This is one of the rare few books where five stars just isn't enough. Certain books stand out in my reading life as forever changing who I am as a reaThis is one of the rare few books where five stars just isn't enough. Certain books stand out in my reading life as forever changing who I am as a reader and what I expect from books, what genres I read, and which authors I autobuy with rapid intensity. The rarest of the rare do all three--my first Suzanne Brockmann (The Unsung Hero), Julia Spencer Fleming (In the Bleak Midwinter), Julia Quinn (When He Was Wicked), Karen Marie Moning (Dark Fever), Lorelei James (Slow Ride) and now Marie Sexton. What is amazing is that all of these authors have come to me as gifts from the universe--free or dirt cheap used bookstore finds. I got Promises for free as a Dreamspinners Press anniversary giveaway that I saw advertised on Twitter. I loved the cover. I'm easy that way. I liked the blurb, and nothing else was holding my reading interest at the time.
Cut to six hours later. It's 3 a.m. and I. Must. Sleep. I have a baby who still wakes up at night. This is the definition of insanity, but still I'm reading till the last page. Then I wake up and immediately spend the next day re-reading it. I went to her webpage with the reverence of the newly converted, and when I saw that this was part of a series, I bought them ALL. Back-to-back. My bank account hated me by the end of the week, but I have rarely been so fulfilled as a reader.
Now what intangible set of elements so gripped me as a reader? This is first person, past tense (thank you, God, because I am so over the present tense thing) from Jared's POV (subsequent entries in the series play with multiple POV, showing Sexton's growing craft). Jared strikes up a friendship with the new guy in town, who happens to be straight. And a cop. Jared is openly gay, but stuck in a dead-end life running the family business in a tiny town. What follows isn't a romance as much as the best "bromance" ever. Imagine if Suz's SEALs had glimmers of attraction for each other on top of their deep and abiding friendships.
The first half of the book is all about two lonely souls finding each other, in the platonic sense. Jared has an immediate crush on Matt, but he buries it deeply in "never gonna happen" land. One of my favorite moments of the book is when Matt asks Jared what his "type" is. Jared has to scramble for an answer because, of course, Matt is exactly it. Slowly, ever so slowly, Matt begins to feel more than friendship. And it scares the hell out of him and nearly rips them both to shreds. It's what Inez Kelley managed to do with Sweet as Sin--totally destroy her characters in an emotionally gut wrenching climax that makes what happens after profound and deeply satisfying.
And yes, it gets sexy in the second half of the book. Very sexy. Not the most explicit, but certainly in the romantica level of heat and language--not quite Lorelei James level of explicit but certainly in Victoria Dahl and other super-sexy mainstream romance territory. But, because there is so much emotion swirling around, all the sexy serves as an emotional release--it doesn't have to be one's cup of tea to still be profound. And the build-up to the sexy is unrivaled. Not since Clare and Russ (Julia Spencer Fleming's lead characters) have I been so desperate for two characters to kiss. "Kisssssssssssssssssssssss himmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm," I chanted in my head. Clearly, this book cost me some sanity.
But. It. Was. Worth. It. If there is any book that will win converts to the m/m genre, this is it, at least for readers who need that emotional connection to their books and who share my connection to Jared and Matt. The opening sample available for nook/kindle et al is a pretty good showcase of the voice, and it would be a good way to see if it works for you. Try it. And don't blame me when you end up with the entire Coda series on your e-reader or keeper shelf. ...more
I’ve been waiting for a book like this for two decades. Back in the early 90s when I began my lifelong love affair with Romance novels, I had a bit ofI’ve been waiting for a book like this for two decades. Back in the early 90s when I began my lifelong love affair with Romance novels, I had a bit of an obsession with Native American romances. I checked Susan Donell’s Pocahontas out from our town library so many times that it became dog eared from my use alone. (And I’m sure that our straight-laced librarian thought that I was checking it out just for the lurid parts, which were pretty darn explicit for the time period). When Pocahontas was visiting other users, I checked out our library’s limited selection of other western romances. There was an explosion of category romances in the 90s that dealt with white/Native romance from both a historical standpoint as well as modern day contemporaries, usually exploiting the exotic “other” trope with a Native hero who didn’t fit into either world and a Caucasian female who filled the missing pieces of his soul. Even at the time I recognized that many of these offerings were rather ethnocentric, but they were my guilty pleasure, although I did really want to see a Native/Native romance. In my head, I always ended Pocahontas much happier with her staying with her tribe and a man who loved her there. I longed for Clan of the Cave Bear to be a real romance rather than a Saga. I daydreamed about how awesome a Lonesome Dove or Dances with Wolves would be if the white folk would just stop their darn meddling. And then suddenly ALL Native American romances dried up in the mid to late 90s. Completely. And then nearly all Western historicals dried up. Gone was my favorite genre. Linda Lael Miller went off to spend a decade writing suspense and contemporaries that were only vaguely western before finally returning to her roots. Many great writers disappeared completely. And I never did get the Native American romance I really hungered for. Until now. Spirit of the Mountain is the historical I’ve been hoping for since reading Pocahontas.
