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...