I was happy to find this on audio at the library, although I have a paper copy. It’s easier to squeeze in an audiobook sometimes, and I thought this w...moreI was happy to find this on audio at the library, although I have a paper copy. It’s easier to squeeze in an audiobook sometimes, and I thought this would be an enjoyable listen. I was right. The narrator drew me right into the story. I loved the manner in which Barbara Rosenblatt endowed these characters with a distinctive voice in the audiobook. They were real to me as I listened, and I was quite vocal in my reactions to this book. In other words, I was fully engaged!
At first I thought she made Amelia sound rather superior and stuffy at times, but I came to appreciate the irony she underlined her pompous-sounding narrative with. Amelia seems able to laugh at her own foibles, which is nice, although it doesn’t compromise her strong sense of self. Amelia is a very confident person and this comes through in the narration. She is also very set in her ways and used to being authoritative. It was really interesting seeing her meet her male counterpart, the singular Mr. Radcliff Emerson. While this isn’t a steamy book in the slightest, the sparks did fly. I loved the journey of seeing these two fall in love. I could predict that they would end up together, and this process was highly enjoyable. They met on an equal level, and while they clashed in some ways, it was in the way that makes for a very interesting life together full of good tension and mutual challenge. They will never be bored with each other.
My manner of listening to audiobooks can make things feel rather disjointed, because I can only dedicate an hour or two a night to listening or longer if I am doing something that I can devote my mind to while keeping on task. So it did take a while to see where the story was going. But this is one of those books where you enjoy the trip and don’t worry so much about the destination.
Peters endows this book with very rich atmosphere. I was on the trip to Egypt along with Amelia, Evelyn, Emerson and Walter. Most interesting is how we see Egypt through the eyes of an upper-class educated British female. While I would not in any way classify Amelia as a racist, she does have a gentle sense of superiority that comes through in her tone. I had to decide if that was offensive to me, and ultimately it wasn’t. It was realistic, honestly. I can’t expect a 19th century person to view things through the same 21st century multiculturally-aware viewpoint that I have as a reader. Although risky to compromise some degree of likability with Amelia, it turned out to be a wise artistic decision on Peters' part. While that superiority is there, it is mingled with a sense of awe, respect, and love for Egypt that encompasses its people, even if their ways and culture may strike her as peculiar and lacking to her British sensibilities.
Even though the story is through Amelia’s point of view, I felt I gained a very complex vantage point of its characters. Yes, Amelia tinges their descriptions with her personal views, I still felt like the characters had a realism that went above and beyond her perceptions. Of course, my favorite character other than Amelia was Emerson. What can I say? I love grumpy heroes. Yes, he is a bit of a sexist. I think it’s too much to call him misogynistic, although he can be rather unkind in his descriptions of women. He spoke to me of a man who was quite inexperienced and somewhat awkward with women and tended to mask these feelings of insecurity by projecting his negative opinions on women based on his limited experience with them. That’s why I was glad that Amelia met him head on. A strong, confident woman like her was the only kind of women that he could fall in love with, and the only kind of woman who would put up with him. I also enjoyed Evelyn and Walter. They were a bit more typical for a historical novel, but their characters were very appealing. Evelyn is a sweetheart, and Walter was a genuinely nice man. Evelyn’s journey spoke a little bit about the status of women in 19th century society, and I loved how Amelia raged about the situation and the actions and choices the more conventional-thinking Evelyn was forced into making. Their friendship was another powerful aspect of this book. I can see these women being friends until their dying day.
My favorite scene in the book was when (view spoiler)[Emerson saves Amelia from the snake. It was very romantic to me. You could see very clearly how much Emerson cared for her, even though he was completely inept in expressing it verbally. Of course, I also enjoyed his proposal near the end. Peters understands how to write romantic tension! (hide spoiler)]. While not a romance, the romance was very satisfying. And we get two for the price of one with Evelyn, Amelia’s companion, and Walter, Emerson’s younger brother. And while I didn’t care for him at all, Lucas was also an interesting character and a good foil for the Emersons. The secondary characters don’t quite get as much point of view, but we gain knowledge of them through Amelia’s vivid descriptions.
