Book Review: Amanda Quick’s The Mystery Woman

mysterywomanTitle: The Mystery Woman
Author: Amanda Quick
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Yes / Book 2
Rating: 4 out of 5
My Copy: Advance Reader Copy via LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers Program

I’m a fan of Amanda Quick (aka Jayne Ann Krentz) and auto-buy her books. I admit I lost interest in her Arcane series once we reached the conclusion of how Jones & Jones agency came together and she started expanding the Arcane series to include outside associates. I wanted to prep for this review by reading the last 3 books I missed, but decided it would be best to read from a new reader’s perspective without any previous knowledge as most new readers.

Amanda Quick’s The Mystery Woman is the second book in her Ladies of Lantern Street series. If you haven’t read the first book, Crystal Gardens, it’s not necessary to do so. Quick does a good job giving you an overview of what exactly the agency Flint & Marsh specializes in and a brief history of how it was established.

On the night her mentor, Roland Fleming, is found murdered, Beatrice Lockwood is forced to change her identity to hide from the killer. She finds employment at Flint & Marsh, a private agency that specializes in discreet inquiries. Undercover as a paid companion, Beatrice meets Joshua Gage, former messenger to the mysterious Mr. Smith, and helps her foil a kidnapping attempt on her employer. Joshua informs Beatrice that he has been looking for her and needs her assistance in finding his sister’s blackmailer. Little do they know, someone with a more sinister plan is also looking for Beatrice. Will they be able to uncover the identity of the blackmailer or will Beatrice become the killer’s next victim?

The writing is very typical Quick especially with the use of paranormal elements she’s been fond of using these past couple of years. It doesn’t distract a reader and it goes hand in hand with the time period of late Victorian England. The paranormal became popular during the era and there was a demand for people who had the ability to conjure spirits or speak with the dead. It makes sense that she would have a character with some type of extrasensory ability. In this case, Beatrice is a clairvoyant and Ronald Fleming recognized her talent. Joshua doesn’t believe in the paranormal and several times Beatrice reminds him how his intuition has been spot on and therefore is an extension of the psychic realm. Quick once again does thorough research and it shines throughout The Mystery Woman. She incorporates aspects of Egyptology in her plot and again it makes sense, since the Victorians were obsessed with Egypt. As the use of electricity emerged in the 19th century, so did the question of raising the dead. Quick takes advantage of this experimentation and incorporates into the plot. I won’t say exactly what it is, but it goes hand in hand with Egyptian mythology and paranormal ability.

In terms of characterization, one thing that stood out immediately is how much Joshua resembles a previous Quick character. Joshua reminded me of a lot of Tobias March (from the Lake/March series) and both share the same characteristics in terms of an injured leg and having a nephew under his wing. What I really like about Quick is that she gives us strong heroines who aren’t afraid to make a life for themselves. These are no shrinking violets and The Mystery Woman reminded me once again why I’m a fan of Amanda Quick. She also makes you think about the possibilities of science. The whole idea of reviving someone who is dead will leave most readers fascinated and yet horrified. I’m still thinking about it a few weeks later.

If you’re a fan of historical romance mixed with a bit of mystery, I recommend Amanda Quick’s The Mystery Woman. Just be advised, there a few plot holes regarding the mystery, but nothing you’ll lose sleep over.

Spotlight: The River of No Return

river Title: The River of No Return
Author: Bee Ridgway
Genre: Historical Fiction / Time Travel (Science Fiction)
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Publisher: Dutton Adult

Synopsis:
“You are now a member of the Guild. There is no return.” Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott, soldier and aristocrat, wakes up in a hospital bed in modern London. The Guild, an entity that controls time travel, showers him with life’s advantages. But Nick yearns for home and for one brown-eyed girl, lost now down the centuries. Then the Guild asks him to break its own rule. It needs Nick to go back to 1815 to fight the Guild’s enemies and to find something called the Talisman.

In 1815, Julia Percy mourns the death of her beloved grandfather, an earl who could play with time. On his deathbed he whispers in her ear: “Pretend!” Pretend what? When Nick returns home as if from the dead, older than he should be and battle scarred, Julia begins to suspect that her very life depends upon the secrets Grandfather never told her. Soon enough Julia and Nick are caught up in an adventure that stretches up and down the river of time. As their knowledge of the Guild and their feelings for each other grow, the fate of the future itself is hanging in the balance.

breeAbout Bee
I was raised in Massachusetts, then drifted around from here to there until I finally came to rest in Philadelphia. I teach American literature at Bryn Mawr College, and for fun I read, write, read, cook, read, walk all over my beautiful and dirty city, read . . . THE RIVER OF NO RETURN is my first novel, and the experience of writing it was so overwhelmingly fun that I’m roaring ahead on the sequel.

