The Week: 31st July – 6th August

Winter morning…

Wednesday Sunset

Well, another crazy week in this crazy world. I can’t even be bothered getting into it! We’ve all gone insane.

However, everyone should watch Opera Versus Trump.

I am off to Spain in exactly one week, and will be gone a month. Am I packed? No. Have I wrapped everything up? No. I planned to be ready ages ago, and of course that never happened! 🙂 It didn’t help I’ve had a bad cold all week (or maybe that’s just a very convenient excuse!).

Because we’ve had some major terrorism threats in Australia in the past couple of weeks they’ve upped all our airport security to a point it’s going to be a nightmare next weekend. Our trip will involve flying Canberra to Sydney, to Thailand, to Dubai, to Spain. The stop in Thailand is just half an hour or so, but they make you get off the plane and go through two security checks – just to get back on the same plane again!

My brother is in Croatia, heading to Italy soon. He has to fly home through Doha, which has just been made a lot more interesting with the Gulf blockade on Qatar!

As I said: the world has gone insane. 🙂

RITA Winners

My review of Wedded for the Baby (Stand-In Brides #2) by Dorothy Clark

On My Radar

Resistance is Futile

 The Twentieth Anniversary of Stuart Diver’s Rescue

Thredbo Landslide. 2nd August 1997. This photograph was taken moments after Stuart Diver was freed from the rubble after spending 65 hours buried in the rubble. Mr Diver lost his first w

Wedded for the Baby (Stand-In Brides #2) by Dorothy Clark

Wedded for the Baby (Stand-In Brides #2) by Dorothy Clark

For widower and ex-doctor Trace Warren, a fresh start in Whisper Creek comes with a catch: to save his home and apothecary shop, Trace must remarry. While making Katherine Fleming his wife is simple enough, he refuses to fall in love again. But keeping his distance from the kind, beautiful woman and the infant she brings with her is dangerously difficult… 

Katherine promised to protect the baby left in her care, and a marriage of convenience to Trace is the only way to do that. But all too soon, Trace possesses Katherine’s heart, even as he still carefully guards his own. With hopes of turning their arrangement into a true love match, can Katherine convince Trace to forgive himself for his past mistakes and embrace his new family?

Wedded for the Baby (Stand-In Brides #2) by Dorothy Clark

I nearly skipped this one because the blurb piled up all the tropes I hate. However, I wanted to read a Western historical book in particular, and this was available for review, so I gave it a chance. Also, with Harlequin cancelling this book line, I plan to read as many of them as I can before they’re gone forever.

While this one falls closer to the obviously religious end of the Christian fiction spectrum than many books in the line, I was happy from the outset to see all the tropes I was dreading were turned around.

It was a time the marriage of convenience was believable, and I also liked the setup with the baby (it’s not the heroine’s). Additionally, I’m no fan of the “hero must marry by a certain date” trope, but it worked for me here (more or less).

I will say that the widowed hero is hard to like for much of the book. It’s all about his Pain, and how much worse things are for him, and poor him, and he can’t look at a pregnant woman – or a baby.

This is the nineteenth century; almost all married couples lost a number of children, either before birth or soon afterwards. Women had a HUGE chance of dying in childbirth (e.g. Jane Austen lost multiple relatives that way). The hero was a doctor; he would have known all of this.

The heroine lost her love, too, but she isn’t allowed her pain.

I much preferred the heroine (though she cried too often), and I did like the writing of the baby – he felt realistic. Often babies appear in books like this just to be cute accessories rather than characters; not the case here.

I also liked the little attention to historical detail, just as I did in the author’s previous book.

One problematic thing: this is not the first book, nor the first author, in the Love Inspired Historical (Christian) series I’ve read that has had troubling stereotyping of minority characters (Chinese in the last two books I’ve read). There’s writing someone whose first language isn’t English, and then there’s making characters come across as idiots. They’re not the same thing.

These books target a very particular demographic, and it’s – ahem – more Trump than tolerance. I’d like to see LIH fix this issue, but as the line is now defunct it’s too late.

Good and bad in this one. As with the previous book in the series, I appreciate the author’s attention to detail and the historical feel. However, I wish this grumpy hero had woken up to himself a little earlier on.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

His Substitute Wife (Stand-In Brides #1) by Dorothy Clark

his-substitute-wife-stand-in-brides-1-by-dorothy-clark

A Convenient Marriage

Blake Latherop needs a wife in order to keep his business, and his betrothed has apparently eloped with another man. So when his fiancée’s sister, Audrey Prescott, steps off the train in Whisper Creek offering to be his bride, he’s in no position to refuse. But it’s hardly the marriage he had in mind.

Audrey knows she shouldn’t have answered Blake’s letters in her sister’s name…but she couldn’t bring herself to tell him of his fiancée’s betrayal. Now the only way to fix things is through a temporary marriage. But as she comes to love her new life in the West, Audrey dreads the day Blake finds another solution to their situation. Because what started as a marriage of convenience has become so much more for her…

His Substitute Wife (Stand-In Brides #1) by Dorothy Clark

There really is a lot of good here. It might be the best-researched book I’ve read from this line. I sometimes have a problem with these Love Inspired Historical books because they are set in such small, isolated locations and because of that sometimes they drag – but this one never did.

However… this book reads like it was written in the 1950s! The misogyny. The dozens of nasty references to fair-haired women (in fact, the moment the sister is introduced, her blonde hair is used as a shortcut to tell us she is a nasty, scheming, slut). The sister who does not have a SINGLE redeeming quality – she is just horrid from start to finish, and in every way. However, the hero keeps kissing the sister even after he has been married to the heroine for ages, because the sister’s “feminine wiles” keep trapping him.

I do think this was a generational thing, and while it’s not fair to say all books in the past were more misogynistic and stereotyped more than they are now, the slutty other woman should be a relic of the past, and I found it offensive. For a character who didn’t appear until the end of the book, the sister sure was discussed and insulted a lot.

I feel like there are two books here: the fantastic piece of historical fiction, and the outdated one with the judgemental, sexist stereotyping. I was VERY confused how the heroine was just going to leave her marriage and let her sister take over. Divorce had massive stigma attached to it a century after this book is set; it was unrealistic to think hero and heroine could end their marriage with no issues or social repercussions.

It was an odd thing, as the rest of the research was so good, and the author added lots of little touches about everyday life that really brought the setting to life.

One other thing that bothered me was how many times “blinked” was used as a character reaction. It started making ME want to blink (which was driving me nuts).

So… When the characters aren’t going on about the evil sister, this is a wonderfully-researched and interesting book. I wish there’d been more of that and less of the other!

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.