Wednesday, 30 March 2011

#104 (#40) - Voices From The Sea ~ Evelyn Hood **NEW AUTHOR**

Voices from the Sea

ISBN: 0-316-73074-2

Okay, I was right to not let my preconceptions dictate whether I read, and fully embraced this book ... I'm a big girl, I am not afraid to admit that I should endeavour to widen my horizons, in this case anyway.

It was not wildly exciting, romantic or packed to the rafters with excitement, but it was definitely a really nicely crafting story ... and I will definitely read more of her work now.

Eppie Watt is left a widow after the North Sea takes her husband (and true love).  With a young child to bring up.  She has not choice but to send her beloved Daughter to live with her parents and earn a living as a lowly fish packer and seller to make ends meet, despite the fact that she came from a better class of family before she married her Murdo.

She is offered a chance for a better life when the housekeeper to a local wealthy widower decides to retire, and she recommends Eppie for the job.

Whilst Alexander Geddes is good to work for, his mother is a different story altogether.  She entered the house when his second wife died in childbirth and liked to think she ruled the house with a rod of iron.  However, she was doing more harm than good in the upbringing of Alexander's Daughter, and was eventually given her marching orders - leaving Eppie and Alexander in the house alone together, causing no end of gossip.

To stop the rumours getting out of hand Alexander ask him to marry here.  When she refuses, he decides on a compromise and brings Eppie's own Daughter to live with them.  He also employs here Sister, Marion as the girls' governess, thus taking out any suggestion of of dis-honourable intentions.

Alexander's estranged son returns to Portsoy, bringing with him an old adversary of Alexander's who has a very mysterious past for a short time.

An relationship slowly builds between Alexander and Marion, and they eventually wed. with Eppie leaving to look after her friends children when see kills herself.

So all ends well .... except that Eppie only at the very end realises that there was just one thing missing .... oh yeah, that mysterious stranger!

A 4.5 ***** Star read in the end.

Monday, 28 March 2011

#103 (#39) - Last Night's Scandal ~ Loretta Chase

Last Night's Scandal

ISBN: 978-0-06-163267-9

There is a very good reason this book was awarded the top slot in 4 categories in All About Romance 2010 Reader Poll .... simply because it is completely and utterly amazing.

The story of two characters that appeared in Lord Perfect, Olivia Wingate-Carsington and Peregrine Dalmay, Earl of Lisle - the step-daughter and ward of Viscount Rathbourne.  Olivia was wild and could scheme, cheat and charm her way along and Peregrine quiet, orderly and determined to live his life hunting antiquities in Egypt.

Years later he has been called by to England on family business and gets re-acquainted to the whirlwind that is  Olivia.  Their adventures take them off to Scotland under the not very watchful eye of some of the Dowager Lady Hargate's cronies, where they find ghosts.  Do they find romance though, or does Olivia prove too much to handle for Lisle?

A 5 ***** Star read all round.  Loretta has now also written about three of the Dreadful DeLucey cousins ... which is sure to e another winner.  Plus, I've just read on her site that they digitalising the out-of-print books ....phew what a relief as I haven't managed to track them down yet.

Next book on my list is one by Evelyn Hood, from the preface it seems to be about a Scottish Fishing Village ... not my type of thing, but I've been pleasantly surprised in the past by Audrey Howard, so I will give it a go.


#102 (#38) - The Founding ~ Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

The Founding (The Morland Dynasty)

ISBN: 0-316-90793-6

Book 1 of Morland Dynasty

I have to admit to not being that keen to start this book, but was given a gee-up because it had to be back at the Library and couldn't be renewed again as somebody else had reserved it.

It's not a period in history that I like, finding it much to brutal with huge depravation .... I like luxury in the main!

I don't know why I worried so though, as the author did a very splendid job all round ... and I fell into it from the first page.  The story of Eleanor the founding Mother of the Morland Dynasty and her love for Richard, Duke of York, but with an arranged marriage to Robert Morland and the many children and grandchildren she produced.

A worthy 4 **** star read.


