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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Review: The Princeling by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

The Princeling by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Historical fiction
Trade paperback, 448 pages
Book Source: Sourcebooks
My Rating: 90/100

From Goodreads:

Elizabeth I is on the throne and Protestantism is sweeping the land, threatening the position of the Catholic Morlands. John, the heir, rides north to the untamed Borderlands to wed the daughter of cattle lord Black Will Percy. But he finds he must first prove himself through blood and battle. John's gentle sister Lettice is given in marriage to the ruthless Scottish baron, Lord Robert Hamilton, and in the treacherous court of Mary, Queen of Scots, she learns the fierce lessons of survival. Through birth and death, love and hatred, the Morlands fight to maintain their place amongst England's aristocracy.

My Thoughts:

Ah, the continuing saga of the Morland family, where the women rule the men and the family is most successful for it. In this installment, we revisit Nan from Book 2, The Dark Rose. Back then, Nan was a Lady in Waiting to her dear friend Anne Boleyn. Now, Nan serves the woman she once held as a baby, Queen Elizabeth I. We only get small glimpses of the Tudor court, and equally small exchanges between the Queen and Nan. What is important, is hoe dear to the Queen Nan is. Elizabeth didn't have many close friends, and Nan is one of lucky few. The Queen adores Nan, therefore when Morlands adhere to their old Catholic faith, albeit secretly, the Queen looks the other way. As long as the Morlands are not openly brazen in their faith, they will escape sanctions. This is a testament to Nan, and truly marks her as the matriarch for the Morland dynasty during this period.

What I enjoyed the most about this book, besides the mostly strong female characters, was how the story checks in on each of the Morland family members. We may never get extensive character development, but to see how each person weathers their circumstances, and what happens to them in the end, is enough for me. There are way too many members of this family to have extensive character development, and I think the story threads that CHE writes about each member gives the reader e good glimpse of the people these Morlands turn out to be. It is difficult at times to keep names and relationships straight in one's head, but by checking the family tree, and going with the flow allowed me to enjoy the story.

I also enjoyed the various story threads with this generation: the branching out of the Morland dynasty's relations to the Borderlands, hence the title The Princeling; the adventurous travels of one member who joined Francis Drake on his travels (wonder if this comes up again in later books);  the marriages of the later generations and such.  I fancy this ongoing story about the Morland dynasty, because it is more about the family and their journeys through life, with the actual historical events in the background, not as the main focus.  Overall this book was an enjoyable read and much better than the last one.  I look forward to the next chapter in the Morland family history. 

For more information about this series or Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, please visit her website:

Thanks to Danielle from Sourcebooks for my ARC.
2010 Challenges Met: 100+,  Historical Fiction

I am an Amazon Associate.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review: Take a Chance on Me by Jill Mansell

Take a Chance on Me by Jill Mansell
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Romance, British chic-lit
Paperback, 432 pages
Book Source:  Sourcebooks
My Rating: 95/100

From Goodreads:

Living in a small town like Channings Hill, there are some people you just can't avoid, no matter how much you really, really want to. When Cleo's job throws her into constant contact with her childhood nemesis, Johnny LaVenture, she can't leave the past behind. But for someone she'd rather have nothing to do with, Johnny is impossible to ignore... Then shocking discoveries of past scandals, unrequited loves, old grudges, and not-so-ex-wives throw Cleo's family and friends into chaos. Life in sleepy Channings Hill may be about to get very complicated, but it's definitely never been more exciting.

3 Reasons Review

I am trying out a new review format today called "3 Reasons Review". Staci from Life in the Thumb and myself have chatted about coming up with a simple review format.  Something with just the basics of what readers would want to know about a book.  Some books do not require an in-depth analysis, yet as reviewers we still strive to get the important bits across to our readers. Therefore, the 3 Reasons, came from what Staci and I think are most important. Didn't come up with a fancy button yet, but working on it.
(If you have suggestions about this new format, please let me know.)

1.) Reasons you chose this book

I accepted this book to review because I had previously reviewed one of Mansell's books, and loved it. British chic-lit is definitely for me so when the opportunity for this one came up, I jumped at it.

2.) Reasons you liked or disliked this book

I loved this book! All of the characters are adorable and quirky, and I like the crazy situations or occurrences they always seem to find themselves in.

  • Cleo is the main character. She works as a limo driver, and can't seem to find the right guy. Cleo is not looking for anything fancy, but someone who is kind, honest, and loving. Not like Johnny who lives across the way from her, and teased her mercilessly growing up.