Earlier this year, I found Pamela Clare’s amazing Naked Edge, which delivered a sensitive Native American/Caucasian interracial romance that eliminated all the ethnocentric elements of those 90s category romances, but I still longed for a historical that would center around a Native American romance. Then I had a chance to review Jager’s Spirit of the Mountain, the first of her Spirit Trilogy from Wild Rose Press, and from the first chapter, I realized that I was reading something truly special. Not just a well-written romance (Eppie Winner Jager has proven her chops in that arena), but a truly original portrait of Native culture before it was Native American, before White men arrived. It’s slightly reminiscent of Clan of the Cave Bear, but more lyrical and with all the boring parts removed to showcase the love story.
Wren is a Niimiipu maiden, the daughter of the chief, and her father has just promised her to Hawk, a Blackleg Warrior, in an effort to bring peace to warring tribes. But the reputation of the Blackleg* as ruthless raiders repulses Wren. Her heart loudly rebels against her father’s actions, but her sense of duty makes the outcome seem inevitable to her. Long ago, her spirit quest revealed that she would save the tribe, so she feels she has no choice but to carry out her father’s wishes. She spends more time roaming her beloved mountain, seeking the solace only it can provide. She encounters a mysterious white wolf who reminds her of her spirit guide. She gradually realizes that it isn’t her spirit guide, and the wolf seems oddly sentient. Not surprisingly, the wolf IS sentient because he’s actually a man, Hiimin, cursed to live as the Spirit of the Mountain, watching over the people. He assumes the guise of the Wolf, although he has the ability to take other forms, including man. Hiimin is drawn to Wren. An acute sense of longing permeates the novel from their first encounter. He knows he’s not supposed to place the needs of one human over the others in the tribe, but he can’t help himself. Wren’s despair at her impending marriage eventually leads to him revealing his human form to her. Passion sizzles between the two, but it’s initially one of longing for that which can never be, and both try valiantly to distance themselves from their attraction.
This proves impossible even as Wren prepares for her inevitable marriage. In a desperate bid to have something of each other, they give into their passion on the eve of Wren’s marriage. Jager takes some big risks with what transpires next as she pushes the boundaries of some plot “taboos” that tend to pigeonhole authors, particularly historical authors, into following a formula rather than letting a certain amount of historical accuracy drive the plot. These risks pay off big time for the plot, however, as the reader is drawn into an emotional maelstrom that had me tearing up at more than one point. There are multiple black moments as hope appears lost over and over again. The lengths Hiimin goes to give Wren even a glimmer of hope is beautiful, and Wren’s resulting sacrifices and risks are poignant as she draws ever closer to taking the largest leap of all—putting herself first and fighting for a future with Hiimin. There were plenty of moments when I truly wasn’t sure if there would be a happy ending, but rest assured that I was weeping tears of a different sort in the final pages. Every last drop of emotion is wrung from the pages. The characters bleed for each other, both physically and emotionally, and it’s gut wrenching to watch, yet looking away is not an option.
Historical fans are a natural audience for this tale, but it will also resound with paranormal and contemporary fans who crave deeply emotionally stories. Fans of tear jerkers look no further, this is a must read for you. And the emotion is not gratuitous—I didn’t feel jerked around like I do with *certain* contemporary authors who play with my emotions. Each event in the plot is necessary, and the longing realistic. If you loved the Man From Stone Creek, this will resonate with you as this longing is also born of two people determined to do the right thing. Readers who enjoyed Bonnie Dee’s Captive Bride, a previous pick of the week for me and true keeper, will love this unusual historical. The paranormal elements here are subtle—this isn’t a werewolf tale and magic super powers aren’t what saves the day. I’m not a huge paranormal reader, and I felt right at home. Hiimin’s existence as a spirit is so tied to the Native culture that surrounds him that it feels almost . . . normal. I loved him even when he was a wolf because I immediately saw the missing pieces of Wren come to life.
