Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Latest Mainstream Historical Romance!





Reviewed by Frances.

Set prior to and within the years of the English Civil Wars, The Black Madonna is a veritable literary mainstream historical tome written with multiple character viewpoints, so there is a lot of head-hopping. At 625 pages Kindle edition, it’s a well-written and extremely well researched vendetta led plot, ending with a romantic conclusion.

The prologue itself [1636] provides the reader with insight to the background of the Falceiri family of Genoa (Italy), and that of Luciano Del Santi’s bent to avenge the death of his father. By chapter one it is 1639, and Luciano is ensconced in London as a goldsmith and money lender. Albeit his work is much sought after, Luciano’s debtors’ range from the King to his courtiers, therefore the Italian moves in circles where he can never be “one of them” whilst they revolve in the realms of his dark existence out of dire need.  Therefore, he wields dangerous power over a great many people of high rank and lesser status of whom may, or may not have had a hand in his father’s demise. What is more, his quest for justice and revenge combined with his cold calculating nature leads him on a predetermined path to dangerous encounters and the ultimate coup de grace.

But one should never underestimate element of surprise attack from an unknown source, and if not for the intervention and gallantry of Richard Maxwell and his son, the Italian might well have breathed his last in the gutter of a dark alley. Thus a new bond is struck, a bond that will last and eventually lead Lucianio to the men he seeks, thus the Maxwell family become an asset and latterly a liability when his heart is touched by Kate Maxwell, but tragedy strikes a mortal blow and guilt reigns for Luciano. All the while Parliament and the King are at odds, Civil War is no longer talked of as a possibility, for battles indeed rage, cities fall to Royalist or Parliamentarian banners [1642], and Luciano continues hunting his prey. Meanwhile one of the hunted is determined to remove all evidence of his involvement in Del Santi senior’s demise, until one rash indulgence provides indisputable evidence of his guilt. But will Luciano grant mercy or serve sentence when the final moment of truth is upon him?

Reviewer notes: There are in depth narrative introductory passages per chapter and page breaks akin to Wikipedia datelines relating to persons of note, political shenanigans, plus military conquests and defeats. IMHO less author intrusion and more character drip-fed revelations of events as they unfolded would have provided the necessary historical facts woven seamlessly as opposed to documentary overtones, which often stalled the otherwise compelling storyline. All in all, an excellent read. 

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Rosemary Sutcliffe's "The Rider on The White Horse"

The Rider of the White Horse - Rosemary Sutcliff
 
 
 
Reviewed by M. J. Logue
 


I make no apologies for my first review for this blog being an old-fashioned, out of print novel, one of Rosemary Sutcliff's lesser-known books.

In fact, I'm reviewing it in the hope that people will once again turn to this simple, tender, moving portrayal of the relationship between Thomas Fairfax, Commander-in-Chief of the Army of Parliament during the English Civil War, and his plain, brown, feisty wife Anne.

It's no epic courtly love story. Quite the opposite: the story of a plain woman who comes to love her principled and honourable husband with a passion that frightens her, in the uncomfortable self-knowledge that he will, in all probability, never see her in the same way as she sees him. There is little glamour in their love story, little chivalry, little courtliness. Despite its setting in the England of the 1640s, we are not in the realms of lace and glittering satins, but of buff and steel, of hunger and  danger and tragedy. Of the little commonwealth of a small manor in Yorkshire, thrust all unwilling into war, and of a woman's fear for the man she has come to hold precious.

As ever, Rosemary Sutcliff's skill lies in her ability to weave a tale around the tiny domestic details of a household that stick in the reader's memory long after the last page: the honeyed scent of the snowdrops on a table, the whiff of tobacco smoke and a golden sunset over the Yorkshire Dales. The Fairfax of Ms Sutcliff's writing is not an articulate, poetic courtier, but an awkward, rather diffident soldier - and a reader expecting grand declarations may wonder what on earth the fiery Anne sees in him at times, this decent, kind, stiff, rather too honourable gentleman whose idea of a compliment is to tell her she looks "bonnie in t'firelight".

