Tag: Historical Romance (page 1 of 5)

BOOK REVIEW – The Importance of Being Scandalous (A Tale of Two Sisters #1) by Kimberly Bell

BOOK REVIEW – The Importance of Being Scandalous (A Tale of Two Sisters #1) by Kimberly BellThe Importance of Being Scandalous by Kimberly Bell
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Synopsis:

A horse race in trousers on Rotten Row. Visiting a gaming hall in a dress that would make her mother faint. Sneaking an invitation to a masquerade ball attended by only the wickedest, most debauched members of society…

None of these things are scaring off bookish but strong-willed Amelia Bishop’s stuffy, egotistical fiancé.

The only thing left is to entice childhood friend Nicholas Wakefield into a truly engagement-ending scandal. The Wakefields are the height of propriety, and Nicholas’s parents have made it clear a wife from the neighboring Bishop family would be unacceptable…

But Nicholas would give up his family and his fortune if Amelia would ever see him as more than just a childhood friend. He’ll go along with her scheme, even if it means ruining them both, because he’s got a plan that will change her mind about him being merely the boy next door.

Review:

You know that feeling when you click with a book and the whole world around you fades away?  That’s exactly what happened to me. I found myself addicted to the story and completely obsessed with these characters.  So if you adore romance that makes your heart race, has strong friendships, and is laced with moments that will have you laughing and then sighing out loud, then you definitely have to give The Importance of Being Scandalous a try!

“What is for you?” she teased.
You
.  Nick put a stranglehold on his heart so he didn’t say it out loud.

Amelia Bishop was in a tough predicament.  What was once a wonderful idea, being engaged, now felt claustrophobic.  She tried her hardest to give her fiance a chance, but the more she saw who he was, the more desperate she was to get out of her arrangement.  With her childhood friend back home, Nicholas Wakefield, Amelia had someone to help her out. Nicholas was the boy next door, who had secretly been in love with her.  He was the perfect person to help Amelia end her engagement and I found myself constantly smiling with everything that took place.

Amelia sighed.  Before she closed the cloak, she turned to her sister. “How do I look, honestly?”
“Like a women who is up to absolutely no good.”
Amelia nodded. “Well, then I suppose I’m ready.”

You guys, I loved Amelia.  She was strong willed, fierce and protected those that she loved.  It was a breath of fresh air that she knew what she wanted and had no problems speaking her mind.  I clicked with her instantly. Amelia made me smile, laugh and my heart hurt for her for the situation she was in.  Thankfully she had a lot of light in her life. I loved the relationship she had with her sister Julia. While they didn’t always see eye to eye at times, I loved that they were the best of friends.  They joked around and caused lots of hilarious trouble. While I adored their relationship, I was even more addicted to the one she had with Nicholas.

He might not be ready to declare himself, but he could start clearing up some misunderstandings of her not knowing he was interested. “Just because I haven’t doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it.”
She blushed, looking away when he didn’t. “Well, maybe you should have.”
Nicholas took a streaming breath.

Nicholas, sigh.  Nicholas was beyond intoxicating and spellbinding.  His words, mannerisms and slight touches had my heart racing.  I loved how he was there for Amelia and that they confided in one another.  Their friendship and trust was so beautiful.  But underneath that friendship simmered tension, since Nicholas had been in love with Amelia for forever.  I was an emotional mess over it because a union between them shouldn’t happen, regardless of her fiance. Being with Amelia would disgrace his family. But Nicholas was a smart man, and while he knew his role with his family, he also knew what he wanted his life to be.  And I loved that he went after what he wanted.

Nick pushed his hands through his hair in frustration. “I love her, Jas.  I want to spend the rest of my life with her. I can’t start with a stolen kiss in her bedroom while she belongs to someone else.”
“And that’s where you and I differ,” Jasper said, raising his glass. “Because I can imagine no better beginning.”

There was someone else that I loved in this story, Jas/Jasper/Viscount Bellamy.  He was Nicholas’ friend and I loved him whole heartedly. When Jasper, Nicholas and Amelia where together, I couldn’t help but laugh and smile while they got into trouble.  It was seemless how easily Jasper fit into their lives and it was amazing to watch him protect and help those he cared for.  He was such a hilarious, brave, smart man.  And I’m excited to see more of him in the next book!

