I can't believe I missed reading this book. I love the dialogue and wit in this romance. Zachary as a self-made man is my favorite character while I fI can't believe I missed reading this book. I love the dialogue and wit in this romance. Zachary as a self-made man is my favorite character while I found the ever mourning widow Lady Holly to be admirable for her hutzpah but annoying due to indecisiveness. I felt that the scene toward the end with a sick Holly was definitely a stretch, but overall found Where Dreams Begin to be a solid historical romance by Kleypas....more
I so enjoyed this book! Flappers, bootleggers, speakeasies, drinking, dancing, cross-starred lovers, and a villainous father!
"Jo guessed even then tha
I so enjoyed this book! Flappers, bootleggers, speakeasies, drinking, dancing, cross-starred lovers, and a villainous father!
"Jo guessed even then that Mother's purpose was to have a son, and she was kept from all other causes. Them included."
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club is based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale but this is not a fantasy piece, it is strictly fiction set in 1920's Manhattan. The story loosely follows the same structure as the fairy tale with twelve sisters born to a wealthy Mr. Hamilton who kept his wife pregnant in the hopes of having a son to carry on the Hamilton name until the wife died. He confines his twelve daughters to the second floor and attic severely neglecting them. The girls' one and only outlet is dancing. The four eldest daughters, Jo the "general," vivacious Lou, gorgeous Ella, and down-to-earth Doris sneak out at night and hit the Manhattan speakeasies at age fourteen until they find a home at The Kingfisher Club. After that, as the rest of the girls come of age and under Jo’s watchful eye, they dance their nights away at the only place where they feel safe and taste precious moments of freedom.
“The girls were wild for dancing, and nothing else. No hearts beat underneath those thin, bright dresses. They laughed like glass.“
I love how well Valentine integrates the fairy tale and her own version with the Hamilton daughters as 1920's flappers. It is a great story with a controlling father as the ultimate misogynist who attempts to sell his daughters to men like himself as a solution to financial troubles, and how his daughters outwit him and make their way in a world they don't recognize by daylight.
“The girls could hope that these husbands, wherever her father planned to find them, would be kinder and more liberal men than he was. But the sort of man who wanted a girl who’d never been out in the world was the sort whose wife would stay at home in bed and try to produce heirs until she died of it.“
There is a romance of sorts between the eldest daughter Jo and bootlegger turned club owner Tom, but Jo emerges as the mistress of her own destiny and throughout and to the end controls her own happiness.
"You can't expect people to give you the things you love, unless you know how to ask."
Of the sisters, Jo is the best developed character with Lou, Doris, and Ella following in importance. The rest of the sisters are sometimes distinguishable only by the dances they prefer or key characteristics. Of the secondary characters, Mr. Hamilton, Tom, and Jake, The Kingfisher Club's bartender and loyal friend make the greatest impact.
There is a certain awkwardness to the writing style or structure as a result of long paragraphs containing thoughts or commentary placed between parentheses. Although after a while I became used to this ongoing style, there was always an awareness at the back of my mind that interrupted the reading flow throughout the novel. However, the story itself is engaging and a quick read with excellent Roaring Twenties atmosphere and gritty details of Manhattan's underground speakeasies as the setting. The descriptions of dancing in seedy or glamorous clubs are gorgeous. The heartbreaking moments, Jo's sacrifices for her sisters, the sisters' escape from captivity into the real world, and the final payoff, all make for a magnificent tale by Valentine.
“She was still trying to discover how people related to each other, and how you met the world when you weren’t trying to hide something from someone. It was a lesson slow in coming.“
"It's not just his body, although I sound like the worst of hedonists, but he can capture stillness whilst radiating more energy than most men can wh
"It's not just his body, although I sound like the worst of hedonists, but he can capture stillness whilst radiating more energy than most men can when running. Don't ask me to explain it. He glows."
It all begins with Harry, an oh-so-British young man thoroughly infatuated with his long-time roommate and sexual partner Charles as they plan a summer trip to Paris. Unfortunately, Charles is summoned home by his widowed mother and Harry accompanies him. Once at the country home, an announcement serves as the catalyst that unleashes our charming, lethal villain. And between tea, tennis, dinner and drinks, a Shakespearean-style tale unfolds.
I Knew Him by Erastes is a cleverly written historical thriller with fabulous between-wars British atmosphere. The thriller part comes from a sharp, quick-witted narrative and cold intent instead of physical violence that serves to magnify the shocking conclusion. Characters rule in this tale, but none more than Erastes' narrator Harry whose ingenious mind and allure enfold the reader into a plot that builds gradually but relentlessly. I Knew Him is a strangely fun read. Erastes' writing skills are at full force as is evident by the tight plot execution and her creation of Harry's character. Highly recommended.
"It annoyed me that screen villains had to be unattractive, and that only the hero was allowed to be handsome."
