Jenny Holiday is a new-to-me historical romance author and one that I can see myself returning to. With The Likelihood of Lucy Holiday brings readersJenny Holiday is a new-to-me historical romance author and one that I can see myself returning to. With The Likelihood of Lucy Holiday brings readers a romance that’s firmly set outside the aristocracy. Lucy Greenleaf and Trevor Bailey both grew up together in Seven Dials. When, at eleven, Lucy’s mother attempts to auction off her virginity, Trevor finds a way to get Lucy out. Growing up in a charity school, Lucy finds employment as a governess, only her adherent to the tenets of her heroine, Mary Wollstonecraft, gets her let go from her position. After returning to the streets for a week, Lucy soon has no choice but to turn to the friend who always protected her as a girl.
Trevor raised himself from the gutter by hard work and determination, which has paid off and he’s now opening a hotel with the backing of several aristocratic investors. When Lucy turns up at his door, he’s determined to get her back on her feet and into a position that she deserves; she can’t possibly be for him since he’s just not good enough. And therein lies my dissatisfaction with The Likelihood of Lucy: Trevor’s continued insistence that he’s not good enough for Lucy.
While both Lucy and Trevor have reasons that They Cannot Be Together. Lucy is committed to women’s rights and doesn’t see marriage as a way to keep fighting for them, and Trevor is certain that he’s still gutter trash (never mind that he’s loaded and that he can offer Lucy a much better life than that of a governess). While I can get behind the reasons why both Trevor and Lucy were hesitant about a relationship, I did find their continued insistence a tad repetitive. Trevor’s determination to define Lucy’s path particularly grated. Trevor was convinced that Lucy deserved better, but never consulted her on what she would prefer (at least until the end). And I have a hard time following Trevor’s reasoning as to why governessing was such a good path for Lucy – it’s basically a servant’s position and he thought that was better than any life that he could offer her. Hmm, just not buying that thought process.
Despite the inconsistencies in our hero’s reasoning, I liked the romance between Trevor and Lucy. It was founded on their childhood friendship but it became something much more. I also liked how Lucy slowly came around to the notion of a happy and equal relationship with a man. At first blush, Lucy came across as quite single minded about her mission and cause of women’s rights, which is of course admirable, but can also co-exist within a relationship. It was a nice progression and I appreciated that character growth.
The Likelihood of Lucy was a nice historical romance and I loved the fact that the main characters were not members of the aristocracy. All those ball gowns and riches are great, but sometimes its refreshing to have less illustrious people be the centre of a story.
After the explosive Devil’s Workshop I was quite excited to return to the adventures of Inspector Walter Day and his sidekick, Nevil Hammersmith. WhAfter the explosive Devil’s Workshop I was quite excited to return to the adventures of Inspector Walter Day and his sidekick, Nevil Hammersmith. While I did enjoy The Harvest Man, it did not have the same suspenseful momentum as the previous book. That said, The Harvest Man ends on a high note, setting the stage perfectly for the next book in the series. I can only imagine that there will be many developments in this mystery series; it has gone in a direction I did not expect.
The Harvest Man picks up shortly after the events in The Devil’s Workshop. Day has returned to the job, but he’s on desk duty. Due to his reckless behaviour Nevil has been let go from the Yard, but he is determined to prove that Jack the Ripper is still at large and catch the man at any cost.
While Day is riding a desk, there’s another serial murderer at large: the Harvest Man. The Harvest Man enters a couple’s home, lies in wait, and then sets to work trying to unveil the “true” identity of his mother and father, only to be disappointed each time.
A killer had escaped from prison with three other men and had used the ensuing confusion to evade police. He was still at large. He had no known name, and his records had been lost, but he had been called the Harvest Man by other inmates. The Harvest Man broke into people's homes while they were out during the day and hid in their attics, waiting until the household was asleep before emerging. He somehow made them groggy and unable to react while he methodically cut away their faces, a piece at a time (p. 39).
The murderer’s attempts to find his family are grotesque, graphic and creepy and because readers are given the Harvest Man’s perspective, you understand his motivations for murder. While understanding the motivations does not work to garner sympathy for the murderer, it does serve to make for the crimes to be understandable and all the more disturbing.
What is done very well in The Harvest Man, as well as the previous books in the series, is the human element to the murder. Not only do readers encounter rich primary characters with Day and Hammersmith, but they also get to see into the minds of the murderers and their victims. At times, it’s disturbing to be in the mind of the victim, yet it adds a layer of suspense and drama that makes for a strong mystery read.
While the villains are drawn very well in The Harvest Man, Grecian does not neglect his primary characters. Readers are taken into the struggles of both Day and Hammersmith. Day is a new father and he’s also the survivor of a brutal attack from the Ripper; it’s certainly playing havoc with his behaviour. Likewise, Hammersmith is struggling with the fact that he’s no longer a copper and trying to figure out what’s next for him as he’ll eventually have to find some sort of income. It’s these characters of Day and Hammersmith that keep me coming back. Both Day and Hammersmith are so ordinary. They’re not really super sleuths, and the practicality of their skills just makes them both very strong main characters to read about. Personally, I continue to feel compelled to learn more about their lives and to see their interactions with other characters.