His words died off as she leaned in close, lips a hair’s breadth from his.  The deep rise and fall of his chest as he breathed in drew her hand up in fascination.  She played her fingers along the edges of his cravat. “I’m still interested. Are you certain?”
His hand brushed her rib cage.  His thumb whispered against the underside of her breast.  “It is not in my power to deny you.”

The Importance of Being Scandalous was mesmerizing and I loved being lost in the pages.  This was my first book by Kimberly Bell and I adored this charming story. She made it so easy to fall head over heels in love with these characters.  So I definitely can’t wait to read the rest of Kimberly Bell’s books!

BOOK REVIEW – A Bridge Through Time (Thistle & Hive #1) by Jennae Vale

BOOK REVIEW – A Bridge Through Time (Thistle & Hive #1) by Jennae ValeA Bridge Through Time (Thistle & Hive #1)
by Jennae Vale
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Ashley Moore's life in San Francisco has hit a few snags, not the least of which involves sightings of a mystery man around every corner. Is she losing her mind or does he really exist? Her search for this grey-eyed stranger leads her to Scotland. There she meets a witch with a secret, a vindictive English knight who is bent on revenge, and she crosses a fog shrouded bridge into the arms of a 16th century Highlander.

Cailin MacBayne is no stranger to beautiful women, but has always managed to stay one step ahead of commitment. That all comes to an end when he meets Ashley. He doesn't care where this beautiful, yet unusual lass came from, he's just happy to have found her. Ashley cannot resist the handsome Scot and finds herself falling hopelessly in love. In the process, a secret is revealed, a battle is waged and Ashley must ultimately decide whether to return to her own time or give up her 21st century life to stay with the love she has found in the past.

Review:

A Bridge Through Time was completely enchanting!  While I don’t have a lot of experience in time travel books and I’ve never read a Highlander book, I easily found myself addicted to the story.  Especially since there was a sprinkling of magic here and there. This book was so much fun and I’m excited to try more books by Jennae Vale!

Ashley realized she was staring at him again, as if he were an apparition, and shook her head impatiently. “It’s nothing really. My name is Ashley, by the way.”
She held out her hand, but instead of shaking it, he merely held it gently in his much larger one. He looked as confused as Ashley felt.
“I’m pleased to meet ye, Ashley Bytheway. I am Cailin MacBayne of the Clan MacKenzie, at yer service.” He lifted her hand to his lips and softly kissed it.

Ashley Moore kept seeing a man appear, that no one else could see.  He was Scottish, oh so hot and she felt this strange pull to him. With nothing keeping her in San Francisco, besides a best friend, she travelled to Scotland in hopes of finding her mystery man.  She thought that she could be crazy, but her gut led her to Glendaloch, which was the most charming town ever. And so were its townspeople, especially Edna. I loved how there always seemed to be more going on in that little town than her or I could ever grasp.  It felt as if there was a magical element in the air, which was a lot of fun. But one day, Ashley found herself face to face with her mystery man, Cailin MacBayne.  Plus a whole lot more than she ever could have bargained for.

She smiled up at him and her beauty nearly made his knees buckle. He pulled her close and his lips met hers, in a kiss that said everything he believed they were both thinking and feeling. He was the first one to pull away, albeit unwillingly.
“Good night, Ashley, love,” he murmured. He pressed another brief kiss against her forehead and slipped out the door, before he could talk himself into staying.

Ashley and Cailin met each other in a bang of action.  After a life and death situation, and just being together for a few days, they easily formed a strong bond.  Underneath that bond they had the most amazing sexual chemistry and it left me breathless.  But it wasn’t all lust and chemistry because a friendship started between them that warmed my heart.  They fit together so seamlessly, it was almost as though they had always been meant for each other.  With Ashley being brave, resourceful, selfless and having the hugest heart ever, she complimented Cailin perfectly.  Cailin was also brave but his ability to make Ashley laugh and captivate everyone’s attention made it hard for Ashley to remember that she should go back home.

He hadn’t wanted to stop kissing her and would likely have taken it much further if they hadn’t been interrupted by the impending storm. Much further than he should. She was a lady, and it was his sworn duty to protect her, even from himself. No matter what his body was telling him, Cailin was determined to treat her with the respect she deserved.