If there was one aspect that felt a little weaker to me, it was the mystery component and its resolution. It was a bit predictable. I had figured out most of it earlier on, although I almost talked myself out of it. Maybe that was a good twist that I was forced to reevaluate my thought processes and still end up surprised that they were right, with one part I didn’t suspect. The mummy aspect could have been cheesy, but surprisingly it wasn’t. I would say that readers shouldn’t go looking for a hard mystery here, but more of a travelogue, light mystery with romance set in a very vivid historical landscape of late Victorian Egypt. With that expectation, this book is very enjoyable. The characters make this book shine, and I loved the ironic and British-flavored humor. I am glad that I was able to listen to it, and I can see myself doing a reread and continuing the series. This is a very solid 4.5 star read. I recommend it to fans of Victorian set-historical fiction and lighter mystery with a nice dose of romance. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Hard to Hold is a good start to a three book series about a trio of brothers (from another mother/father) who are all SEALs. This Navy SEAL-loving gir...moreHard to Hold is a good start to a three book series about a trio of brothers (from another mother/father) who are all SEALs. This Navy SEAL-loving girl definitely appreciated the portrayal of these characters who are members of my favorite Elite Special Forces unit. While this wasn't a perfect book, I definitely feel it was worthy of the four star rating I gave it. Here are my thoughts:
What I Liked: * I liked the message about family being more than just blood. Family is a group of people who watch out for you, love you, and have your back. Sometimes your blood lets you down, but that doesn't mean there aren't people out there who love you even more than your real parents didn't. I liked the close bond between Jake, Chris, and Nick, and their 'dad' Kenny. They were bros and friends, and they had each others' backs. * As I mentioned, I love the Navy SEALs, so I'm always game to read well-written stories about characters in this dangerous role. I liked the military aspects very much! * Although the hero is definitely the alpha type, he is also a sensitive, caring man. I liked how he really cared for Isabelle, and put her needs first. He had reasons to keep his heart closed to her, but in the end, he didn't let that stand in the way of giving her the love and support she needed. Jake has a vulnerability that he doesn't wear on his sleeve, but I could feel his pain and anguish, and it spoke to me. * Isabelle was a realistic character. She wasn't too perfect, and she wasn't annoying in that falsely strong way that is unfortunately over-used in contemporary romantic fiction. She made/makes mistakes, and she owns those, and uses them to grow. *(view spoiler)[ I think the rape was handled very well. Isabelle doesn't get an instant heal just because she's attracted to Jake, he's her savior, and she falls in love with him. Her situation with Rafe was a very complicated one. She started out in a consensual relationship with him that she knew was wrong because of her engagement. She broke it off, but then he became her stalker and abused and raped her. She had lots of issues about the situation because of the fact that initially she was involved with Rafe, and she felt some guilt that she didn't fight him after he kidnapped her. He earned her trust and took advantage of her, stealing her ability to trust and the belief that she is control of her life. That is a big morass of emotions to deal with, and 'instant sexual healing' would have been a bit insulting for the reader. (hide spoiler)] *I really felt the intense and real emotions in the relationship between Isabelle and Jake. It was a big draw in this novel. They spent time getting to know each other, talking and building the intimacy between each other. When I read a romance, I want to see that, so that when they take the relationship to the physical level, it feels real, true, and intense. * I liked that all the characters were complex. They were flawed, but they were also people you could feel for. (view spoiler)[ I even felt bad for Rafe, although I didn't like what he did to Isabelle or how he went about getting revenge for his father. What Isabelle's dad and uncle did to Rafe's father was wrong, but two wrongs don't make a right. I also feel that he didn't know what love was if he could hurt Isabelle that way, claiming he loved her and wanted to be with her. I liked that there was a parallel drawn between Jake and Rafe. They both suffered horrible abuse by people who were supposed to love and protect them, but Jake found a way to use it to make him a stronger person; whereas Rafe let his past destroy him. Granted, Rafe didn't have the support of two 'brothers' and a loving adoptive father and mother. I feel like Rafe really wasted himself. It made me very sad. (hide spoiler)] *I loved seeing Isabelle do her work as a doctor. I always get a kick out of the medical aspects in a story, and it's great to see the heroine as a medical professional with a dynamic, successful, and challenging character. It helps to round her out as a person. I also liked how Chris was a very talented medic. He knows his stuff.
What I Think Could Have Been Better: * I think there were too many POV shifts in this story. It made it hard to get a fix on the main characters, and the side stories were short-changed. Once a scene started, it seemed to end too abruptly, with the emphasis misplaced, taking away the impact of the interactions between the characters. The relationship between Sarah and Clutch was very compelling, but I would have preferred they had more time spent on their relationship. I hope that we see more of them. * The action sequences needed more life. The execution made them seem anti-climatic. I noticed this because this is romantic military suspense, with high-octane heroes and dangerous situations. As an action fan, I like to see these elements pop in a book, but that wasn't quite the case with this book. I suspect that Ms. Tyler will improve on this as she finds her feet in this genre. *(view spoiler)[ I loved the "I Love Yous" between Isabelle and Jake. However, the book ends with a bit too much of a happy for now, where you didn't really see a firm commitment between Isabelle and Jake. Maybe we will see more of this in the next book. (hide spoiler)]
Overall Thoughts: * This book ended up pulling me in, hard. I cared about the characters, and I found the storyline interesting. I liked the characters a lot, and I liked the emotional complexity of their struggles. I am definitely hooked into this series. I would like to see a lot more of Chris (really liked him), and Nick was cool too. I hope he's not going to continue to be a womanizer over this series (don't care for them). I'd like to know what his deep dark secrets are. This series has the potential to be a favorite of mine. Fingers crossed.
An interesting historical fantasy with a reluctant vampire hero on a quest that takes him from the Puritan American colonies to French-occupied North...moreAn interesting historical fantasy with a reluctant vampire hero on a quest that takes him from the Puritan American colonies to French-occupied North Africa. This one kept me pretty absorbed. Reviewed for Bitten by Books. Http://bittenbybooks.com.(less)
Quite morose in tone, however I was drawn into this family drama of a novel that travels smoothly between the early 20th century and the last decade o...moreQuite morose in tone, however I was drawn into this family drama of a novel that travels smoothly between the early 20th century and the last decade of that same century. Very emotionally involving, although certain characters were hard to feel sympathy for. Recommended to readers who are interested in the WW1 years and the 1920s.