Rose Steen is just trying to get away, hike the Highlands and figure out life after her divorce. She doesn’t plan what happens when she takes a short hike to the most famous lake in Scotland.
This book was a surprise gift from the author who is also a friend.
I don’t recall reading a lot of stories with Highlanders of any sort before OUTLANDER around 1996 — not that there weren’t any they just didn’t become a “thing” for me until then. And, since I have started book blogging they have become even more of a “thing,” especially in the romance genre.
So, I get a lot of Scottish Highlander themed books, Highland faeries, time travelers, historical figures, etc. Many of them are more an homage to OUTLANDER than the authors would probably recognize.
THIS BOOK IS NOT AN HOMAGE TO OUTLANDER. That was my first fear when I saw my gift from Julia. But if I hadn’t liked the book, I would not be reviewing it. This book does feature a handsome Scottish Highlander of the nearly extinct Clan McGregor and a woman. But she is not a time traveler and doesn’t pass through a big stone to another era. She does skip some stones though.
Julia’s story offers something very different, unique, heartfelt and steamy. It also brought to mind how people are caught up in war regardless of their beliefs; how it affects life at the time and in the future.
This is a short novella at 83 pages, and Julia has to employ several devices and leave out some details in telling the story of this female baker and the semi-corporeal Culloden survivor she meets in the areas around Loch Ness. The rules behind the occurrences in the story are not explained as we would demand in a longer book and the relationship is fast-tracked.
Nessie offers the one big nod to Gabaldon in DINNER WITH A HIGHLAND GHOST.
Otherwise this is a short tale, with a heartfelt heroine. Julia’s heroines are always heartfelt and often remind me a bit of her; certainly some of her physical and metaphysical personal experiences seem to find their way into her books. She takes the adage of “write what you know” and adroitly delivers it to the page in this paranormal romance.
Julia writes hot scenes very nicely; they are blush worthy and suitable for adults but I would have no qualms sharing the book with my mother (except at 86 it might not be great to get her blood pressure up too high).
The other similarities between Gabaldon’s series and this short from Julia Barrett are the battle of Culloden and a woman of a more modern period who, familiar with the concrete — with the strictly rule driven science of baking, suddenly has to cope with something that no science can explain, as well as the elements in the unpredictable Highlands.
If you seek a paranormal short and like the paranormal romance genre, especially featuring the Scottish Highlands, I recommend this book!...more
If you are anything like me ORPHAN TRAIN by Christina Baker Kline will blow you away with it’s depth of feeling, and sense of injustice.
For both Molly and Vivian, their childhoods are full of injustices, unfairness and wrongs that can never be righted. For Vivian, her life was painful until she found love, and she learns there is no reward, no instant Karma, she ends up with a life that seems happy, but is it happy? We’re so lucky to have anyone we love even for the briefest time.
Vivian’s life starts off in Ireland, poor with a slacker, trouble-prone alcoholic father and a mother who is clinically depressed. It goes on to treatment at the hands of possibly well-meaning people into a life of indentured grayness at best, hell at its worst.
Molly is born in coastal, northern Maine. At least part Native-American, her mother wasn’t ever really stable and when she loses her father and ends up in foster care, she is in a state-regulated form of the Orphan Trains. According to the webpage of The Children’s Aid Society (http://www.childrensaidsociety.org/ab...), the Orphan Trains were the beginning of the modern foster care system.
Both seem like kind of a crap shoot to me. The CAS says the children living homeless in NYC in the 1850s had little hope for the future. But, throughout the book it seemed like the system was often careless in its placement providing, perhaps, more of a chance at a good life, but if anything like the placement depicted in ORPHAN TRAIN, the system, and the children, were much abused and had little help or recourse.
We hear similar stories about foster care today. It is certainly an overtaxed system; difficult to supervise. Molly’s experiences point to bad matches and bad people, but I know there are lots of foster parents who provide a safe and loving home for children in need.
Vivian is certainly a “good girl” in any era: stoic, hard-working, pliable. Molly is superficially difficult as a vegetarian and wanting to hang on to her memories of her father through their Native American heritage, and after years of being treated like an extra mouth to feed, she hangs on to these small things to retain her sense of self, her sense of self worth.
The beauty is that the author shows the antipathy of the unwanted child; unwanted for being Irish or Native American, for being too old, for having red hair, for not being who the people want her to be. It made me want to scream.
She also never minimizes or marginalizes the experiences of either character. Through the lens of a long life, Vivian does this herself; to some degree an almost Zen acceptance. She doesn’t make it seem as if there are any ways to right the wrongs done to either woman, because, of course there is none. She only demonstrates through Vivian’s perseverance and through Molly’s inherent goodness, that there are ways to survive and to overcome the circumstances of birth and tragedy that placed each of them in a system which offered a crap shoot chance at a greater than bleak future.
This book will definitely make you cry, keep you thinking, and will give you a chance to undrstand the ways in which a kid’s life is usually out of their control, not their choice and if they do make it through it is often in spite of adult help, or because one person cared enough to save them.
Aside from drawing parallels between the past and current treatment of children, it also offers a memorial to the children who rode the ORPHAN TRAIN.
You cannot read this book without feeling it deeply but you really should read it. I say it is a MUST READ, and it is an IMPORTANT PIECE OF FICTION....more
An EMT and a food truck chef are cooking up something outside the kitchen in Manhattan. Electronic galley provided by publisher for review purposes. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
There are probably few people in my age group who don’t mentally follow up “Afternoon Delight” with “Sky Rockets in Flight!” But while I thought this onehad great emotional content it’s erotic content did not follow up with those fireworks.
In this shorter story two people come to grips with love, loss and mortality. An EMT, Tim is becoming personally numb by compartmentalizing emotions even as he treats patients compassionately. He’s also coming to grips with mortality — especially after seeing one half of an elderly couple, still loving, lose ground in the battle against dementia.
After a personal illness and loss of a close relative, Sarah is trying to regain joy, and return to her fun loving and love for fun self.
As an erotic novella the couple in this story have a lot of sex. While they play complex, borderline power-exchange games aimed at maintaining distance while keeping each other interested, they are only human, and decent people who start to feel, not just for each other, but for life as well. Tim slows down his high speed, crisis oriented eating style, and starts to savor food, and life again.
On the other hand, for an erotic novel the sex is a little dull with a bit of hand action and intercourse but that seems to be it. I expect a little more variety from erotic novellas.
The novel seems to struggle with the erotic, as if the author is struggling to make her story about more than just that and therein she succeeds.
The author seems to know Manhattan well, there is indeed a fire station and a park where she says they are.
I liked the story and having a lot of elderly friends and relatives in various states of health and decline I felt the issues with which Tim struggled. I wouldn’t say it made me cry but it nearly did....more
Review and release event for the last book in Laura Kaye’s Hard Ink Series.
No one does military romance like Laura Kaye, she has a feel for the military hero; especially the hero who's been badly treated by the government. It is a tiny bit coincidental that each hero has, in turn, met their life partner in each book during the two to three week crisis period in which the series occurs, but such is the stuff of buddy/team contemporary romance series. They could be a band, a group of secret agents or whatever, but in a romantic series the object is to pair off and hookup.
In the case of this series each character, the military man, or the woman, or the anomalous same sex couple who are each family members of another couple, has a warrior-based PTSD, survivor guilt, or a more complicated, deep-seated issue brought in more with the crisis of searching and rescuing their honor and military careers. That each warrior is otherwise balanced, moral, willing to commit, and totally hot makes for some satisfying reading. That goes without saying. Laura Kaye is one of those authors who looks like a Sunday school teacher but who must have a very, very dirty mind (in a good way).
