Monday, January 31, 2011

Review for "When He Was Wicked" by Julia Quinn

Can you fall in love more than once? When one love is lost forever, can it be possible to find another.... a second chance to feel wanted, desired, cherished, loved? These are the questions running through the very soul of Francesca Bridgerton in "When He Was Wicked", the sixth installment in the Bridgerton series.

Francesca is happily married and blissfully in love with her husband John, the Earl of Kilmartin. She has everything she could dream of...a man who adores her, a family who treasures her, a beautiful home and a cousin (in law), Michael Stirling, who is really her best friend. Without warning, Francesca's world is turned upside down when John suddenly dies. She has become a widow, and the one she instinctively turns to for comfort is Michael.

Michael Stirling has a bit of a problem. He is utterly, totally, completely, wholly, insanely, thoroughly in love with his cousin's wife. From the moment he laid eyes upon Francesca, he was committed....committed to a life filled with lies. He pretended he was the happy rake, content to be unmarried, hopping from mistress to mistress, engaging in behaviour many men would envy. But only Michael knew it was all a lie, a show, a living hell on earth. For every day, he had to hide his true feelings, his utter love and desire for his cousin's wife. A cousin he loved like a brother, a cousin he would never betray. But with John's death comes grief, anguish and guilt because now, Michael has inherited John's title, wealth and home. But the only thing he wants is Francesca. But how could he take his cousin's wife? She feels nothing for him but kinship. She could never find out how he truly felt about her. He could never do that to John. But soon enough, a kiss is shared between Michael and Francesca that unlocks a passion unlike no other. What will happen now...for there is no going back, and Michael can no longer hide his desires.

This book is quite different from what I am used to from Ms. Quinn, but I loved it anyways. It lacks the humourous, quick, easy banter I am so used to but in exchange, it is filled with a wickedness that I haven't seen in any of the previous tales. I truly felt for Michael and his tortured, romantic soul. He was a good man who could not get past the overwhelming sea of guilt he felt in loving his cousin's wife. Even when John died, Michael still wrestled with his conscience, feeling he had committed the ultimate betrayal. When he finally is pushed over the edge, I felt my heart tear in half as he finally admitted his feelings for Francesca:
"It’s because I love you, damn me to hell. Because I’ve always loved you. Because I loved you when you were with John, and I loved you when I was in India, and God only knows I don’t deserve you, but I love you, anyway.” Francesca sagged against the door. “How’s that for a witty little joke?” he mocked. “I love you. I love you, my cousin’s wife. I love you, the one woman I can never have. I love you, Francesca Bridgerton Stirling."

I didn't like the heroine as much as previous female leads in this series. I saw her as indecisive and weaker than other leading ladies. But it was liberating to see a female let her guard down and become a "wicked" participant in the dance of desire. The love scenes were hot and steamy and Michael was, well....the title says it all! This was a wonderful story about moving on, about second chances....if you are lucky enough to get one, keep it close to your heart and hold on.

When He Was Wicked is book #4 in the 2011 Historical Romance Challenge.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Friday Blog Hops Jan. 28th

Book Blogger Hop

This week's question comes from Aliyah who blogs at Des Absurdit├ęs:

"What book are you most looking forward to seeing published in 2011? Why are you anticipating that book?"

Well, this is a hard one. The one book that I absolutely cannot wait for is the next installment in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. But, alas, I will have to wait another couple of years for that one, since it takes her about three years to write one. However, her latest Lord John book will be coming out this year and that is as close to hunky highlander, Jamie Fraser, as I'm going to I'll take it! How about you? What book are you waiting for this year?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Connection Between Music and Books

It is 8:10 in the morning and I'm on my way to work. John Legend's sexy baritone is emanating from my CD player and I realize that my mind has just left me....I'm taken away. His words are like the footsteps of my past. My heart aches as he sings:

Take me away from here
Take me somewhere where love feels like breathing
I don't care where we go
As long as I'm there with you

I realize that my heart is breaking, right there in the Tim Horton's drive through. I realize that music, for me, is like reading. I am escaping....perhaps retreating to my past or wishing for a future that could never be. Akin to reading, where I am connecting to the words on the page, I am drawn to the words in this song. The musician is a story teller, evoking in me both passion and heartache. How does this artist conjure up images of my past, emotions I have hidden away in the depths of my soul, that only his melody can evoke? Smells, sights, sounds....they all come rushing at me when he says:

I could tell she's been through pain I could only dream
Nightmares that live where you live
Tears well in her eyes
But she would not let them fall
I'd give the world to know
Where her smile is

It's magic. Authors and musicians....I envy them. What I wouldn't give to possess such a talent....a gift....the ability to transport someone to their favourite place, to make them feel the memory of their first kiss, their first heartbreak, their first real love. So for now, I continue to listen and read.

