Tag Archive | historical romance

The Burning Chambers, Kate Mosse

The Burning Chambers,  Kate Mosse

The Burning Chambers by [Mosse, Kate]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Historical fiction

I remember reading Kate’s Labyrinth years ago, but haven’t read any of her books since then but I enjoy historical fiction and was keen to read this.

I don’t know much about the religious divides of this time in France, I know more about UK history for this time and thought I’d enjoy reading about it. As in UK when there were religious controversies and changes, its a particularly gruesome time, where people were taken for spurious reasons and tortured at will. Its weird isn’t it how we think torturing someone for a confession will bring out the truth….
Sadly though I found the book incredibly slow starting, and though the pace did pick up I never got really engrossed in the story. I felt kind of bogged down by detail at times and had to put the book aside. That’s unusual for me, I love details, I love the little nitty-gritty intricacies of people’s lives, but in this book I felt that it just didn’t work for me.

If you’ve an interest in french/religious history this may appeal to you, I certainly expected I’d love it but…It’s well written and has all the elements for a good read for me but was one of those where the story and I just didn’t gel. I’m not really sure why, just that I found it a struggle to keep reading and eventually I was just pleased to have finished.
I won’t be reading further books in this series but would happily pick up another of Kate’s stories, even when you usually adore an authors work there’s always the chance some won’t suit.

Stars: Two and a half, I enjoyed parts but overall it wasn’t a hit with me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

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The War Widow, Lorna Gray

The War Widow,  Lorna Gray

The War Widow by [Gray, Lorna]

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

WW2 isn’t my favourite time setting for reading, but the amazon sample of this intrigued me, very mysterious, had me wanting to know what happens next.
Sadly I carried on wanting to know what came next, as for most of the book it seemed to me to be hinting at various events and revelations that didn’t come out until the very end, and even then I’m still unsure of just how all the connections tied in.
Its – for me, not for everyone clearly – a novel that was well written, had a fabulous use of language and yet was incredibly confusing. For much of the novel we know that Kate has experienced so many bad things, its her voice telling the story, but then the hints are there that maybe its all in her head, trauma from the suicide of her ex husband, trauma from the accident she head, so what she tells us may just be what she believes and not what actually happened.
I didn’t really like her, but of course she’s very true to the time, recent history it maybe but still a period when Men Ruled, and the ladies were expected to defer always.
I did like Adam, though sometimes he appeared brusque.
The other hotel residents were a mixed bunch and I just loved the way Mary’s sister was so determined to see Mary in the running for Adam’s affections, and the way she tried to discredit Kate constantly.
Overall it was an OK read, I did keep putting it aside as I was so confused at what was happening and incredibly frustrated not to know what was the big secret, what the guys after her wanted, what the police were really doing etc. It works perfectly that way for many readers, thus the five stars of course, but we’re all different and it didn’t suit me.
It does all tie up neatly, though even then the bluffs and obfuscation and constantly in presence, and getting to the end I had to re-read some parts to see exactly what had happened. I still can’t say I fully followed all of it 🙂

Stars: Three, its not a story I’d reread, and one I did struggle with, but that’s more a case of me not the book. Not all books suit all readers, that doesn’t make them bad books, just ones that will be loved by some and disregarded by others.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Pengarron Land, by Gloria Cook

Pengarron Land, by Gloria Cook

 

Pengarron Land (Pengarron Sagas Book 1) by [Cook, Gloria]

 

Genre:  General fiction (adult), Historical fiction.

I fell in love with historical Cornwall after the BBC drama back in the 70’s led me to reading all the Winston Graham novels. Many times! I hoped this series would be along those lines but sadly though there are similarities the story itself was too bland and uneventful for me.

