"The Firebird" is Susanna Kearsley's latest (and may I suggest greatest?) release. As you know from last month, I love Ms Kearsley's writing, but this one was a real treat. Not only did she bring back a couple of beloved characters from the mystical "Shadowy Horses," she also wove two beautiful love stories together (she is the Queen at doing that!) spanning two time periods, and simultaneously (and smoothly) taught me so much history I was practically salivating throughout. I have crushes on far too many of her male characters, I have to admit. Five stars for sure. How am I going to handle waiting until 2015 for her next novel?
Note: Ms Kearsley is also a Canadian ... I love sharing Canadian talent!
Julianna MacLean is a talented, prolific, USA Today Bestselling author from Halifax (near me!), so when I discovered she wrote Highlander Historicals I raced out to get one. As I'd expected, her books are lots of fun, with enough battles and romance to keep the multiple series popular.
I have to admit … I never expected the artistry of her contemporary book (which was originally published under her pseudonym, E.V. Mitchell, and my cover still says that), "The Color of Heaven." I had no idea what to expect, but I had high hopes. And those hopes were well realized.
The story journeys through the tragic yet beautiful love stories of two women connected on so many levels, and the men who have helped shape who they are. Absolutely beautiful writing.
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!
This is my kind of book. I was asked to review this as a Historical Romance, but “Redemption on the River” by Loren DeShon (self-published) is more along the lines of Historical Adventure, rich with multi-dimensional characters, an exciting journey, and amazingly accurate, well-researched history. The historical facts aren’t blatant, aren’t set out in a list, aren’t the least bit dry. They are woven into the story with taste and finesse—more of a challenge for an author than you’d think! He writes beautifully, with an easy flow and natural dialogue. And the romance in “Redemption on the River”? Well, it’s exactly right for this reviewer. I’m not the kind of reader who wants to know who will be with whom within the first chapter. Not even within the second. And I don’t care to read the bedroom nitty-gritty. I’d prefer to leave that to my imagination. In my humble opinion, sex is a by-product of romance, and not necessary in a book of this quality—in fact, it might even take away from the story—so I was glad DeShon let any sexual mentions “fade to black.” Romance itself has to simmer, build a foundation, have a reason, even. This book has all that and more.
Here's my full review on Romantic Historical Lovers
The amazing story of Moth, a twelve-year-old girl living in the tenements of lower Manhattan in 1871, surviving the horrors of living on the streets in a time when a shockingly high number of people believed the cure for syphilis was sex with a virgin. A story of innocence, naïveté, awakening, and self-discovery, all taking place within one year of a little girl's life. Based on the true story of Ami McKay's great-grandmother, Dr. Sadie, who managed the brave accomplishment of opening a hospital for Women and Children in a time when no one else cared.
The idea of running away with the circus definitely appeals sometimes - especially when your own life has turned into one - but Gruen's gritty, real account of that life in "Water for Elephants" is enough to make me tuck in and contain myself to watching Cirque on tv. Scariest part about it is that I know it's based on the truth - not the story, but the time. She did great research on travelling circuses.
The romance was gorgeous. And while I refuse to give out spoilers, I will tell you that she surprised me. I was sure the romantic outcome was going to come out one way and she made the change beautifully.
The ending? Maybe a little saccharin, but why not? You can't leave the circus without candy floss.
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 write because
There is nothing
quite so bittersweet
as reading the final line
of your favourite books.
What comes next?
Where can you turn to find another favourite author?
I hope I can send you a few leads from here. I'm not reviewing books, only recommending those I've loved in the past.