Connect with Bee
Official Website
Twitter: BeeRidgway
Facebook: Page
Goodreads: Author Page

Book Review: Lauren Willig’s The Ashford Affair

ashfordTitle: The Ashford Affair
Author: Lauren Willig
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: No
Rating: 5 out of 5
My Copy: Advance Reader Copy courtesy of St. Martin’s Press

If you’re familiar with Lauren Willig’s books, then you know she often combines narratives from the past with the present. The Ashford Affair isn’t any different and incorporates the narratives of both Clementine (in the present) and Addie’s (the past). This is Addie’s story, but in many ways, it’s also Clementine’s. Clementine is on journey to realize what truly matters in life.

Clementine Evans arrives late to her grandmother’s birthday celebration and is surprised when her grandmother calls her Bea. She asks her mother about Bea, but doesn’t get a direct answer. In fact, Clementine asks around and slowly a family secret is unearthed. Bea was a cousin of Granny Addie and through a series of flashbacks we’re told Addie’s story. Addie comes to live with the Earl of Ashford following the death of her parents. On her first night she’s befriended by one of the Earl’s daughters, Beatrice; Bea takes Addie under her wing and both become fast friends. As the narrative progresses, we see Addie grow up and on the night of the Earl’s eldest daughter’s presentation to society, Bea and Addie decide to view the ball in progress. Unfortunately, Bea brings along a pet mouse and accidentally lets go of it and Addie afraid it will be trampled to death goes to rescue Binky. Lucky for Binky she’s saved by a young man and Addie is instantly smitten. The next day, they run into each other and he introduces himself as Fredrick. Addie never forgets him and when she runs into him several years later she’s surprised and happy he remembers her. Fredrick and Addie spend time together attending a series of lectures and musical concerts and she introduces him to Bea. Addie is heartbroken when Frederick marries Bea and she goes on with her life as best she can. Five years later, she’s asked to visit to Kenya and putting her feelings aside for Fredrick she decides to visit. The Ashford Affair is a beautiful story about a love between two people and the heartache that comes with having to live with one’s mistakes.

In terms of characterization, we have rich strong characters, but admit I wish we had more of Fredrick’s perspective. Especially when he’s trying to come to terms with what to do with Addie before he marries Bea. I would have loved to have read something about his thoughts of Addie in Kenya with him and Bea or what he was thinking when her visit was announced. Bea comes off as a spoiled bitch. I realize she’s a woman trapped in a world that is changing around her and she’s unsure of how to proceed. The year she was presented to society, she was the débutante of the year and highly sought after. As a daughter of an earl, she was brought up with the expectation of marrying into the aristocracy and not having to make her own way. I keep thinking about Bea and as much as I want to judge her and hate for what she ends up doing, I can’t because in the end, she made the ultimate sacrifice. Fredrick once accused her of being jealous of Addie and I have to agree with his assessment, but for Bea, the jealously wasn’t that Fredrick was interested in Addie. It was the fact Addie was going to leave her and have a happy life, while Bea remained miserable. As for our present day characters, it’s interesting how much Anna resembled Bea in her personality and her life choices; whereas Marjorie took after Addie. Clementine is a hybrid of the both women; having Bea’s features and Addie’s drive for success.

Fans of historical fiction are in for a real treat as Willig does a great job incorporating life in England before the First World War to how everyone adapts to the changing world afterwards. We go from soirees to the heat in Kenya. Willig gives us rich descriptions and when Addie complains of the heat and her sweat stained dress, you can vividly picture it. The Ashford Affair is well written and the only real complaint I have is that, it ended way too quickly. Then again I read this in less than two days. As for the mystery surrounding the family secret, I do wish Willig would have focused on a few key scenes. That being the photographs Clementine finds, but in the end Addie and Bea are allowed to keep their secrets. It’s because of that, I’ll let the past stay shrouded in mystery.

If you only read a few books a year, this is one book you have to read. If you’re looking into trying a new genre or are in a reading funk, pick up The Ashford Affair. To say I loved it is an understatement because I more than loved it. It’s a beautiful story and I’m not ashamed to say I broke down into tears more than once. This is one book I’ll be rereading more than once.