While I still enjoyed The Harvest Man, I do have to admit that I wasn’t as invested in this installment as I was the previous one. The Devil’s Workshop was so suspenseful, I couldn’t put it down; with The Harvest Man, I wasn’t nearly as engrossed. Yet, The Harvest Man does serve an important purpose in the series: it sets the stage. Day and Hammersmith are at a crossroads in their careers and that does subdue the plot in The Harvest Man. But by the end of the novel, readers are thrown for a loop and taken in a direction that I wasn’t expecting. Both Day and Hammersmith are propelled forward and I can’t wait to see how that unravels in the next book in the series.
The Harvest Man is a solid addition to Grecian’s The Murder Squad Series. Grecian continues to build on his very human characters of Day and Hammersmith, while offering readers a spine tingling mystery. While not as suspenseful as the previous book, The Harvest Man sets the stage for future books in the series in an effective and compelling manner.
The reason that I picked up Ana of California is solely due to the fact that it’s a reimagining of one of my favourite books, Anne of Green Gables. AsThe reason that I picked up Ana of California is solely due to the fact that it’s a reimagining of one of my favourite books, Anne of Green Gables. As always with retellings there is some (or a lot) of risk involved in taking on a book that is beloved by so many people. For the most part, I think Ana of California says true to the essence of Anne while standing alone as it’s own work.
Ana was orphaned followed the murder of her parents and then her grandmother by gang members in L.A. For years Ana has been bouncing around foster care until her social worker offers her a last chance in a farming program. If Ana works on a farm until she turns sixteen she just might be able to get herself emancipated. Ana knows that she has to make this new situation work, and she knows this means keeping her mouth shut more often than not. Of course, this is not always easy for Ana.
Emmett and Abbie Garber are a brother and sister duo that have been running the family farm; however, times have been tough in more ways than the financial. Abbie makes the decision to take part in the farm program that brings Ana to them. Unlike Emmett, Abbie is thrilled to have Ana living with them, appreciating both Ana’s hard work and her positive presence. Of course, having read Anne of Green Gables it's clear that Ana's growing relationship with the Garber's is going to hit some pretty significant roadblocks.
For those that have read Anne of Green Gables the plot of Ana of California isn’t surprising; it follows Anne in broad strokes. That said, Ana was her own character. Yes, she Anne Shirley-esque with her rambling words and imaginative spirit, but Ana was also her own character, which I thought was a good move on the author’s part. I’m a big Anne fan, but I don’t want to read the exact same story. With Ana of California the author succeeds in modernizing a classic tale for existing fans while also crafting an engrossing story for readers unfamiliar with Anne.
As much as I enjoyed Ana of California I did find that the ending was a bit rushed and unbalanced in comparison to the first three quarters of the book. There was so much care evident in the first part of the book in how Ana and the Garbers were introduced to readers, then all the sudden readers are thrown new characters of Rye (a.k.a. Diana from Anne) and Cole (a.k.a. Gilbert from Anne) who were not explored with the same depth that Abbie and Emmett were. Abbie and Emmett were fabulous and I only wish that as much time would have been spent on Rye and Cole. For me Ana of California needed to be longer.
For fellow rabid Anne of Green Gables fans, I think you'll appreciate this homage to a classic. Ana of California pays tribute to a classic but also offers an engrossing coming-of-age tale of a funny, endearing and quirky heroine.
Dearest Rogue is the latest installment in Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series; a series that I have not read. Being the eighth book in the series, I worried thDearest Rogue is the latest installment in Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series; a series that I have not read. Being the eighth book in the series, I worried that I would come into this one and be completely lost, but the premise caught my attention and I decided to give it a try. While characters from the previous book make appearances, I never felt lost, and I ended up loving the book (I may even have to read the previous books in the series).
Lady Phoebe Batten is sister to a powerful duke, but because her eyesight has been slowly deteriorating since childhood, her brother would prefer to have her guarded at all times. And since kidnapping attempts ensue, that need for protection just might be warranted even if Phoebe would understandably like some freedom in her movements.
Guarding Phoebe is Captain James Trevillion, a quiet, older, former dragoon with a severe leg injury. Trevillion is dedicated to his job, but it certainly helps that his charge is young and beautiful. Even knowing that nothing can come of his attraction to Lady Phoebe, Trevillion is determined to protect her from all things. Unfortunately for Trevillion, his charge has decided that this protection business is getting in the way of living life. When the latest attempt to kidnap Phoebe is thwarted, Trevillion decides that he needs to take action, and suddenly Phoebe is aware that her guard is much more than a silent shadow.
