I’d read the first in this series earlier in the year and quite enjoyed it so I was excited to give this one a go as well. John Harding is the son of...moreI’d read the first in this series earlier in the year and quite enjoyed it so I was excited to give this one a go as well. John Harding is the son of the main characters of the first book, Ellen and Edward. Theirs was quite an angsty tale and John and Kate were not a disappointment in that department.
I didn’t quite get why John was so emotionally closed off given that his mother and her then, new husband Edward, took him into their care when he was ten from his grandfather and though it was stated often in the story that the time apart had been what informed him most, I just had a difficult time buying him as this unloved, tortured soul. Most especially because the distance he put between his family and others was self-imposed. And he took such a put upon tone so often, I found I lost sympathy and patience with him often. I especially didn’t like him issuing orders at her and it really took away from the romance for me. Kate had the patience of some sort of saint. And if I am honest, I recollect feeling the same with Ellen and Edward, so perhaps John came by it honestly as his mother could be a bit tiring in that was as well. Still, there’s something about the way the story weaves and wends that pulled me in again and in spite of myself, I was pulling for John and Kate.
I did feel Kate was too sacrificial in the beginning but she did begin speaking up for herself with John a bit more as the story went along and for that I was grateful. She also had her own challenges which for the most part, I understood but there were times where she annoyed me a bit as well. Still though, I rooted for them and kept turning the pages because I was interested. As in the first book, the B-plot really pulled me in and I was very much interested in Wareham and I liked the twists and the tie up of that thread in the story. I’d sussed out Kate’s parentage early on but I was not disappointed in the reveal though I did hold a grudge against her father and had absolutely no more use for her mother. I very much enjoyed seeing Edward and Ellen happy in their lives but also having to deal with the facts of their lives up to meeting and how Ellen’s life in particular had informed John’s childhood.
Overall, I enjoyed this as I did the first in the series. I appreciate the author’s skill at making me care about the characters in moments that otherwise I would roll my eyes and toss my Kindle across the room. I still care in those moments and I want to press on. I admit even to being caught up in the angst and emotion of the story far more than my logical side would like. This is a quick, enjoyable read and definitely a good one for vacation or a weekend. Also, I did receive a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.(less)
I'm a huge fan of all things Claudian and Julian & devoured Robert Graves' "I, Claudius" & "Claudius the God" so I'm likely deeply predisposed...moreI'm a huge fan of all things Claudian and Julian & devoured Robert Graves' "I, Claudius" & "Claudius the God" so I'm likely deeply predisposed to have liked this a lot. And I did. It was wonderful to get a self-perspective take on the legendary Livia and see that woman before she became that legend. I quite liked her & her voice here was clear. She felt real and though this account differs from many things said of her throughout the ages, that was accounted for and I was perfectly willing to believe it just as easily. I very much enjoyed following her life with Octavianus "Tavius" to be, Augustus and their passionate love and its inevitable cooling off was very realistic. I credit the unfolding of the story that it kept me a bit on edge about the possible dissolution of their union as I knew they remained married until Augustus died an old man. I was so invested that even with the knowledge, I was worried that they would never resolve their differences and remain estranged. It certainly kept me turning the pages like there was no tomorrow. I even enjoyed the mentions Claudius received and loved hearing that Drusus' death was one she never got over (he seemed such a nice little boy and things I've read of him as an adult have always been highly favorable and I've always liked him a bit more than Tiberius). I enjoyed this very much and admit that I was a bit sad when it was over. I'd have liked to spend more time with Livia listening to her recount the life she's lived. Fascinating woman. Endlessly. I would recommend this to fans of the time in history or fans of reading about the Claudians and Julians. It's easily read over a weekend. I look forward to reading more from the author.(less)
Having known nothing about Joan of Kent, I quite enjoyed reading this book. It was easy to get swept up and away in Joan's story which begins when she...moreHaving known nothing about Joan of Kent, I quite enjoyed reading this book. It was easy to get swept up and away in Joan's story which begins when she's twelve and very much grieving her father's execution. I won't spoil what happens in detail as there's a large amount of royal court intrigue and what must also be the longest petition in history to declare a marriage valid. It was all very interesting but I admit that I had difficulty vesting in Joan & Thomas Holland's love. (view spoiler)[ She was twelve when she met him and I understood her crush and yearn for protection as she had suffered a great loss with her father's death. His love for her, as he was not himself a child by any stretch, tilted the romance axis for me. Their love story didn't really take off for me until after their petition was favorably granted and their marriage declared valid when she was eighteen. I was finally invested in them as a couple when they'd had a few children and by then he'd come home from a campaign a markedly old man. The contrast Joan notes in their ages was believable to me and stood out to me. In fairness, I come from parents with a considerable age gap and have seen how as time wears on, age does take it's toll and becomes not only noticeable but also the natural chasm of death can draw a line between a couple, so I found this part of their story the most interesting because it very much reminded me of my parents.
