I’ve burned through all Jodi Taylor’s back catalogue this year – her Chronicles of St Marys’ books and her historical fiction under the name of IsabelI’ve burned through all Jodi Taylor’s back catalogue this year – her Chronicles of St Marys’ books and her historical fiction under the name of Isabella Barclay– but since I mostly read SF and historicals I hadn’t considered reading The Nothing Girl. At first glance it looked like chick-lit, which I’m not fond of, however, I’ve loved all of Ms Taylor’s writing so thought I should give it a try. I’m not disappointed. Having read and thoroughly enjoyed it, I’m not actually sure how to categorise it. Chick-lit crossed with fantasy? Possibly. Mystery – yes, there’s a bit of that, too. Romance? Ditto. Or maybe it’s just mainstream fiction. It all depends on whether you think the giant golden horse that only Jenny can see is real or imaginary. The fact is that Jenny thinks he’s real, so that’s good enough for me.
Jenny is an introverted young woman with a dreadful stammer not helped by her aunt and uncle’s overprotectiveness. Her parents died and left her well provided for, but traumatised. She lives quietly in an attic room, fully equipped with bookshelves, computer, and a giant golden horse called Thomas who arrived on the day she tried to commit suicide as a thirteen-year-old. Thomas is still with her – and will remain with her until she doesn’t need him any more.
It’s a complicated family worthy of Jilly Cooper. The daughter of the house, Jenny’s glamorous cousin, has had (or maybe is still having) an abusive on-off relationship with Russell Checkland (currently off) whom Jenny has known since school (where he was one of the few who treated her kindly). Russell, a talented artist, lost his muse and his will to paint when Jenny’s cousin left him. Jenny’s cousin has a new man but doesn’t want anyone else to have Russell – which is a pity because Russell has just asked Jenny to marry him. What? Where did that come from? Well, it’s simple enough. Russell has a fabulous old farmhouse but no money to repair it. Jenny has an inheritance but no life outside of her bedroom. Jenny gets a home, Russell gets to keep his home together. It’s a simple arrangement that’s about to get a whole lot more complicated, especially since Jenny keeps having ‘accidents’. Who’s to blame or is she just very clumsy?
As ever I loved Jodi Taylor's 'voice'. There were definite giggle moments in this book. It's light and entertaining while telling an interesting story of genuine depth.
BTW, I don't think the cover does this book any favours and is probably what originally contributed to me dismissing this book as 'chick lit'. without examining it too closely...more
Outlander was originally published as Cross Stitch in the UK, but I bought it from Amazon as Outlander in ebook form. It's difficult to review this asOutlander was originally published as Cross Stitch in the UK, but I bought it from Amazon as Outlander in ebook form. It's difficult to review this as a book because I confess I watched the firsat season on TV, courtesy of Amazon Prime, before reading the book, so first of all, the book was very close to the TV series, though, of course, that should be the other way round. I greatly enjoyed revisiting the story and perhaps getting a li8ttle more depth and explanation via the text.
The story is of Claire, a Second World War army nurse reunited with her husband, Frank Randall, shortly after the war's end. They are trying to reconnect after many years apart and they go to Scotland on a second honeymoon during which Frank does a little family history, learning, in particular, about his many times great-grandfather Black Jack Randall, a British redcoat captain stationed in Scotland with a reputation to match his name.
When Claire visits a ring of standing stones she finds herself whisked back two hundred years to the time of Black Jack Randall and the time very shortly before Culloden. Randall is the first person she meets, and not in a good way. Startled to find he's the spit of her husband in looks and then horrified to find he's nothing like Frank in temperament, she ends up falling in with a tough band of kilted highlanders. Taken first as an English spy, she proves her usefulness as a healer and finds herself drawn to James Fraser, an outlaw with a price on his head and history - very bad history - with Randall.