Book Review: CM Spencer’s Good Intentions

good intentions Title: Good Intentions
Author: CM Spencer
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: No
Rating: 3 out of 5
My Copy: Complimentary copy won via LibraryThing’s Member Giveaway

Victoria Larke vows never to marry a naval officer. She has nothing against them, it’s just that her father was one and was always way from home. Her mother wants her married and settled and her father takes the family to Bath in hopes of her finding a husband. There she meets two gentlemen, David and James. Both are smitten with her, but it’s James that pays the most attention to her; however, business calls him away and he bids Victoria goodbye. Upon his return to Bath he’s shocked to learn Victoria has married his good friend and he proceeds to hide his true feelings from her. Victoria wants James to be happy and makes it her mission to find someone worthy of his love. What ensues is a series of misunderstandings and lets James realize early on what type of woman he’d be happy with.

The writing is good and doesn’t sound too modern. In terms of characterization, it’s well done, but Spencer focused primarily on Victoria and James. At no point could I figure out why David won her heart. David was a patient man especially when a lot of the set ups ended up disastrous. One thing that doesn’t sit well and it is an incident involving Victoria and James. I won’t say what it is because it can be viewed as a spoiler. I did enjoy Victoria’s set ups and remind me a bit of Jane Austen’s Emma where she’s involved in all sorts of matchmaking and yet fails terribly. In each failed incident, I felt bad for James because I thought for sure he’d find his love and when it didn’t quite happen, I felt his disappointment. In this day and age we have the luxury of waiting around and dating until we find our significant other, but in the Regency period you were limited to what you could and couldn’t do. If you were lucky to find someone immediately then good for you and Spencer does a good job detailing the perils of trying to find someone in a period where it was pretty much hit or miss. Often times you could marry someone you thought was a good fit and turns out it isn’t. She did a great job showcasing that and I appreciate it.

In the end, Good Intentions falls flat. I understand the reason to focus primarily on Victoria’s attempt to set up James, but I wanted that “aha” moment. The moment the two protagonists fall in love and live happily ever after and we don’t that get that moment. For a good 60% of the novel, it’s about Victoria and James with Jemma in the background. When we finally get Jemma into the picture, she doesn’t play a major role in her own romance. I still can’t figure out when exactly James fell for her.

If you’re a fan of Jane Austen’s books, you might be interested in reading Good Intentions.

Spotlight: The Ashford Affair

ashford Title: The Ashford Affair
Author: Lauren Willig
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: April 09, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Synopsis:
As a lawyer in a large Manhattan firm, just shy of making partner, Clementine Evans has finally achieved almost everything she’s been working towards—but now she’s not sure it’s enough. Her long hours have led to a broken engagement and, suddenly single at thirty-four, she feels her messy life crumbling around her. But when the family gathers for her grandmother Addie’s ninety-ninth birthday, a relative lets slip hints about a long-buried family secret, leading Clemmie on a journey into the past that could change everything. . . .

What follows is a potent story that spans generations and continents, bringing an Out of Africa feel to a Downton Abbey cast of unforgettable characters. From the inner circles of WWI-era British society to the skyscrapers of Manhattan and the red-dirt hills of Kenya, the never-told secrets of a woman and a family unfurl.

14469About Lauren
Lauren Willig is the New York Times bestselling author of eleven works of historical fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association’s annual list of the best genre fiction. After graduating from Yale University, she embarked on a PhD in English History at Harvard before leaving academia to acquire a JD at Harvard Law while authoring her “Pink Carnation” series of Napoleonic-set novels. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time

Connect with Lauren
Official Website
Facebook Page
Goodreads: Author Page

Book Review: Aaron Cooley’s Shaken, Not Stirred

15995128Title: Shaken, Not Stirred (The Secret Files of I__ F______, Code Designate 17F)
Author: Aaron Cooley
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Yes / Book 1
Rating: 5 out of 5
My Copy: Complimentary copy won via Melnore Press

Imagine for a moment Ian Fleming writing the opening scene of his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale. Do you ever wonder where he got the inspiration for the world’s most famous spy? Several candidates have been named, but in Aaron Cooley’s Shaken, Not Stirred, the spy who helps a young Fleming is none other than Dušan Popov. Names are changed, Popov becomes Dusan Petrović and Fleming is Ioan Phlegm. Cooley’s Shaken, Not Stirred is a fictionalized account of Ian Fleming’s wartime work, but it’s easy to imagine it really happening.

