Anita Loves to Read

A Midsummer Night’s Sin – Kasey Michaels

GENRE: Adult Historical Romance
FORM: e-Book, NetGalley
SERIES: Blackthorn Brothers
PUBLICATION DATE: November 29, 2011

SYNOPSIS: A book of mischief and curiosity gone wrong, Regina and Miranda were just looking to have a little bit of fun when they showed up to a risqué masquerade ball, but the consequences of that bit of fun will mean unearthing a crime spree that has been, until recently, been kept secret from London’s elite. A horror that ends up hitting too close to home for Regina’s sake. Thankfully she has the clever Robin Goodfellow Blackthorn to come to the rescue, and provide his good humored services as well.

REVIEW: Robin Goodfellow Blackthorn, aka Puck, is an amusing, fun, easy going, life loving character. He made me smile…a lot. He sees the humor in life and knows how to banter with the best of them. The only way that I would have liked his personality any better is if it were combined with a little bit more dry sarcasm. Combine this with the strong, confident Regina, and you’ve got bliss.

Regina had every reason to hate her life. Her mother’s an alcoholic, her father is overbearing, demanding, and sees people as possessions rather than…well people. She was groomed and fashioned to marry into a title, and presumed she would end up married to a Duke. It is the knowledge of these responsibilities and the fact that her life is laid out before her eyes that causes her to throw caution to the wind and go to a Masquerade Ball unchaperoned with her cousin, Miranda. Despite the horrific result of this decision and the unknown torment that Miranda is to face, some good does come of it, as it also lands her into the playful, and capable arms of Puck.

I love the idea of taking literary characters and turning them into real people. Even if Puck were simply named after the famed Shakespearian character, he also possessed many of his best qualities. The book was very entertaining and fun. The mystery was intriguing and kept me reading. I loved the relationship between Puck and Regina, they were a light playful couple, even in their banter they were picking at each other all the while fighting to keep their hands off. I also really enjoyed the description of what Puck or Regina was wearing, as well as their surroundings, it helped me to create a vivid mental image of each scene.

The only thing I could have wished for was a bit more at the end. I hated jumping from the ending (concluding) scene and straight into their marriage. I actually wanted to see what happened with Regina’s mother, and perhaps her acceptance of Puck as a future son-in-law. Alas, it was not to be I suppose.

Pride & Passion – Charlotte Featherstone

GENRE: Adult – Historical Romance
FORM: eBook – NetGalley
SERIES:  The Brethren Guardians
PUBLICATION DATE: November 15, 2011

While I was granted permission to read this book by a NetGalley affiliate publisher, HQNbooks, I have received no compensation for this review other than the joy of reading! 

SYNOPSIS: Lucy was born into society to parents who cared about nothing more than appearances and duty. At the present the duty calls for Lucy to get married, and her father has his sights set on Duke of Sussex. Sussex, in Lucy’s eyes, is a passionless pawn to society. Proper and stiff in all the ways of a ton gentleman. Lucy longs for passion and desire, something she had gotten just a brief taste of with her lover, Thomas.

Adrian wants nothing more than Lucy, will stop at nothing to have her. He was taught to be the Duke, to obey all that is right and proper. He was also trained to be a Brethren Guardian, protecting secret artifacts – a job that has recently become more dangerous. The secrets of his life, of his past and his duties keep bound and distant, but beneath the pompous exterior lies a wealth of feeling and desire that he is finding harder and harder to contain.

REVIEW: I simply loved this book! Charlotte Featherstone’s writing was so beautiful and captivating and seductive. It’s funny, because as far as graphic imagery goes, this book was a bit mild compared to some books I’ve read recently; but the sensations and feelings that are provoked with her writing go far beyond that of exaggerated descriptive words.

It was so easy to fall into friendship with both Lucy and Adrian. Their voices were so strong and believable. When you were with Lucy, you feel the frustration of being bound to society and all that it means, and the desperation of finding some sort of happiness and escape from it all. You understood her desire to stand up for herself, but also the need to bow to her duties. It was easy to see how Adrian didn’t seem like a good match, though he was the obvious one. On the other hand you felt nothing but frustration and fury toward Lucy when you were in Adrian’s head. It was so obvious that he loved her, in every breath and every move he was screaming it from the rooftops, and why oh why couldn’t she just see it. He had his own trappings in life, his own duties that were keeping him confined. Adrian’s emotions were at a constant simmer. He had a dark and almost poetic way about him, and his words. I want so badly to quote the book – to lay some out for you, but alas, I am going to keep it a mystery because half the fun of this book is to watch him torture and be tortured yourself with his brief touches and sexy vocalizations of his feelings and the feelings he’d like to provoke.

