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Tag: "Romance"

Review: Royal Inheritance by Kate Emerson

[ 3 ] September 24, 2013

13547341Reviewed by Colleen Turner

Royal Inheritance presents a unique viewpoint of the ever shifting Tudor world as well as the politics and schemes that swirl around those with the potential to have even a drop of royal blood. Using the real life circumstances of a laundress’s daughter rumored to have potentially been the bastard offspring of Henry VIII, Kate Emerson spins a remarkable tale of a young woman kept guessing as to her true identity and her dangerous fight to not only find the truth but to determine her own future in a world where women have little say in the course of their lives.

Weakened by a fever she contracted in the summer of 1556, Audrey Harington sets out to tell her young daughter, Hester, the truth about Audrey’s parentage, upbringing and marriage to her husband, Jack. Not knowing how much longer she might have, Audrey is determined to make sure her own daughter doesn’t remain ignorant to the facts of her heritage as she herself spent much of her life being.

Born the daughter of a poor laundress working in Windsor Castle, Audrey is removed from her abusive home at the age of four and placed in the home of John Malte, Henry VIII’s tailor, who claims to be her father. However, after accompanying her father to court and coming face to face with the King, his attentions seem odd to young Audrey. She is further confused when he demands she continue to accompany her father to court, presents her with various gifts and orders she receive lessons not extended to her other sisters, all very unusual for a simple merchant’s daughter. Furthermore, her father is given gifts beyond his station, land and properties given jointly to John Malte and Audrey. After meeting the King’s youngest daughter, the Princess Elizabeth, and noting the remarkable likeness to herself, Audrey begins to suspect that John Malte might not be her biological father after all.

Discovering that others have had the same suspicions and that some of these people would like nothing better than to use her possible connection to the King for their own selfish ways, Audrey attempts to find out who she really is and who she can really trust. Seeking the help of Jack Harington, the man she has come to love deeply even as they continue to be kept apart, Audrey will stop at nothing to discover the truth and decide for herself what she wishes to do with that information. Knowing the truth, however, doesn’t always lead to happy endings.

I admittedly cannot get enough of reading about the Tudors from various vantage points. While the greater goings on of Henry VIII, his wives and his children do play a part in Royal Inheritance, Audrey’s attempts to navigate through life and find her true place in the world takes center stage. I found this particularly interesting as novels dealing with the Tudors tend to focus on the glitz and glamour of the court and not the day to day goings on of those outside the realm of the nobility. I enjoyed seeing London from the viewpoint of someone raised in the bustle of normal life there.

What I enjoyed most, however, would be the fact that most of the people and events seemed to be true to history. The back of Royal Inheritance includes a “Who Was Who at the English Court: 1532 – 56” and this helped flesh out the facts from the fiction used to advance to story. Even my least favorite part of Royal Inheritance, the somewhat unrequited love between Audrey and Jack, appears to be supported by known facts. While this relationship made for a rather bitter sweet tone to the end of Audrey’s story, I appreciate the fact that Kate Emerson stayed as true to history as she could.

Anyone interested in viewing the Tudors from a slight distance and learning more about those on the fringes of the court will really enjoy Royal Inheritance. I plan on looking further into these real life characters to see what else I can learn.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, their dog Oliver and their fish Finn. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Gallery Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Covet by Tracey Garvis Graves

[ 3 ] September 20, 2013

tracey-garvis-graves-covetReviewed by Vera Pereskokova

Chris Canton was always the golden boy, a brilliant salesman who found immense pride in his achievements at work. And his wife, Claire, loved to see the sparkle in her husband’s eye after he closed yet another deal. When the recession leaves Chris unemployed and lost, Claire jumps in with support but he only recedes further into the depth of his depression. After a year of constant job searching, Chris is finally offered another sales position—one that requires him to be away from home for most of the week. With their marriage already in dire straits, Claire is sure that distance is the last thing they need but has no choice other than to support her husband.

During a routine traffic stop, Claire meets a local police officer, Daniel Rush. Taken by his good looks and piercing green eyes, Claire is convinced she’ll never see him again…until she does. Although she’s honest with Daniel about being married and never wanting to cross the line into infidelity, she allows herself to spend time with him and soon they’re idling away hours in each other’s company. Their attraction is undeniable, but both do their best to sidestep around it and remain “friends”. But with Chris spending more and more time on the road and Claire feeling increasingly lonely and left alone, that line may not be so difficult to cross after all…

I was very excited to read Covet after hearing such rave reviews of Tracey Garvis Graves’ first novel, On the Island. Graves originally self-published On the Island after it was rejected by publishers. Penguin quickly bought the rights to the book—and I’m guessing Graves’ future works—when it shot up to No. 1.