In Shaken, Not Stirred, a young Ioan is working for the Naval Intelligence and he’s sent to the Congo to find and report back to MI6 the whereabouts of double agent Dusan Petrović. His naiveté is apparent and he stands out like a sore thumb. While Petrović could have easily looked the other way, he takes Ioan under his wing and teaches him how to be a spy. At first Ioan isn’t sure what to make of Petrović and even the reader isn’t sure. Does Petrović have a master plan or does he feel sorry for Ioan? Perhaps this is the nature of a double agent. Together Ioan and Petrović navigate the perils of being agents and Ioan gets a little more than he anticipated. Throughout the novel, we get glimpses of what would eventually become Fleming’s James Bond. Ioan gets a code name and is introduced to gadgets Bond would be happy to use. We’re also introduced to would be Bond Girl, Christine who has a preference for martinis. It’s through Christine, Ioan quickly learns how women play a role in espionage. Petrović tells him, “ ‘ If you take one lesson from me, Phlegm, never forget the number one rule of espionage: Women are a business expense. You allow yourself to expect anything more out of them, you lower your defenses. To a knife in the back.’ ” It’s at this exact moment, a reader can understand Fleming and why women are the “business expense,” in a Bond novel.

I really enjoyed Cooley’s Shaken, Not Stirred. It’s thoroughly researched and well written. It’s a different take on the life of Ian Fleming. Wouldn’t it be awesome if Fleming himself had experienced everything Cooley writes? Fiction mixes with reality and as I stated, Cooley does a superb job with the research. Several events included are based on true events such as the Heisenberg and Diebner rivalry and it goes hand in hand with Hitler’s pursuit of the bomb. Petrović and several other characters bring up the ‘what if’ Hitler gets the bomb, which is a question a lot of people asked themselves at the time. Cooley kept me on the edge of my seat and afterwards all I could think of was, “thank god Hitler didn’t get there first.” It’s something you’ll be thinking as you read. A note on the spelling used: it is British and might throw off the reader and mistake it for spelling mistakes. Keep in mind Cooley is writing as Fleming and hence the reason for the use of British spelling.

Readers will easily recognize aspects of the Bond novels and films. In fact, if you’ve read Casino Royale or seen the film version, the scene where Bond watches Le Chiffre at the card table is familiar in Shaken, Not Stirred. This time it’s with Ioan and Petrović and a set of cards with Skorzeny and a game of Baccarat. Prior to Ioan joining Petrović and Skorzeny, Petrović sends him a suit and Ioan asks why. Petrović says it’s to seduce Christine and here we can see the birth of the immaculate Bond in his tux. It works well enough for Ioan since Christine waits for him in his room and says, “ ‘Why Ioan. I thought spies were meant to be suave. Deboniar.’
‘I was ill that day at spy school.’ ”

Favorite quote:

‘If you fictionalized my character, I could live a bit longer.’

Aaron Cooley’s Shaken, Not Stirred is without a doubt a must read for any James Bond fan. If you’ve wanted to try a spy thriller, this is a good starting point. I eagerly anticipate the next installment.

Book Review: Ashlyn Macnamara’s A Most Scandalous Proposal

prop Title: A Most Scandalous Proposal
Author: Ashlyn Macnamara
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Yes / Book 1
Rating: 3 out of 5
My Copy: Advance Reader Copy via LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers Program

Julia St. Claire doesn’t believe in falling in love because nothing good can come of it. She’s witnessed firsthand the heartache and destruction that accompanies unrequited love. Her sister, Sophia, on the other hand, has spent the past five years pining for Earl of Clivesden, but he only has eyes for one of the St. Claire sisters. When Benedict Revelstoke, a long time friend of the St. Claire family, learns of Clivesden’s true intentions towards Julia, Benedict makes every effort to keep her away from Clivesden and in the process discovers that he loves her. Julia rejects Benedict until she’s betrayed by her father and suddenly she makes him an offer he can’t refuse.

The story is interesting, but lacks in depth characterization. Julia is a bit one sided and I was trying to understand her, but couldn’t. Sophia is a bit more interesting and the one I cared about the most. As for the men, Highgate’s personal history was interesting and you could feel the pain of his past. George Upperton, Benedict’s best friend, was personally one of my favorite characters and every time he made an appearance on the page, I smiled. In terms of Benedict, it would have been nice to read his gradual interest in Julia turn into love. Instead it happens overnight and there’s no hint of him having had these feelings prior nor are we given the exact moment he realizes he loves her. That “aha” moment is crucial to any romance plot because readers are on the same journey as our protagonists and if we don’t have it, then I feel we miss out on something that’s expected.

