This is my first book by Elizabeth Essex, and it's made me want to read more of her books. The hero, Lieutenant Dance, is a wonderful, scrumptious speThis is my first book by Elizabeth Essex, and it's made me want to read more of her books. The hero, Lieutenant Dance, is a wonderful, scrumptious specimen. I liked everything about him. He's very determined and a great leader, his discipline as a naval officer and his sense of excellence in doing his job spoke to me. But at the same time, he retains a sense of humanity and kindness and integrity that made me love him even more. I like that even though he's a very self-controlled man, he has a hint of playfulness and earthy masculinity that adds to his appeal. He takes on the role as a second-in-command on a ship that has something very wrong with it, mismanaged, with undisciplined sailors and corrupt crew members. The captain is a complete drunk and has withdrawn in practically every way from the running of the ship, so Dance is forced to take over many of his responsibilities, to the resentment of the crew. Things are only getting worse, and now he has to keep Jane and the rest of the scientists safe, not to mention fighting his feelings for her.
Jane is the kind of heroine that makes a reader happy. She feels like a normal person who you might have known. I cheered her on because she was very brave, going on this expedition, especially as a woman who wouldn't hardly be taken seriously even by other scientists, and bravely facing the distrust and misogyny that a group of mostly undereducated sailors had for her.
I found this book very romantic. I like that things do get very steamy at the appropriate time, but also Essex builds the tension beautifully as they get to know each other. There are wonderfully written scenes and an undercurrent of romantic tension in their interactions. You can tell that they have a love match, and it makes you look forward to seeing how that unfolds.
It's not much of a spoiler, because it's on the blurb, but when they get stranded on the island, that's one of my favorite parts. Finally the walls are able to come down and Jane and Dance know each other in the most elemental way, their passion for each other is no longer deniable. Jane shows what an incredible woman she is in those moments, not only being saved by Dance, but saving him and facilitating their adjustment to the island they take shelter on.
There is a lot of detail attended to life on a ship, and it gives an element of authenticity to the story. A lot of naval jargon gets thrown around, but it's not disruptive. What I didn't know or couldn't parse didn't affect my enjoyment of the story. Ship life adds an element of suspense and tension as Dance is trying to figure out what exactly is going on and working to keep a ship that is literally falling apart together despite the grumbling of the crew.
If I could change anything, the ending is a bit abrupt, but I was also satisfied because Dance and Jane get to be together, and this is one couple that I definitely rooted for. I'm looking forward to reading more books by Ms. Essex (who coincidentally graduated from my college alma mater :)
This is just what the avowed Scottish highlander historical reader would ask for: a steamy, emotional love story set in a well-researched Scottish hisThis is just what the avowed Scottish highlander historical reader would ask for: a steamy, emotional love story set in a well-researched Scottish historical setting. I enjoyed Alexander and Hannah's journey to love, and Alexander is scrumptious enough to substitute for a nice hot fudge sundae. I look forward to her sister's stories, particularly young and quirky Lana's.
Changes is a wonderful example of what historical romance can accomplish in giving us a spotlight into history. History is alive and vivid, and we canChanges is a wonderful example of what historical romance can accomplish in giving us a spotlight into history. History is alive and vivid, and we can learn so much from it. Why not wrap that history lesson in a human story about two people who are very different, but connect through the love they share, and in the process learn that humans are all the same deep down?
Among Others is kind of like a love letter to bibliophiles, especially those who fell in love with books as a youngster, finding solace and comfort beAmong Others is kind of like a love letter to bibliophiles, especially those who fell in love with books as a youngster, finding solace and comfort between the pages of so many different stories. In some ways, Mor's character tapped me on the shoulder, reminding me of myself as a preteen. I went through some physical problems that made life very difficult for me. In fact, (view spoiler)[ I had a hip problem that caused me to walk funny and had to use crutches before and after surgery, and people accused me of faking, as if you'd fake an injury so you could have attention you really didn't want. I also remember sitting in the library during gym hour (which was awesome since gym was always my least favorite class because all the bullies seemed to be in gym class). It was one of the few things I liked about having my hip problem, that and having a couple months out of school. I hated school, not the books but the system. But most of all, being in one of my favorite places in the world for an uninterrupted hour of reading. Whatever good books I could find in the school library. The possibilities were great, if not exactly endless, because I did eventually run out of books that I wanted to read. (hide spoiler)] I also identified with how Mor saw her life through the lens of fiction. I think that people who spend so much time reading do tend to analyze life and books in that manner.