Joan's love for Thomas never wavered and her grief at his demise was palpable but I was glad that she had come full circle with Ned for another chance at a happy union. Let's just say that I was really invested in that aspect of the book but as soon as it happens the story concludes and I was left wanting more. I think I'd read an entire book about Joan and Ned's union as I found Ned one of the most interesting characters in the story. I much enjoyed that the book dovetails Joan, her grief at the loss of her father (mirrored in her daughter Maud at the end), Ned, Bruno and the embroidered white hart deftly. So well done. (hide spoiler)]
This was the first book I'd read of Ms Campion but I would read another absolutely, especially covering Joan and Ned's married life. I won a copy of this book from the publisher in a giveaway in exchange for an honest review.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I’m still a sucker for books that tout themselves as Downton-esque so I picked this one up & dove right in. Set in Seattle just after WWI the stor...moreI’m still a sucker for books that tout themselves as Downton-esque so I picked this one up & dove right in. Set in Seattle just after WWI the story takes us to Benedict Hall & the family & servants who reside there. I won’t spoil here but I will say this, I liked Margot and that she was a doctor quite determined to practise when it wasn’t considered a proper job for a woman. She was smart, sometimes awkward, most often sensible and very relatable. I also liked Frank Parrish, the Major back from the war where he’d lost an arm. He never gave up and despaired and still remained kind even when he was feeling ill at ease or unsure of his place in the world. I had no problem investing in and rooting for the two as a couple.
Preston was a nasty piece of work but he kept me page turning in a macabre way. I still want to know what made him so hateful and twisted. Margot is quite clear about him always having been that way and having tried multiple times when they were children to kill her with Blake being the only thing that stood in his way. So, I wondered what happened to make him that way. It’s not answered but I hope there’s some further insight in the next book (which I have on my desk to read). I’m still not sure how I feel about what is hinted at as his fate and I really didn’t know what to do with the “mystical sapphire” turn but still, I enjoyed reading this story for the most part. The scene setting was well done & gave a clear picture of Seattle at the time. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for another series to get into. It’s a fairly quick read & engaging enough to breeze through on the weekend. A 3.5 star read for me. (less)
I was in the mood for a light historical romance and so I jumped into this one. I enjoyed it but boy are Ellen and Edward an angsty duo. Ellen literal...moreI was in the mood for a light historical romance and so I jumped into this one. I enjoyed it but boy are Ellen and Edward an angsty duo. Ellen literally went from “I hope he doesn’t acknowledge me as it’ll be calamitous” to when he walks past and doesn’t acknowledge her “ OMG! I can’t believe he didn’t acknowledge me! Is he changed of heart?! Were all his words just that and not genuine affection?!” She gave me whiplash more than once with this. Actually, Edward was the perfect man for Ellen in that he was patient and exceedingly willing to always defer to her point of view and even apologize for expecting that once she’d said “You know everything”, she was still holding something back to later be revealed. This particular trait of Ellen’s wore on me but because Edward was willing to hang in there with her, I figured I’d stick it out too. Plus, there were some worthwhile interactions and situations unfolding via other characters that were quite well done.