The writing is good and there are some funny moments. I particularly liked the scene between Highgate and Sophia discussing Pride and Prejudice. I loved how both of them were able to describe people they knew as characters. At one point, Sophia tells Highgate his sister, Lady Wexford, resembles Lady Catherine de Bourgh because she looks down on Sophia and her family. My favorite quote describing Highgate’s personal thoughts regarding his sister is: “He’d always thought their father would have made a sound investment in buying her a commission-preferably in India.”

Ultimately what makes this a three and not a solid four, are the different narratives that made my head spin and in the end, we didn’t get the one that really counted, that of Clivesden. What drives him to seek Julia instead of Sophia? While Julia assumes it’s because she’s perceived as a cold fish, I wanted to know more about him. We aren’t given much in terms of his personal history other than how he came into the title and he’s known to sleep around. In hindsight, I can see why he picks Julia because she is not attracted to him. Although Sophia’s heart is engaged, in the end, he would have made her life miserable, I doubt she would have grown to realize this had he showed any interest in her. Knowing Clivesden’s history, I doubt he would have cared for Sophia’s feelings and he’s not the chivalrous sort. Ultimately, Macnamara does a good job handling the shift in narratives, but wish she would have them drawn them out more. In the end, we have two romances taking place and despite the fact Sophia’s is secondary, her romance was the strongest. I wish Macnamara had focused on Sophia and Highgate’s romance primarily because it outshined that of Julia and Benedict.

Ashlyn Macnamara’s A Most Scandalous Proposal is a good debut and despite a few hiccups, I’m looking forward to reading more of her work. If you’re looking to try a new author, I recommend Macnamara.

Book Review: Elizabeth Hoyt’s Lord of Darkness

12907444Title: Lord of Darkness
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Yes / Book 5
Rating: 5 out of 5
My Copy: Advance Reader Copy via NetGalley courtesy of Grand Central Publishing

Elizabeth Hoyt’s Lord of Darkness is the fifth book in her Maiden Lane series. For those not familiar with this particular series, Lord of Darkness can be read as a standalone if you don’t mind the back-story she fills in. Otherwise I recommend starting with the first book, Wicked Intentions.

Godric St. John still grieves for the loss of his wife Clara. He decides to live the rest of his life as a widower and devoted to her memory; however, that changes when Griffin Reading blackmails him into marrying his sister Margaret. Margaret reluctantly agrees to the marriage when she finds out her fiancé has been murdered and fears what her family might do when they find out she’s expecting a child. Knowing Margaret will never want a real marriage and his secret will be safe, he agrees to marry her. The two live separately: Margaret in his country estate and Godric in London.

Two years later, Margaret decides she wants a child and the only way to have one is to consummate her marriage. She surprises Godric by showing up at his London residence and explains she came to town for some shopping. When she confesses her real reason, he tells her he cannot betray Clara because consummating their marriage would be the ultimate betrayal. He doesn’t realize Margaret too grieves for her dead fiancé, Roger. When Margaret discovers Godric is the Ghost of St. Giles she confesses her reason for being in St. Giles: she’s looking for Roger’s killer. Godric takes the opportunity to explain how he came to be the Ghost and agrees to find the person responsible for Roger’s death. He also agrees to give her a child.

The majority of the plot centers on the lassie snatchers and we first come across them in Thief of Shadows. I was a bit disappointed Hoyt was going to focus on this again, but in hindsight it makes sense. For readers not familiar with them, they are a group responsible for buying or kidnapping young girls for the sole purpose of making lace stockings. These lace stockings were highly sought after by the wealthy and the girls were often beaten and underfed. In Lord of Darkness, we finally get to put a name to the man behind the operation and we also find out how Roger’s death is connected to the lassie snatchers.

The real story here is that of Godric and Margaret finding love. We have two people who loved deeply and are afraid to take that chance again. Hoyt does a remarkable job expressing their concerns. The moment Godric realizes he loves Margaret is bittersweet. She confesses how she can’t go on not knowing who murdered her beloved and yet at that moment, he’s willing to “walk the fires of hell” for her. There’s one particular scene where I thought Godric might fly off the deep end and that’s when he walks into his bedroom to find Margaret reading a letter she wrote to him. He realizes she was looking in his drawer and he could have easily given her the cold shoulder and thrown her out of his room, but instead he was honest and open with her.

