Cinderella Once a Fairytale Book of Romance – Enjoy the Movie!

 

Oh to be ten-years-old again — innocent, impressionable, and mesmerized by the idea of meeting my Prince Charming.

Cinderella. How many adaptations can this story have? Apparently, not enough. One of my favorites is “Everafter” with Drew Barrymore, but this Disney version is pretty much a starry-eyed spectacle of beauty that bedazzles the childhood in everyone.

The perfect audience are females young at heart, girls five to twelve, and young teenage ladies. Although this morning on the radio I heard a middle-aged male critic gush over the movie too. Will little boys love it?  Probably not, except perhaps for the mice and cat.

The Cinderella tale is slightly modified and extended, but it does the story absolutely no harm whatsoever. For the first time in a long time I give Disney kudos for putting together a movie with a message that drills down into your soul. It’s the words of Ella’s mother before she dies encouraging her daughter to, “have courage and be kind.” The theme resounds throughout the entire movie and is played out with such precision that the message stays with you.  In an age where kids are bullying one another or being the victims of bullies, it brings a beautiful message of the meaning of courage and kindness and the good that it can bring into your life.

Your wonderful Rose from Downton Abbey, Lilly James, portrays an endearing and kind Cinderella.  Daisy the cook from Downton Abbey, Sophia McShera, plays the stepsister Drizella, accompanied by Holliday Grainger as the other mean sister. Gorgeously attired and mean to the core stepmother is played by Cate Blanchett.

Some of the cutest scenes are the fairy godmother transforming the pumpkin, lizards, mice, and the duck into the carriage, horses, footmen, and driver. Their undoing at the stroke of midnight is an hysterical scene with fantastic special effects. Cinderella is turned into a gorgeous beauty in a blue dress, who twirls around dancing in a fantastic choreographed waltz with the prince. If I were ten, my eyes would probably be bulging out of my head. At sixty-five, I had a huge smile on my face watching the transformation, the ball, and the end of the spell.

All in all, it’s an entertaining movie that is visually stunning. The anchor that holds it all together is the theme of “have courage and be kind” that is said time and time again until you believe it to be truth, witness that good prevails, and realize fairy godmothers do exist.

Oh, and Prince Charming isn’t bad looking either.
Love the soundtrack!

"Lord John’s Dilemma" by G. G. Vandagriff

Synopsis

 

When Lord John returns from the Battle of Waterloo nursing a serious wound and a case of melancholia, he is hopeful of beginning a happier phase in his life. His sights are set on the lovely Miss Lindsay, his country neighbor’s daughter. But to his mystification, he keeps getting distracted by her family’s governess—a little dab of a thing who is not at all what she seems.

His determination to solve the mystery of Miss Haverley begins to seriously undermine his interest in Miss Lindsay, who is confident he is about to offer for her. In the face of this, how can he pursue his interest in the family governess? Not only must he solve this dilemma, but he must discover what the petite woman is hiding.

When Miss Haverley begs him to resist satisfying his curiosity because such a course could bring her harm, his dilemma doubles. He is more determined than ever to rescue her from whatever demons she is trying to escape, for Miss Haverley alone seems to have the power to stir him to passion and hope for a new life.

"Arsenic and Victorian Lace" (Guest Post by Nora Covington)

How do you commit murder? Well, in the Victorian era arsenic was a good way to do in your rivals, spouses, and enemies. My latest release, Blythe Court, contains arsenic, and you may wonder if my use is accurate. Hopefully, you know by now I do my research, even if it really does sound extremely odd when you read the story.

Arsenic, in case you need a quick education, is a chemical element. It occurs in many minerals. During the Victorian era, it was widely used in commercial products. It was also available to purchase in bottle form from a druggist—half an ounce cost a penny, enough to kill 50 people. Unbeknownst to the Victorians, they were slowly poisoning themselves from wallpaper to clothes. The poison caused agonizing deaths until they finally realized the dangers of the chemical and began putting restrictions in place.

Here are a few of the products that contained arsenic:

1. Wallpaper. The Victorians loved the color green. Scheele’s Green was a pigment derived from arsenic. During the 19th century, homes were decorated in wallpaper that emitted toxic fumes causing illness. If a piece of wallpaper flaked off and a child ate it, death arrived.

2. Dresses. Green-colored fabric in dresses and other clothing contained arsenic. “Drop dead gorgeous,” is a term I see in many articles about women wearing clothes filled with arsenic. You looked stunning in green, but your skin absorbed the poison. You swirled around a ballroom, and your dress gave off fumes dangerous to your partner and those around you. Eventually, a test was developed by simply placing a drop of ammonia on the fabric. If it turned blue, arsenic was present.

3. Other clothing and accessories: Socks, hats, gloves, underwear, etc.

4. Toys. Children sucked on toys made with arsenic and became ill or died.

5. Other products. Cookware, wine bottles, face powder, shampoo, and the list goes on and on.

The Victorian home could be a death trap, as well as your wardrobe. As the population became increasingly ill and deaths rose, Parliament still refused to ban the use of arsenic in products because it was a booming business. It wasn’t until the end of the Victorian era that manufacturing of products that contained arsenic was curtailed.