Sunday, 27 March 2011

#101 (#37) - Loveday Conspiracy ~ Kate Tremayne

Loveday Conspiracy

ISBN: 978-0-7553-4767-4

The saga of the Loveday clan continued, but I have to admit not as quickly as I had hoped (or mentioned beforehand).

The author's proclivity of re-telling the events that went before, seemed even  worse than in previous books.  Indeed, it wasn't until the last third that it picked up any kind of pace at all.

In a nutshell, the continuing feud between Adam Loveday and his Cousin Tristan.  The other festering discontent of Japhet Loveday for the man that plotted to have him sent off to Australia the night before his pardon was granted.  Richard Allbright's rakeish ways and a seduction of an innocent young girl.  Tragedy and loss of a son for Peter Loveday ans his Bridie, and the resulting loss of faith that Peter suffers.

After giving it careful consideration a 2.5 *** Star rating was the best I could do, and the half star was only gained in the last third.  Although I would say that if you want to see out the Loveday saga is has to be endured!

As I haven't been well this weekend I have treated myself to a lot of laying around on the bed and reading, and have consumed two further books, but I will be back tomorrow with those ones.


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

I'm struggling with a Loveday book

on the whole I like them, but she simply will keep going over old ground all the time, which makes it frustrating when you are trying to connect with the story she has in hand.

Obviously I recognise that you have to do that somewhat, but there is a fine line and she seems to be crossing it at the moment .... shame as other than that it's fairly good.

Monday, 21 March 2011

#100 (#36) - A Flower In Season

A Flower in Season

ISBN: 0-340-76935-1

What a book to mark my 100th book since September ... this one was just plain lovely (not sometimes the story matter, but just the way the story is woven).

Briony Marden had led a brutal and hard life, forced to work in her Father's mill with manual labour required far greater than her physical body should have to endure and brutal beatings.  Her Brother Danny, and her Mother were forced to endure the same, but it drew them together against the brutal Miller, Jethro Marsden.

He'd been stopped once before probably beating young Danny to death by the local landowner, but that didn't seem to stop him, although he was more careful from them on where he left his bruises.  He also started to develop a disgusting desire for his own Daughter....which lead to Danny having to protect his family and Jethro Marsden dead.

After Danny was convicted of the crime of murdering their father, she was left with only one friend, Lizzie Jenkins, but was determined that she would take over the Mooreend Mill and make it profitable for Danny when he returns from 7 years in New South Wales.

The local landowner that had saved two years before has other ideas, and he offers her marriage.  Reluctant at first to accept this offer she refuses, but is forced to think again when nobody apparently no customers are willing to accept a woman miller.

However, Briony finds out later that she was tricked in to Marriage by the handsome and wealthy Chad Cameron, and she is driven almost to the loss of her own mind ...... will she ever realise that what they have found together is true love?

A 5 ***** Star read, highly enjoyable and certainly recommended.


Saturday, 19 March 2011

So, the next book will make 100 .....

since September last year .... I seem to be well on the way to my goal of 144 by September this year.

I picked up another Audrey Howard last night .... which is proving another thought provoking read.

#99 (#35) - An Offer From a Gentleman ~ Julia Quinn

An Offer from a Gentleman (Bridgerton Family Series)

ISBN: 0-7499-3659-2

It's always a pleasure to read a Julia Quinn book, they are humours and generally beguiling ..... and this one was no exception - a Cinderella story if you will.

Miss Sophie Beckett is the illegitimate daughter of the Earl of Penwood, and lived with him from being a young child as his "ward".  When Sophe was around 8 the unmarried Earl takes the step of marrying Araminta and brings his new Countess and her two daughters to Penwood Park.

Araminta takes an instant dislike to Sophie, and when eventually the Earl dies she is forced to keep Sophie or see her annual income reduced by a vast amount.  Sophie is put to work by Araminta - indeed, she does the work of 3 or more servants.  The only kindness she receives at all is from the staff.

