13 Dec 2019

First Line Fridays: The Work of Art by Mimi Matthews

Its been over a month since I last did one of these First Line Friday posts. Its less than 2 weeks to Christmas , and today marks the day that the results of our election were announced here in the UK. 

I've read a couple of rather intense novels recently with lots of battle and fighting scenes, so The Work of Art is a return to the relatively light material of a Regency Romance.This has been on my Kindle for a couple of months, since I got it on Netgalley, and I wanted to get it read before Christmas. 

The Work of Art, like Matthews other novels is published by Perfectly Proper Press, but it is technically a general market title and not Inspirational. Though it is plugged as a clean Romance, and I don't think there is much content that an Inspy reader would object to (apart from one semi-detailed scene, so far). 

An Uncommon Beauty...

Hidden away in rural Devonshire, Phyllida Satterthwaite has always been considered more odd than beautiful. But in London, her oddity has made her a sensation. Far worse, it's caught the eye of the sinister Duke of Moreland--a notorious art collector obsessed with acquiring one-of-a-kind treasures. To escape the duke's clutches, she's going to need a little help.

An Unlikely Hero...

Captain Arthur Heywood's days of heroism are long past. Grievously injured in the Peninsular War, he can no longer walk unaided, let alone shoot a pistol. What use can he possibly be to a damsel in distress? He has nothing left to offer except his good name.

Can a marriage of convenience save Philly from the vengeful duke? Or will life with Arthur put her--and her heart--in more danger than ever?

 Now its Your Turn? What are You reading? Comment with your Own First Line 


10 Dec 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Reads of Christmas, Past, Present and Future

You get the title of the post. I know, I thought it was quite clever. Very good for another seasonal post for Top Ten Tuesday hosted by the Artsy Reader Girl blog.

So without further ado, here are my books

Books of Christmas Past 

Books I've Read in the Last Year or So, which have some theme or plot-line relating to Christmas.

 Books of Christmas Present

Seasonal Books that I plan to read very soon. In the next few weeks- I hope. Since two of these are novellas that should be achievable. 

Books of Christmas Future 

You know what this is going to be: yes, Christmas Books I have on my TBR List and Plan to read in future. Though heaven knows when that will be. You can read books set at Christmas all year 'round right? 


9 Dec 2019

The Lady of Kingdoms by Suzannah M. Rowntree Review

Watchers of Outremer #2
November 26th 2019, 569 Pages, Print and Ebook 

Magic Made Her A Warrior.

Justice Will Make Her A Legend
Jerusalem, 1180: A catastrophe destroyed Marta Bessarion's family and whisked her away from everything she once knew. Now, armed with a magic spear and a burning thirst for justice, Marta vows to protect her new home and family, no matter the cost.

But trouble is brewing in the glittering palaces of Jerusalem...

The young Leper King, Baldwin, is dying. Before he goes, Baldwin must choose a successor...but every choice is a bad one. An innocent child, exploited by stronger men? A crafty cousin who has already tried to snatch the crown? Or his brilliant, passionate sister who is determined to rule - even if it triggers a war?

When enemy armies muster on the kingdom's borders, Marta charges into battle. But when Baldwin's choice puts her newfound family at risk, Marta finds herself fighting a new kind of battle - one in which intrigue, deception, and betrayal are the weapons.

To save the kingdom, she’ll need more than a magic spear to destroy its enemies.

She'll need a saint to save its soul.

 My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Watchers of Outremer series continues when teenage Marta Bessarion is catapulted through time from the 7th to the late 12th century.

She lands (quite literally) in the Holy Land just before the 3rd Crusade. The rest of the novel takes the reader on an exciting, thrilling- and sometimes breathtaking right through the Crusader states in the 1180s.

The reader will be immersed in the complex politics of the period, and meet some famous historical figures along the way, including Balian d'Ibelin, Baldwin IV 'The Leper King' of Jerusalem, and his flamboyant sister Sybilla. They stand alongside some fascinating Fictional characters, including a love interest for Marta and Persi, a young woman of business who represents the oft forgotten Christian Kingdoms of Medieval Africa.

Of course, there are some stops along the way to take in the culture and customs of the period.
It may come as a surprise for some to learn that 12th century Jerusalem under Crusader rule was prosperous, tolerant and cultured. They rebuilt cities, gardens, churches and places of worship. The depopulated and ruined city Martha knew is replaced with a beautiful metropolis, wealthy and bustling with different cultures.

