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.

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.


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. 



Saturday, 11 July 2015

A Great Story by Dorothy Wiley - 'Whispering Hills of Love'


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.  Kelly is although she is sorting through her traumatized and demeaning affair she 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, it through her depth of the subject gives women who has 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.

Friday, 10 July 2015

A Western Book Review - 'Loving Lucas'


A Review by Diana (RTAnnie)

Well I have to say I absolutely hate to read these short books.  This one has a good storyline but just when things start happening, ‘The End’.

I loved Audra and Lilah, they are two strong women having lost both father and mother are trying to stay on their homestead and carve their life in a man’s world.  Life was tough in those days especially for young women, but these two are full of spunk and tough as nails.  As always in the old western days women aren’t worth much more than a piece of you know what to some men and others looking for a wife and some of those men weren’t worth squat.  But there were good men looking for good wives and in Audra and Lilah’s case men from all over were after them.  When two hardened men from a neighboring ranch decide to visit the young women one night they decide to scare them by shooting at their log home, but to their surprise the women shoot back and then steps in a savior.

Lucas Blake steps in just in the nick of time and takes a shot at one of two men sending bullets in a homestead.  Lucas a lawman just cannot let this sort of thing happen and to his surprise there are two lovely women inside alone.  One of which he is instantly drawn too.  But Lucas is on his own mission and offers his help to the young Audra and Lilah Canton as a hired hand on their small homestead. 

I really can’t go into much more since the book was so short, it has no depth, if the author would have expanded on this story line it would have been top notch in my opinion, but it is what it is.  It will instantly grab your interest and you’ll enjoy the antics of the main characters but just when the going gets good you’re at the end.

If you like the little quickie reads then you’ll like this book but in my opinion, no I would not recommend this one, there’s just not enough there.

Monday, 6 July 2015

A Regency Romance Review


A Regency Review by Diana (RTAnnie)

Gwen and Sebastian are both strong characters but both with a family past that will rear its head to thwart their budding love and fated marriage.  Gwen a woman with her own mind but bound to be a dutiful daughter is distraught when her controlling father announces that his health is failing and has arranged a loveless marriage to a man that she detests.  As fate steps in and Sebastian comes back into her life her heart is torn.  She and Sebastian grew up playing together as kids and meet by chance in a crowded ballroom and renew their lifelong friendship.  But love sometimes comes with a price.  Is this price too much to pay?  Can they get past the deceit that comes alive with an overbearing powerful father?

Sebastian sees Gwen across a crowded room and is instantly smitten with her.  What he doesn’t realize is that this is the same little Gwen that used to follow him and her older brother around when they were kids.  She has grown into a beautiful, sensuous woman and he has to have her.  They renew their friendship and Sebastian is determined to make her his, the only problem is, her father has arranged a marriage between her and a Scot but that is not going to stop Sebastian, he will make her his at any cost.  And he does!  But it comes with a huge cost, one that may destroy their young love in its tracks.

This story was a breath of fresh air for me as I’ve been on Paranormal now for the last six books or so, this was a good read.  I loved the characters of Gwen and Sebastian although I got a little perturbed with Gwen being so hell bent on being the dutiful daughter and falling for her father’s deceptions.  But when you consider the time period, women were like that in those days.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

A Contemporary Review by Diana (RTAnnie)

First of all let me say that this is the first book of author Sophie Moss that I’ve read and I now have a new favorite author.  Get a load of this!

Becca Haddaway is a second grade teacher on a speck of land called Heron Island, a little island with the warmth and depth of a small community.  She’s about to take the big plunge of marriage in two weeks to her teenage sweetheart Tom, a man that shared a traumatic life event with her in the past, therefore they had formed a very close bond with one another.  She’s comfortable with Tom, it’s a romantic notion for her to grow up and marry her long time sweetheart.  But if this is really real, is the bond they share the same thing as love and if so, why is she attracted to another man?  And why does she keep hearing the magical sound of tinkle tinkle twink when she’s around this other man?  What’s up with that?

When Becca learns that Heron Island Elementary School is in the middle of a plot of deceit and revenge on the verge of being shut down she takes matters in her own hands.  This is her town, she grew up here, her mother taught at that school, she went to that school as a child and she’s not going to just get married, move off her beloved island, and let this terrible tragedy happen.  This school is part of the make-up, part of the island’s history and she has to do something.  And, she has to question her true motives about why she is about to marry one man when all she can think about is another.

Colin Foley, an ex Navy Seal and the son of an affluent Senator, after losing part of his leg on a mission gone bad in Afghanistan, is forced out of the military and is trying to come to grips with what he wants out of his life.  After being dumped by his fiancée because he’s an amputee he has finally found a cause in which to focus his life on.  He wants to open a wounded veteran’s rehab center, to be able to give others like him a purpose to go on living.  One where they can feel needed, to be able to feed their families, to have a goal once again in their torn lives.   When he starts having feelings for an elementary school teacher on the path down the aisle, he has to stop and re-access what he really wants out of life.  He still wants a family, a home, kids, and he loves the small town feeling of Heron Island.  He wants to make this his home but he has to have the right woman.  One that will accept him for who he is, and not show pity for the fact he only has one leg.  He cannot suffer that pain again.