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review 2018-02-08 05:00
The Puritan Pirate (Pirates of Port Royal #1) by Jules Radcliffe
The Puritan Pirate - Jules Radcliffe

3.5 stars I think is a fairer rating. 

Everything goes oh too well for our characters. Even the most evil event leaves (physically) only bruises and sore muscles. Not that I am complaining, mind you. 


Another minus for me is the unfinished business. Killjoy, Chacal, Spanish in general - those are still loose ends. I almost wish there was less talk and love making.... oh, who am I kidding!

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review 2018-01-21 03:00
Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist
Tiffany Girl: A Novel - Deeanne Gist

Tiffany Girl is set just prior to the 1893 World's Fair. Flossie wants nothing more than to become a painter, so it's a shock when her mother tells her she's going to need to stop attending the New York School of Applied Design, help out more with the sewing (her mother is a dressmaker), and start thinking about getting married. Her father has gambled away enough of the family's money that they can no longer afford her tuition. When Flossie hears about an opportunity to work for Louis Tiffany as one of his "Tiffany Girls" during a glassworkers' strike, she announces that she's moving out and will earn the money for her tuition herself.

Her new life isn't easy, but Flossie is determined to make the best of things. She deals with angry strikers and "bustle pinchers," tries to figure out how to make her finances work out, and deals with her loneliness by encouraging the people at her boarding house to all get to know each other better. One of her fellow boarders is Reeve, a handsome but emotionally closed off journalist who turns his nose up a "New Women" like Flossie.

I feel like I've been in a partial reading slump since coming back from vacation. I haven't been reading much, and I keep losing interest in the things I read. I was worried that the same thing would happen with Tiffany Girl. The book's length was a little daunting, but thankfully it turned out to be a really engaging read. I flew through it and could hardly put it down.

I don't read a lot of Christian romance, and there are only a couple authors I'll pick up without reading reviews first. Deeanne Gist is one of them. The religious aspects of her books are usually pretty light. Faith is important to her characters, but they don't think about it every few pages, and I don't recall ever feeling like Gist preaches at her readers.

The religious aspects of Tiffany Girl were particularly light, although important. One of the things Flossie dealt with was the belief of those around her that God's highest calling for women is bearing children. This was directly opposed to her desire to work for someone like Louis Tiffany, who only allowed women to work for him if they were unmarried. If Flossie wanted her independence, she needed to remain unmarried and childless, or so she believed. Religion also came up a bit while Flossie was looking at Louis Tiffany's finished stained glass windows. For the most part, though, that was it. I could imagine some Christian romance fans wanting more, but for me this worked out just fine.

Watching Flossie and Reeve interact was fun, even though both characters had aspects that annoyed me a little. Reeve's opinions about New Women got my back up, although I'd probably have been on his side where Flossie and her "get to know each other" activities were concerned. The lack of privacy in the boarding house was, in general, a bit horrifying, but Flossie's dinnertime question cards would particularly have made me cringe. There were, in fact, times when her questions touched on sensitive topics. I was a little surprised that Reeve answered some of the questions he was asked, considering how private he tended to be.

Flossie was a bit too in-your-face friendly for me at times. I'm an introvert, and I can clearly imagine myself going out of my way to avoid her for a while in order to avoid her icebreaker games. As far as she was concerned, everyone at the boarding house was like an extended family and, up until the competition for World's Fair tickets started, she probably felt at least a little the same about many of her coworkers.

Although Flossie and Reeve were attracted to each other fairly early on, they both had a bit of growing to do before they properly meshed as a couple. I really liked how things progressed with Reeve. He had to rethink his ideas about women and marriage. He also had to learn to open up more and allow other people into his life, even if only a little. I absolutely adored the scene with Mrs. Dinwiddie near the end. In some ways, it worked better for me than the romance between Reeve and Flossie.

Flossie's developments near the end of the book were pretty painful, and the attention Gist paid to Reeve's efforts to make more friends highlighted, for me, the fact that Flossie didn't seem to have any close female friends. Whereas I enjoyed the direction Reeve's story took, Flossie's "growth" seemed at least in part to involve breaking her down. She learned that not everyone around her was to be trusted, that she couldn't always count on her parents to act as her safety net (although Reeve stepped in and kept this from turning out worse than it might have), and that she'd never

be able to make a career out of the thing she most loved to do

(spoiler show)

. On the plus side, she learned that all of this could happen to her without breaking her.

