The Week: 10th – 16th October

spring-sunshine-blue-sky-sonya-heaney-canberra-australia-14th-october-2016-garden-nature

Gorgeous Friday afternoon in Canberra.

sunday-evening-canberra-australia-sonya-heaney-sky-clouds-garden-silhouette-nature-spring-9th-october-2016

Sunset in Canberra a week ago

spring-flowers-garden-canberra-australia-sonya-heaney-12th-october-2016

Spring in the garden.

My GOD. Another week, another time my draft of my weekly round-up post went up days in advance – and unfinished! I’m not enjoying the WordPress administration thingies – the new or old versions. Weird things keep happening, and the new version doesn’t even fit on my screen! Talk about fixing something until it’s broken.

I wish political stuff would just GO AWAY this year! We had our state elections on Saturday (and voting is compulsory). However, after a massive, severely negative campaign full of false promises (we’ll lower your taxes and somehow still find a billion spare dollars for all the things we promised you!) the opposition lost. Again. This will make it at least nineteen years with the same government. We’ve only had state government here since 1989!

It was a big surprise on Saturday night. Andrew Barr must be one of the few openly gay men running a state in the world – anywhere!!

Terrible shot of my TV:

act-canberra-election-labor-party-victory-abc-news-15th-october-2016

I cannot believe that twice this year I’ve had something called the “Australian Sex Party” on a ballot paper. This world is becoming very funny.

Two hilarious Donald Trump-related stories this week.

I’m guessing Americans have no idea who Jemima (Goldsmith) Khan is, but in the British/Commonwealth/cricket/Pakistani world she is a star. She went to a Halloween party as Trump’s wife, complete with “Michelle Obama’s Convention Speech” and a sign declaring the US election is on the 28th of November (as Trump accidentally said in a speech).

jemima-khan-impersonates-melania-trump-for-halloween-2016

My other “favourite” of the week:

NSW Parliament Officially Calls Donald Trump ‘Revolting Slug’

I don’t think I stopped laughing for ten minutes.

Some news on the murder of Daniela (I have mentioned this before; it is someone I knew). The statements made by the defence lawyer are exactly why defence lawyers are some of the worst people there are. ‘Hey – he’s a rapist and murderer, but he’s not a serial killer yet, so let’s not punish him too much!’:

‘Despicable acts’: life sentence urged for woman’s killer

My review of Veiled In Blue (The Emperors of London #6) by Lynne Connolly

veiled-in-blue-the-emperors-of-london-6-by-lynne-connolly

Fanfare for the common man in historical romance

Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas

Colouring Jane Austen

pride-and-prejudice-a-colouring-classic-jane-austen

My review of Waiting for Summer by Sherelle Green

Waiting for Summer by Sherelle Green

Cover Love

First Star I See Tonight (Chicago Stars #8) by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Uhm…

Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy - after marriage!

Veiled In Blue (The Emperors of London #6) by Lynne Connolly

veiled-in-blue-the-emperors-of-london-6-by-lynne-connolly

Governess Eve Merton would have fallen into serious trouble on her walk home if a handsome stranger had not stopped to help her. But when Mr. Vernon gives her a lift on his horse, he makes no secret of his attraction. As a well brought-up young lady, Eve does her best not to notice, but when he sets about courting her, she knows she’s in trouble. For she has a secret: she is the daughter of a deposed king, which means not only is she without a dowry, but also that her life is in danger…
 
Little does Eve know that Mr. Vernon has secrets of his own. In truth, his name is Julius, Lord Winterton, and he’s well aware that Eve is the offspring of the Old Pretender. In order to save his sister, he must convince Eve to wed—though he wants nothing to do with love. But as the two grow closer and an attempt is made on Eve’s life, Julius may realise that fighting his heart’s true desire is a battle most pleasurably surrendered…

Veiled In Blue (The Emperors of London #6) by Lynne Connolly

I’ve enjoyed every book in this series I’ve read. In a sea of historical romances based on pop culture and featuring characters who in no way come across as English aristocrats, Lynne Connolly’s books stand out because she works with real history.