On the other side of the coin, were the accidental poisonings. If you didn’t read the label closely enough, you could pick it up in the kitchen and add it to your food in error. Arsenic looked like other substances such as sugar—powdery white. It wasn’t until 1851 laws were enacted to color the arsenic so the difference could be detected and ladies no longer grabbed the wrong thing thereby killing their entire household from a newly baked pie. Contaminated well water could also contain arsenic.

If you want to get all “Arsenic and Old Lace” about the subject, arsenic could be easily slipped into food and drinks unnoticed because it was tasteless and odorless. Enough could do you in quickly while a little sprinkle here and there could lead you down the road of a slow and agonizing death. Apparently, the greatest users of arsenic in murders cases were Victorian women wanting to do away their husbands. Can’t divorce the drunken abuser who beats you every night? Try arsenic. Here is an interesting article about famous ladies of the day killing off their husbands with this versatile substance.

CLICK HERE

The symptoms of arsenic poisoning over a period of time included white lines forming on your nails, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, hair loss, muscular weakness, kidney problems, and other not-so-pleasant medical ailments. In spite of the negative symptoms, the Victorians also hailed it as a medical cure for low libido, eczema, and other remedies.

For more information on arsenic poisoning during the Victorian era, here is a good resource:

The Arsenic Century: How Victorian Britain Was Poisoned At Home, Work And Play
by James C Whorton

“Arsenic and Victorian Lace” (Guest Post by Nora Covington)

How do you commit murder? Well, in the Victorian era arsenic was a good way to do in your rivals, spouses, and enemies. My latest release, Blythe Court, contains arsenic, and you may wonder if my use is accurate. Hopefully, you know by now I do my research, even if it really does sound extremely odd when you read the story.

Arsenic, in case you need a quick education, is a chemical element. It occurs in many minerals. During the Victorian era, it was widely used in commercial products. It was also available to purchase in bottle form from a druggist—half an ounce cost a penny, enough to kill 50 people. Unbeknownst to the Victorians, they were slowly poisoning themselves from wallpaper to clothes. The poison caused agonizing deaths until they finally realized the dangers of the chemical and began putting restrictions in place.

Here are a few of the products that contained arsenic:

1. Wallpaper. The Victorians loved the color green. Scheele’s Green was a pigment derived from arsenic. During the 19th century, homes were decorated in wallpaper that emitted toxic fumes causing illness. If a piece of wallpaper flaked off and a child ate it, death arrived.
2. Dresses. Green-colored fabric in dresses and other clothing contained arsenic. “Drop dead gorgeous,” is a term I see in many articles about women wearing clothes filled with arsenic. You looked stunning in green, but your skin absorbed the poison. You swirled around a ballroom, and your dress gave off fumes dangerous to your partner and those around you. Eventually, a test was developed by simply placing a drop of ammonia on the fabric. If it turned blue, arsenic was present.
3. Other clothing and accessories: Socks, hats, gloves, underwear, etc.
4. Toys. Children sucked on toys made with arsenic and became ill or died.
5. Other products. Cookware, wine bottles, face powder, shampoo, and the list goes on and on.
The Victorian home could be a death trap, as well as your wardrobe. As the population became increasingly ill and deaths rose, Parliament still refused to ban the use of arsenic in products because it was a booming business. It wasn’t until the end of the Victorian era that manufacturing of products that contained arsenic was curtailed.
On the other side of the coin, were the accidental poisonings. If you didn’t read the label closely enough, you could pick it up in the kitchen and add it to your food in error. Arsenic looked like other substances such as sugar—powdery white. It wasn’t until 1851 laws were enacted to color the arsenic so the difference could be detected and ladies no longer grabbed the wrong thing thereby killing their entire household from a newly baked pie. Contaminated well water could also contain arsenic.

If you want to get all “Arsenic and Old Lace” about the subject, arsenic could be easily slipped into food and drinks unnoticed because it was tasteless and odorless. Enough could do you in quickly while a little sprinkle here and there could lead you down the road of a slow and agonizing death. Apparently, the greatest users of arsenic in murders cases were Victorian women wanting to do away their husbands. Can’t divorce the drunken abuser who beats you every night? Try arsenic. Here is an interesting article about famous ladies of the day killing off their husbands with this versatile substance.

