"Always a Temptress,
I have liked but not loved this series up to this point, but in this third installment I found I really enjoyed Kate and Harry's story. First loves parted by the fact that Kate was a Duke's daughter and Harry and impoverished Squire's son. 10 years later Kate is the wild Dowager Duchess of Murther, and she has never forgiven Harry for forsaking that young love, and sending her into the clutches of a sadistic husband. Kate has done everything in her power to see that he has no happily ever after, and having interfered twice when Harry had found a suitable wife, they have waged a personal war over these past 10 years.
Kate is an interesting character and I love her sister-in-law Bea who after suffering an injury communicates an archaic fashion. I don't usually like the "big misunderstanding plot devise, but in this case it wasn't so bad. If you're a fan of the other books I think this is the best of the 3. 3.5 star"
"This is the 5th book in the Barker and Llewelyn series. I don't really know how I happened on to these books but I am glad I have. In this novel you learn more about the mysterious Barker, and young Llewelyn is coming into his own as an first rate private inquiry agent.
The title says it all but I for one don't think of the mafia in London in the late 1880's. But as usual Will Thomas through his research and great story telling shows us another facet to a London not many know about."
"The Blackhawk: by Joanna Bourne
Anyone who knows me knows I love spy novels, and mysteries, Joanna Bourne writes a good spy novel and she really knows her time period. This one in particular was well done. What happens when two young spies, and when I mean young I mean early teens, on opposite sides of the conflict come together for a time to work together, knowing that they will soon be enemies once again. We have met these two in previous novels and so it was only time until their story would be told.
This is the story of Hawker and Justine or (Owl) and theirs is a very long very complicated story. Starting in 1818 London Hawker is in danger and Justine is trying to get to him to warn him and is nearly assassinated for her pains. Near death their story is told in flashbacks, to Paris just after Robespierre death to Napoleons defeat at Waterloo.
Ms. Bourne has created a very interesting cast of characters and I am interested to see what is next? 4 stars, it is a great series and I recommend it."
"I finished The Black Tower by Louis Bayard. This is the first of his books I have read.
It has the crass multi faceted Vidocq the father of modern investigative techniques, teaming up with the young Dr. Carpentier whose father was Physician to the children of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette while they were imprisoned in the Temple.
Called to investigate the murder of a man with Dr. Carpentiers name and address found with the body, Vidocq finds he is not just investigating a murder but the possibility that the young Dauphin has some how survived, against all odds.
It is a imaginative and very well written treatment of the myth, completely plausible with just enough doubt to understand why people believed for so long that he could have survived. A great ending twist that made me smile. I enjoyed it very much. I have Mr. Timothy on my TBR shelf and will be reading that soon, Bayard will be an auto buy for me. I have also been told that the audio version is excellent narrated by Simon Vance."
"As I said I really didn't expect to like this book, blame it on my Mother because she raved about it when it came out, and I was still a brat then and didn't want to like anything that she did. But doing the math I realized that she was the same age when it was released as I am now.
As for the book, Auel's research is evident in every pen stroke, It is a credible telling of a time period for which we only have fossils, cave paintings and the odd bog find. When understanding nature could only be dealt with with superstition. As a Cromagnon Ayla's story was compelling, and at time heart wrenching.
Orphaned by and earthquake at five she is left alone in the wilderness and wanders for days slowing dying of starvation and exposure, when attacked by a cave lion she is finally near death when the Neanderthal Clan finds her. Saved by the clan's Medicine Woman and the clan's Shaman, Alya is reluctantly taken into the clan. The story follows as she struggled with her oh so obvious differences, and against Broud's (the chief's son and heir apparent) unrelenting hatred of her. Is Alya lucky for the clan? It seems so, she finds a bitchin cave for them in which to live.
Against all tradition she learns to hunt, a task that is strictly forbidden to females, and excels in everything she tries. In saving the life of Broud and his mate's child it is discovered that she has mastered the sling and that she has indeed been hunting. Alya is cast out only if she survives for a month can she return. Of course she does return which makes Broud more determined to crush her. He hates her so much that as they grow into adulthood the only way he can dominate her is to force her to submit to him sexually. This is where I was thinking Auel fell flat. In her world these people had some convoluted idea of how babies are made. You can't tell me that even Neanderthals didn't see beasts mating and make the connection. Anyway, Alya has Broud's child a connection no one make's but her. As her protectors age and die it become inevitable that she must leave and find her own people. I will give it 4 out of 5 stars."