  • Johnny grew up with Cleo, and has a become a successful artist. Johnny is easy on the eyes, possess a smart ass mouth, and has come to realize he may have feelings for Cleo after all this time. If only she would notice the real him.

  • Ash lives next door to Cleo, and is her best friend. Ash is also hoping to settle down soon, and thinks he is found the one in Fia. Unlike his outgoing zany radio personality side, when Ash sees Fia he is so shy and tongue tied that he can't bring himself to even speak to Fia properly. Ash's view of himself (he has some meat on his bones) doesn't help his situation either. How will he get Fia to go out with him?

  • Fia is a new comer to Channings Hill. Her heart and trust have recently been stomped on, so Fia is hoping for a fresh start. If only Johnny would notice her....

So since this one, likes that one, but that one doesn't know, and likes so and so instead, you can see how the reader is in for some funny moments. Everyone one in this novel needs to take a chance on someone, or else they may lose out on a great love affair.

The only aspect I didn't like was Cleo's sister Abbie. There are aspects of her character that I disliked from the beginning, however her inability to speak up for herself grated my nerves. When her husband accusing Abbie of inappropriate behavior due to a misunderstanding, Abbie allows him to yell at her and walk away, never defending herself, and explaining the situation. Get a word in edgewise girl! If you have been married that long then you should know better. I pretty much didn't like Abbie's plot line in the story, however there are elements of it that are required for the other characters. So I accepted it and moved on.

3.) Reasons you are recommending this book

I would recommend this book highly, especially if you are looking for something to help you escape the grind of daily life. This book is fun, relaxing, and makes me want to visit a small English village. It is escapism at it's best, and I plan on reading the rest of Mansell's work in the future.

For more information about Jill Mansell, please visit her website at

Thanks to Danielle from Sourcebooks for sending me this ARC.

2010 Challenges Met: 100+, Reading Romance


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Review: Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning

Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning
Publisher: Sourecbooks Casablanca
Genre: Erotic Romance
Trade paperback, 384 pages
Book Source: Danielle from Sourcebooks
My Rating: 83/100

From the publisher:

It's all about sex, love and rock'n roll in this hot new erotic romance series by author Olivia Cunning, featuring a rock band called the Sinners, 5 hot young musicians touring the country and basking in their fame and all the glory--and sex--that goes with it...and one by one, falling in love. It's been months since Brian Sinclair, lead guitarist for the famous rock band, The Sinners, composed anything. Unable to write the music that once flowed so naturally, Brian is lost without his musical mo-jo. But when sexy psychology professor Myrna Evans comes on tour to study groupie mentality, Brian may have found the spark he needs to re-ignite his musical genius. When lust turns to love, will Brian be able to convince Myrna that what they have is more than just a fling, and that now that he's found his heart's muse, he doesn't want to live without her?

My Thoughts:

Myrna is attending a professional conference when she bumps into the Sinners, who happened to be staying at the same hotel.  Myrna introduces herself and has an immediate connection or spark with Brian.  Needless to say, it doesn't take long for Brian and Myrna to become better acquainted.  This is an erotic romance so the sex scenes are hot and pretty creative.  This was not a book I read in public. 

Myrna becomes Brian's muse for writing music and he convinces her to join the tour with the band.  Since Myrna can't keep her hands off Brian, she considers it and realizes joining the tour would provide her with a golden opportunity to study groupie mentality.  While on tour with the band, Myrna and Brian continue to explore their sexual attraction, but we learn more about them.  Both are tortured souls who have been hurt badly in the past.  There are some scenes where Brian and Myrna take a detour from sex, to get to know each other better.  It is Brian who initiates this and it's very sweet, especially in the middle of all the action.  Brian was very likable; he was a sweetheart.  Myrna on the other hand ....I did not like her, not one bit.

I got the impression right away that Myrna was older than Brian, significantly older, and for some reason, that bothered the crap out of me.  Later in the story it is revealed that she is 7 years older than Brian, if I remember correctly.  Anyway, I get that she has this feeling of sexual empowerment or superior knowledge due to her profession, but it was too much for me.  Myrna was too dominant female for me, and she was like that with everyone in the band.  At one point on the tour, Myrna made a comment to herself about being the tour "Mom".  I felt as though Myrna was trying to recapture her youth or something.  If the ages were reversed, and Myrna was still the dominant female, I don't think it would have bothered me so much.  Maybe it was the way in which she did or said things, I don't know, but Myrna rubbed me the wrong way.  Brian and his crazy ass band mates on the other hand, I had no problem with.  Go figure.