She knows her stuff too. A former professor at Annapolis, she is very well-versed in military terminology, procedures and history; she has a deep feel for our military, their sacrifices and their families. She knows the challenges faced by both the military and those who keep the home fires burning.
And, aside from sexy times, this series has plenty of action. In particular, the action in HARD TO LET GO made my heart race and caused me to hold my breath. And, whew! CRISIS! You just aren't sure what will happen.
There was one loose end regarding the disposition of injured personnel. I confirmed with the author that it is not an artifact of my ARC. I usually figure the last book of a series will tie up loose ends, but I guess Laura has decided to leave this one untied.
Otherwise this has been a great series where lots of action, lots of heat, lots of personal growth and drama. It all takes place over a short period of time and the growth and relationships all occur in a pressure cooker so they are fast but solid. If you like sensitive, military heroes who are loyal to their friends, their family and their partners this is the perfect summer read for you! I loved it....more
This was a hugely entertaining mix of Jane Austen and, let’s say, Harry Potter. Seriously, I hugely enjoyed this story that combines elements of several novels by Austen. the emotional and overly romantic Mary Ann from SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, Frank Churchill’s secret affair from EMMA along with many others who scandalize, ruin maidens, love properly, annoy or delight.
The magical aspect adds a lot to the story, if only we could do the fantastical things Mary Robinette KowalIt was occasionally hard to understand the motivations or the actions, and sometimes the descriptions left me, as the reader/listener wondering a bit about what was happening, but I felt I could fill in the blanks enough to be happy about it.
I certainly did not feel it was a typical Regency romance or a Regency with add-ons; it felt more like fantasy with a literary fiction vibe.
It truly made me wonder about how we change our looks to please others with cosmetics or even surgery. In the novel, the use of glamour has a cost in energy. Is the equivalent cost in real life a less than authentic self or an attempt to hide our real looks?
The novel is read by the author which I was a bit skittish about. The only other time I have come across this it was a DNF. Fortunately, with dramatic experience as a puppeteer, the author has the chops to do the job well, and she did. In addition, there was no guessing at the meaning or intent of a sentence or word as there would have been with a third party. After all, who else would better know how these characters were to sound than the author? It was well-done in a pleasant voice aad not over-acted.
I highly recommend SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY by Mary Robinette Kowal. I don’t know if a series was originally intended or how well the other books worked, but this book, at least, got my attention and I loved the story, the characters, and the mixing of Austen and Magic.
Anyone who has worked for an insulting, irrationals, or selfish boss (therefore, pretty much everyone) will find plenty of recognizable characters in this story, which was my favorite so far in this series. We get the downtrodden employees who put up with a jerk because they have to, and we also get a reason the boss is such a jerk – her boss in the form of a record label. Too bad most if us don’t have an altruistic billionaire on our side, in the wings, working to make everything better. It had the most realistic characters I’ve seen with family obligations and reasons for working for a jerk so important in the books story and to the main characters. I also appreciated how Kylie’s grandmother’s words echo through Kylie’s life and affect her decisions — it’s a good reminder of the power a parental figure has in the shape of a person’s life.
Cade was a very respectful suitor, almost old-fashioned in his loyalty and devotion. But once he makes up his mind, he’s determined, doggedly so, to get what he wants and really seems to know his own mind. His preference for curvy women is pretty cool. If you read THE WRONG BILLIONAIRE’S BED, you may be surprised to find Daphne to still be as much of an ass as she is here.
I thought it was interesting that coincidence brings our poor little match-girl makeup artist and her prince billionaire together, but it is then his sense of honor and rightness that gets them back into the same physical space. I also liked that there was complex reasoning behind her sense of what had to be, where he was convinced, I thought, selfishly, they could work it out.
I am a little tired of a certain plot device that is used early on in the tale; it’s been used rather a lot of late. I don’t want to reveal a spoiler, but I have had a few of these pop up and have even stopped reading a few books where this is device is employed. I think it can be a cop-out, or a short cut. Mostly I am tired of its appearance.
Of the other four books in this series this is probably my favorite. The relationship is realistic because the love interests share a physical and emotional attraction but also share similar backgrounds where they were both, if not poor, then in a pretty low income bracket. A shared background can be helpful in the long term....more
Audiofiles provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
I do not hand out gushing praise often or effusively, so, what I am about to say is indicative of how much I truly adored this story. This is one of my favorite books now; in my top 25 books of my life. Surprises, red herrings, emotional grabs all play a part inthe complex story and events this tale delineates. But what really nailed it for me, the two things that pushed it to the top of my book altar were the emotive power of Annie Barrows’ prose and how much I simply adored her characters. The trick of what I thought was confusing elements of time versus character age; that was what I felt would be the story’s “Big thing.”
But it is not. While there is some foreshadowing, the plot is not completely unexpected. The characters’ emotional processes are a real surprise. And their ability to triumph in the small ways of what seems, at first, to be small lives is amazing. I could feel Willa’s and Jottie’s life forces: their heart beats and breaths, how hot they felt with the sweat of summer trickling down their backs.
But, oh, the prose; particularly that describing the words of Jottie’s speech and her internal monologue — even that of her dreams. In at least one passage Barrows provides the best and most heartbreaking description of loss, of lost potential I think I have ever read.
Beyond that, choosing to live the life we have: a blend of choice and circumstance, destruction and forgiveness is what I think drives the story and gives it its real meaning.
That brings me to the “antagonist.” This is a peculiar term; usually it refers to a negative force. But in this case the antagonist is supposedly Layla who, as a newcomer to the town challenges the ideas held by the townspeople This leads to the good of most, and to the revelation, eventually, of long-buried truths that force painful, but positive change. We cannot live happily, completely, wholly under a lie. And, life is always bittersweet for no life includes all the possibilities we face at every fork in the road: we choose and a option is gained but another lost.
This book has kept me thinking long past when I finished it. Let yourself fall into this world of the past where ethos and pathos vie for a place in your heart; where a child’s love for one person has to vie against her love and attachment to another. There are just so many emotions, thoughts and feeling that came up with this story.
As to the audio portions of the book: Most audios are one person giving voice to many characters. In tis recording there were several actors giving character to one voice or more. They all did a great job without overdoing accents or emotions. This is an excellent production I would have been happy to continue listening to.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book. I LOVED it and with the recording “spoke southern” for several days after....more
Today’s review of the FRENCH CONCESSION by Xiao Bai comes from the mind of my guest reviewer, and husband, Don Desbiens. It’s about Shanghai in the 1930s: a fascinating and, apparently frightening, place.
Reading anything about pre-war 20th century Shanghai is usually a lesson in contrast for anyone who has seen the giga-state that modern Shanghai has become.
In this new work, available to the west in translation, the author describes a Shanghai the modern visitor could not even begin to imagine:
Pudong as a collection of farm hamlets.
The foreign concessions full of westerners run amok.
The criminal gangs and the communist political cells indistinguishable from one another and the Nationalist government.
And the Japanese army and diplomats slowly pressing in from all sides.