But Ashley was uncertain of her surroundings.  Cailin had never heard of America and the way he lived seemed so archaic.  Castles, knights, and ladies filled the pages and unbeknownst to her, Ashley had somehow stumbled back into the 16th Century.  I loved taking in the sights and their ways of life.  But most of all I loved that anytime Ashley and Cailin were together I found myself with butterflies.  They had everything from adorable to sexy moments together. It was the perfect mix and oh so addicting!

Desperately, she reached for the belt holding his plaid in place, unbuckled it and sent the plaid sailing to the floor.
“Mmm… that’s convenient,” Ashley murmured breathlessly, as her eyes travelled the length of his completely naked body.
“Aye, ‘tis convenient, indeed,” he said with a wry grin.

There were so many of the side characters that added charm to this book.  I found myself loving Cailin’s siblings, Cormac and Irene.  And Irene’s husband, Robert. I even adored Helene, who was a servant in the castle, and I found myself just as invested in her love story.  I loved how welcoming they all were to Ashley. And that over time they felt like an extended family to her. But not everything was all fun and happiness.  A war was brewing from old grudges and it seemed as though it could not be avoided. While I was nervous for everyone’s fate, Ashley had the biggest decision in front of her.  To stay here with Cailin, and her newly created family, or to go back to the 21st century.

“I’ll give ye all the time ye need, but be warned, I’m going tae do my best tae convince ye tae stay.” Cailin leaned in and kissed her gently on the lips, caressing her cheek. His eyes never left hers, as he twirled a stray curl of her hair around his finger. “I’ll not make it easy for ye, lass.”
“I wouldn’t expect you to,” she smiled.

A Bridge Through Time was so much fun.  The writing was easy to devour, the characters all captivated my attention and I’m excited to see a lot of them in future books.  So if you adore romance stories that encompass multiple time periods, and has characters that easily find their way into your heart, then definitely take a look at A Bridge Through Time!

BOOK REVIEW: Beauty of the Beast (Fairy Tale Retellings #1) by Rachel L. Dementer

BOOK REVIEW: Beauty of the Beast (Fairy Tale Retellings #1) by Rachel L. DementerBeauty of the Beast (Fairy Tale Retellings #1)
by Rachel L. Dementer
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Experience the world’s most enchanting and timeless love story—retold with a dark and realistic twist.

A BEAST LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF HIS PAST

Reclusive and severely scarred Prince Adam Delacroix has remained hidden inside a secluded, decrepit castle ever since he witnessed his family’s brutal massacre. Cloaked in shadow, with only the lamentations of past ghosts for company, he has abandoned all hope, allowing the world to believe he died on that tragic eve twenty-five years ago.

A BEAUTY IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE

Caught in a fierce snowstorm, beautiful and strong-willed Isabelle Rose seeks shelter at a castle—unaware that its beastly and disfigured master is much more than he appears to be. When he imprisons her gravely ill and blind father, she bravely offers herself in his place.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Stripped of his emotional defenses, Adam’s humanity reawakens as he encounters a kindred soul in Isabelle. Together they will wade through darkness and discover beauty and passion in the most unlikely of places. But when a monster from Isabelle’s former life threatens their new love, Demrov’s forgotten prince must emerge from his shadows and face the world once more…

Perfect for fans of Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty of the Beast brings a familiar and well-loved fairy tale to life with a rich setting in the kingdom of Demrov and a captivating, Gothic voice.

* * *

Beauty of the Beast is the first standalone installment in a series of classic fairy tales reimagined with a dark and realistic twist.

* * *

Disclaimer: This is an edgy, historical romance retelling of the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. Due to strong sexual content, profanity, and dark subject matter, including an instance of sexual assault committed by the villain, Beauty of the Beast is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

Beauty of the Beast is a slow-burn romance that features a descriptive, richly detailed, and atmospheric writing style. (l

I need to scream the word *TRIGGER* because there is extremely graphic rape. It is not glorified but it is extremely disturbing.

The writing hooked me from page one. I mean seriously guys, this might be the best prologue I’ve ever read. I was floored and TOTALLY into it. I had no doubt it was going to be a five star book.

