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.

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.

Best of 2014

As with every year, these are – in no particular order – the books that entertained me the most this year. Many of them are 2014 releases, but not all of them!

I hadn’t planned on my reading to go the way it did this year. I expected to read more suspense than I did, and my ongoing obsession with historical fiction really derailed things!

 

The Accidental Duchess by Madeline Hunter

The Accidental Duchess by Madeline Hunter

Danger Close by Kaylea Cross

Danger Close by Kaylea Cross

Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

night broken_front mech.indd

Ride the Fire by Pamela Clare

Ride the Fire by Pamela Clare Second Cover

Marriage Made in Money by Sophia James

Marriage Made in Money by Sophia James

The Captive by Grace Burrowes

The Captive by Grace Burrowes

The Counterfeit Mistress by Madeline Hunter

The Counterfeit Mistress by Madeline Hunter

The Gentleman Rogue by Margaret McPhee

The Gentleman Rogue by Margaret McPhee

The Laird by Grace Burrowes

The Laird by Grace Burrowes

Fair Game by Patricia Briggs

Fair Game (Alpha & Omega #3) by Patricia Briggs

Carnal Gift by Pamela Clare

Carnal Gift by Pamela Clare

Midnight’s Wild Passion by Anna Campbell

Midnight’s Wild Passion by Anna Campbell

Surrender by Pamela Clare

Surrender (MacKinnon’s Rangers #1) by Pamela Clare

The Autumn Bride by Anne Gracie

The Autumn Bride by Anne Gracie

Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs

Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs

The Conquest of Lady Cassandra by Madeline Hunter

The Conquest of Lady Cassandra by Madeline Hunter

A Rake’s Guide to Seduction by Caroline Linden

A Rake’s Guide to Seduction by Caroline Linden

A 1950s Housewife (nonfiction) by Sheila Hardy

 A 1950s Housewife by Sheila Hardy

 

And a book that will be released in 2015:

 

Temptation Has Green Eyes by Lynne Connolly

Temptation Has Green Eyes by Lynne Connolly

The Week: 16th – 22nd June

 Canberra Australia Lake Burley Griffin 21st June 2014 Sonya Heaney Michael Heaney

Picture taken by my brother on a bike ride around Canberra yesterday morning.

What a week. Things just get worse and worse in relation to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Ukrainian Catholic church in Sydney was trashed by Russians on Friday night. Russians are writing burn in hell on the walls? It’s not Ukrainians who will be burning in hell when this is over, Putin.

This isn’t just an Eastern European situation; Vladimir Putin’s propaganda is spreading far and wide. I don’t know whether I’m more angry or sad. What happened to Russia?

 Look what Russians did to the Ukrainian church in Sydney, Australia. 20-21june2014

Russian propaganda spray-painted on the outside of the Ukrainian church.

I read heaps this week, including some novellas. I tried to force myself to read things I wasn’t necessarily in the mood for – I need some more variety in my reading! So I read contemporary stories, urban fantasy, historical fiction…

My review of Written in my Heart by Caroline Linden

Regency

My review of Million-Dollar Maverick by Christine Rimmer

Million-Dollar Maverick by Christine Rimmer

My review of One Night with a Cowboy by Elizabeth Otto

One Night with a Cowboy by Elizabeth Otto

My review of Night of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle

Night of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle

My review of Scandalize Me by Caitlin Crews

Scandalize Me by Caitlin Crews

Written in my Heart by Caroline Linden

Regency

For three years Jane Barton has written a letter every week to Sgt Ethan Campbell, her dearest childhood friend…and the man she’s secretly loved for ages. For three years, Ethan has relied on Jane’s letters to keep him sane through the war. But now the war is over, and he’s desperate to discover if the girl he left behind is really the woman he can’t live without…

Written in my Heart by Caroline Linden

First thing you need to know: this is a Regency novella. I’ve seen some poor ratings based solely on the length, which doesn’t seem fair as it’s marketed as what it is.

I picked up Written in my Heart for 99 cents because it was the only historical romance in my recommendations that didn’t have Duke in the title (the sooner that fad dies, the happier I’ll be). I suppose novellas are the only place for non-dukes these days!

The characters in this extremely well-written story are quite a few notches down from the glittering ballrooms of London, and they feel more real because of it. A young soldier who has been off at war for three years and the young seamstress who has been writing to him all that time.

It’s a very quick read but I really liked it. It’s no real surprise, as the last novella I read by this author won a RITA Award.

I have one complaint: “Walked a short ways is grammatically incorrect in any version of English, American or otherwise. I wish an editor had picked up on that.

This is a sweet little story that’s worth your time.

The Week: 14th – 20th April

???????????????????????????????

Ukrainian Easter eggs.

Happy Easter…

Overshadowed as it is for my family and friends by Russia’s increasing invasion and theft of Ukraine (and the world’s pathetic response). Easter is a really huge deal in Ukrainian culture – bigger than Christmas. It’s just very hard to enjoy it this year, with friends stationed here looking at being called back to Ukraine to fight and relatives living day to day not knowing what is going to happen to them.

 Ukrainian colours for Easter Canberra Australia 17th April 2014 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney 1

We went a little crazy with our patriotic Ukrainian decorations this year!