The political intrigue in this series is so great to read, with secret children of the Old Pretender being tracked down and married off before they can become a threat to the monarchy. There is a sense of history to these books that is so different to most coming out at the moment, and nowhere is it more obvious than in the sheer power the characters hold.

It also helps that – with the author being a Brit – I’m not facepalming every page because of incorrect language.

The 18th-century Georgian world is a totally different place to the Regency or Victorian eras of most books, and the author clearly has a great love for the time period. She understands day to day life in the time, and makes sure to illustrate the differences with her attention to fashions and furnishings.

And how wonderful to have Chatsworth mentioned as the home of a duke – I am SO SICK of it being used as an oversized castle for Pride and Prejudice adaptations!

This book can be read as a standalone. I think it can, at any rate, even though this hero has featured heavily in earlier books. The story introduces us to a new heroine and a new setting, and so I think it works even though this is the sixth book.

If you like your historical romances with some actual history in them, this is a good series.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

 

One other thing: the copy I read had many editing errors. I hope that is fixed for the proper book.

Dilemma In Yellow Silk (The Emperors of London #5) by Lynne Connolly

Dilemma In Yellow Silk (The Emperors of London #5) by Lynne Connolly

Despite her cover as the daughter of the land steward for Lord Malton, Marcus Aurelius, spirited Viola Gates is tied by birth to the treacherous Jacobite legacy. Not that this keeps her from falling for the dashing Lord from afar. Despite his staid demeanour, Marcus is devastatingly handsome—and hopelessly beyond her reach. Then Viola’s father is mortally wounded and her secret identity revealed, sending her straight into danger’s path—and Marcus’s arms…
For years, he’d only known her as a wild child, the tempting—and forbidden—daughter of his trusted steward. But when Viola’s life is threatened, Marcus must act as duty—and his barely contained passion—dictates. Ferrying the bold beauty on an eventful journey to safer quarters, he offers her the protection of his name. Their tempestuous union might succeed in vanquishing their enemies, but will the chivalrous lord and his unsuitable wife surrender to the power of love?

Dilemma In Yellow Silk (The Emperors of London #5) by Lynne Connolly

This is a really great series, set in the Georgian era and based around the concept the Old Pretender had children who are now secretly living in or around the English aristocracy. If they can be found, they can be dangerous to the monarchy. One side wants to use them to gain power and destabilise the country, while the other (the “Emperors” of the series title) want to keep them safe – usually by marrying them so they’re taken out of the equation.

The book starts a little suddenly, and it will seem like you’re already supposed to know these characters. Go along with it, because there’s a lot of story to pack in (thank goodness – better than all those historical romances that just meander from one ballroom to another!), and so we have to establish a connection fast.

Hero and heroine have known each other their whole lives, so this was easy enough to believe. I liked that there was danger and that the characters were on the go almost from the start.

Set in the century before most historical romances, this is a totally different world. The clothing, the technology (or lack thereof), the politics. It’s a fascinating time in world history, and this is an author who knows the world the characters inhabit down to the tiny details. It makes the book believable.

I liked both leading characters. I like that we were given a hero who was both very powerful and influential, but also a little bit reserved and shy. He seemed a more complete person than many in this genre.

While each book in this series is perfectly fine as a standalone, I think it’s a series worth reading from the start.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Best of 2015

2015 was a mixed bag. I read some really great books, and got excited about quite a few things.

However there were also lengthy periods of time where I was either feeling a little blah about my books or I was downright fed up with reading in general, and with the repetition brought on by genre fads.

I saved myself from my reading slumps both by rereading, and also by buying books instead of accepting as many review books as I might have other years.

Every year I post my best reads of the year. Many are 2015 releases, but some are not. Not all of them are the Greatest Read Ever, but every one of these stuck with me in some way, and that’s what counts the most when it comes to a book.