Claire and Jamie end up married as an expedient move to make her a Scot by marriage and therefore outside of Randall's immediate jurisdiction and despite her feelings for Frank and her longing to return to her old life - if she can - she finds herself falling for Jamie, an exasperating, red-headed, stubborn-as-an-ox highlander whose bravery, honesty and sense of honour are amongst his redeeming features. He's not a twentieth century man, however. he's a product of his time, and Claire a product of hers. Clashes are inevitable. He's a soft heart, but a hard head, and his history with Randall is going to cause painful problems for both of them.
I'm not overly familiar with Scottish history, but this feels very well researched. There's a tiny bit of dialect, but only enought ot make it feel authentic. The writing style is beautifully transparent, letting you get on with the story. Nicely done considering this was Ms Gabaldon's first book.
No more spoilers because if you like rollicking historical adventure, more than a touch of romance (and sex) and a dollop of time-travel thrown in this is the perfect book for you. I apologise now to my friend Mary-Anne who told me to read it twenty years ago. I should have taken her advice. But now I have the pleasure of seven more books to look forward to. (And another in preparation, I understand.) Highly recommended. I just ordered the second book, Dragonfly in Amber. ...more
This is almost more non-fiction than fiction. Ms Heyer delves into the social history immediately preceding the Battle of Waterloo, thunders through tThis is almost more non-fiction than fiction. Ms Heyer delves into the social history immediately preceding the Battle of Waterloo, thunders through the battle itself and it's only in the aftermath that romance and history truly meet. It's a fictionalised and extremely well-researched account of Waterloo built around what seems to be a doomed romance between notorious widow, Lady Barbara Childe a heartbreaker at the centre of the social whirl in Brussels where the English have set up their own fashionable society while waiting for Wellington's army to arrive, and the very decent (and hugely forgiving) Colonel Charles Audley, one of Wellington's aides-de-camp.
I tend to read Heyer for a bit of light relief, not a history lesson, though I usually take her research for granted. This book had a huge cast of genuine historical characters - possibly rather more than I wanted to deal with, so all-in-all not my favourite Heyer, though I can understand why it's the book that she was most proud of writing. ...more
Partner by Lia Silver is a direct follow-on from Prisoner. The second half of the same story, in fact. Not just action and adventure (though there isPartner by Lia Silver is a direct follow-on from Prisoner. The second half of the same story, in fact. Not just action and adventure (though there is that) but also a lot (maybe too much?) exploration of PTSD and combat stress. Though this is something hardly ever tackled to this depth in what appears on the surface to be a lightweight novel, so it certainly adds something. The author certainly knows what she's talking about, being a professional therapist in her other life.
A combination of thriller with supernatural romance. DJ Torres is a 'born' werewolf and a marine who, after being injured in Afghanistan, has been imprisoned by a shadowy government agency somewhere out in the desert. There he's partnered with tough-as-nails superspy and assassin, Echo, one of two surviving experimental clones.
Though they try to hide it because they know that their captors will use it against them, Echo and DJ have bonded. In this half of the story they have to figure out how to escape the secret base, rescue DJ's former marine buddy, Roy, whom DJ bit to save his life when he was dying of wounds. They also have to bring Echo's dying clone sister out with them and liberate the pack of made werewolves who have been experimented on.