What was so appealing about Dearest Rogue was the seemingly mismatched pairing of Trevillion and Lady Phoebe. James Trevillion is silent and grim, whereas Phoebe is optimistic and giving to rambling, and together they are quite simply adorable.
“I am not kissing you,” he said with the awful finality of a judge pronouncing a death sentence.
“You know very well why not.”
“Nooo,” she said slowly, thinking it over. “No, I can’t say that I do, really. I mean I know why you think we oughtn’t kiss again: you’re as old as the Thames, you’re below me in rank, I’m too young and frivolous, and you much too serious, et cetera, et cetera, and et cetera, but frankly I don’t have any reasons not to kiss you.”
From the start, Trevillion is attracted to Phoebe, but it’s his own personal misgivings about a possibility of a relationship between them that holds him back. Trevillion is caught up in their difference in ages and station, but it’s only when Phoebe starts to reciprocate his feelings that Trevillion starts to realize that they just might have a chance. It’s Phoebe’s persistence in pursuing Trevillion that made Dearest Rogue such an endearing romance.
Alongside one of the most adorable romances that I’ve read in awhile, is a mystery element. Who exactly is behind the attempted kidnappings? Readers are treated to that information early on, and with that, they are also introduced to the heroine of the next book in the series, Sweetest Scoundrel. Eve Dinwoody is the sister of the man that tried to kidnap Phoebe, and it’s clear from the start that she has a complicated past and relationship with her brother. This “setting of the stage” worked really well for me. Not only does it have relevance to the plot in Dearest Rogue, it also captured my attention and encouraged me to add the next book to my to-read pile.
If you’re a fan of fast-paced and adorable romances, you can’t go wrong with Dearest Rogues. This is a romance of opposites and it was executed very well as by the end, readers are well aware that despite their differences, Trevillion and Phoebe compliment each other perfectly.
Uprooted was a fantastic read for me. The writing evokes the old fashioned, atmospheric quality of a a fairy tale from the very beginning:
Our Dragon d
Uprooted was a fantastic read for me. The writing evokes the old fashioned, atmospheric quality of a a fairy tale from the very beginning:
Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as through we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.
In Agnieszka’s village the Dragon chooses a girl once every ten years. The young woman selected is bound in service to the Dragon, and when they are released at twenty-seven they are set free, usually leaving the valley by the Wood for good. In this story it’s Agnieszka who is unexpectedly chosen to serve the Dragon. Agnieszka was never considered refined enough to serve the illustrious wizard, rather it’s her best friend, Kasia, who was thought to be chosen. Naturally, Agnieszka is terrified to be selected and her fear is not unfounded especially when she’s pressed into using magic that she had no idea that she even possessed. It doesn't help that the Dragon is a rude and detached man that seems to care nothing for the actual people that he protects by holding the Wood at bay.
While Agnieszka’s abilities don’t manifest in the expected, methodical practice that the Dragon would have liked, Agnieszka does have a connection with the land of her village and more dangerously, the Wood that they protect everyone from.
The Wood has slowly crept forward over the years, taking land and people alike, transforming them into the unrecognizable. When Kasia is taken, Agnieszka risks everything to find her friend, setting off a chain of events that has serious repercussions for Agnieszka and the Dragon.
While the setting, premise and language used are evocative, what I really enjoyed about Uprooted was its depiction of the friendship between Agnieszka and Kasia as well as the symbolism of the Wood.
Agnieszka was an excellent character in her own right. I loved her naivety and drive to do good, but I also liked her commitment to her friendship. When Kasia is taken into the Wood, Agnieszka is well aware that it is unlikely that she’ll be able to save her friend, but she must try. This leads to a wonderful moment in the book where both young women see each other’s petty jealousies and grievances towards one another. Agnieszka is jealous of Kasia’s poise and beauty, Kasia is jealous of Agnieszka’s relationship with her parents and the freedom that she experienced as the unlikely choice for the Dragon. What’s fantastic about this moment is that Agnieszka recognizes their differences and anger towards one another and goes forward. There’s no real conflict from their mutual grievances, there’s just a steadfast friendship between two young women thrust into a difficult situation who continue to remain friends with an awareness that neither are perfect.
The Wood was also an interesting concept in Uprooted. The author plays around quite a bit with the theme of “rooting” to a specific place or person. Agnieszka is the embodiment of an attachment to a specific place. She loves her village and the people that she shares that life with, even if it means living in the shadow of the dangerous Wood. In contrast, the Dragon would do anything to avoid making a commitment to the people and the land of the village. And it’s the idea of an attachment or “rooting” that is at the heart of the problem of the Wood. The theme is beautifully executed and flows extraordinarily well with the overarching plot of the novel.
Ultimately, Uprooted is a wonderful, adventurous tale perfect for those who have seemingly outgrown fairy tales. This one has great writing, great characters, a compelling plot, and a subdued romance. I only wish that I could read this again for the first time to appreciate its loveliness.