Take a listen for yourself:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blog Makeover!

I have been wanting to change the look of my blog for a long time now. I wanted something that reflected more of style, my vision, my personality. Well, when I saw the work of Lori over at Use Your Imagination Designs, I knew I found a treasure! Lori was professional and creative. She managed to create a design that reflected what my blog is all about.....escaping into the wonderful world of books. She gave me that bit of sparkle and whimsy I was looking for, yet kept the unified theme I was seeking. I love the finished product! Thank you so much Lori! I would really appreciate any thoughts from those of you stopping by. What do you think of my new design?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Review for "How To Marry a Duke" by Vicky Dreiling

Picture it. Twenty four women in one room all gathered for a single purpose. All twenty four dressed in their finest attire. All twenty four fanning themselves as they coquettishly peer at their prize. All twenty four vying for the attention of Tristan, the sexy Duke of Shelbourne.

Tristan needs to get married, but he is tired of the little chits he meets time after time, ball after ball, each a giggling little female without the outstanding qualities he is seeking in a duchess. At one such ball he happens upon Tessa Mansfield and is instantly drawn to her. Tristan is surprised to realize that she is Society's notorious matchmaker...the "mantrapper". Tristan decides to enlist Tessa's help in finding a wife. Little does he know what Ms. Mansfield has in store for him....a Regency style bachelor show.

Tristan must choose his bride from the 24 candidates that Tessa has hand-picked for him. He has made it clear that he is not looking for love, only a dutiful wife that will elicit some passion in the bedroom. Tessa, a romantic at heart, is determined to find Tristan not only a suitable wife, but also a love match. The two spend a great deal of time together, and before she realizes what is happening, Tessa finds herself falling for the Duke. Of course, this is unacceptable. She is the matchmaker, and he is her client. But the attraction is undeniable. What will happen if Tessa gives in to her emotions? What if Tristan gives in to the burning desire he feels for Tessa?

This is a thoroughly enjoyable, light-hearted historical romance with a wonderful mix of humour and emotion. I enjoyed the witty banter between the Duke and Tessa. Their desire for one another was palpable and the fire that consumed each of them when their lips met was all-consuming. Vicky Dreiling does a fabulous job of bringing her hero and heroine to life, but I also became engrossed with the secondary characters, especially Tristan's best friend, Hawk, whose story will be coming soon. I cannot wait! The Duchess, Tristan's mother, a sly, witty, tell-it-like-it-is kind of gal, was another character whom I came to enjoy and adore. Even some of the girls Tessa chose to vie for Tristan's hand were well developed and endearing characters. Overall, this is a fun read that will make you laugh out loud and sigh with envy as our hero and heroine find their true love match.

I received this book free from the publisher through the Goodreads "First Reads" contest.

HOW TO MARRY A DUKE is book number 3 in the 2011 Historical Romance Challenge.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Another Award!


I have been awarded the Stylish Blogger Award by, not one....but two fellow bloggers! Wow! I am very humbled and excited to have received this honour from the Book Angel at Fay-Bay's Books and Lucia at iLive, iLaugh, Ilove Books. So, thank you, thank you!

Here are the rules:
1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post.
2. Tell us 7 things about yourself.
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers.
4. Contact these bloggers and let them know they have won!

So, here are 7 things about little ol' me:

1. I am over 40 years old...just a little over 40! And I must say I like my fourties....I finally know who I am and I'm not afraid to show it!

2. After almost twenty years with my husband, I am still madly attracted to him. I find myself stealing glances at him, admiring his broad expanse of a chest, those bulging's like those romance novels I read!

3. I am a carb-o-holic! Give me some freshly baked bread with butter smeared all over it....I am now salivating.

4. Well, I must have some wine to go with that bread!

5. I live in Canada and I absolutely HATE the cold! I was born in a hot country (Guyana, South America) so that must be why I love it hot, hot, hot and sunny!

6. I think The Rock, aka Dwayne Johnson, is magnificent!

7. I absolutely love reading. I am so glad that after many years of other stuff filling my life, I have returned to my love of books and my way of "escaping".

Now...I am passing on this award to the following great blogs out there:
1) For the love of books
2) Recklessly Reading
3) Readaholics Anonymous
4) Read Hot Reviews
5) Octopus Ink
6) Live...Love...Laugh...and Read
7) Literary R&R
8) Ivan Bookworm
9) Kelly's (Former) France Blog
10) Katie's Book Blog
11) Kate's Library
12) Fall In Love With Books
13) a GREAT read
14) Miss Remmers' Review
15) Musings of a Bookshop Girl

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Book Blogger Hop for Jan. 7 to 10

Book Blogger Hop
This week's question comes from Ivan who blogs at Ivan Bookworm:

"What book influenced or changed your life? How did it influence/change you?"