If you are squeamish or straight laced, this book may not be for you.  In addition to the sizzling love scenes, there are some female groupies in the book, and the band mates are not so nice to them.  Their opinions of groupies are pretty low, and they view them as mattress toys. Not a positive view of females, but lets face it, these gals are out there, and this is what they live for.  Didn't bother me, but it may bother you.

This was my first erotic romance and I must admit it was quite an interesting read.  I believe this is the first book in a planned series, so I would imagine the rest of the series is about the other members of the band.  Those stories will be interesting for sure, however if Myrna is in them, count me out. 

For more information about Olivie Cunning, please visit her website.

Thanks to Danielle from Sourcebooks for my ARC.

2010 Challenges Met: 100+


I am an Amazon Associate.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Interview with Mitchell James Kaplan, author of By Fire, By Water

Hello Everyone!  Please give a warm welcome to Mitchell, author of the book By Fire, By Water.  My review can be found here.

Lets get started.

You have said that you knew at an early age you would be a writer. What is it about writing that makes you enjoy it so much or be so passionate about it? What is it about writing that “grabs” you?

It seems to me that what we call fiction is an effort to approximate truth. By “truth,” I'm referring to the most important truth, the truth of human experience. Human beings the world over, and throughout history, have told stories for precisely this reason. We have an innate need to “get at” what really matters.

What is your writing process like? Is there a specific time of day and place that you go to work? Do you have a list of topics you would like to explore and write about in the future?

I wake very early, usually around 3:30 am, and get my best work done while the rest of the world is sleeping. I love the feeling of isolation, the romance of early morning. Ideas pop into my head at any time of day, however. Sometimes I write them down, but usually I don't bother. The really important ones germinate and grow over time. I do know what my next few books will be about.

How has working in Hollywood affected your writing? Has it fine tuned or clarified your process? Maybe changed your point of view or thought process?

I never fully assimilated to the culture of the film industry. I wanted to be a novelist and in many ways, working in the film industry felt like a detour. That said, one learns from all experiences. Working for the film industry did force me to pay a lot of attention to the art of storytelling, as opposed to the purely aesthetic aspects of writing – style, innovative narrative constructs, etc. – that preoccupied me as a student at Yale and subsequently, when I lived in Paris. I have to admit, too, that I did (at times) enjoy the glamour of working (and occasionally dining) with movie stars. I also learned how to deal with rejection, how to trust my instincts, and how to survive contact with egomaniacs.

Congratulations on having By Fire, By Water published. That is an amazing accomplishment. How was the process of getting published for you? Did it differ greatly from having your scripts bought and were you more prepared than most given your background and experience?

The experience of having a book published is indeed quite different from selling a screenplay. You make a lot more money when you sell a screenplay, but you give up your rights in the material. The producer and/or director has the right to hire another writer to change your words – and usually does so. I was also hired to change other writers' words, and hated the experience. It felt like trespassing. In the film industry, I always felt I had to read others' minds, to try to guess what the director or producer wanted from me. I had to try to understand their sensibilities and base my approach to the work on that understanding. Usually, I got it wrong. All in all, writing and editing my novel, and seeing it published, has been far more satisfying than any experience I had in the film industry.

I had never realized before that the Spanish Inquisition and Christopher Columbus occurred at the same time. (We can blame that on my high school history classes.) What is it about this time period in Spanish history or these events that made you want to research and explore this area?

I found a satisfying and inspiring irony in the idea that Columbus sailed from a world that was destroying itself due to intolerance – the world of the middle ages – and that he discovered the land where eventually, for the first time in history, tolerance would become the law. I think that was my starting point.

The story grew little by little. It was like putting together a puzzle. Research was like reaching into a huge bag of jigsaw pieces – a footnote here, a pertinent detail there. For example, the owner of an art gallery in Spain pointed out to me that Queen Isabella had a goiter that she always tried to cover. I find bits of information like that fascinating and suggestive. When I learned that Luis de Santangel was a business partner of the Duke of Medina-Celi, with whom Columbus lived for a time, I was blown away. A bridge suddenly connected two of the characters I had been working with! I had many mind-boggling experiences like that.

Would you say that because of By Fire, By Water you are now drawn to exploring and writing about historical events impacted greatly by religion? This would certainly keep you busy for years to come. Does your own faith make you want to explore its historical events, maybe looking for stories waiting to be told?

