The Week: 11th – 17th September

Spring Blossoms Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 11th September 2017

Monday Afternoon

Home after a month! We arrived in Sydney on Sunday night (with the Brazilian football team!), and had to stay overnight because we got in so late. The five-star hotel was lost on me because I lay there wide awake for a few hours and then gave up. Stupid jetlag.

As soon as I stepped off the plane in Canberra on Monday all I could smell was blossoms. It was such a change after Barcelona.

I think I’m catching up pretty fast with books and reviews and all of that, but I’m having a bit of trouble finding space for my shopping…

It’s not all rainbows and roses, however. I have come home to a country that has gone all Donald Trump. They have just RUINED our beautiful Parliament House (as in *the nation’s* parliament – this is the capital city) with a metres-high fence around it that is so ugly it makes me want to cry (thank you, terrorists).

And we’re in the midst of a national marriage equality debate that has resulted in some appalling acts by some people. The “gay marriage survey” everyone over eighteen is being mailed arrived here first – maybe because we’re in the capital city. I have done mine and posted it, but that doesn’t stop me being subjected to disgusting, homophobic TV ads for a couple more months.

Ugh. Australia used to pride itself on being progressive! Second country in the world to give women the vote. I am SO happy to live in Canberra, a progressive bubble in a backwards nation!

Rereading Now

To the Brink by Cindy Gerard

My review of Shadow Reaper (Shadow #2) by Christine Feehan

Shadow Reaper (Shadow #2) by Christine Feehan

My review of Courting Danger with Mr Dyer by Georgie Lee

Courting Danger with Mr Dyer by Georgie Lee

 My review of A Rake’s Guide to Seduction (Reece Family Trilogy #3) by Caroline Linden

A Rake's Guide to Seduction (Reece Family Trilogy #3) by Caroline Linden

Happy Birthday, Agatha Christie.

Agatha Christie was born in 1890 and died in 1976.

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A Rake’s Guide to Seduction (Reece Family Trilogy #3) by Caroline Linden

A Rake's Guide to Seduction (Reece Family Trilogy #3) by Caroline Linden

Anthony Hamilton is the most scandalous man in London, a gambler, a fortune hunter, an infamous rake. Celia Reece is sure he’s never had one thought of her, except as his friend David’s younger sister. Who would ever guess she’s the only woman he’s ever loved—and can never have…

A Rake’s Guide to Seduction by Caroline Linden

This is a repost of a review from a few years ago. Recently I received a review copy of A Rake’s Guide to Seduction (I know, the title is painful!), and I thought it sounded familiar. It’s actually a rerelease of a book from 2008.

This is a five-star read for me, so… I recommend it!

My old review:

What’s with the ridiculous way historical romance is marketed? This book isn’t about a “guide to seduction”. I question whether it’s even about a rake!

In all the years he had known her, he had never once touched her except very properly on the hand, on the elbow, and once on the back, when he had helped her into a carriage.

Caroline Linden is one of my favourite authors in this genre because she is one of the few who actually captures what life was like back in the Georgian/Regency eras. There’re very few who can do what she does (Madeline Hunter being another), working with the social rules of the time to create conflict and romance rather than throwing it all away and writing a contemporary story in pretty dresses.

This is the third book in a trilogy and I’ve not read the other two yet (but I certainly will). A Rake’s Guide to Seduction is about growing up and changing and losing your silly childish dreams. There’re so many wonderful references to the realities of upper class marriages of the times. I know readers who prefer anachronistic fluff have criticised the book for the more serious tone, but I can’t read anachronistic fluff, so I loved it.

The more time she spent with Jane, Mary and Louisa, the more she realised her marriage had not been the only one made on short acquaintance and uncertain affection. Louisa liked being a viscountess, but otherwise had little fondness for Lord Elton. Mary’s marriage had been arranged by her parents, and she made no secret of being resenting being treated like a child by her elderly husband.

The attitudes to physical contact between the genders is also much closer to how it would have been – making the anticipation much better.

Celia sat beside him on the sofa, where he could touch her hand discreetly from time to time to make her cheeks turn pink.

Our hero, Anthony Hamilton, misses the boat by only moments at the start of the story. He has just made up his mind to ask permission to court our heroine, Celia Reece, when her engagement to another man is announced. Things don’t work out the way anybody planned, and when we catch up with Celia again she is isolated, disillusioned, depressed and widowed. Her family plans a house party to try and bring her back to herself, fearing for her life. Our hero is only a rake in name; his reputation has been built by the cruelty of the gossips.

Depressing plot? Well, no, actually. Things change and our now more mature heroine learns what true love is as she grows and changes. I was so happy to have some real evolution for both main characters. I was thrilled that all the social restrictions of the time were shown more realistically. I loved the whole concept of the book.

Another great thing about this one was the subtle secondary romance involving “older” characters. Remembering how young everyone married and reproduced in the past, I don’t see why we couldn’t have more romances like this one. After all, these “older” characters would be considered pretty young these days!

I was also overjoyed that this heroine seemed to love the colour blue as much as I do!

There’re very few complaints I have about the characters’ actions in this one (though why US editors insist on including the term gotten nonstop in their historical romances is beyond me). There were the usual niggles: only in American English will you hear anyone calling autumn fall, or saying write me.

This is a brilliant author with a firm grasp of the past. I wish there were more like her.

Courting Danger with Mr Dyer by Georgie Lee

Courting Danger with Mr Dyer by Georgie Lee

Working undercover for the government, Bartholomew Dyer must expose a nefarious plot to make Napoleon the ruler of England! He needs access to the highest echelons of Society to find those involved, so he’s forced to enlist the help of the woman who jilted him five years ago—Moira, Lady Rexford.