Covet was a quick and enjoyable read; it was one of those stories that keeps you turning pages wondering “will she or won’t she?” However, I’m sad to say, I found Covet had little else to recommend itself. The story was titillating but predictable. What bothered me the most was the simplicity of the first person writing; it was at times choppy and “told” rather than “showed”. I would best compare it to a young girl’s diary.

That said, I think Graves’ popularity shows that there’s obviously a huge audience for these types of books, but I just wish it had a bit more substance.

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Dutton Adult. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour: Fired Up by Mary Connealy

[ 1 ] September 19, 2013

Mary Connealy  Fired Up smPlease welcome Mary Connealy, author of Fired Up, who is touring the blogosphere with Litfuse Publicity!

Reviewed by Amanda Schafer

Glynna Greer is moving all of her belongings out of her abusive husband’s home. She and her children have been free of him since he was killed in a shootout in Broken Wheel, Texas. On the day she moves her things out a rock avalanche threatens their lives and the lives of the men helping them. Dare Riker, one of those men and the town doctor, is badly hurt during the avalanche and Glynna stitches him up. Glynna’s plan as a widow is to start a diner in town but her cooking skills are severely lacking. However, in a town where she’s one of only a few women, her cooking skills don’t deter any of the men from showing up for their meals each day. Thankfully, Glynna hires Lana Bullard who’s been away from town for sometime after a fallout with Dare.

As the town doctor, Dare struggles with his lack of formal training and decides to become a rancher but before he can do that several attempts are made on his life. He and his Regulator friends (Luke, Vince, and Jonas) have determined that the avalanche was the beginning of the attempts followed closely by someone burning down Dare’s house while he was asleep inside. While they search for Dare’s attacker, Dare and Glynna realize they are attracted to one another, but fight it because of Glynna’s son Paul, who has an intense hate for Dare and verbally threatens him. During one of the attempts on Dare’s life he and Glynna admit their true love for each other and realize they have to work out some sort of solution.

Any book written by Mary Connealy is instantly on my wish list and this book was no exception! I love how easy it is to be completely “into” the story from the very first page. The characters have depth and are very relatable and don’t seem like they are too good to be true. Fired Up is another in Connealy’s growing list of wonderful books and I can’t wait for the next book in this series.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Amanda lives in Missouri with her engineering husband, two sons, and one daughter. In between homeschooling and keeping up with church activities she loves to read Christian Fiction, Women’s Fiction, and any Chick-Lit. She never goes anywhere without a book to read!

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Bethany House Publishers. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Confessions of Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey

[ 23 ] September 17, 2013

Confessions of Marie AntoinettePlease welcome Juliet Grey, author of Confessions of Marie Antoinette, as she tours the blogosphere with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours!

Enter to win a copy of the book below – open to US residents.

Reviewed by Colleen Turner

Confessions of Marie Antoinette, the final book in Juliet Grey’s trilogy about the life of the famed Queen consort of France, begins with the storming of Versailles on October 5th, 1789 and concludes with Marie Antoinette’s execution on October 16th, 1793. Told mainly through Marie’s point of view, the novel highlights a few of the underlying reasons for the French Revolution, the numerous governmental changes that occurred and the horrifying and inhumane treatment of the royal family, many members of the nobility and those deemed royalists.

Interspersed with Marie’s story is that of Louison Chabry, a young French sculptress who gets caught up in the revolutionary actions of the people and begins to realize that perhaps the hideous actions of the rising men of the new Republic and the blood thirsty populace that seems to follow them blindly are not the solution they need. This added perspective helped give the story a more well rounded feel then if it was told exclusively by Marie Antoinette and also helped drive home the fact that, while many of the poor French people did have legitimate problems that needed to be addressed, the vicious attacks against the monarchy did little to resolve these issues.

While it is entirely possible to read Confessions of Marie Antoinette without reading the first two books in the trilogy, as I did, I would recommend reading the series in order. Not knowing that much about Marie Antoinette’s history, starting with this final book made me feel slightly lost as to what had transpired before the storming of Versailles and why the people felt so vehemently that all their issues were a result of Marie Antoinette’s actions. To see the utter hatred towards the royal family and the all consuming need to destroy them, it was hard to justify that against the royal family’s humanity as seen through Marie’s story.