CLICK HERE

The symptoms of arsenic poisoning over a period of time included white lines forming on your nails, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, hair loss, muscular weakness, kidney problems, and other not-so-pleasant medical ailments. In spite of the negative symptoms, the Victorians also hailed it as a medical cure for low libido, eczema, and other remedies.
For more information on arsenic poisoning during the Victorian era, here is a good resource:
The Arsenic Century: How Victorian Britain Was Poisoned At Home, Work And Play
by James C Whorton

"Blythe Court: Novella" by Nora Covington

Synopsis

Ann Seddon knew at an early age that her aristocratic parents would arrange an advantageous match on her behalf. Nuptials of convenience blended family fortunes and kept bloodlines pure. After her presentation at court, which marked the beginning of the London season, Ann’s life turns into a whirlwind of tea parties, balls, and husband hunting.

When her parents suggest John Broadhurst, the Marquess of Dorchester, as a potential mate, Ann dislikes their choice. Even though he appears dashingly handsome, she finds him to be a boorish and aloof man. He, on the other hand, shows very little interest in her either, which wounds Ann’s delicate ego.

In spite of their lack of regard for one another, they marry to fulfill their parents’ wishes. Ann, however, harbors a dark premonition that one day the marquess will break her heart. After beginning their married life together, her fears are realized as she is engulfed by a world of secrets, betrayal, and danger at Blythe Court. (33,600 words)

 

 “Romance With a Kiss of Suspense”
Stately homes, mysterious characters,  and suspenseful romance set in Victorian England

"Whitefield Hall: Novella" by Nora Covington

Synopsis
As a young lady, Mary Gleadhell chose the occupation of a hired companion, rather than seeking love and marriage. When she accepts a new position as company for the mother of the 4th Baron of Warrington, Mary believes she has procured an excellent situation. However, when she arrives at Whitefield Hall and meets her ladyship, she discovers a cold and aloof woman who does not want her companionship.

 

To make matters worse, her ladyship warns Mary to be careful because her son is a snake who seduces women. In fact, she blames him for the hasty departure of two previous companions. The baron, on the other hand, warns Mary not to believe everything she hears, calling his mother a poisonous spider.

Unsure who to trust, Mary settles into her new employment with caution. However, as the weeks pass in a strife-filled home occupied by bickering adults, she wonders if she will be the next companion to mysteriously flee from Whitefield Hall. (Approx. 34,000 words)

Amazon | Nook | Smashwords| Other Venues to Follow

Nora Covington Website

"Willoughby" by Sadie Montgomery

Synopsis:
Willoughby is the story, taken from the pages of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, of the ill-fated lovers, Marianne and Willoughby.

Foolish and impetuous, Willoughby becomes involved in a reckless affair, the consequences of which he won’t fully know until it’s too late. Only when he meets and falls in love with Marianne Dashwood does he understand and regret the consequences of his rash behavior.

Cast aside, her romantic illusions broken, Marianne must teach her heart to love more wisely. Despite their separate paths, Willoughby’s and Marianne’s stories are intertwined, and fate brings them together, with unexpected consequences, at critical moments in their lives.

Faithful to the events in the original, Sadie Montgomery integrates new material into Austen’s text and spins a tale of missteps and their consequences, partial truths and revelations, transgressions and redemption. Taking the plot well beyond the final pages of Sense and Sensibility, we follow Marianne and Willoughby into their separate marriages, through joys and sorrows, through battles at home and abroad, to discover that passion does not always fade and that reason alone cannot fulfill us.

 

"The Rancher Takes a Wife" by Leslea Tash

 Synopsis
One look into his piercing blue eyes, and I knew there was no way I could ever say no to Carl Ward. I wasn’t sure he could help me, but more than anything, I wanted to see him again.
“Oh, Mr. Ward,” I said. “Nothing would please me more.”
Chastity Lilly is no flapper. In 1920s New York, she’s determined to find a career as a teacher so she can support her family upstate. But one thing leads to another, and the company she keeps in the big city leads her down a very different path than the one she sought.
When she helps a handsome rancher in town looking for his own errant sister, can she turn her act around? Will she take his offer of a teaching position in Wedlock, Montana and make a brand new start? And if she does, can she–and the rancher–leave the past behind to forge a new future together?
Not if the rancher’s sister has her way.
This is a sweet historical Western romance. There are no PG-13 or R-rated scenes.

Website: http://LesleaTash.com 
Facebook: http://facebook.com/LesleaTash 
Twitter: http://twitter.com/LesleaTash 
Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/LesleaTash

"Thorncroft Manor (A Novella) by Nova Covington

Just Released!