There are few unanswered questions. Godric tells Megs that Sir Stanley Gilpin trained him and two others. If Sir Stanley found it a lark to dress up as the Ghost who’s to say he didn’t train other men before Godric? And if Sir Stanely only trained three men, why did Captain Trevillion knowing Godric was the Ghost, let him go when he had the perfect opportunity to arrest him? Was it because Godric was saving children from the lassie snatchers or is there much more to this? I’m curious about Trevillion since he’s been featured before and I’m hoping Hoyt gives him his own book.

Hoyt often includes a story within a story. All these of course take place in the chapter headings. Our treat this time is the Legend of the Hellequin and what a story it was! Every time she includes one of these in her books, it makes me wish she would publish them in their entirety.

My favorite scene in Lord of Darkness involves Godric, his sister, and Margaret’s Great-Aunt Elvina discussing babies. Elvina believes they are troublesome especially those that bother her dog. Godric suggests they should be hung:

“I cannot believe you would suggest tying a child to the wall.”
“Oh, no, ma’am,” Godric said as he poured himself more wine. “You have me entirely wrong.”
“Well, that’s a relief—”
“I meant the child should hang on the wall.” He looked kindly at the elderly woman. “Like a picture, as it were.”

Elizabeth Hoyt once again delivers and Lord of Darkness doesn’t disappoint. We’re given a preview of Duke of Midnight, the sixth book in the series. It will feature the Duke of Wakefield and Artemis Greaves and I have a feeling we have our third Ghost in Wakefield. It’s scheduled for an October release and October can’t come soon enough.

He loves me, he loves me not

topten1
Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s topic is romance. My list consists couples from history, literature, television and film. A little of everything. Who’s on your list?

Abelard_and_HeloiseAbelard and Heloise
Nothing screams true love forever than letting your lover’s family castrate you. Abelard heard how well read Heloise was and persuaded her uncle Fulbert to meet her. He realized she was beautiful and quite intelligent too. When they become lovers, her uncle finds out and they both flee to his sister’s house where she later gives birth to their child. They secretly marry despite Heloise refusing to marry him (she believed marriage would ruin his career prospects). Her uncle publicly announces the marriage, but she denies it and goes to a convent at Abelard’s urging. Fearing his niece has been cast aside, Fulbert castrates him. The lovers never see each other again, but over the course of twenty years, exchanged passionate love letters.

03B2LAPOLA2Policarpa “La Pola” Salavarrieta and Alejo Sabaraín (La Pola)
No one can confirm if these two were indeed lovers, but evidence suggests that they were. In the telenovela, they meet as children and fall in love, but Alejo is told she died of a fever and when they meet as adults, he’s shocked to see her alive. Although he’s engaged to someone else, he pledges his love and urges her to run away with him, but she refuses wanting to do things correctly. Soon she’s involved in the war effort to free New Granada from Spain. He reluctantly gets involved and in the end, they are both arrested for treason. It’s been rumored, as they both stood to be shot (she opted for that sentence saying she wasn’t a coward) he turned and said to her, “It has been an honor to love you and even more so to die with you.”

maya_raj_caminho_indiasMaya and Raj (Caminho das Indias)
When I first started to watch India, I really wanted Maya to be with her one true love Bahuan, but he was an “untouchable” and her family had already arranged her marriage to Raj. Raj was in love with someone else too, but she was a foreigner. He and Maya make the best of things and she’s thrown out of his house when he finds out his son isn’t his. Meanwhile Bahuan tries to get Maya to leave Raj, but she refuses saying she owes her husband respect. Raj is angry at Maya and later he realizes he still loves her. He goes in search for her because at this point she’s living as a cast off and apologizes. The series ends with her walking hand in hand with him and they come across Bahuan’s wedding and he says to her, “I hope they live a beautiful love like ours.”

150307706284419415_g0CEIpkA_cClark Gable and Carole Lombard
Ah the love story for these two ended way too soon. They met when they were both married to other people, but a few years later they announced they would marry; no date was set and Gable just picked up Lombard one day and drove off to get married (the lovers didn’t think they would ever marry because Gable’s wife refused on several occasions to sign divorce papers, but she relented). The two often played jokes on each other and had nicknames for each other, “Ma” & “Pa.” One time Lombard bought a blow up doll and was in bed in with it to surprise Gable as a joke. When he arrived he made comment to the effect of, the doll better not be equipped bigger than him. LOL! Lombard became one of the first female casualties of World War II when her plane crashed outside Las Vegas. She was returning to LA after being on a Bond Tour. Gable was inconsolable and joined the war effort on her behalf and memory. When he died, he chose to be buried beside her.

