Category Archives: Historical Fiction

Recent Release Review-House of Silence by Sarah Barthel

house-of-silence

Title: House of Silence

Genre: Historical Fiction/Thriller/Suspense (romantic elements)

Author: Sarah Barthel

Publisher: Kensington, Dec. 27, 2016

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 300

Rating: 2.5

Sexy Rating: 2

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:         

Oak Park, Illinois, 1875. Isabelle Larkin’s future—like that of every young woman—hinges upon her choice of husband. She delights her mother by becoming engaged to Gregory Gallagher, who is charismatic, politically ambitious, and publicly devoted. But Isabelle’s visions of a happy, profitable match come to a halt when she witnesses her fiancé commit a horrific crime—and no one believes her.   Gregory denies all, and Isabelle’s mother insists she marry as planned rather than drag them into scandal. Fearing for her life, Isabelle can think of only one escape: she feigns a mental breakdown that renders her mute, and is brought to Bellevue sanitarium. There she finds a friend in fellow patient Mary Todd Lincoln, committed after her husband’s assassination.   In this unlikely refuge, the women become allies, even as Isabelle maintains a veneer of madness for her own protection. But sooner or later, she must reclaim her voice. And if she uses it to expose the truth, Isabelle risks far more than she could ever imagine.

***

Was this a good read? Well…it was just okay.  I kept reading to find out what would happen.  The plot was interesting.  But it didn’t flow and it left unanswered questions. Why was Gregory living a lie? Why was Isabelle’s mother not willing to give Isabelle the benefit of a doubt, when Isabelle never had told a lie? Another big question was, why is Mary Todd Lincoln in this book at all?  It added nothing to the story.

The book definitely was short on character development.  Side characters, like Isabelle’s friend Lucy, seemed to do things that made no sense.  Such as Lucy’s trip to Montana and back again without even telling her fiancé that she was leaving.  A sanitarium in the late 1800’s would not be a social spa like it is characterized here.  If you read this just for the story then it is just okay but be prepared to find fault with much of the action and characterization.

(This is the kind of book that drives people to say “I think I will write a book.  I can certainly improve on something like this.”)

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Review not by Deet( You’re gonna love this one)

I haven’t read this book.  That doesn’t mean I won’t, but what follows the blurb is one of the funniest reviews I have ever read on Amazon.  Tell me, would you read this book after reading that review? Read the blurb first.  ( I love this cover!! That gown is to die for!)

a-reliable-wife

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

Book Blurb:

Rural Wisconsin, 1909. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt, a successful businessman, stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who answered his newspaper advertisement for “a reliable wife.” But when Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she’s not the “simple, honest woman” that Ralph is expecting. She is both complex and devious, haunted by a terrible past and motivated by greed. Her plan is simple: she will win this man’s devotion, and then, ever so slowly, she will poison him and leave Wisconsin a wealthy widow. What she has not counted on, though, is that Truitt — a passionate man with his own dark secrets —has plans of his own for his new wife. Isolated on a remote estate and imprisoned by relentless snow, the story of Ralph and Catherine unfolds in unimaginable ways.

With echoes of Wuthering Heights and Rebecca, Robert Goolrick’s intoxicating debut novel delivers a classic tale of suspenseful seduction, set in a world that seems to have gone temporarily off its axis.

**

A 2-star Amazon review

By Alyssa Donati on March 20, 2012

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

as he flung her onto the crimson horsehair settee and ravaged her like a wild dingo. He bathed in her flesh, he scooped it up like rich creamy yogurt until her swarthy lover burst in and brandished a large shotgun. “Release that venomous tart!” He bellowed. “Never! I must have her! I shall devour her completely until only one dazzling amber eyeball remains!”

No, this is not a quote from Goolrick or A Reliable Wife, HOWEVER it could have been.

A reliable Wife is not terrible. There are some beautifully written passages and it does commence with an intriguing plot but unfortunately midway through the book begins to morph into a dime store bodice ripper. Goolrick’s protagonist is a miserable aging man who craves sex so much you begin to worry he’s going to go completely nuts one day and mount the portly old housekeeper when she’s taking out the trash. He winds up advertising for a wife and when she arrives he turns into Charlie Sheen (the new one with the Tiger Blood and porn Goddesses…) From then on the book’s plot becomes so preposterous and the sexual encounters so salacious and repetitive it’s truly hard to maintain interest. In addition to the bacchanalian sex, the sprawled limbs, the moist loins, the heaving bosoms etc…every character in this novel basically wants to drop dead (that is, if they’re not in the middle of intercourse.) Truly, I have never seen so many homicidal, suicidal, morose, pissed off, seething, wretched individuals crammed into one book. So, in summation, if you like watching irate vengeful people savagely engage in coitus and then drop dead, you might like this book.