"In this Novella we meet Elizabeth Shallcross a governess for Lord and Lady Wheatly, they have just come from back to England from a 3 year stay in New York. On the docks Elizabeth is saved from being nearly run down by a cart, by Richard Graham an employee of the Lord Wheatlys' who has come to meet their boat. Elizabeth is leaving the Wheatlys' employ, but not before she returns to New York to close up the house there, and assist the leasing agents. After a 3 week visit with her family she comes to get her instructions from the Wheatly's. Only to be asked to act as governess to Mr. Graham's 3 year old daughter for the crossing, and for a short while, upon their return. Elizabeth doesn't want to do this, as she has other plans. But she has fallen in love with the less ridged class system in the U.S. and so she agrees. So on an April morning Elizabeth joins her charge Kathleen, and Richard for the journey to New York, their ship... The Titanic!
I can't say this is a bad book it isn't, but I never really got the growing attraction between the two main characters. The author tells us that Richard sees "Beth" as his equal, any student of history will argue that Americans of this period were every bit as classist as the British; a pretty young Governess traveling alone with her handsome employer with only a 3 year old as chaperone? I don't buy it. The other thing that bothered me was why didn't the Wheatlys' close up the house and lease it before they left. Why drag Beth to England only to send her back "alone," a few weeks later, to do so? The author tries to explain this but it seems like an after thought. The descriptions of the Titanic were well done, and you can tell Ms. Humphreys' did her research. And if you want a short romantic little story, and you can over look the more modern sensibilities of the characters, I think you will enjoy this clean romance. 2.5 stars it was okay."
"Confessions of an Arranged Marriage by Miranda Neville.
This is the fourth book in the Burgundy Club series. I have been burned out a bit on Regency romances, but I'd read the first books in the series and found this one available in the digital catalogue at my local library.
It is the story of the Marquis Blakeney and Miss Minerva Montrose, whose ambition in life is to become one of the great political wives of the era. The Marquis is the quintessential air headed sportsman, who is very very handsome, but considered by his social group to be empty headed. A male dumb blond as it were, a misconception he unfortunately believes, due to being dyslexic, amongst those who believe this is Minerva. Ms. Neville uses a rather tired plot device to bring around a marriage between the mismatched pair. But in spite of that I still really like this book.
What I like about Ms. Neville's novels is that her protagonists have real problems. In this case, I don't think this is a spoiler, but Blakeney is being back mailed and has lived in shame because of his learning disability. Neville really shows you the pain this causes a boy expected to excel, and how that has come to haunt his adult self. In a time when this learning disability was unheard of, you can imagine the soul crushing shame he endures. It is because of this extra depth that Ms. Neville imparts that I have come to like her work so much. 4 stars"
"In this second installment of the Hugh de Singleton series, we find Hugh as now bailiff for Lord Gilbert and surgeon for the village of Bampton near Oxford. Trying to find the killer of the Beadle (night watchman)of the village. Though it looks to be the work of a wolf there is no sign of such an animal. Hugh is suspicious too because the dead mans shoes are missing.
I like Hugh I wanted to like this book but I found it slow going, there were just to many times he saw things and didn't really press to find out what was going on the story meandered to it's conclusion.
The best part in this book is the budding romance between Hugh and a young lady."
"The Countess and The King by Susan Holloway Scott. I have read 2 of her other books about Sarah Churchill and Nell Gwynn. This one is about Katherine Sedley Countess of Dorchester and King James II, but through most of the book he is the Duke of York. There is so much about this period that the author glosses over, history lite I would call it, the facts are there, but little else. It is a love story but I didn't feel it. Though Katherine's character is fairly well fleshed out, no one else's really was. Written in first person, 2.5 stars"
"Well...I am joining in the chorus to sing the praises of, The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau. It is in my opinion a first rate historical mystery as well as a wonderful historical fiction novel. Now those who know me know I rarely read anything that is remotely connected with the Tudor era, it has been done to death. But several friends said: "It is good! I know you'll like it!" As I trust their taste, I thought why not?
Sister Joanna Stafford second cousin to King Henry VIII is a novice at the Priory of Dartford. She has run away from the Priory, to London, to be present at her Cousin Margaret's execution by burning. Margaret has been convicted as rebel, for her part in the Pilgrimage of Grace. Joanna's motivation is one of honest compassion, so that her cousin and her dearest friend should not die alone. She is unprepared for what she sees at the execution and in a resulting scuffle she is arrested and taken to the tower. The Stafford's are the family, of the disgraced and also executed, second Duke of Buckingham. A family that has a claim to the throne, that is equal, if not better than that of the Tudors. She thinks she can explain the reasons she is there and will be released, to go back to the priory and take her punishment and resume her calling to become a nun.