The Nationalist security forces seem indistinguishable from the gangs and the Communists when the narrative is considered at arms length. The young man in the middle is a photographer and a dilettante, who finds himself in the middle of the chaos and the alleyways of the old city and it’s foreign concessions. I find little to sympathize with in this character, his lack of direction tugs him from one sphere of influence to another, from the White Russian lover to the French police, to the press who buy his photos, to the love interest in the communist cell that he develops an interest in by chance – but I think we as readers are meant to not particularly like him.
In fact, I only found the two female protagonists at all likable, having played the cards they were dealt with as well as they could.
A very enjoyable translation to read, I was put off at first by the list of characters at the front of the book, seemed to me to be like a line up of actors and roles or like a game of Clue, “Mustard in the Dining Room”. But once past this it became engrossing.
Another interesting read from modern China....more
Audio files provided by PenguinRandomHouse for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
Few writers seem to construct a heroine as deeply as Laurell K. Hamilton. She has defined Anita Blake heart, mind and body. It is truly a remarkable feat to have created her so seamlessly that Anita could nearly step out of the book and I would know her on the spot.
This book includes a rather gross zombie raising that may not be suitable for vegetarians, or anyone squeamish. But it examines Anita’s abilities and powers as well as those of other animators. Anita seems to be a very powerful animator, but no one yet knows the extent of her abilities as she absorbs strength and abilities through her lovers. Some of her lovers also seems to gain power and new abilities through their relationship with her.
But these new abilities cause problems as well as make raising the dead easier. She seems to be able to do things she could not do before.
There are a few too many plots on sub plots in this book. There’s a hair raising police case, a different kind of zombie, an of course an argument over who in Anita’s life she is engaged to, in love with or just having sex with. She seems to have become the queen of most animals and types of supernaturals.
It also feels like another exploration of Anita’s and others’ psychology. How to think about it, how to cope and a discovery of her own sexuality and aspects of self. That it happens throughout and pulls her away from the main mystery she has to solve irritated me. I also feel like there is not enough Jean Claude in this book.
It’s clear though that Anita is gaining more and more power and that eventually will cause some cataclysmic event. Power is good when one uses it for good. Anita, despite what others may believe to be an immoral lifestyle is a good person who seems to act selflessly often. But, power always comes with a price.
I felt as if I missed a novella in between AFFLICTION and DEAD ICE. Events that I just do not at all recall reading or at least those events occuring fully, like Asher, his return and his new relationships, pop up several times. Narcissus, who we saw in NARCISSUS IN CHAINS is given a little more humanity, and his particular sexuality is further explored. Some other super scary parts of Anita’s life are also explored, and, along with a couple of the story arcs, that makes this novel particularly edgy and may throw it well into the Horror genre.
Between the number of sub-plots, the new characters, supernatural politics and such, I felt the book was disjointed.
In regards to the recording, I feel like Kim Alexis did a great job and has a deep grasp of the character. They did not include sound effects in this book’s recording so that was a relief.
Even with its issues and my ambivalence I think I will continue reading the series for the character development and inventiveness of the plots. LKH Has constructed her world very tightly and with great consistency....more
Audio provided by Tantor Media for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinion presented herein is my own except as noted.
Is an ex-rugby player or business man a rock star? Gabriel Bishop is the ex-rugby-turned corporate star. Charlotte is the best friend of the main character in the first book in the series who ends up with a rock star. But there’s no rock and roll in Nalini Singh’s ROCK HARD. None. So, the connection to the series theme feels pretty thin.
I hate it when there are all these little things in a story that detract from my enjoyment of it.
Singh seems obsessed with the man being able to put his hand around the woman’s neck as a sign she has emotionally recovered from a terrifying ordeal. I couldn’t understand how she meant he should put his hand around her neck. To choke her, to give her a massage during sex? I wondered about it throughout the entire relationship portion of the story.
Charlotte did have a terrifying ordeal. And she talked to a counselor. One counselor. Then she determined that it didn’t help, so of course, this very bright woman didn’t find another. I thought that made her seem stupid, although trauma victims do things that make more sense to them than to people who don’t live through the trauma and she had her best friend who helped her. But along comes Gabriel who pushes her out of her shell and helps her a lot, and she accepts that help.
As in the first audio book in the series, ROCK ADDICTION, I didn’t understand the lack of accent for the characters as they were voiced. If it were taking place in England the characters would be voiced with English accents. It is an interesting choice in producing the recording. Otherwise, I though Justine O’Keef did a great job.
There is a thriller/suspense aspect to the story, although, unlike a thriller or suspense book you know there will still be an HEA. The genre requirements ordain it so. The bad guy is perfectly visible in my head, his good looks but slightly off smile popped right up in my mind. I didn’t get what Gabriel or Charlotte looked like in my head so much although I understood Charlotte’s baggy clothes.
Gabriel has his own issues within his family; and Charlotte is able to help him come to grips with it. In a way this gives the relationship parity and makes it more feasible; more possible.
If you can overlook the title having little to do with the book, and the series being thus far linked through two friends rather than through the theme implied in the series title, then this is interesting, sexy, dangerous and fun. It’s set in a beautiful and exotic (to me) location and full of hunky rugby players. And, Singh’s ability to weave a compelling narrative with sex and suspense make it a great beach read!
You may, of course, comment here, but I would really appreciate comments at the blog linked above.
Audio provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinion presented herein is my own except as noted.
A posh-sounding woman meets her carousing neighbor and they do not get along well until a life-altering surprise walks in the door. At first she helps out of human decency but then, after experiencing an empathic moment goes beyond simple helping to really stepping up to the plate (mixed cultural metaphor there).
Young’s ability to engage the reader’s sympathy is outstanding. I immediately identified with Grace, first against Logan and then later with everyone involved.
Gah! Her family of birth sounds absolutely awful; her mother a cankerous poison, her father an uninvolved, unemotional juggernaut and her brother a vicarious would-be rapist. I would also have left them behind.
One issue is Logan’s temper. It’s the temper that put him on prison protecting his sister. It’s his smarts that helped him survive prison though. And it is his conscience that is haunting him. But his temper is quick; it is as if he (and an awful lot of guys in fiction) lacks the emotional tool kit for dealing without intense anger. He never threatens Grace though, but they do fight.
When Grace helps him out with a family issue it is nice to see how well she meshes into a family situation even though hers is so awful. I love how she has created family with a group of friends and that they are so very tight.
I like the continuity and depth to this series in general. MOONLIGHT ON NIGHTINGALE WAY is as sexy, as is-my-ipod-meltingly hot as the other books I have read in this series. It’s explicit and still very well done. I kept finding more tasks to do so I could keep listening. There are no dandelions left in my lawn because of this book!
I like the series’ reader’s accents and her voice. I don’t think I hear any extraneous noises in the recording either.
Does it matter if you read a holiday themed book around the holidays? I don't think it usually matters — a good story is good story. I do agree that when read around a holiday it can help put you in the mood for the event. Or, in this case it can just help put you in the mood.
I was looking up some information for the newest book in the series: MOONLIGHT ON NIGHTINGALE WAY when I came across this on Amazon. In VALENTINE, author Samantha Young creates sketches of several couples from her Dublin Road series. If you don't know the stories behind all the characters it's okay; the story won't be as rich but they'll still be enjoyable and easy to understand.
They all revolve around one Valentine's Day for this close group of friends and relatives. Apparently they take turns taking care of the kids so one couple gets stuck at home while the others go off on their merry ways. In this volume you get couples who feel neglect, couples who are in the first bloom of love, couples who are old hat but still hot for each other, even one guy super attracted to his sexily pregnant wife. There's a lot going on.
