You know that moment when you rather wearily order a desert in a restaurant, knowing you are full and not expecting much of the crème brûlée, but whenYou know that moment when you rather wearily order a desert in a restaurant, knowing you are full and not expecting much of the crème brûlée, but when you take that first spoonful – oh my! It’s delicious, and at once you give up following the conversation of your companions and lose yourself in a decadent few minutes of sheer escapism. That’s the best analogy I can find for reading Pleasures of a Tempted Lady.
I was delighted to have the opportunity to read a copy of this book pre-publication, and from the synopsis I had expected to enjoy it given the era in which it is set, the passionate cover and the high seas adventures promised. But I hadn’t expected to be quite so gripped! Jennifer is a wonderful writer with such expert control of the narrative – drip-feeding information carefully, never telling the reader more than she needs to know, and the result is an intriguing read. In addition, there is so much action, so many twists and turns, that I was quite simply riveted.
This isn’t a book weighed down in over-poeticism and writing that reads as if the author were penning the novel in the time it is set, which can often be the case, I find, in historical romance – though that is not at all to say that the writing isn’t well-crafted because it absolutely is. The writing is direct and modern in feel (outside of the dialogue, of course), which means it is the plot and the characters that are the focus. And I loved these two elements of the book. The plot drew me in from the outset – such drama and heartache and longing. And the characters were especially gripping – I loved the Donavan sisters’ dynamic, and was delighted when it became clear that the novel was to cover not just one love story, but two. And sensual love stories at that – the love scenes were moving indeed.
Jennifer Haymore is an exciting new find for me, and I shall be sure to check out her other books. If you like historical romance, and page-turning books with strong characters and dramatic stories, then I very much recommend Pleasures of a Tempted Lady to you....more
Although this book is pitched as a young adult novel, and I generally don’t read within this genre, I love Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction and sAlthough this book is pitched as a young adult novel, and I generally don’t read within this genre, I love Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction and so was keen to read her latest offering, which is a departure from her norm, focusing as it does on four fictional characters rather than real figures from the past.
I read the book in one sitting; easy to do given the author’s ability to transport her reader to another time, another place – into the head of another person. I thoroughly enjoyed the sense of history that echoes through the book; as usual, when reading a Philippa Gregory novel, I felt at ease that the story was grounded in sound historical fact. It was illuminating and moving to discover how young people lived in that era, and the limitations they faced. Goodness how I’d have struggled in fifteenth-century Italy!
Given the recent fascination with all things paranormal – vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombies – I think the book beautifully reminds us that there was a time in world history when these things weren’t the fruits of authors’ and film-makers’ imaginations, but very vivid and tangible threats to God-fearing people worldwide. The author cleverly explores the roots of superstitions and legends, debunking myths, while simultaneously opening the door to a whole world of mystery and magic. For me, the characterisation is the strongest element of the book. Each of the four main characters is real and likeable and strong and courageous. And there is the delicious suggestion of romance that may bloom in the future – for I assume there will be later novels, given that the ending is open.
Finally, the publisher Simon and Schuster has outdone itself with the artwork for the book, which made reading it all the more pleasurable an experience. A beautiful cover image, stunning maps on the inside covers and beautiful break- and chapter-opening artwork. I’m told that a UK publisher that is pioneering colour printing for novels has created a limited edition version of the book with full-colour illustrations – a fabulous idea.
All in all, it’s a five-star review for me on this one, and I will be looking out for the next title. ...more
I really enjoy fiction that weaves itself into history or mythology, especially when it links to places I have visited, or would like to visit. So I wI really enjoy fiction that weaves itself into history or mythology, especially when it links to places I have visited, or would like to visit. So I was keen to read this book, Shades of Atlantis by Carol Oates, which ties into the mystical Hill of Tara – the seat of the High Kings of Ireland and one of Ireland’s most famous ancient sites. This book has many fascinating elements – Celtic mythology, King Arthur and Merlin, Plato, and the lost city of Atlantis – all drawn together in a love story of soul-mates and their action-packed destiny.
The heroine, Triona, lives in Camden, Maine, with her aunt, uncle and brother, Ben. She has never quite felt like she ‘fit in’ and she dreams of travelling to Europe after completing her senior year at high school. Triona is working part-time in a local restaurant to help fund her travels, and when she meets her new boss the attraction between them is instant.