And then things started to change. First of all, I need to commend the writing. I can’t even tell you how many lines I highlighted because of how beautifully written this book is. The rest? Perhaps its personal preference, but the story just didn’t work for me.

While the story is reminiscent of the Disney version (probably the closest I’ve read yet), it still holds up on its own as unique. No magic here folks, and it is MUCH darker. Not to mention the issues the book deals with (everything from abuse, rape, PTSD, etc.) Does it handle them well? Most of the time, yes, but I definitely had some issues with it. Especially with the rape. No, it is not glorified in the least OR made romantic in any way, but my question is… why? Why describe it in great detail? (No, it isn’t the beast who does it. It’s the ‘Gaston’ character – FYI.) I don’t know, I was just disturbed.

The other issues I had were the pacing. While I wanted to soak up the language, I was also trying to keep my eyes open for large chunks at a time.

The overall story (I.e. the romance) was okay at first, but then got cheesy, lustful, and just not my cup of tea. I think I’m just done reading Beauty and the Beast retellings. It’s more than likely personal taste, but I’m just not into the disturbed man going after the damsel in destress trope. I’m probably in the rare on that one. This book also reminded me of ‘Romancing the Duke’ – so that’s probably a good tell on whether or not you’ll like this. I see some comparing it to Phantom of the Opera and that kinda fits too (but I LOVE Phantom of the Opera soooo I don’t know.)

Additionally, I didn’t connect to the romance. The author was certainly going for the ‘healing’ aspect of romance – where both characters involved are recovering from PTSD – but I just didn’t buy it. Lust overtook the healing aspect and it just felt awkward at times.

I don’t want to say too much more, aside from that I DID appreciate little bits, for instance – Isabelle DOES stand up to Adam when he crosses a line / personal boundaries.

Anyway, I think I’m a rare one here, as I’ve seen only positive reviews for the most part. But it just wasn’t my cup of tea, unfortunately.

BOOK REVIEW: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

BOOK REVIEW: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri ManiscalcoStalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper)
by Kerri Maniscalco
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world

Wow okay this was super fun. I mean really – if you’re in the market for YA Sherlock Holmes with a badass heroine and a super snarky (and charming) sidekick, definitely pick this up. I do have some mixed feelings about parts and I’ll admit I skipped some chunks because ew, not for me. Some of the ending really rubbed me the wrong way, but you can see those details below in the spoiler tag.

Aubrey Rose is basically an unconventional female in her society. She’s super into education and volunteers her time at her uncle’s lab studying forensic science. And we get all the gory details, lol. So if you’re here for that kinda thing, you’ll enjoy it. If not, just skip over it. I’d say the story is just as enjoyable without the details of the… dead.

And then she meets the cocky, ever so flirty Thomas Cresswell who is pretty much Captain Carswell Thorne from the Lunar Chronicles reincarnate. Ohmigosh he is pretty much the reason I loved this book. The banter and everythinggggggg yessss give me more.

“Thomas smiled at my eye roll, puffing his chest up and standing with one foot proudly resting on a chair as if posing for a portrait. “I don’t blame you, I am rather attractive. The tall, dark hero of your dreams, swooping in to save you with my vast intellect. You should accept my hand at once.”

Anyway, a string of murders starts going down and as the story progresses, Aubrey starts to realize the murderer might be connected to her family somehow. And of course, Thomas is there to annoy Aubrey while she figures it all out.

“If I don’t murder you this afternoon, it’ll be a gift sent directly from God Himself, and I vow to attend services again,” I said, holding a hand against my heart.
“I knew I’d get you to church eventually.”

I would just like to say, for the record (and friends can vouch for me…) I KNEW WHO THE MURDER WAS ALL ALONG. So I win a cookie or something, right? I KNEW IT I KNEW IT I KNEW IT.

Anyway, I definitely was not into the saence part and I skipped it. Spirits are just not my thing, yo. I don’t feel like I missed out on much.

***Minor spoilers below – don’t read if you want to keep the mystery alive!***

As far as the ending, I definitely felt a bit of glee knowing I guessed the killer, but aside from that, it was just really sad. I actually even teared up a bit. And honestly, some of it really rubbed me the wrong way. (view spoiler)

But as far as the set up for the next book, I’m super on board with that. I’m already REALLY looking forward to it and trying to beg my way to an arc lol. Mostly I’m just hoping for lots of time with Thomas Cresswell, though I hope the banter stays alive!