(Deet says: I came across this book because it was on one of those Buy this for $1.99 deals I get in my e-mail so often.) 

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Deet’s Glorious Adventure (the Finale)

No events were planned until 1pm so I got to sleep-in. Yeah, right. I was on east coast time the entire week so on this final day I awoke at 5am just like the other days. I was being really lazy in the morning, uploading photos to my computer, reading a bit on my Kindle. At 1pm I made my way to the Grand Pennington Ballroom where the Book Fair and signing was held. Here we have the two Sabrinas, York and Jeffries. At the last table is Karen Hawkens and Lorraine Heath. The bottom photo is fuzzy but I wanted you to see the entire signing room.

booksigning

There was about 3hours between the book signing and the Grand Ball.  I was invited to go to dinner with the fab Victoria Vane and Julie Johnstone and Collette Cameron.

We were so caught up in conversation and laughter that time got away from us and we hurried back to the hotel to get ready for the Grand Ball. The food was Hor D’Oeuvres and Dessert.

But the gowns were the big attraction as well as the beautiful women wearing them. Yes there were a few men attending and dancing. It was a fairytale setting. first u[ our hostess Delilah Marvelle, then our other hostess Renee Bernard, next a view of the back of the gowns. Next (can I ever take a decent photo? Guess not, but wanted to show you.) Victoria Vane and the ladies wearing the gowns she sewed for them. Victoria also made her gown. Then comes Erin Knightly just beautiful! Next we have Elizabeth Essex, Tessa Dare and Victoria Vane (this one taken at an earlier event). Next is terrific blogger Ki Pha. Last and certainly not least Lovely Wendy Loverage,book reviewer, all the way from England.

hrr-delilah-at-ballhrr-renee-at-the-balldelilahs-dressvickis-dresseserin-knightlyhrr-eliz-essex-tessa-victoriaki-phawendy-loverage

The next morning there was a continental breakfast gathering before we all bid our farewells.  Oh, and here is the Dowager Duchess of La Deetda Reads:

hrr-dot-ball

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Review- Flowers From The Storm by Laura Kinsale

                             Print (e-book)         &            Audio

Title: Flowers From The Storm

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Laura Kinsale

Narrator: Nicholas Boulton

Publisher: E-Book: Harper Collins, 2009

                    Audio: Hedgehog, 2013

Source: Purchase, $1.99 e-book & $3.99 Audio

Pages: 565 (listening hours 18+)

Rating: 5+

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 4

Description from Amazon.com:

The Duke of Jervaulx was brilliant and dangerous. Considered dissolute, reckless, and extravagant, he was transparently referred to as the ′D of J′ in scandal sheets, where he and his various exploits featured with frequency. But sometimes the most womanizing rake can be irresistible, and even his most casual attentions fascinated the sheltered Maddy Timms, quiet daughter of a simple mathematician.

He’s the Duke of Jervaulx…powerful, rich, and intelligent and locked in a lunatic asylum.

**

Christian Langland, The Duke of Jervaulx, is a brilliant mathematician and so is the father of Maddy Timms.  Mr. Timms and Christian collaborate on a paper to be presented to an austere assemblage.  At first Maddy thinks him an egomaniac and rude human, as she sees his interactions with her father her opinion softens but she is totally shocked when she and her father go to stay with her uncle at his insane asylum and find the Duke a patient. The young Duke has had a stroke (Apoplexy) and appears to be wild.  Maddie makes it her mission to help him overcome his affliction. This is the story of her efforts and the Duke’s progress.

This book is revered by many as the quintessential Historical Romance and for good reason. Originally published in 1992, it is brilliantly realized by the author’s use of prose and her ability to evoke the emotions surrounding the duke’s affliction. The romance is slow to bloom and passionate.  There are terrible trials and much suspense about the outcome of both the duke’s life and the romance. Christian is certainly one of the most tortured heroes in romantic novels, perhaps he is at the top of the list.  That he may or may not recover is always a possibility throughout the book.

Currently this book is only $1.99 for Kindle and $3.99 on Audible when you buy the Kindle book.  I chose to listen to this book mainly as I was challenged to do so by a friend who said that Nicholas Boulton, the narrator, was one of the best. I shall forever defer to this friend’s judgement for Mr. Boulton’s narration was absolute perfection. That makes the book 5-stars and the narration 5-stars.

If you are hungering for a wonderful romance, here it is.

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$1.99 on Kindle- The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

the-rose-garden

Deet’s Note: I gave this book 5-stars and would have given it more if I could. This is a truly lovely book.  You can get it for $1.99 today on Kindle which is a bargain since it is usually $9.99.

