Friday, January 31, 2014

The Summer Day Is Done by R.T.Stevens

Summer Day Is DoneThey were strangers, eyes meeting in a sea of faces at a train station, but it was love at first sight...
Thus begins the tragic love story of John Kirby (Ivan Ivanovich) and Grand Duchess Olga. They were worlds apart in station but together in soul.

I found this story so GOOD. Yes, its fiction. But in real life stranger things do happen. So it didn't feel super far fetched. When we first meet John he is a British spy (but not against Russia or the Tsar). He eventually meets the Romanov family, becomes their friend and even joins the Russian side when WW1 breaks out.

For 2/3 of the book the day is pleasant. Summer reigns. There's sunny days and playful banter abounds. I love the wit and humor in this book. The characters felt real and I just loved how they would go back and forth with faux insults. If the portrayal of Russians is accurate they are a fun loving people. That is, when they're not at war. When war is declared, the revolutionists have their way everything starts falling apart..

If you like Russian literature in general (War and Peace, Anna Karenina etc) or are fond of Russian history as it relates to the Romanov family (always a fascination for me) then I think you would enjoy this.


SEX: None (although there is some sexual innuendo in the bantering and one instance of nude swimming).
VIOLENCE: Some toward the end. There is a war and people are hurt.
PROFANITY: Pretty Mild


Wildfire At Midnight by Mary Stewart

Wildfire at Midnight *contented sigh*
I am so glad I decided to give Mary Stewart another go after being rather disillusioned with The Ivy Tree and Airs Above the Ground(which I never even finished). This book was the bomb it really was. Not A bomb, THE bomb, which is quite different!

A divorcee takes a much needed respite at a hotel on the Isle Of Skye only to find that along with an assorted group of climbers, fishermen, and writers, her ex husband has also turned up. It's not long before she is informed that a rather grisly murder took place just before she arrived. This alone would be reason enough to pack her bags and leave but before anything can be done in that direction, another guest goes missing...

I found this similar in vein to an Agatha Christie or M.M.Kaye's mystery series where you have a group of people, one of which is the murderer but no one knows who. So pretty spooky because there's no one to trust.

I loved the atmosphere of this novel, the writer really penned the area perfectly~ the obliterating mists that engulf within seconds, treacherous mountainsides and shivering bogs; Celtic superstitions and (in my case) shrieking anticipation.

It was a book where I had the killer pegged, then I didn't, then I did. So it kept you second guessing yourself which is what you want. All around a 5 star read!


SEX: None
VIOLENCE: There are murders (described after the fact)
PARANORMAL ELEMENTS: Not really. Old Celtic mountain worship is mentioned. But there's no "other worldly"i.e, ghostly happenings.
DRUG USE: A LOT of smoking!! One reviewer, my GR friend Laura counted 28 cigarettes. A sign of the times in which it was written but a little annoying.


The Scandalous Lady Robin by Sylvia Thorpe

The Scandalous Lady Robin3 1/2 Stars
This was an enjoyable light hearted frolic along the lines of "My Fair Lady ". However, Robin doesn't change all that much so the reform wasn't as successful as some would hope. Still, it was a humorous and pleasant read.

I did find myself getting quite annoyed with Robin on occasion and felt like taking a switch to her, she was just so over the top "devil may care " and I thought she might have a bit more respect and concern for her father's name if not her own..

In retrospect I probably would have enjoyed this more if I wasn't reading it online (open library) . When you're a little annoyed to start with (losing Internet connection, no bookmarks etc) the story has to be pretty awesome to compensate. And it was good but not awesome.

I would recommend this to any Austin or Heyer fan.

SEX : None
VIOLENCE : Mild Fisticuffs


Friday, January 10, 2014

A Match Made In Texas by Karen Whittemeyer and others

A Match Made in TexasI'm being generous here with 3 stars...
Can I just say that I normally love Karen Whittemeyer and Mary Conneally? I really do. But this collaboration was disappointing.
There are four novellas so I will briefly review each in turn:

A Cowboy Unmatched by Karen Whittemeyer~ 2 Stars

I think Karen must have whipped this one up on her lunch break. Pregnant widow meets handsome handyman. They fall in love and live happily ever after. Seriously that's all you need to know. I've just saved you two hours. You're welcome.
If this is your first K.W, PLEASE read her others, I don't feel like this is a good sampling of her work and Ive loved everything else she's done.

An Unforseen Match by Regina Jennings ~ 5 Stars

I loved this one! Never read anything By Regina but this was good! A school teacher has to start over when she loses her sight (glaucoma?). A scarred man hoping to earn enough money to continue on to the Land Rush accepts the offer to fix up the cabin/ barn that's been set aside for the "blind woman" (especially since she can't see his face and judge him). There's plenty of grit and determination in this story on the parts of both characters. Theres longing and misunderstandings and its just very good. My eyes pricked with tears a few times which is always a good sign.

No Match For Love by Carol Cox 2 Stars

I'm sorry to say I skimmed this one. Just did not hold my interest at all. Young woman answers an advertisement to be 'company/watchdog' to someone's aunt who is starting to "see things" (the cow jumping over the moon). Is she getting dementia or is someone trying to scare her off her land? Don't know, don't care. Next!

Meeting Her Match by Mary Conneally 2 stars

Mary, Mary what was this?
I hardly know what to say....I'm blushing with embarassment! Ok, I'm being sarcastic..
Young woman turned out of family home when father remarries. Extreeeeeeemly shy bankers son is madly in love with said young woman but can never get up his courage to woo her. Long story short: the townspeople have to join forces to "compromise" them and force a wedding. Seriously? Sorry-o this one was too far fetched for words.