When I got it it was free on Amazon. At free it was a tremendous bargain with nicely written vignettes and it's good reading any time of year! I have enjoyed the series as well!
I am not a big "baby person." I seem to lack the gene that turns a woman into a pile of maternal goo over an infant (I think somehow a cat gene was substituted, because my maternal instincts light right up for a kitten). So, given that this book starts off with a pregnancy test, it immediately pushed my emotional involvement with the book down the scale.
I didn’t think much attention was paid to how much pregnancy would change this young woman’s life, nor to what her options were. I thought that Ben’s bandmate Mal’s choler over Ben sleeping with his sister-in-law was a little overboard; as if Mal always does the sane thing.
Important to the story, or at least mentioned a lot, is the age difference between Lizzie and Ben. It was somewhere between six and nine years. Lizzie may have more emotional stick-to-it-ivesness, and Ben, having lived the rock star life, a lot more experience but neither character is really mature. At times Ben seems like he is going to do the adult thing and back away.
The band members for the group that opens on tour for Stage Dive fit into the story, but I didn’t think they were developed enough to merit the degree of the part they play. I didn’t really get their involvement in the story line at all.
There’s a lot more flirting and sexual tension than sex in this one. And there’s a lot of angst.
Sometimes I thought Ben was being the real adult, but at others I was a little worried about this couple, with their mood swings and immaturity would be better off as non-partnered parents. All the guys in this series have hair-triggers, though Ben has the fewest issues of the lot. I think it is interesting how Scott writes Ben’s importance as the true technical artist: the band member who gets the sound right, the one who works with the sound engineers on a song after everyone else has gone off with their girlfriends.
There are some fun twists thrown into the mix, and you might be made to think twice the next time you read anything that slams some celebrity’s significant other.
The climax and resolving make up scene were weak and I didn’t believe the way it was resolved would really have turned the beat around.
It is the last book about a member of this band unless the author adds a band member or they go into the security people or roadies. And I got really addicted to the characters. I don’t think it describes what actual rock stars are like. If it did then they would all be emotional wrecks with short tempers. If they had a real album I would buy it. But this one wasn’t my favorite – In other words I couldn’t get too deeply into DEEP....more
GARRETT by Sawyer Bennett: Happy, Sad, Sexy & Hockey
Audio provided by Tantor Media for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinion presented herein is my own except as noted.
This is a hot, sultry, poignant story about a couple who have a massive exterior obstacle, but also face the age-old poor communication skills issue along with a big dose of flawed logic! It’s a sexy story with a measure of “happy” as a couple finds each other with a dose of “sad” when some tragic stuff happens.
Olivia fears that Garrett is only committed to her because she is sick and she doesn’t want to ruin his life by dying sometime in the next few years. The event that really precipitates the realization that her death would hurt Garrett is not the same kind of event. And I don’t think she trusts his motives for being with her when she knows he’s never been in a relationship for more than three dates, but breaking up with a sick chick would be low. Plus, she decided she ought to sow her wild oats while she still can.
On the other hand, he’s fallen hard and fast. Yes, he questions whether he should take a chance on a woman who is sick and puzzles it all out. For him, the event that precipitates her fear, solidifies his commitment.
The sex is hot with a little raunch and a tiny bit of dominance. They are a good couple together. The sex is more of an expression of love though. Sometimes reading steamy romances I think, do these characters realize there’s more to life than sex? But then in this one she’s sick so of course they do. The faulty logic is of course that there are no guarantees in life and love. Perfectly healthy people die in accidents or develop fatal illness once you are involved. The event that happens that makes Olivia worry the most would make me think more this way than the way Olivia does.
One thing really bothered me about the narrative and the narration. Olivia works for a gay florist wo is omewhat flamboyant in a 1980s, hello kitty crop top, disco and rhinestones, stereotype way. And he is played with that singsong, girlfriend! stereotype in the narration. I was a little offended by the way the character was written and played. He is a loving, caring friend to Olivia and then Cole, and what he wears is given more attention than who he is.
This could have been a fluffy sports book, but Olivia’s illness and Cole being a stand-up guy adds a level of serious that sets the story apart. ...more
Audiobook provided by publisher for review purposes. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
One of my favorite movies has been ENCHANTED APRIL, a 1992 film directed by Mike Newell (IMDB) with actors both well, and not so well, known. It has charmed me each time I have seen it.
So, the title ENCHANTED AUGUST on Penguin Random House’s tear sheet caught my eye. You know how people adapt Shakespeare to the modern day, or how EMMA was adapted to become CLUELESS and P & P became Bridget Jones’ Diary? This is in the same vein: where ENCHANTED APRIL is about a group of Edwardian-era British escaping to Italy for an April break, ENCHANTED AUGUST is about a group of modern-day New Yorkers escaping to, Little Lost Island, a small Shangri-La of an Island off the Downeast part of Maine (the Northern-most coastal area).
According to Wikipedia, ENCHANTED APRIL was a
…film adaptation of Elizabeth von Arnim’s 1922 novel, “The Enchanted April,” directed by Mike Newell. The novel was previously adapted as a stage play by Kane Campbell in 1925, and as an RKO Radio film in 1935. A new, Tony Award-nominated stage adaptation of the novel by Matthew Barber debuted on Broadway in 2003. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enchante...
According to me, this book stays remarkably close to the film; I cannot say how close it is to the original book. But here is the question: It’s one thing to adapt a book to a play or movie, or adapt a play or a movie to a different time and/or place, but, what is it to rewrite a book with almost the same characters to a different time and place? Is this art, imitation or downright copying?
There are a few changes in the plot: The reasons the women want the vacation are originally different from what drives them in the movie but in the end it is a sort of peace and solitude within themselves they crave; a rebuilding of themselves before they can repair their relationships with their significant others and the world in general.
Again, I have not read the 1924 novel so I cannot say how different, how more accessible or less accessible it is. I know that prose style has changed in 90 years and so it may be that this is an easier read, more in tune with today’s needs and humor. I cannot spoil other differences between the film and the book regarding plot or character since, with a retelling it is those changes — how the story was adapted — that are often the most interesting and telling things.
And location: In Victorian and Edwardian literature, Italy was both a wild and civilized place, a place of higher passions and wild humanity (as we see in Forrester’s ROOM WITH A VIEW). “Italy” was distant land, a fairy tale, a concept that asked if we can have the higher passions of love and art and devotion without the darker sides of the same.
I don’t know that an island of the coast of Maine offers the same ideas of beauty wild and refined and the healing nature to the human psyche when these seemingly dichotomous ideas are reevaluated holistically.
One thing that has stayed the same is Lottie’s intuitive abilities. These are not paranormal in the way of fantasy literature where they give someone power. Her intuition is more along the lines of “everyday magic.” In either the film or here it enhances the other-worldliness of the getaway; it sets apart life before, during and after the trip. The recording was charming, the reader’s voice evocative of cool, pine needle littered paths through gardens and woods, peaceful like a retreat. It was a very enjoyable listen.
But, the thing I had to ask throughout was why was this, or any other retelling without significant change, book written? Why not just read the original tale? Have we changed so much in ninety years that the Edwardian story is less instructive, entertaining or enjoyable? The popularity of the Jane Austen’s even older novels would say we have not. And, when Austen is mashed up it is the changes in genre, continuations of the storyline, or an appeal to a younger audience than happily reads the original.
