Book Review: "Cross the Ocean" by Holly Bush

In the summer, I like to spend my afternoons and sometimes part of my night reading on the bed with the fan switched on full power. This is how I came to read the book entitled ‘Cross the Ocean’ by Holly Bush. It hooked me up instantly both because of the interesting story set up but also due to the intriguing characters.

The story involves Miss Gertrude Finch, a distant cousin who lives in America, of Lady Elizabeth Burroughs. Ms. Finch is escorting another relative across the ocean to the old continent and took the opportunity to meet Elizabeth in person after keeping in touch regularly through letters. Whilst being the house guest of the Duke of Burroughs, Ms. Finch meets one of England’s famous Dukes, Blake Sanders Duke of Wexford and best friend to Anthony and Elizabeth Burroughs. Blake is tall, handsome and currently unattached. His wife just dumped him and left him alone with three under aged children. Blake is all about covering the scandal of his wife’s escapade to preserve the honour of his family title and prepare for the society come-out of his eldest off-spring. His attitude towards society, titles and women put him at odds with Ms. Finch who is all about independence, who cares less of titles and how bigoted Britain is. Ms. Finch is a 32 year old spinster whose naïveté towards romance contrasts sharply with her buoyant appearance and attitude.

The author, Holly Bush, weaves a romantic story, with carnal passions and adventure quite neatly within 364 pages. The story is well paced and versed, with clear descriptions and a good amount of conversation. In fact the flurry of arguments between Ms. Finch and Blake Sanders were quite interesting and at times comic. Whilst I don’t want to spoil the plot further, let’s just say that half way through the book, the reader is transported on a voyage to America where one can read an insight of the Wild West and the development of the American land in the 1870s.

What you’re waiting for though is not a summary of the book but whether I like it or not. In fact I have to give this book a 3 out 5 crowns only. Whilst I did like some of the characters in the book, unfortunately I was not drawn to the two protagonists. Both of them are ‘too much’ for their own good both physically and personality wise. The reader can be either entranced by them or find them despicable. Personally they did not appeal to me at all. Blake Sanders reminds you at first of Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice however his change of heart is too drastic, obvious and personally not very much appealing.


 

What I found was a major let down is that half way through, the character’s themselves start telling you what is going to happen in the story. Of course they don’t spell it out, but it is so obvious and predictable that you feel that you don’t need to read the rest of the book to know how it’s going to end. The twists of the secondary characters were far more interesting than the lives of the protagonists themselves. Also it seems that the author has a fascination with pregnant women since in the book there were about 4-5 pregnancies mentioned and one speculative. I felt that this repetition was quite a nuisance and unnecessary.

The verbal battles that ensue within this book were at times engaging and interesting; especially in the beginning, but they end up being quite melodramatic by the end. Some characters’ reactions were exaggerated at times whilst others were locked up in a stereotype that I found annoying. Other readers commented across the net, that such comic relief was entertaining and sat the book apart positively. Personally in a historic romance book, comedy is not something I believe should be major in the plot but should be secondary to romance. Thus I found the latter a bit lacking.

Nonetheless, I do have to admit that I read the book in less than 48 hours which means that it was engaging and interesting enough to keep me hooked for a decent amount of hours. There were also some good parts that I enjoyed reading. Overall it’s a good book but it’s not so much memorable. I love books where I can fall in love with the characters and the plot. Where I become fond of them and the character development makes sense and is relevant. Thus when this magic did not take place, I did feel a bit disappointed with this book and that’s why I give it 3 Crowns – a Duchess of a Good Read  (Reviewed by Countess Samantha)

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Book Review: "Native Gold" by Glynnis Campbell

Synopsis:

Mathilda Hardwicke, a rebellious artist rejected by her family and New York society, heads west to Gold Rush California as a mail-order bride. But when fate leaves her alone at the altar, she’s drawn to Sakote–a fierce Konkow warrior whose tribe is threatened by the encroaching white men–in whose arms she discovers a savage new Paradise and a forbidden love more precious than gold.
Review
It seems there is a rising trend in Native American romance novels, and after reading Native Gold, it doesn’t seem like a bad thing at all. The last one I read was awkward in its reconciliation between Western and Native American culture. Often they make light of the cultural beliefs by adding jumping bear references. Campbell doesn’t do this. She achieves a calming story with a detailed exploration of life in the American gold fields.
Mathilda (Mittie) is a woman looking for herself and seeking to start again, armed only with optimism and her artistic skills, she ventures well beyond her known world. While Sakote is a man losing himself and his culture, caught between Konkow pride and power, and the things he must do to survive.
Mattie is a well created character, strong but also naïve. Audiences should be able to find something in Mattie to connect with, even if it is just her passion and drive to live in a world where she has no idea what she’s in for.
Sakote is a compelling character. Strong in his silence and peace. He is a wonderful balance to Mattie’s chaos. Some of the best parts in the book and associated with his calming influence. He moves with a gentle pace, and seems to really see the world. Sakote is protective, without being constrictive or controlling, which is never a good thing.
The tension between Mattie and Sakote crackles from the second he sees her, it feels like the characters are drawn together and are completed by the other in away they are not even aware of. The book has very few actual sexual interludes, it focusing on creating a natural courtship presented in agonizingly described detail which still has my heart pounding. Campbell’s description of the way he moves, his skin, his smell is enough to sustain even my jaded mind.
Highly recommend to people ready to fall in love and ache for a time when things were certainly not simple, but definitely a little wild.  Rating: 5 Crowns – Sovereign Queen of Historical Love
(Reviewed by Countess Sarah)
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