Eva returns to the only place that has ever felt like home, but she quickly discovers she is not alone in the old house on the Cornwall coast. The past reaches out to touch the present in this beautiful love story and haunting mystery.

“Whatever time we have,” he said, “it will be time enough.”

Eva Ward returns to the only place she truly belongs, the old house on the coast of Cornwall, England, seeking happiness in memories of childhood summers.

There she finds mysterious voices and hidden pathways that sweep her not only into the past, but also into the arms of a man who is not of her time.

But Eva must confront her own ghosts, as well as those of long ago. As she begins to question her place in the present, she comes to realize that she too must decide where she really belongs. A modern gothic historical fiction with elements of time travel, reincarnation, and romance from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Susanna Kearsley.

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Regency Era Transportation

(Once again I’m giving you a glimpse of an older post. but haven’t you wondered what all those carriages looked like?)

Regency Era Transportation

I read quite a few Regency Era romance novels.  There is always a mention of a horse drawn coach or carriage in every book, since these were the typical mode of transportation for the gentry and aristocracy.  The poor folks had to rely on walking.  Instead of wondering about what these vehicles looked like, I did a little research and thought perhaps you would like to see what they looked like also.  I got these pictures from Google Images and Bing Images, any errors I’m dumping at their feet.:-)

Phaeton– This one was very popular with the rakish fellas because it was so high, a ladder was often needed to get onto the seat,  and it got them noticed.  It also was dangerous, it could easily tip over, that made it attractive to the daredevils.  There was no side protection so mud splatters were to be expected. carriage phaeton

Curricle– Another fashionable carriage for the gentleman.  It was light weight and speedy.carriage curricle

Barouche– A popular summer carriage for the wealthy. It had a hood over one of the seats.carriage barouche

Landau– This one came in at the end of the Regency Era.  It was expensive and very showy, perfect for being seen in the park. (although to my mind not as elegant as the Barouche)Carriage CLassicLandau1

 

Town Coach– Similar to a Landau but with a hard roof.  It was also called a ‘Closed Carriage”.  The nobility often put their coat of arms on the door.carriage Town coach

Mail Coach– this needs little explanation.  It traveled the roads delivering the mail across England and those who wished to travel  from one place to another could purchase a seat.carriage mail coach

 Dog Cart– It was not a cart pulled by dogs.  It was a carriage used on estates that could hold the hunting dogs being transported to a hunt.carriage dog cart

 

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Happy 4th of July

july 4 c

Happy 4th Home

Happy 4th poster

To all of my USA friends and followers,

God Bless America!

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Filed under Book review, Books Historical Romance, Contemporary Romance, General Fiction & Literature, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Holiday, Paranormal Romance, Suspense, Thriller, Western Romance

London Library Bars- Yeah!

Bar library london

Found on BuzzFeed  16 Library Bars in London

Now this is my idea of a fun way to drink my wine.  Usually I favor Pinot Grigio but in these settings I may have to go with a Pinot Noir or Merlot or even two fingers of a single malt. completely ensconced in my book I may not even notice the famous author sitting by the fire.

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Audiobook Review- The Player by Stella Riley

Title: The Player ( Rockliffe, book #3) (Audiobook)

The Player

Also available as E-Book and Paperback

Genre: Historical Romance/Georgian

Author: Stella Riley

Narrator: Alex Wyndham

Publisher: Stella Palmer, April 2016

Pages/ Listening Time: 323/10 hours 13 minutes

Source: Free from the Author

Rating: 5+

Sexy Rating: 5 not explicit

Description from Audible.com:

Tragedy drove him into unwilling exile. Death demands his reluctant return. In the decade between, he has answered to many names and amassed a variety of secrets. Now the actor known to Paris as L’Inconnu must resume his real identity and become Francis Adrian Sinclair Devereux, Earl of Sarre…a man he no longer knows how to be and whose name, thanks to the malice of a friend turned enemy, remains tarnished by an old scandal. Revenge, so long avoided, slithers temptingly from the shadows.

Granddaughter of a wealthy wool-merchant, Caroline Maitland is not finding her society debut either easy of enjoyable…but, to Marcus Sheringham, she is the perfect solution to his crushing mountain of debt. Knowing she will be married for her money, Caroline never believed she would find love; but neither did she bargain for a certain charming French highwayman…and a surprising turn of events. The stage is set, the cast assembled, and the Duke of Rockliffe waits for the curtain to rise. In the wings, Lord Sarre prepares to make his entrance. He doesn’t expect to be greeted with applause.

