Sebastian's eyes we observe Isabel's healing steps, stumbles and set backs.  It was an interesting perspective because generally the socks are on the other foot. 


This story is slightly Gothic in tone, the writing smooth and gently reflective.  There was an old-fashioned pace I really enjoyed.  There was no rush of the romance, the story or the ending.  The dialog kept you in the period without effort or cliches.  Characters were believable, though slowly revealed.  Personally I like that but others may find the bits and pieces revelation too old skool.  Secondary characters weren't two dimensional though the villains were both over the top once their disguises were stripped away.  I was disappointed by the second villain's big reveal.  For all the realism it brought to the story, I felt manipulated and a wee bit resentful. 


I liked Sebastian, his siblings and Isabel.  I appreciated how the tragic past was handled as part of the story, not a cudgel to wallow in and create more angst.  They were the Ordinary Folks we all think we are until trials come our way and we learn not only is there more to us, but less as well.  Confronting their own failings, they have compassion for other's.  Mostly, it was absolutely wonderful to read an Awakening Story that wasn't all about the sexual attraction or trumped up conflicts that reduce hero and heroine to argumentative banter based on misunderstandings.  They were cautious with each other, kind to themselves even.  Taking time, giving support and space as needed, Sebastian and Isabel's story advanced even as the mysteries, debts and confusions mounted to a larger pile.


I had a bit of difficulty with the last couple chapters of this book.  It tied up "too neatly" for me.  I like a bit of conflict left hanging, things to work through together in happily ever after land.  In fairness, the financial situation is probably Huge Enough, not to mention the "secret" Sebastian has chosen to keep.  I believe that will come back to bite them both in the end.  Of course,  it could simply be the fact  I seldom like epilogues and this one was a bit too sweet for me. That said, I did enjoy 98.7% of the book, the writing style, characterizations, and well-handles story line.  Definitely will look for other works by this author. I recommend Lord Somerton's Heir for when you're in a Traditional mood, looking for a meatier story with a gentle romance.