The events of the period makes for a plot seething with undercurrents of political intrigue and war . Which leads the character into many dangerous and exciting adventures and escapes as the protagonists are are caught up in battles, sieges, and swept up in the time of political intrigue, whilst she struggling to stay determine what is right and just.

The atmosphere of conflict and tension goes deeper with the fantasy elements of a Magic spear said to make the bearer invincible, an evil sorcerer in Saladin's camp and shape-shifting demon using her influence to corrupt some of the most powerful people in the Kingdom. Yet all of these just -work- in the story, which although meticulously researched wears it very well.

I only had a couple of complaints. I related to Marta only in part, and some other characters more. I think part of if was that she came over as a little too perfect, and at times quite naive to what those who ruled had to do to secure the Kingdom.
There also seemed to be an element of fatalism in the idea that only if everything was done in a certain way would the Kingdom be saved. I understand the idea of following the path of righteousness, but at times I felt this was little more than Marta's rigid ideas and her belief that everything would be OK if people just listened to her.
Almost as if as if everything was foreordained, but not allowing for free will or personal choice.
It puts me in mind of what one of the characters says (roughly paraphrasing) that real life is not like the Courtly Romances, "where the virtuous always end up happy and the wicked always die"'.

There were also a couple of places where the story did not feel complete and I wanted to see more of the characters, but that was a deliberate choice to make room for a sequel (or two).
I found some of the action scene a little hard to follow in a couple of places, but this did not detract from the story.
It was well researched and excellently written story, well recommended for lovers of Historical Fiction and Fantasy with strong female leads.
Finally, isn't the cover just gorgeous? The book releases on the 27th of this month. Preorder your copy from all e-book retailers.

I agreed to be an Early Reader for this title and was sent an ARC by the author. This did not influence my review and all opinions expressed are my own.

6 Dec 2019

Misleading Miss Verity by Carolyn Miller: Kregel Blog Tours

Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley #3
Kregel Publications, November 26th 2019, 352 Pages 
Print and Ebook

 Verity Hatherleigh has a mind of her own—but her actions do not impress her viscount papa. When she gets into one scrape too many, he sends her off to the wilds of Scotland to rethink her headstrong ways.

Anthony Jardine relished his role as curate, but his new duties as laird of Dungally aren’t always to his liking. Though he thought his new inheritance would be a blessing, somehow he’s finding nothing but trouble on these estates. And the intelligent, compassionate, feisty lass who was sent to rusticate in his territory is one of the biggest problems. He’s falling in love with her, but she doesn’t share the faith that’s his foundation—not to mention he’s been lying to her about who he really is. For the truth-loving Verity, that may be unforgivable.

The tangled web these two have woven may spell disaster for their happiness—and for the tenants of Dungally.

My Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐


I enjoyed this final installment in the 'Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley series by Carolyn Miller. It follows Verity, the youngest and arguably the most precocious of the 3 sisters. Verity often clashes with her mother because of her forthright manner and tendency to defy social convention. She lives up to her name, which the Latin for 'truth'.

Most of the story follows Verity's adventures in Scotland, where so goes to visit a school friend with whom she had previously enjoyed many adventures and misadventures. Anthony Jardine arrives back in his homeland only a few weeks before Verity after a sojourn in Australia, where he served as a curate, and meets the intriguing lass (who is staying next door) when she ventures into the grounds of his manor.

Misleading Miss Verity has a lot to offer in terms of witty repartee and the often hilarious capers of the characters, including a sporting event where a character dresses as a man, climbing out a window to attend a masquerade, and even a hint of feuding between rival Scottish clans. Which reminds me that the Scottish countryside features heavily in this story, as well as some people with accents of varying thickness.

Both Verity and Anthony were well drawn characters, but I also liked Helen, Verity's school friend and her large family. Verity's struggle to find love and acceptance provided a realistic edge to the story, making her more human and vulnerable.
Although I didn't agree with all the choices the characters made, or that they were always entirely consistent with their their personalities.

The Romance elements weren't overwhelming in this novel, which is sort of a welcome change, and the reader will be left wanting to find out how everything turns out as it hurtles towards the conclusion. Recommended for Regency readers and lovers of Historical Fiction. 

Thanks to Kregel Blog Tours for sending me a copy of this book: I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.
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