Nor - this book having been written in 1959 - is there a deal of sexual tension. But indeed, it would have jarred, had there been explicit physical loving in this story. I am still not sure - having read this book every year without fail, for the last 20 years, having cried at exactly the same parts every time, at the death of Captain Smith and of the baby Elizabeth - I still couldn't say with any degree of certainty whether or not Thomas Fairfax ends the book by returning his wife's love, not physically. But then, as Anne says, “You could not hold a winged thing; you could not even perfectly remember it afterward, for that, too, was a kind of holding.” Whatever it is, is enough.

No, I love this book. I would like more people to love it. Some of the historical accuracy is shaky, but the battle scenes are stirring and moving, and the relationships drawn with a tenderness that can be heartbreaking. Sutcliff's dialogue is almost perfect in its simplicity, of things not said but felt with the heart.

Amazon

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Latest Swashbuckling Historical Novel

 
 
 
 
 
 
Reviewed by Nigella.
 
 
At first I did wonder if this novel would fit the criteria readers expect from a romance novel. On balance violent battle scenes steal a march on romance to begin with so does the heroic romanticism of a troop in Cromwell’s New Model Army. In spite of my initial concerns, glimmer of a budding romance does begin to emerge. The tragedy of this story develops with heartfelt love bordering on the breaking of religious dictate to do with acts of immorality, but every good story requires a twist in the tale and this book has many exciting twists. When all is said and done this is a novel to do with soldiers who yearn for peace while bracing themselves in readiness to do battle. There is historical merit and vivid detail within the novel and of all the characters, and there are many worthy of mention, Lucifer Pettit stands out as a fine young man who ends up bedevilled by his namesake. I confess I find it difficult to applaud overt use of coarse language inside a book boys may be drawn to. However, on the plus side the narrative is fast paced. The action scenes are nail-bitingly real and the secret masquerade is somewhat amusing. I rate the book a Historical Adventure Novel with a little romance.      
 



Thursday, 12 November 2015

Latest Regency.

 
 
 
 
 
Reviewed by Francine
 
 
This is a quick sexy read (novella), in which the heroine, Gabriella, believes a birthing misfortune will leave her a spinster until her dying day. Likewise, the hero, Nicholas, had long ago brutally said as much: thus a childhood friendship had ceased to be. But years later a risqué wager laid down on high stakes ensures Gabriella and Nicholas are destined to meet again. Whilst for Gabriella the past cannot be forgotten, on a prompt Nicholas struggles to remember something he may have said or done at age 12 yrs of age. Of course, when the awful truth is revealed, sense of guilt cloaks about him, whilst desires of the flesh, namely Gabriella’s flesh taunt and overwhelm him with physical needs. The dilemma then arises in how to seduce her mind, delight in amorous pursuits, and win the wager.
 
An accepted marriage of convenience based on a wager is one thing, and when love, true love enters play, revenge on the person who waged the challenge seems fair recompense for intended humiliation of Gabriella, and the very fact the Earl of Thornwich set out to play Nicholas Lord Eastden for an utter fool. Thus Nicholas turns the wager on its head, and Gabriella’s brother is subjected to contracted terms that are a tad humiliating, though as a reader I would have liked it better had Nicholas made Thornwich squirm to the point of near ruination before saving the blaggard’s neck. Nonetheless this is a sweet ugly duckling tale with a few explicit sex scenes, in which the leading man abides to the principle and honour of a true gentleman.   
 
Amazon     



Sunday, 8 November 2015

A Review by Diana - A Romantic Comedy


26810977

‘Just Marred Again’
By: Charlotte Hughes

What a little powerhouse of a story.  This book was a breath of fresh air for me as two about to be divorcees happen upon one another along with a thirteen year old teenager in a remote cabin in the hills of North Carolina in the middle of a winter snow storm.  Now did they just happen to be at the same place, same time, or did fate step in and take control of a mistake waiting to happen?  Big question…

Michael Kelly, a young lawyer making his way up in a very prestigious law firm Smyth -McGraw in Charlotte, NC, is all about his job, getting ahead, providing a good life for his young wife, his ultimate goal to make partner in the law firm.  Working seventy and eighty hour weeks, he makes the ultimate mistake of leaving his young wife at home by herself, casting her aside leaving her alone to her own devices.

