Canberra fourteen years ago.

Capital life and random beauty…

How appropriate that it’s near 40 degrees and windy today, just like fourteen years ago, when huge parts of Canberra were destroyed in a firestorm. It was the first time a fire tornado was recorded.

It hit my part of the city, and we were very lucky the helicopters were dropping water just before our house. People a couple of streets away were not so fortunate, and the fire came straight down the mountain and destroyed everything in sight.

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One Grand Season (A Willowbrook Manor Romance Book 2) by Sarita Leone

one-grand-season-a-willowbrook-manor-romance-book-2-by-sarita-leone

Vivian Fox may be the Gregory family’s poor relation, but she won’t be forced into a marriage with a man who does not capture her heart. One grand Season– a taste of the good life—is all she wants. But, as fate would have it, she gets much more than she bargained for.

One Grand Season (A Willowbrook Manor Romance Book 2) by Sarita Leone

There are some great ideas here, and the Cinderella-ish theme has its appeal (as it’s done here, with evil secondary female characters more in the background). However, all the research mistakes really got to me in the end.

I did also like that the story did NOT in any way go in the direction I expected.

For a quick read some readers might be frustrated by the lack of time hero and heroine actually spend together, but I didn’t care too much.

On the other hand, there’s a point in this genre where too many liberties can be taken with historical behaviour and a reader is left with modern characters in pretty outfits.

In the case of One Grand Season, it’s the little things that gradually chip away until you don’t have much of the 19th century left.

The duke’s heir who introduces himself to low-ranking people with his Christian name…

The poor seamstress who somehow gets herself invited to be a houseguest of a duke and a duchess…

The duchess who thinks associating with people so poor they are socially beneath half her servants is just delightful…

The heroine who doesn’t know the names of vehicles people used in her time…

The made-up region of England called “Stropshire”, which is really just the real county of Shropshire with a spelling mistake. It’s no different to setting the book in the United States and having a heroine come from the imaginary place named “Yew Nork”.

The heroine whose best gown is from some sort of 1810s bargain bin at the dress shop…

The terms of address for the aristocracy that are incorrect…

The confusion about what constitutes the Season, and what time of the year it actually happened…

This book is going to work better for people with less idea of how Regency society worked than it did for me.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Ruby (Landry #1) by V.C. Andrews

ruby-landry-1-by-v-c-andrews

In the heart of the bayou, Ruby Landry lives a simple, happy life. But innocence can’t last forever…

The only family Ruby Landry has ever known are her loving guardian, Grandmère Catherine, a Cajun spiritual healer, and her drunken, outcast Grandpère Jack. Although thinking about her dead mother and mysterious father sometimes makes her feel as mournful as the wind sighing through the Spanish moss, Ruby is grateful for all she has. Her life is filled with hope and promise…especially when her attraction for handsome Paul Tate blossoms into a mysterious, wonderful love. But Paul’s wealthy parents forbid him to associate with a poor Landry, and Grandmère urges her to follow her dream of becoming a great painter, foreseeing a time when Ruby will be surrounded with riches in the dazzling city of New Orleans! Yet she cannot know how close that uncertain future looms….

In a faded photograph, Ruby glimpses for the first time the image of her father — and learns of a shameful deception and a shocking scheme of blackmail that now must come to light. Stunned by these revelations, she is devastated when Grandmère dies, leaving her to seek out her father in his vast New Orleans mansion. There, in a house of lies, madness, and cruel torment, Ruby clings to her memories of Paul to keep her heart alive. For only their love can save her now….

Ruby (Landry #1) by V.C. Andrews

Oh, the melodrama!

I don’t know why, but I decided to revisit some books I haven’t gone near for a few decades. I couldn’t quite bring myself to pick up the infamous (and incestuous) Flowers in the Attic again, so I went for a book written by the ghost writer who took over the V C Andrews franchise after Virginia Andrews’ death.

These are big, old-school family sagas, about rich families in the US South.