I don’t think there is enough difference between the storylines in the film I saw and this text to say it is an original work. It is more of a translation of the 1924 book combined with the 1992 film, and the language and situations of today than it is an original idea.
If that is what you seek then this is a lovely vacation or beach read. It would be great fun to read the book and watch the movie; or read both books and watch the movie....more
I would say that the bggest problem the couple in this steamy entry in the Stage Dive Series by Kylie Scott is “lack of communication” but because ofI would say that the bggest problem the couple in this steamy entry in the Stage Dive Series by Kylie Scott is “lack of communication” but because of the mental health issues involved, communication issues are sure to follow. And when the male love interest, Jimmy, does communicate he is pretty straightforward, hones and insightful. This tells me the writer wants the character to be seen as taking his sobriety, and the work he did to get there seriously.
He still has emotional management issues though. BIG TIME.
Every so often he wants to go off the wagon, especially in the bad times, but that is where one’s sobriety companion comes in. And, once again, the band’s drummer, Mal seems like some kind of prescient puck who sees something that will bring two people together.
At some point, Lena realizes she has feelings for Jimmy that do not suit a professional sobriety companion. The term brings to mind the CBS crime drama ELEMENTARY where Lucy Liu plays sobriety companion, Dr. Jane Watson, to recovering addict and detective, Sherlock Holmes.
I started thinking about what would happen if that TV relationship was more volatile; if Sherlock liked to throw stuff and had a history of parental abuse. That’s what I picture for Jimmy’s and Lena’s professional relationship.
Lena kind of annoyed me more than anything. She sounded a bit like an evasive doormat. When things got heavy with her family or with Jimmy, her instinct was to run. She doesn’t sound as if she takes very good care of herself either.
Do you remember in Twilight, when Bella tells Edward he’s giving her whiplash from the mood swings? Well, Lena must feel that way as she follows a magazine’s list of how to get over a guy. He’s all for her dating other guys, right?
It seems like the characters have a hard time NOT sabotaging themselves, not getting in their own way.
On the one hand, this book and this series is very hot, and very addictive. On the other it can feel somewhat light and fluffy. It deals with weighty issues: death, abuse, betrayal, but then it kind of glosses over them all.
Audible Purchase. No remuneration was exchanged, and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
I’ve read all four of these books now and this one had my least favorite hook-ups. Jimmy, who came off in the first book as an asshat of major proportions, had not given up his addiction to asshattery, especially post-coital behavior.
It’s hard to say what exactly is making me really like these books. The biggest issue I have had is that the characters seem to equate sex and love. Sex is usually a big part of a committed romantic relationship, but it is not the only part, or even the most important one, and it feels as if this series makes it the biggest.
My issues haven’t stopped me from buying all four books — which if you know me is a big thing. I have to be really hot for a series to actually lay out money for it. And, that’s the best recommendation I can give....more
E-Galley provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own unless otherwise noted.
I loved the last book I read by Susanna Kearsley, THE FIREBIRD, which also flipped back and forth from the past to the present as does this book, A DESPERATE FORTUNE. THE FIREBIRD had a similar romantic setup but also had a paranormal element this one doesn't.
I do not know if all of Kearsley's stories feature this past and present device, but where it works in THE FIREBIRD in this book the lack of the paranormal connection made the stories too disparate.
I really couldn't bring myself to care about the characters of the present-day story line. We get a young math/coding/crypto whiz with Aspergers. (Another theme! I also just read the Rosie Project which features Aspergers as well). Her cousin has been her best friend, advocate and protector since childhood, but seems to have become bitter, unlikeable and self-serving.
She sets up Sara to decipher a diary of Mary Dundas, the daughter of a Jacobite wigmaker in exile. Mary has lived most of her life with an aunt and uncle but when her brother comes to supposedly take her to live with him, but then sends her on a secret Jacobite mission, she enters into a life fraught with intrigue, danger and characters who are not who they seem to be. Mary's staid life becomes an adventure and highlights how a woman could be treated solely as a commodity and as so much flotsam and jetsam in the tide.
The diary is not what anyone expects, but it is the lack of connection through the thread of time that just doesn't work for me.
The present day character, Sara stays at the home of the woman who owns the diary, an old friend of the author who seeks the translation. The France where Sara is staying is a very stereotypical France of books and movie, something out of time. The characters there are not stereotypical, but neither are they well developed; this leads me to find their motives suspect.
Only the main character from the past, Mary, is well-developed. The rest are like the characters in a Tarot Deck - if the Tarot deck contained the loyal warrior, the child's nurse, the uncaring brother and the swindler. But Mary does grow and her experiences completely change her understanding of the world and people.
One theme that I am still considering is the way Mary's family considers her as a commodity to be used and discarded and her ability to go on after realizing she matters little to them. That's a tough thing to work past, and hard to understand, but it is her family's disregard that turns her into an accidental adventuress.
The prose is often poetic, transcendent even and was the high point in my experience of the book. And, her research and grasp of the recorded historical events, and how she braids her fictional constructions into the actual events, is masterful. But pretty prose and research do not make a story, and I did not find it was enough to make this story seem less interminable. I had a really hard time getting through it; every time I got interested, the time shift between story lines made me have to try to care all over again....more
Sarah Addison Allen is a writer who can combine all the characters in a small town and make the most preposterous and anachronistic of them feel real. THE PEACH KEEPER is a gem of a tale about the grown grandchildren of two women, and the grandchildren’s friends who find the preconceived ideas they had of their families and of each other were skewed by time, circumstance and magic.
The effects of magic on everyday life is another aspect of Allen’s work I have enjoyed. In this case, it is about how the past influences the future. And, how, what was accepted in the past is harder to accept now. My only real issues with this book were the feeling of this small town, and the people in it, being frozen in time — specifically in the form of women’s societies and parental influence.Maybe having been raised in the North in a less isolated location makes me feel that these people are somewhat skewed in time; I have heard that traditions in the southern states have taken longer to change than in others. But even then, the ages of the characters and their parents in particular do not seem to add up. We’re talking about the present day 20 to 30 year old women having parents born in 1938.
Maybe it’s that magic at work.
Otherwise, the love stories themselves are enticing. One is understandable, the other more of an odd coupling. The development of the friendship feels natural as well. And, it feels like the people had to wait to grow up to either find each other as romantic or friendly interests. They had to come out from under the hazy influence of the town’s magic to see life clearly.
I was quite enchanted by GARDEN SPELLS but was less into by THE GIRL WHO CHASED THE MOON which I felt shared some characteristics of TWILIGHT. So, I had not kept track of Allen’s work until this one hit my library shelf. I am glad it did; the story surprised me with the simplicity of its telling and the way the author makes each character feel real.
The narration is also fabulous with distinct and easily recognizable characters but neither the accents nor the acting is overdone. The quality of the recording is also outstanding....more
This is probably the best Anita Blake book I have read in a while, but perhaps it’s because I haven’t read one in a while though. When I think on it, it is a replay all the same themes: The societal issues with females who have sex with more than one person, polyamory, and issues with having sex with more than one species. The major difference is repairing parental relationship and how they actually accept the Micah/Nathanial/Anita/ Jean Claude/Asher, etc. relationship.
