Beautiful, beautiful book. James Markert masterfully painted a time and a place that most people would like to forget and made it a place we almost wished we could be. The TB epidemic was a plague, an almost certain death sentence, and yet there were those rare souls who believed it was worth chancing their lives so they could help the victims, possibly even save a few. And within that world, they had their own lives.
Wolfgang Pike is a musician and a doctor. He is also studying to be a priest. But above all he is a man. Emotions squeeze in when he should be thinking science, and bravery often takes the rightful place of caution. He believes in what is now called Music Therapy in a time when it was considered nothing more than folklore … and yet the quick rate of death around the sanitorium takes a little breather when he brings patients together to share music.
There are a few stories in this world where you really can say you laughed and you cried. This was one of those gems. Mr Markert's storytelling is wonderful, taking us from person to person, place to place, touching on such time relevant things as bootlegging, the KKK and extreme prejudice, jazz, the fallout of WW1 in the hearts and bodies of men … and leaves us with the timeless poignancy of love.
I am now going in search of his earlier books and can't wait to dig in.
There’s often a definite separation between what people call Historical Romance and what they call Historical Fiction. “Historical Romance” as a genre is usually painted all with the same brush, and the expectation is for illicit love affairs, violations of salon etiquette, lords and ladies ripping off corsets and roaring around on horseback so randy couples can frolic in heather-filled green pastures. Historical Fiction is often portrayed as serious, passionless, and dull. Or at least void of sex.
This book is a perfect example of what happens when you mix two excellent examples of both. I loved “Dare the Wild Wind.” The research was beautifully done, digging deep into the tough dirt, and the writing gave dimension to every character, which is a tough skill to master. I know I may be the oddball here, but I tend to snap books shut when I see too many episodes of “thrusting manhood” or “bulging” whatever. When I ran across a few in this book, I let them go, reminding myself the book is called a “romance” and thus must contain scenes like this. But they were just enough to whet my appetite, not leave me nauseous. I highly recommend this book to all Historical Romance readers.
What an amazing debut! Katherine Scott Crawford let herself sink deep into Keowee Valley — she must have, because every aspect of the book is beautifully done. Her characters were multi dimensional (including secondary characters) and believable, and even though there wasn’t one clear cut “evil” guy, there still managed to be some wonderful tension and scary moments. She wrote skillfully and lovingly of the beautiful, rugged Keowee Valley and its people, going so far as to include Cherokee language in places (just enough, not too much!) and even include an index for those of us who wish they could remember those sorts of details! Her descriptions of the countryside were like masterful oil paintings. Beautiful colour and style.
If you’ve read my reviews, you know I’m an “adventure” reader, not into fluffy romance and (what I call) overdone sex, but Ms Crawford’s sex scenes were wonderfully written. There’s no denying the passion sparking between the feisty and adorable Quinn and the yummy Jack Wolf, and when they finally get together, they are delicious as a couple. I love that she left the ending open for future novels, and I will be looking forward to reading her next book!
I've recently joined this prestigious group of book reviewers, and I hope you'll stop in when you're looking for a book recommendation. This group caters to Historical Romantic Fiction, but it has to include 'real' history, not plain old bodice-ripping for the heck of it.
I'm also honoured to have been featured with both a blog and a couple of reviews of Under the Same Sky. I will be submitting my own first review by the end of this month - as soon as I figure out how to work my brand new Kobo.We also have a Facebook page, and we're on Twitter as well. Come join us!
When I picked up "Lady of the Forest", I almost didn't. It had one of those really gushy, Fabio-type covers that I can't stand (not like this one I've posted). But who doesn't love a Robin Hood story? The book is hugely long, which at first was mildly intimidating, but in the end I was glad of that. I could have read that book all day. Jennifer (and yes, I spelled her last name correctly) has two others in the series and has some other books as well, which I haven't had the pleasure of exploring yet.
* ADDENDUM: About five years later I picked up "Lady of Sherwood", wondering if I'd still love Roberson's work, and was delighted to discover that I love it even more now. She writes with such an elegant, graphic touch, her language (both dialogue and narrative) completely comfortable, as if the author actually did exist in 1199.
I read Ms Canham's Scotland Trilogy about six years ago and was swept away by the intensity of the story. Combined historic truths and fictional situations felt so natural I actually had to go and look some of them up afterwards (yes, I'm a history geek), because I was so convinced they were real.
Ms Canham has joined the E-Book revolution, and has now put all her hard-to-find books (including this one) on e-book, where they are all affordable and accessible.
I was fortunate to receive a copy of Kaki Warner's first novel, "Pieces of Sky" when I was first introduced to Berkley/Penguin. I'll admit, I've never read westerns before and I was skeptical when I picked this one up.
Well, I was blown away. Ms Warner paints gorgeous images of the 1800's, love and adventure on the ranch, grudging heroes and their no-nonsense ladies. "Pieces of Sky" won the RWA Rita award for "Best First Book", and apparently Ms Warner was only getting warmed up. She has a couple of series out there, and they're all terrific.
It's so difficult to judge a book by its cover ... and from personal experience I now know that the author has very little say over their own book's cover. It is the publisher who decides what "will sell".
When I first saw Penelope's covers I feared they'd be schmaltzy romance, too sugary for me. Was I wrong! These are incredible books, full of controversy for the time, clinically evil bad guys, women who struggle on despite some pretty awful histories, men who become heroes despite themselves. Gorgeous writing.
I haven't been able to find Penelope online. If you do, let me know!
Sara Donati's series is a beautiful, epic historical adventure. It begins with "Into the Wilderness", which was the first novel I picked up while I was trying to find a new author when I'd finished all Diana Gabaldon's books (after I'd read them all at least three times).
"Into the Wilderness", the series, follows a wonderful, mixed breed kind of family through adventures thick with heroism and realism, passion and heartbreak. I loved 'em all.
I have to start with Diana Gabaldon, because her books are the reason I began to write in the first place. So much passion, excitement, heartbreak, information, humour ... and then there's Jamie ...
Absolutely everyone should read "Outlander". Some people tell me they can't make it past the first fifty pages, and I tell them to stick with it. That's just the intro. You're about to step on the ride of your literary life ...
Here's the 20th Anniversary special edition cover, though you can still get the regular price book!