But powerful, dangerous forces are at work, the Dissolution of the Monasteries has begun. Sister Joanna has become the perfect pawn in the power struggle between the Kings counselors. And there is something a powerful relic, the crown of Athelstan that many want, and Joanna is the corrupt Bishop Gardiner's best hope of obtaining it for his purposes. She agrees to look for it, not for herself but for another's whose life depends on it.
This is an excellent mystery, and it deals very well with the fear the permeated people of the Catholic faith, and the pain of watching their religion slowly disappearing. How much more so for those who have chosen to serve God and their faith. Life in a cloister during these uncertain times was difficult. I was swept up in this well written and well researched novel. I was up all night reading this. Ms Bilyeau is absolutely on my writer to watch list, and I am excited to see what is next. 5 Stars
This is the second in the Matthew Shardlake mystery series, and I loved it! I have put off reading these because I was just Tudored out. But a few years have gone by and I have come back to the time period, but I will avoid anything directly to do with any of Henry's queens. Anyhow...
Cromwell's career is in jeopardy, and Shardlake is no longer in favor.
What I liked: I like Shardlake, a good man in a system so archaic and damaged by corruption, that it seems there is no such thing as justice. I love the cast of characters, his new side kick is one of Cromwell's men and I he makes me laugh. Sansom's a master at drawing complex characters. The story is beautifully woven within real events.
What I didn't like. I think that most people get that 16th century London was filthy, but the descriptions of it gets a bit tiresome. Still 5 stars!
For those listening to the audio book, Steven Crossley is wonderful his characterizations are spot on."
"Dark Road to Darjeeling, is the fourth book in Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia Grey series. In my opinion it is the best to date. I simply adore Raybourn's style.
The setting is a tea plantation in northern India, Lady Julia and her groom Nicolas are on there honeymoon, when Julia's beloved sister Portia and brother Plum find then in Egypt. Portia has just received distressing news that her ex-lovers husband has died under mysterious circumstances, and Jane fears for herself and the life of her unborn child. Portia begs Brisbane and Julia to come help her save Jane and the baby.
Raybourn writes beautifully of the tea plantation nestled in the foot hills of the Himalayas, there are twists and turns and some truly shocking appearances of people from past books. As usual there are many suspects, a man eating tiger, and a warrior peacock, as well as quirky well drawn characters and smart dialogue. It makes me excited for the next book due in June 2011."
"I really liked The Darling Strumpet by Gillian Bagwell. I am no expert on the Restoration period, but I read my first book about Charles II and Nell Gwynn when I was a teenager, and I'll admit it I had a bit of a crush on him. I have read many books about the Restoration since that time, so I know the facts. Nell has been portrayed in so many ways. Ms. Bagwell has portrayed her not differently, but more completely.
Sure Nell was a prostitute at a young age Bagwell doesn't gloss over it. She has thoughtfully researched this unfortunate state through modern eyes but it is the world's oldest profession, unfortunately little has changed. Becoming a prostitute is rarely a first choice, now or in 1660. People are driven to it for same reasons. In her version Bagwell's Nell Gwynn's reasons are as old as the profession. A fathers absence (through death), an alcoholic abusive mother, poverty and hunger, with no other choices open to her. She has Nell working alongside her elder sister Mary who does her best to guide and protect Nell. But Nell has dreams of escaping this life for something better.
In the brothel Nell meets the actors of the King's Theater Company, and sees her first plays. When she gets the chance to work as an Orange Girl she jumps at it. This leads her to the first significant love of her life Charles Hart. Bagwell comes from the theater and that back ground is evident. She is knowledgeable and imparts this aspect of Nell's life beautifully.
Much Ado About Nothing.... I have heard so much about the sex! Yes there is sex, not a peek at it but sex in full and graphic detail. Which would have been natural for this time period, and true to the story. The Restoration was a bawdy hedonistic time. Also true to the time period is the often crude language, people spoke this way then, especially these people. It was the swinging 60′s the roaring 20′s rolled into one. It was a a time of lush excess and decadence, and on the other hand epic tragedy. Her scene set after the fire brought tears to my eyes. In fact I was touched deeply more than once.