I enjoyed Jager’s Petticoat western historical series, but this is clearly the book of her heart, and like with Dee’s Captive Bride, this only enhances the reader experience. Jager raises her craft to a new level here. With true keeper shelf novels, I *have* to re-read. Immediately. And so I did, and on the second read, I noticed more of the historical details that I missed when my heart was in my throat for Wren and Hiimin. My interest in Native culture led me to take a few anthropology courses in college, but I think I may have learned more about the Native experience pre-white man here. Readers who prefer historical heavy on the research will really love this. This book has broad appeal and deserves a wide audience. I absolutely can’t wait to read books 2 and 3 and be transported back to this unique place and moment in time.
*Jager includes a historical note that the Niimiipu, which is part of the Nez Perce tribe today, and the Blackleg, which is part of the Blackfeet tribe, had a deep seated distrust at the time of the story (1770), but that that is not the case today.
There are times when I think that I might be a *bit* too generous with five star reviews, but then there are other times when five stars doesn't seemThere are times when I think that I might be a *bit* too generous with five star reviews, but then there are other times when five stars doesn't seem nearly enough to express just how much a particular work moved me. I know that AAR uses "desert isle keepers" and as I'm in the Pacific Northwest, I think I'll call it a monsoon-must. Bonnie Dee earned every point of this five star review with an emotional tale of forbidden longing and loneliness. It's 1870 and Huiann has come to San Fransisco from China marry a wealthy businessman only to learn that she's been deceived: her wealthy businessman is, in fact, a brothel owner and intends to sell Huiann to the highest bidder. Huiann manages to get free and runs away, right into Alan's general store. Alan owns a General Store in San Fransisco because it was the last stop on the train west, and after the Civil War, he just kept heading west in an effort to outrun his inner demons. He immediately does the right thing when Huiann appears and hides her--and I loved this about him. There was no second-guessing, no "are you sure you're really in trouble," no convincing needed--he grasped that she was in trouble, believed her, and hid her.
Alan is attracted to her from the beginning, but he fights very hard against this, because he knows what she's escaped from, and he's well-aware that there's no future for them. But he keeps her on as his housekeeper, and what follows is one the most unlikely and beautiful friendship-to-love stories. Early on, there is a scene where they have a conversation--each one speaking in his/her native tongue, completely unable to understand each other's words, yet revealing deep, painful secrets precisely because there is no chance of censor. And, actually, they understand each other perfectly. Dee manages to convey more emotion with a single glance or bowl of soup than many authors wring out of multi-page love scenes. When Alan and Huiann finally give into their passion, it is a beautiful union--these are some of the most loving, emotional love scenes I have read. Which is strange really, because love scenes should be filled with love, but oftentimes they serve a different purpose to the story. But, here it is all about unspoken love.
Dee captures 1870 San Fransisco remarkably well, but what I loved were all the day-to-day living details. I could easily picture the general store and the attached quarters that become Huiann's whole world for most of the novel. So often historical fiction gloss over unpleasant details, but Dee understands that the smell of the streets, the crowdedness of the courtyard which is anything but picturesque, the crumbly walls, and impossibility of doing laundry in a tiny space, all add immeasurably to the impact of this tale. I loved too that she didn't feel the need to give us a history lesson on San Fransisco--each detail included was relevant. So many late 1800s books set in SF feel the need to mention the opium trade even if it has no relevance to the plot. It's not relevant here, so Dee focuses on what is--small-time city politics, the Chinese sex-trade industry (which all things considered plays a very, very small role), general store operations, dress making, and food.
The realism continues with the character arcs. The language barrier persists throughout the book, which made everything feel more authentic. I have read many inter-cultural love stories where about 1/4 of the way through the book, suddenly one of the parties seems to locate a star trek transponder or decoder ring, and the parties are conversing as if they've always spoken each other's language. That's not the case here, and by keeping Huiann's acquisition of language gradual, Dee has to deliver through gestures and inner-thoughts. With such a hurdle, it would be easy to let the pacing suffer, but this was a fast read, with the backdrop of the risk to Huiann if she is discovered keeping the tension high. Dee moves us through several months seamlessly, which also felt authentic--these are two very shy, very lonely, very scarred individuals, and even though the attraction is there, they aren't going to act on it overnight.
