About Me

My photo
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

Friday, July 31, 2015

Alchemy and abduction

Ether & Elephants (The Gaslight Chronicles #8) by Cindy Spencer Pape 


Nell and Tom; sweethearts for ever! One careless hasty step and Tom finds himself married to someone else. Eleanor Hadrian has loved Tom since before she can remember. Now she finds her best friend and true love has betrayed her trust. Nell throws her energies and shattered heart into a teaching career. When her favourite student, a musically gifted blind child is kidnapped its time to call in her very peculiar a family, including Sir Thomas Devere.
At the same time other children are going missing. The spectre of the alchemist is raised once again. Nell and Tom must join forces to track down Charlie who may be more important to Tom than he could guess. Along the way they gather up Nell's newly minted fiancé and mathematics teacher, Roger.
This time the intrigue stretches to India. Racing to reach those shores before those they are chasing, Nell and Tom catch an airship and meet some interesting folk along the way. 
Nell is faced with the possibility of finding her biological father, her anxiety over the fate of Charlie and her heart's desire, whatever that might be. Tom must resign himself to being the supportive friend and brother that he has always been. Lover and husband is a dream to be  banished. He made his bed, now he must lie in it.
Another fabulous read about the denizens of the Gaslight Chronicles.

A NetGalley ARC

****

Vibrancy, danger and romance!

If He's Noble (Wherlocke Book 7) by Hannah Howell 


I so love the Wherlocke stories. This offering of Sir Bened Vaughn and Lady Primrose Wootten's tale of travail is no disappointment.
We originally met Bened Vaughin in the first book of the series, 'If He's Wicked', then later his skills as a tracker are mentioned several times in 'If He's Wild.'
So now this gorgeously protective man has his own story and he finds himself drawn willy nilly into the mystery surrounding the vibrant Primrose. In search of her brother Simeon, pursued by ruffians employed by her wicked aunt Primrose has only her wiles and now Bened to stand between herself and disaster.
Bened is drawn to Primrose, first seen waving a pistol at him. Their race to find Simeon is dangerous and exhilarating and charged with the tensions of the attraction they feel towards each other. Along the way, Primrose confronts repressed memories, hidden pages from her childhood, uncomfortable and telling. The bond that grows between Bened and Primrose is tested in more ways than one. Not the least of those being as Lilybet so succinctly puts it 'male idiocy.'
A taut and exciting entry into the Wherlocke family annals.

A NetGalley ARC

****

Sunday, July 26, 2015

...countdown to simplification!

Clearing Clutter: Physical, Mental, and Spiritual by Alexandra Chauran  


The link between mindset and clutter was interesting. Certainly a good introduction to the task at hand. I had been looking for a 10 easy steps. This is not that. This is a 'take a look at your life' message, with materials for reflection, and actions useful for that decluttering task.
Chairman terms it 'Simplification.'
'When you finally finish your simplification process...move the bags out if your house as quickly as possible...Don't allow yourself any time to agonize over the chore...you need to move onto the next stage of harmonizing.'
There are some gems of wise actions and fascinating 'to do's' along the way.
My 'harmonizing' journey is beginning.

A NetGalley ARC

****

Monday, July 20, 2015

...of kings and towers and superstitions

The Executioner's Daughter (The Executioner’s Daughter #1) by Jane Hardstaff


Missing children along the River Thames, a daughter trapped inside the tower with an unaccounted for past and tales to explain why she must never leave the tower. Moss, the Executioner's daughter is on the verge of an awful truth.
Stolen moments lead to outside the tower through a hidden way, stolen boots lead towards a new and unlikely friend.
What is the mystery of the Witch of the Rivers and what does Moss have to do with her?
Set against the backdrop of the Tower of London, Hardstaff weaves a story that gathers together, in the language of legends, a world bordering the reality of those who live outside the tower. A world where reality, superstition and witches meet on the eve of Anne Boleyn's downward path from Queen to traitor. A place where children are warned against being taken by the Riverwitch into the depths of the Thames.
Moss's meeting with Anne is a lovely vignette of the doomed Anne whose flame might be fluttering but whose determination and character is very evident.
Moss was born and saved from drowning by the Riverwitch, who in giving her back declared that she would come for Moss in twelve years. Moss it seems is bound by that utterance. She is haunted by the apparition of the Riverwitch glimpsed beneath the icy Thames. Only she can in the end calm the ravages of the Riverwitch.
Hardstaff's  language is strongly evocative. I felt the terror of the beheadings, the dank sliminess of the tunnel under the tower, the icy coldness of the river edges in winter, and the insidiousness of the faceless figure that nearly catches Moss.
A fascinating read portraying the Tudor times from a different perspective.