Caroline Woodard was convinced that she would die a spinster. Her headstrong personality was not her best quality, or an attractive female characteristic to eligible Englishmen.
Upon her cousin’s invitation to be her maid of honor, she travels to Pendeen, a small village on the Cornwall coast of England. Soon after her arrival, Caroline is introduced to Bramwell Croft, who will be the best man. Even though he is a wealthy owner of a tin mine, Caroline finds him to be a brooding and disagreeable man. Instantly, their personalities clash like the tempestuous sea that pounds the rocky coastline.
When she is forced to spend more time at Thorncroft than she would like, she finds herself strangely intrigued and attracted to the gloomy lord of the manor. However, as time goes by, Caroline cannot help but wonder if she will be his next victim of seduction or perhaps murder.
“Romance With a Kiss of Suspense” – Novella (Approx. 38,000 words) – Thorncroft Manor is the first in a set of six individual novellas placed in stately English homes, with mysterious characters and suspenseful romance, during the Victorian era. 
About the AuthorWebsite | Facebook | Twitter
Purchase Links:   Amazon | Smashwords | Nook, Apple, Kobo, and others (pending release)

 

 

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Book Review: "The North Wing" by Susan Butler

Releasing a debut novel can often be a nerve-racking adventure for a first-time author, the outcome of which can be disaster or success. Susan Butler, who has been brave enough to share her talent with the world, has successfully written her first novel that is sure to entertain its readers. As an author, she has mastered the art of mystery and suspense in The North Wing, giving us characters that keep us guessing from the moment we meet them.

Abigail Parker, the story’s heroine, is like any other young woman her age. She meets a handsome, dashing bachelor, who sweeps her off her feet and proposes marriage. Of course, she agrees to become his wife and leaves Vienna for England to prepare for their wedding and life with the man she loves–but barely knows. When she arrives at the impressive Rochester Manor, Abigail quickly learned that the man she is to marry is quite different from the man who romanced her back in Vienna.

Skillfully, the author immerses her readers into a mysterious house, and page by page begins to unfold the secrets behind its walls and what is locked up in the north wing. The journey keeps readers guessing, and surprises and suspense abound. It is not until Susan skillfully takes us to the climax of the story that you are utterly spellbound and sitting on the edge of your seat as you read the frightening passages. The mark of a good mystery writer is to surprise your readers and surprised you will be over the outcome you won’t see coming.

Since I don’t wish to release spoilers and ruin it for you, I’ll just conclude my thoughts. As a romantic mystery, it is well written and plotted to perfection. Susan’s grasp of the language of the day is good, and her insightful thoughts about life a nice touch. She should be congratulated for her successful debut and being brave to share a wonderful story.

I sincerely hope this talented writer will begin another novel or even write a sequel to The North Wing!

5

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Book Review: "Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman" by Wareeze Woodson

Conduct Unbecoming a Gentleman by Wareeze Woodson is a Soul Mate Publishing release. This is a 2013 copyright. I receive a copy to this book from Long Ago Love and Vicki Hopkins in exchange for an honest review.

Laurel’s husband left her in a bind when he died. His sister, Rhonda, was remembered in his will, and their son was to be his cousin Lord Adron’s ward. So, when Laurel attempts an escape, she is chased down and her son stolen from her by Adron’s men. Once she locates Lord Andron’s estate, he sees she is determined to stay with her son. So, he offers her a deal. She can become an unpaid member of the staff and be a nanny to her son and other children that are currently on estate. Having no choice by law, Laurel takes what she can get in order to be with her son.

Lord Adron believes the worst of Laurel. He was led to believe she brought his cousin to the ultimate despair that caused him to take drastic measures. But, Laurel surprises Lord Adron by being a caring, hands-on mother and having a wonderful way with children. No matter what he throws at her, she is able to withstand it. But, he cannot withstand his attraction to her.

In the middle of this drama, there are some valuable jewels that Laurel’s husband, Robert had hidden somewhere. Rhonda and her cohorts are desperate to find the jewels. In the process, Rhonda continues the plot against Laurel, insinuating that Laurel may be a jewel thief. She is even more determined to get rid of Laurel with she notices the attraction Lord Adron has for Laurel. Rhonda has set her heart on marrying Lord Adron herself. With each passing day, Laurel and Lord Andron fall deeper in love with each other. But, there are issues with women that Lord Andron will have to overcome before he can win Laurel over. But, first the jewel thief must be caught and the jewels found.

This was a really entertaining Regency period historical romance. Lord Andron is terrible in the beginning. He is terrified of being duped by a beautiful woman, which is what led, in part, to his bad attitude toward women. Laurel was innocent is all things, but was admittedly naïve when she first married and her husband didn’t do the right thing by her from the start.  But, as worldly as the men in the story liked to think themselves, they too were rather naïve. They were deceived time and time again but were too blind to see. So, Lord Andron was easily led to believe whatever he was told about Laurel and usually, it wasn’t good.

You will get frustrated with Adron a great deal. I didn’t have much empathy for his side of things except maybe his bad experiences in the past. But, with a certain conniving woman that had everyone twisted around her little finger, you will become quite annoyed. Laurel isn’t as naïve as she once was though and shows a little backbone. Will Lord Andron finally wake up and smell the coffee? Will the jewel thief be discovered? There were lots of twist in the story. A shocking reveal will set you back on your heels and really get you thinking about the jewel thief mystery.

A quick entertaining read that is unique to most Regency romances. But, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe a great deal of pain couldn’t have been avoided by making some changes in those horrible British laws in regards to women’s rights. What do you think?

4 Crowns – Princess of a Charming Story (Countess Julie)
4

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On A Personal Note . . .