The Forths were very likable and I was annoyed with Ellen on Julia’s behalf at their meeting. I understood Ellen’s issues but it was tiring how she constantly fell back on that to presume on others. Then again, everyone in the story understands and practically apologize to her no matter what so why shouldn’t she? Don’t misunderstand, I liked Ellen but I really wanted her to work a bit more when it was clear she’d slighted people or judged them harshly or unfairly. She was so sensitive of herself but she’s never taken to task beyond a mere mention.
I enjoyed both Richard’s and Rupert’s evolution and in both of them it seems the stage is set for their own stories. I missed John when he was gone. Pembroke was a thorough jerk and Gainsborough a complete pig (his comeuppance was particularly enjoyable, btw). I didn’t understand why Gainsborough reappears at the Forths after his previous interaction with Richard (which by Richard’s account was pretty clear about what sort of end Gainsborough would meet should he cross the Marlow’s again) but excepting that, it made for good drama. So as not to spoil a relevant plot, I will just say that I enjoyed the rest of the characters as well. For all Ellen had gone through, she really was met with overwhelming kindness and love by all but two and to be fair, she needed it.
This was angsty, fun, frustrating and never dull, culminating in a gilt framed HEA. This was a good weekend read & I’d even say it’s a good one to have on vacation. (less)
Ariah Burnaby is a conundrum. Not just to those around her but to me after hundreds of pages. Rarely have I spent so much time reading about a charact...moreAriah Burnaby is a conundrum. Not just to those around her but to me after hundreds of pages. Rarely have I spent so much time reading about a character and depart at the end feeling that I never got to really know them. Still, I very much enjoyed this book. I kept wanting to understand or see if she'd ever divulge something to explain it all. She didn't. To the end, she was ever Ariah. They sympathy I felt for her in the beginning was stripped away as the story moves along & her children, Chandler, Royall & Juliet come into their own & she is seen through them. I wanted each of the three to get away simply as a mechanism of personal survival. It was compelling reading. I very much wanted to know if any would discover that she was the legendary lady by The Falls waiting for her fallen first husband to be returned by the churning waters. But the mystery of Dirk Burnaby was likely all that could really be handled & that was well done.
This is going to be on my almost favorites list because while I likely won't read it again, it was a great read & will have me reflecting upon its characters for years. Also, I'm a sucker for a Niagara Falls setting. I think this was the first novel I've read of Joyce Carol Oates & I have to say that I very much liked it.(less)
I was looking for a nice, sweet, easy historical fiction read & this one didn’t disappoint. Libby & Mirela were what hooked me into the story...moreI was looking for a nice, sweet, easy historical fiction read & this one didn’t disappoint. Libby & Mirela were what hooked me into the story & made it very enjoyable. I wasn’t too taken with Michael though I understood why he had done all he had for his family but much like Prof Sawyer, his manner was so brusque that often it put me off from truly and deeply sympathizing. For Professor Sawyer’s part, the way in which he berated & discounted Libby was almost more than I could take. Libby rolled with a lot & was definitely displaying some virtue of forgiveness that I clearly don’t possess. I held a grudge or two as I read. Still, overall, I was invested enough in Libby & Mirela that they were worth it. Both displayed strength, kindness & quite good character.