It starts well, lots of promise but I was expecting the Poldark level of drama and it isn’t here. There is drama but its very slight, easily over and everyone is so -well- Nice. Kerensa is nice, Oliver is nice, Beatrice starts off being harsh to Kerensa but…she’s soon nice too,. Throw in others from the upper classes who welcome Kerensa (!), the villagers who are mostly happy for her, the wise but open minded vicar, the shopkeepers….you get it. Everyone is so Nice. Clem is to start with too but turns nasty, but even his jealousy has a stunted edge, he never really does much except moan and wallow in self pity.
Its not a bad book, felt very true to the period but I need more going on, more real drama, jealousy, angst, a bigger divide where Oliver marrying Kerensa would have caused a huge rift in society as it did in Poldark. I didn’t really understand why he married her, Tom was greedy enough that he’d have sold the land anyway, and Oliver could have fond a more suitable to his position wife than Kerensa. He’d barely noticed her so its not like he felt one look and he had to have her. Knowing she was already set to marry Clem he’s not the kind of guy who’d go against that just on a whim so his determination to marry her didn’t really work for me.

The Poldark echoes don’t really do this any favours, Oliver doesn’t have the charisma of Ross, Kerensa is sweet but doesn’t have Demelza’s sharp wit and determination, Beatrice has shades of Trudy, but without Jud it doesn’t really work. There’s a kiddley run by a widow, the miners and their hard lives, wrecks on the shore and smuggling, even a Rosina with a bad leg but somehow it all feels so pallid.
I expected Oliver’s contemporaries to be shocked, to be rude to Kerensa, for Clem to do more than wander round whinging, for the vicar to be spouting fire and brimstone, for the shopkeepers to be avaricious etc. Instead I read a novel that was probably far more true to the time period, but much less fun to read.
Its not a book I could dislike, its perfectly well written, just didn’t have the excitement and drama the Poldark connection gave me to expect.

Stars: Three, a story I had high hopes for but which ultimately was just an OK read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

 

Living in the Past, Jane Lovering

Living in the Past,  Jane Lovering

Living in the Past (Choc Lit) by [Lovering, Jane]

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Well, I’ll start with that genre category, women’s fiction. Why? I so hate that we alienate men from stories that they could well enjoy, splitting books into Women’s and Men’s is so dated, harks back to the fifties or so and has no place in literacy today. Well, that’s my take.

Anyway, to the book. I love Jane Lovering’s stories, find ChocLit delivers books I almost always love, and this one was another perfect read. A story that’s got that bit extra, not a cut and paste romance but one where there’s a fascinating story line running through.
I’m kind of open minded about time travel, just because we don’t understand it, if its possible, doesn’t mean it isn’t. After all years back what’s common place now was thought impossible, but science and technology brings leaping progress in what was thought impossible. I think of it as sort of parallel worlds, existing at the same time and maybe parts are thinner, maybe its some bloodlines, maybe time of year etc that allow people to pass through.

I love Grace, she’s been a widow for two years, and talks still to Jamie. I talk daily to my late husband to, so her feelings resonated with me. She has some great friends and they have been a solid support and as part of that Grace gets dragged off on an archaeology dig.
Duncan, the dig leader is a terrific character. He appears abrupt, abrasive and grumpy, yet his colleagues and students follow him avidly, knowing he’s very skilled at his career. This dig is personal for him though, and through it Grace discovers some of why he appears so unapproachable. I so felt for him, what an awful thing to happen, and the repercussions have shadowed his whole life.

Its kind of not hard to see where the story goes, but that didn’t matter, its delivered in such a fascinating way. I really felt there with Grace, out in the mud of the 21st century with the dig, and then back with Lady Hen. I love the way the two stories worked seamlessly, how they fitted together, and how we gained insights of the characters, saw how events can shape us. Life happens and we react to it, and what happens to us affects us as people.