Maddy Kelly, a vivacious young fitness instructor/trainer is totally in love with her husband but the marriage is falling apart.  She eats alone, wakes up alone and goes to bed alone her husband totally ignoring her needs and their marriage.  After a miscarriage she can’t take it anymore and she leaves him determined to make a better life for herself, one where she matters only if to herself.  Anything would be better than the lonely existence she's endured for the last five years of her marriage.  She takes some much needed time off over the Thanksgiving holiday and decides to spend some time at a little cabin her and her husband still own.  She loads up her two little dogs, lots’ of food and firewood and sets off, heedless of an approaching winter storm.  When she is awaken in the late of night to find a man coming through the front door she boinks him over the head with the fireplace poker only to realize that it’s her soon to be ex-husband. 

Now the fun begins between these two misguided lovers and fate is determined to get these two love lost people back on the right track.  But can fate really step in and change our lives?  Can fate put us back on the right path of life?  You’ll find out!

I loved this little story, it’s not real long but the characters have depth and will grab you from the first page as the author regales a humorous tale of two lovers that have lost their way. The story line moves well, it’s easy to follow and the editing is great.  There's a little deception, clean humor, and in the mix of hopes and dreams you have a very perceptive teenager.  It’s a refreshing clean read, very little sex in the story but just enough that you’ll feel the love radiating from the characters.  I highly recommend this book and will promote it as much as possible on my own sites.  My hat is off to this author, for a successful story.


Latest Regency Murder Mystery

 
 
 
 
Reviewed by Francine.
 
 
 

Make no mistake, this is a Jane Austen follow-on novel. Subsequently, if you’ve ever wondered what happened to Miss Jane Fairfax, the rather reserved young lady from Jane Austen’s novel “Emma” then look no further.  Jane is now Mrs. Frank Churchill, and finds herself suddenly widowed in strange circumstances. Worse, soon embroiled in the dark seedy world of criminals, she meets and supports a young woman one wouldn’t ordinarily sup tea with whilst in polite company. What is more, with her life seemingly under threat from unknowns, Jane places her life and that of a child in the hands of a decidedly affable Bow Street Runner.
 
Caleb Armitage is a man well accustomed to the dark netherworld of crime, and duly packs a punch in the name of the law, more so when protecting a true lady from hard-nosed criminals. Needless to say, this novel has the ubiquitous twists and turns one would expect from a crime novel, and of course, the conclusion, although not wholly unexpected, it does shed light on Jane as a woman of inner steel in the face of adversity. Ah, but did we not see a glimmer of that within the novel Emma, when Emma herself looked upon Miss Jane Fairfax as a competitor for Mr. Knightley’s affections? Miss Fairfax smiled sweetly back then, and likewise in this, her own story, she carries on as though nothing untoward had occurred even when all the odds are stacked against a happy conclusion. Death of a Fop is a delightful and entertaining read.             

 



Saturday, 17 October 2015

RRM AWARDS



2015 awards!

The awards are a little behind schedule due to unforeseen events behind the scenes, but we are back up and running again. 

Bear in mind these are reviewer awards, and awarded to characters and plot that have remained memorable long after the book was read! Which means the books are not picked by anonymous votes cast in the first round, and there is no second level of judging.



 
Diana's Choice Award:
 
 
I have read all the books in this series and they are just great and the characters really stayed with me.
 

24705062

A Review by Diana (RTAnnie)

Kelly McGuffin has been through a horrific trauma one that’s age old to women throughout the world.  Suffering a rape by two unsuspecting men Kelly is rescued by two of the Wylie brothers and leaves her remote mountain home to travel to Boonesborough to a new life.  Although she is sorting through her traumatized and demeaning affair Kelly is a strong minded young woman and looking forward to a better life and just maybe someone that will take the demons from her dreams.


Sheriff William Wiley was instantly drawn to the traumatized Kelly when he and his brother happen upon a small cabin tucked away in the mountains where he finds two men raping the young girl.  They quickly put away the rapists and secure Kelly with their traveling family en route to a new life in Kentucky.  William, a single, ladies sort of man has been one that loves all the women with his blond locks and good looks he’s never settled down to just one woman.  He’s not sure that he can until Kelly McGuffin comes into his life.  Williams is bound by the law acting as Sheriff in the town of Boonesborough and studying law to eventually become a lawyer, his heart is fatefully tied to the blond haired beauty that he and his brother rescued.