I've read Molly O'Keefe's contemporary romances but that did not prepare me for her post-civil war historical western romance Seduced. It is not at alI've read Molly O'Keefe's contemporary romances but that did not prepare me for her post-civil war historical western romance Seduced. It is not at all what I expected, it is much better. Our main characters are Southern Belle Melody Hurst and ex-soldier turned bounty hunter Cole Baywood. Melody's husband Jimmy, sister Annie, and Cole's brother Steven serve as the secondary characters in a self-contained, closed setting that keeps the high tension-fueled atmosphere going even after violence erupts and dissipates.
Melody has been to hell and back and after Jimmy is gone, she has nothing left to give of herself. Melody was a manipulative southern beauty before the war and will do whatever is necessary to secure a future for herself and her sister Annie to keep them safe. Seducing Cole is her answer. Cole can't see beyond the horror of war and everything he lost -- his family and innocence, his true self. All he sees is blood in his hands. Melanie's beauty and company remind him of who he used to be, but Cole will not settle with a woman who can't give him everything.
Gritty, that's the word that comes to mind when I think of Seduced. Melody may have been a Southern Belle in her past, but she's no wilting flower and Cole is passionate and tender but tough and not easily manipulated. The violent scenes at the beginning of this romance are not gratuitous and instead serve to anchor this romance to the historical time. The secondary characters are also explored and contribute much to the story adding to the central conflict of civil war torn lives and the developing relationship between Melody and Cole. This is a gritty, redemptive historical romance with depth of character and feeling, a big scoop of hope, and the beginning of love for our romantic couple at the end. I can't wait to read the second book in this series....more
This is a reread. I had forgotten what a joyful, fun story Harry/Harriet's romance with Jem Strange turns out to be, as well as how passionate. I loveThis is a reread. I had forgotten what a joyful, fun story Harry/Harriet's romance with Jem Strange turns out to be, as well as how passionate. I love Villiers period, but I love that his secondary role in this novel is meaningful without the necessity of his playing the fool or the villain. Definitely one of my favorite, and best, books of the series. ...more
This historical western romance is set in Creek County, Colorado at the turn of the century in 1903, so it's a different sort of western. TownspeopleThis historical western romance is set in Creek County, Colorado at the turn of the century in 1903, so it's a different sort of western. Townspeople are settled, the law is enforced, and there's not much of the "wild" left in the West. Sheriff Eugene Grey, a local, has matters under control and lives a relatively peaceful life until the young, arrogant Federal Marshal Forest O'Rourke shows up with an ancient wanted poster looking to arrest a local resident.
"I considered punching Forest O'Rourke in the face, the first time, about two minutes after making his acquaintance."
The narrative in this novel is strictly from Gene's first point of view perspective. It is quick witted, engaging, and absorbing throughout the novel, so of course I immediately fell in love with Gene Grey's voice and character. Not so much with young, arrogant Federal Marshal Forest O'Rourke or his brand new shiny tin star. That changes as the story unfolds and Gene exposes Forest's truths and vulnerabilities.
"Still, I gave him the benefit of the doubt that day for a couple of reasons, though mostly I claim I was bedazzled by the sunlight sparkling off his shiny, new badge."
Gene and Forest's story is divided into three parts. It begins with "The Law & Rawley Scoggins" and includes that first meeting, Forest's stubborn determination to arrest the old-timer, the disturbing end to those events for Forest and old Scoggins, and a few days of intimate acquaintance for Gene and Forest. Conversations lead to unexpected private revelations from both sides, particularly from Gene who finds himself attracted to young Forest and takes a leap by answering with the truth when asked why he is not married: "Because I like men, not women."
What follows is a beautiful seductive scene where Forest takes the lead. This is a favorite scene where a tentative physical move with an almost tender quality builds into full-blown lusty passion between the two men. I found the depiction of this scene to be excellent, specifically in how well Wilson conveys sexual tension, lust, passion, and the emotions involved, without going into unnecessary minute graphic or explicit details.
In the second part of the book, "Diotima's Child," Forest returns to Creek County under false pretenses and moves in with Gene as his lover, eventually becoming Gene's temporary deputy. This section details a joyful period for Gene and Forest filled with passion and love. Their relief at having found each other, however, makes them a careless pair, so it's no surprise when all ends badly and the lovers end up making their way to Atlanta and Philadelphia in the final and, to my way of thinking, strongest section of the book "Lonesome Trail," where loneliness and terrible despair awaits them. And where Gene risks breaking the law, prison, and death for love.