Stars:Five, another great read from Jane, one I was really absorbed in and enjoyed thoroughly.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Lakota Moon Rising, Constance Gillam

Lakota Moon Rising, Constance Gillam

Lakota Moon Rising by [Gillam, Constance]
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, I’m fairly selective but this is the sort I really enjoy, a romance, wrapped up in a very real period realistic story about the people involved, the day to day issues and events that they undertake.
Julia has a sad back story but one that was very real for the time, that affected so many people. Horrible times when people of colour were regraded as less, who had no rights, whose children could be sold like possessions. She’s determined not to give in to the under-seer, who routinely uses women for his pleasure, but knows the only way out is to run, and that if she’s caught the consequences will be horrific.
She is captured by Comanche Indians, and at that point I almost stopped reading as what happened was pretty gruesome….but I skipped some of it and then when she was traded to Trades with Horses the story really began for me. He’s a very foresighted warrior but battling not only the whites, who he knows will deceive the Indians, go back on their word, but his own people who simply don’t believe them. He’s fighting for their way of life but tragically he doesn’t stand a chance. When he sees Julia something in her sparks to him and he determines she will be his wife. Convincing her though takes time 😉 She’s set her heart on Canada and freedom. Will she give up that dream, or chose to stay with him. They undertake some perilous events, antagonism from white men and his own people in their quest to be together and its a story that I really enjoyed. It’s a shortish read, a 0.5 in a series but packs a lot in to the book.

Stars: Five, a very genuine feeling story, heartbreaking at times but with a HEA – I do need those.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Rufus Spy, A medieval mystical mystery, Alys Clare

The Rufus Spy, A medieval mystical mystery, Alys Clare

Rufus Spy, The: A medieval mystical mystery (An Aelf Fen Medieval Mystery) by [Clare, Alys]

Edit: I wrote my review some time back, just noticed kindle price. Over £12 for an eBook? My experience is that prices often come down after a couple of moths so though it was a great read, I’d wait a bit before buying. 

 

Genre:  Historical fiction

I’m an occasional historical fiction reader, and this novel appealed to me from the description.
I didn’t realise it was so far into an established series though, but the book is so contained that it was easy to follow the story despite not reading the other books.
I have to be honest here – I thought this was part of another series where I’d read many of the earlier books several years back. And – its not…though both involve the same early medieval time period, a single, independent female healer, and set in the Fens in the UK ( I know the area living in the next county)
The other series is Mistress of the Art of Death, Ariana Franklin and if you like that you’ll love this.

Its an excellent read, felt very real and I enjoyed the feeling of living back in historical times.
I felt I was there with Lassair, and she has some heavy events to content with in this book. I loved Jack, understood his frustration with his sheriff boss, a crooked man, out for himself not justice. Something not uncommon in that time sadly…
I’d like to read earlier books and see where Lassair became involved with him, and earlier with Rollo. I really didn’t like Rollo, found him quite selfish but had I read earlier books maybe I’d have liked him more – who knows?

I loved the slant of magic introduced, it’s very subdued but comes up at appropriate times, and was a fascinating addition that allowed the story to go further than it would otherwise, while still retaining credibility.
There’s something about those old beliefs in magic that appeals to me, and I have no trouble believing when its placed as it is here.

Lassair has a number of changes to her life here, a troubled and dangerous journey to undertake, and I get the sense her life is taking a big change.
The story kept me reading, interested to see what would happen, who was behind the murders, whether they were connected and if so how? I was wrong – actually I love being wrong, love a book that’s not a predictable read.
I was sad when a certain event happened, didn’t expect that and very unhappy for certain people at the ending. I’m hoping the next book brings a positive change.

I haven’t read any other of Alys Clare’s novels but I’d certainly like to, she can write exactly they type of story I want to read. One that feels real, is true to the time period and has me guessing who is behind events and why…

Stars: five, a great read, felt very real and I look forward to the next book.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Resolve, Carla Susan Smith (Corsets and Carriages 2)

Resolve, Carla Susan Smith (Corsets and Carriages 2)

Resolve (Corsets and Carriages) by [Smith, Carla Susan]

Genre:  Romance, Historical.

