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review 2015-03-24 21:51
REVIEW: The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M. J. Rose
The Witch of Painted Sorrows - M.J. Rose

Filled with dark history, ancient artifacts, artists’ ambience, sensuality, suspense and a most compelling characterization, THE WITCH OF PAINTED SORROWS contains the perfect twist Gothic Romance lovers will find irresistible.


THE WITCH OF PAINTED SORROWS is very aptly named as you’ll discover if you choose to read this spellbinding novel. This is the first book I’ve read by author M. J. Rose and I’m very impressed with her eloquence, the obvious extensive historical research, as well as her intricate understanding of an artist’s viewpoint, which all culminate into an intriguing character transformation. It’s precisely the type of dark historical romantic fiction that I love because it’s different, exciting and makes me want to know more about this time period. I relished every word because there were so many beautiful passages, sometimes interspersed with French of which I have no proficiency but loved anyways because it gave the book a realism and passion for this time and place.


American heiress Sandrine Salome flees from New York to Paris, France, in the 1890s to escape her cruel husband. Their marriage was never a love match, but if her father had known Sandrine’s husband’s intent from the beginning, he would have never encouraged their union. When her father’s death is listed as suicide, Sandrine knows that her husband orchestrated it, even if it wasn’t his hands that ended her father’s life. Hoping that her estranged grandmother, a famous French courtesan, will give her shelter in Paris, France, Sandrine escapes to the family ancestral home, arriving unexpected. But Grand-mère isn’t home.


Sandrine’s grandmother’s neighbor finds her struggling outside their home and comes to her rescue, giving her shelter until her grandmother arrives. The neighbor explains that Grand-mère is renting an apartment while their family’s home is renovated. Expecting to be welcomed by her grandmother when she arrives, Sandrine is confused when Grand-mère expresses fear, repeating her warning to Sandrine that she never should have come back to Paris, which is poison for her.


Paris is where Sandrine begins to discover who she truly is, so how can that be poison? We’ll all soon find out as this suspenseful novel takes us through the darkest parts of Paris in search of the truth of her family’s history.


Sandrine is a very light, timid woman who goes through a transformation as she discovers her talents and sensuality. The power and strength she has at the end of the novel is so subtly built that you’ll barely remember that timid, simple but intelligent, creature we meet in the first chapters. Sandrine’s intelligence is proven by her historical and art knowledge that was encouraged by her time spent collecting, archiving and perusing museums with her father, who was very much a philosopher by night in contrast to his banker by day persona. It’s her father’s curious nature that sets Sandrine on a path to follow her dreams.


This novel contains all the things I love about Gothic Romance as a sub-genre with enough distinction to make it fresh. The house is a predominate character, as to be expected, sometimes seeming like a living, breathing entity. Sandrine finds love with her grandmother’s architect, somewhat inappropriate, but you’ll continually wonder if their relationship will just be an affair, as it’s not necessarily a healthy relationship, or one without obstacles that touch on some really unusual circumstances. The darkness is always looming—on the streets, in the house, sometimes in Sandrine’s heart and within other people she meets.


There is a lot of darkness so if you don’t enjoy occult history, this book may make you uncomfortable. It might be a book to avoid reading at night as well, because it can be intriguingly creepy. For me, the occult details were perfectly matched to carry the plot and I love creepy if it makes sense for the story. The author’s research is exquisite and the facts presented are very appropriate for the beliefs of that time so even if you’re not keen on the darkness, you’ll still understand why it’s there. It wouldn’t be this story without it. Another warning, the sexuality is vivid and carries throughout much of the novel but it’s not quite as explicit, or frequent, as it would be in an erotic romance, leaving some but not all to the imagination. This book is most definitely an adult novel, but that is not all it is because it’s not overdone and the plot is so intricately appealing. Since this is a story that includes the history of a family of courtesans, you should expect some realistic historical content to that effect.


One element I absolutely loved was getting a glimpse at what it was like to be an artist in that era. To anyone who has studied art, you will relate philosophically with those characters and crave to paint after reading this novel. There is nothing I love more than to read about creative students in history, reminding me with their camaraderie and experiences why I’ve always been drawn to the arts myself.


Atria Books is becoming one of my go-to publishers for polished, unusual, as well as diverse books I anticipate. A thank you to the editors and advance readers who made my advanced review copy of this novel a joy to read. I can’t wait to find another.


