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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

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A deliciously heart warming read!


'I’m glad you didn’t die fighting'
For the new Duke of Murdoch, slightingly whispered to as the 'Duke of Murder' by the rapacious of the ton (in clubrooms, behind fluttering fans and gloved hands), these words uttered by Megan Windham are balm to his battle weary soul.
Very loud sighs of satisfaction and content from this reader! Heady stuff!
I adored the reluctant battlefield warrior turned Duke, running the season's gauntlet with more trepidation than the night before a battle. The story of Hamish McHugh, the Duke of Murdoch, and his brave set upon Lady Megan Windham is a treat.
I did think the Windham Brothers were somewhat slow on the uptake with the situation surrounding Megan. And the way they kept all just missing the truth and consequently the danger to Megan made me want to shake them. They just didn't see the villain of the piece!
Thank goodness for Hugh ... and his delectable knees! (So we've moved on from sock glad feet to knees. Nicely done Grace Burrowes!)
The Duke of Murder is going about his Duke-ing with a sense of inadequacy but Meggie sees only a kind man who is her knight errant!
I see more fun and games ahead with the Windham Bride series. Can't wait!

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Lost lady or deliberately misplaced?

Lady Lost (Lost Heiresses #3) by Jane Goodger.       



I really enjoyed Lady Lilian Martin. She is spirited and feisty.
Lord Marcus Granton withdrew from the world when the scandal of his wife found dead in bed--another man's bed, broke. He's hidden himself away on his cliff top estate overlooking the North Sea. Gothic enough for you? 
When Lilian descends (well collapses really) on his bolthole looking for asylum and respite having been accused of murder, quickly followed by a child and a plethora of servants, Marcus' hard fought peace of mind is shattered. Lilian gets under his skin in more than one way.
Lilian's sister Theresa is a piece of work. However that doesn't mean that I would wish on her the marriage she ended up with. Theresa's husband is a depraved decadent. Puzzling to me was the way Theresa just peters out. What happened to her?

A NetGalley ARC

****


Saturday, December 10, 2016

... missteps and misalliances!


                                                  

A darkened room, mistaken identify, a
lovers tryst gone awry, and the unforgiving ton!
Robyn Sutherland finds the kisses he shares with another leave him unsettled.
Lily Sommerset, who's not looking for an untrustworthy rake, especially her brother-in-law. She wants a beau without a blemish on his record, like the handsomely pedestrian Lord Atherton.
Lily appears to suffer from an anxiety disorder. Everything must line up and Robyn, selfish hedonist, and wickedest rake in London, doesn't fit the bill, although his kisses do make her melt.
Lily, the perfectionist seems to go from one scandal to another due to the actions of Robyn--all reported in the latest scandal sheet.
Robyn is in the words of the elderly Lady Chase, a 'Rapscallion.' Thump! Young Scoundrel! Thump! (That's Lady Chase's cane punctuating her utterances with her cane. Thump!)
Lily is conflicted and trying to deny her feelings for many good reasons. After all how can one trust Robyn. 'One of Robyn’s most dangerous qualities was making her believe everything he said, regardless of whether she should or not.'
Meanwhile Lord Atherton has become a distant dream of what might have been--or has he?
Certainly the twists and turns in this romance have been explored before but Bradley has managed a well packaged story, even while employing some recognizable tried and true tricks.
There are some delightful turns of phrase and mildly ironic statements spattered throughout that add a little zest to the mix.
A delightful read.

A NetGalley ARC

****

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Playing a deep game!

The Danger of Desire (The Sinful Suitors #3) by Sabrina Jeffries


When his cousin Lady Clarissa asks the dedicated rake Warren Corry, Marquess of Knightford, and member of the St. George's Club, to watch out for her friend Miss Delia Trevor during her London season, neither realize that Corey will be inextricably intwined into Delia's life, despite his best intentions. But then neither did Corey know that Delia dressed as a man and gambled the night away in various notorious hells. When Warren recognized the woman beyond the gambling youth facade, to say his is somewhat startled downplays his reaction. Delia is searching for the man who'd been  instrumental in her brother's death--that is until Corry sussed her out. What's a rake to do?
Two people, each with a problem and each with a different way of handling their world are inevitably drawn to each other, both fascinated and annoyed by each other. Will love find a way through the secrets they hold?
Intertwined with others in series, this is a fitting Sinful Sinners addition.
I loved the premise. I have previously stated how much I enjoy the female leading role emulating a youth in order to go about her business without being brought down in disgrace. Despite espousing one of my favourite plot lines this didn't quite capture me as I wanted it to but it's still a jolly good read.

A NetGalley ARC

*** 1/2

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Healing and heartache!

Hers to Heal (Black Eagle Ops #2) by Vonnie Davis


Another winner in the Eagle Ops series. This time it's Reece Browning who is fighting PTSD and the use of an artificial limb. His physical therapist and ex-Marine Gina Wilson, is part of the equation along with her daughter Piper. Piper is a gem. Tricky and loveable. Reece and Gina's story is tender, confrontative  and fiery. 
Along the way a couple of others from ZQ's team come to Warrior Falls.
Davis seems to combine a touch of Zane Grey with the raunchy reality that surrounds the men in this series.
I like the human face of these characters, their interplay and support for each other.
Gina has her own particular set of 'demons' to exorcise.
I really appreciated Davis' support and understanding for women in service and the particular issues they face.  This story only touches on what I am sure are deep emotional scars for some of these women. The  dedication at the back of the book makes clear how personal the challenges facing returned personnel are to Davis.
Sure, this is a HEA type novel that includes deep and heartfelt issues. I love that a character like 'Silver' is included in the group--a Vietnam Vet who has had to face similar issues to those of the Eagle ops group. This gives a wry sense of continuity as the past bleeds into the today.

