Thursday, May 24, 2012

May Quickie Reviews

In anticipation of the Memorial Day Weekend, and the fact that I'm hopelessly backed up, this is a departure post for me consisting of quickie reviews of the books I've read in May so far.  Fear not, this is not going to be a regular thing, I just need to catch up!

My Lady Rival by Ashley March

Book Description:
In this tantalizing new novel of untold wealth, unbridled privilege, and unspeakable scandals, a family shakes the very foundation of proper Victorian Society—and sets the bluebloods to blushing..

When the wealthy middle-class Laurie family purchases a home in exclusive Belgrave Square, London Society is aghast. After all, the consensus is that they're nothing but lowborn commoners-a family of nouveau riche daring to marry into the aristocracy. Others believe it's an attempt to prove that their wealth makes them equal to nobility. Only one thing is certain: Belgrave Square will never be the same again.

Upon his father's death, Alexander Laurie feels the best way to provide his family with the privileges they deserve and secure their business is to establish ties with the London ton. And the best way to do it is by marrying an aristocratic bride. But when his business rival's beautiful daughter—the one person who can destroy his plans—appears in London, Alex must defeat her attempts at sabotage.even if that means stealing kisses from the enemy.

I had a tough time warming up to Willa, the heroine in this Victorian romance, though I liked her very much at first when we first meet her.  But then she began to bug me, though I liked the hero Alex very much. Still, I felt the story was disjointed as if some of the scenes were unfinished. The ending was rushed and in need of more development towards how Alex and Willa realized their love for each other. A disappointment compared to her last book, Romancing the Countess, which was great.


One Good Reason by Sarah Mayberry

Book Description:
It's time to move on. 

Any day now Jon Adamson will pack his bags and hit the road. After all, his intention was never to hang around Melbourne once he'd settled his late father's affairs. Yet he hasn't moved on. And it might have something to do with Gabby Wade. The not-so-big office manager with the really big attitude is making Jon's days... interesting... engaging... fun. It's impossible for him to resist her.

But he knows himself--long-term commitments and cozy family dinners aren't his style. If that's what the future holds, why is he still here? And why is he spending all his days--and nights--with Gabby? Because maybe she's the one reason strong enough to make him stay. 

Who would have thought this was such a great story! I'm not normally a Harlequin reader, but this contemporary romance was so highly recommended to me (by Penny at Penelope's Romance Reviews) I gave it a shot and it did not disappoint. Tight story, no filler, lots of emotion and a voice that rang true. Set in Australia, this is a keeper, now I've got to read the previous book in this series about Tyler and Ally's story.


Scandal of the Year by Laura Lee Guhrke

Book Description:

From their very first meeting, Julia knew that Aidan Carr, the oh-so-proper Duke of Trathen, had a bit of the devil in him, a devil who secretly yearned for what he could not have, a devil who harbored a desire for her. So when she needed to be caught in a compromising situation, Aidan was the answer to her prayers.


Aidan is supposed to be looking for a bride, yet his scandalous liaison with Julia is all he can think about. Hot, erotic memories of kissing her skin, falling into her bed, pulling her naked body on top of his own continue to torment and tempt him. What is it about this brazen seductress that he finds so hard to resist? And how can he stop himself from falling into her bed a second time?

Ordinarily I love Guhrke's historicals, but it took me a while to warm up to Julie/Julia, the heroine in this Edwardian romance with a Sleeping Beauty theme. Yet by the end - I was won over. Story of a notorious divorced baroness who is keeping a secret of why she seduced a man (the Duke of Trathen, who she has known since they were 17) in order to be caught in bed with him so her sadistic husband would divorce her.   After such a notorious scandal, can these two find happiness with each other or will Julia help him find a suitable bride with a scandal-free pedigree? Good story with flashbacks leading up to that fateful afternoon - what really happened that day?  As good as the story was, I  felt at arm's length for most of it in regard to the emotions of the hero and heroine - until the very ending.  Some brief cameos from characters from her Girl Bachelor Series too. 


Love Once in Passing by Jo Ann Simon 

Book Description:
This is book one in Jo Ann Simon's acclaimed time travel romance trilogy first published in the early 1980s. Christopher Dunlap, a man of title and privilege in early nineteenth century England, and Jessica Lund, a thoroughly modern woman, suddenly find their lives mysteriously entwined in Jessica's late twentieth century world. Neither understand how Christopher, a man who had been living a happy life nearly two hundred years in the past, is now flesh and blood in Jessica's present. They soon share a love for each other as deep as it is dangerous, for whatever has brought them together can just as easily tear them apart. 

I loved this book. Plus, the heroine has the same last name as me! Early '80's time travel romance that was a real treat! I'm wary of '80's romances, but this was a winner.  Contemporary heroine, Jessica Lund has a Regency lord pop into her car while driving home one night in Connecticut.  He just shows up all of a sudden with no warning   He's just as perplexed as she is! The two of them must deal with his unexpected time travel and it's repercussions as they fall in love while trying to determine if he can disappear just as easily as he appeared in the first place. To complicate matters, she loses her memory as they travel to London so he can research what happened to him 160 years earlier. Not your typical scenario, she has trouble remembering him and doesn't fall for him again which naturally creates a rift between them.   I had a hard time putting this one down and the cliffhanger is a killer! Must. Read. Next. Book. 


