Thursday, July 24, 2014

HH Review - Beauty and the Spymaster by Moriah Densley

Title: Beauty and the Spymaster
Author: Moriah Densley
Publisher: esKape Press
Language: English

As a fanatical Historical Romance reader, I like to know who and what the characters are about, pretty close to the beginning of the story. For me, this was a slow reveal. Much of the past and what was taking place in the story didn't make sense to me at first. I've since learned that perhaps I should have read some previous novels before hand.

The hero Julian Grey is caring warm and everything a hero should be. I love that he is masquerading as a vicar, while hiding so much more.

To me, Helena Duncombe was an enigma at first, none of her past made sense, till further into the book. Once I got to know her, I did find her character a warm, witty delight.

The fight and action scenes are very well written and Ms Densley has a knack for taking us on a wild ride. From carriage accidents, to domestic violence, to exquisite scenes in a Parisian Ballroom, I felt I was really there.

I would have enjoyed a romantic tryst early in the story, between the two main characters but alas it didn't happen.

In my opinion (only), I felt the story was a little disjointed as the main female character was a woman with a grown daughter, and I got the feeling I was supposed to already know about Sophia and her relationship to the story.

Countess Esterhazy

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hungry Like The Wolf

A grim medieval lithograph
I was interested in this week to read environmentalist George Monbiot arguing for the re-introduction of previously extinct animals back into England.

Here is a list, taken from my book Feral, of a few of the animals which have become extinct recently (in ecological terms) and which probably meet the bill's new definition of non-native: "not ordinarily resident in, or a regular visitor to, Great Britain in a wild state". Some would be widely welcomed; others not at all, but it's clear that a debate about which species we might bring back is one that many people in this country want to have, but that the government wants to terminate. There's a longer list, with fuller explanations and a consideration of their suitability for re-establishment, in the book.
One of those animals that he argues should be introduced is the wolf:

Wolf: the last clear record is 1621 (not 1743 as commonly supposed). It was killed in Sutherland. As far as I can determine, neither Sir Ewen Cameron nor any of the other blood-soaked lairds and congenital twits from whom Lord Cameron of Dillington is descended were involved.
Meow! Oh, sorry, wrong animal.

Wolves were hunted for a number of reasons - their beautiful pelts for one thing, also to protect people and livestock for another.

Hunting was necessary for survival.
The wolf is a fierce predator, so much so that in medieval times, murderers were sometimes offered the option to become wolf hunters and freed on the condition become wolf hunters. To prove their worth, the felon had to come back with a certain number of wolf tongues per year.

What appeared to be clemency was actually a death sentence of another another sort.

The sneaky, cunning and duplicitous nature of wolves was so recognised across so many cultures and over so many generations that audiences back in Jesus Christ's time and the centuries since understood exactly what He meant with the words:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
In my medieval romance Warrior's Surrender, (which I hope will be out early in 2015) the wolf plays a pivotal role both in actuality and as analogy.

I hope you enjoy this snippet!

“Does the Baron of Tyrswick sulk like a child when he’s bested by a woman?” she called out.
She waited for a response.
When it came, Frey’s blood turned cold.
A sustained howl broke the silence and was joined by a chorus of similar cries that seemed to be all around her. Frey turned in a circle but could see only the trees.
Her horse had stopped its grazing and took a step back, ears flicking in one direction, then the other.
With hands cupped to magnify the sound of her voice, she called out.
There was no reply save the call of the wolf pack.
Gooseflesh needled along on her arms.
With greater calmness than she felt, Frey walked back to the horse and soothed it with soft words and a few strokes down its neck. It settled enough for Frey to unbuckle a leather quiver of arrows from the saddle, which she then secured across her back before releasing the bow which she placed over her shoulder.

Monday, July 21, 2014

HH Review - All Quiet on the Western Plains by Isabella Hargreaves

Title: All Quiet on the Western Plains
Author: Isabella Hargreaves
Publisher: Steam eReads
Language: English

This novella is written in the third person, not a style I’ve read for a while. Perhaps I am more used to the immediacy of writing in the second person, but although I found All Quiet on the Western Plains to be a very interesting book, it reads like the narration of a string of events. However, top marks to Ms Hargreaves for writing in a style which is typical of that era. The research of post trauma distress order after World War One is flawless as far as it goes. I’d like to see the author dig deeper.

I don’t wish to sound as if I didn’t enjoy the book. I did. But it is written in a hands-off style so that a reader cannot be invested in the hero and heroine. This novella would shine after editing by a professional.

It is refreshing to read about the Australian aftermath of WWI, since it is not a topic tackled by many in the romance genre.

Countess of Jersey

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

HH Review - Blinded by Grace - Becky Lower

Title: Blinded by Grace
Author: Becky Lower
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Language: English

Halwyn Fitzpatrick is being pressured by his loving parents to find himself a bride. Now having discovered that the world is a very different place when viewed through a pair of glasses he’s taking a serious interest in the New York debutantes of 1858’s season. Truth be told he thinks having someone else choose a bride for him would be a less time consuming task. All that love business is for others, he is a serious banker and marriage is a serious business.

Grace Wagner is an old family friend. Grace is in dire straits. If she doesn’t marry before she comes of age, her obnoxious step father Simon Huffman will inherit all her wealth. He is a wicked man, one who spends his time gambling away the family money and being cruel to both Grace and her mother.

Forced into a desperate measures, Grace approaches Halwyn with a deal. Marry her, protect her inheritance and in a year they will part and no one will be any the wiser. Halwyn needs a wife, someone to help him furnish his new brownstone. He readily agrees.

It’s not long before Halwyn realises that Simon is an evil man and will stop at nothing to get his hands on Grace’s money. He pushes forward with their wedding plans. Unbeknownst to him Grace has been in love with him since she was thirteen. She even keeps the Harvard handkerchief he gave her many years ago.

Simon will not go quietly when it comes to losing the fortune he needs. A horse is nobbled, and Halwyn is seriously injured. I enjoyed this part of the story very much indeed. Halwyn’s mother is a kind hearted woman who sees what both her son and Grace are not prepared to admit to each other. She ensures that Grace has to help nurse Halwyn back to health.

As a result of the fall from the horse Halwyn has temporarily lost his memory. He forgets the ‘arrangement’ with Grace and thinks theirs is a love match. The growth of tender feelings between the two of them is beautifully written. Halwyn begins to lust after his fiancé while Grace grapples with her attraction to him knowing it is only a false memory on his part.

She confesses the situation, only to discover that Halwyn is in love with her. There are really lovely written parts in this part of the story. I enjoyed the Fitzpatrick family and their need to assist in the journey of love for Halwyn and Grace. I’m a big fan of the family historical romance, especially with loving and fun parents and siblings.

Simon’s drastic measures toward the end put both heroine and hero in peril, but I am pleased to say love wins out.

I enjoyed this book. It has a simple elegance about it and I look forward to reading the rest of Becky Lower’s Cotillion Series.

Countess Esterhazy