I found myself wanting to write down all the book titles, and even looked some up on my Kindle Fire as I read. I am not a heavy science fiction reader, but I did read tons of fantasy and some sci-fi when I was younger. This book makes me want to investigate sci-fi with a renewed interest. It seems to have much to offer Mor, and perhaps I will find the same appeal with further reading. As Mor did, I read all the ones my library had, and then some of the adult books at that point. I remember that joy, which I still have, of going to the library and bookstores and finding what new books I could read. There never seemed to be enough books. The identification factor was very strong with Mor in this regard. Also having divorced parents, and how that opens a wound inside you that doesn't ever seem to heal. Lastly, a sister I love dearly. Now, my mom wasn't an evil witch. Nor was I gifted with magic powers and the abilities to see fairies (although I would love to see fairies, to be honest. I guess I'm on the wrong side of the ocean for that).
In some ways, this book has a surreal flavor. Many times I wondered how much of Mor's magic-sensing abilities and magical frame of reference was just part of her imagination's way of dealing with some events that a young person doesn't know how to handle. But, then, I think that there is too much reality to the magic here to come to that conclusion, ultimately. At any rate, I liked how at times you couldn't tell.
This lovely book is a piece of fiction that feels so intimate and personal to me. I can only believe that the author poured her own love of books and some of her own experiences with books into this book. That kind of intense realness cannot be faked. Books are such a pleasure, one that never pales. You can find so much joy and pathos in a book that it literally is like opening a door to another world, where you can escape from your own little problems enough to gain courage to face another day. Whether that's a school full of mean girls, or parents who fight more than they show affection. Or physical problems, loss, loneliness, you name it. As an adult, that allure of books hasn't palled for me. I like to think that a grown up Mor finds just as much joy and solace in her books. And I can't fault her for it. I'm the same way.
I just love when I read a book by a new author, and their writing clicks with me. That is how I felt about The Earl and the Governess. I have had thisI just love when I read a book by a new author, and their writing clicks with me. That is how I felt about The Earl and the Governess. I have had this book on my shelf for a few months, since I get all the Harlequin Historicals. I loved the cover, so I knew I'd probably read it sooner. But, the storyline didn't really call out to me that much. I'm not a fan of the titled hero chasing a woman who is in dire straits, and manipulating that situation for his own prurient gains (unless an author can do it well). I needed an 'E' for my monthly challenge, and it shouted "Read Me!" So, I selected it, and I am glad I did.
As I read this story, I said to myself, this is good writing. Not reinventing the wheel, but telling a story of two people who meet and fall in love, and doing it very well. I found myself liking both characters very much. It's not always a given that I like the titled, handsome, monied hero. I find that it's a coin flip for me. I don't like people who have a huge sense of entitlement. I don't like heroes who think they can have any woman they want, and who will resort to underhanded methods to get her, unless the author can show me a man with those undesirable traits, and reveal to me that he has some good traits to balance it out.
I must say that William and I got off on the right foot from the beginning. He sees a woman in distress, not particularly well-dressed, passably pretty, but not a stunner, and he goes to help her. He's not just trying to get her into bed. He's genuinely concerned about her. That really softened me towards William. He's rich and important enough to ignore people that are beneath him, but he doesn't.
Surprisingly, even though William was working the angle of having Isabelle under his thumb as the governess to his ward, and he eventually wants to persuade her to be his mistress, he shows some qualms about it. Although they share a couple of passionate kisses, he doesn't automatically resort to hanky-panky with his ward in the same house. That would have felt very wrong to me. When her reputation gets ruined, he offers marriage, when he could have just paid her off. He shows respect, and a love for this woman, a love that is equal to his desire. That made me love him.
I really liked Isabelle too. She had a good head on her shoulders, but she also had a heart and emotions. The war between those aspects of her personality was well-written. She felt a connection to William from the beginning, but she was no fool. She was in dire straits, and she knew that her reputation was important. She knew that nothing lasting could come of her association with William. Her love and attraction to him slowly but surely wore away at her doubts, and it was an organic process.
I'm pretty iffy about the wallpaper-type historicals. I like to read historical romances that are written with the morals and the atmosphere that represent the times and makeup of people who lived back then. I get pretty frustrated when I read one that has modern people who are merely dressed up like historical people, and carry their modern ideas and mores into the story. This is not one of those, fortunately. Although Ms. Elliott doesn't hit the reader over the head with the Regency setting, it's very natural and obvious in this story. I found myself reading this book very fast, and enjoying it a lot. Seeing William and Isabelle's courtship play out was a lovely thing. When they consummate their relationship, it felt natural, although I wondered how things would work out for them long-term. But I knew their love was real, and that was important for me.