I love Susan’s Vampire’s Promise series, and when I saw the first one in this historical series I thought I’d like to read these books. A historical trilogy its a very big departure from the supernatural world!
I loved book one, have just finished book two (read the day I got it!!) and am keen to see how things wrap up. Luckily there’s not too long to wait, book one is Jan 9th, book two Jan 31st and book three is scheduled for Feb 18, so not one of those where by the time the end part is released you’ve forgotten how it started.

Rian is the archetypical, dark, swoon-making hero, and a true gentleman. Someone who had vowed never to remarry after the death of his wife, but who was known for his affairs, though each lady knew that they would never mean more to him.
Then he found – literally – Catherine and his thinking has undergone a huge change even if he’s not quite ready to admit it to himself.

Lady Isabel though is determined to be the next Mrs Connor, regardless of what Rian wants or feels, and she isn’t going to let him having feelings for someone else stand in her way. She’s a rich widow and has the money to “persuade” others to do what she wants, and removing Catherine is her current desire. She really is a wonderful character, one of those who are totally selfish, manipulative and have no care for others.
As I was reading part of me was thinking “c’mon, surely they can see through this” while hoping Carla let things run to the full extent and drag out the drama and theatrics. Its characters like hers, so deliciously avid and amoral that can make a book. Romance without drama or controversy, without some nasty, grasping selfish types can be very bland. Lady Isobel is one of the finest anti-heroines 😉
Of course there’s Catherine, recovering well, developing strong feelings for Rian, becoming part of the Connor family and loved by them and the staff, but who still has no memories other than her name. Slowly things happen that are bringing back little parts, and her confidence is growing. Isobel doesn’t like that she’s still there and there’s a fabulous private confrontation between the two fairly early in the book, that shows Isobel she’s not the pushover she hoped. Ultimately I think Catherine will be in real danger from her, though Isobel has everyone else ( apart from the staff of course) hoodwinked about her motives and machinations.
Its another wonderful read and though its part two of a trilogy Carla avoids the awful, hated cliffhanger employed by so many authors – I hate them with a vengeance, and TBH they spoil a book for me. Carla finishes this on a natural break point, setting up book three and delivering a tantalising description of what’s to come.

I’m not a great historical reader but I do love to occasionally dip into the genre, and this trilogy is proving a perfect read for me.

Stars: Five, some fabulous characters, what looks like an awful betrayal, and the promise of lots more drama to come. I adore books with lots of jealousy and dramatics.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Marry in Haste,  Jane Aiken Hodge

Marry in Haste,  Jane Aiken Hodge

Marry in Haste by [Aiken Hodge, Jane]

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Historical Romance

Quick moan as usual about Woman’s fiction – why? Just why do we exclude a whole segment of readers? Men can and do enjoy writing and reading romances….

Republished from a 1969 story, but doesn’t feel dated, the advantages of a historical novel I guess.

Its a fun read, I don’t review many historical works, but like to take a dip back in time for a change from whatever else I’ve been reading, especially if its been a heavy suspense or intense fantasy work. Kind of recharges/refreshes my brain.
Camilla was a lovely girl, lucky too, but a book where she ended up on the streets and died wouldn’t be much fun would it 😉 Or long…I liked her willingness to try and make her way, her determination to make the best of every situation, and of course her loyalty.

Lord Leominster seems quite a cold guy when we first meet him, but he has his reasons, and he’s kind to Camilla, and to his wayward younger sister.
Much of the story takes place in Europe at the height of the French/English/Spanish wars and Leominster is heavily involved uncover in some dangerous work. Camilla once again needs to pull together all her resources and do her best to keep them all safe.

There’s some drama here, quite intense at times, and of course some romance, but which is very muted, more a slow kindling of love coming from mutual respect. Its how things often were back then though, with so many arranged marriages, so where it would have irked me in a contemporary romance it felt perfect here. I did like the way things got bad before they became better, I do love that lost love potential dramatics in a romance and here it worked well for me.