The relationship between Lucy and Adrian played out exactly as I thought – hoped – it would. Even though in the prologue and first chapter I thought for sure Thomas was our hero, in my mind I had started writing the story with Adrian coming out of the box that Lucy placed him in and becoming something so much more. Little did I know (obviously I didn’t read the synopsis very well, eh?!) I was in the same mindset as the author – happily so. I saw many of my thoughts on the story’s progression come to fruition but am still completely impressed with Charlotte Featherstone’s ability to draw out the story line, to hold on to the puzzle piece even when you think the idea is dead and gone. She does nothing but keep you captivated and reading until the very end – and then sets up the final novel in a frustratingly glorious way!

I haven’t done this in a long time, but I’ve been listening to a lot of Adele lately, and I just really was feeling Adrian singing this song (if he sang, that is).

Mr. Cavendish, I Presume – Julia Quinn

RATING:  4 of 5 Stars

GENRE: Adult – Historical Fiction/Romance
FORM: Audiobook

SYNOPSIS: Amelia Willoughby has been engaged to the Duke of Wyndham since before she can remember. She has been raised to be a lady, to be a Duchess. Every step, every day, every breath has been seemingly planned out for her. Now that she has come of age, it just seems like her life is a waiting game. Likewise, Thomas Cavendish has known nothing except Wyndham, it has been his life and responsibility. Having a fiancée has been a part of his life just as long, so it is no wonder that courting Amelia hasn’t been his priority, she is his regardless. It isn’t until parts of Thomas’s life begin to unravel and everything he knew to be true is now looking as if it isn’t that he starts to get to know the women who has been his fiancée since childhood. Much to his surprise, he may even fall in love with her.

REVIEW: There was something just so Pride and Prejudice about this book that the day I finished it I went home and snuggled up on the couch to watch the movie. It probably had something to do with Amelia and her five sisters. Or maybe it was Thomas and the admiration and passion that took him by surprise. If Jane Austen was to read this book, however, I’m sure she would have been scandalized, seeing as how Elizabeth and Darcy didn’t even kiss.

I have been caught in a Historical-Romance binge lately. I don’t always write reviews on them though. Why not? Well, mostly because…well, I don’t know really. I think mostly because this blog contain more Young Adult book reviews than anything else…I’ve been considering starting a separate blog, but there are days I do good to do anything besides book reviews on this one. Oh well. Anyway, back to the book….

I’ve been on a binge lately, but I have to say I really, really enjoyed this book. As you are reading you can’t help see the story from both Amelia’s and Thomas’s perspectives, and at times it is easy to be annoyed or aggravated at either one of them, and in the end you love both. Thomas is what people today would be known as a “goodie-goodie.” He does everything that is expected of him without complaint, and this includes living with his over-bearing, extremely loud and opinionated grandmother. (I’m not even sure I could have tolerated her). He knows that he is expected to marry Amelia, and he will. He’s just not in a big hurry.

Amelia is just bursting at the seams to get away from such a stifled life. She is constantly told what to do, and how to behave that her eyes are crossed with the mundaneness of it all. And Thomas is no help. He does what is expected of him and doesn’t even seem to care to notice that Amelia is there, and is to topic of gossip and speculation. She just takes it in stride. When the two finally start getting to know each other, the relationship is just as sweet and beautiful as two teenagers falling in love for the first time. I love that Amelia calls him out on not even thinking about her. In reality it never even crossed Thomas’s mind that he ought to be thinking about her, but once that seed has been planted (and a few other things happen I’m not going to mention here), he can’t help but think about her.

When Jack, the long lost cousin, enters the scene, the book really picks up for the good. It went from an entertaining romance novel into something with a bit more suspense and fun. Just imagine having your life tossed upside down and everything you have known to be true suddenly not be. I didn’t know this was a “book 2” of a series, and didn’t realize that this story had already been told from another perspective, so there were many events I wasn’t expecting. I’m really anxious to get a hold of The Lost Duke which is the first book – but I’m wondering if in the end this one might be my favorite since I read it first.

One last thought – When Amelia attacks Thomas (just before all is revealed, etc) read very slowly…you don’t want to miss a detail. I literally could see her pushing her hands through his hair. HOT, HOT, HOT!

The Wedding Affair – Leigh Michaels

The Wedding AffairThe Wedding Affair by Leigh Michaels
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

GENRE: Adult – Historical Romance
FORM: Book – ARC

REVIEW: In a book of new beginnings, rekindled love, new love and a lot of passion, Leigh Michaels gives you the ultimate romance novel topped with three cherries!

