The Week: 5th – 11th June

Canberra Australia Winter Evening Lake Burley Griffin Sonya Heaney 11th June 2017 National Carillon Reflection Nature SunsetIMG_2045

Sunday afternoon on the lake in Canberra. That’s Defence on the other side of the water, with the American Eagle statue.

Enjoying the winter sunshine on Tuesday morning.

The neighbour’s cat has basically moved in now. So much for her being timid!

The trip from Queanbeyan to Canberra on Friday anfternoon.

I read a couple of good books this week (not reviewed here yet). One was a contemporary story about the daughter of an overly ambitious US Republican family, and the other was set in 1825 London – but not about aristocrats. However, I’m really struggling to take books about American politics seriously now, considering what is going on at the moment.

Terrible week in the aftermath of the London Bridge attacks. I honestly don’t understand how a man can just walk up to some innocent young woman (or older man – you know what I mean) and murder her like that. Donald Trump’s childish, ignorant responses only added to the disgust we outside the US feel for him.

The anniversary of the Battle of Binh Ba

My review of A Tailor-Made Husband (Texas Grooms/Turnabout Book #9 (Love Inspired Historical) by Winnie Griggs

My review of The Second Seduction of a Lady (The Wild Quartet 0.5) by Miranda Neville

Another Behind the Scenes Cover Video

Oh, the subtlety!

 

 

 

The Second Seduction of a Lady (The Wild Quartet 0.5) by Miranda Neville

Eleanor Hardwick and Max Quinton shared one night of incredible passion…that was shattered the next day, when Eleanor learned of a bet placed by Max’s friends. Now, five years later, Max still can’t get Eleanor out of his head or his heart. He has a single chance to make a second impression—one that will last forever.

The Second Seduction of a Lady (The Wild Quartet 0.5) by Miranda Neville

 Oh, I loved this novella, and for these reasons: #1 reunion story, #2 skilled author, #3 maturity in both characterisation and characters’ actions, #4 the author knows England, and it shows.

The Second Seduction of a Lady has been sitting on my to-read list for years, but I rarely have the time to read for fun when I’m so overwhelmed with review books.

Set in the late Georgian era (a generation before the Regency), this is apparently an introduction to a series, but it reads as a complete story in its own right, and you’d never know it was anything else.

There is something… I can’t explain why some historical romance authors are different; I wish I could. These smart, damaged, historically accurate characters are the reason I read this genre nonstop, even though these features are becoming harder and harder to find.

Some reviews have complained about the heroine’s anger, but I am GLAD the author went that way, and – honestly – it was hardly anything. Female leads are NEVER allowed their deserved anger, whereas we always seem to let male leads get away with almost anything they say or do.

Imagine even now, when virginity is not (at least where I live) the prized possession it was 2.5 centuries ago. Imagine finding out the man you thought you’d marry had seduced you on a bet. That everyone knew what was going on.

Yes, the hero took one look at her and decided he really wanted to marry her. However, he still betrayed her. She earned that anger.

I also really liked that the very young secondary female character wasn’t turned into a cliché. She was young, naïve, desperate to be in love no matter what, and screwed up pretty badly (as did her young lover). But they were good people nevertheless.

What I REALLY disliked were the multiple comments that the heroine – at thirty – was somehow on her way out, with a falling apart body. References to her droopy boobs and her flabby stomach, for example.

She must have some pretty terrible genes, because I don’t know anyone who’s sagging and on her way out at thirty!

Anyway – and apart from that – I loved this story.

Despite being a novella, it reads as a complete book. And I am glad I was bored on the weekend and decided to mine by 600-book to-be-read list for something I’d skipped over in the past.

**(At $5 in Australia for a novella, I never want to see overseas readers complaining about book pricing ever again!)**

A Tailor-Made Husband (Texas Grooms/Turnabout Book #9 (Love Inspired Historical) by Winnie Griggs

A Tailor-Made Husband (Texas Grooms-Turnabout Book #9 (Love Inspired Historical)) by Winnie Griggs

*Despite the cover, there aren’t any horses in this book!*

Tired of pining for handsome sheriff Ward Gleason, seamstress Hazel Andrews plans to head East for a fresh start—until Ward finds an abandoned child. Hazel can’t turn down his request that she watch the little girl while he investigates a spate of crimes. But spending time with Ward is sending local gossips—and Hazel’s heart—into turmoil. 