I would have given this book five stars, but the ending seemed a little drawn out to me, leaving me with an uncertain feelings as for how things would resolve. But eventually things get to where I wanted them to, and I was happy with the resolution in the end. Otherwise, I had no issues with this story. The Earl and the Governess was a very good book, and I'd recommend it to fans of Regency romance.
After I read a short story by Ms. Merrill, I knew she'd be an author I wanted to read more of. And Miss Winthorpe's Engagement has validated that deciAfter I read a short story by Ms. Merrill, I knew she'd be an author I wanted to read more of. And Miss Winthorpe's Engagement has validated that decision.
I appreciate the bluestocking/spinster theme very much, and as a booklover, how could I not adore Penelope? All she wants is to enjoy her spinsterhood and indulge her love of books, and as a considerable heiress, she has plenty of funds to do so. Unfortunately, her brother has decided that she spends too much money on books, when she has plenty of them already. When he puts his foot down, stating that she will do as he says regarding her finances and how she spends her time, unless she has a husband to control them for her, what's a girl to do?
Being an intelligent person who is tired of being under her less intelligent brother's thumb, she decides she's going to find herself a husband. Serendipitously, Adam, Duke of Bellston, is about to end his life, so he can save the dukedom from ruination at his lately unfortunate hands. Fate decrees that he throw himself in front of Penelope's carriage. And Fate has determined that he won't die, but fall right into Penelope's husband-needing hands. Penelope realizes that he's the answer to her prayers. She continues to ply him with brandy as they elope to Gretna Green. They marry, and Adam wakes up the next morning to a blinding headache, and being told by Penelope's servant Jem, that he is married to Penelope, who is an enormous heiress, even though she's a tradesman's daughter. Although at first, Adam is shocked that he's now married far beneath him, and to a bluestocking, his honor decrees that he cannot just forget he married her and tear up the document they both signed to that effect. They make a deal to stay married, and Penelope will give him the money he needs to save his estate from ruin, and he'll let her go about her way, and leave her to her books. But they both realize that their comfortable marriage turns out to be have much more meaning for them both.
This book was so very good. It was entertaining and readable, but also filled with hidden depths of emotion. Penelope had retreated to her books to save herself from the hurt that a disastrous Season had brought her. She had never desired to feel a man's touch or to be the object of a man's desire and love. But Adam awakens that part of her, much to her pain, but ultimate pleasure. Adam is a brilliant politician, but pretty good at making messes of his personal life. He has to live with regrets about what his reckless actions wrought on his family home, his friendship, and his brother. And Adam finds himself falling deeply in love with his wife, and coming to admire and respect her for who she is.
The chemistry between Penelope and Adam was well done, building steadily to an intense fire that made their love scenes very good reading. And the emotional honesty between them really adds to the fulfillment of reading this book. Penelope has to find her way in Adam's treacherous world, where friends are more like frenemies, and a friend's wife is trying to get her claws back into Penelope's husband. Adam made a huge mistake, but the way this book is written, you can't hold it against him. He's suffered for it, and his remorse is very obvious. And he's more than willing to face the music, but can't stand the thought of losing the wife he's come to love very deeply. Although it's a bit hypocritical in light of what he did in the past, I thought his jealousy over his wife and how it spurred him on to make his marriage with Penelope real, rather endearing. It was a real pleasure to see this match of expedience turn into one that is full of love and devotion.
This book is a real gem. I am very glad that I did get the chance to read it, and I can't wait to read more from this talented author....more
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 wI 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. ...more
I knew I was going to love Graham’s story when I was introduced to him in his brother’s book, The Cobra and the Concubine. He was angry and isolated,I knew I was going to love Graham’s story when I was introduced to him in his brother’s book, The Cobra and the Concubine. He was angry and isolated, but he had an inner sadness that called to me. I have been excited to read this book for a while, but I put it off. I’m so glad I finally read it. It was a wonderful book, and it made me cry.