The same kinds of characters are back too — shifters, zombies, the dead, the undead, and the I-thought-you-were-really-really-dead-but-now-you-aren’t. Here’s my real issue: sometimes it all reads like a therapist is writing the story. I first noted this issue this past winter with the novella JASON. It reminded me of a drug company ad where, in a conversational tone, some guy manages to slip all the reasons he would need to call his doctor while taking the medication. Only this is with sex, polyamorous relationships, vampire hunting and execution, and whatever else Anita is into.
We do see how she is able to gain the respect of others with her way of getting the job done. What’s weird is that I still don’t get the whole love polygon these people-ish beings are engaged in. It’s polyamorous, and related to her having become a succubus vampire, but some people she just has sex with and others she loves and has sex with. It’s no wonder the story sounds like therapy.Anita and friends do partake in some super kinky and dangerous, Do-Not-Try-This-At-Home-Kids, sex. If you like the kink, some horror, and paranormal wrapped up in one package, this could do it for you!
But, still, I liked it more than the novella that came out at the same time this did, and JASON.
I had narration issues: I dislike books with sound effects — in this case there are mostly battle noises. And music. It annoyed me. If I wanted to listen to a radio drama I would have been born 50 years earlier. Ms. Alexis is obviously comfortable with voicing the narration and manages to keep all the voices straight. I didn’t like all of her vocalizations, in this case Nathanial’s voice (part of the love triangle Anita shares a house with, Nathanial is a submissive, exotic dancer, leopard shifter and bisexual). It just didn’t represent him for me. I had specifically not continued with this series because I disliked the direction in which it seemed to be heading, but, I was all out of audio books and this was a handy library download when I needed one. It was also a longer audiobook, which I really like. I give it a tentative recommendation....more
E-Galley provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except otherwise noted.
The ridiculous nature of Regency society’s ideas of reputation and ruination. or at least OUR ideas about that, are touched in LOVE IN THE TIME OF SCANDAL by Caroline Linden. This involves a near rape and when we look at the way the victim is treated it’s easy to relate it to fairly recent events in today’s society. Is it the man’s reputation and such that is ruined? No, of course not; it is the woman’s rep.
There’s an unusual level of misogyny from some of the male characters in the book, and I really disliked Benedict’s father and his friend. There are several interesting plot twists; as I read I thought the plot was cleverly constructed. I have to imagine the person who, in this story, needs help from the heroine will figure into the next entry in the series. I kept thinking she was another character of similar name and circumstance from a series by another author. They are not, but that is where my mind kept heading.
I liked how Linden rehabs Benedict in this one. He was so mean to his friend in IT TAKES A SCANDAL; and that comes back to bite him in the arse. But, it is also explained and his sins are forgiven. Jumping to conclusions, and thinking people will behave civilly is Penelope’s biggest error. It lands her in a precarious situation which would offer low survival rates to most women of the period.
She shows both determination, snark, and an understanding of her situation as a woman in her time that allows her to follow the path she has to follow in order to survive. Then again, she hadn’t much choice.
I didn’t really understand what turned Benedict’s regard for Penelope after her animosity becomes clear; a need to be liked, perhaps? But it does, and he takes a bad situation and turns it to a reasonable and advantageous solution.
I didn’t quite understand the end of this plot. Something to do with looted treasures? But, of course we get our HEA. I enjoyed the book, although enough time had passed that I didn’t easily recall the first in the series. I think reading them in order is important.
I highly recommend the series as a good example of Regency Romance, and where a strong man overcomes his father’s behavior in order to maintain his family....more
Brilliant and bespectacled Jane and Garrett, who is not really a rake have been at odds with each other forever. It takes their friends to help them each see that they have found in each other their intellectual match. First, Jane has to stop seeing Garrett as a rake. And he has to stop seeing her as an unattractive shrew. I talked about thematic clusters in my Sunday Post on May 17, this Blue Stocking, early feminist movement has come up in at least four books in the past few months.
Really, Jane was a chubby girl whose mother forced her retreat into the world of books. She overcame the chubbiness but never lost the books. She is drawn as someone who emulates the 18th century feminists. Her father, more sensible and kind than her mother, has seen to her education and the family’s wealth ensures she will not need to marry or starve.
Fortunately for the couple they have good friends who are also scheming and who have fabulous house parties.
[I want to go to a house party at a fabulous country estate.]
A problem develops in the form of a beautiful, criminal, and, truly quite nasty, villainess. Misunderstandings and such also develop and the two would be, should be lovers are thrown off track by her conniving.
The story is not pedestrian. I liked that the young, so-called, rake has unforeseen depths of feeling and intellect — and it’s a lovely thing to watch her open up to this knowledge. And, just when the couples problems seem insurmountable, Bowman gives them the tools to get over all the hurdles.
This could have been filled with just the typical, but it is not. Some of the supporting characters are a bit colorless, but I was drawn to the couple and quickly rooted for them to get past their own preconceptions of each other. It’s a bit about what happens when we put labels on people: Blue Stocking, Rake, Rogue. Also, I found it interesting that Bowman points out how societal strictures and etiquette actually make it easier for the villainess to manipulate the situation. I did like the treatment of Garrett’s sentiment over the loss of a fellow soldier in battle as well as Jane’s compassionate reaction.
Oh, you know we’ll have a happy, and honorable ending and it's given an unusual twist that makes it work. The treatment of the female villain is atypical too. The book is apparently based on MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.
The production is of good quality. And, although Justine Eyre is not my favorite narrator, she provides consistent and varied voices for the characters, and she does do men well. I also read part of the story and the writing works equally well in print.
If you’re looking for a fun Regency with a serious side, you might like to pick up this tale of not quite star-crossed lovers....more
Audio provided by Tantor Media for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinion presented herein is my own except as noted.
I enjoyed this book about a young women who doesn’t want to be the girl the guy has to marry, and who won’t marry someone who doesn’t want to also take in her four younger sisters. I am a little tired of the dead parents trope — even in historical romance. It’s what forces many young women in the genre to marry, seek men for money or, >gasp!< lose their virtue. In this case with six children the mother, and the father passing on separately, the loss of the only brother, and a reluctant and uncaring guardian, it’s a set up worthy of a Dickensian novel.
Please sir, can we have some more?!
But this doesn’t happen in the Victorian era but rather in the Regency, and Prinny himself gets involved which adds to the pressure for the unlikely named Bray Drakestone, to keep his vow to marry the dead brother’s sister and save them from an uncaring guardianship.
I enjoyed the story of the five sisters, their behavioral issues (the youngest carry on much like children today which adds to the verisimilitude) and the young duke who grew up without affection. The duke’s life is however, presented in contradictory terms: his behavior was strictly monitored but he was given whatever he wanted. That made me wonder.
That he could learn friendship and loyalty after he becomes an adult is a little harder t believe. I think, rather, he would be more likely to have a disassociative disorder. He leads the young woman, Louisa, down the path to perdition with the expectation she will marry him in the end. But her, at first minor, dalliances are so far out of character that I had to question how long the woman would deny she was really attracted the man. And I felt a lack of motivation for her going so un-prim. She constantly chooses to mistake and misjudge everything Bray does. He really cannot win with her.
Both characters have to grow and change to get to each other. They also need to learn to communicate. If your going to go so far from societal propriety with sexy times, not speaking your mind seems unlikely. A DUKE IN MY BED by Amelia Grey Original Post May 28: http://fangswandsandfairydust.com/201...
Audio provided by Tantor Media for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinion presented herein is my own except as noted.
It also seems unlikely that Louisa wouldn’t see the excellent opportunity marrying a very wealthy duke would be, and instead thinks finding a nice earl or count would be fine.