The moment when Reeve and Flossie met again was nice, although I was a little sad about how long it took for it to happen. I missed getting to see the two of them together more, and Gist sped through their courtship period way too quickly for my tastes. I really liked how she resolved the issues hanging between Reeve and Flossie, although I raised an eyebrow at the fact that they apparently hadn't talked about any of it prior to getting married. I'd have thought Flossie would have wanted to know how Reeve felt about

the idea of her continuing to paint and occasionally make some money of her own

(spoiler show)

before they said their I dos.

All in all, this was a good book and a quicker read than I expected it to be. I need to hunt down more of Gist's stuff.

Extras:

Many of the chapters were accompanied by a one-page black-and-white illustration. Also, there was an author's note with information about Gist's historical research. Gist's author's notes tend to be fascinating, and this one was no exception.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-01-17 21:23
The Given & The Taken (Tooth & Claw #1) by L.A. Witt
The Given & The Taken - L.A. Witt

I don't get Levi/Darius, sorry. There was nothing between them bar pure hate for the longest time, and all of the sudden there is an orgy and a half, butterfly kisses and ribbons and kittens and even the L word. Nope. Not working for me.

I also don't get why Levi had to lie about Ian not showing up for the reunion, along with the stupid decision on Ian's behalf not to pick up a phone call to clear up the situation. You can listen, you don't have to meet face to face, that's the benefit of a phone call, right? So, one silly thing after another after yet another... That's the way of the book. Which leaves me with a shrug and 1.75 stars.

Писательское мастерство автора, да в мирных бы целях.....

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review 2018-01-17 20:59
Stolen Hearts (Stolen Hearts) by Sasha L. Miller
Stolen Hearts - Sasha L. Miller

Нудная середина и нудный конец. Я ожидала больше, чем "она его за муки полюбила, а он ее за состраданье к ним".

 

The "comfort" bit of hurt/comfort was overdone, trying to compensate for falling in love, I guess. Once Callisto's new charm was in place to stabilize his condition, everything slowed down to a crawl.

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review 2018-01-17 00:49
The Courtship of Julian St. Albans (Consulting Magic #1) by Amy Crook
The Courtship of Julian St. Albans - Amy Crook

I hope the author forgives me for my speculations, but I am just sharing my personal impression of the book.

It seems to me the story was started some time ago, like a decade or two. When the author came back to it, tho, she did with gusto and somehow propelled the time period from regency or maybe even early 20th century to 2013 without a single glance back. All that I like had ended with Chapter 12. Chapter 13 welcomed us with a very sudden and very vicious addiction to cell phones, texts, voicemail and turning the damn thing on and off. Energy bars, credit cards, modern technology and modern jargon (started with "dunno") is suddenly all over the place. 

Everyone is high on caffeine and sugar, hence, I assume, all the giggling, chuckling, laughing, smiling and so on (thesaurus was thoroughly exploited in this story). MC did a 180 and turned into a complete gigglepuss by 60%.

Then, there is all that food and clothes. The author is like a vice, she latches onto a subject and can't let go even after a new shiny pops up :( 

Consort/Master dynamics, inappropriate and overused crude dirty jokes appeared to be all wrong to me. Maybe I am overly PC, but I cringed most of the time when Julian stepped in to discuss his responsibilities as a consort. Why is he even male? O.o Alex's "mounds" got pretty old and overused pretty fast; several characters managed to come off as sexist as**oles.

I started the book looking forward to a mystery. I got over my disappointment on that matter very early in the book and decided to enjoy fantasy of manners, magic and The Courtship instead. Chapter 13 (yes, I know, I already mentioned it), disappointed me again. The Courtship stopped. The old charm disappeared. Modern world and modern jargon with multiple new inane characters, whose names mostly start with J, took over. 

Means of communication: first it was just a messenger or an occasional phone call, then it was cell-cell-cell, and t-h-e-n, because Alex/Julian relationship is not cheesy enough, we got Horace, The Messenger bird, who carried Alex's and Julian's letters in his chest where its heart supposed to be. 

I did enjoy bits of a story, finding the courtship and magic fascinating, too bad it was given up for clothes, food, drinks and endless empty banter. Is ever a revised, well edited version comes out, I will give it a second chance. For now I can only give it one star.

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