One night those staff arrange for her to attend a Masquerade Ball held by the Bridgertons', where Sophie meets and falls in love with the handsome Benedict Bridgerton.

The story follows the usual path from there she disappears at midnight, leaving behind a monogrammed glove, and Benedict tries and fails to track her down.  Araminta finds out and Sophie runs away to find work in the country.

Several years later Benedict attends a drunken house party and rescues a serving maid from certain rape, he doesn't recognise her of course, but he takes it upon himself to remove her from the situation and place her in the household of his Mother.

When will he find out that this servant girl is the beautiful woman he has longed for in the intervening years.  Indeed, the only woman he could ever imagine becoming his wife?

A 4 **** Star read and highly recommended.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

#98 (#34) Rose Alley ~ Audrey Howard **NEW AUTHOR

ISBN:  0-340-92137-4

I have to admit that I should have been working this morning, I'm busy.  I most definitely should not have spent the last 30 minutes sobbing.  If in fact I had not been crying quite so hard, it would probably only taken me 20 minutes to finish this book.  If you do one thing if your life .............. read it.  This woman is a creative storytelling genius.

I happily admit that it did keep me awake for a bit of the night, such is the connection that you are made to feel for the characters.  A resounding 5+ *****+ stars from me.

What surprised me more than anything is that actually, the book is set in a slightly later time period than I normally prefer, that of the Industrial Revolution.  To my horror upon reading the back cover it was also set in the black slums of Liverpool - I descend much below the level of aristocrat, and definitely not north of Watford in my reading choice!.  That is probably why this book has lurked around on my "to be read shelf" for so long.  I kept putting it back in the "to be returned to the library pile" and my Mother kept putting it back on the "to be read pile".  I have to admit that I begrudgingly picked it up, so really I could just so "........ of yes, I tried it.  Didn't like it.  Now please send it back where it belongs".

This is therefore a salutatory lesson that you should literally never judge a book by its cover, or what it indicates on the back cover is contained inside.

The story of a proud woman, Queen Logan, who gives birth to an illegitimate daughter in the black slums of Liverpool, but who is determined by the dint of her own extremely hard work to provide better for her daughter Gillyflower.  She provides a protected home, an education for her, and has high hopes that she will one day marry her childhood sweetheart, Jem Wilson (7 years her senior).

However, fate and more importantly the truest of true loves has different ideas.  Gilly gets her education, and opens her own shop, but the two most precious people in her lives suffer terribly along the way.  She also finds a life-long friend and develops a powerful, and vengeful enemy along the way.

It is one of the most enthralling and well craft books I have ever read.

Happy reading.


Rose Alley

Monday, 14 March 2011

#97 (#33) - The Loveday Secrets ~ Kate Tremayne

The Loveday Secrets (Loveday Series)

ISBN: 978-0-7553-3353-0

The continuing saga of the Loveday Clan, in this one Adam Loveday goes on to improve the shipyard, helped by a mysterious order.

Along with several births and a death, and a carriage accident that leaves only a boy with no memory in its wake.

St John Loveday continues down his destructive route of drinking and gambling, strangely enough whoring doesn't seem to be a vice with him!

We also meet another Cousin, Tristan Loveday, and find out the truth behind the three boys' secret from boyhood.

I have to admit to losing all patience with St John, but even I was surprised by the ending.  The only complaint I have with these books is that the author tends to go over each person's story several times, which detracts from the whole.  A 3 *** Star read.

I think I need a quick change and think that Audrey Howard, a new author for me, might be on the cards.  Although there are several more Loveday books on the shelf to read yet, plus a Julia Quinn, Gaelen Foley and    a couple more new authors there too.

All in all I am well on the way to the #140 goal in a year.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

#96 ~ Her Every Pleasure

Her Every Pleasure: A Novel

ISBN: 978-0-7499-3849-9

This is the follow on story from "Her Secret Fantasy" and features Derek's Brother, Gabriel.

Having signed away his inheritance to assist Derek to marry Lily, Gabriel retires from the real world to contemplate his brush with death.  A glimpse of heaven has left him with an overwhelming feeling that he was sent back from the light to fulfil his destiny.