I enjoyed The Wedding Affair from beginning to end. The characters were very well developed and entertaining, each having individual personalities but are so great that you fall in love with them all.

I love books about weddings, and while many historical romance novels end in a wedding, most of the books that I have read are not based completely around a wedding. For this particular novel, the duchess being wed, Daphne, is a minor – however annoying – character in the book. She is spoiled, whines a lot, and is mean as fire, especially to her bridesmaids. I enjoyed her pre-wedding activities/outings though, and the fact that all of the bridesmaids behaved like twittering teenagers lusting after the next hot thing. In this case, the Duke, Simon.

There are many other supporting characters as well, some mean, some overbearing, and some are just outright hilarious. They play their roles in the story well, and really are one of the main things that made this book so entertaining.

All of this “background noise” of the novel just makes for many wonderful scenes and scenarios for the real stories taking place. Neither Simon nor Olivia, both relying on each other for their own reasons, are looking to fall into love or marriage, but as expected – they find it incredibly hard to live without each other. I loved them as a couple. I especially loved Simon. He was such a decent man, and his joy and eventual love for Charlotte, Olivia’s daughter, won me over completely!

Kate and Andrew were a little bit harder for me. I liked them both well enough, and it was obvious they were meant for each other, but I think the attitude Kate held for most of the book, and Andrew making suggestions that don’t really indicate whether he is serious or joking around, I found that when they finally came together as a couple the fire just wasn’t there.

My favorite couple was Penelope and Charles. They are newlyweds who do not have a relationship at all. Penelope is completely innocent and has no idea what to do, which makes her seem scared and shy. Both are operating under false assumptions, but when they finally come together – it is just so sweet and just right! At first I was afraid that Charles was going to be played out to be this really hard menacing character, but in the end he was so sweet and loving. I actually felt sorry for him and the torment he was putting himself through.

WHAT I LOVED: This book was just a fun read. There is a lot of witty dialogue and passionate moments. The characters really are what made this book so good!

NOT SO MUCH: I already mentioned above how I felt about Kate and Andrew’s relationship. Outside of that, I found it hard to believe how fast the girls were able to come out of their clothes. For a time when the women are dressed in layers, and as mentioned in the book, they required help getting dressed and lacing themselves up. Therefore it really bothered me every time one the girls (mainly Olivia) was surprised to find her top was hanging open. Silly, I know…but I just kept shaking my head every time I read it.
 
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While I was given an Advance Review Copy of this book by Sourcebooks, I have received no compensation for this review other than the joy of reading!

Ten Things I Love About You – Julia Quinn

Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

GENRE: Adult, Historical Romance
FORM: Audiobook
NARRATOR: Rosalyn Landor
SERIES: Bevelstoke Series

SYNOPSIS: Annabel Winslow has been sent to her Grandparents house for no other reason than to find a husband that can support her, her mother and her seven brothers and sisters. Right off the bat, she has a prospect; the Earl of Newbury. The Earl is a man older than her grandmother, is disgustingly overweight, and extremely overbearing, but he is determined to have Annabel, not only for her lush curves but also her promising childbearing hips. He is determined to get an heir so that his nephew, Sebastian Grey, does not inherit his title when he dies. Annabel is not happy with this prospect, but is willing for the sake of her family.

Sebastian is a man who is known for his passive personality, and rakish ways with the women; especially married women. He enjoys his easy life, and has no immediate intentions of marrying. However, when Annabel Windslow shows up on the scene, there is something about her personality and laugh that draws him to her. His attention to her ends up becoming a scandal and a much gossiped about love triangle between the Earl of Newbury and the heir of the Earldom, with Annabel trapped in the middle.

REVIEW: This is the first book that I have read by Julia Quinn, and I must say I enjoyed it thoroughly. I became instantly attached to the characters she created; especially to Sebastian, the charming, silly, sarcastic, rake. He really has stuck with me the last few days while I was listening to these books.

I really enjoyed her storytelling abilities. She made both Sebastian very three dimensional, both having fun personalities, but also having a lot of depth in their characters. The scandal in society was amusing, and many of these scenes were breathlessly sexy.

WHAT I LOVED: Sebastian’s character. He was just an outright, honest and good person. He was amused frequently by Annabel, and he himself was amusing. I really enjoyed watching him fall in love. I also loved when we finally got to hear the 10 things he loved about Annabel.