Graham was everything I hoped for, and more. I love him dearly! He’s fierce and deadly, tough and masculine, but sweet and gentle. His loneliness and anguish called out to me, and made me want to soothe him. His inner battle with despair and rage at his past, and the progression to peace and contentment was not an easy thing to read about. Like Jillian, I suffered, longing to see this man gain some inner tranquility. However, his journey was realistic. The wounds that a man like Graham carried would not be easily lanced and healed. It was a struggle for him, and for Jillian, and Ms. Vanak illustrated this process beautifully. I liked how she wrote Graham going full circle, back to the desert that had created the man he was. The Khamsin men say that the desert will strip a man bare of all pretense, leaving only the essential man, and some are driven crazy in the process. Jillian watched as the civilized English duke that she knew and married became a fierce, cold desert warrior. She railed at the gulf that separated them, and as Graham's friend Ramses had told her, she would need all her strength to save Graham and to bring him back across that void and into her loving embrace.
The passion and love between Jillian and Graham was thrilling. I loved their tender moments together just as much if not more, the way their hearts reached out to each other. They were like two lost souls who found each other, even though their circumstances and the fate that binds them were not ideal. In a way, it felt like their destinies were to love each other, so that their wounds (caused by the same man) could be healed. I loved how Graham encouraged Jillian to emerge from the gray cocoon her father had imprisoned her in. He admired her intelligence, finding it attractive. He coaxed her to be free and to embrace her wild inner spirit. Jillian had to tame the wild animal within Graham that had been terribly abused, teach him to open up and to love and to trust. I loved that they were both virgins, and had the rare privilege to explore passion for the first time together. Both of them were nervous their first time, but felt a connection, a powerful attraction that drew them together. The love scenes were enthralling, enticing and fiery—-the way good love scenes should be.
This book was a success on so many levels. The courtship of Jillian and Graham, the resolution of Graham and Jillian’s pasts, the beautiful and sometimes harsh depiction of life for the Bedouin in Arabia. The majestic and treacherous nature of the desert. This is what I long for in historical romance. Ms. Vanak wrote a fantastic book here. It has definitely earned its five star rating and a spot on my keeper shelf. I treasure the time I spent reading Graham and Jillian’s deep, emotional, beautiful love story.
Here are the actors I pictured as Graham and Jillian:
I really enjoyed Lie by Moonlight, and I think a huge part of its charm was listening to it on audio. The narrator has a great voice, she speaks withI really enjoyed Lie by Moonlight, and I think a huge part of its charm was listening to it on audio. The narrator has a great voice, she speaks with an English accent, and she modified her voice for the various characters, based on class, gender, and personality. I like how she captured the Victorian feel--both a mystery vibe and a romantic in a classic way vibe. She showed the chemistry that Concordia and Ambrose shared, and also she conveys the sense of family between Concordia and the girls, Edwina, Phoebe, Hannah, and Theodora. How they become a big family along with Ambrose, Mr. Stoner, and Mrs. and Mr. Oates.
The storyline was good. I liked that although Concordia is a woman who carries herself with respect and maturity, she does own up to her rather unconventional upbringing without letting it define her as a person. I really appreciate heroines who are independent, but also rational and thoughtful in their decision-making. Concordia never goes off like a loose cannon, which always seems to invalidate a heroine's intelligence and self-sufficiency to me when I read that in a book. Concordia also showed a lot of heart and integrity in how she protected the young girls in her care. I personally like heroines who believe in doing the right thing and helping those who have been oppressed, disenfranchised, or who are disadvantaged. Although Quick doesn't beat the reader over the head with the history of the Victorian times and how women were treated, especially orphans with no money or status, I could see that as the background for this story. I respected that although Concordia's parents shared one set of values, she didn't feel like she had to adopt their own values for herself when they obviously weren't valid or healthy to her.
Ambrose was a man of mystery and I liked that about him. I liked seeing how his background shaped his future and how he uses his skills to help people, even though he gets a personal high out of shadowy feats of espionage. It was clear that he fell for Concordia fast, but it was also organic how his feelings evolved with each moment he spent with her. I was rooting for Concordia to ask him to marry him, and I loved how he put that ball in her court because he knew she needed to have that sense of authority in her life.
The suspense and mystery elements were good. I didn't truly guess what was going on until the end. I thought things would go in one direction, but with the excellent plotting, Ms. Quick was able to bring the story to a resolution that made sense for the story.
This is my second read by Amanda Quick, Second Sight being the first. I liked Second Sight, but I really liked this one. I am glad I have several other books by Ms. Quick in my collection to read, and I will definitely avail myself of the Quick books on audio at the library when I can.
I do recommend this one on audio. The narrator adds so much to the charm and appeal of this book. Thumbs up from this reader.