Filled with dark history, ancient artifacts, artists’ ambience, sensuality, suspense and a most compelling characterization, THE WITCH OF PAINTED SORROWS contains the perfect twist Gothic Romance lovers will find irresistible. I highly recommend this novel as a most unusual piece of historical fiction, combined with the ancient dark arts that will spin their magic around you, and possibly make you gasp with surprise. It might even ruffle your feathers a bit, but it’s oh so good to be haunted by such a good tale.


Reviewed by Dorine, courtesy of Romance Junkies and TBR Mountain Range. ARC provided by Atria Books through NetGalley.

Source: www.romancejunkiesreviews.com/artman/publish/historical/The-Witch-of-Painted-Sorrows.shtml
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review 2013-11-02 05:01
Review: Lady in Red by Maire Claremont
Lady in Red - Maire Claremont

The epitome of an amazing dark romance, this novel will surprise you more than once before the satisfying end.

Review Courtesy of Romance Junkies and reposted at TBR Mountain Range.

Sometimes I wonder how I happen upon such superb novels to review. I never intend for it to happen even though I hope. I choose books blindly, with only my instincts to guide me and so, I am always surprised when I read a book this amazing. LADY IN RED will forever change me with its message. It is dark—treacherous like a thief-ridden alleyway, wary until the end, where hope is finally realized. So beautiful that it leaves you gasping for more.

Lady Mary escapes the asylum where she had been imprisoned, barely alive, addicted to the drugs they forced her to take. Upon her escape, she presses forward with a sheer will to live, toward the only woman her mother ever trusted, Madame Yvonne. Madame Yvonne will do anything for her dear departed friend's daughter, even if it means danger for herself.

Edward Barrons, Duke of Fairleigh, visits Madame Yvonne's establishment in order to forget his past. A past that's demon-laid with regret and shame. One that no amount of his strength can ever leave behind, forgotten. He seeks Madame Yvonne's council in that only a woman like her could fathom his pain and not question his need for oblivion. That's where he meets his Calypso for the very first time, the Goddess of his heart, bathing in Yvonne's room. Her instant terror and fierce reserve in finding herself alone in a room with the enemy, a man, solidifies his determination to help his Calypso to heal from her wounds.

Mary had been brutalized in the worst ways imaginable at the hands of her cruel "keepers" within the walls of an insane asylum. Her own father had signed for her torture when he, as her guardian, imprisoned her within those walls. That she escaped and helped another to do so at the same time was nothing short of miraculous. She has nowhere else to go and no one she can trust other than Madame Yvonne, her mother's dearest friend. It is that trust that she believes in when they realize that her father will find her, knowing that Yvonne's is the one place she would certainly seek as a refuge when she left the mad house.

Edward offers to take Mary as his mistress in order to keep her safe as her protector. Mary agrees as long as it is on her terms. Yvonne assures her that she has no choice and that Edward is a kind man. Edward promises Mary that he will allow her the time she needs to accept their agreement. Neither has any intention of giving their heart.

So begins their dance of Edward waiting to heal Mary, with Mary always wary and ready to run away. When Edward introduces Mary to his best friend Viscount Powers to help her learn to defend herself, will his lessons go beyond what any of them desire? Their triangle of friendship is as wanton as it is steadfast and increased my enjoyment of this novel exponentially. Viscount Powers adds a dark humor that suits this book so well.

LADY IN RED is layer upon layer of intrigue formed by the characters' determination to survive their inner demons at all costs. I've never read anything quite like it. It is as devilishly sweet as it is evil personified, all while balancing the thin line between good and evil. For those who love the intense thrall of a dark novel, you will be captivated. A fascinating recommended read!

I cannot wait for book three, a novel of MAD PASSIONS, THE DARK AFFAIR, which stars Viscount Powers whom I fell for completely in LADY IN RED. I didn't even notice that I was missing anything from the first book because I was so entranced with book two. I won't hesitate to go backwards to read book one, THE DARK LADY, which is about Mary's friend from the asylum. For those who have read book one, I'm sure you will enjoy the update about those characters. I am spellbound by author Máire Claremont who has passionate and seductive depth enraptured with a touch of evil in her pen.

More reviews by Dorine and contests at TBR Mountain Range.

Source: romancejunkiesreviews.com/artman/publish/historical/Lady_in_Red.shtml
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