**

I’m such a fangirl of Stella Riley’s Rockliffe series that it is difficult for me not to jump up and down at my computer and beg you all to read/listen to this series.  I wasn’t even sure I liked the Georgian period (being totally enamored with the Regency Era) but Ms. Riley has not only made me a fan but keeps me hoping for more of this series. You know a book or series is good when you never want it to end. She has the ability to give us description of the era so that we can actually visualize the time period.  Her characters are fleshed out so that we can picture there features and personality. The book is well plotted and the pace is never too slow or too rushed.

In The Player we get to know Adrian Devereux, The recent Earl of Sarre.  Because of a tragedy he was exiled by his father to France for ten years. In an earlier book he was mentioned by the Duke of Rockliffe who thought he recognized Adrian acting on the stage in Paris. Now Adrian has returned to England to take charge of his title and estates and is hell-bent on seeking revenge on the man who caused his father to exile him so many years before.

Caroline Maitland is young, not aristocratic but holds a huge dowry that is making her the target of fortune hunter Marcus Sheringham, Adrian’s nemesis. Adrian uses his acting skills to woo Caroline and tricks her into an elopement.  But his well prepared plan starts to unravel when Caroline discovers the hoax.

I hope that much information is not a spoiler because there is so much more to this story and like me I’m sure you will hang on to every word out of the mouth of the sexy voiced narrator, Alex Wyndham.  He is my audiobook boyfriend, he can speak English with a French accent in several different character voices in a conversation.  He not only brings the characters and the book to life he infuses it with drama and heartfelt emotion. He can speak female voices as well as the male characters.

Well by now you know that I’m not just encouraging you to get this audiobook, I’m practically insisting that you do because I know you will love it.  There is nothing on TV anyway so sit back and listen to this wonderful story told by a superb narrator.

(FYI: I listen on my Kindle Fire HDX. Amazon also has Whispersync where you can get the print book and audio and read along as you are listening. I personally get so caught up in Wyndham’s narration that I don’t read along.)

The Rockliffe Series:

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Review- The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Title: The Painted Girls

The Painted Girls

 

Genre: Historical Fiction

Author: Cathy Marie Buchanan

Publisher: Riverhead Books, Jan. 2013

Pages: 369

Source: Public Library

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 5-not explicit

Description from Amazon.com:

A heartrending, gripping novel about two sisters in Belle Époque Paris and the young woman forever immortalized as muse for Edgar Degas’ Little Dancer Aged Fourteen.

1878 Paris. Following their father’s sudden death, the van Goethem sisters find their lives upended. Without his wages, and with the small amount their laundress mother earns disappearing into the absinthe bottle, eviction from their lodgings seems imminent. With few options for work, Marie is dispatched to the Paris Opéra, where for a scant seventeen francs a week, she will be trained to enter the famous ballet. Her older sister, Antoinette, finds work as an extra in a stage adaptation of Émile Zola’s naturalist masterpiece L’Assommoir. Marie throws herself into dance and is soon modeling in the studio of Edgar Degas, where her image will forever be immortalized as Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. There she meets a wealthy male patron of the ballet, but might the assistance he offers come with strings attached? Meanwhile Antoinette, derailed by her love for the dangerous Émile Abadie, must choose between honest labor and the more profitable avenues open to a young woman of the Parisian demimonde.  Set at a moment of profound artistic, cultural, and societal change, The Painted Girls is a tale of two remarkable sisters rendered uniquely vulnerable to the darker impulses of “civilized society.” In the end, each will come to realize that her salvation, if not survival, lies with the other.

**

This book is based on the true story of the fourteen year old ballet dancer, Marie Van Goethem, who modeled for Edgar Degas’s famous statue Little Dancer.

Little_dancer

It is also the story of her family; an alcoholic mother, older sister Antoinette who became a prostitute and younger sister Charlotte who became a rather famous ballerina. Left to fend for themselves upon the death of their husband and father the family did what they had to do to house, feed and clothe themselves. For penniless Parisian women in the 1870’s there were menial jobs (the mother became a laundress) or prostitution (The mother and Antoinette) or go on the stage as a ballerina or actress (the route that Marie and Charlotte took).

I enjoyed this book for the realistic look at poor women in the late 1800’s.  Not so much different in Paris as in the USA or England.  It is a well-researched book and the look into the ballet was also very interesting.  There were men of wealth who came to observe the young ballerinas and would offer some their “protection” which was not always protective.  Marie was fortunate in that Edgar Degas paid her to only model.  But later she met another man who wanted more from her.

This is a very slow starting book and if I had not been reading it for my book club discussion I might have given up.  However at about the 150 page point this became a very engaging story. I realize that not all readers are willing to wait that long into a book but this one did pay off in the end.

BTW- My book club agrees with my review here.

 

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