Robin-Hood-and-Maid-Marian-walt-disneys-robin-hood-6386303-300-402Robin Hood and Maid Marian
What’s a hero without the fair maiden? Although versions of this tale portray Marian differently, she’s not really introduced as a love interest for Robin until sometime in the 16th century. She’s evolved as a character and each adaptation portrays her differently depending on the time period the tale is written. I’ve always been a fan of Marian as a noblewoman under the protection of King Richard, but I like the Marian who can fight for herself and isn’t afraid of a little adventure. I do have a favorite film adaptation of the Robin Hood tale and brace yourself it isn’t a popular version. I’m a fan of the Kevin Costner version. Blame it on the ten year in me who went and saw Prince of Thieves and just fell in love. Although I can’t resist Disney’s version.

phant093Christine and the Phantom (Phantom of the Opera)
Now I know what you’re thinking, but I’m basing this on the novel. In the novel, Christine does return to the lair to be with him and stays until he dies. Prior to that when he kidnaps her, he sets up the trap to kill everyone in the Opera house unless she agrees to marry him, but she refuses. When she realizes Raoul is trapped in the hot torture chamber, she agrees to marriage to save him and everyone at the Opera house. Erik then tries to drown Raoul, but Christine says no and promises not to kill herself if she marries him. He rescues him and the Persian. Afterwards, Erik is alone with Christine and he lifts his mask to kiss her forehead. He’s overcome with emotion because not even his own mother allowed him to touch her and Christine kisses him back. Having a change of heart, he lets Christine go on the condition that she return when he dies. She honors that promise and stays with him when his time comes near.

Wallis_Simpson_5Wallis Simpson and Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor
A king abdicating the throne for the woman he loves? Swoon! To be truthful, I’m not sure I would have wanted him to do that if I had been in Wallis’ shoes. Imagine if it never worked out, he’d be saying, “but I gave up my country for you!” Lucky for us it did work out despite the royals never warming up to her. I wish we knew more about Wallis and she’s such a mystery! I’m sure history hasn’t been kind to her story. We’ll never know 100% if both Wallis and Edward were Nazi sympathizers and if they were, I wonder if they ever changed their mind seeing the aftermath of the second World War.

Annex - Kerr, Deborah (An Affair to Remember)_01Nickie and Terry (An Affair to Remember)
If I learned anything from watching An Affair to Remember it was, sometimes promises aren’t kept and there’s a reason behind it. Nickie, played the handsome Cary Grant, is on a transatlantic ocean liner enroute to New York. He’s involved with someone and he meets Terry, played by Deborah Kerr. Through a series of meetings, the two of them quickly establish a friendship and soon Terry falls in love with him. Both agree to meet in six months time at the top of the Empire State Building if they have ended their relationships. Six months later, Terry is on her way to meet Nickie when tragedy strikes! She’s hit by a car and Nickie is unaware of the accident and believes she’s rejected him. Another six months pass and they see each other at the ballet and he doesn’t notice she’s in a wheelchair because she’s seated as he passes to say hello to her. Nickie’s still hurt that she rejected him and finds out her address. When he visits her, he tries to find out why she didn’t make the meeting, but she doesn’t address the issue. As he leaves he notices his painting on her wall and remembers what the shopkeeper told him, that he gave it to a woman in a wheelchair. He realizes why she didn’t keep the appointment and he embraces her as they both declare their love. :sigh:

00/00/1939. film "Gone with the wind" (Autant en emporte le vent) By Victor FlemingRhett and Scarlett (Gone With the Wind)
I first saw Gone With the Wind when I was five-years-old and fell hard for Rhett and Scarlett. Over the years, I’ve read the book on numerous occasions and watch the film at least twice a year. While it’s not your typical love story with a hero and heroine overcoming the odds to finally find happiness, it is a love story nevertheless. Haven’t we all dealt with unrequited love at some point in our lives? Sure in Scarlett’s case we know Ashley is leading her on as well as Melanie, but what of Rhett? Is she leading him on? My answer is always no because he’s fully aware of where she stands with regards to Ashley, but Rhett believes he can make Scarlett love him. Sadly Scarlett realizes too late of her love for Rhett and while he passionately declares that he doesn’t give a damn when she confesses, in my mind he does. I know in my version of the true ending, he comes back to find her at Tara and grovels at her feet because after all…tomorrow is another day.