A NetGalley ARC

...no Scottish barbarian lords sought here!

The Highlander's Choice (Entangled Scandalous) (Marriage Mart Mayhem #5) by Callie Hutton  

Lady Sybil Lacey may seem like a high-in-the-step English lady, but as Liam MacBride discovers she is not your everyday sassenach.
Sybil's best friend might be marrying an outlandish highlander laird, but this sort of man was definitely not for Sybil. Sybil is attending her friend Margaret's wedding when she encounters the groom's best friend, Liam MacBride. Sybil didn't go through four London seasons looking for the right man in a ballroom, and certainly didn't intend to discover him in a Scottish castle.
Liam's mother has been harassing him with marriageable females to marry and get an heir for the clan, but her plans definitely do not include a hated sassenach.
But then the furthest thing from Sybil's mind had been the undeniable attraction that sparks between herself and the dangerously attractive Laird.
When Sybil consents to a visit to the MacBride holdings, the sparks of romance fan into a raging forest fire of desire, yet Liam and Sybil's relationship seems doomed to be doused by the cold water of hatred Liam's mother holds for the dreaded English.

A NetGalley ARC

***

Saturday, July 18, 2015

...of knights and ladies, love and duty

A Sword for His Lady (Courtly Love #1) by Mary Wine 

Ramon de Segrave newly appointed Baron by King Richard is sent by his king to the marshes bordering Wales. He is to marry the widowed Isabel of Camoys, the Lady of Thistle Keep.
Isobel is anything but gracious about the plans others have for her. Strong wills clash igniting the fires that lie below the calm surface of the Lady of the Keep and her robust Knight.
Having been given in marriage before against her will Isabel is reluctant to give up her independence. Richard has taken her garrison to the Holy Lands. Now she is defenceless, except for Ramon. Then there's her husband's dastardly brother Jaques Raeburn who wants the family lands back, at any cost. King Richard plays a part here. Richard's need for monies for his crusades has allowed Jacques to be elevated to a baron. (Ramon reflects somewhat sourly on the fact that he earned his baron status alongside Richard in war whilst Jacques bought his.)
Whilst Isobel may be able to protect her lands and people by agreeing to Ramon's terms, can she protect her heart? Certainly Isobel is faced with her own sensuality, something that has lain hidden until now.
Mary Wine gives us a fascinating look into practices in these Medieval times and the role of women, particularly of the nobility. I was fascinated by Isobel's methods of collecting and protecting her geese and their feathers, essential for the arrow shafts needed by Richard, the bathing customs of the day and other little tidbits about daily life at the keep.
I was also struck by the inner battle of Jacques' servant sent to spy, Donald. He has sworn before a God to carry out his Lord's orders but what to do when they conflict with his conscience? Donald's struggle highlights the strict religious aspects of feality and medieval practices. 
Ramon and Isobel's fate may be dictated to by a King but ultimately they decide upon it by themselves. The choice of the how's is up to them, with a little help from circumstances and duty.

A NetGalley ARC

****

...a second chance!

The Best of Both Rogues (Rival Rogues) by Samantha Grace


Lady Eve Thorne never forgot the man who'd left her on her wedding day and fled to India. One Mr. Benjamin Hillary. Eve never stopped loving him. Now, two years later, the time had come for her to take her life back, marry and have the family she'd always wanted. Scandal had stalked her after being left at the altar. Now engaged to Sir Jonathan Hackberry, Eve is shattered to find Ben returned and her love for him undiminished.
Ben is determined to win her back. All he has to do is persuade her fiancé to do all he can to have Eve break the engagement, convince Eve to marry him instead and to persuade her brother Sebastian that everything would be right and proper. Oh, and then there's the reasons behind why Ben fled in the first place.
Jonathan however is more than he seems and through him danger stalks Eve.
The glimpses of Jonathan so fascinated me that I felt this story is merely the avenue for Jonathan to take centre stage at some time. He's an enigma. There's shrouded secrets and dark sides glimpsed in the character of Jonathan.
Eve and Ben's story is fraught with the tension revolving around Ben's ability to win Eve back and Eve's ability to forgive. Eve is a stalwart, loving young woman who deserves happiness.