Sea Change by Darlene Marshall

Book Description:
American privateer Captain David Fletcher needs a surgeon for his wounded brother. But when he captures a British merchantman in the Caribbean, what he gets is Charley Alcott, an apprentice physician barely old enough to shave. Needs take priority over skill, and Captain Fletcher whisks the prisoner aboard his ship with orders to do his best or he'll be walking the plank.

Charley Alcott's medical skills are being put to the test in a life-or-death situation--Charley's life as well as the patient's. Even if Charley can save the captain's brother, there will still be hell to pay, and maybe a plank to walk, when Captain Fletcher learns Charley is really Charlotte Alcott.

A war is raging on the world's oceans, and two enemies will fight their own battles and their attraction to each other as they undergo a sea change neither of them is expecting, but cannot deny...

I've read all of Darlene Marshall's books (except her latest which is on my TBR list).  This is a departure for her, though she has written about false identities when it comes to gender, this is a new take on that theme.  It's the story of Charlotte Alcott, a young Englishwoman disguising herself as a doctor on board a merchant ship bound for Jamaica. En route, she is forced to board an American privateer captained by the handsome Davy Fletcher. Having no idea she's really a girl they strike up a friendship, but she soon falls for him and he, much to his chagrin, finds he's having wayward thoughts about her/him as well. Good story but no romance involved until the 2nd half of the book and then hero is missing for the last 30 pages or so. If you enjoy stories of doctoring methods at sea in the early 19th century you'll enjoy this for there is much detail and description of battle wounds and amputations, etc.  I enjoyed it and am eager to read her next which brings back the minor character of Dr. Murray.


The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley (audio)

Book Description: 
Eva Ward is a modern woman thrown back three centuries to 1715--only to find that might be exactly where she belongs. There she finds true love with Daniel Butler, but the discord surrounding Hanoverian King George plunges the lovers into a world of intrigue, treason, and love.

Modern time travel story of Eva, a young woman who has returned to Cornwall from California to scatter her sister's ashes. While there at Treloweth, the house she knew as a child, she becomes reacquainted with old friends and inadvertently travels back and forth in time to 1715. Unable to control her comings and goings from the past to the present, she befriends the beguiling owner of Treloweth, Daniel Butler, a Jacobite sympathizer and smuggler whom she falls in love with. At the same time she helps Daniel foil the local constable's attempts to arrest Daniel and his brother Jack for treason. This wasn't bad on audio, but the narrator's voice for Eva went back and forth from English to Canadian/American and it drove me crazy! I found this an evocative story but the actual romance between Daniel and Eva was oblique and had no overt passion to it, only skimming the surface.  Another one keeping me at arms length, I just didn't feel the love.  Although this book has gotten high praise, I preferred The Winter Sea over this one.

Disclosure: I won this book in e-book format from the publisher, but chose to listen to it on audiobook , which I bought on my own, instead.


Why Mermaids Sing by C.S. Harris

Book Description:
It's September 1811, and someone is killing the wealthy young sons of London's most prominent families. Partially butchered, with strange objects stuffed into their mouths, their bodies are found dumped in public places at dawn. When the grisly remains of Alfred, Lord Stanton's eldest son are discovered in the Old Palace Yard beside the House of Lords, the local magistrate turns to Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, for help.

Ranging from the gritty world of Thames-side docks to the luxurious drawing rooms of Mayfair, Sebastian finds himself confronting his most puzzling--and disturbing--case yet. With the help of his trusted allies--young servant Tom, Irish doctor Paul Gibson, and his lover Kat Boleyn - Sebastian struggles to decipher a cryptic set of clues that link the scion of a banking family to the son of a humble Kentish vicar. For as one killing follows another, Sebastian discovers he is confronting a murderer with both a method and a purpose to his ritualized killings, and that the key to it all may lie in the enigmatic stanzas of a haunting poem...and in a secret so dangerous that men are willing to sacrifice their own children to keep the truth from becoming known.

Book 3 in the Sebastian St. Cyr Regency mystery series, this is the best one so far.  Sebastian is investigating the grisly murders of the son's of some prominent men.  The bodies are butchered and left in public in the most ghastly manner.  As it turns out, all of the fathers are connected because they were all shipwrecked together on a boat and turned to cannibalism to survive.  Whoever the murderer is, he knows and is seeking revenge.  Great twisty turny story though I am deeply saddened for Sebastian over some devastating news he receives towards the end of the book.  I really enjoyed this one!



Joanne said...

I liked this "month in summary" format, Julie! It's a nice way to mix things up a bit once in a while, especially when life gets busy.

I'll be taking a summer hiatus from my blog as I'll be on the go, criss-crossing the country for most of June and July from Florida to Hawaii!

I'll still be stopping in my favorite book blogs but will be pretty quiet on my own. Have a wonderful summer!

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Joanne, what a luck, I'd love to travel like you. Not much traveling for me this year, I'm afraid. :( Last year's trip to Scotland was our big splurge for a while! Have a great summer!!

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Nice! I like these speed reviews!

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Julia-I like them too! It's so nice to know I'm all caught up now!

Blodeuedd said...

I do love shorties :D I get it all at once.

As for the book, i guess it would be the Kearsley book for me

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Blodeuedd, I like these shorties too, I may be doing this more and more often now. I'm devouring books these days and can't keep up with them by writing full reviews!

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