prsbrockwc23Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth (Persuasion)
I love stories of separated lovers who meet up in the future. The unresolved conflict of will they or won’t they gets me all the time. Anne is young when she walks way from Wentworth and several years later, they meet again. She’s convinced he’s off to find a wife and all the signs point to that, while he quietly ignores her. Then tragedy strikes when Louisa Musgrove is hurt and Anne leaves to Bath. Later she comes across Wentworth’s sister who informs her of Louisa’s engagement and Anne’s heart dies a little thinking Wentworth is marrying her, but his sister confirms that is not the case. Wentworth comes to Bath and isn’t pleased to see another man courting Anne and the two of them become reacquainted. At the public room in Bath, Wentworth overhears Anne talking about men and women in love and he’s moved with what she has to say. He then proceeds to write the BEST love letter ever written in history (it’s true) and the two of them marry. Here’s the love letter and judge for yourself:

I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in
F. W.

Book Review: Cathy Maxwell’s The Earl Claims His Wife

the earl claims his wifeTitle: The Earl Claims His Wife
Author: Cathy Maxwell
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Yes / Book 2 of 5
Rating: 3 out of 5
My Copy: Borrowed from the library

I like Cathy Maxwell and it’s been awhile since I’ve picked up a book of hers. The Earl Claims His Wife is book 2 in her Scandals and Seductions series. I haven’t read the first book and don’t see a problem reading the series out of order; however, if you’re the type that doesn’t like to be spoiled then start with book 1 (A Seduction at Christmas).

I should start out by saying that I enjoy the abandoned wife plot in historical romance. Maxwell does a good job with a simple plot. After spending four years under Wellington’s command and fighting Napoleon, Brian, the Earl of Wright, returns to London; reluctantly he honors his father’s demands of returning and only because his two older brothers are now dead. Upon returning to London he quickly finds out his wife, Gillian, is not under his father’s roof, but instead has left to manage her cousin’s household. He writes demanding her return, but headstrong Gillian does not comply and he’s left to fetch her only to discover she’s in love with another man.

Gillian, in many ways, had the right to leave her father-in-law’s household. She spent four years being oppressed without a house of her own, whereas Brian’s mistress, Jess, had her own house. Gillian’s resentment towards Brian is justified and it doesn’t help Brian confesses he only married her because he was told to (yes dear reader he tells her about Jess). While spending time at her cousin’s estate, she meets a Spanish nobleman, Andres, and realizes he’s the man she wants to be with. Her aunt tries to knock some sense into her, but Gillian won’t listen and is prepared to take Andres as her lover and things were going according to plan until Brian shows up. Brian threatens a duel with Andres if she doesn’t return with him, Gillian agrees to return only to save the life of the man she loves. Little by little during their journey to London, Gillian sees glimpses of the man she fell in love with. Brian informs her that he needs her and he’s willing to give their marriage another chance. She agrees, but upon arriving in London she’s greeted by the sight of a child and she’s heartbroken for believing in her husband’s lies. Brian for his part tries everything to convince her to stay.

The heart of the novel is Brian’s father, the Marquess of Atherstone. Atherstone likes to control people and when they defy him, he goes out of his way to make them regret their decision. Brian very much defies him at every turn and only returned to London when he was forced. Atherstone has a position in mind for Brian, but Brian has a different idea. The question here is how powerful is Athersone? The answer, dear reader, is simple: very. Maxwell presents us with a worthy character who has a network of spies. I won’t say anymore because it does ruin the experience of reading.

A few people I’ve spoken with believe Gillian was fickle especially since she was so quick to discard Andres. I don’t believe that, but rather she never stopped loving her husband. She tells her aunt, she knew Brian was the one the moment she set eyes on him and when she realizes she still has feelings for him, she does the right thing and that is to inform Andres. As for Brian and his feelings for his mistress…I truly believe he knew deep in down Gillian’s character, but was so blinded by youthful infatuation he couldn’t see anything other than Jess. How many times have we held onto that perfect memory only to experience it again and have it shatter our soul because it was all a lie? Brian experienced what we all do and he comes to his senses. He knows he has a rare treasure of a woman and that’s his wife. The one thing truly missing from this book is a good grovel scene.

If you’re looking for a quick historical romance to read and have a few hours to spare then I recommend it. Just don’t look for in-depth characterization. It’s a fast paced read that will leave you satisfied with the ending.