Written a few decades ago, and set a few decades before that, my first big shock when I began my reread was how young these characters are! The PARENTS of these characters are my age, and in Ruby our narrator (yes, this is in the first person – I’d forgotten that, too) is fifteen.

I honestly thought she’d be in her twenties.

There are clichés galore, which is – I’m sure – why these books hold so much appeal to teenagers. The evil characters are really evil. All the female characters are either downtrodden Cinderellas or nasty, jealous, scheming bitches.

Anything sex-related is of the she resisted, but really wanted it variety, which is a relic of the past in fiction written these days.

The ghost writer is a man, and I can tell that by the way some of the female characters are written. Mind you, there are some female New Adult authors these days who manage just as much casual misogyny.

For all of the clichés, I raced through this book. It’s like watching a soap opera. What a pity the author reached his word limit and rushed through the most exciting parts at the end.

However, I’m not sure how many more vindictive monster characters I can take (and I’m pretty certain the heroine ends up marrying her half-brother at some point). Not sure I’ll be rereading this series through to the end.

All Romance eBooks is closing…

…In a few hours.

Important Read

I’m not all  caught up on this yet, but there’re going to be authors losing money from this, and the late announcement (as in telling their authors only a couple of days before the closing date) is appalling.

Apparently you can still shop there for another day – and I think that’s not a good idea if you support authors actually being paid, or if you don’t care to lose your own money.

Personally, this has no effect on me. I could never get my head around the annoying ARe site, and never bothered with it.

However, what a way to end the year.

Best of 2016

I get the impression I’m missing out on a lot of good books in my attempts to keep up with my review books! However, I did get to read some fantastic books by some of my favourite authors this year.

Yet again, I read more historical fiction than I intended to. I wonder if this is something that will ever change!

In no particular order, here are my favourite reads of 2016:

Marrying Winterborne (Ravenels #2) by Lisa Kleypas

Marrying Winterborne (2016) by Lisa Kleypas

Taking Fire (One-Eyed Jacks #4) by Cindy Gerard

Taking Fire (One-Eyed Jacks #4) by Cindy Gerard

Baron (The Knickerbocker Club #2) by Joanna Shupe

Baron (The Knickerbocker Club #2) by Joanna Shupe

The Summer Bride (Chance Sisters #4) by Anne Gracie

The Summer Bride (Chance Sisters book 4) by Anne Gracie

How to Rescue a Rake (Book Club Belles Society #3) by Jayne Fresina

How to Rescue a Rake (Book Club Belles Society #3) by Jayne Fresina

Sister of Mine: A Novel by Sabra Waldfogel

Sister of Mine A Novel by Sabra Waldfogel

Kiss, Kiss, Bark! by Kim Williams Justesen

(Yes, I enjoyed this Middle Grade book enough to buy a copy after finishing my ARC!)

kiss-kiss-bark-by-kim-williams-justesen

The Wicked Duke (Wicked Trilogy #3) by Madeline Hunter

The Wicked Duke (Wicked Trilogy #3) by Madeline Hunter

Tycoon (The Knickerbocker Club 0.5) by Joanna Shupe

Tycoon (The Knickerbocker Club 0.5) by Joanna Shupe

The Dare and the Doctor (Winner Takes All #3) by Kate Noble

the-dare-and-the-doctor-winner-takes-all-3-by-kate-noble

The Unexpected Marriage of Gabriel Stone (Lords of Disgrace #4) by Louise Allen

The Unexpected Marriage of Gabriel Stone (Lords of Disgrace #4) by Louise Allen mills and Boon Cover

Miss Goodhue Lives for a Night (Winner Takes All #2.5) by Kate Noble

Miss Goodhue Lives for a Night (Winner Takes All #2.5) by Kate Noble

Plus, one that isn’t out until next month, but I have already read and enjoyed:

mogul-the-knickerbocker-club-3-by-joanna-shupe