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review 2018-04-16 17:02
Wishes in the Wind by Andrea Kane
Wishes in the Wind - Andrea Kane

Someone is threatening her father's life, because the renowned jockey wouldn't throw a race, so Nicole Aldridge, willing to do anything to save her father's life, masquerades as a boy in order to seek employ with the Marquis of Tyrenham.

Little does she know, Dustin Kingsley would recognize her for the woman who's stolen his heart during a short conversation on the bank of the Thames and that the aristocrat will do anything to keep her father and her safe.


Unfortunately, this doesn't hold a candle to its predecessor. Not in characterization, romance (if you want to call it that), nor suspense.

The characters were unfortunately mere sketches, not truly developed beyond the initial story needs, the romance was rushed, hasty, and too instantaneous to be plausible, even less believable, and while the suspense could've been the saving grace of this novel, it was pushed into the background, playing second fiddle to the "romance". There was no real intrigue or intensity, and no real feel of peril.

I feel Dustin deserved more.

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review 2018-04-15 11:34
Echoes in the Mist by Andrea Kane
Echoes in the Mist - Andrea Kane

Six years ago, supposedly for causing a woman to commit suicide, Trenton Kingsley, Duke of Broddington, has moved to his estate in the Isle of Wight, into self-imposed exile. Now, he's back, determined to forever ruin the man he deemed responsible for the ruination of his life, Baxter Caldwell, the brother of the dead woman. Trenton is willing to do anything to accomplish his revenge, even using Caldwell's younger sister, Ariana, as a pawn.

Ariana Caldwell has grown up on stories about Trenton Kingsley's ugly character, but even though she's supposed to fear him, she doesn't. There's something in him that draws her in, convincing her all he needs redemption for whatever happened six years ago, and she's willing to provide it.

But someone doesn't want Trenton to be happy and that someone is determined to accomplish what the incident in the past has obviously failed to do. Utterly ruin Trenton Kingsley, no matter what.


Oh, wow.

It might sound presumptuous, but hey, it's my review. This story was a psychological drama disguised as a romance. And it worked. All of it.

The characters were engaging and realistic, deeply-layered and nicely drawn and developed. The story progressed at a perfect pace for the relationship and romance to grow slowly and organically; as Trent and Ariana slowly grew to know each other so did the reader and it is from that knowledge (mostly through observation, since words can sometimes be deceiving) that the romance, no, love, blossomed.

What worked most was the ambiguity. Ariana was the guide in the story, and the reader knew as much as Ariana did. The reader shared her apprehension, her doubts, her reasoning, and her thinking process. Who is Trenton Kingsley? What drives him? Did he really have a hand in her sister's death? What is the truth? What is a lie? What is an illusion? Who to trust?
The truth is hidden for most of the story, so the apprehension, the doubts as to the hero's true nature and/or intentions are real. The wondering, whether he's capable of what he's accused of, is incessant, even though instinct dictates there's more to it that meets the eye.
And in the end, it takes both observation, instinct and truth from his lips (as trust is finally established) to put the fears and doubts to rest, and for a man to finally find redemption and love.

But of course, that's not the end of the story. There's also an evil villain, their unwitting accomplice, and a nefarious plot to ruin Trenton (and Ariana in the process) out of pure spite, might I add.
The psychological torture was exquisitely done, finding both intended targets with chilling precision.

Intense, intriguing, chilling and alluring, this story is definitely a keeper.

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review 2018-04-13 18:30
WINTERBAY ABBEY by John Bladek and Javonna Duroe, narrated by Matt Godfrey
Winterbay Abbey: A Ghost Story - John Bladek,Davonna Juroe,Matt Godfrey

 

WINTERBAY ABBEY is a beautifully written Gothic style ghost story and I adored it, from start to finish!

