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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

Monday, February 20, 2017

Regency Melodrama



                                  

The scene's set. It's the night before the big day when finally Lady Isolde Worthingham is going to say 'I do' and marry the man who holds her heart, Merrick Mountshaw, the Duke of Moore. But when Isolde witnesses her fianc√© in bed with her so called best friend her heart breaks into a thousand pieces. And her best friend--nothing less than a scheming cat who goes to scandalous lengths to bag a Duke!
The marriage between Merrick and Leonora Hart is doomed to failure from the beginning.
Isolde hives off to Scotland for five years to try to mend her broken heart. After that time she is at last was persuaded to return to London. Because society is society, Isolde finds herself back in the arena of all that is fashionable--including Moore and his Duchess.
Lenora is even worse than when we last saw her, glittering, highly strung, barbed and dangerous. Merrick still calls to Isolde. But enough! Isolde has decided to find a husband and start a family. Love need not be a factor.
The man she chooses however is pursued by his own devils, and it's seems that unknowingly Lenora is heading into a marriage that will be far less far than the contract she envisages and nowhere near the polite union she's hoping for. Isolde's heart will not be involved but she hopes for at least a civil scandal free union, despite the draw that Merrick still is.
A reasonably enjoyable romantic farce with an eye opening prelude and three interesting acts. 

A NetGalley ARC

*** 1/2

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tension and temptation!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Intriguing!


                              

Fascinating story set in the Cairo souk, 1913.
A young girl from from a prominent family Marie Kewfik, is kidnapped. A man from the Kewfik stables, was stabbed. They seemingly are not linked. When a young girl, Layla, from the exclusive modern girls school, Khedivial Girls’ School, comes to the Mamur Zapt (Gareth Cadwallader Owen)the Head of Special Branch, to ask for his assistance, he finds himself drawn into an unusual political arena.
A talented 'nay' player is involved.
A wise old woman of the souk encourages Mamur Zap to follow the music.
Owen is married to the highly regarded modern woman, Zeinab. I was struck by their relationship.
A startling look at Egyptian life in the the early twentieth century, traditional ways of life, and the power of women in the souk.
I'm hooked!

A NetGalley ARC

****

Great Holmsian addition



                               

Riots, death threats, hate mail. All are gifts Conan Doyle receives when he kills off Sherlock Holmes. Doyle is tired, his wife is dying, Holmes stories are  mired in the banal and Doyle wants a change of pace.
Not so his fans. They have turned into ravening hoards demanding their hero back.
A humouress and lively read!

A NetGalley ARC

****

Secrets exposed!



                           

The MacNeil Legacy, where the 1860's Highlands and the New World intersect continues with Fletcher's younger half brother Duncan MacNeil. Since his arrival at the Isle of Hedabarr, Duncan has been out of step; a misplaced, bored, half Commache lad who's as handsome as sin, and as ready to indulge in as much of that as the young women of the island will allow. A recipe for disaster! In the end Fletcher, Duke of Kintyre reluctantly allows Duncan to return to the land he's missing. Just before leaving Duncan spends a few hours after the village fair with a gullible young woman Isobel Dunbar. Alcohol and experimentation equal seduction. Personally I find the young Duncan to be a thoughtless scoundrel.
Isobel falls pregnant from that unwise moment. A husband lost at sea is invented and all goes well for ten years. 
Duncan returns from Texas ready to take up the family business. Looking for a site for a cannery that will provide work for the locals, Duncan fixes his sights aonthe run down property owned by Isobel. And so the two meet again. That leads of course to Duncan discovering Isobel's secret. I know, things eventually work out, but I still find the more mature Duncan is high handed and insensitive even with the flashbacks to his part in the civil war in Texas.
I frankly did not like Duncan as a youngster and am not that fond of him now. Even after Duncan's return to the Island with an obvious maturity and emotional growth, I wasn't that pleased with him. Duncan and Isobel's story, and the secondary stories feel somewhat contrived. That include events and entanglements involving secondary characters. Mysteries are uncovered and neatly tied coincidences trip over each.
Still the family continues to be of interest and I still find Fenella to be my favourite character.

A NetGalley ARC

***

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Fireworks indeed!

A Taste Of Fire by Hannah Howell


                             

Antonie Ramirez is a heady combination of innocence and insight, wrapped up in a dangerously delectable parcel.
Welcome to deep, wide Texas where men are men and women are more than competent.
Honouring her dead father's wishes to repay Royal Bancroft for saving their lives, Antonie Ramirez enters the world of the Bancroft's like a Texan whirlwind. Royal finds himself in danger from outlaws trying to take his land over and from a young woman who confounds and attracts him in equal measure.
Sort of Zane Greyish with way more verve and romance, I really enjoyed this departure from the more typical western novel.

A NetGalley ARC

****


Phryne flies high!



                          

Phryne is attending a dance marathon at a jazz club with 'a tedious but socially acceptable escort', Charles Freeman. Tintagel Stone the band leader leader and banjo player has a delectable pair of blue eyes. The last two marathon couples are exhausted but still dancing. One stumbles and falls--never to rise again. Phryne is flung headlong into murder, blackmail, missing persons, and a brief liaison--or two, although lamenting from time to time her anarchist lover met in Death at Victoria Dock.
The story ranges from St Kilda to the Australian Alps. Flying with Phyrne in her Tiger Moth  through that area, up through Mansfield and on to Mount Howitt plains were highlights of the story. Having walked some of this area I was instantly transported back there, to the sights, smells and sounds. Thank you Kerry Greenwood! As Phyrne reflects when walking to a hut, 'this cold wilderness was utterly unfamiliar, but it did not feel hostile, just indifferent to her fate. If she fell off this path and was broken into a hundred pieces nothing up here would be one whit interested.' 
Here are places where some find solace and others inspiration. The descriptions of this part of the world and the people, priceless! As Phyne says, 'they did not talk much and therefore liked to give every word its proper weight. She reflected that a writer might find this touching. Words were seldom given the respect they deserved.' (I loved this last sentiment)
The war references--Gallipoli and Pozi√®res, and the effect of these battles on the veterans as always are stark reminders of the costs paid. 
Enjoyable as always.

A NetGalley ARC

****