Meanwhile, Princess Sophia of Korkova is ambushed and her enemies attempt to assassinate her.  Her bodyguard ensures that she escapes and she follows the protocol that has been set down for her safe rescue.

The protocol lands her in a barn owned by Gabriel, who assumes that she is a gypsy girl sent by his brother to relieve his state of celibacy.  Although it doesn't take long to work out that she is certainly not a girl of easy virtue, and so he engages her as a maid.

Eventually her royal destiny is revealed, and Gabriel does on to protect her with his life, and fulfil his destiny.

Actually, it was a slightly far fetched story, and the plot was a bit thin in places.  Nonetheless a fairly enjoyable story and worthy of a 3 *** Star rating.

Friday, 11 March 2011

#95 ~ Her Secret Fantasy

Her Secret Fantasy: A Novel

ISBN: 978-0-7499-3829-1

It's really rather lovely to get back to a Gaelen Foley novel ... and this one was no different from all the others ..... full of very lovely romance and a bit of naughtiness thrown in.

Featuring one of the Knight Cousins, Major Derek and the reserved and ladylike Lily Balfour.

Infamous rake and hardened warrior Derek has come to England from his posting in India to chase up the money the government which has been put aside for the war against the Marantha.  Also to allow his elder brother to recovery from a terrible injury when he got in the away of an arrow meant for Derek.

Following the death of her Grandfather Lily's aristocratic coffers are empty and she needs to find an extremely rich, and extremely stupid husband (there is a reason that her future spouse should not be too bright) to ensure that she can literally keep the bats from the belfry of her ancestoral home.

It seems some of the funds are war chest funds are missing, and that is where the paths cross for these two.  What will be the attraction between them?  Will they solve the mystery of the missing money?  Will the highly intelligent Derek care about her secret?  Will a second son have enough money in the bank to repair the ancient pile?

A 3.5 **** star read.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

#94 (#30) - Mr Cavendish, I Presume ~ Julia Quinn

Mr. Cavendish, I Presume (Two Dukes of Wyndham, Book 2)

ISBN: 978-0-7499-0887-4

There really should be a higher than a 5+ *****+ Star rating, as this book deserves it.

The flip side of the story - from the point of view of Thomas, the Duke of Wyndham, before he was dispossessed of his title by Jack (see The Lost Duke of Wyndham).  Complicated?  Oh you bet ya little cotton socks it is ......... and perfectly written.

Thomas the Duke of Wynham has been engaged to Amelia since they were both in their cradle, but has dragged his well polished Hessians, and never quite managed to make it to the alter.  Along comes Jack the Highwayman, who dispossesses him of the title of Duke and marries Grace their grandmother's companion.  What of Amelia?  Read the book people ................. I love, love, love it ........... no doubt both of the books will be read, and re-read over and over again.

Run and buy it .... laugh and marvel out just what a comic genius Julia Quinn is.

#93 (#29) - Loveday Revenge ~ Kate Tremayne

The Loveday Revenge

ISBN: 978-0-7553-3351-6

A follow on from "Loveday Loyalty" with all the stories continuing.

Finally Harry Sawle gets his comeuppance,  and Hannah ends up with her love .... all coming together nicely.

Japhet and Gwen are also making a success of it in Australia, but missing home dreadfully.

A 4.5 ***** Star read, and looking forward to the next in the series, but I think I will break it up with a Julia Quinn for light relief.

#92 (#28) - Loveday Loyalty ~ Kate Tremayne

The Loveday Loyalty (Loveday Series)

ISBN: 0-7553-2872-8

The continuing saga of the wild and compelling Loveday Clan.

The fierce rivalry between St John and Adam continues, which blinds them to their real enemy - the dangerous and cunning Harry Sawle.

Japhet Loveday's story also plays out in the penal colony of New South Wales, as well the story of his sister, Hannah, who has attracted the unwanted interest of Harry.

A 4 **** Star read.