Marsha Canham has described this novel as her foray into "Silverado territory". What she came up with in Under the Desert Moon is actually much better...moreMarsha Canham has described this novel as her foray into "Silverado territory". What she came up with in Under the Desert Moon is actually much better written than the storyline in Silverado, and steamy enough to fog up the stagecoach windows on even the coldest desert nights. Aubrey Blue is a woman with a past: a cardsharp, a hustler, a tragic heroine, on a very personal mission that she's well aware just might cost her her life. Disguised as a spectacle wearing schoolmarm, she's traveling on a westbound stage to her final showdown with the man who murdered her family and destroyed her life, when she meets Christian McBride, a hunky (if slightly dusty) plainsman with a past, and a personal mission of his own involving the same villain. In true Marsha Canham style, Aubrey and Christian take one look at each other, sparks fly, and the adventure begins...
I loved this book. I loved the fact that Christian notices Aubrey immediately, in spite of the presence of a blonde bombshell who tries almost as hard to get his attention as Aubrey tries to avoid it. The plot twists were as unexpected as they were engrossing, the bad guys as nasty as they get, the love scenes steamy and well written. Canham has shown time and again that she can write, and write well, in any romance sub-genre she tries her hand at, and while I've never been a big fan of western-themed romances, this one is one of my very favorite romance novels, and has a permanent home on my keeper shelf. VERY highly recommended!
This was my very first Marsha Canham book, and it hooked me so thoroughly, I spent the next two weeks finding the prequel to this one, Across a Moonli...moreThis was my very first Marsha Canham book, and it hooked me so thoroughly, I spent the next two weeks finding the prequel to this one, Across a Moonlit Sea - and every other book of hers I could find by nosing through used bookstores & shopping ebay (she has a fairly long out of print list). I hadn't read romances in years before I picked this one up, and my first thought was that romance heroines had drastically changed in the intervening years...
Juliet Dante is a pirate and the captain of her own ship (you guessed it), the Iron Rose. She also happens to be very good at it. I love strong, determined heroines who are driven to excel at whatever it is they do. Trouble is, they usually have a difficult time when it comes to finding men who are their equals, much less surrendering any small measure of their will to those honored few when they do find them. This usually leads to the time-honored (and often dreaded) game of push/pull between the protagonists - something that never fails to bore and irritate if not done well. I'm happy to report that in this case, it was skillfully done, and not the least bit irritating. Varian St. Clare is Juliet Dante's equal in every way. He's every bit as skilled with a sword, just as strong-willed, and equally determined when it comes to getting what he wants. No surprise, he decides early on that he wants Juliet. I found a great deal to like about Varian. He's all man, but more open to his emotions than your average romance hero. Juliet shouldn't appeal to him beyond a brief romp between the sheets; she's just not the type of girl a guy like him brings home to the stately family manor, and drapes in expensive jewelry and silk ballgowns - she's a pirate! Varian realizes she's Miss Inappropriate, but he also realizes much faster than the average hero that he's in love, and he goes after the object of his affection with enough tenacity & determination to make even the coldest heart skip a beat. Juliet is a little more pragmatic. She wants him too, but she's not kidding herself that marriage is the logical outcome for a relationship between two people as different as she and Varian. He has a tough time convincing her, but the journey to their HEA is nine-tenths of the fun. Great attention has been paid to historical detail in this novel, the secondary characters are strongly written without being intrusive, and the love scenes are signature Marsha Canham H-O-T. It's a keeper, and one of my top ten most highly recommended historical romances.
I can't say enough good things about Marsha Canham. She is, without a doubt, my favorite historical romance writer. The Last Arrow is the third book i...moreI can't say enough good things about Marsha Canham. She is, without a doubt, my favorite historical romance writer. The Last Arrow is the third book in her Robin Hood trilogy, and as difficult as it is to choose a favorite, this one is probably mine (all three are fantastic). Griffyn Renaud de Verdelay is a dark and troubled hero with a past - and a couple of pretty big secrets. When he meets Brenna Wardieu, daughter of Lucien and Servanne Wardieu (the main characters from book one) the tension between them is immediate and electrifying, and while their encounters are always sexually and emotionally charged, you're never quite sure if at least one of them is going to survive fully intact.
This plot has more twists and turns than any other romance novel I've ever read, and they keep coming right up to the very satisfying end. The secondary characters are strongly written without being intrusive to the love story, the villains truly repulsive, evil people, and the main characters, while not perfect, are worth caring about and cheering for. In short - it's a keeper.