Yes, I am deeply interested in the history of religion, in the effects of religion on history and vice-versa, and in the history of relations between faiths. I'm not sure whether my own faith is a factor, but I am certain my identity is a factor.

You have visited many places and countries. Are there any places you would like to go but haven’t yet?

I have never been interested in tourism, and I don't much care for the travel industry. Often, I think people go to faraway places for the sake of being able to say they went there. It's a form of “conspicuous consumption,” and I want nothing to do with that kind of travel. I do, however, love learning about the places I visit, and I have strong memories associated with certain locales. Geneva, Shanghai, Jerusalem, Kyoto: Each of these words calls up a world of sights, sounds, and odors.

To put this another way: I don't usually go places just for the sake of going there. I initially went to France because I wanted to read through Proust, and I thought Paris would be the best place to do so. So I don't sit around dreaming of the places I could visit, but I may find compelling reasons to go just about anywhere. For my next book, I will probably end up spending more time in Rome and Israel.

I read that your other passion is music, classical and jazz flute. I enjoy classical and am just learning about jazz. What are some of your most favorite pieces of music or composers? (I adore Scheherazade and some of Rachmaninoff’s work, among many others.)

Well, you and I agree on Rachmaninoff. How can anyone not fall in love with those piano concertos? He was a conservative composer, writing strictly tonal music in a time when others were concerned with expanding the musical language -- but he stuck to his vision and certainly achieved greatness.

There's so much music I love. It's so fun to play Bach flute sonatas. It's equally fun to improvise with John Coltrane records – or with other musicians.

If you asked me who is the greatest composer of all time, I would probably say Beethoven. He's not the most technically brilliant (although he was a great innovator and one of the most original and talented orchestrators). But I find his lyricism and sense of drama absolutely addictive.

I also love much of Brahms, some of Mozart's operas, Chopin's Nocturnes, a lot of Debussy. For me, Stravinsky was the towering genius of twentieth-century orchestral music.

In jazz, Dixieland, Benny Goodman, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane... Unfortunately, a lot of jazz since Coltrane has, in my view, been extremely skillful but derivative.

In the arena of fusion, I think the Mahavishnu Orchestra had a brief moment of brilliance. In rock, my favorite group of all time is the Beatles.

None of that is too original, I guess. Of course, I could throw out some more obscure names. But the greatest musicians, like the greatest writers, are artists who know how to connect with a broad audience.

And lastly, what can we look forward to from you in the future?

My next book takes place in the first century AD and deals with the “parting of the ways” between the two sects of Judaism that survived the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. One of those sects eventually developed into Christianity, the other into modern Judaism.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions.  I enjoyed your book immensely and look forward to reading more from you.  You have given me some food for thought and some music I need to look into (Mahavishnu Orchestra).  Thanks :)

For more information about Mitchell, please stop by his website.

Thanks for stopping by everyone!

The historical novel By Fire, By Water  tells the heartbreaking story of Luis de Santangel, the courtier who convinced Queen Isabella to sponsor Christopher Columbus’s voyage of discovery in 1492. Combining a passionate love story with a religious mystery, By Fire, By Water closely follows historical events during a troubled time, when the medieval social order was collapsing. 


Monday, October 11, 2010

Review: By Fire, By Water, by Mitchell James Kaplan

By Fire, By Water, by Mitchell James Kaplan
Publisher: Other Press
Genre: Historical fiction
Trade paperback, 277 pages
Book Source: the author
My Rating: 97/100

From Goodreads:

Luis de Santángel, chancellor to the court and longtime friend of the lusty King Ferdinand, has had enough of the Spanish Inquisition. As the power of Inquisitor GeneralTomás deTorquemada grows, so does the brutality of the Spanish church and the suspicion and paranoia it inspires. When a dear friend’s demise brings the violence close to home, Santángel is enraged and takes retribution into his own hands. But he is from a family of conversos, and his Jewish heritage makes him an easy target. As Santángel witnesses the horrific persecution of his loved ones, he begins slowly to reconnect with the Jewish faith his family left behind. Feeding his curiosity about his past is his growing love for Judith Migdal, a clever and beautiful Jewish woman navigating the mounting tensions in Granada. While he struggles to decide what his reputation is worth and what he can sacrifice, one man offers him a chance he thought he’d lost…the chance to hope for a better world. Christopher Columbus has plans to discover a route to paradise, and only Luis de Santángel can help him.