‘I couldn’t explain it; though I’d never laid eyes on Caleb Wallace before, I recognized him instantly. I knew the contours of his face, the straight line of his jaw, the shallow dimple in his chin, the deep blue eyes that sparkled like sapphires…’
‘I didn’t want to move an inch. Being with Caleb right there was like one of the fairytales I’d never believed in, my very own happy ending.’
When tragedy strikes, Triona eventually follows her dream and goes to London. Here she learns the meaning of many of the stories Caleb had told her and she begins to understand his fascination with mythology. But when legend becomes Triona’s reality, and her soul-mate and family are in danger, can Triona live up to her destiny?
‘There have always been mysteries, since the dawn of time… Things that no human has been able to explain.’
I love this book. The mysterious Caleb is a great character – handsome, strong, elusive and passionate, and it was really nice to also see the female lead character, Triona, develop from a somewhat insecure schoolgirl into a strong, fiery, independent woman, guided by Caleb’s love and knowledge. I love the way that this book brings Celtic myth and legend into a contemporary romance, and puts forward the idea that these ‘stories’ are not yet complete, and are part of our living future. I am sure that having read this book many people will want to visit the beautiful Hill of Tara, to get lost in its ancient history, and touch the Stone of Destiny for themselves.
The plot has some great surprises as well; I was caught out several times on what I thought was going to happen. It’s very difficult to give you too much more on the plot of this book without giving the surprises away. But if you like the romance and thrill of magic, mythology and legend, all tied up with contemporary fiction… if like me you find the idea of soul-mates and destiny irresistible, then you will love this book.
It was an adventure that left me wanting to read more, to see what happened to the characters next. Luckily, Carol Oates has hinted in interviews of a sequel coming very soon – which may even be written from a different character’s point of view. I shall certainly be adding her future books to my bookshelf....more
I loved this book. The cover drew me in – especially the unusually silky textured paper – and sitting in my garden, I was transported to a bygone era,I loved this book. The cover drew me in – especially the unusually silky textured paper – and sitting in my garden, I was transported to a bygone era, lost in a world of kings and queens and religion and politics and ambitions and dreams. While the book is full of romance, the focus on telling a tale grounded in history is the priority, and this leads to a compelling page-turner.
There is a wonderful sense of setting in the book – from the Aquitaine to the East – and the depiction of life for a twelfth-century duchess/queen felt realistic. I have always loved the power of historical fiction to show how life differed for our ancestors, but also which common themes echo across the centuries. In this book, I was delighted by the strong characters (particularly the females), their ambition and, most of all, the pull of their love over righteousness and politics.
Christy’s writing style is poetic and fitting for the era she depicts. She is careful to include vivid descriptions, allowing the reader to understand how this old world looked and felt. It is her romantic prose, though, that most draws me. My favourite phrase is this: ‘Once he met me, and saw his own soul in my eyes...’ What a beautiful way to capture the love at first sight between two characters.
For me, the greatest strength of the book lies in the characterisation. Eleanor is a heroine with whom you identify, and from early on in the book I found myself admiring her courage and her strength in such a male-dominated world. I think Christie finds the perfect balance between making Eleanor ruthless and treacherous when the need arises, but at heart a good, loving woman whom we respect and wish well. And her love interests – well! Attractive, intriguing, a wonderful mix from the alpha male to the devoted worshiper.
The ending of the book was perfect – freedom at last, and the hope of new love and a whole new level of power and accomplishment. I found the afterword of the book most fascinating, and I would have loved a sequel to the book in which Christy explored the rest of Eleanor’s story, particularly her marriage to Henry and her connection to English history.
Overall, this is a book I would recommend to anyone who loves romantic historical fiction. ...more
The writing is fabulous; that alone should earn it five stars. Such wonderful, imaginative descriptions - and I had the sense the author had carefullyThe writing is fabulous; that alone should earn it five stars. Such wonderful, imaginative descriptions - and I had the sense the author had carefully crafted each word, phrase, sentence. But oh, the ending. I just can't bear a romance with a sad ending. So I'm afraid while I think it's a beautiful, well-written book worthy of the praise it has received, I can't give it five stars and say I loved it....more
A masterpiece. The research, the attention to detail, the careful and considered execution - I am in awe of Auel's writing. I love books with detailedA masterpiece. The research, the attention to detail, the careful and considered execution - I am in awe of Auel's writing. I love books with detailed description of customs and settings and people, and this book is so beautifully written that it's easy to picture the world in your mind as you read. I also love that the book is so long - there's something wonderfully comforting about having such a big tome to get through. I'm looking forward to reading the other books in the series now....more