Packed with emotion, this book is more about relationships than action (though action is certainly not absent). Echo must learn how to deal with newly awakened emotions when her feelings have been in lockdown mode for many years. DJ has to deal with a new mate bond. The thrust of the story, the escape and the search for Roy, almost plays second fiddle to the psychology. Some of the urgency of the must-rescue-Roy part of the story is weakened.. The solutions, when they come, are maybe a little too easy, though the main characters don't get out unscathed. There's a missed opportunity in that much of Roy's story happens off the page (and is possibly covered in a third book which centres on Roy, which I have not read). But that's me being nitpicky, the whole thing carries you along and it's one of those stories to gulp down quickly while it's hot. It also looks as if there's another book about Echo and DJ which i look forward to reading. ...more
Sherwood Smith's review pointed me at this one (two, actually because 'Partner' is a direct continuation of the story and takes up where Prisoner leavSherwood Smith's review pointed me at this one (two, actually because 'Partner' is a direct continuation of the story and takes up where Prisoner leaves off. (I'm only just starting on that one). This combines adventure thriller with supernatural romance. DJ Torres is a 'born' werewolf and a marine who, when his helicopter is shot down in Afghanistan goes against everything he's ever been taught and bites his badly wounded best buddy, Roy, to try and save his life. Having given away his secret, DJ finds himself imprisoned by a shadowy government agency somewhere out in the desert where he's partnered with tough-as-nails superspy and assassin, Echo, one of two surviving experimental clones. Echo has superstrength and lightning fast reflexes. DJ and Echo are both physically capable of escaping but Echo is held back by her frail clone sister who is gradually succumbing to the defects of her body, and DJ is held back because the bad guys have Roy stashed in some secret lock-up and threaten him with torture if DJ steps out of line. Things are complicated by a pack of unhappy 'made' wolves, each one of them with a power and a problem.
What could be a fairly standard adventure romance is lifted above the average by the exploration of dyslexia, and PTSD and the psychological effects of warfare and violence. (The author is a therapist in real life, specialising in PTSD.) DJ has been shaped by marine culture: never leave anyone behind and pack principles. Echo, born in a test tube, raised by carers, bottles up her emotions and is used to working alone. She's watched three of her close sisters die as their bodies failed them, now her last sister, the only person she cares about, is a fragile invalid. When the sister dies her controllers will lose their last hold on Echo, so they try and team her up with DJ to give her something - or someone - else to care about.
This is slight in terms of page count, but high in emotional intensity. Lia Silver is a pen name. The author also writes as Rachel Manija Brown. I've been hearing good things about her books from a number of people. This one certainly didn't disappoint. ...more
After all the fuss about 50 Shades - which I refuse to read on the grounds that I'm not enticed by Twilight fanfic with the serial numbers filed off -After all the fuss about 50 Shades - which I refuse to read on the grounds that I'm not enticed by Twilight fanfic with the serial numbers filed off - I figured I should try some erotic fiction and plumped for a random title as recommended on Book View Cafe.
Result? A slight historical fiction story about a highwayman and an innkeeper's daughter. Yes there was a plot and yes there was sex, neither element particularly outstanding, but though it was competently written and reasonably well researched historically I found myself with little enthusiasm to read more of the same.
I'm trying to work out why. Maybe, though there was (plenty of) explicit sex I didn't find it particularly erotic. I found it sexy but not sensual. And I think that's something that's entirely down to personal perceptions. ...more
The worst thing about this book is its truly cringeworthy title, though I guess it means that what's on the outside of the tin is a pretty accurate deThe worst thing about this book is its truly cringeworthy title, though I guess it means that what's on the outside of the tin is a pretty accurate description of what's inside. I like a touch of romance in my reading but except for one Mills and Boon more than thirty years ago I've never been a reader of formula romances, so I thought it was about time I tried one.
I suppose as far as they go this is up to standard. The writing style is transparent; the characters are well developed; Ms McDavid writes horses well (sometimes better than people) and seems to know her stuff about rodeos, vets and horse breeding. The plot is slight and all the problems would have been resolved on the first page if Ace had told Flynn he loved her. There - that was it. Spoiler.
But this is formula romance. I guess the main characters are allowed to be stupid and avoid resolving their relationship until the end of the book otherwise there would be no romantic tension.