NOT SO MUCH: Too much of the Earl. I continued to think we were “rid” of him, and then it seemed like he kept coming back, which made the ending feel like it dragged on and on.  I also am not a big fan of the cover of this book.  It makes me think the book is contemporary instead of historical. 

OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES:

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Music & Silence


Music & Silence
by Rose Tremain
Winner of the 1999 Whitebread Award for Novel
Genre: Adult Fiction

Summary from flap of book:

Winner of the Whitebread Novel of the Year Award, Music & Silence is the story of a young English lutenist named Peter Claire who in 1629 arrives at the Danish Court to join King Christian IV’s Royal Orchestra. From the moment he realizes that the musicians have to perform in a freezing cellar underneath the royal apartments, he understands that he’s come to a place where the opposing states of light and dark, good and evil, are waging war to the death. Designated the King’s “Angel” because of his good looks, he finds himself falling in love with the young women who is the companion of the King’s adulterous and estranged wife, Kirsten. With his loyalties fatally divided, how will Peter Claire find the path that will realize his hopes and save his soul?

I do not think that this summary is very adequate for this book, in that it is giving you the false idea that this book is mainly about Peter Claire, when it is in truth about a wide array of characters. This is a novel, of many stories about lovers and love, about good and evil. There are many villainous characters in this story, many of which happen to be women, one of the main villains happens to be the almost-Queen, Kirsten. Although she isn’t so much a villain as she is a selfish brat who expects people to be 100% devoted to her and let no one or thing share in that and who’s only concern is herself 110% of the time. The book is an unwinding of and revelations of many characters who are all connected in some way, and in the end you feel satisfied that everyone got exactly what they wanted and quite possibly what they deserved. The characters that you will love are, indeed Peter Clare and his love, Emilia. Below is my favorite excerpt of this book, and actually does reveal Rose Tremains beautiful writing style:

“Then they stand just apart and stare at each other, and wonder whether they feel as Adam felt and as Eve felt when they contemplated themselves in paradise, and knew that, of all the wonders God had created, the man and the woman were the most extraordinary. They do not feel the shiver of autumn in the air. They are only distantly aware of the luminous sky and the white doves. One of the golden pheasants lets out a loud, irritable squawk (as though it thought that it, with all its superior finery, should be the object of their rapture) but they pay it no attention. They are face to face with all that they have longed for through the summer and they let it hold them perfectly still, as though caught in a trance, as though they might stand that way for ever.”

I cannot say that I loved this book, but I did like it. I think the part that bothered me was how the book would jump from one person’s point-of-view to the next at very short intervals, it almost felt soap opera-ish in that aspect. I don’t mind seeing the story, or in this case, many stories unfold in a single book under different points-of-view, but this felt much to choppy and my attention for the book would start to wane. When asked by my husband if I liked this book, my response was, “well the fact that it took so long for me to read should partially answer this question.” But the fact that I indeed did finish the books indicates that the book was worth of reading. And of course you don’t need me to tell you that, it IS an award winner. While I may have had a hard time with the books jumpiness, and I definitely would not rate this book among my favorites, this book is surely worth your time!

Mademoiselle Boleyn


*Originally posted 3/19/08 on my other blog

Mademoiselle Bolyen by Robin Maxwell
Taken from the back of the book:
When young Anne Boleyn is send to the French court with her father and sister, Mary, she thinks she’s in for an innocent adventure. But when the ambitious ambassador Thomas Boleyn leads them into the highly sophisticated and sexually permissive court of Francois I, Anne quickly learns that she and her sister are merely pawns for their father’s own political purpose. Mary becomes mistress to the outrageous French king and is ultimately seduced into his dangerous world by the luxuries of the court. But Anne will have a different fate…
Anne is younger, more clever, and stronger-willed than her sister, nd with the guidance of powerful allies and such unlikely friends such as Leonardo da Vinci, she learns how to navigate the challenges, passions, and betrayals of the court. And as she grows into a beautiful women, Anne undergoes her own awakening, each daring exploit taking her one step closer to the life that is her destiny.
I found this novel quite intriguing. So much so that I’ve sought out (and put on hold) other books on the Boleyn Sisters. My favorite part probably was Anne’s games of cards with the King – a seductive game of strip poker, but her intention wasn’t quite what the King had in mind. Anne is such a strong character from beginning to end, just making the book easier to read. With the scandal, sex, betrayal, religion as well as the compelling characters that were Mary and Anne, it’s no wonder they created a movie surrounding the family. I’m still waiting to read at least one more book before Netflixing the movie to watch. I’m sure I’ll be disappointed, because I can’t remember ever seeing a movie that was near as good as a book.