As an author myself, there are times in my own career I become consumed with my work.  Currently,  I’m at the end of my first draft for The Price of Love, which is third in a series that I have written (The Legacy Series).

If you are an author, you know how very time consuming this process can be for a writer.  I’ll be revising and editing in the months ahead, which will need my full attention.  Due to that heavy schedule, I may not be promoting very much in August or September on Long Ago Love until after my own book is released and I can relax.
In the future, I am dedicated to supporting the works of others. However, I need to prioritize my own work in the process.

Nevertheless, you will still see occasional posts and reviews in the months ahead, but the blog will not be as active.

Thank you for your understanding!
Sincerely,
Vicki
“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” ― George Orwell

Review – "The Queen’s Vow" by C. W. Gortner

The life of royalty is akin to playing a game of chess.  Kings, queens, bishops, and plenty of pawns fill the pages of The Queens’s Vow.  As a child in school, history happened to be the subject I hated the most.  However, give me a good book and an intriguing story, and you’ve won me over.  On the pages of a textbook the facts of kings and queens could put you asleep, but in the hands of C. W. Gortner, they keep you highly engaged turning pages in anticipation of what is ahead.

The Queen’s Vow focuses upon the young Isabella of Castile starting at the age of three and continuing onward through adulthood. It begins with the sad reality that the death of a monarch can suddenly leave a wife and his children relegated to poverty far away from the throne. In this instance, Isabella’s half-brother, Enrique, rules Castile. He is married to an unfaithful wife with ambitions for her daughter, who everyone believes is the product of an affair and not of the king’s loins.

The early years of Isabella’s life, with her less than emotional stable mother and younger brother, fill the first few chapters. However, when she and her brother, Alfonso, are finally called to court by their half-brother, you sense the fear of the unknown. Welcomed by the king, but their presence unwanted by the queen, the two of them suddenly become pawns in everyone’s plans for the realm.  However, it’s here that Isabella knows without a doubt that one day she is destined for greatness.

Drowning in a court with unscrupulous advisers and rampant immorality, Isabella finds the court to be a dreadful place. The one bright moment, however, is her introduction to Fernando, Prince of Aragon, who at the age of 12 has led armies into battle.  She dismisses him as a boy, even though he speaks of marriage like a man.  In his mind, they are destined to be together, and when he departs for Aragon to return to his father, he merely writes for her to wait for him.  And wait for him she does – for years.

The book is filled with twists and turns and the ups and downs of Enrique’s rule, Isabella’s favor from the king and subsequent displeasure, along with the characters who play the game of chess behind the scenes. She matures into a strong woman who faces her future with braveness.  I, on the other hand, count my lucky stars for having not been born royalty in an age such as this when the ambitions of others could very well threaten your livelihood and your life. There is an underlying fear of betrayal and captivity that is unsettling in Isabella’s journey to the throne that lasts for quite some time. Finally, in her late teens, she is reunited with Fernando, who she marries against the king’s wishes. The act sets into motion an upheaval that eventually leads her to the throne of Castile.

Though we often read of the conquests of kings and queens in their adulthood and later years, it’s not often we can journey with them on their way to the throne. Of course, if you know your history, Isabella is not without her questionable acts later on in her reign, which are alluded to in the story when a man of the cloth tells her that she’s been chosen by God to clean the land of its wickedness.

C.W. Gornter is an engaging and intelligent author who takes his readers into the world of history-making everything come alive. From the descriptive scenery of Castile to the moldy and musty-smelling castles, the book breathes life on every page. As an author myself, I find his style and writing highly engaging.

I highly recommend The Queen’s Vow for anyone looking for a great historical fiction of a famous queen, sprinkled with the love of her husband, Fernando.  I found the story extremely intriguing from her childhood to the coronation and her early years of rule.  However, when Jewish persecution and the Spanish Inquisition were initiated at the persuading of others, I found my interest waning in the book.

I think that relates back to the bad taste in my mouth left by a profoundly disturbing movie – Goya’s Ghosts.  Perhaps I had high hopes for Isabella and Fernando because I enjoyed their characters early on but found fault in their actions later in their rule.  The author, who did a great job creating living and breathing reincarnations of kings and queens, brings you to a place of being intimately acquainted with these historical characters.  That is a mark of a good writer, especially when their actions bring you disappointment — you almost take it personally.

On a side note, for my historical romance readers, there are fleeting portions of romance within the book.  Nevertheless, I rate it a Four-Star – Princess of a Charming Story (even though it’s about a Queen).