 

When I saw this being compared to Susan Hill's THE WOMAN IN BLACK, I was a bit hesitant because, to be honest, I did not like that tale AT ALL. It was repetitious and I felt it lacked the Gothic, quiet horror atmosphere that I love so much. I needn't have worried because this book was much better than that one and it had the added advantage of Matt Godfrey's narration.

 

This is the story of a man and his wife, Will & Emily, getting over a recent accident where the wife nearly lost her hand. They've also just discovered that Emily is pregnant. Her damaged hand has affected her ability to contribute to the family's financial resources and times are tight. When Will's boss offers makes him take a job in Maine drawing up architecture plans to turn an abandoned abbey into a resort hotel, he jumps on the chance to secure his family's financial future. At the last minute, he decided to invite Emily to meet him there. Will their plans work out? Will they succeed in having a happy and healthy family? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I do love me a quiet horror story. What does that mean? For me, it means atmospheric, inspiring feelings of dread and fear, without spilling a lot of blood and guts. This must be difficult to write, because, to be honest, I haven't read that many good, quiet horror stories. This one is better than good, it's fantastic! There were a few instances where I thought Will made a bad decision or two, but overall, I also felt that it was realistic in the telling, and I was rooting for our couple to make it through.

 

With the always rich narration of Matt Godfrey, I felt this couple come to life. I hope that you give it a chance and let Will and Emily come alive for you.

 

Highly recommended!

 

Get your copy here: WINTERBAY ABBEY

 

*Thanks to narrator and friend, Matt Godfrey, for the audio copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it!* 

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review 2018-04-05 19:13
An excellent introduction to the iconic monarch
Queen Victoria - K. D. Reynolds,H.C.G. Matthew

As one of the last monarchs whose name is associated with an era, Queen Victoria comes across more as an icon than as a person.  Yet the stout figure seemingly always dressed in mourning always had to walk a fine line between these two poles.  Viewed from birth as a likely future monarch, Victoria led a isolated life as a child thanks to her mother and a key member of her household, both of whom sought to usurp her future authority as queen.  Asserting herself soon after her accession to the throne, she nonetheless submitted willingly to her husband, Price Albert of Saxe-Coburg, deferring unquestioning to his counsel throughout their marriage.  Devastated by his death, she eventually emerged from her seclusion to assume a politically active role in the later decades of her reign, spending her final years as a beloved and venerated figure among the British people

 

Summarizing Victoria’s life for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, from which this short study is derived, was the joint task of its editor, H. C. G. Matthew, and one of his former students, K. D. Reynolds.  Matthew’s premature death, however, left Reynolds to finish up the entry.  His achievement is an impressive one that combines insight with brevity to provide a remarkably comprehensive summary, one that shrugs off the longstanding myths and imagery to allow a real person of flesh and blood to emerge.  It makes this book an essential starting point for learning more about the queen, one unlikely to be bettered in its evaluation of Victoria’s life and reign.

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review 2018-04-04 20:54
How to be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman
How To Be a Victorian - Ruth Goodman

Interesting and informative, but not as good as Goodman's Tudor book. I'm not sure why, exactly. It may be because this was written first or because I've read more about the Victorian era so less was new.

 

Goodman mostly sticks to the facts, but she relates some of her personal experience too. Don't worry, they're relevant, since they mostly relate to re-enactments of a sort where she's tried to do things in a Victorian way (wearing the clothes, eating the food, performing work using that era's technology, etc.).

 

This book took me quite a while to read, but it wasn't because it was boring or anything. Some parts were quite engaging. It's just that it took a back seat to some of my other books due to my participation in the Kill Your Darlings game and keeping up with library books.

 

It looks like a forgot to post a quote about football tactics before the rules were codified that I found amusing (p 326):

The annual football match between St Peter's and All Saints parishes in Derby was famous for its bewildering array of tactics, which included swimming down the river with the ball, as well as removing the ball's stuffing and hiding it under someone's shirt.

Makes me wonder whether the ball's skin or stuffing would be considered to be the legal ball...

 

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