Both this book and the sequel - The Iron Rose - are on my top ten most highly recommended historical romances list. I was never much of a fan of pirat...moreBoth this book and the sequel - The Iron Rose - are on my top ten most highly recommended historical romances list. I was never much of a fan of pirate romances - especially lady pirate romances. Remember Fern Michaels "Captive" series? Ack! Unfortunately, that series all too easily comes to mind when I think of any sort of pirate book. The mere mention of "lady pirate books" would have me diving for cover behind the potted palms. After a long hiatus from Historical romance of any sub-genre, I started reading them again just a few years ago, and on the basis of a great review from The Romance Reader, I decided to give Marsha Canham's pirate books a try. It's probably the understatement of the century to say that I'm glad I did.
Isabeau Spence is the daughter of privateer Captain Jonas Spence, and an amazingly gifted ship's pilot and cartographer. When they come across a disabled and sinking ship, they stop to help the injured crew, completely unaware that they, and their ship, have just fallen into the hands of one Simon Dante, the infamous Pirate Wolf. Dante informs Jonas and Isabeau that he means to commandeer their ship to seek revenge on the man who betrayed him to the Spanish.
This book is set during the Elizabethan period - not my favorite period for historical romance, but Ms. Canham handles it deftly, with great (and accurate) attention to historical detail, and that genuinely old-time swashbuckling feel, more than a little reminiscent of an old Errol Flynn film (take your pick). I think this is probably my favorite thing about Canham's writing in general: practically everything she writes has that highly visual cinematic feel to it. The naval battles are so incredibly descriptive and well-written, you'd almost swear she has survived a few of them herself. And the developing romance between Simon and Isabeau is signature Marsha Canham engrossing and H-O-T. The secondary characters are, as always, well-written, quirky, funny, very real, and serve to greatly enrich the story overall.
I highly recommend picking up this book (and the sequel), even - especially - if the pirate-themed romances of yesteryear have left you somewhat under-enthused with the prospect of trying more. This series is everything good pirate romances should be, but so frequently aren't; engrossing, evocative, & highly visual. This woman should be writing screenplays!(less)
I just read this again after several years and found it much as I remembered. It's not my very favorite Brockway, but definitely one of her best. If I...moreI just read this again after several years and found it much as I remembered. It's not my very favorite Brockway, but definitely one of her best. If I were to change anything about it - I'd let Avery off the hook a little sooner at the end. I don't think he needs to be quite so humble & Lily needn't be quite so dense. She has too many revelations in the final pages and she really only needed to have one. Still love it though. 5 stars.(less)
Connie Brockway's long awaited & newest historical. I had this on my wish list from the moment I knew it was due to be released. Overall, I though...moreConnie Brockway's long awaited & newest historical. I had this on my wish list from the moment I knew it was due to be released. Overall, I thought it was an excellent book, but graded it somewhat less than perfect at 4 stars. The heroine is an animal empath and the widow of a con artist & fake medium, and the hero is a man driven & determined to expose supernatural charlatans. She and her husband run afoul of him in the opening chapter, and even though he is profoundly attracted to her, her life is ultimately destroyed due to his intervention in her husband's nefarious activities. She goes to work for a former acquaintance as a governess & companion for his mildly telekinetic daughter after her husband is killed, and ends up caring for her after the death of the girl's father. The hero coincidentally is a relative of the daughter's new guardian, and he finds the heroine again six years after their first encounter, when he journeys to Scotland to investigate a possible threat to the girl's life. Of course, he's still attracted to her and sparks immediately start to fly. This book ultimately reminded me a lot of Brockway's 2001 Victorian Romance, The Bridal Season. It has a similar storyline and the author's signature comic subtlety abounds. It failed somewhat to engage me as consistently as some of her previous efforts, however. The story lags a bit toward the middle, but picks up very nicely later in the second half. I felt the resolution of the external conflict was somewhat abruptly resolved, and the ending a little nice & neat for all that the hero had so many trust issues with the heroine due to her past; I really felt like more of a heartfelt discussion between the H&H was in order to fully resolve their internal conflict. That said, I still highly recommend it and will be adding it to my keeper shelf. I adore Connie Brockway and I'm nothing short of thrilled to see her writing historicals again. Even her less than perfect efforts are ahead of the pack in terms of wit & originality.