This book is another winner from Dorothy Wiley and the third one I’ve read.  I just love this series and this one in particular as the author touches on the subject of rape, and through her depth of the subject it gives women who have suffered a traumatic event like this a sense of hope.  True love can overcome the inner demons that women face after a brutal invasion of their body and soul.  I think the author has broached a subject that victims of rape need to know, that life does go on and there are good men out there that can help their minds to heal in a healthy way through endearing and continuing love of life.
 
 
 
 


Charlotte's Choice Awards!
 
I am gutted my second choice has been declared void by Francine. Her excuse remains firm that it's bad form for admin to accept an award.

 I liked this book for characters I can still remember and visualise.



 

Reviewed by Charlotte.


This is an American FBI based romantic suspense. We’re given a female agent - a complex stalker, and a classic covert romance budding between fellow agents. Thankfully that’s not all the author has given the reader. The heroine, Jess, has emotional problems linked to her past. Her love interest, Tom, similarly has a past he would rather forget. Neither reveals their covert feelings for one another, and I rather liked the way the author enlightens the reader to their innermost thoughts. This could easily have turned into a tired old cliché plot of agents shooting their way through crisis after crisis, then falling in love and straight off to bed. Ms Ford, though, luckily spins a little magic into her story with a dead agent brought back to life. And so the plot thickens. But who is watching Jess besides a dead agent, and who is stalking her? The more Jess puzzles over gathered evidence the more she fears the outcome. What is worse, the killer knows her name. Ordered off the case, Jess retreats to a safe haven. Jess is far from safe. Tom is far from safe. And the hero of the day is far from the expected hero. Well done Ms Ford for putting a jolly good twist in this tale. As a debut novelist I sense Ms Ford’s writing will grow with each new book she undertakes to write.

 



Francine's Choice Awards!

Memorable Characters!





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.








Seventh Heaven by Elizabeth Bailey

Genius use of numerals for character names rendered this a most memorable story!


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!




 

 

 
Nigella's choice Award.

 I outrank Francine on time served at RRM, therefore I am posting my choice as I see fit. Being that memorable characters are the prime reason for selecting books for the RRM award, the two featured on the front cover image are decidedly memorable characters.
 


 


Reviewed by Nigella (a maritime historian)

 

 

For Love of Captain Jack bears all the hallmarks of Thomas Hardy’s fabulously rich dialogue and prose that has for two centuries enthralled readers of English countryside fiction.  And here we have historical dialogue commensurate with counties surrounding Dorset and vital for nuance of the Regency. I remember when ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ was obligatory reading for school children. I remember groaning as did chums of mine but the characters were so lifelike and vibrant they remained unforgettable as have the characters in ‘Tess of the d'urbervilles’.  Astoundingly Ms Howarth has captured that very same Wessex language Jane Austen and Hardy would recognise as theirs. What struck me most is the women folk in this novel enchant the reader with witty quips and outlandish gossip that is so reminiscent of the Pride & Prejudice Bennett clan. Where Mr Darcy was the cause of uproar in Ms Austen's tome,  it is the report of a murder most foul that strikes a blow to the peaceful and idyllic lives of Ms Howarth's gossips who soon turn to speculation and ponder as one might expect from a good old whodunit? Murders farther afield add to the mix for a thoroughly engrossing murder mystery.  More to the point the local naval hero becomes suspect number one as dark elements come to light in the neighbourhood of Port Seaton. The novel's hero is a lifelike naval officer of the Regency era and so long as the villain proves impossible to pinpoint any hope of Jack Trevellian's reprieve dwindles. This a grand whodunit with red herrings  and miniscule clues that may or may not unveil the murderer.  The eventual uncloaking of the villain is totally unexpected and had me on the edge of my seat fearing another death would prevent the coming of a happy ever after. Fear not, there is a happy ending and this is a rollicking good murder mystery with a deeply engrossing romance.




Reviewer notes:



Ms Howarth has a literary style and cadence that may take a little getting used to. And if you haven’t read a Thomas Hardy novel give him a go. You won't regret it.


Amazon com    Amazon UK

Monday, 5 October 2015

Latest Georgian/Regency!