Moira’s widowed yet still as captivating as ever, and Bart’s determined not to succumb to her charms a second time. But, as they race against time, Bart suspects it’s not their lives at greatest risk—it’s their hearts…

Courting Danger with Mr Dyer by Georgie Lee

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this, and considered three things:

#1 Spy romances (in a historical setting) don’t often work for me.

#2 Georgie Lee is a talented author.

#3 The Harlequin Historical line usually delivers good books.

Two out of three won out for me, and so I gave this ridiculously-titled book a go – and I’m glad I did.

There’s also the little fact I love reunion stories, and I think it was important in this one, as the action takes place over only a few days. If these two had been characters who hadn’t met before – rather than characters who used to be engaged – it would have been a little hard to believe.

Historical *romances* that involve spies can be a little hard to pull off, particularly if the characters involved are part of the aristocracy. Dukes and Earls and Countesses etc. running around back alleys is a hard idea to make convincing. It was interesting that the hero was a fifth son, and so considered expendable by many (like his father). It was easier to buy that he’d be doing these things behind the scenes.

I liked the interesting take on the heroine’s social isolation; she was almost a beautiful version of Anne Elliot (from Jane Austen’s Persuasion) – a character I find interesting because she’s “quieter” than most literary heroines. She is always helping everyone, but is also overlooked by everyone except the hero.

I liked that she knew how to behave in society, and is beautiful, and cares about her standing in the ton, but she is not extravagant and confident enough (or at least hasn’t been in the past) to catch people’s notice.

She does have a few “Too Stupid To Live” moments, but at least she owned up to most of them, and gave a decent reason for her behaviour. Also, it’s not as though most aristocratic young ladies would have a clue how to do the spy stuff…

Perhaps the end of the book escalated very fast and turned one of the characters into a caricature, and perhaps some of the “can we talk about our relationship?” moments came at the worst times (when the whole of England was in danger), but overall this book rose above my expectations.

Well-researched – and this is very well-researched – spy themes can work in historical romances. I think this was one of those times.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Shadow Reaper (Shadow #2) by Christine Feehan

Shadow Reaper (Shadow #2) by Christine Feehan

#1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan continues her new series, as the Ferraros—a Chicago crime family—use their power as shadow riders to protect their empire and the ones they love…

Billionaire playboy Ricco Ferraro knows no other life. Being a shadow rider is in his blood – but so is a haunting desperation stemming from the secrets of his dark past. His recklessness puts not only his life at risk, but also the future of his entire family. To save them all, he must find a woman who can meet his every desire with a heat all her own…

Just when Ricco has given up hope, he meets her – a mysterious woman whose shadow connects with his. She’s someone looking for a safe haven from the danger that has stalked her over the last several months. In Ricco’s embrace, she finds one. But the darkness in which they so often find sanctuary can also consume them…

Shadow Reaper (Shadow #2) by Christine Feehan

I hardly read any paranormal books anymore, but Christine Feehan is pretty much the queen of the genre. This is a second book in a series with a totally new “world” (no vampires, werewolves etc.) but I think it isn’t a series you can dive into at any place.

This is trademark Feehan – a little more updated than the earlier series that made her famous – with all the powerful male characters and engaging plotlines.

However, I had no idea what was going on!!

It’s a pity I read this out of order, as I could really get into this world. I assume it was explained well in book one, but book two is the review book I received. I wish we’d been given a little more information about who and what these people are. I didn’t need it all, but I did need *some*!

With MANY male characters (and a woman) who all look to be having books of their own in the future, it seems this is a series that will go for some time.

I did struggle with all the violence (and some of the super-long scenes). As I read so little in the paranormal genre now, I’m not sure if the violence is getting worse, or if I’m just not used to it anymore. Maybe my tolerance for unnecessary scenes that exploit horrible things is waning.

Did I really need to read about entire families being cut and killed with swords? Women being raped? Children being stomped on to have their bones broken?

I think the fact it was gratuitous is what got to me. In the real world terrible things *do* happen, but in a made-up world it is the author’s choice to include these things.

I also didn’t need the scene with the token “slutty waitress” trying to come onto the hero. WHY is this scene in so many books?

I know I’ve mainly stuck to the negatives, but I had *issues* even though I was enjoying it!

On the plus side… There are plenty of pluses.

Feehan’s writing is the same – and also not. The basics are familiar, such as her larger-than-life men, but there is a new humanity in her work. These felt more like real people than her previous characters. Just little touches: a hand gesture, a dish cooked.

I also like the way she writes power. You got a real sense these people were important.

Basically: read the first book first!

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Travel Reads

I’ve had a review copy of this one for a while now, but have to finish it! Originally published in German, I find it interesting it is about colonial Australia. For some reason books set in rural Australia are HUGE in Germany.

The Convict’s Mistress: A heart-breaking tale of forbidden love in a new land by Inez Corbi

Australia, 1800: Moira, a young Irish girl, arrives in New South Wales with her much older husband, a doctor who has been sent to work at the penal colony.

Locked in a marriage of convenience, the blue skies and sunshine do nothing for Moira; she is miserable, far from home and her beloved horses. A future in this land of red earth seems bleak. But things change after she meets Duncan, one of the convicts, who she saves during a camp raid. As the two get to know each other they grow closer and Moira realises she may have a chance at happiness.

But how can she escape her controlling husband? And Duncan, imprisonment? Together they dream of a future that may never be possible . . .

This epic, sweeping tale of forbidden love and new beginnings is perfect for fans of The Tea Planter’s Wife.