Within the dramatic story lies a subtle, insightful examination of the crisis of faith at the heart of the Spanish Inquisition. Irresolvable conflict rages within the conversos in By Fire, By Water, torn between the religion they left behind and the conversion meant to ensure their safety. In this story of love, God, faith, and torture, fifteenth-century Spain comes to dazzling, engrossing life.

My Thoughts:

One should probably not say they enjoyed a book about the Spanish Inquisition, but those are my thoughts exactly.  I never read about the Inquisition before, but I had a general idea of what it was about.  Mitchell's book only brings a small slice of the Inquisition to life, but what an interesting slice he chose.

The story takes place six years before the discovery of the Americas, a time of great upheaval in the Iberian peninsula.  Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand are currently waging a holy war on two fronts: against the Muslims in Spain and against anyone not a Catholic.  The new Inquisition in Spain provides great riches to both the Spanish throne and the Church.  Anyone deemed a heretic has all of their property and possessions confiscated and given to Church and State.  Wars are costly, no?

All of the characters in Mitchell's story deal with inner turmoil and crisis, but none more so than Santangel.  He is divided and questioning himself in most of the areas of his life: family versus court duties, Judaism versus Catholicism, the memory of his wife versus Judith, a Jewish woman he has fallen for.  Santangel is a wise, learned man and the most natural thing for him to do is to discuss and debate his thoughts on religion and the state of the country.  However, to discuss and compare faiths is heresy, and threatens to stifle Santangel, until he finds others who share his interests.  This only leads to disaster and Santangel making tough decisions. 

All Santangel wants is to live in peace, in a world that is free.  And that is why Columbus' theories about a new world and trading route to India pique Santangel's interest so much.  Could it be possible that there is a land, a Paradise, where everyone is peaceful and free?  Columbus' proposed voyage is a godsend to Santangel and gives him hope that it is indeed greener on the other side.  Hope is a powerful thing.

I enjoyed this book because I was vested in Santangel.  I empathized very strongly with him, maybe because I have been questioning my faith of late.  I also thought Kaplan's characterizations of the major players of the time were also richly portrayed.  This made for a complete picture of the situation at the time in Spain.  All points of view in conjunction with their resulting inner turmoil and tension made this story a fascinating read:
  • Queen Isabella is compelled to fight this holy war against the Muslims and those who murdered Jesus.  Her faith compels her to do this.  Isabella has doubts from time to time, but in her heart she feels she is doing the right thing.  She is doing God's work.  Maybe her holy war will convince her husband to be more holy too.  (It doesn't.)
  • Father Torquemada is rooting out evil and doing the Lord's work.  This priest is so fervent in his beliefs that he "sees" a spirit who confirms that what Torquemada is doing is right and just.  The Jews put Jesus to death, and therefore their religion is wrong.  Any means necessary must be utilized to ferret out those who don't believe in Jesus and his church.  Torture of the human body only purifies the soul.  I did get a sense that Torquemada may have wrestled with some guilt over his actions of torture.  However, he then realized that some of the fortune he confiscated would go towards building a beautiful abbey for the glory of God, so it's all good in the end.
  • Gabriel, Santangel's son, wants to be the good son his father wants him to be, however his father isn't around much.  The things his father taught him start to fade away, and Gabriel must find his own way when faced with a terrible choice.  Gabriel survives the best way he can, and no one can fault his choice.
  • The Muslims in Granada would like to be left alone, but this is not to be.  Muslims respect other faiths and allow them to live and work within their communities, as long as they abide by the rules of the city.  Muslims accept people for who they are and respect all faiths.  Unfortunately the Catholics do not.
  • Judith Migdal never having experienced the Inquisition does not know what she is in store for.  Once Granada is conquered and all things reconsecrated for God, Judith must leave the life she has built for herself.  Although not easy for her, Judith was lucky enough to have lived with people who were accepting.
  • King Ferdinand...well he is just looking for more wealth, power, women, and wars.  Not much there.
  • Columbus just wants someone to finance his voyage to "India."
For many people, religion is so much more than mere faith. It is a person's culture, their way of life and family.  This book demonstrated how tight the ties between faith and family are.  It also demonstrated what harmony among various faiths could be with the discussions and depiction of life in Granada.  No one faith is better.  We are searching for the same thing, just maybe taking a different route.
This book was so well written and the topic, although gruesome at times, was beautifully depicted.  This story also pointed out my lack of knowledge about Spain's history, and that of the Muslims too.  I totally enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading more from this amazing writer. 