 
 
 
 
 
 
Reviewed by Francine.
 
 
 
This novel is far from the traditional Georgian or Regency romance and it is indeed set within both time periods. I truly admire the author’s daring to venture to the darker side of life in what is regarded as Jane Austen’s lifetime. Unlike the literary lady of that period, who chose to represent a rather rose-tinted escapist perspective of her own era, Ms Knight has presented her heroine in the true light of a kept woman. Through no fault of hers Becky has become the victim of circumstance and has duly fallen foul to men of a ruthless bent. Nonetheless, determined to secure an independent future free of men who bet, barter and pay debts  with female assets (sexual favours), she masquerades under an assumed nom de plume until such time as sufficient funds can be accumulated by means of which are contracted in proper order to her specifications.
 
While men have come and gone, the reader enters Becky’s and her daughter's world with the introduction of a rakish hero who sports a modicum of honour.  Though a child becoming aware of her surroundings, as has recognition of presents lavished upon her by Becky’s latest high ranking benefactor, soon begins to complicate life somewhat.  Also, when circulating within the upper echelons of society, where secret mistresses are sought out and exposed as part and parcel of the gaming fraternity, danger lurks in every dark corner.  And just when hope of eventual independence and freedom seem to have come within Becky’s grasp, one more cruel twist of fate seems set to blight her future path. Knowing full well her present benefactor cannot, or will not wed her, exchanging one contract for another hurts her pride and that of another. Unfortunately, needs must when the devil rides, but can Becky hide her past from those around her, mark a new place in society with a husband, and find the happiness and contentment of a rural life she had longed for? Well to find out, read this lonely, lovely lady’s story, in which characters act true to form: pimples ‘n’ all.  Although the outcome of the book becomes evident mid story, it didn’t detract from enjoyment of the whole. 
 



Friday, 4 September 2015

Latest Regency!

 
 
 
 
Reviewed by Francine:
 
 
 

This is a lovely and rather unusual tale of a woman who has few choices in life, and while Aster Tanner prefers honest pay for honest work she is well aware of the life that may have become her lot had she taken another path to monetary gain. Set prior to Napoleon’s first defeat and exile to the Island of Elba, English agents of the crown are engaged in spying missions behind enemy lines
 
Aster is a familiar sight on the streets of Regency England and always accompanied by her little dog, and to the casual eye she would never pass muster as an enemy agent. But Captain Mcintyre, of the Second Dragoons, views her position as secretary-cum-aide to a cryptographer as not only unusual, but downright dangerous. Her femininity is distracting and somewhat enticing, and what in the devil is a woman doing working for a cryptographer who poses as a mere army supply officer? Mcintyre sets out to unravel the mystery of Aster, and duly expects to unveil an enemy agent with a little romancing. Then comes the dreadful news of a murder, the threat of kidnap, and suddenly Mcintyre’s heart is at odds with his head. When Aster goes missing can a little dog then save the day, unravel a greater mystery, and prevent Mcintyre from losing his credibility as a true hero? Ah well, buy the book and find out.  Beware though: from the outset this novel reads in the vein of a Traditional Regency with a sweet flavour, but it does have sensual love scenes.
 



Sunday, 2 August 2015

A Review by Diana (RT Annie)


9636468

A Medieval Romance Review by Diana

This is a definite four star read for me.  I loved the story line and the characters are likeable and easy to identify with.  I’m not all that familiar with the historical accuracy of the medieval time period so I have to always rely on the author’s knowledge and how he/she relays the historical facts.  But it seemed like this author has done her homework and research.

Martine of Rouen the heroine of the story, an illegitimate child of a Baron and her mother after cast aside from her lover commits suicide.  Martine as a very young girl finds her mother floating in a lake and thus brings on a continuous nightly nightmare that follows her throughout the years.  Her half-brother Father Rainulf finds her and assumes responsibility for her giving her good descent upbringing and education somewhat befitting a Nobleman’s child.  She is so beholden to her brother she would do anything to repay his kindness even to the point of marrying a man she has never laid eyes upon.  After all women in those days did not have much of a say as to whom they were betrothed too and most times were married off as convenience in lieu of property and or social status with the realm.