Reviewed by Countess Victoria

 

Novelette: "An Undying Love" by Dana Bartlett

A novelette based in the deep south during the time preceding the Civil War, carried through to the conclusion. The story is centered around Emily, a classically southern young lady, who aims to please others, especially her mother. Emily comes into womanhood, discovers what true love is and experiences passion along with the heartache of loss. Along the way, she finds her true strength within herself, with the testing of her faith and what makes her truly happy. 
By Dana Bartlett 
Rating: Not yet rated. 
Published: July 14, 2013 
Words: 9,020 (approximate) 
Language: English 
ISBN: 9781301473076
Note: For Mature Audiences Only
Available Exclusively on Smashwords

Guest Post: "Viking Attraction" by Violetta Rand

Many things attracted me to Vikings. I’ve been in love with history forever. As a highly imaginative child, prone to telling tall tales, reading and writing came naturally. Of course what I read and wrote is another story. It started with sneaking peeks at my eldest brother’s collection of Conan the Barbarian comic books and developed into a full blown obsession with heroes. What’s more compelling than a warrior’s tale? I can’t think of anything I like more. Combine romance, action, and a touch of mysticism and I’m hooked—in a big way.
Lacking any central authority during the early raids, Norsemen seized this opportunity and often returned from pillaging in glory and wealthier than they ever dreamed. Commoners became princes, men of reputation and honor. That’s where I draw inspiration. All Vikings, great and small, sought one common end—a seat at Odin’s table in Valhalla.
Imagining the glories of Asgard, the heavenly realm where Odin and his children lived, made it easy to develop my hero, Randvior Sigurdsson. Herculean and irrevocably devoted to Odin, Randvior might appear the typical Alpha at first glance, but he’s not. His father, Anundr Sigurdsson, decided his only son would benefit from the wealth he’d earned from seafaring. As a result, my hero received an English education. Fluent in many languages and well-traveled, Randvior anticipates change, including the expansion of the Church. He’s worked hard to establish trading rights and new homesteads across Europe. He’s tired of raiding and considers it an unnecessary risk. This wisdom gives him the ability to think more liberally and make better choices for his future. Kill or be killed might be the mantra of the Viking Age, but mercy has its advantages. Randvior demonstrates mercy when he first encounters Noelle Sinclair.
Noelle Sinclair is a young noblewoman from Durham, England. Although she’s not her father’s favorite daughter, he respects her the most because she’s shown how independent and quick witted she is under pressure. That said, Noelle is also educated and quite fond of reading. When three longships appear in the middle of the night, it’s Noelle who springs into action and leads her sister to safety. Once she realizes other women from her household are unaccounted for, she marches back to the castle to confront the invaders and save her kinsmen. This allegiance attracts the attention of Randvior who bargains with Noelle’s brother for custody of her.
Noelle has no intention of forsaking her home. She opposes Randvior every step of the way—from Durham to Norway. Each holds the other responsible for many mishaps, including the legitimacy of their opposed religions. Blind Allegiance offers a glimpse into the turbulent life of a Viking lord who offers his soul to a woman he’s not supposed to love. And Noelle knows it’s a risk of a lifetime loving a man she’s supposed to hate.

Book Review: "Lily’s Leap" by Tea Cooper

51-ubKItvIL

Lily is a determined and independent woman who is rebuilding her life after the tragic death of her husband and mother. She is living in a world where her opinions and abilities are not valued and are routinely overlooked. Captain Tom is difficult to understand. He seems all bad and naughty, but given the chance, he is a man seeking a purpose. Once he finds Lily, he also finds himself.

I found Cooper’s writing style slow, I believe it was purposely done to develop an interest in character motivations. I think there are two schools of thought on writing, one where characters are explained at the beginning, and another where we are told their actions and their motivations are hinted at. I guess I am just from the other school of thought. I like to understand what characters are doing and why, rather than making educated guesses.

Lily’s Leap is a short novel and focuses on a week in the lives of the characters. As such, Cooper’s writing is easy to read and vividly paints an image of the Australian bush as both charming and dangerous. I really enjoyed the images Cooper invokes through her skilled use of language. Overall, a well-written book by a talented writer. Sadly, I found the characters hard to relate to and at times shallow, especially Captain Tom. Most of the time, I didn’t have any idea what he was doing or thinking. 

(3 Crowns – A Duchess of a Good Read)

(Reviewed by Countess Sarah)

3

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Review: "Silk & Scandal" by Cassandra Dean

Decadent Publishing Company, LLC
Regency Romance
Synopsis:

Eight years ago…

Thomas Cartwright and Lady Nicola Fitzgibbons were friends. Over the wall separating their homes, Thomas and Nicola talked of all things – his studies to become a barrister, her frustrations with a lady’s limitations.

All things end.

When her diplomat father gains a post in Hong Kong, Nicola must follow. Bored and alone, she falls into scandal. Mired in his studies of the law and aware of the need for circumspection, Thomas feels forced to sever their ties.

But now Lady Nicola is back…and she won’t let him ignore her.

Review:

Silk and Scandal is a neatly wrapped little package of a novella. It is written concisely and to the point; the point being a romance between an orphan turned barrister and the daughter of an aristocrat.