Nothing in Ward’s world is the same since he took charge of orphaned Meg…and that includes his growing feelings for Hazel. A fake engagement will allow them to care for the child together until Hazel moves away and finds someone more worthy. But with little Meg convinced she’s already found her forever family, can Ward and Hazel dare to make her dreams come true, along with their own?

A Tailor-Made Husband (Texas Grooms/Turnabout Book #9 (Love Inspired Historical)) by Winnie Griggs

I think I’ve read about half the books in this series, and keep coming back to them because I consider Winnie Griggs to be one of Harlequin’s most reliable authors. Also, this line – when not going overboard with the Christian preaching – produces a lot of easy-to-read Western historical romances that I like to read between longer, darker books.

Set at the VERY end of the nineteenth century, this is a little later than most historicals I read. A Tailor-Made Husband is one of the best books I’ve read by this author. I wasn’t annoyed by the little girl (I’ve been unable to get through some Christian books because the children are nauseating); in fact, I liked the scenes with her the most.

I was much more interested in the family and relationship than I was the mystery, largely because I knew from the outset who was responsible for it. That part of the plot was in danger of some pretty negative stereotyping of women, but I think the author managed to get around it. She definitely does this better than most authors in this Harlequin line.

This is a Christian line, but the first praying didn’t turn up until the 20% mark, and I was so surprised to see it there I was confused for a moment – I’d forgotten it was a Christian book. That works well for me, and I can happily skip over the praying parts without losing anything from the story.

Something I really dislike is characters saying way more when it should be far more – this is something that drives me mad in historical fiction.

And something that is only loosely related to the book: if you’re an author who loves to “fantasy cast” your characters on Pinterest (worth visiting for the dress), I’d recommend not using Anissa Jones as the inspiration for your cute kid, considering her tragic life and very early death!

This is a solid entry both to this series and to this Harlequin line, and it made for nice, easy read.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 29th May – 4th June

Driving past Australian Parliament on Saturday afternoon (taken from the back seat of the car). Canberra’s winter has a lot of sunshine!

First day of winter in Canberra.

A colourful last day of autumn on Wednesday.

Above is our neighbour’s ancient, blind, deaf cat this week. For some reason she has just now (at nearly nineteen years of age – in her nineties as a human) decided to move into our house. The problem is, her blindness means she often misses our back door and instead sits there and stares at the brick wall! We had to put a mat out for her because she sits there for hours…

In five days I went from frightening her at every turn, to patting her for the first time, to – on Friday – having her walk into the house, climb on top of me, and settle in for the evening. I felt a bit triumphant to gain the trust of such an unlikely cat.

We began winter with some gorgeous weather, but I’m terrified it’s already June!

So much – not all of it good, some of it hilarious – happened this week.

UPDATE: Yet another terror attack in Britain. 😦 😦

Yesterday Russia deployed 60 000 MORE troops to Crimea. Something else for everyone to ignore. People talk about how bad it was people ignored Hitler, but when Hitler started wars, the world started reacting. Putin has been invading countries for a decade now.

My cousin’s house burnt down – I kid you not. It made the news, and because it’s in the country and he was in Sydney it makes it all so much more difficult to deal with.

The ridiculous thing is that he was renting it out, and the renters basically blew it up by putting embers in a bin near the gas and electricity. However, there aren’t many laws protecting landlords from their tenants’ idiotic behaviour, so this is going to be costly for the innocent party in this mess.

Olivia Newton-John announced she has cancer again. My mother did costume work for one of her tours a few years ago, and apparently she is one of the most genuine, normal, nice celebrities behind the scenes.

covfefe!

Winter Reads

Thought for the end of the week.