Of course, it all works out in the end with a nice HEA and it is a pleasurable listen. I like Barrie Kreinick’s narration. I enjoyed the attempts by Prinny’s “man of business” to influence the outcome because of how comically they are carried out. Often, the dalliances between Louisa and Bray also have a comic element to them, but the funny turns hot quite fast. Please sir can we have some more?!
While this is not Shakespeare and it is probably not destined to become a classic in the genre, I still enjoyed it. It was short, sweet, hot, and a good diversion!...more
Book provided by publisher through Blogging-for-Books for review purposes. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
Pros: This is an attractive cookbook containing a lot of seasonal recipes that sound delicious and taste great, for the most part. I made a couple dishes based on the recipes in the book, but I rarely follow recipes to the letter unless I am baking.
I made Walnut-Stuffed Acorn squash and really enjoyed the clever addition of curry and walnuts to the squash filling. Since the acorn squash are not in season, and are very hard as a result, I found removing all but 1/2 inch of flesh as the recipe requires pretty impossible. I also substituted carrots for the parsnip as a matter of preference and regular mushrooms for shitake.
The resulting squash was delicious and filling, and was a winner with my husband who I have a hard time getting to eat acorn squash. The recipe contains walnuts, but not so many that my diet-minded self was not upset.
I also made the egg noodles with wild mushrooms and spring greens. I added fresh fava beans to get a little more protein into the dish. My husband and I both really enjoyed how delicious and savory this recipe turned out to be and how easy it was to make. Sadly, I have a hard time finding wide egg-noodle type pasta that is gluten free so I used GF Tagliatelle.
I can imagine feeding a family wholesome food when one is a vegan could be extremely difficult, so I admire that Veronica Bosgraaf came up with so many delicious ways to feed her family.
I cook pretty much unprocessed foods because it is easier to know there’s no gluten if I make something myself. I had always wondered exactly what “pure” or “clean” eating means to people because those terms are bandied about so much. The truth is, the terms mean what you want them to mean.
Living in a place where we pretty much eat produce from outside New England a huge portion of the year, the seasonal approach doesn’t really work for, or make sense to me. Sure, when there is something in season at the Farmers’ Market I love it. But, I have pretty much come to grips with stuff being transported great distances.
Bosgraath offers a lot of unsupported statements about the health effects of certain foods, and the detrimental effects of others. For example, on page 146 she says, that tomatoes are: “…Packed with lycopene and antioxidants shown to help prevent cancer and protect skin from harmful UV rays,…” I unfortunately can not say whether this information is fact-based from her own reading of studies or simply hearsay. Yes it may be true, but I have lived through a lot of food fads which are later proven wrong. And they usually arise from unsupported hype.
She also states, on page 186, that cumin is “…a very healthy spice for women because it is a good source of both iron and calcium. ” First of all, men and women both need calcium and iron. And, the recipe it is mentioned in the notes for contains a total of one teaspoon for four to six servings.
One Tablespoon of cumin contains 4 mg of iron, which is a good amount since it is about 22% of the amount we should consume daily, but one teaspoon spread over several servings contains barely enough to mention. It does contain nearly 56 mg of Calcium (nutritional content information http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/s...) about six percent of the suggestion daily consumption. but again, that’s per Tablespoon not the recipe’s teaspoon split over 4 to six servings. I wouldn’t suggest we think of the amounts of vitamins offered in spices as a great source for most of them.
I did not check each recipe for completeness, but I was looking at the recipe for Quinoa with Leeks, Apricots and Toasted Pecans on page 110 and it’s ingredient list contains no leeks. It does contain onion and I suspect that since they are similar veggies, that the leeks go where the onions do. But, maybe both are called for, I just don’t know. The recipe sounds delicious and is full of great flavors.
I looked all over my Whole Foods for the buckwheat called for in several recipes but was unsure whether it should be milled like rice cereal or in its groat form. And, I could not find something that explained it.
This is not a bad cookbook, but it could have fact sources and should have been checked for ingredients. Most of the recipes sound delicious and are pretty easy to make, but I found at least one ingredient hard to figure out. The book’s design and layout are attractive. The author is the creator of a product called The Pure Bar, but fully admits she didn’t have the qualifications for starting a business like this.
She deserves applause for developing a cooking style that she and her family like and sharing it with us. It took time and ingenuity!
Audiobook purchased by blogger. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinion presented herein is my own except as noted.
I had heard that Mal’s book was really funny and this was a great addition to the series. In the end I agreed that this story was occasionally funny, sweet and sad; it was also “hot” and at times frustrating.
Let me explain:
Frustrating: Mal is the drummer in the band Stage Dive. Apparently people overlook the drummer so when he is recognized, it’s cool. We first met Mal in LICK when he rescues a damsel in distress and is considerate and funny in doing so. Mal seems bipolar, generous, goofy, selfish and immature, even adolescent, throughout the book. He is under a lot of stress with his band mates and with a family problem, but the Tasmanian Devil from cartoons comes to mind. How can a character be both generous and selfish? He is happy to give monetarily, but when he is backed into an emotional corner he can be irrational and selfish. Anne, is not willing to compromise and make a promise she may not be able to keep and that causes problems.
The sweet, sad, funny and hot are not so contradictory: in the course of any length of time we are likely to feel all of these emotions regardless of what is going on. Mal is funny and manic even as his heart is breaking and he is filled with despair. But, I found Mal too immature, too goofy, and too crazy to imagine any sane woman would allow him to let into her life and heart.
I am pretty sure the degree of goofiness is an artifact of the audio narration; it imbues characters with all kinds of personality the writer may not have intended and which my mind may not have come up with if I had been reading the book.
When the hook ups do finally happen they are undoubtedly hot and bothering, although often interrupted by humorous incidents. I like how Scott brings the attraction level to the fore and then makes us a little unsure of whether Mal really is interested. Sometimes, Mal seems a little preternatural in sussing out how to get past the full-stops and set people up. That’s another thing: Mal is Puckish.
I have to admire that Anne is willing to take the stand she does; after all, Mal starts off calling her a door mat, so when she realizes she has been one and refuses to go along to get along.
If this were being filmed the antics would be hilarious. They are funny to hear, and I think they would have been funny to read as well. But, add in visuals and it would be slapstick.
But, in this band, Stage Dive, Mal is actually the guy with the normal family life, the funny, and usually decent guy. So refusing to fess up to what is troubling him so deeply is temporarily understandable but not to the extent it went on. I was left with the feeling that because he had had such a happy life, he had fewer resources to handle adversity when it really comes into his life.
And Anne has been a little mother since she was a child. She is a naturally nurturing individual who has finally come to the end of the shitty things she can bear, but she has almost forced herself to get herself to that point.
The story paints an interesting picture of completely untypical characters who are a mix of immature, manic behavior and startling compassion. I find myself thinking I would have preferred it as a read, versus audio, book due to the portrayal of Mal as Kooky and wacky. The most beautiful man would not be attractive at the degree of crazy with which he was voiced.
A great part of the series, although I admit I preferred LICK to PLAY. While the drummer in a rock band may occasionally be overlooked the beat is what defines rock and roll. It is also the most primordial of sounds: from the sea, to the womb, to the heart monitor. The beat goes on....more
Audio provided by Tantor Media for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinion presented herein is my own except as noted.