The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay

The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay

Ross Poldark (Poldark #1) by Winston Graham

Poldark_-_Ross_Poldark

His Wicked Reputation (Wicked Trilogy #1) by Madeline Hunter

His Wicked Reputation (Wicked Trilogy #1) by Madeline Hunter

Brown-Eyed Girl (Travis Family #4) by Lisa Kleypas

Brown-Eyed Girl (2015) (The fourth book in the Travis series) by Lisa Kleypas

Collateral Damage (Bagram Special Ops #5) by Kaylea Cross

Collateral Damage by Kaylea Cross

His Christmas Countess by Louise Allen

His Christmas Countess (Lords of Disgrace #2) by Louise Allen

Josette (When Hearts Dare #3) by Kathleen Bittner Roth

Josette (When Hearts Dare #3) by Kathleen Bittner Roth

Tall, Dark and Wicked (Wicked Trilogy #2) by Madeline Hunter

Tall, Dark, & Wicked by Madeline Hunter

This Book Will Change Your Life by Amanda Weaver

This Book Will Change Your Life by Amanda Weaver

Demelza (Poldark #2) by Winston Graham

Demelza (The Poldark Saga #2) by Winston Graham

Bitten (Women of the Otherworld #1) by Kelley Armstrong

Bitten (Women of the Otherworld #1) by Kelley Armstrong

Bared to You (Crossfire #1) by Sylvia Day

Bared to You by Sylvia Day

Danger Wears White (The Emperors of London #3) by Lynne Connolly

Danger Wears White (The Emperors of London #3) by Lynne Connolly

Reflected in You (Crossfire #2) by Sylvia Day

Reflected in You by Sylvia Day

To Love a Cop by Janice Kay Johnson

To Love a Cop by Janice Kay Johnson

Dead by Midnight (I-Team 7.5 An I-Team Christmas) by Pamela Clare

Dead by Midnight (I-Team 7.5 An I-Team Christmas) by Pamela Clare

The Spring Bride (Chance Sisters #3) by Anne Gracie

The Spring Bride (Chance Sisters #3) by Anne Gracie

Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas

Cold-Hearted Rake (2015) by Lisa Kleypas

His Housekeeper’s Christmas wish by Louise Allen

His Housekeeper's Christmas Wish by Louise Allen

In Debt to the Earl by Elizabeth Rolls

In Debt to the Earl by Elizabeth Rolls

The Lady Meets Her Match (Midnight Meetings #2) by Gina Conkle

The Lady Meets Her Match (Midnight Meetings #2) by Gina Conkle

The Week: 6th – 12th July

Kangaroos Lawn Cemetery Queanbeyan Australia 11th July 2015 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney Winter

Kangaroos Lawn Cemetery Queanbeyan Australia 11th July 2015 1 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney Winter

Visiting the cemetery yesterday. The Canberra region has a serious kangaroo plague, and it’s getting worse and worse!

Winter Night Ice Skating Canberra City Australia Civic Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney 5th July 2015

Outdoor ice skating in Canberra a few days ago

On Monday the Christmas review books started appearing. Even for review books is this not a little premature??!! All the same, I’ve already started reading them. I guess at least it’s winter here, so all that talk about snow and fires makes a bit of sense.

For some reason I don’t seem to be getting notifications from a lot of sites anymore. For example, no matter how many times I switch my Pinterest notifications back on, I don’t get them! So I’m having a little trouble responding to people all over the internet at the moment…

I seem to be reading a million Western historical books at the moment, and a glance at my review books shows I have another thousand lined up. I have no idea how that happened.

I’ve written multiple times about how racist a significant portion of Anglo Australia is. This week, Australian “legend” Dawn Fraser went to the press with extremely racist comments about the children (not even the actual immigrants) of European and Asian immigrants. This woman lives on the same street as my aunt. The next time I see her…

Apparently “real Australians” are 100% British blood. I wonder what these equal opportunity racists think of Aborigines…

Things that do NOT make your romance heroine better than other women

new-moon-hq-stills-bella-swan-26178243-2560-1703

Clichés of Attraction

Heterosexuality.