My review of When to Engage an Earl (Spinster House #3) by Sally MacKenzie

My review of The Cornish Escape by Lily Graham

My review of What We Find (Sullivan’s Crossing #1) by Robyn Carr

Nice Hat!

What We Find (Sullivan’s Crossing #1) by Robyn Carr

What We Find (Sullivan's Crossing #1) by Robyn Carr

Firstly: look what the Australian publishers did to this cover:

What We Find (Sullivan's Crossing #1) by Robyn Carr Australian Cover

They turned it into a rural Australian fiction cover! This book is set in Colorado (as in, NOT Australia!), and is about a surgeon, not a cowgirl – this is weird!

Under extreme pressure, neurosurgeon Maggie Sullivan knows she needs to slow down before she burns out completely, and the best place she can do that is Sullivan’s Crossing.

Named for Maggie’s great-grandfather, the land and charming general store at the crossroads of the Colorado and the Continental Divide trails now belong to Maggie’s eccentric father, Sully. She relishes the opportunity to indulge in his simple way of life.

But Maggie’s world is rocked and she must take responsibility for the Crossing. When a quiet and serious-looking hiker, Cal Jones, offers to lend a hand, Maggie is suspicious of his motives—until she finds out the true reason for his deliberate isolation.

Though Cal and Maggie each struggle with loss and loneliness, the time they spend together gives Maggie hope for something brighter just on the horizon…if only they can learn to find peace and healing—and perhaps love—with each other.

What We Find (Sullivan’s Crossing #1) by Robyn Carr

Something you should know: I didn’t finish this book. I was really enjoying it, was on the lookout specifically for a *Robyn Carr*-style easy read at a time I was tired of my review books. I bought it because I never got around to downloading the review copy when it was a new release, and because I was planning on reading book two in the series next.

And then I hit a comment – and then another comment – I could not overlook.

I was a little confused by the mixed reviews for this book. It seems that everyone expects Carr to write her crazy-successful Virgin River again and again, and every time she tries something new she’s criticised for it.

Yes, she has a unique writing style that means she can info-dump until the cows come home, and a lot of the action happens off the page, and yet somehow it WORKS. Sometimes I want to read a Robyn Carr book specifically, because it’s so comforting, and she GETS real life so well, from every perspective.

I found this to be the case with What We Find, too. I could read about everyday people and their everyday issues forever and not be bored when it’s written by this author.

I was really enjoying this book.

And then she introduced the dodgy ex-husband. The ex-Ukrainian husband.

Are you allowed to have a bad character of any nationality? Of course you are.

But there’s a BIG problem here.

Think about it: when was the last time you saw a Ukrainian character in a book? Never? That’s right. Even when authors have their characters come from a Ukrainian city like Odesa (Odessa), or give them one Ukrainian surname or another, they STILL call them “Russian” – because readers think it’s sexy.

What We Find is the one and only time we are presented with a character from Ukraine in a book, and the author chose to make him a money-hungry guy looking to marry his way into America, a man who then tries to steal all the heroine’s money out from under her when they divorce.

This is racism. This is appalling stereotyping. And this is coming at a time where Ukraine is being invaded, tens of thousands killed, millions displaced and refugees (including people in my own family).

Imagine if it had been a Syrian or Iraqi character written this way, at this time…

In Robyn Carr’s last series she presented us with charming Russians who got happy-ever-afters. I’m not trying for a conspiracy theory, but the contrast between the author’s perceptions of the two warring nationalities is troubling.

Sometimes there’s One Little Thing in a book that turns me off it completely (e.g. comments about “dumb” blondes); this was one of those things.

It is such a minor piece of the book I’m sure anyone else who has read it would think I’ve lost my mind. However, it upset me. Deeply. Of all the nationalities in the world, why’d the author deliberately choose to kick Ukrainians when they’re down?

It’s a pity, because I’d planned to invest in this series for the long run.

I still might pick this one up again in the future, and keep going. I still might try book two. But my initial reaction was to stop cold and put the book aside, and if I get over it and move on with this otherwise wonderful author, it won’t be this week.