Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Lady Madeline, eldest daughter of Harold Lyons, the Duke of Whitborough, has until now not been interested in any suitors, that is until she meets at Hugo Lowell, Viscount Saxby at her family's house party.
Hugo has been contemplating marriage and has attended the house party at the behest of his sister to keep an eye on their younger brother. He is enroute to spend Christmas with a family whose daughter seems to be a promising bride.
That was before he met Madeline.
This pleasing novella bodes well for the series.
A NetGalley ARC
Newly minted highland knight Maxwell White has been charged to safeguard Max Aila MacKerrick, a single highlands woman living by herself. Max is unthinking in his bundling up and kidnapping of Alia in the middle of the night from her lonely cottage--even if it is for her safety.
A legendary dagger is the key point. A relic that will ensure the holder rallies the clans against the English crown. The highland knights must ensure that this doesn't happen.
Alia is a feisty highland lass who will not go anywhere willing, least of all with a brawny warrior who hasn't the whit to disclose to her the dangers.
Mind you the action moved quickly both in bed and out. I did find Alia's quick acquiescence to sensuality surprising. But then this is a novella and there's a lot to pack in just a few chapters.
Time lines aside, Max and Alia's story is delightful.
A NetGalley ARC
This Holmsian rewrite, well restructuring really, blew me away! Sheridan has taken the who of Sherlock Holmes and turned it on its head. Sherlock Holmes a woman! Conan Doyle might be laughing, but the Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch incarnations of Shelock, maybe not so much.
The characters are present and believable, despite their various exchanges from what we know. Charlotte Holmes, Livia her sister, the clever Mrs Watson, Charlotte's benefactor, Lord Ingram, Scotland Yard Detective Treadles, and Lord Bancroft as Ingham's brother (think Mycroft). Everyone we know and love translates into someone slightly removed. The characters are like second cousins of the original with for some, their gender being skewed.
Charlotte Holmes is somewhat OCD, with a brilliant mind, and definitely doesn't adhere to the strictures expected of the upper ten thousand. All she wants is to be able to be left alone to be master of her own destiny. She did not expect her bid for freedom to leave her the subject of salacious drawing room gossip, and to find herself in straightened circumstances in the less salubrious parts of London. Nor did Charlotte expect that her family would come under suspicion for a death linked to her father and sister. Charlotte as Sherlock must look for the truth of the matter.
Several mysteries come together, including that which Charlotte's actions has unleashed.
The story hung together with a believable reality. Any hesitations reflected a young woman of Charlotte's background finding her way to what would become her true vocation. Mrs Watson is a gift, transformed into a woman of secrets and aptitude. I adored her. Mrs Hudson makes her appearance in a most unexpected manner.
An unexpected and delightful addition to the Holmsian trope. I look forward to future developments.
A NetGalley ARC
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
A Terrible Beauty (A Lady Emily Mystery #11) by Tasha Alexander
This is an important chapter in Lady Emily and Colin Hargreaves' life. I'm involved because I know what's gone on up 'til now. I re-live with Emily her feelings, fears and guilt. I must say though that what happens is a brilliant plot twist by Alexander, deserving of the Lady Emily story, and yet I am unsure as to how much the story stands by itself. If this is your first reading of a Lady Emily mystery it certainly points the way back to some intriguing times prior to now.
Emily's dead husband Lord Philip Ashton reappears. A terrible shock.
Colin Hargreaves, Ashton's best friend from childhood, is somewhat reserved throughout. Well, who wouldn't be. The ramifications are enormous. I picture Colin as a sophisticated man of his times, working for the British Government on hush hush business, the strong quiet type (still waters running deep etc. etc.) not easily thrown, but this certainly is one of those moments.
Emily has arranged a holiday with her friends Jeremy and Margaret at her villa on the Greek island of Santorini. A villa previously Philip's. The description of the villa, the island and it's people is vivid and real. It was very present.
And now Philip has reappeared on a dig near the villa, being pursued by shadowy characters who want the piece of an important relic, Achilles' helmet, that Philip found. Philip has become obsessed by it and has not revealed it to the dig authorities. In fact he is acting much like Golem acted with the ring. Murder and mayhem follow Philip putting all in danger. Others know of the relic's existence and are willing to kill for it.
The complications of having to deal with the returned husband, who to my mind is unhinged, are enormous. Is Philip's demeanour due to his illness in Africa years ago? Something is definitely off about him. He seems at times delusional, so overcome by obsession with Archilles' helmet, as to be lost to all reason. Hard to say! His attitude towards Emily is almost reverential. All very strange and yet somehow believable.
The story switches rapidly between the past and the present, and between Emily's viewpoint and Philip's. Only towards the end do we see Colin voicing his thoughts.
I loved the cover. Brooding and slightly malevolent, reflecting much that happens.
A NetGalley ARC
Saturday, October 8, 2016
Searching for her Korean birth mother leads twenty year old American Anna Carlson into a dark story of suffering, anguish and despair that the Japanese nation still has to properly apologize for.
This novel is a further example of women caught up into war and used and abused by those who think of themselves as more entitled and more powerful. An age old story.
Andrews has woven a wonderful heart wrenching story, without apology, and without false emotions.
What unfolds is the life of a young Korean girl, Jae-hee who is terribly and horribly brutalized during the Japanese occupation of Korea; and who is somehow able to emotionally stay strong, despite the dogs of despair nipping at her heals.
This is not gushy, not over the top, simply a telling of the journey of one young woman who is used as a sex slave 'comfort woman' by the Japanese. Jae-hee moves to North Korea in the hope of change and a better world. That was not the holy grail it was supposed to be. She then barely escapes with her life to South Korea to struggle as best she may in the aftermath of the Korean War, contending with the shaming prejudices rampant against her and her comfort sister sufferers.
Threaded throughout is the mystery of the comb with the two-headed dragon--a comb that Anna is confronted about by North Koreans.
A worthy and revealing read.
A NetGalley ARC