It wasn’t a complex story but it was heartwarming and that’s what I was looking for. Now I know I can check out another of Camden’s books the next time I’m looking for just that. 3.5 stars. (less)
Sometimes you find a real treat in a Kindle Daily Deal & this was one of those times for me. I adored reading about Miss Buncle & the people i...moreSometimes you find a real treat in a Kindle Daily Deal & this was one of those times for me. I adored reading about Miss Buncle & the people in her town of Silverstream (aka Copperfield). Her book sets off a storm of fevered controversy & an all out hunt for the author that goes from nasty to downright unforgivable. It reminded me of reading Cranford & how small towns & the people who populate them are sometimes intertwined & endearing & infuriating all at once but always engaging. All the while, Miss B is doing her best to be polite & still maintain her cover. The character portrayals were vivid & I was cheering for some (the Vicar, Sally, Sarah, the Colonel & Mrs Bold) & wanted nothing but severe comeuppance for others (particularly Mrs Greensleeves & Mrs Featherstone Hogg)
I was so taken while reading, that I stayed up late into the night. I love being so engaged by a book but sadly, it's not a weekly (or necessarily monthly) occurrence. I tend to give five stars for books that I'd read again & that held my attention so raptly that I experience some sadness when it is over. This one hit all those hallmarks for me & I'm now on the hunt for 'Miss Buncle Married' because I'd love to spend more time with her. I'd never before read anything by Ms. Stevenson so I'm thrilled to have been exposed to another author & a work I'll cherish.(less)
A little mystery & romance are wound through this historical fiction novel & I really liked it. It's third in a series & I've not read the...moreA little mystery & romance are wound through this historical fiction novel & I really liked it. It's third in a series & I've not read the two before this one (I've picked a few of late that are the middle of series. I don't know why). I didn't find it to be a problem at all that I hadn't read the two prior & the story flowed nicely. Suzanne & Malcolm Rannoch are very good characters to pass time with & I'll continue at least to the next book as I already have it on my desk waiting for me. They mystery was well done & I was not terribly surprised about who it was that murdered Tatiana but I was surprised about why. I didn't see that coming. What I did see coming from the beginning was the nature of Tatiana & Malcolm's relationship. I don't know if it was telegraphed so much as it just felt like it had to be what it turned out to be because of the way Malcolm was characterized. Still in all, it was very well done. Add to the murder mystery, the glittering society balls, gowns & the backdrop of political intrigue & I was a happy chica.(less)
What to say about this one? Hm. It hit all the Downton Abbey hallmarks for good and bad. It felt a bit like Luxe too with a bit of the tone of Gossip...moreWhat to say about this one? Hm. It hit all the Downton Abbey hallmarks for good and bad. It felt a bit like Luxe too with a bit of the tone of Gossip Girl. Are these good or bad things to me? I'll say this, it didn't make for the most surprising read but there were things that kept me turning the pages, so it couldn't have been all bad. I did like the historical nods to British Colonialism with regard to India. I think I'd have liked more emphasis on that aspect but this isn't a historical novel in the strictest sense or at least it didn't feel like it to me.
As to the characters, I wanted more of Ada but she was a bit secondary to Rose (who came with a story arc end that was telegraphed in the first few pages of meeting her so it was difficult to feel much suspense by the reveal). Ada had a case of insta-love with Ravi based on one shipboard kiss and I tried my best to ignore that because I thought her trajectory was really going to be about her figuring out how to get to Oxford. Sebastian was interesting enough but his "scandalous secret" was an "of course" moment for me. Fiona & Charlotte were our stock annoying evil stepmother & sister and I really couldn't much care about them as there wasn't much given to flesh them out.
All in all, I'd recommend this to anyone who is looking for a comfortable read, not one looking to be surprised or for anything very complex. These characters are wearing it all on the surface & there's no deep drama but there's plenty of melodrama. Sometimes, that makes for a fun read, so go into this one for that. I don't know if I'll continue with the series.(less)
I didn't realize that this was part of a series when I picked this one up. It's the third book but prequel to the first. I liked this well enough but...moreI didn't realize that this was part of a series when I picked this one up. It's the third book but prequel to the first. I liked this well enough but I'm not likely to read the others. I've spent enough time with Valentina & Jens. Their characterizations were fine but honestly, I liked the description of the surroundings & secondary characters much more. I just wasn't swept away by this one & when I put it down because life intervened, I didn't pine to get right back. I did finish & could recommend it as a weekend read (it's nice & light).(less)
I thought this was going to be a more serious sweeping historical novel as it's quite the tome. It turns out that it's a frothy borderline trashy roma...moreI thought this was going to be a more serious sweeping historical novel as it's quite the tome. It turns out that it's a frothy borderline trashy romance novel with a historical setting. That's not a bad thing or slam but had I realized that before I was already pulled in, I'd have saved this one for the beach this summer. The main character Barbara (Bab to those closest) is fifteen when we begin and she's going to be married to Roger, a much older man who happens to be an earl & who she's crushed on since she was ten. She's overjoyed & he's marrying her because he's much about a particular piece of property her in her somewhat disgraced family's holdings. This is no impediment to one true love status for Barbara & she's sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt that she will make him love her completely & eternally. It's very easy to see from the beginning that calamity will follow & Barbara is going to get kicked in the teeth. Still, I had to see it unfold. It's engaging like that. And of course, Roger has a deep dark secret that absolutely can't get out, to cause even more drama. Okay, so it was so anvilicious, I figured it out well before I had read 100 pages in. And I kept going, because it's obvious that's going to come out and probably be all kinds of soapy, angsty.
