The Week: 15th – 21st April

Red Autumn Leaves Autumn Colours Canberra ACT Australia Sonya Heaney 17th April 2019 Garden Blue Sky Nature

Mid-autumn in Canberra, and it’s still summer dress weather. And I saw on the news that it is snowing on the other side of the country! What is going on?

Ibis Queanbeyan Lawn Cemetery New South Wales NSW near Canberra ACT Australia Autumn Heatwave Bird Sonya Heaney 17th April 2019

A random ibis at the cemetery in Queanbeyan on Wednesday afternoon. Actually, there were quite a lot of them around – but no kangaroos for once!

The tragedy of the loss of Notre Dame in Paris

Poor Notre Dame…

Happy Easter! I also have Ukrainian Easter next week.

Happy 203rd Birthday to Charlotte Brontë

NPG 1452; Charlotte BrontÎ by George Richmond

The Mister by E.L. James. Just… no.

The Mister by E.L. James. Just... no.

Recently Reread

devil-in-spring-ravenels-book-3-by-lisa-kleypas-uk-cover

“Dutch Artists Paint Giant Bookcase On An Apartment Building Featuring Residents’ Favourite Books”

Dutch Artists Paint Giant Bookcase On An Apartment Building Featuring Residents’ Favourite Books

Love & Desire at the National Gallery

John William Waterhouse The Lady of Shalott 1888

107 Years Ago: Titanic survivors rescued by the Carpathia

153177-004-E74B054C Survivors of the sinking of the RMS Titanic being helped abord the RMS Carpathia 15th April 1912

Recently Reread

Lisa Kleypas’ Victorian romances are books I go back to time and again. I recently reread Devil in Spring, the third instalment in the 1870s-set Ravenels series. I reviewed it HERE, and I love it because – like the others in the series – it has unique situations in a fascinating decade of the era.

The UK/Australian cover is below. The weird, prom queen US one is at the bottom of the post!

devil-in-spring-ravenels-book-3-by-lisa-kleypas-uk-cover

An eccentric wallflower

Most debutantes dream of finding husbands. Lady Pandora Ravenel has different plans. The ambitious young beauty would much rather stay at home and plot out her new board game business than take part in the London Season. But one night at a glittering society ball, she’s ensnared in a scandal with a wickedly handsome stranger.

A cynical rake

After years of evading marital traps with ease, Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, has finally been caught by a rebellious girl who couldn’t be less suitable. In fact she wants nothing to do with him. But Gabriel finds the high-spirited Pandora irresistible. He’ll do whatever it takes to possess her, even if their marriage of convenience turns out to be the devil’s own bargain.

A perilous plot

After succumbing to Gabriel’s skilled and sensuous persuasion, Pandora agrees to become his bride. But soon she discovers that her entrepreneurial endeavors have accidentally involved her in a dangerous conspiracy – and only her husband can keep her safe. As Gabriel protects her from their unknown adversaries, they realise their devil’s bargain may just turn out to be a match made in heaven.

Devil in Spring (2017) (The third book in the Ravenels series) A novel by Lisa Kleypas

The Week: 18th – 24th February

Australian Grey Butcher Bird Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 16th February 2019 Bird Birds Nature Cute 1

Steve, our little resident grey butcherbird, hanging out on the back deck.

This week saw the fifth anniversary of the massacre in Kyiv, Ukraine, and revealed a massive plagiarism scandal affecting dozens of authors. A strange week all around.

Summer is nearly over here. As usual, the year is moving too fast!

Out Now: Devil’s Daughter

My review of Devil’s Daughter (Ravenels #5) by Lisa Kleypas

Devil's Daughter (Ravenels #5) by Lisa Kleypas

Courtney Milan Plagiarised

Plagiarism Update

Here's an updated list of the authors who've reported being plagiarised by Cristiane Serruya or had recipes stolen from their books.

Coming Up for Mary Balogh

A Title to Make You Groan

it's getting scot in here (wild wicked highlanders, #1) by suzanne enoch

No, it’s not Christmastime yet!

Ukrainian Christmas Eve 6th January 2018 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney Canberra Australia Silver Christmas Tree Silver Blue Gold Decorations

Devil’s Daughter (Ravenels #5) by Lisa Kleypas

Devil's Daughter (Ravenels #5) by Lisa Kleypas

Update on the Limited Edition Barbie US cover (above): Unfortunately, it is based on a gown the heroine wears at the beginning of the book, so I have to concede the cover designer was paying attention. However, the image still makes me shudder. Definitely NOT Victorian!

Although beautiful young widow Phoebe, Lady Clare, has never met West Ravenel, she knows one thing for certain: he’s a mean, rotten bully. Back in boarding school, he made her late husband’s life a misery, and she’ll never forgive him for it. But when Phoebe attends a family wedding, she encounters a dashing and impossibly charming stranger who sends a fire-and-ice jolt of attraction through her. And then he introduces himself…as none other than West Ravenel.