Thanks to Mitchell for sending me a copy of this book.  Although this book is historical fiction, it is not something I would normally be drawn to.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Thanks for expanding my horizons.
For more information please visit the author's website.
Be sure to stop by tomorrow for the remainder of my interview with Mitchell.  The first part can be found here.

2010 Challenges Met: 100+, Historical Fiction,


I am an Amazon Associate.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Review: The Making of a Gentleman by Shana Galen

The Making of a Gentleman by Shana Galen
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Romance
Paperback, 384 pages
Book Source: Danielle from Sourcebooks
My Rating: 90/100
(My review of Book 1)

From the Publisher:

Equal parts action and passion, this second in a Regency romance trilogy by acclaimed author Shana Galen features the gorgeous but traumatized Comte de Valère... Twelve years in a French prison have left the once dashing Armand Harcourt, Comte de Valere a hollow shell of his former self. Though safely back on English soil, Armand remains locked in a prison of his mind, unable to interact with the glittering social world that was his rightful place. When his family hires the beautiful and determined Felicity Bennett to teach Armand, he is shaken by the onslaught of desire Felicity awakens in him. As Felicity slowly helps reclaim Armand, their passion begins to blossom into a transcendent love capable of healing the scars of both their pasts.

My Thoughts:

This is the second in Galen's trilogy about three French aristocratic brothers who escape their burning chateau in the middle of the night during the French Revolution, and manage to find each other 12 years later.  The first book was about the oldest brother Julien and his obviously successful search for his younger brother Armand.  Each book has a fairytale element and the one referenced here is obviously Beauty and the Beast.  From years of torture and desperate living, Armand has lost his capacity to speak.  It was safer to be a mute in Revolutionary France, because you couldn't rat anyone out, if you you couldn't speak.  Therefore, Armand played the part of a mute.  Although it saved him from being outed as an "aristo", it proved to be his eventual downfall, leading him to be imprisoned and forgotten about.

Julien breaks Armand out of prison, and brings him back to England.  Armand can not speak, does not like to wear shoes, and must be re-taught everything about polite society.  From his years spent in prison being neglected, Armand abhors being indoors, and can not stand to be touched by others.  Being touched means you are about to be hurt, like beaten.  In steps Felicity Bennett, hired as a governess to reacquaint Armand with the rules of society and general living.

There is something about Felicity that speaks to Armand, besides her beautiful piano playing which soothes the upset and savage Armand.  Armand finds her angelic and quickly falls in love with her.  This was believable given Armand's history and issues.  Felicity is from the country and she is quite innocent, plus who could ignore a really beautiful man even if he grunts and is bare foot most of the time.  For all of his animalistic behavior, there is a gentleness and a sweetness to Armand.  If only he could speak!

Of course Armand brought some baggage with him from France, and this element provides a bit of mystery, adventure, and suspense in the story.  Who are those creepy people hanging about outside the house?  What do they want?  Armand knows, and he wants to protect his family, including pretty little Felicity.  Speaking of which, Felicity also has skeletons in her closet that spice up the story.  Lets just say that no one messes with the de Valeres or their friends.

The only thing I didn't like about the story was Felicity.  Sometimes I liked her, and sometimes I just wanted to slap her for being silly.  She was not as strong minded as Sarah, Julien's wife, who I adored.  There were situations where Felicity was surprised to find herself in, and I would just shake my head.  Is she that silly because she was born and raised in the country?  Although, it's that innocence and sweetness that Armand finds so beguiling.  So I guess she can be forgiven for her faults.  But I'm still not crazy about her. 

Oh and the other thing I disliked was how haughty Julien was portrayed.  But again, to outsiders who don't know his story, that could be how his behavior is perceived.  I liked him in The Making of a Duchess, but not in this installment.

Overall I liked this story, even though the whole Beast thing doesn't usually appeal to me.  Disney cartoons are different.  Now I am excitedly awaiting the third and final installment of the trilogy.  The one about Captain Cutless, that mysterious pirate who roams the Channel striking fear into the hearts of men, and probably striking lust into the hearts of women.  Just a guess :)

For more information about Shana Galen and her books, please visit her website.

Thanks to Danielle from Sourcebooks for my ARC.

2010 Challenges Met: 100+, Historical Fiction, Reading Romance


I am an Amazon Associate.