Wilson's characters are a study in contrasts with Gene a confident, educated, working man from the West and Forest a hot-headed, almost illiterate (not-so-bright) well-to-do gentleman from the South. Needless to say, characterization is fine tuned as well, particularly Gene. Through Gene's narrative the reader experiences the full scope of the novel, as well as the inner workings of a self-assured man plagued by loneliness whose passionate love leads to such raging turmoil and despair that he will do anything for a smidgen of hope. To a lesser degree Forest's character, the man who inspires such passionate love, is also well rendered as he evolves throughout the novel. Wilson humanizes the characters by portraying their strengths and vulnerabilities during different sections of the novel, making them fit with each other, as well as with time, place, and setting.
A Shiny Tin Star is a romance with a hopeful ending. This historical western is memorable for its characters, its witty, engaging, straight-forward narrative style, and a sweet, passionate romance with conflicts that fit the historical period. It ends with one of the best memorable, quotable, last lines I've read in a long time. I would quote it for you, but don't want to spoil it. Read the book and find out!
I began reading Wingmen by Ensan Case on a Saturday afternoon and couldn't put it down until I finished it late the following day. It's that good!
TheI began reading Wingmen by Ensan Case on a Saturday afternoon and couldn't put it down until I finished it late the following day. It's that good!
The love story between Lt. Commander Jack Hardigan, USN and Ensign Frederick "Trusty" Trusteau begins in 1943 toward the end of the Pacific conflict during World War II, after Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway. The Navy is in the midst of reorganizing the fleet and reconfiguring their strategy against the Japanese. Experienced naval combat aviators are scarce with a majority falling under the young and untried-in-battle classification.
When Trusteau transfers to the VF-20, the fighting squadron of Air Group Twenty, aboard the fictitious aircraft carrier Constitution, he is an inexperienced aviator and his new skipper Jack Hardigan, a hotshot veteran of Midway with quite a few kills under his belt. Trusteau's admiration for Hardigan is immediate and on a grand scale. As events unfold and Fred becomes Jack's wingman, for Jack, the trust that develops between them in the skies translates to everyday admiration of a young man whose flying skills highlight personal qualities, such as loyalty, efficiency and an ability to think on his toes, while on the ground.
Fred is clueless about his sexuality, but knows he’s indifferent to women and doesn’t ‘fit in’ with the other men in his squadron. To fit, Fred follows their lead and has sex with prostitutes, including when he transfers to the VF-20 squadron where he gains the nickname "Trusty" after lasting 17 minutes and gaining a stud’s reputation. But Fred doesn't understand why the other men make such a big deal about women. Yet, Fred does everything in his power to get close to Jack, and although it takes him a while to figure it out, it quickly becomes clear that Fred’s crush on his skipper is enormous. Jack, on the other hand, is dating a wealthy war widow, and for him it's all about company while on leave. There's more of a friendship than a sexual vibe between them, and Jack prefers to spend time with his men than with her. Unlike Fred, Jack fits in with the men and it isn't until much later that he begins to equate his desire for Fred's company and fear of losing him in combat with a more personal attachment.
These are the 1940's, so the feelings that grow between Jack and Fred are kept closely guarded even from each other. There are two intimate scenes between Jack and Fred that take place away from the ship but, like in the old movies, everything fades to black when they hit the sheets. But feelings and emotions go deep for both of them, and before and after their intimate moments even when the two men are alone on the ship, conversations and physical contact are maintained on the buddy level. There's no outward acknowledgment of feelings, particularly under the circumstances since they were at war.
And it’s war! Ensan Case's Wingmen is a plot and character driven novel. His research of what transpired in the Pacific during World War II is fantastic and his take of life in an aircraft carrier is riveting. There is a particular vibrant atmosphere to his portrayal of the life men lead at close quarters on the ship, as well as when they are on leave -- the hard drinking and incessant smoking, the jocular ribbing and womanizing, as well as the desire to distinguish themselves during battle – that allows the reader to know these men. Additionally, Case gives them distinct personalities, making the reader care whether they live or die.
Case also hits the right note when focusing on the politics of command and strategies used by the Americans to hit the Pacific islands -- beginning with Marcus and moving on to Wake, Tarawa, Kwajalein, and Truk -- by incorporating details without, for one moment, slowing the pace or the excitement of the novel. Those details make this novel what it is, as he also incorporates what is critical to the men: the maneuverability of Hellcats, Corsairs and Avengers, dangers of landing on the aircraft carriers, the terrible accidents, lack of supplies. All of those details lead to the strategic air battles in the skies, as well as the one-on-one situations which become some of the most tension-filled and exhilarating moments of the story.
Case ends the book with a postwar section written in letter format that gives the reader a broad idea of what happens to the main characters after the war and an epilogue that ends in 1969. I would have preferred if Fred and Jack’s story had ended a bit earlier, but frankly that did not influence my love of this book one way or another. Wingmen by Ensan Case is a fabulous fusion of historical fiction and romance that I recommend to everyone, but particularly to those who love exciting, well-researched tales set in the Pacific during World War II, as well as to readers who love a war time, tension-filled romance....more