West is a man with a tarnished past. No apologies, no excuses. However, from the moment he meets Phoebe, West is consumed by irresistible desire…not to mention the bitter awareness that a woman like her is far out of his reach. What West doesn’t bargain on is that Phoebe is no straitlaced aristocratic lady. She’s the daughter of a strong-willed wallflower who long ago eloped with Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent—the most devilishly wicked rake in England.

Before long, Phoebe sets out to seduce the man who has awakened her fiery nature and shown her unimaginable pleasure. Will their overwhelming passion be enough to overcome the obstacles of the past?

Only the devil’s daughter knows…

Devil’s Daughter (Ravenels #5) by Lisa Kleypas

Devil’s Daughter is – like every other book in this series – (and everything I’ve read by this author) good. It has some of the funniest dialogue I’ve seen in a Lisa Kleypas book, and does justice to hero West Ravenel, who has been a fairly prominent character and much anticipated future hero in the past four books of the series. I also love the characters’ hard-won maturity, which is in stark contrast to many a historical romance lead. However, there is FAR too much sex in this book.

Devil’s Daughter is also the first instalment in this series where I’d recommend reading the others first. This is especially so because the characters from Kleypas’ earlier Wallflowers series also make appearances, alongside all the Ravenels. There are some sections that are more about revisiting past books than about the plot in this one.

And, interestingly, books #3, #4 and #5 all take place at the same time, so there’re some crossovers in the plot.

I really enjoyed the relationship at the heart of this story. Both hero and heroine have had some tough life experiences that have changed them, and they are both cautious at first. Overall, it makes the pairing so satisfying as it develops. Phoebe is a widow and a mother of two young boys, which is something I wouldn’t have loved that much in the past (I’ve loved teaching children in a few different countries, but have never had any desire to have my own), but something I really loved in this book. And West is a former school bully who has some things to atone for where Phoebe is concerned.

I am also a fan of the widow trope when the first husband was a sweet man who had his life taken too soon. On the other hand, one thing I don’t especially love is the “the second guy’s so much better” trope. That’s present here, but Kleypas does a better job of it than most.

I liked the well-written children, and I liked the cat. She (and, yes, even the cat has some character development!) reminded me of one of our strays who turned up one day and decided she was part of the family.

And I also LOVE the little bits and pieces of research Kleypas includes in her books. Despite what many readers seem to think, this series is not Regency; it takes place in the second half of the Victorian era. The new technologies, all the little bits of everyday life, and the precarious future of the aristocracy all fascinate me.

Kleypas’ books are getting increasingly steamy – as are many authors’ as the market changes. She writes those scenes well, and always makes them about the characters, not the actual smexy stuff, but it’s getting to be a little too much for me. Though most of the steamy stuff doesn’t happen until near the end, when I reached it I just didn’t want to read about that much sex in a romance, rather than an erotic romance. However, I know many readers give low ratings to books without all of that, so authors can’t win.

This was an interesting book for many reasons, and I will reread it to pick up on things I missed out on the first time. Lisa Kleypas is the author who converted me to historical romance, and whenever she has a new book out I always drop everything to finish it – that hasn’t changed.

Now, I just wish US writers and editors would stop using the word “gotten”!

Out Now: Devil’s Daughter

Devil’s Daughter, the fifth book in Lisa Kleypas’ Victorian-era Ravenels series is out now. It features the daughter of one of the couples from her extremely popular Wallflowers series, and I know a lot of people are excited about it.

Devil's Daughter (Ravenels #5) by Lisa Kleypas

Although beautiful young widow Phoebe, Lady Clare, has never met West Ravenel, she knows one thing for certain: he’s a mean, rotten bully. Back in boarding school, he made her late husband’s life a misery, and she’ll never forgive him for it. But when Phoebe attends a family wedding, she encounters a dashing and impossibly charming stranger who sends a fire-and-ice jolt of attraction through her. And then he introduces himself…as none other than West Ravenel.

West is a man with a tarnished past. No apologies, no excuses. However, from the moment he meets Phoebe, West is consumed by irresistible desire…not to mention the bitter awareness that a woman like her is far out of his reach. What West doesn’t bargain on is that Phoebe is no straitlaced aristocratic lady. She’s the daughter of a strong-willed wallflower who long ago eloped with Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent – the most devilishly wicked rake in England.

Before long, Phoebe sets out to seduce the man who has awakened her fiery nature and shown her unimaginable pleasure. Will their overwhelming passion be enough to overcome the obstacles of the past?

Only the devil’s daughter knows…

Coming Soon: Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Kleypas

Devil's Daughter (2019) (The fifth book in the Ravenels series) A novel by Lisa Kleypas UK Cover

Devil’s Daughter, the fifth book in Lisa Kleypas’ Ravenels series is out later this month. Here is the UK/Australian cover. I’d just like to point out that this book is set in the 1870s, and – lovely as they are – the clothes the woman is wearing are sixty years out-of-date!

However, I still prefer it to the US cover, which is some sort of bizarre prom queen extravaganza!:

Devil's Daughter (Ravenels #5) by Lisa Kleypas