She also managed to make them feel very true to their time period--Alan totally felt like an 1870's man, not a 2011 Alpha Male deluxe archetype inserted into a historical. Huiann doesn't suddenly become westernized, but she's also not a stereotypical Chinese woman of the time period. Her belief system doesn't change just because she loves Alan--it expands to incorporate him and vice versa. This was just beautifully handled. If you love Susan Wiggs's early historicals set in this time period, you will adore this book as she captures a similar tone and feel. If you love unusual love stories of any genre, you are in for a treat with this lovely tale. This is one of those books that I want to chase down my friends and MAKE them read it because I want more people to talk about it with. ...more
I'm giving this five stars, but it's a qualified 5 stars--Shadowfever better live up to the promises made by this book, and anything less than a HEA fI'm giving this five stars, but it's a qualified 5 stars--Shadowfever better live up to the promises made by this book, and anything less than a HEA for Mac and JZB will be a HUGE disappointment and completely negate the awesome of this book. We finally see them moving beyond snarky comments and mysterious questions. We get to see a more vulnerable JZB and a peek into his (deeply disturbed) mind. V'lane is thankfully MIA for much of this book, which makes me think that there is a much smaller chance of V'lane/Mac HEA, although I do hope that V'lane makes an appearance in another Moning book down the road. Another giant cliffhanger. Moning used her formidable talent to make me understand the necessity of the cliffhanger at the end of Faefever. However, this cliffhanger reeks of more . . . permanence, and I'm just trusting that the wait will pay off and this too will be an essential part of the story arc and lead to my much desired HEA. ...more
Courtney Milan is the next superstar of historical romance, and this is her breakout book. Her first two books were innovative, intelligent, and deeplCourtney Milan is the next superstar of historical romance, and this is her breakout book. Her first two books were innovative, intelligent, and deeply emotional and are also on my keeper shelf, but this book is something truly special. Milan offers a unique voice to the genre--deeply emotional writing that also stays true to deep POV with rich characterization and innovative plots. With the rise of the super-sexy historical, this book is a great middle ground with the intelligent plot and characters driving the plot, not contrived desire, but deeply satisfying love scenes that are the more potent because the characters truly earn each and every one. Ash and Margaret are so wonderfully portrayed that I truly felt immersed in their world. I don't want to give away spoilers, but there is a climatic scene where it would have been very easy to have Ash react one way for the sake of conflict and plot, the more conventional reaction if you will, and he doesn't--because that's not who he is. And that's really at the heart of this book--two people being exactly who they are and discovering who they are not and who they will be at the same time. An Absolute Must-Read, even for those who don't read much historicals. There's nary a season, simpering deb, or unrepentant rake in sight. ...more
There are only two authors for whom I wilOriginally posted as a Friday Pick of the Week at Cloudy with a Chance of Books http://www.chanceofbooks.com
There are only two authors for whom I will religiously preorder hardcover—without reading blurbs, regardless of reviews, and regardless of whether we’ll be dining on more beans that month. When I realized that Suzanne Brockmann and Julia Spencer-Fleming BOTH had releases within a month of each other this year, I felt a bit like I do every December—my birthday and Christmas also happen in the same month and what the heck am I supposed to look forward to the rest of the year? My anticipation for One Was a Soldier outshone even my usual pre-release fidgeting as fans have had a long wait for this addition to JSF’s acclaimed Miller’s Kill Series featuring unlikely sleuth, former Army helicopter pilot and Episcopal priest, Clare Fergusson. One of the cover quotes puts it best, “Welcome back to one of Mystery fiction’s finest writers.” There’s simply no other writer quite like Julia Spencer-Fleming—and I say that as a voracious reader of multiple genres.
This series boasts rabid fans from a diverse cross-section of readers. My mother, who mainly reads traditional mystery and historical fiction, awaited this release with the same fervor as me. My Aunt who reads mainly nonfiction and women’s fiction is reduced to teenage squeals when discussing the series. My friend’s husband whose usual fare runs to science-fiction and fantasy with the odd thriller listened to whole series in audio-book form. Tons of romance readers who never venture over to the mystery aisle love the series as well as mystery readers and literary fiction readers who avoid anything pink and fluffy. Spencer-Fleming’s writing is simply THAT good. Her characterization and innovative plays with narrative structure suck readers in and steamroll over preconceptions.
She doesn’t just try to create another Clare Fergusson mystery using a set formula—instead each book experiments with a structure appropriate for that plot. Some entries in the series take place over days, some over weeks, some over months, one over the course of a year, and one takes place entirely within 24 hours. Some entries feature Clare’s POV predominantly with Russ’s POV secondary. Others feature Russ more in the forefront, and others bring in secondary POVs, some just for that installment and some that will be revisited in later books. We get to visit the tiny town of Miller’s Kill in upstate New York in the dead of winter, in the mosquito infested days of summer, and as seasons change. Characters get older, relationships blossom, grow, and end, and nothing (other than the local economy) stagnates. It’s an immersive experience unlike any other.