If I have any complaints it is with a few modernism that pop into the dialogue, but they were very few, and not so bad as to be jarring and slow down the story. So I give 4 stars to this wonderful story about Nell Gwynn and Charles Stuart, I call him that instead of Charles II for I truly believe that Nell came to love the man not the King. Solid 4 stars I highly recommend it.
"I love books like this, fun facts that no doubt will prove useful at some point. It was very well done, and really very informative. I couldn't believe how many of these myths I thought were fact. If your interested in early American history the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation really is the place to go for such information and it was entertaining."
"I found this series when The First book was offered as a freebie on Nook. Since then I have purchased the other and I really like Captain Lacey and his stories. In this latest offering. We find Lacey going home after 20 to the ramshackled neglected property he has inherited. In company with is now fiancee Lady Breckenridge, his faithful manservant Bartholomew. He is also been "asked to deliver a letter from his nemesis James Denis to the home of Brigadier Easton. Simple right? Nothing is simple when Lacey and Denis are involved. Old secrets are uncovered and resolved, Lacey's attempts to buffer Denis's machinations backfire.
I find these books effortless to read and entertaining, It seems good things can come to those who wait; and watching Lacey and Donata love story unfold is a treat.
"The Desperate Remedy: by Martin Stephen was recommended to me.
It takes place during the reign of James I of England and VII of Scotland, and revolves around the thwarted Gunpowder Plot which was an attempt to blow up Parliament, by Catholics who are trying to bring England back into the fold of Mother Church.
The main characters are Sir Henry Gresham, a master spy who has as many enemies known and unknown. His mistress Jane who is a young woman he rescues from an abusive grandfather years before, and his faithful servant Mannion.
The historical cast of characters are Robert Cecil, James I secretary and Spy Master, Sir Walter Raleigh, Guy Fawkes and a whole cast of historical conspirators.
Without giving to much away Stephen weaves Henry's story within the dirty world of ambition and corruption in the court. There are twists and turns, and murders and lies you move through the under belly of early 17th century"
"The Devils Den by Timothy Ashby
Wow just wow! I downloaded this book in November or December and, I just got to it. What an unbelievably great book. If you just like history, you'll want to read this, if you love mysteries, you'll want to read this. If you love historical fiction, you'll want to read this book. It has it all. I am astounded by the amount of research that must have gone into the writing of this book: Separating fact from fiction "forget about it!" Just sit back and enjoy the ride.
It starts out just weeks before the 60th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, an old Union soldier is found murdered in the part of the battlefield park know as the Devil's Den. Under the excuse, that Gettysburg is a National Park, the Bureau of Investigation takes over the case. Enter Seth Armitage, an earnest and honest young investigator, is sent out to investigate the murder of an old soldier. When ordered to answer only to Director William Brooks of the BI, Seth realizes that this is no regular murder investigation.
Washington under the Harding administration was a hot bed of corruption, skullduggery, and vice, J Edgar Hoover the 29 year old assistant director to the BI, was already amassing his files on the movers and shakers in the country: Just waiting for his chance to assume power. But this is the story of Seth, and his dogged determination to find out who killed the old soldier.
I am so excited that there is another book in the works "In Shadowland." I love the romance in the story it is refreshing. It is very well written and I flew through it. An absolute 5 star read!"
"In this second novel of what is called the Welsh trilogy, Falls the Shadow deals with the life of next generation of the Welsh Princes, and the Norman English King Henry III as well as the Barons War, which was lead by Simon de Montfort.
Sharon Penman is a writer of master pieces; her books are close to perfection. They are researched thoroughly, so much so that many college professors will use them in teaching about this period in medieval studies. Her gift for story telling is such that you are transported to that time that place. If it is the emersion in the time period, you are looking for look no further. I knew very little about the Barons war or about Simon De Montfort the Earl of Leicester. I knew even less about the Welsh history of this period. I cannot recommend these books highly enough, in fact I recommend ALL of Sharon Penman's books. She has set the gold standard for historical fiction in my opinion. I recommend that you read these in order however. Here Be Dragons, Falls the Shadow, and The Reckoning. Don't let the size of these books deter you they are worth the time. I wept, and laughed and then wept again, not many writers can wring such emotions for me, but they are a surety with Sharon Penman. 4.5 stars.
I took off half a point because this book does bog down slightly about 2/3 of the way through, press on however you will be rewarded."