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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Absorbing start to a French detective series!

   

                                         


Chief Inspector Arthur Gambrelli, of the Metropolitan Police finds himself enmeshed in a murder outside of his jurisdiction. Ordered to investigate, he heads to an island off the coast of France near Toulon, and in the summer heat! Gambrelli is not pleased! Murdered is the attractive young mistress of a senior prosecutor in the Ministry of Justice, Jean Michel Bertrand. Bertrand is the prime suspect, hence the politics. Gambrelli is a wonderful character. Taciturn and talented--all hidden behind a no nonsense exterior, and Yes! I am seeing GĂ©rard Depardieu! (I love Gambrelli's soliloquies and discussions with his dog, Odin.)
Shackled by internal politics, and the occasional incompetent officer, Gambrelli nevertheless brings the case to a shattering conclusion. Set in 1934 France, this was an intriguing introduction to a new French detective series.
The exploration of who Gambrelli is was cleverly interwoven. There are hints of an interesting past, previous cases that have caught the public awareness, a respected professional reputation behind the gruff exterior, and that maybe Gambrelli has married beyond his social strata. Oh, and he doesn't like elevators!

A NetGalley ARC

****

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Charm, mystery and danger!



                             

Unfaltering continuation of The Runaway Desires series. I must admit to guessing some of the storyline before things developed but that was fine.
This is the story of Tempest Holderin's plantation manager and close friend Edward Cary.
Edward returns to England after twenty years absence. A mystery surrounds him and his leaving England, and now that mystery will be revealed.
Half French, Charlotte Blakemore, the widowed Duchess of Langerton finds herself the focus of her stepson's anger and sworn enemy. He vows to seize back what his father has bequeathed to her. Charlotte flees the estate and finds herself without funds, alone in the middle of the countryside. Edward appears on the scene enroute to Gloucestershire, takes pity on Charlotte and rescues her. Needing a place of safety, Charlotte joins him on his journey. Of course that leads to some very interesting situations. Especially as each has there own set of secrets, which to some degree trip over each other and add a certain piquancy to the mix.
I liked both the man Cary portrays and the woman Charlotte presents.
Other Runaway Desires are referenced or make their appearance including the Tempest and Andrew Corrvans, and Sarah and Lord St. John Sutcliffe.
All's well that ends well, despite the anguished beginnings for both leads.
They found do indeed find l'amour after handwringing episodes of fate and fortune.

A NetGalley ARC

****

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Brilliant, allusive and riveting!

The Shadow Land: A Novel by Elizabeth Kostova



                             

Vividly descriptive narrative flows across the pages of Kostava's work at once both musical and poetical. The opening pages draw you in. A veneer of haunting melody continues to engage. 
Alexandra Boyd has come to Bulgaria as a form of penance and a hope for renewal after her beloved brother Jack's death. Bulgaria was the place he'd always wanted to visit. A place from their childhood dreams and games.
An accidental meeting at a taxi ramp in Sofia leads Alexandra to a riveting chase and search across Bulgaria, all the time dogged by her personal loss, whilst uncovering the story of the people she seeks.  Finding an funeral urn misplaced with her luggage, shockingly affects Alexandra coming alongside as it does the memory of her own loss. This fuels the impetus for her decision to find the urn's owners. The quest  becomes paramount to all else.
This quest has Alexandra on a journey crisscrossing not only the geographical Bulgaria, but the memories of the past under communist rule and the fate of the urn's occupant, Stoyan Lazarov, a talented musician, and that of his family.
Through Stoyan's eyes in the past and his family in the present we see the enforced labor camps under Communist rule and their inhumane overseeing. We see the indomitable human spirit struggle for life when circumstances become too much for the body and soul to hold. The dark days of Stoyan's experiences are lightened by the memory methods he develops to engage a different reality, a separating from the concrete, and the awesome discipline of being somewhere other in the midst of hardship as he fights for survival.
The past is set against the present as Alexandra's journey encounters its own dangers--and joys. Alexandra 'could hear music, where there was no music.' A novel of hope!


A NetGalley ARC

*****

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Tender and true--in the end!


                               

Not quite a rags to riches story, in fact almost the opposite. When two young people in a Scottish border town discover the distinct disadvantage to having a lack of knowledge about the local laws and customs, their lives change unequivocally. 
Inveterate gambler Anthony Fairfax is trying to gain enough money to pay his vowels to a London gambling house. A gentlemanly sense of duty to a damsel in distress and the looming certainty of danger to his person has him falsely declaring their marital state within the hearing of others.
A young woman, Charlotte Devon, daughter of an infamous London courtesan is seeking her lordly unknown father. Desperation has called for desperate measures.
As these two discover each other (well thrown together by chance and mischance really) and each realizes their own self worth, a charming love story unfolds.
Love reforms this gallant rogue and holds him to a steady path. Two people with telling backgrounds find the secret to overcoming their pasts.

A NetGalley ARC

****

Saturday, April 8, 2017

A love story with a difference.



                                

It seems Alexander Savage, the Duke of Blackshire, is being stalked by someone who is seeking to make an end to him. For starters his carriage accident was no accident.
Miss Elizabeth Lacey, Beth, one of those he'd dubbed the Wilting Wallflowers some years ago is his grandmother's companion.
The Duke appears to be a confirmed rake. His sexual prowess is talked about by women in hushed tones, he's highhandedness and downright rude, and his a scars add another layer of mystery. He is a man who carries secret burdens, including the truth about his rakish ways. Having been badly burnt as a child his body carries the evidence and his heart carries the memory of the night that dashed his childhood into smithereens.
Alex loves his grandmother dearly and wants to protect her. He needs Beth's assistance. Beth wrings three wishes from him for the Dowager's pleasure. Here Beth has totally misjudged Alex's devotion to his grandmother. Not knowing his fears she sees his desire to send his grandmother out of harms way as dismissive.
Beth just can't seem to stop wanting to rescue situations and when her gaze turns to the dreadful Duke it seems that he's in need of rescuing too. But who will rescue her!
This is a light hearted read. Beth and Alex are two unique personalities, quite different characters from the norm. 

A NetGalley ARC

***1/2

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Witty, hilarious and understated. A love story with a difference!



                                

The major part of this novel takes place in the raw Scottish Highlands of 1812. Graeme, Viscount Maxton, is struggling to keep his crofters and land together. His young brothers decide to take things in hand, by kidnapping the sister of their new neighbour, the Duke of Lattimer, and coincidentally, the deadly enemy of their clan chief, the Duke of Dunncraigh. A clan chief Graeme constantly bumps up against, a man he doesn't like or trust. A bully of a man who doesn't care for his clan as is his responsibility.
Meanwhile in London, Lady Marjorie Forrester's attempts to take her place in society are not going so well. In fact she's failing dismally. So why not hive off from her house in Mayfair and surprise her brother at his coming wedding in the Highlands?
At first I thought, 'Where is this plot going?' By the end I was smiling at the daft situations that arose with those three brothers and laughing at the repartee between Graeme and Ree.
A heart warming story, with the added spice of dangerous foes, improbable secondary characters, the two leading characters with a decided sense of the ridiculous strongly attracted to each other, and three young men who just need to be handled in the right way.  
A really enjoyable read!

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Masterful!