This is a tough one to answer. When I was young, Judy Blume opened up a whole new venue of books at a time in my life when I was young and naive. Now, in my early 40's, I rediscovered my love of reading with the help of Diana Gabaldon and her amazing OUTLANDER series. This book opened up a whole new window upon the world for me. I am now interested in a whole new time and place in history. And once again, I have rekindled my love for reading. So what book has altered your life?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Review for "Love In The Afternoon" by Lisa Kleypas

A man off to war. A woman left behind....waiting, hoping, praying. A letter sent and one received. Words on a page....a lifeline for both. Words on a to their souls.

"Dear Pru,
We're settling in for a long siege. It's uncertain as to when I'll have the chance to write again. This is not my last letter, only the last for a while. Do not doubt that I am coming back to you someday. Until I can hold you in my arms, these worn and ramshackle words are the only way to reach you. What a poor translation of love they are. Words could never do justice to you, or capture what you mean to me. Still...I love you. I swear by the starlight....I will not leave this earth until you hear those words from me."

These are the words sent by Captain Christopher Phelan to Prudence Mercer, the woman he thinks he has fallen in love with. Yet little does he know that Prudence is not the one writing to him. The true author of these letters is Pru's eccentric friend, Beatrix Hathaway. Beatrix did not intend to send letters filled with such tender sentiments. But on their way to Christopher, her "words turned into heartbeats on the page". What will happen when Christopher returns, looking to find Pru and express his undying love for her? What would happen if he found out about Beatrix's unforgivable deception? Christopher could never be hers, even if he declared his love for her on paper....those were just words, weren't they?

This was a truly romantic read, especially the letter correspondences. Words are the most romantic form of seduction any man can use, and Beatrix becomes truly seduced. She is the youngest and most quirky, non-conforming, and lovable member of the Hathaway sisters. Being such a huge animal lover, she often appeared peculiar, wanting the company of animals more than people. Yet in this book, the author has managed to show her true spirit, her love of life and her ability to accept others for who they are. Beatrix doesn't try to change Christopher, even if the horrors of war have changed him forever...even if he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder...even if he is driven by guilt. She understands him, accepts him and loves him. This, Lisa Kleypas' last in the Hathaways series, is a tale with a more serious undertone, but one that will still make you smile, cry and sigh with contentment. This book is a wonderful end to a wonderfully unique series that touched my heart.LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON is book number two for the 2011 Historical Romance Challenge.

Check out the book trailer below:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Review for "The Spymaster's Lady" by Joanna Bourne

As a spy, he's trained to learn everything about the enemy. He knows the colour of her eyes, the village she was born in, the occupation of every member of her family, the way she tilts her head when she smiles, the lilt of her voice when she speaks, the quick spasm of muscles in her back when she primes herself for battle, and even the flash of acceptance in her eyes when she knows she is defeated. Yet Robert Grey longs to know the feel of Annique's hair between his fingers, the taste of her lips as he presses his mouth to hers, the curve of her hip as he strokes her longingly....but this cannot be. He will never know these things...he cannot, for they are enemies.

Annique Villiers is a cunning, young french spy. She finds herself captured by an enemy and imprisoned with two British spies, one of them being the infamous spymaster, Robert Grey. They forge an alliance to escape, thus setting in motion an adventure that moves across France and into adventure filled with danger, deceit, spies, murder, secrets, betrayal and loyalty. Annique holds some secrets that can tear apart a nation, secrets she knows can get her killed. She is good at what she does....but she has met her match in Grey. Soon enough, Grey comes to realize he wants more than Annique's spy secrets...he wants her, and she knows it.

Annique is a heroine like no other. Born into a family of spies, she has been playing "the game" since she was ten. She is intelligent and witty, sly and tenacious, strong and independent, yet somehow, the author has managed to portray a sweet and innocent side to this heroine. Annique is truly french in her actions, mannerisms, speech and romanticism, making her character even more believable, and the author, a very talented one. For once, I believe that the heroine is better developed than the hero. Grey is a good man, and a formidable spy, and he truly does love our heroine. But it is Annique that steals the story and becomes my favourite character.

This is the first book I've read involving spies as central to the plot. I must say, I truly enjoyed the action and intrigue. The plot was cleverly developed with several surprises that left me gasping in disbelief. I also enjoyed the secondary characters, who were witty in their dialogue and charming in their loyalties. I was captivated and enthralled by this story and I now have another author to add to my favourites list.The Spymaster's Lady is my first book in the 2011 Historical Romance Challenge.
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