Long story short, it was. The story doesn't end there though. In fact, there's another few hundred pages to go where it kind of goes a bit off the rails plotwise but by then, I didn't really care because though I wanted to see how it all turned out, I wasn't taking it so seriously that I needed anything more than the soaptastic to close it out. It did drag a bit though (there are heavy descriptions throughout of rooms, furniture, gardens, meals & clothes; I love those things usually but after a while, it was too much) & I must say by the end, the only person that I still liked and wanted to know more about was Barbara's grandmother & her scathingly opportunistic mother, Diana. Barbara, I'd had enough of along with everyone else. I found out there's a prequel featuring the grandmother & I may read that in the future. There's also a sequel to this one following Barbara to America but I'm pretty sure I'll skip that one.(less)
This was quite an enjoyable story & it moved at a good clip.I couldn't stop turning the pages because I needed to know Tess would be alright &...moreThis was quite an enjoyable story & it moved at a good clip.I couldn't stop turning the pages because I needed to know Tess would be alright & so would Jim. I very much liked that Tess really took time to try to figure out what she wanted & what was most important to her. She could have tossed in the towel with Lucile tonnes of times early on but she didn't. I was often annoyed but it felt honest for the character & the story being told. Tess seemed to me to have genuine development as a character so when she came to her conclusions, I believed they were right for her at those times. She had more patience than I have & I think it served her well.
Lady DG was a piece of work. I have to say that I was less offended by her actions in the lifeboat than I was by her general manner & demeanor. She was mercurial to the point of needing to be slapped repeatedly. And for all of Cosmo's faults, I actually cheered when he tired of her & told her he was basically leaving her. Elinor was a dutiful sister & even though Lucille was a pill, I was glad that she had that bond when most all her other relationships faltered. James was a decent enough guy but I was never much rooting for him. Also, I found it a little confusing going between the main men in the story: James Bremerton (the businessman) & Jim Bonney (the sailor). That Jim is often a nickname for James just threw me a few times & I wondered why the author chose to name the men so similarly.
The portrayals of real people was fun to read & no surprise, Molly was my favorite. I have to also say that I was impressed that the relating of the sinking of the Titanic was so well done & the immediate aftermath on the Carpathia. The author rendered an already well known instance with notes that were genuinely moving to me. And she didn't linger on the maudlin or get bogged down nor was the halcyon time before the sinking over-romanticized through Tess's eyes. It all felt even handed & true.
I won my copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.(less)
Good entry in series & perfect for a weekend or airport read. Charles Lenox is trying to settle into being newly married to Lady Jane Grey & h...moreGood entry in series & perfect for a weekend or airport read. Charles Lenox is trying to settle into being newly married to Lady Jane Grey & his new seat at Parliament while being drawn into investigating a murder case involving footman Frederick bludgeoned with a brick in a Mayfair alley. I won't give away the answer to the case but I will say that I figured it out before the reveal. I don't think it was a flaw in the writing just good clues woven through & easy enough to work out if one pays attention. The way it all came together with the other strands regarding the killer & those others suspected was quite well done & I enjoyed reading it.
There was also a lot of Parliamentary politics as Charles settles in but it wasn't related to the case, so I basically enjoyed that we get to see Graham (former butler to Charles, now secretary) take on his new role & even impress his new peers. Lady Jane came off a bit odd to me as she was a bit of a harridan about Charles & his penchant for detecting & though married, she knew this was his thing before & she had no issue with it so I don't know why she was so stroppy about it. Anyway, she was brought back around entirely for me when she showed up at Charles's office with Bear & Rabbit, so I was satisfied. (less)