Pride and Prejudice Adaptations: BBC’s 1980 Production

Pride and Prejudice 1980 Elizabeth Garvie David Rintoul Elizabeth Bennet Mr Darcy

My review of The Best of Both Rogues by Samantha Grace

The Best of Both Rogues by Samantha Grace

My review of The Marriage Agreement (Charity House #9) by Renee Ryan

The Marriage Agreement (Charity House #9) by Renee Ryan

My review of Danger Wears White (The Emperors of London #3) by Lynne Connolly

Danger Wears White (The Emperors of London #3) by Lynne Connolly

Danger Wears White (The Emperors of London #3) by Lynne Connolly

Danger Wears White (The Emperors of London #3) by Lynne Connolly

Hoping to live down her family’s connections to the traitorous Jacobite cause, Imogen wants nothing more than a quiet life in the country. When she stumbles upon a wounded man, the white cockade in his coat tells her he’s a Jacobite, and a danger to the crown. Yet there’s something about him she can’t resist . . .

In search of a document on behalf of his powerful family, Tony is shot and left for dead. Secreted away to a hidden chamber, he finds himself both a guest and prisoner of a beautiful but mysterious woman. What she wants and who she serves, he cannot know. But what he does understand is the desire burning strongly between them. And that neither of them will be spared until their lust is sated.

When the action moves to London, suddenly it’s Tony who has to act to save Imogen. Forced to become a lady in waiting to Princess Amelia, she is in peril from the Jacobites, who are convinced she is their salvation. Only the strength of Tony and Imogen’s love can save them now.

Danger Wears White (The Emperors of London #3) by Lynne Connolly

I love Lynne Connolly’s books. They’re so much MORE than just the relationship. There’s so much PLOT going on. And this is one of the few authors whose aristocratic characters really, truly behave like the aristocracy.

Danger Wears White is about danger and intrigue and different factions trying to gain power in Britain. It’s set some seventy years before most historical romances, which means a whole lot of different fashions and dangers and behaviours. I’ve liked all the books in the series, but I might have enjoyed this one the most so far.

Connolly’s books definitely don’t read the same way as the Regency romances that are endlessly popular, but I like that. I also like that she can capture the mood – and the power – of the characters she’s writing about in one quick description of a gesture. She also makes sure we see the realities of such high positions in society. It’s not all balls and anachronisms.

There is a great deal of history in this story, but I do think you can get by without the background. You can also get by reading this book without having read the first two in the series.

I’m not really sure what to say – as is usually the case when I enjoy a book. Mostly, I suppose I wish people could inject some more of THIS sort of thing into the Regency era. Despite the mood the genre tends to set, it was another era that wasn’t short of intrigue and danger.

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 8th – 14th June

Canberra from Queanbeyan Australia 3rd May 2015 Sonya Heaney Sky Clouds Sunset

A random shot of sunset over Canberra, taken from the other side of the state border.

This week involved lots of cleaning, lots of sorting, lots of working on designs in Photoshop, nowhere near enough reading… I did pick up Christy Reece’s debut novel for a reread.

Now I have my grandmother’s old embroidery and cross stitch books (the #1 aspect of Ukrainian culture!) I’m determined to relearn the skills, starting next week. I ordered myself a couple of beginners’ patterns from a craft shop to practice with. Not pretty Ukrainian designs, but I need to start somewhere!

Sunday is the “forty day” church service for my grandmother’s death. It’s something you do in Ukrainian culture; have a special service after that period of time.

In other Ukrainian news, Russia is back in force, shelling all over the country, and destroying Ukraine’s infrastructure. We are still going back to Ukraine in less than a year. We will unless Putin literally is bombing the entire country by then.

There was a big drama in the media in Australia this week, and I saw it made the news in other countries too. A fundamentalist Christian went on national television and announced he was divorcing his wife if gay marriage became legal.

The people you know… This man was in my brother’s class at school and his brother was in mine. We even sat at the same table during our school formal (graduation prom thingy). I don’t know how such different people can be turned out of the same school and same part of town!