Bottom Line: Not worth 9.99


SEX: None


Many thanks to NetGalley and publisher for my free ecopy to review

The Golden Panther by Sylvia Thorpe

The Golden Panther4 Stars

The 1600s is not my usual preference in historical fiction. I have a hard time getting into the lingo and my knowledge of pre -Dickensian England is sketchy at best. HOWEVER, once I got into the story and became used to the wording I really enjoyed it.

In a nutshell, a young man rescues a child from death and brings her home to his mother. She grows up thinking he's her brother, a famous buccaneer "Captain Lucifer". But what happens when she grows up into a lovely young woman and Kit (Captain Lucifer) falls in love with her ? What happens when her true identity becomes known and her treacherous uncle arrives to arrange her marriage and fetch her home?

Some who read this had a hard time with the "sibling love " topic present here. But I didn't and here's why : It's true, she thought Kit was her brother from the start. BUT. From the very day he brought her home as a three year old child he really wasn't in her life very much. He promptly went to sea and even after his mother died and Damaris lived with him, again he was away for months at a time. So in my opinion they hadn't built up a traditional sibling-type closeness that there would have been in normal circumstances.

In view of the foregoing, I really didn't find the romance that far fetched (more of a stretch for her than for him but still possible) and the adventure and intrigue is well developed.
So yes! although this is my very first Sylvia Thorpe book I would easily recommend it to others and read some more written by her. Its wasnt my absolute favorite book but its a solid 4 stars.


SEX : None. (one kiss on the cheek. And one 'stolen ' kiss by a rogue) ignore the harlequin-ish cover)
VIOLENCE: A couple of fights (its about pirates) but mild.
PROFANITY : Mild cussing


The American Heiress by Dorothy Eden

The American Heiress4 1/2 stars

I have to be careful what I say in this review because I could so easily spoil the story. But I'll do my best. In a nutshell, a young woman assumes the identity of her heiress 1/2 sister when her sister perishes in the sinking of the Lusitania.

She goes on and marries her sister 's fiance and takes her place at a manor house in England. Her husband is promptly called back to the war and she is left with her fabrications ...and new relatives. Will they see through her facade?

I loved the premise of this story. Swapping roles and hidden identities fascinate me. So I was really excited to find this book at the library.

At times the heroine disappointed me and I didn't like who she was becoming. But when I took my self righteous soul aside for a chat I realized that the character was reacting exactly as we would expect her to act in those circumstances. It was REAL even if it wasn't heroic.

And the ending was good. Very good. Satisfying on so many levels though I still wish there was yet another epilogue cos I still want a few answers...

Bottom line : well worth a read!


SEX : two encounters between married individuals. I didn't find it vulgar or offensive but not recommended for YA readers.
VIOLENCE : None, although there is a shipwreck
PARANORMAL ELEMENTS : Hettie has hallucinations? sees a ghost? its not clear to her any more than it is to us. She has gone through major trauma so it wouldn't be unusual to have 'breakdown ' type nightmares.

MY RATING : PG -13 (for NA or Adult readers -because of sexual content )

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Zemindar by Valerie Fitzgerald

ZemindarIn a nutshell: A young woman. Laura accompanies her cousin Emily and her husband Charles on a sort of wedding trip to India as a paid lady's companion.. There they meet up the  husband's half brother Oliver who is a Zemindar of a vast estate called Hassanganj. Cutting a looooong story of 763 pages short, they get caught up in the Sepoy rebellion and seige of Lucknow.As the inside jacket concludes, Laura is forced to confront her own divided loyalties and her own mutinous heart.

If youve read M.M.Kaye's "Shadow of the Moon", Zemindar is very similar in that they are both set during the same time period, although SOTM takes place outside the residency and Zemindar is 'under siege' at Lucknow. Aside from the actual rebellion which they hold in common you will also recognize a pregnancy during a time of trouble and a milch goat.

I particularly enjoyed the journey and days of Hassanganj. It was a feast for the eyes and senses and I could imagine just what it was like (based on a real mansion which still apparently exists) and how it functioned like its own city.I also appreciated seeing things from the "native side" and feeling what they may have felt during this time of upheaval.The characters are all fully drawn and real.

So I really enjoyed this book but my only problem with it was that I have a hard time "sitting still" in a book. I want to be doing something, going somewhere, seeing something. But once you hit the halfway mark in the book, be prepared to sit still; for over 250 pages of the book we are under siege and nothing really changes. People die, food gets scarcer,life becomes over all very stinky indeed and still we wait...and wait...and wait.

The author did an awesome job of portraying the insane boredom and fear of the siege but I was rather glad to be done with it.Here's one thing I would have liked done differently:

While we are "sitting out the siege" at Lucknow, Oliver is having a rather disturbing and bloody adventure at Cawnpore. But we arent "sent to the where the action is" we have to wait for him to return and TELL us which isn't nearly as powerful as SEEING it. That was frustrating. But it's still a good book, and deserves a rightful place among my favorite epics.

Bottom Line: 5 Star story, 4 star enjoyment level.

SEX: Behind closed doors, very mild romance level (a few kisses)
VIOLENCE: The violence is mostly "after the fact" as carnage but can be gruesome. Such is true life.

MY RATING: PG-13 (for disturbing imagery).