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review 2018-12-09 10:53
Recommended short feel-good Christmas story set in the Regency period.
A Chance at Christmas - Beppie Harrison

Thanks to NetGalley and to Candem Hill Press for providing me an ARC copy of this novella that I freely chose to review.

This is a Regency romance that I decided to read in part as research for a project, and also because it sounded and looked a bit different to many of the books in the genre (no couple on the cover, and, especially, no bare-chested male). Indeed this is a ‘sweet’ or ‘clean’ romance, although as some reviewers have noted, the strongest relationship in the story is that between Catherine, a young orphaned girl whose financial circumstances are extremely precarious at the beginning of the story, and her brother, John, a couple of years her junior, who fell from a horse when he was a child and now suffers from physical disabilities that make a normal life impossible. (He can move about with some difficulty and needs assistance to complete some complex tasks, although he is a fighter and manages better than people think when they meet him). The little money left by her parents has almost gone and she is wondering about the future. Although she is hopeful about getting a position for herself, she cannot see any options that would allow her to carry on looking after her brother. When an invitation to spend Christmas with a wealthy school friend arrives, Catherine starts making all kinds of plans in her head.

The story is short but manages to paint a detail picture of the conditions Catherine and her brother live in, of the arrangements she has to make to try and make do by modifying her mother’s old dresses, and then also about the huge contrast between their lives and that of her friend Katie and her family. (At times it made me think of Dickens but without going to extremes).This allows readers to see things from Catherine’s point of view and to appreciate the huge gap that existed in the society of the time between the haves and the have-nots. (It also reminded me of one of my favourite stories by Louisa May Alcott, An Old-Fashioned Girl, which I recommend). We also realise how unforgiving and intolerant the society of the time was of those suffering any type of disabilities, and it is impossible not to cringe at some of the comments the siblings have to endure.

The story shares some characteristics with a fairy-tale (there is something of Cinderella about Catherine, although at least she does not have a cruel stepmother), and also with a morality-tale, where Catherine’s innocence and her devotion to her brother are rewarded in the end.

The Christmas part of the story works well, and we hear about a Christmas log, there is a trip to find mistletoe, carollers come along to the mansion, and we have some wondrous descriptions of foods of the period.

As for the love story… Well, we soon realise Katie’s brother seems interested in Catherine, although she has not been exposed to society and cannot work out if he is flirting, laughing at her, or really interested. There is a misunderstanding that has the most wonderful consequences for all involved (one hopes, anyway), but while we get some sense of who Catherine is and some indication of her brother’s thoughts and feelings, we do not get to know the rest of the characters too well, but the indications are positive.

In sum, this is a short read, full of detail about the contrast between high and low-income lives at the time, set during Christmas, and it does a good job of bringing to life the Christmas spirit. It might not satisfy those looking for a passionate love story although it shows strong sibling relationships and has a likeable and self-sacrificing heroine (think Melanie in Gone with the Wind), and there is no sex or bad language. Recommended if you’re looking for a short feel-good Christmas story set in the Regency period.

 

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review 2018-11-30 14:26
ARC REVIEW Best of Luck by Kate Clayborn
Beginner's Luck - Kate Clayborn
Luck of the Draw - Kate Clayborn
Best of Luck - Kate Clayborn

 

 

Best of Luck (Chance of a Lifetime, #3)

Chance of a Lifetime #3, I have been impatiently waiting for this book since the characters were introduced to each other in the first book. This can be read as a stand alone but I really recommend reading the first two books to get the whole picture. This is written in third person with alternating perspectives of Greer and Alex. I loved this book the story and the characters so emotional. 

Greer, Kit and Zoe buy a lottery ticket never expecting to actually win, so far Kit followed her dream and bought a house and fell in love, Zoe quit her job and went on an amazing path of self discovery and fell in love too. Now it's Greer's turn who was finally able to follow her dream and go back to school. She's almost got her degree when they tell her she short credits for art.

Alex Alverin, Kit's older brother, is a world renowned photojournalist his plan to come to his sister's wedding and then take off again has to be revised when his debilitating panic attacks get worse. With the urging of his agent and Greer, who caught him in the middle of one during the wedding, he takes some time off. But he won't be idle on his time off Greer recruits his help with her art credit. Greer's only hope to get the art credit she needs is to take a photography class subtly using Alex to get the teacher to agree was aggravating but easy. Greer also gets Alex to agree to go see a therapist while he's here. Alex was always attracted to Greer but the more time he spends with her the more the attraction builds into something more, and vise versa, and the more he learns about her the more he's tempted to try and stay. Greer may have fallen in love with Alex but she knows him to well and is just waiting for him to leave again. Alex's fears are so deep rooted he doesn't know if his love for Greer is stronger than his wonderlust. 


Overall, this is my favorite of the three. Both of the character's histories play a part in why they act they way they do and how their budding relationship gives them a new perspective and allows them to look at their lives differently and finally be willing to change for the better. There is such deep emotion and fear that Kate Clayborn really puts you through the ringer with this one.   

 

 

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review 2018-11-26 16:35
Come Hell or Highball by Maia Chance - My Thoughts
Come Hell or Highball - Maia Chance

This was a fun cozy mystery read.  Set in the Jazz Age, the age of Prohibition, the age of silent films, when the movie industry was beginning and mostly in New York, it's rightly described as a fun-filled romp.  There's a taste of madcap about it too.

I really enjoyed the characters: our heroine, the society widow Lola, her Swedish cook Berta, the mysterious Ralph and of course the dog whose name escapes me now because I waited too long to write this.  *LOL*  Most of the dialogue was fun banter, especially between Lola and Berta.  The mystery was okay and kept me engaged.

My one problem was the constant harping on Lola's weight.  It got old, really quick.  I loved that she was not the slender, boyish framed woman of that age, but dear God, the jokes got old and somewhat distasteful and there were far too many.  They took away from my enjoyment of the book.

Will I continue on with the series?  Probably.  Overall, I liked it.  And it's one of my favourite eras. :)

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review 2018-11-26 03:56
The Billionaire's Last Chance (The Beaumont Brothers Book 3) by Leslie North
The Billionaire's Last Chance - Leslie North

 

 

North saved the best for last. Connall meets his match in a soft hearted firecracker. Bernadette knows how it feels to be different. She loves too hard, cares too much and somehow ends up disappointed in the end. When Connall looks her way, it feels like coming home. The happiness and acceptance she craves is within reach, until his true motives shatter her heart. Can the girl with a broken heart, forgive the man who shattered it? With overpowering emotion and magnetic characters North ends the series on a high note.

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review 2018-10-27 17:05
Ghost of a Chance
Ghost of a Chance - Kate Marsh;Katie MacAlister

So, Karma is a half human house "cleaner" (she exorcises haunted homes) who agrees to "clean" one last home in exchange for a divorce. Spider (nice name huh?) won't contest it. There are imps, domovoi, poltergeists (or polter).
I admit to a little confusion at the start, with all the terms. Everything is gradually explained however. This was a nice mystery and I didn't see the ending coming (although I should have- there were clues that I didn't pay attention to). I enjoyed the characters and the interactions. They were snarky and fun. Pixie AKA Desdemona AKA Obsidian Angel AKA Morbent Vixen (and it continues) was an interesting character and I was glad there were answers in regards to her background. Spider (an asshole, and a plain rotten human being) got what he deserved and another character does too!
I did still have a few questions about the Akashic league and wergeld, but oh well. This was a fun read! This looks to be the only book, but could have worked as a series I think.

For Bingo:  Country House Mystery square

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