Sunday, May 16, 2010

Review for "The Pride of Lions" & "The Blood of Roses" by Marsha Canham

What is it about the Scottish Highlands that speaks to that romantic side of me, that hidden princess that wants to be saved by her gallant prince? Is it the Scottish man..... strong, stubborn, proud, laying down his life for his country, his kin and his one and only true love. In the Pride of Lions and in its sequel, the Blood of Roses, Marsha Canham has transported me back in time to that unique place in history where lairds ruled and battles were fought with swords over land and love.

I have been introduced to another striking Scotsman....Alexander Cameron, a legendary , dark-haired warrior whose destiny takes him to England and to the woman that will change his life forever. Upon meeting the undeniably beautiful but spoiled Catherine Augustine Ashbrooke, feelings arise in Alexander that he has pushed aside for many years. He wins her hand in a duel, yet she has no idea that this stranger will eventually win her heart, her love and her soul. Catherine eventually finds out that Alexander is a Scotsman, a spy in her beloved England. He has no choice but to take her to his homeland, to the highlands, a place he hasn't seen in years. Catherine has been raised to think of Scotland as a cold, desolate place and its people as pure savages who can't even speak proper English. All of this changes as Catherine undergoes a metamorphosis, from a pampered, English child to an empathetic, mature lass. She sees for herself the majestic beauty of the land, the rolling hills and the black lochs, as well as the compassion, honour and pride of its people. There is a powerful love between Alexander and Catherine, one that has him opening his heart and soul to a Sassenach, one that has her yearning for the very man that will battle against her homeland and her people. I enjoyed the banter between these two, reminding me very much of another Scot and Sassenach named Jamie and Claire.

These books are filled with ancient blood fueds and some historical battles that are vividly described by the author. I found myself caught up in the Scottish quest for freedom as they marched their way across England, only to be defeated at Culloden, a horrific ending to a gallant dream for liberty. Yet throughout the stories, there is that ever present sense of hope, hope for independence, hope for peace, hope for a love that is all encompassing and never-ending. I do believe we are all princesses waiting and hoping for our knight in shining armour to rescue us, to throw us down and ravage us in the wild grass, to take us upon his horse and ride us into the sunset, but mostly, to love us more than life itself. We are all waiting for our Jamie, our Alexander, our champion. I believe I have found my warrior, although I do wish he wore a kilt!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Review for "The Summer Garden" by Paullina Simons

After reading this book I can't help but ask "Can anyone truly survive war?" When that army seargant comes home to his beautiful wife, the one he envisioned every night on the battlefield as he crept along the cold forest floor, closer and closer to his enemy, does he just wrap his arms around her and forget? When he nestles his face into her long locks and smells her floral shampoo, does he just forget the whistling of the grenades and the blasts of the bombs? When he lays his hands upon her and feels her arch towards him, does he just forget the feel of his rifle and the cold steel of his blade? When he sees his dark-haired son for the first time since his birth, does that army seargant just forget the piercing eyes of his enemy and the smell of the dead? How can he? How could anyone?

Although the war is over, Alexander and Tatiana are still fighting. However, the battle is no longer with the Germans or Russians. It is with life....the reality of daily living. Both of them are tormented by the ravages of war, memories of pain, suffering and loss that engulf them when they look at each other, touch each other, whisper to each other. They already know how to they have to learn how to live.

I devoured this book. Being the final installment in the trilogy, I desperately wanted to know what happened to this amazing couple. The connection between Tatiana and Alexander remains undeniably awe-inspiring. She tries desperately to heal his scars, both physical and mental. There is nothing that soothes him more than Tatiana....his wife, his only true love, "his cradle and his grave". The whispers he shares with her are like footprints across my own heart. Only Jamie Fraser from Outlander has the power to caress me with words like Alexander does. Even as they grow older, Alexander remains the strong, striking and stubborn man he was in his twenties when he crossed the street for a young Russian girl named Tatiana. Fate tries to snatch their happiness away by luring their oldest son into the throes of the Vietnam war, a son who has grown up to be just like his dad, only taller, stronger and more beautiful.

I did not want this story to end. I have journeyed with these characters from the beginning of their tragically sweet love affair and I have run the gauntlet of emotions with them. For me, Paullina Simons has proven that love is stronger than the evils of war and hatred. She has made me believe that happiness can be found after devastating sorrow. She has shown that even the strongest of men need the loving whispers of another. She has made me believe that love will keep us young forever. Thank goodness....... I am forever young.
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