Reader enjoyment is maximized when one reads the series as a whole, starting with In the Bleak Midwinter (available from numerous online venues for the bargain price of 2.99 in e-book form). While One was a Soldier can certainly stand on its own, I think readers who have at least read All Mortal Flesh and I Shall Not Want will feel the most connection to the characters. In fact, One Was a Soldier brings several minor secondary characters to the forefront, and I loved seeing their progression to POV characters and revisiting other characters who have grown over the course of the series. (The earlier books in the series are easily accessible in e-book, audio, paperback formats as well as from libraries and overdrive, making investing in the series less daunting than it might appear.) It is going to be impossible for me to review One was a Soldier without giving away a little of the plot from I Shall Not Want, so if you are all intrigued by the series, GO! Get caught up and then return and tell me what you think.
For everyone else, I am happy to report that One Was a Soldier is the book we have been waiting for. Quite often later installments in long running series fall short of reader expectations, but what sets JSF apart is her constant tinkering with the narrative structure and pacing. This installment takes place over the course of a summer and early Fall, with an interesting structure of sections rather than chapters and well-telegraphed flashbacks and POV changes to pace each section. It’s a series of risks that pays off for JSF as she continues to create her own subgenre—Literary Mystery Romantic Suspense Ensemble Drama. While there is a murder in One Was a Soldier as well as Clare/Russ relationship progression and both provide structure for the narrative, neither is the true focus of the novel. Instead the focus is on veterans returning home to Millers Kill and how that impacts the entire community. Russ’s friend beautifully justifies the book’s focus: “Your little burg’s not a military town . . . but it’s the kind of town where the military comes from. Small, rural, not a lot of opportunity . . . There are a lot of Millers Kills all over this country. It’s where people like you and me come from, and sometimes it’s where we go back to.”
What happens when a sizable chunk of a struggling town’s citizenry goes off to a war that not enough people are talking about and come back wounded on multiple levels, yet still struggle to provide the community with what it needs? You end up with a support group of a doctor, a police deputy, a book keeper, a beloved son, and a priest, along with their floundering group leader (who is more unprepared for Millers Kill than Clare was at the start of the book). We get to see the POV of each of these group members (some very briefly, others more in-depth) along with Russ, Kevin Flynn and Hadley Knox. It’s a wonderfully meaty, crowded tale of intersecting lives, and Spencer really works to show how one seemingly isolated action—leaving work late, watching a track meet, sharing barbeque, ripple across the community and affect multiple lives in unexpected ways.
One of the things that I love most about Suzanne Brockmann is her ability to juggle many character arcs and plot lines within a single story. In All Mortal Flesh and I Shall Not Want, JSF showed me that she could rival Brockmann’s talents. I have to confess, I think JSF is in a class of her own here as she deftly juggles all the balls she in play to create a cohesive plot and griping read out of almost a dozen subplots and character arcs.
Of course, the side affect of all this juggling is that I want the next book like NOW! NOW! And I spent a lot of the last third of the book begging and cajoling characters. I woke the sleeping baby more than once with my “No! No! Tell him! Now!” and my “Go after her! Don’t do this!” and “Your boss needs to know NOW! Go!” and “This is NOT going to end well for you!” And yeah, I cared about the murder, but I cared about the people more. The Veteran’s Support Group turned Crime Solving team was brilliant as it allowed the characters to work together in a much deeper way and forced more issues to the forefront. At times it was difficult to read because these issues—legs lost, severe PTSD, head injuries, infidelity, addiction, and destruction of relationships—are happening to GOOD people. People I’ve cared about for several books now, people for whom I want better, who I think deserve better, but that’s not how war works. And JSF captures that gut-wrenchingly beautifully.
I didn’t want Clare to be struggling as much as she was. Heck, I was livid with Clare when she re-upped with the guard and spent a lot of time begging her to reconsider, yet it was already too late. Clare ran back to the military because it *was* something of a safe place for her—she understands helicopters and orders more easily than she does Episcopalian politics and messy relationships. It was, perhaps, inevitable from In the Bleak Midwinter that the priest would find herself at war. And the homecoming is not one of “Thank the lord for delivering me back safely, now I can put THAT behind me and get on with the business of the Lord and Russ.” Clare’s trauma isn’t something that even the most fervent of prayers can overcome—she needs serious help, but she’s the last person to willingly go in search of it. And when she finally, FINALLY does? It’s one of most beautiful moments EVER. EVER. All seven books made priceless by one single paragraph that I’ll resist the urge to quote—context is, in fact, everything.