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Highlander Hellion's dilemma!

Tempestuous and tempting!


Slavery, abolitionists, a headstrong, willful heiress, piracy, and a chase across the oceans from Antigua to London. And this is just the beginning! Plenty of heart stopping action, frisson between the two main protagonists make this an excellent addition to this latest in the Runaway Desires series.
Andrew Corrvan is presented with a strange business request. To kidnap Tempest Holderin, compassionate Antiguan sugar plantation heiress.         
Tempest's plantation manager and close friend Edward Cary is concerned that the vile, supercilious and self serving Lord Nathaniel Delamere will compromise or even force Tempest into marriage. With her father dead, Tempest has no protectors in the wider plantation community.
Tempest is a radical thinker, fan of Mary Wolstencroft, and committed to freeing the slaves on their plantation, Harper's Hill, her dead father's futuristic vision.
Captain Andrew Corrvan is strong and independent, viewed by outsiders as ruthless. His crew knows the truth. He is just and true and seeks out pirates in the Caribbean. Even the truth of that is deeper. The force that drives Andrew is vengeance.  He is committed to finding the pirate who killed his father. He has been searching for nigh on ten years. Yet Andrew Corrvan has self doubts about his own abilities.
Certainly 'Corrvan would never claim to have always acted on the right side of the law, but there were crimes even he would not stoop to commit. Kidnapping was one of them.'
When Andrew agrees to abduct Tempest, admittedly after some consideration and revelations, he is thrown into a situation where the kidnap becomes a fait accompli. 
Tempest is named truly. Feisty, adorable, impulsive and committed to her father's vision for freed slaves, Captain Andrew Corrvan doesn't stand a chance and is taken by storm by the lively Tempest, figuratively and literally. Tempest is tempted by Andrew in ways she had never envisioned.
An intriguing story, laced with high adventure and hard fought love.
A love story based around the darker history of slavery and freedom.
I certainly enjoyed this latest offering from Susannah Craig, with her delightful nods to the great bard, Shakespeare.

A NetGalley ARC

****

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Fauna and fervour! Love amongst floral favourites!

Romance amongst 'dark satanic mill[s].'

The Heiress and the Hothead by Sabrina Jeffries.  


Having inveigled an invitation to  a Christmas house party, the radical Lord Stephen Corry, meets his match in Miss Amanda Keane. Stephen is a prolific writer who champions the cause for better mill working conditions and practices. He wanted to interview the American owner Montague Mills for an upcoming article.
Mill owner Amanda, and heiress, has modern and compassionate ideas about cotton milling, workers conditions and the treatment of children particularly.
Answering a friend's call to help stir a would be suitor into action, Lord Stephen Cory finds himself under the mistletoe kissing a different young woman by mistake. 
A deeper than usual Christmas romance skating the surface of a not so light issue, conditions in mills and factories that are still present in various parts of the world.
I must admit that the dalliance during a fire took on a certain absurdity, that maybe fits with the surface story. On the other hand--maybe not!
Mill conditions and romance seem strange bedfellows but Sabrina Jeffries makes it work!

(I thought this title was familiar. Yes, like others I had read this Christmas novella before in the collection of Christmas stories, 'What Happens under the Mistletoe.' I must say that I'm somewhat nonplussed by the cost comparisons!)

A NetGalley ARC 

***

Friday, December 2, 2016

Redemption comes haltingly!

Widowed Cait Campbell is a healer who assists Brice Sutherland with an underground movement smuggling Scots being pursued by the English after Culloden away to Canada.
Living alone as she does in an isolated cottage on the edge of Campbell lands, Cait's is the perfect place to harbour these hunted men, women and children.
Cait has a complex background, granddaughter to two powerful clan chiefs, she turned her back on all that when she married a Campbell. Now the Campbell chief Iain has come to call as English soldiers have been killed near her cottage and the English are stirred up. Cait's husband John was killed protecting his Laird. Cait has sought  peace away from the reminders of her beloved husband. Now Cait's hard fought peace  of mind is fiercely challenged, as is her heart.
Iain is both a highland chieftain and an English Lord. He sees only the way forward is to deal with the English. Iain is playing a deadly game, endeavouring to straddle both cultures and bring some sort of peace to the land for the very survival of Scotland.
With the threat of English investigations and increased patrols the channeling of the refugees is becoming more dangerous. With the advent of Iain into Cait's life all bets are off!
When Iain is accused of murdering an English soldier Cait's eyes are opened but Iain's very  survival  becomes moot.
The title is interesting. Certainly there are several levels of redemption that Iain is striving for.
Although Cullen's writing brings alive the historical situation, the landscape, and the people involved, this was not as engaging a read as I was hoping for. Despite all this is still a good read.

A NetGalley ARC 

***