Sir Thorne Falconer a landless knight and a good friend of Rainulf arranges a marriage for Martine to a second son of a wealthy landowner.  But when Thorne lays eyes upon the fair Martine he is instantly drawn to her as she is to him.  They both try desperately to fight this attraction but as we all know fate always plays a big part of our lives.  In recompense for this arranged marriage Sir Thorne is promised his own land, something that he has never had but always strived for and the most important thing in his life.  He doesn’t believe in love and even though he’s no stranger to women he never let himself take that fall.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Latest Sweet Regency Romance!





Reviewed by Fran:

 

This novel is one of those highly amusing Regency romps, in which characters step centre stage and gradually become more than mere shadows amidst the various props and scenery that are almost universally recognised as obligatory items within Regency romances. That’s not to say the author hasn’t used her literary palette well, because indeed she has, and duly paints a vivid interpretation of Regency London and its social, if somewhat staid, and formal whirl. But nothing about Cleo Cooper is formal, not if she can help it. In fact, she’s of a decidedly Bohemian bent, and when need for monies to sustain her immediate dependents and that of extended family (acquired by default of kindness), risqué ventures seem but a small gesture in keeping them all well provided for. But of course, the best laid plans and well practised modus operandi can draw the attention of an astute observer, and the last person Cleo would have suspected as having an eye for the female form and mobility, is that of the Duke of Winton.
 
 
Arthur Ramsey, almost a reluctant duke, is a man of science and a keen astronomer. For the most part he has always abided to the moral code befitting any upright and honourable gentleman, and while the begetting of a wife by way of attendance at Almack’s is to some extent pure purgatory, he nonetheless succeeds in his aim, and his life is soon mapped before him with a great deal of clarity and clinical precision.  But Lady Fate has other ideas, and suddenly what had seemed as though a walk through the intricacy of Regency life, the reader’s horses pick up the pace when the duke sets out to unravel the mystery of a gypsy girl, a gypsy caravan, and pigeon messenger carriers. Whilst the duke tumbles headlong into romantic notions that set him ill at ease, his affianced is likewise facing a dilemma erring French Farce. Thus, A Feather to Fly With, is a delightful blend of light farce and romance set within the Regency era.   A lovely, lovely light-hearted read!  
 

 
 

 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Special Feature from the Archives!




Guest Review by Francine.
In Charlotte, the author takes us beyond Pride & Prejudice and Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy's trials and tribulations, to that of Mr. Collins, a thoroughly despicable creature, whom, as a character in Jane Austen's classic P&P was in all honesty her party piece. Mr. Collins appeared as a larger than life toadying and lecherous would-be suitor to Elizabeth Bennet, and one could almost hear his shuddering intakes of breath (sucked between teeth) and as a reader paid witness to drool at the side of his mouth.



I'm not sure how, but Ms Aminadra shines new light on Mr. Collins and one wonders if it was possible to have sorely misunderstood Jane Austen's previous characterisation of Collins in P&P as an obsequious and vile tongued manipulator. Charlotte, however, remains reasonably true to her original characterisation: seeking sense of direction and a house all her own, and views marriage with Mr. Collins a necessity at the outset. Likewise, as in P&P, Lady Catherine de Bourgh is true to character, and then comes the twist as Charlotte rallies strength to rebel and Mr. Collins ever the submissive to his patroness Lady de Bourgh suddenly becomes beholden to Mr. Darcy.



Reviewer asides:
As a novel this is a fun read and highly amusing, though I'm not sure the Mr. Darcy of Austen's P&P would readily have paid court to Collins. Nevertheless, this is not an Austen novel, this is what amounts to a spin-off and "what might have been" had Jane Austen written a sequel to P&P. A fun read!

 




Also reviewed by David:



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

Latest Cozy Regency Murder Mystery.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Reviewed by Fran.
 
 
The cover of this novel implies it may contain erotic passages. Be assured it is not in the least given to sexual scenes of a lusty bent. It is a sweetly charming cosy murder mystery in which the heroine’s sister-in-law is quite the sleuth in the vein of a married Mrs. (Miss) Marple. The story itself is adaptable to almost any era during the days of coaching with horses. Though as I understand it, the setting is most definitely Regency England.