BOOK REVIEW – All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

BOOK REVIEW – All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony DoerrAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Purchase on: Amazon
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Synopsis:

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, a stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane.

When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure's agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.

In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance.

Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.

Doerr's gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work.

5 stars for now because I will never forget this story. What they mean, will they stick, is another story. I may be able to review this novel in 20 minutes or days or years. For now I feel betrayed and speechless and sick and humbled and haunted and confused and hopeful and depressed and mad and bewitched and exhausted.

Perhaps I’m supposed to. Perhaps I’m not.

“I need to gather my thoughts” never sounded so fitting, really. Trust me, you don’t want to be in my head right now, because I’m so fucking incoherent – I tried explaining aloud what I felt and why I felt it, and then I realized that I cannot : in this very moment, Anthony Doerr‘s characters are just far too complex for me to express why I want to curl up and cry – from sadness, from joy, really, who the fuck cares.

In the end, I’m crying. Why I am is irrelevant.

Oh, fuck this – who am I kidding really. I AM CRUSHED.

So many words fighting in my head and here I am, chasing behind, restless. Enraptured by the beautiful – formidable – imagery, I was torn open by the ceaseless tension all the same.

Never have I wished so hard for the little lights to overtake the darkness. Perhaps they did. Right now, I’m in a dark place, but look, there, isn’t it a little spark of hope struggling? Let’s see what tomorrow will bring, shall we?

Or next year.

D + 1 : One day after, I still can’t escape this book – I barely slept, I’m stupidly tearing up at the most awkward moments, and pages and pages of my rambling (that I shall or shall not share someday) keep adding up in my computer. Damn you, Anthony Doerr. You may have broken me.

* A little addition because I need to get it off my chest *

Rarely did a novel make me think and argue so much round and round in circles. When I mentioned Werner around me, people told me that I shouldn’t bother with him. He’s a German during WWII, he’s a Nazi, you know. WHY DO YOU FUCKING BOTHER. HOW CAN YOU CARE. He condoned. How can his fate be interesting. How can his childhood seem insightful to you. Are you excusing him? He’s a monster through and through – as if monsters were born and not created.

By no means do I excuse his actions. By no means does Anthony Doerr excuse his actions, either. That is not what it’s about at all. And yet, and yet. My pupils – my smart, compassionate pupils of 10 – they would be so easily influenced. I can’t not SEE it. It’s no secret that we French are very strict on political and religious neutrality as teachers, and this is something I really care about. But it doesn’t mean that children aren’t influenced. They hear so many stupid and mindless things every day, on TV, or everywhere really.

In that aspect, being a teacher is very much like demining sometimes. No, there aren’t different categories of French. No, there’s no such thing as a true French. No, there are not different species of humans on Earth. Only one. And every time, every time, I can’t help but think – but what if? What if someone else answered – differently, with a heart full of hate? WHAT IF, THEN?

I guess that what I wanted to say, albeit clumsily, is this : you who dismiss the influence of the brainwashing of children in History, how can you, when you lived all your life in a free environment, turn a blind eye on so many injustices because it suits you? How can you not see that our Present is the future History and that all our decisions, as a country, matter?

I’m angry at town councils around here who refuse to welcome refugees. I’m angry and depressed by the number of people in my country who think that the far right party is a good idea. It’s so easy to draw generalities – sometimes I think, especially lately when my fellow French’s votes scare the shit out of me – and if they managed to elect this racist, stupid shit? Where would go my voice? Where would go my pupils’ voices? In which country would they grow as adults? It sickens me to even consider it.

So, Werner. My heart shattered for him – this disaster waiting to happen, the raw hopelessness of his childhood, and the fall, the fall, the fall – Anthony Doerr created such a believable and heartbreaking character. I cannot thank him enough for it.

When my pupils ask me what the purpose of History is, I answer them that we need History to understand our Present – I would love to assure them that we use History to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again, but really, it would be a lie, right? Even they can see it. Yet we need History so much, and we need books like All the Light We Cannot See. Of that I’m sure.

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