 Colours of Autumn in Canberra Australia 17th April 2014 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney 1

The weather in Canberra has been beautiful. Autumn is a gorgeous season, even with that annoying bald English prince, his wife and baby visiting!

As for my week in reading? I’ve been reading a lot of category romances. Review books. I’ve been trying things that I wouldn’t usually try, and finding some interesting reads.

My review of The Empty Nest by Fiona Palmer

The Empty Nest by Fiona Palmer

My review of When I Met My Duchess by Caroline Linden

When I Met My Duchess by Caroline Linden

My review of What a Woman Needs by Caroline Linden

What a Woman Needs by Caroline Linden

The problem with Christian fiction

Harlequin Love Inspired Christian Historical Romance

What a Woman Needs by Caroline Linden

 

What a Woman Needs by Caroline Linden

How hard can it be to marry an heiress?

Not terribly, Stuart Drake thinks, if you’re good-looking, charming, and in line for a Viscount title, which, fortunately, he is. To end his penniless existence, he simply has to convince his intended bride’s shrewish, wizened old guardian that he isn’t a fortune hunter…which, unfortunately, he is in the extreme. Still, once he meets the old witch, how difficult could it prove to charm her?

Quite, actually. Escpecially when the lady in question is temptation made flesh—a gorgeous widow with a reputation for knowing a rake when she sees one, having bedded many herself. She’d rather die than let Stuart win. And with his plans thwarted, Stuart has only one option: to take revenge on his tormentor through seduction. But learning what this woman needs might only leave him hungry for more.

What a Woman Needs by Caroline Linden

Is this Caroline Linden’s first book? I think it is.

Linden is one of my favourite historical romance authors, and you can see a great deal of her talent in What a Woman Needs. HOWEVER this is not her best book.

Some historical romances have “antics” in them. What I mean by that is there’re two characters (hero and heroine) who try and one-up each other, over and over and usually for revenge. Of course they’re using it as a way to disguise their desire for each other.

This one is an “antics” book, and while I know it’s a supremely popular sort of HR, it’s not a type I would ever seek out for myself.

On the other hand, Linden is a hugely talented writer, and even while I didn’t love the style of book, I can certainly appreciate a talented author. The first couple of chapters, in particular, are great.

If you’re a reader who has no problem with the lighter-hearted, fluffier books that are popular in this genre at the moment, you’ll no doubt love this one. Even if you don’t, there’s the excellent grounding that promises all the author’s better books to come.

When I Met My Duchess by Caroline Linden

When I Met My Duchess by Caroline Linden

As society gathers at Kingstag Castle for the wedding of the year, matrimony is in the air…

Gareth Cavendish, Duke of Wessex, believes he’s chosen the perfect bride… until he meets her sister and lightning strikes—literally! Now he’s the only member of society dreading the wedding of the season. Or is he? Cleo Barrows can’t fathom why her knees weaken every time the handsome duke approaches, or why her sister isn’t in the clouds at the prospect of marrying him. But the more the wedding plans throw Cleo and Gareth intimately together, the faster time is running out to turn the celebration of the summer into the scandal of the year…

When I Met My Duchess by Caroline Linden

He saw Cleo Barrows first, sending his heart leaping. She was speaking to another lady… whom he recognised a moment later as his betrothed bride. Not a promising beginning.

I went on a crazy reading spree of historical romance author Caroline Linden’s backlist. It wasn’t the best idea for two reasons, but her writing is so great I couldn’t help myself. The first problem is that you run out of books, fast. The second problem is that you start to see some similarities between the stories.

However, Linden is too good an author for these similarities to be a big problem. They didn’t detract from my enjoyment when reading. Even so, they were there. For example, three books in a row featured childless widows who always wore blue (not that I’ll complain about the blue – it’s my favourite colour!).

When I Met My Duchess might have a slightly silly title, but it was a wonderful story. I always worry about books where there’s a triangle (I wouldn’t call it a “love triangle”, as there’d have to be love involved for all three parties for that to be the case), particularly as the two women involved are sisters. I needn’t have worried, as I felt that everyone ended up as happy as they could be with the outcome of the situation.

I say it over and over again, but my favourite thing about Linden’s books is that she “gets” the society of the time, and characters face up against the very real obstacles in their lives that we don’t have to face today. That’s the whole point of historical romance, and I’d be ten times the fan of the genre I am now if more authors remembered that.

This novella was an excellent read.

The Week: 31st March – 6th April

monday-sunset-canberra-australia-1st-april-2014-sonya-heaney

Sunset on Monday night.

Something odd happened this week. It was probably just me being useless, but some of my posts seemed to disappear for a while. So I put up extras. Then they reappeared and I ended up with about twice as many as I wanted!

My review of Reading Joss Whedon

 Reading Joss Whedon by Rhonda V. Wilcox, Tanya R. Cochran, Cynthea Masson and David Lavery

My review of The Husband Campaign by Regina Scott

 The Husband Campaign by Regina Scott

My review of Her Kind of Trouble by Sarah Mayberry

 Her Kind of Trouble by Sarah Mayberry

My review of The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie

 The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie

My review of Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs

 Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs

My review of Like None Other by Caroline Linden

 charming young victorian lady