Thomas Cartright, adopted from the poorhouse at age 9 by a wealthy couple who gave him financial and familial advantages in life, is now reacquainted with Lady Nicola Fitzgibbons, his childhood neighbor, now a lady of “scandal” via flirtations across the continents.
“Nic” has taken it upon herself to write about her travels (and travails) to Thomas and he, although vexed by her letters, reluctantly returns them. Their correspondence lasts for almost ten years as Nic hops one country to another, escaping scandal after scandal, whilst Thomas completes his law training.
Upon her return to England, Nicola’s and Thomas’ lives are rekindled, with Nicola looking for romance and Thomas more concerned about his law career. Through a series of mishaps and misunderstandings, buried feelings are unearthed; however quarrels and calamities abound, making the road for romance as jagged and sharp as an unpaved graveled path.
The characters appear to be typical in nature, with Nicola being flighty and dreamy and Thomas being on the stodgy side; however, when they are with each other, their guards are let down, revealing how very likable their characters are underneath all the crinoline and cravats, but not without an extraordinarily mortifying moment that puts Thomas’ hard-earned career in dangerous peril.
Cassandra Dean has written a very amenable and enjoyable short story that allows the reader to escape into a brief, albeit, delectable 19th century liaison.

(Reviewed by Countess Barbara)

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Book Review: "A Note of Scandal" by Nicky Penttila

Set in post-Napoleonic England, the lives of William Marsh and Olivia Delancey intertwine in unforeseen circumstances between newspaper reels, music sheets and political speeches. With 246 juicy- pages, it is another must-read for this hot-summer season to make your hearts race!
A Note of Scandal is based on the events of Summer of 1814 in England, when Napoleon has just been defeated for the second time is and he surrendered to the British. When the British economy is coming to terms with the war expenses and thousands and British men, have returned home either in coffins, decorated with a medal or broken. The future of the middle-class men seems rather bleak and many are those seeking reforms in the wake of industrialisation.
Whilst the Lords are still thinking about the Emperor or have left the city to visit their summer country houses, a newspaper battle ensues between The Register and The Beacon.
It is in the light of this scenario that Nicky Penttila succeeds to weave an interesting and consuming novel between two people with different backgrounds and different passions in life.
William Marsh is a late-twenty-something publisher of the newspaper The Beacon. His only purpose in life is to follow in his father’s footsteps whilst side-stepping his mistakes – to tell the truth at all costs. A true journalist he is always seeking a scoop and does not rely on common sources for his articles. His management of the newspaper made him successful and is highly regarded even by Lords. William Marsh knew the power of words and of the publishing industry.
Olivia Delancey on the other hand is a 24 year-old maiden lady. Her father has no male heirs and his political career has ruined the family treasures. With an almost barren house, her passion is music and her prospect to marry her cousin Richard who is bound to inherit her family’s estate. Olivia though is very intelligent and kind-hearted. She never backs away from a challenge and is always scheming. When two of her friends find themselves in trouble, she is the one that comes to their rescue with a seemingly brilliant plan.
Women at the time were considered as beautiful and were regarded enchanting enough to make small talk with; however they were not reputed ‘creative’ and the possibility of a woman writing a book or composing a piece of music was almost blasphemous. Our heroine Olivia Delancey; challenges this stoic post-Napoleonic, male-dominated society and makes her musical tunes famous by publishing them under a friend’s name. Her life becomes tangled up with the future of her friends and her new indirect boss and love interest.
However, enough with the plot as I don’t want to provide any spoilers; this book is enchanting and gripping from the very first page. Beautifully written, the reader is engulfed with the plight of the returned soldiers and their futures but also with the struggle that women face when they are continuously considered ‘less’ than men.
It is a passion driven novel that has a rather fast paced plot with various twists and array of characters and detailed descriptions. Nicky Penttila vividly portrays England of the early 18th century not so much in a ‘Dickens’ way with a focus on the poor but more on the rise of the middle class and the learnt men with no title. Immediately the discourse in the Ale House is reminiscent of a Jane Austen novel and in a similar fashion, the women of this novel are strong, yet tender and compassionate who do not aspire the impossible but work within their limits (given the social limits) to better their futures.
It is a novel of hope with three-dimensional characters that one immediately takes a likening to from the early pages. With no real villain and no specific heroes; the novel offers a variety of surprises maybe not so much in the development of the plot itself but rather in the character’s growth. In fact whilst I personally loved the story and I was also particularly captured and interested in the character developments. I was also pleased that secondary characters were given ample space to talk and to develop as well. This novel is as much about the historical context as it is about the romance. In fact I was pleased to find a manner of courtship between characters that whilst true to its time it was also very human and down to earth. The relationship between the men and women is all about passion and love with enough romanticism as there is realism both in their physical gestures as well in the speech.
If it wasn’t clear from my review yet, I given this book a 5 Crowns – Sovereign Queen of Historical Love rating as it was surprisingly interesting and I couldn’t put it down easily. It is long enough to provide you with a good amount of pleasurable reading and it is engaging instantly. I wish Nicky Penttila the best of luck and I hope to see this book on the silver screen in the future as I do think a ‘live’ rendition would be appreciated by many. 
(Reviewed by Countess Samantha)

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Book Review: “Defiant Imposter” by Miriam Minger

Susanna is a well-created character. She is realistic and interesting. She is trying to do her best in an impossible situation; assuming the identity of her dead mistress Camille Cary, as her dying request, to ensure she doesn’t become lost in America. Camille’s rationale being that no-one knows her on her deceased father’s plantation, and someone needs to carry on the family name. Little does Susanna know she is caught up in the middle of manipulation, lies and a consuming need for revenge.