Poor Lady Kersey, squarely in the frame as murderess, is not only struggling in coming to terms with the dreadful murder of her husband, she’s on the run from the Bow Street Runners. Naturally she turns to her brother Lord Markson for help and support in her time of need. As would be expected his lordship provides shelter and sets out to discover the identity of the murdering scoundrel, but it is Lord Markson’s wife whose sharp eye and love of reading murder mysteries that eventually unearths a host of secrets and lies. Lady Markson is not to be trifled with, and where she leads her husband guards her back and that of his sister, and between the trio the mystery is finally solved. The Guilty Countess is a fast-paced story befitting a crème de la crime Miss Marple novel, despite the fact Lady Markson is not your average knitting fanatic.
 
 
Amazon


Latest Historical Romance

 
 
 
 
 
Reviewed by Lorraine.
 
 
A Woman of Honour
Duncan Campbell is imprisoned by his arch-enemies the MacDougalls. Sharing his black dungeon is Isabel Douglas, who is disguised as a boy. She has been given the task of delivering a letter to King Robert the Bruce, who has disappeared. Her only choice appears to be to pass the letter to the Mother Superior on Iona, after which, feeling she has shamed her family, and for want of any other future, she will join the convent.
Duncan has been captured after leaving his brother’s castle in a temper, caused by the King asking him ‘to do something so repugnant, so hideous, it made Duncan seethe with anger’.
They are set free by their captors – but only so that they can be hunted down.  They are tied together at the wrist, to make escape more difficult.
The greater part of the novella is concerned with the chase through the snow and ice of a Highland winter. It’s the story of a journey both literal and figurative, the end of which is not where either protagonist thought it would be.
Isabel is indeed a woman of honour and courage, prepared to sacrifice everything in service of her king.  In comparison, Duncan’s cause is flimsy, and his main interest lies in getting Isabel into bed. This is turned into a question of trust and respect.
There are inconsistencies: is what the king has asked Duncan to do as vile as stated, or merely not to his taste? At one moment Isabel realises she has let him touch her naked body; a few lines later, it’s written that ‘She looked down and only then realized she was naked’.
A very quick read, and an interesting heroine, to whom far more happens than to the hero; his constant thoughts of sex quickly become tedious, but that is part of his journey. The twist in the ending is neat enough, but because of the nature of a novella, rather hurried and convenient. 
Likeable light summer fare.

 
Amazon


Latest Regency Murder Mystery.

 




Reviewed by Nigella (a maritime historian)
 
 

For Love of Captain Jack bears all the hallmarks of Thomas Hardy’s fabulously rich dialogue and prose that has for two centuries enthralled readers of English countryside fiction.  And here we have historical dialogue commensurate with counties surrounding Dorset and vital for nuance of the Regency. I remember when ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ was obligatory reading for school children. I remember groaning as did chums of mine but the characters were so lifelike and vibrant they remained unforgettable as have the characters in ‘Tess of the d'Urbervilles’.  Astoundingly Ms Howarth has captured that very same Wessex language Jane Austen and Hardy would recognise as theirs. What struck me most is the women folk in this novel who enchant the reader with witty quips and outlandish gossip that is so reminiscent of the Pride & Prejudice Bennett clan. Where Mr Darcy was the cause of uproar in Ms Austen's tome,  it is the report of a murder most foul that strikes a blow to the peaceful and idyllic lives of Ms Howarth's gossips who soon turn to speculation and ponder as one might expect from a good old whodunit? Murders farther afield add to the mix for a thoroughly engrossing murder mystery.  More to the point the local naval hero becomes suspect number one as dark elements come to light in the neighbourhood of Port Seaton. The novel's hero is a lifelike naval officer of the Regency era and so long as the villain proves impossible to pinpoint any hope of Jack Trevellian's reprieve dwindles. This a grand whodunit with red herrings  and miniscule clues that may or may not unveil the murderer.  The eventual uncloaking of the villain is totally unexpected and had me on the edge of my seat fearing another death would prevent the coming of a happy ever after. Fear not, there is a happy ending and this is a rollicking good murder mystery with a deeply engrossing romance.

 

Reviewer notes:

Ms Howarth has a literary style and cadence that may take a little getting used to. And if you haven’t read a Thomas Hardy novel give him a go. You won't regret it.