The Marie that is presented in Confessions of Marie Antoinette is not perfect but is a loving and devoted mother, a wife that is determined to stand by her husband even when his indecision might put her own life in danger and a Queen that genuinely cares about her people. There were times when the constant bombardment and the various failed escapes began to feel redundant, but the fact is this is more an issue with the history and not the writing at all. There is a lot of information discussed throughout the book and it can be hard to keep all the people and changes in check but it is easy to see the vast amount of research that went into the story and that Ms. Grey did an extraordinary job staying true to the facts of this much maligned woman. Included in the back of the book is an extensive reader’s guide that gave more insight into the history and the people who lived after Marie Antoinette, which I found very enjoyable.

All this being said, I will definitely go back and read the first two books in this series. Marie Antoinette is a fascinating true character from history and Ms. Grey does an exceptional job of bringing her story to life.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, their dog Oliver and their fish Finn. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship.

Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Ballantine Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: White Lines by Jennifer Banash

[ 2 ] September 16, 2013

15721628Reviewed by Krystal Larson

Cat is the type of girl that many of us wish to be. She has her own apartment in New York City as well as access to some of the hottest clubs. Many of us would find it difficult to see through the glamour, but underneath all of the shine, Cat lives a difficult life. She endured emotional and physical abuse from her mother and abandonment from her father. After she finally finds the courage to leave her mother, she seeks out her absent father – a man willing to pay the rent, but not willing to sit down and actually talk to his own child. Naturally, these memories make it very hard for Cat to form any real, sustaining relationships with other people. Cat knows that she has trouble with that facet of her life and feels badly about it. In order to run from her past, Cat ends up in night clubs and escaping into New York City’s crowds. What will happen to Cat when she finds someone worth coming out of her shell for?

Cat’s character had a lot of depth to it. At the end of White Lines, I felt like I knew her very well. She hasn’t had the best life, but remains generally optimistic and friendly. I knew that she tried her best and felt that she came up short in her father’s eyes. When I put the book down, I knew right away that I would remember Cat for a long time. The other characters were interesting and did add to the story, but they didn’t leave such a large impression. I really loved the way the author developed the characters and incorporate both humorous and serious dialogue. This book is perfect for young adult and teen readers.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Putnam Juvenile. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The Hero by Robyn Carr

[ 2 ] August 26, 2013

downloadReviewed by A.D. Cole

Thunder Point, home to a hardworking, close-knit, multi-generational community of people, has some new residents. Devon McAllister and her three-year-old daughter, Mercy, have escaped the confines of a strict, religious commune, though they have no ties to the outside world and nowhere to go. When Rawley Goode picks them up on the side of the road and offers them a place to stay, he opens up doors to Devon’s future that she hadn’t even dreamed possible.

Spencer Lawson, recently widowed and the father of a ten-year-old boy, Austin, finds himself a new home in Thunder Point as well. After losing his wife to a years-long-war with cancer, he finds himself needing a fresh start. He accepts the position of high school football coach in Thunder Point and experiences the added benefit of living closer to some surprising and unusual family connections. Spencer feels pretty stable and content until he meets Devon and realizes he’s ready for more.

Devon’s experiences mean she is reluctant to trust anyone. But when the people of Thunder Point unconditionally open their arms and hearts to her, she finds the surprising joy that comes from loving fearlessly. Spencer’s challenges also lie beneath the surface. He’s been through more loss than anyone knows and has yet to allow himself a moment to grieve. As a result, though normally a solid, dependable kind of guy, he suddenly finds himself questioning his commitments and unintentionally hurting the already vulnerable Devon. But when events conspire to further complicate Devon’s new found peace, Spencer is given the opportunity to prove himself trustworthy; and Devon, the opportunity to trust.

In addition to all this drama, we get to reconnect with former Thunder Point characters, all of whom continue to play important roles in the novel. There’s a much anticipated wedding; the further development of the relationship between Ashley and her bio-dad, Eric Gentry; and the deepening of Cooper’s roots as he begins to develop and expand his business. I’m torn between which story I want next. That of the lonely Dr. Scott Grant. Or the newly single, ex-con Eric Gentry.

The Hero is my favorite Thunder Point novel so far. The romance was a little more intense than in past books, likely because more was at stake. And there was some surprising, and rather heavy, action towards the end. Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable read. Carr’s story and character development are flawless and she continues to provide good, solid comfort reading. I definitely recommend the Thunder Point series.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

A.D. Cole is a homeschooling mother and aspiring romance novelist. She lives in the Ozark foothills and spends her free time reading, writing, baking and pondering life’s little mysteries.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harlequin MIRA. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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