A NetGalley ARC

***

...riveting and soulful!

The Secrets She Keeps: A Novel by Deb Caletti  


A truly poetic reflection of life, love, marriage and it's challenges.
Poetic in descriptions of Nevada, in the many aspects of the interaction between the women portrayed and their situations, and Callie's interaction with the mustangs. 
At first I wondered what I had wandered into. The more I read, the more I became immersed in the changing stories of a younger Nash, Callie McBride her niece and then Nash as the elderly quixotic ranch owner. Not just any ranch, but a divorce ranch of the 50's. This was fascinating stuff! 
Callie's call from her mother to investigate what's going on with her Aunt Nash becomes the catalyst for Callie's leaving of her husband. At the ranch Callie comes face to face with what has been happening or not, in her married life. 
And then there's the mustangs! Callie may have wanted to capture them on camera, Canetti certainly captured them with words. The symbolic hues of the mustangs are many throughout this interesting story.
I loved this description of them, a description that segues into other happenings.
'...their eyes were manic and their tales stringy. They were an entire street corner of scary men shouting that the end of the world was coming. They were beautiful and dirty, alluring and repelling, a reminder that nothing is ever one thing, as much as you wish it.'
The connection between Callie and Kit, the Forest Protection Officer is a beautiful momentary thing, a growth experience, a meeting of souls if you will. Two people crossing paths at significant moments.
The novel is chock full of wonderful reflections on life and wants and the journey of marriage. A definite winner!

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

... true love rekindled!

In The Spinster's Bed (Spinster House #.5) by Sally Mackenzie 

Sweet story of love lost and found and a mountain of personal tragedy in between.
Twenty years ago Annabelle Frost had loved Lord William Wattles, her childhood friend. A friendship that one ripe afternoon developed into a passionate relationship.
William returned to school and Belle was hustled off, banished really, to another part of England. That was then. Now William is fleeing a scandal to the very village of Loves Bridge where Belle has made a new life for herself.
The future is uncertain and fearful but the attraction between Annabelle and William is still as strong and heady as it was so long ago.
Between times the mystery of the being of Spinster House is hinted at. As is said, 'at Spinster House, a woman can enjoy the spoils of single life—or find the love of a lifetime…'
A successor to residency seems to be waiting in the wings. Then there's the mysterious cat!
A little gem showcasing the Spinster House series.

A NetGalley ARC

****

A sparkling read!

How to Marry a Royal Highlander (Renegade Royals #4) by Vanessa Kelly  



I loved the story of this Renegade Royal, Alec (Captain Alasdair Gilbride) and his not so compliant true love Edie (Eden Whitney).

Full of intrigue, tender moments and quite a few irregular happenings. 
Edie manages to get herself banished to the highlands for the rest of the season (to give time for the gossip to die down) after being caught by a hardened society gossip kissing Sir Malcolm Bannister, a notorious rake. Edie was investigating the art of kissing although really, Sir Malcolm's tongue down her throat was not what she quite had in mind!
And of course, being Edie, she walks into quite another situation in the Highlands, although Captain Alec must be held to account as it was his mistaken idea that Edie and her mother might help him with a problematic family situation at his grandfather, the Earl of Riddick's estate, Blairgal Castle. (Edie had been hoping for banishment to the family manor).
The story reads well, the action flows smoothly and the braw Scottish laird Alec, (a seemingly  great lummox--though a deadly spy), is well and truly bowled over by the vivacious Edie.
Edie's Mama turns out to be a trooper and there are a couple of amusing scenes with Lady Reese well and truly doing the frosty sassenach lady.
Truly amusing and enjoyable!

A NetGalley ARC


*****