Poldark Love

Poldark_-_Ross_Poldark

Randomly interesting…

The Hunger Games Twilight Harry Potter

My review of Only Marriage Will Do by Jenna Jaxon

Only Marriage Will Do by Jenna Jaxon

My review of Escaping Reality (The Secret Life of Amy Bensen #1) by Lisa Renee Jones

Escaping Reality (The Secret Life of Amy Bensen #1) by Lisa Renee Jones

My review of It Started At Waterloo by Lynne Connolly

It Started At Waterloo by Lynne Connolly

My review of To Love a Cop by Janice Kay Johnson

To Love a Cop by Janice Kay Johnson

It Started At Waterloo by Lynne Connolly

It Started At Waterloo by Lynne Connolly

Does she love him enough to let him go? After three straight days working beside surgeon Will Kennaway to treat the wounded of Waterloo, Amelia Hartwell collapses on the nearest bed to sleep. Surely she can be forgiven for not caring that the warm body sleeping next to hers is Will’s. Amelia’s status-hungry mother, however, couldn’t be more pleased to have an excuse to get the painfully shy, socially awkward Amelia married off, albeit to a less-than-ultra-rich husband. Will doesn’t keep his title a deep, dark secret. His little-known earldom simply affords him the financial freedom to focus solely on healing the sick. But now that he has a wife to think about—and to admire, thanks to her unstinting bravery at Waterloo—he reluctantly takes up the mantle of earl to do his duty. Missing her meaningful work as a nurse, Amelia finds herself floundering in society’s glaring spotlight, wondering if Will regrets being forced to marry. Perhaps it might even be better to give him his freedom, even if doing so will break her heart…

It Started At Waterloo by Lynne Connolly

Two things: WHY does this publisher always give the entire plot away in the blurb? And WHY are those cover models so weird-looking?

 

I was a little slow to discover Lynne Connolly, but now I have I race to read her books.

As many historical romance authors are doing at the moment, Connolly is releasing a book with the Battle of Waterloo at its centre. It is two hundred years since that iconic, important battle that changed the future of Europe, and it is at the heart of the Regency era.

Be warned, there’s more gore than you will usually get in historical romance, considering both lead characters are in the middle of the most gruesome medical issues of a major war. It really depends on the author if I can stomach it, but I can for this one.

This is a shorter book (novella?) so things move fairly fast. However, there was a big story packed in there and I liked it. Connolly does more with common themes than most authors.

I DO think this would have been really good as a full-length book, because there IS so much story to cover. It’s worthy of a longer book.

This is one author who gets the era – the behaviour and the attitudes – better than most, and she makes no apology for people behaving the way they should. Being British definitely helps with the language and attitudes.

Because of the rush to push through the story in a shorter word count, this probably isn’t the author’s best book. However, I’m also very glad I read it.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 26th January – 1st February

Canberra Sunset Tuggeranong Australia 30th January 2015 Sonya Heaney 1

Canberra’s incredible sunset on Friday night.

A whole month gone! Definitely should have achieved more.

Our week started with Australia Day on the 26th of January. It’s my father’s birthday the day before, so we have stuff then and don’t really bother with Australia Day celebrations. Plus, I was sick, so I did nothing much!

Dorky Ernie Ragdoll Cat 3rd January 2015

Someone stole our poor Ernie the cat (he’s not actually our cat, but he spends a lot of time here!). He turned up on Saturday night, very distressed, after not making an appearance for three days. He was starving and his fur was all standing on end. Two of our other neighbours have had expensive cats stolen in the past couple of years (and he’s a ragdoll, so worth quite a bit)…

Ukraine Ethno Bangle,Ukrainian ethnic style bracelets set , wooden Jewellery Bracelets,Natural tones,tribal,red, white, black.

On Wednesday I received an order of traditional Ukrainian bangles from Mariupol in Ukraine. I’d only ordered them very recently, and considering that is the city the Russians are shelling and killing people by the dozens in, I can’t believe how fast they got here. (They’re selling Ukrainian things because it’s Ukraine, not Russia you stupid terrorists!)