Stars: Five, a fun and interesting read, felt very period appropriate and with some terrific characters.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Mischance, Carla Susan Smith (Corsets and Carriages 1)

Mischance, Carla Susan Smith (Corsets and Carriages 1)

Mischance (Corsets and Carriages) by [Smith, Carla Susan]

Genre:  Romance, Historical.

I love Susan’s Vampire’s Promise series, and when I saw this I thought I’d like to read these books.

A historical trilogy its a very big departure from the supernatural world!

I’ve really enjoyed the first part and I’m looking forward to reading the next ones. Luckily there’s not too long to wait, book one is Jan 9th, book two Jan 31st and book three is scheduled for Feb 18, so not one of those where by the time the end part is released you’ve forgotten how it started.

I did find the beginning a bit slow, but it becomes relevant later and made sense once I got to that section, and TBH I can’t see any other way it could have been done 😉

Some great characters here, Rian makes a terrific lead, just that bit of tragedy and mystique about his past, and he’s a real swoon Hero. Charming, good looking ladies man but with honour and ethics, rich, courteous and polite and its clear he’s taken with Catherine from the start.

Catherine has been through such a lot, lost her father in a tragedy, which left her homeless, passed off to a cousin who was horrific to her. That kind of thing was very real in the past, when ladies were considered property of the nearest male relative. Short of actual murder most treatment was accepted, everyone turned a blind eye. Men were never in the wrong, always the ladies. Gah!! She hits lucky being found by Rian, it could so easily have ended another way.

Rian’s housekeeper ( who’s name I’ve forgotten ) and Tilly, one of the maids are good characters and fit well in the story.

And the real gem of the story, the deliciously immoral, selfish, ambitious Lady Isobel. A widow determined to be the next Mrs Connor, she’s not going to let someone stand in her way. She doesn’t care about Catherine, doesn’t give thought to Rian’s feelings, she’s just determined to get her own way. She’s got the funds through her marriage to do plenty of harm too.
Oh part two, come on, I really want to see what she’s planning!! Catherine has already shown she’s got backbone but Isobel is one determined lady. Let battle commence.

I’m not a great historical reader but I do love to occasionally dip into the genre, and this was one perfect read for me.

Stars: Five, some fabulous characters, and the promise of lots of drama to come. I adore books with lots of jealousy and dramatics.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

The Rose in Winter, Sarah Harrison

The Rose in Winter, Sarah Harrison

Genre: Romance

I remember reading Sarah’s Flowers of the Field maybe 35 years ago. I had three children under four and reading was a welcome escape from toddler-world.
It was my favourite book for a long while and got very dog eared from rereading.
I’ve read a couple more from Sarah since then, but not for a long while, and when i saw this is took me back to Flowers.

In many ways this story feels like my memories of that book, a story told in both past and present, Barbara reminds me of Thea, Molly of Thea’s sister – can’t recall her name, and Johnny feels so much like Jack, charismatic, always on the edge of excitement and danger.
Its a story that’s solid, dense, not a light, fluffy tale but one that’s full of intensity, full of characters that we’ve all met in life.
Its not fast paced, but moves forward slowly, bringing the reader along with the characters as we see events unfold.

I loved Barbara but at times wanted to say “take a chance, go for it”, and yet she’s a product of a different age, a time when choices were not so rich for women as they are now.
Johnny, well, I do so love the bad boys….and he’s a terrific one. you just know that behind the easy smile there’s so much going on, that he’s full of secrets. Its seems simple at first, Barbara likes him he likes her and they begin a romance, but of course things happen, and it made me wonder why? What was the reason behind the actions? Habit? Fear? Self sabotage?
Just when I thought the story was winding to a gentle happy close Sarah threw in a few more revelations, secrets long held, and an ending that – well, it’s not what I expected but given the way the story played out perhaps I should have.

Its not going to be a Flowers, constant re-reader for me, but it was a story I really enjoyed even if I would have liked some parts to go differently!
Its a book to lose yourself in a different age.

Stars: five, a solid story that I really enjoyed reading, but I’d have liked a slightly different ending 😉

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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