My other favorite scene of the book deals with the ongoing saga of young deputy Kevin Flynn (who has grown up in all sorts of intriguing new ways in this installment) and his interest in Hadley Knox—Millers Kill’s only female police officer. I knew from Hadley’s first scene in I Shall Not Want that it was entirely possible that I would end up loving her even more than Clare. I have already re-read my favorite Flynn and Hadley scene from this volume probably eight times trying to dissect it as well as to have another chance to have another chance go “Oh, Flynn!” and “Oh Hadley. No. No.” and “HADLEY. You will listen to me. This is the voice of reason talking. DO NOT DRAG THIS OUT FOR FIVE MORE BOOKS. Let’s agree together on TWO. Two more books: One for you to relocate your head to your upper body and one for a HEA. That’s it. I like my hair. I like my sanity. You are sorely trying both right now. And yet, I still love you. And hurt for you. And wish you would figure out that bravery isn’t just a skill you need to work on for your job.” And “Oh, Flynn. I love you so much. It’s a darn shame I think I am done with having babies as Flynn would make an awesome name. You are one of the very best things about this series.”
And I mean it. It has taken Clare and Russ seven books to get to this point, and I’m ecstatic about where things end up in One Was a Soldier, but SEVEN BOOKS? If Flynn and Hadley take seven books, I will be bald, babbling, and bloated from my chocolate IV. And still first in line, but PLEASE. I don’t think my nerves can handle it. And if there ISN’T a HEA? I don’t even want to contemplate it. I don’t think JSF would be that cruel. If she found a way to get Russ and Clare to this place, she can find a lion heart for Hadley without destroying Flynn in the process. And it will be well worth the wait. Besides, this book is really Russ & Clare’s book relationship-wise, although their journey is far from done. And now, I want Book Eight. Yesterday would be nice. I want to re-read the whole series immediately. I want everyone I know to do the same so that we can pass the next year or so conversing about Millers Kill minutiae and counting down the minutes until we get to visit it again.
And if you read it? Please, please, please come back and tell me about it. I’ve tried to keep the review as spoiler-free as a possible, but I seriously need someone to discuss with. ...more
Absolutely loved this, and I'm hoping that her backlist lives up to the tremendous potential here as this is the first work by her that I have read. IAbsolutely loved this, and I'm hoping that her backlist lives up to the tremendous potential here as this is the first work by her that I have read. I didn't feel like I needed to read the first book to understand the characters which is always a plus as I usually hate reading things out of order. ...more
I absolutely adore Bradley's voice, and she's on top of her game here. This is one of the most saucy erotic historicals I have read in a long time. II absolutely adore Bradley's voice, and she's on top of her game here. This is one of the most saucy erotic historicals I have read in a long time. I love how fun and flippant the heroine is. ...more
I enjoyed book 1 a little more, but this was still a very enjoyable book. I love the unusual heroines she chooses. I was a little disappointed to notI enjoyed book 1 a little more, but this was still a very enjoyable book. I love the unusual heroines she chooses. I was a little disappointed to not see more of the characters from the first book. There's an interesting timeline going on in this series where Adrian is a youngish-man in book 1, much older in book 2, and then in the upcoming book 3 he's a teenager again. I'm hoping that she clarifies the timeline at some point b/c my confusion detracted a little bit from my enjoyment of the book. EDITED: She has a very helpful timeline here: http://jobourne.blogspot.com/2008/11/... Bourne has one of the most distinctive voices in historical romance, and her flair for dialect and slight hint of continental sensibility makes her a treat to read. I highly recommend her for readers who like a historical setting but have tired of how-to-snag-a-title plotlines. I dislike war-with-France plotlines, but I still greatly enjoy this series. ...more
I loved "The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheevers," but this older Quinn novel may actually surpass that excellent offering. This book is a true clI loved "The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheevers," but this older Quinn novel may actually surpass that excellent offering. This book is a true classic in every sense of the word. A timeless, beautiful story, and the writing is among the very best regency offerings I have sampled. The "modern day Jane Austen" label that seems like a bit much hype on Quinn's more ho-hum offerings is fully realized here. The depth of emotion here truly carries the story. ...more