I’m still waiting for nine postcards sent from Spain in September to arrive. There’s no war in Spain…

I had a whole cart full of things to buy from CafePress a week and a half ago, but I will never shop there again. They have no problems selling merchandise supporting terrorist organisations, and no matter how many complaints they receive, they still keep on selling it.

Please consider shopping elsewhere when you need to.

RIP Colleen McCullough

Colleen McCullough, author of The Thorn Birds, dies.

The “Mean Girls” Thing…

That Rogue Jack by Maya Rodale

My review of Oddfellows by Nicholas Shakespeare

Oddfellows by Nicholas Shakespeare

My review of Private Affair by Rebecca York

Private Affair (Rockfort Security #3) by Rebecca York

My review of The Rules According to Gracie by Stefanie London

The Rules According to Gracie by Stefanie London

My review of Temptation Has Green Eyes by Lynne Connolly

Temptation Has Green Eyes by Lynne Connolly

My review of Viscount of Vice by Shana Galen

Viscount of Vice (Covent Garden Cubs #0.5) by Shana Galen

Temptation Has Green Eyes by Lynne Connolly

 Temptation Has Green Eyes by Lynne Connolly

The daughter of a wealthy merchant, Sophia Russell has no interest in marriage, especially after a recent humiliation, €”and especially not to Maximilian, Marquess of Devereaux. But it’€™s the only way to save herself from fortune hunters, €”and those who wish to seize a powerful connection she prefers to keep secret, even from her future husband!

Marrying Sophia is the only way Max can regain the wealth his father squandered on an extravagant country palace. And while Max and his bride are civil, theirs is clearly a marriage of convenience €”until a family enemy takes a questionable interest in Sophia, €”one that may lead all the way to the throne. Forced to become allies in a battle they hadn’t foreseen, the newlyweds soon grow closer, €”and discover a love, and a passion, they never expected€!

Temptation Has Green Eyes The Emperors of London (Book 2) by Lynne Connolly

Oh wow, I really liked this book!

The first one in the series had great themes, great characters, a great plot… but there was something about it that felt a little… unedited. This is the second book, and I’m sure you can read it on its own (though I do still think book one is worth a read!).

The Georgian era is a totally different thing to the Victorian era. This is also a different decade to the more familiar (to romance readers) later part of the Georgian period. Generations before the Regency. The clothing, the manners, the lifestyle. The wars and other events changing the world.

What I really loved about this book was the way the characters were created. It’s one of the very few historical romances I’ve read where I believed the aristocracy was actually behaving like the aristocracy. Class lines were drawn and our heroine – who came from a less than desirable background – found herself trapped in a bit of a nightmare when she was essentially sold into a marriage, marrying “up”.

I think that the fact the author is English really helped with the understanding of social class, and while some readers might not enjoy the less than egalitarian attitudes the characters (particularly the male characters) take to the society they live in, I was all but swooning about it! Titled men who actually view their servants as servants rather than friends. A hero who honestly can’t see why he’d need to talk with his fiancée before their wedding. A truly Georgian mindset that made the story feel so much more authentic.

But what about the romance, you ask? Well, I really enjoyed how it developed. I believed it when it happened. I also liked the pain and heartache the heroine felt being first overlooked by her fiancé in the past, and then being snubbed at every turn by people who thought they were above her. I liked that when our hero finally woke up he got his act together and became someone better.

The wedding night scene was far and away the most realistic I have ever read.

In the first book I had a bit of trouble with overly long descriptions. While I loved the detail and great research, I thought sometimes the way the era was recreated was a little clunky. Not so here. One thing that stuck in my mind was a description of a carriage ride home – something you’ll find in any and every historical romance. However, the comments of lamps, of glittering jewels… I can’t really explain, but I felt transported to the eighteenth century in an instant.

Temptation Has Green Eyes was basically a five star read for me. The only issue I really had was with the later intimate scenes in the book, which seemed too centred around the same acts, with too much focus on the woman. It seemed anachronistic in the face of everything else in the story.

I can’t wait for this author’s next book.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.