Here’s something weird,I received this book and THE DUKE IN MY BED (review 5/28), both published by St. Martin’s, releasing within a week of each other, and both involving deadly curricle racing at the same time. Is there some kind of timed release by theme in the publishing industry?
The story is very interestingly begun, with a narrative from the murder victim. Usually if we are given this kind of first person narrative the person is not really dead and so I kept waiting for him to pop up. The question is left open throughout.
The female character and her friends are all early feminists and fans of Mary Wollstonecraft. Her father is a little loose in restraining his daughter so she has had a less sheltered and restricted life. Her feminism is at odds with societal norms, and made a good excuse for her begging off marriage to Lord Frederick years before. Her unconventionality is belied by her occasional archness and adherence to custom. She might be a feminist but she is not a wanton!
At some point the couple have to feign a sexual relationship and end up not just feigning it. But, I did not get the motivation for Leonora’s capitulation on this count. Nor for her obtuseness in realizing that her decision not to marry the man who loves her and who she loves in return without explanation is as wrong as how society limited women.
I have to admit, I do not like Anne Flosnick’s narration, and it seriously colors my reaction to every Anne Flosnick narrated book I listen to. Everything is read in a sing song modulation and her tone swoops up and down. Her accent is rather plummy and delicious, but that rhythm just annoys me to no end.
What will happen in this story is not too twisty and the climactic events, after which we expect the winding down of the story occurs earlier than expected, so you know something else will arise. But the second climax is a little ho-hum.
Then, there’s an actual lack of justice which results in a woman who is either guilty by association or abused having to stay in an abusive relationship. I really found this, and other aspects of the ending unsatisfying and in one case completely contradictory to the character.
This is not my favorite romance this year. I thought there were conflicting statements in the story (hard to specify without revealing over much), and the whole thing felt weak and a little dated in style.
<1>Audio Library Download. No Remuneration was exchanged and all opinion presented herein is my own except as noted.
Written in the first-person as a diary, this is an amusing take on the life of Mrs. Lydia Wickham, née Bennet after Wickham dies at Waterloo. Never a girl to be restrained by social convention, three years as the wife of the very bad man, Wickham, has not improved her morals. In fact she’s a bit of a sociopath: willing to cheat and steal as needed to get what she perceives herself to deserve, wealth and independence.
And, yet, her sister Mrs. Darcy, wife of the extremely wealthy and uber restrained Mr. Darcy, has had just enough influence on her to give a little niggle to her conscience now and again.
I believe the author wrote this not so much after the book’s Lydia as much as the A & E TV Series version. At least I could very clearly see the character as portrayed in that program by Julia Sawalha. Particularly her indecorous behavior.
With some very unvarnished tales of life, and travel in the period, Burnett gives what I felt is a good idea of the cage a free-spirited young woman would find forced into the life required by the ton and at the sufferance of her morally strict brother-in-law. And, as a widow with a speckled past, and a need for cash, her ideas of how to get ahead are neither moral nor correct at any time.
I downloaded this, because I love Jane Austen themed stories and I simply adore Davina Porter. Without an OUTLANDER book on my i-pod I am always searching for a narrator as amazing as she is. What I found is again her excellent reading with the voices of characters extremely similar to those from the OUTLANDER series. But, she does a marvelous job bringing Lydia with all the joy, all the scheming and all her frustration to life....more
Looking to get called back to the Majors, pitcher Caleb Hart runs into Sadie Merritt, the assistant to the mayor of the town where his team, the Catfish is based. They both have secrets and are on the hurting side of injustices.
E-Galley provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except otherwise noted or if I am relating information from a conversation with an author.
I have been chatting with Jennifer Bernard on Facebook and when she visited my area recently I asked if we could get in touch and talk about her work. She was nice enough to get together with me in a small cafe and we had a lovely lunch and, I think we both left feeling like friends. Honestly, we had so much fun that I kind of took crappy notes and I am relating this via memory (I also forgot to take a picture – >>face-palm<<).
Jennifer is wicked (a Maine term indicating “really, really,” amazingly, or cool!) intelligent, a Harvard graduate who has made a living in writing since graduation. Her mother is a poet and her father is a professor. Being academics, her parents are a little stymied by her love of romance novels. I asked her if she ever feels pressure to write loftier fiction. Smiling she replied, that her parents do have her books (although in the basement book shelves perhaps, she suggested, showing a little ambivalence for her career). Love and relationships are a huge part of our lives and if she can make people happy through her books then as far as she is concerned there isn’t much she can do that’s loftier than that.
Another blogger suggested I ask Jennifer whether her own relationships drive the relationships about which she writes. To me this is the alchemy of fiction: Creating characters and then putting them in stories, situations and relationships, and I am in awe of it. Jennifer said that she hasn’t done everything her characters do. But that there’s a little of her in all her characters. Strangely, she finds it easier to write male characters and get in their heads.
Jennifer told me that the series themes are a backdrop for the story and the relationship. Sometimes, though, she says she doesn’t know what the story is really about until she starts rewriting and editing the first draft. That’s when she realizes she is writing a love story and more.
Are her bachelor firemen stories just about getting it on with hot firefighters? Not just — each of those firefighters and the people they fall in love with have to overcome some major physical, psychological or family issue. Coming up against their jobs and the plot is where the characters work out their issues.
Jennifer is a big baseball fan (Go Sox!) and her new series takes her into the heart of the game. We all love the majors, but the “farm teams” the minor leagues are where people often start and end their careers. If a major league player gets off-track or injured they often get sent to a farm team to figure out why or to do their rehab. Caleb is a major league pitcher whose family life suddenly got really complicated. It threatened his career. First he got traded and then he got sent down.
His head and his heart haven’t quite gotten the message that he has to be all in for the game. He can’t play fro the wrong reason and he can’t hide from the public. When he meets Sadie, somehow that changes his life. Being with her, working on a project with her gets his game back on track.
The attraction between the couple is instant, exciting and Sadie thinks getting together is a bad idea but she is just too drawn to him to not enjoy it, at least for a little while.
Sadie’s issues are very au courant – she’s from a town run by one powerful family and she’s gotten on their bad side. They’ve bullied her so much that even her mother has suffered from it.
I was kind of amazed by how well Jennifer has translated the feelings of being bullied into this character’s life. The shame, the injustice and the frustration are all there and very palpable. She is “slut-shamed” [completely false allegations] in person and on line, and this felt very “pulled from the headlines.” I felt rather indignant on Sadie’s behalf. Both characters are very responsible but each needs to gain some emotional maturity to handle their relationship as it becomes complicated by their family issues. It is as if their emotional growth was put on hold by having had to become responsible too young.
Also palpable is the way Sadie feels a little guilty, as if she maybe acted in a way that prompted the behaviors of her ex and his family. And of course, Cal has feelings of guilt for being his father’s rube and evading questions about him. Guilt is such an unproductive emotion but it’s very human. I think the only people who don’t feel guilt are the people who probably should be feeling it.
Most of the other characters are developed to the extent they need to be; the less important characters are less fleshed out. Cal’s father is very interesting and complicated: he’s a grifter but I felt he really did love his family as far as he can. His identity is self-created, I enjoyed the allusion Jennifer makes to a certain TV show with it.
In any event the heat between the characters is instantaneous and just about melted my e-reader. Jennifer writes super hot stuff, but in all the work I have read the relationships are affectionate and respectful.
I really enjoyed the book, and I can’t wait to see what kind of ball Jennifer will pitch with the next book! It’s one pitch I do not want to miss!...more