Adam is, well, a very sexy and passionate person. He is forced to try and win Susanna into marriage by unpleasant circumstances which were once beyond his control, but with Camille’s (Susanna’s) wealth, are no longer.

I relished Susanna’s fiery narration as she competes in a game where she thinks she knows the rules. I loved watching both her and Adam fight to appear relaxed as they court each other, while knowing the game was much more complex than either realized.

At one point, both Adam and Susanna believe the other to be a simpleton in need to some reassuring so they can be manipulated to their own ends. Minger is a great writer who creates wonderful insights into each character so the reader is well informed, but not overwhelmed.

This is one of those books to which I always return. I know my favourite moments (some teasingly rated PG), and can find them effortlessly. Susanna is a delight to observe as she obstinately seeks a suitable husband. Adam is a powerful lead who drives Susanna and the reader to distraction on more than one occasion.

A well-written, heart racing, read into the night book. Full of passion and intrigue, which will have you cheering for Adam and Susanna, and often snickering behind their back as they underestimate each other’s passion, intelligence, and motivations.

 

(Reviewed by Countess Sarah – 5 Crowns – Sovereign Queen of Historical Love)
 
5
 

Review: "The Rogue’s Prize" by Katherine Bone

Crimson Romance
Traditional Publisher
Synopsis:

Captain Henry Guffald is no ordinary captain. A member of Nelson’s Tea, he’s learned the hard way what treachery will achieve. As a result, he’s sworn an oath never to give in to his ambition. Daring, proud, Henry sets out to rescue a comrade captured in Spain. But when his ship is attacked by a female pirate roving the Cornish coast, waylaying his plans, Henry is forced to make her his prize if he’s going to save a good man’s life.

Lady Adele Seaton has been raised in a family profited by a lucrative smuggling business. Though her parents wish otherwise, she would no sooner give up the call to rove than marry. But obtaining independence is a challenge when her brother faces a hangman’s noose. Planning to save him, she captures an English ship. But things go awry and she is dragged home in disgrace, forced to ally herself with the one man with the power to anchor more than her ship – her heart.

 Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter

Review:

Second book in the historical romance trilogy “Nelson’s Tea,” The Rogue’s Prize is a thrilling amorous adventure that captivates its readers from the very beginning. I’ve read only this novel by Ms. Katherine Bone, I’ll make sure to look into her other books soon.

Regardless whether you read the first book in the series or not (I haven’t), this one is a pretty standalone adventure with an array of interesting characters; from men in uniforms, double agents and a damsel in distress.
I won’t go into the details of the story (as I’ll post the summary at the end), but I was entranced by Captain Guffald and his entourage immediately. If you have a soft-spot for pirates and life at sea, this is a book I recommend.
The story has nice twists to it, good dialogue and clear descriptions. The author balances out the importance she gives to the romancing as much as she gives to the action scenes. Some hot, sensual loving wasn’t missing which, speaking frankly, we always anticipate in these novels. Lady Adele and Captain Guffald are two strong characters with as much different temperaments and characters as they are each others’ equals and even though us ladies tend to spiral in favour of the Captain (aye, aye!); you will be pleased not to be reading about a whiny lady concerned with her hair and her dress.
Whilst loving the story, it doesn’t mean I would change anything either. For starters, I would have loved to see more twists. The verbal skirmishes between the hero and heroine were interesting, and I would have liked to see them clash more rather than read their repetitive musings.
Captain Guffald whilst being a handsome navy captain, he is also a recurring character from the previous novel. Ms.Bone gives us ample information; through his thoughts to learn about his past adventures that took place in the other book, however sometimes it feels like his musings are too cumbersome for this book and for the man himself. For readers of the first book this aspect might be a bit boring and repetitive. For new ones like me; it actually helped me to get inside the man’s head but after half the book was over I felt that maybe I didn’t really need to read the first novel at all as he provided major spoilers. Nonetheless, Ms.Bone’s tactic is similar to the human mind and how some traumatic experiences are relived on a daily basis which shows also the depth of the character.
Finally my verdict would be a 4 Crowns – Princess of a Charming Story. The plot was good, the characters interesting and so is the dialogue. It is wonderfully written and for a pirate-lover like me; this novel was ideal to start my Summer reading spree with.

(Review by Countess Samantha)

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