Flynn and Aidan (Ace) live on neighbouring ranches. They had a thing going back in their student days but Ace's dad – a mean drunk – almost ruined the family farm due to mismanagement. When he died Ace dumped Flynn due to impending pressure of work and took over the farm as well as running his vet practice, taking on all the hard work while his brothers did their own thing, one riding the rodeo circuit and not to be depended upon, the other skipping off to join the marines. Broken-hearted Flynn married on the rebound, but that didn't work out – mainly because her husband put work before her. Now Flynn's back home and due to an unfortunate night of passion with Ace (before the book opens) she's pregnant
Ace wants Flynn to marry him so he can look after her and they can raise their baby together but absent-mindedly forgets to tell Flynn that he's been suppressing his love for her for years. Flynn loves him but doesn't think he loves her. Oh sure he'll take on the responsibility of a family. He's good at grabbing responsibility and hoarding it. She sees a workaholic and wants to be sure she'll not be ignored like last time. Yeah, right, it will be no surprise that eventually they figure things out.
There's a sub-plot about rehabilitating a mistreated rodeo stud stallion (and possibly more than the average reader wants to know about collecting stallion sperm for artificial insemination) which resolves.
There's an unresolved sub plot with the two brothers. Colt acts as though his nose has been put out of joint when he learns of Flynn's pregnancy, but there's never any reason given. The other brother is never on the page, but apparently has been discharged from the Marines but hasn't been in touch since then. I expected this to be resolved at the wedding (What? Did that come as a surprise?) but the last we hear Colt just fails to show up for best man duties and the ex-marine sub plot remains unresolved.
I can only assume they are dealt with in another book since this is number MCDIX (1409) in the American Romance series, but I can't find details on the author's website. ...more
I can see why a lot of people list this as their favourite Heyer Regency romance. Sophy Stanton-Lacy is a delightful character, full of mischief, selfI can see why a lot of people list this as their favourite Heyer Regency romance. Sophy Stanton-Lacy is a delightful character, full of mischief, self-confidence and an insight into character surprising for her tender years, whose main flaw is thinking - no, knowing - what's best for other people. While her father is in South America on a diplomatic mission he leaves her with her aunt and her family in London. Sophie immediately decides that the family needs her help. It seems she's arrived in the nick of time. Cecilia, her cousin, has fallen for an absent-minded but handsome poet and is on the point of rejecting a very good match with an entirely suitable man. Cousin Hubert has fallen into the clutches of an unscrupulous moneylender and Cousin Charles, supposedly the sensible one since Sophie's Uncle is a confirmed wastrel, has affianced himself to a humourless bluestocking whose entire raison d'etre seem to be to find fault with the whole family, set herself above them all in manners and morals and to make sure Charles knows about it.
Rushing in where angels fear to tread, Sophie soon has the house in an uproar. Bringing the younger children a pet monkey is only the start of it. She infuriates Charles by insisting on keeping an independent stable with a splendid riding horse and her own phaeton and pair of spirited bays (entirely too frisky for a woman to handle!). Not only that but she carries a gun and knows how to shoot it - which comes in very handy on a couple of occasions.
Naturally everything comes within a whisker of turning to complete chaos, but works out well in the end. Yes, it has all the issues of misogyny inherent in women being treated as if they had no brain at all, but it's set in 1816 and Sophie is one of the few feminists in Heyer's fluffy Regency world, or would be if feminism had been a Regency concept. Very enjoyable....more
This was the first Anne McCaffrey book I ever read and this review is all about the impression this book made on my twenty-some year old self. I lovedThis was the first Anne McCaffrey book I ever read and this review is all about the impression this book made on my twenty-some year old self. I loved the concept - the character undergoes a complete metaorphosis. She wakes in a new body, on a alien planet, apparently in some facility where she is no more than a mindless drone. But unlike the other drones she still has personality and free will which she is able to hide from her captors until she can make her escape, rescuing another prisoner, unlawfully imprisoned.
This is very early McCaffrey which shows the writer she was to become. The exciting plot which was so satisfying in so many ways unfortunately fizzled out at the end when the threat to our heroine is defused way too easily, but I forgave it the arrival because of the ride. I found it romantic and exciting, but I confess I would be reticent to re-read it now in case it no longer lived up to my memories....more