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Search tags: fantasy-historical
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review 2020-03-20 21:59
Confessions of a Sheba Queen
Confessions of a Sheba Queen - Autumn Bardot

Bilqis is born to a jinni mother in the ancient lands of Saba, what is now known as Yemen.  Bilquis' birthday come with a prophesy- that she will have a great destiny to fulfill.  Bilqis doesn't seems to have the same talents as a jinn as her mother, but is easily able to soak up all of the knowledge that her mother can bring her.  As a young adult, Biqis learns of one of the jinn powers that she can use-her power of sensuality. After discovering the power of sex, Bilqis' world changes and opens. Then, tragedy strikes that leads Bliqis on a mission of revenge.  With her mission, Bilqis learns more of the terrible King ruling over Saba.  As Bilqis continues her journey, her destiny becomes clear- to end the King's regime and become the leader that the people need.

The full story of Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba is lost to history.  I have read several other versions this amazing Queen's story, but none quite like this.  Autumn Bardot is known for her strong female characters as well as erotic story lines.  Confessions of a Sheba Queen definitely falls firmly in erotic historical fiction, which isn't something I normally read, but I really enjoyed this.  Bilqis' story combined with the erotic story line makes for an intense and absorbing plot. From the beginning Bilqis jinn parentage and destiny add a sense of purpose to the story.  Even without her jinn heritage, Bilqis' character is strong, intelligent, and willing to put others first.  I liked that the jinn part of her parentage allowed Bilqis to use sex and her sensuality as a source of power and clarity in her life and allowed her to grow as a person.  The sex scenes were all unique, imaginative and used very modern language. However, what I appreciated most were the ties to what little history we do know of Bilqis.  I loved the lavish descriptions of the temple of Awwam and Bilqis' time with King Solomon. Richly absorbing and passionate, Confessions of a Sheba Queen creates a great blend of erotica and historical fiction.


This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

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review 2020-02-19 22:43
The Sanctuary Sparrow / Ellis Peters
The Sanctuary Sparrow - Ellis Peters

In the gentle Shrewsbury spring of 1140, the midnight matins at the Benedictine abbey suddenly reverberate with an unholy sound—a hunt in full cry. Persued by a drunken mob, the quarry is running for its life. When the frantic creature bursts into the nave to claim sanctuary, Brother Cadfael finds himself fighting off armed townsmen to save a terrified young man. Accused of robbery and murder is Liliwin, a wandering minstrel who performed at the wedding of a local goldsmith's son. The cold light of morning, however, will show his supposed victim, the miserly craftsman, still lives, although a strongbox lies empty. Brother Cadfael believes Liliwin is innocent, but finding the truth and the treasure before Liliwin's respite in sanctuary runs out may uncover a deadlier sin than thievery—a desperate love that nothing, not even the threat of hanging, can stop.

 

It’s been quite a while since I visited Brother Cadfael and perhaps because of that time lapse, I really enjoyed this novel. There truly aren’t too many options for murder in the 12th century, so one story is very like the last. I would classify these books as “cozy mysteries,” and it surprises me how much I like them, not usually being a fan of the cozy. I think it’s the historical nature of the tales that grabs me. It’s like learning history by osmosis while enjoying a good story.

Probably it also helped that I felt like I was getting away with something! I have a stack of previously signed out library books and theoretically this one should have waited until I made some progress on them. Instead, I plunged into this one right away and finished it in only an evening.

Peters does such a wonderful job of populating the abbey with the full spectrum of human frailties! The arrogant, the snob, the teacher, the compassionate, the seeker of justice, everybody is present and we get to observe their interactions. Her grasp of human behaviour is so accurate!

The result may not be tremendously surprising, but the journey is always enjoyable.

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review 2019-12-09 21:52
The Guinevere Deception / Kiersten White
The Guinevere Deception - Kiersten White

There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom's borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution--send in Guinevere to be Arthur's wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king's idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere's real name--and her true identity--is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old--including Arthur's own family--demand things continue as they have been, and the new--those drawn by the dream of Camelot--fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur's knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?

 

An excellent re-invention of the King Arthur mythos. Taking a cue from The Mists of Avalon, this version is told from the perspective of Guinevere, a changeling girl sent by Merlin to be King Arthur’s bride.

The big problem is that magic has been banished from Camelot and Guinevere is a manic pixie dream girl! She is looking at the relationship like a job and Arthur is willing to humour her, but as they spend more and more time together, both of them start to think that perhaps they would like to expand that role….now how do they let their desires be known?

White uses some interesting changes in relationships (Mordred isn’t Arthur’s illegitimate son) and some wonderful changes in gender of at least one character to make this a very up-to-date feeling version of the Arthur cycle. By doing so, she freshens up a story that most of us feel that we’re pretty familiar with.

I can hardly wait for the next installment in 2020

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review 2019-11-03 22:28
The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl / Theodora Goss
The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl - Theodora Goss

Life’s always an adventure for the Athena Club...especially when one of their own has been kidnapped! After their thrilling European escapades rescuing Lucinda van Helsing, Mary Jekyll and her friends return home to discover that their friend and kitchen maid Alice has vanished— and so has their friend and employer Sherlock Holmes!

As they race to find Alice and bring her home safely, they discover that Alice and Sherlock’s kidnapping are only one small part of a plot that threatens Queen Victoria, and the very future of the British Empire. Can Mary, Diana, Beatrice, Catherine, and Justine save their friends—and save the Empire? Find out in the final installment of the fantastic and memorable Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club series.

 

Forget the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, because now we have The Athena Club. I guess we could call it the League of Monstrous Gentlewomen. Another of the feminist versions of the Victorian time period with plenty of girl power (although the main characters do get justifiably huffy about being called girls when they are full grown women).

Even the female villains outsmart their male counterparts in this particular volume. The women of the Athena Club may sometimes doubt their abilities, but they pull off the caper (with the help of Ayesha of course). Just like most women, they doubt themselves unnecessarily. Plus, they get to rescue Sherlock Holmes!

I know that this series is technically wrapped up with this third book, but it seems to me that there are enough loose threads and unexplored avenues that further adventures could follow, if the author can persuade the publisher to continue. Fingers crossed that there will eventually be another book about the Athena Club!

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review 2019-11-03 22:26
The Art of Theft / Sherry Thomas
The Art of Theft - Sherry Thomas

As "Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective," Charlotte Holmes has solved murders and found missing individuals. But she has never stolen a priceless artwork—or rather, made away with the secrets hidden behind a much-coveted canvas.
 
But Mrs. Watson is desperate to help her old friend recover those secrets and Charlotte finds herself involved in a fever-paced scheme to infiltrate a glamorous Yuletide ball where the painting is one handshake away from being sold and the secrets a bare breath from exposure.
 
Her dear friend Lord Ingram, her sister Livia, Livia's admirer Stephen Marbleton—everyone pitches in to help and everyone has a grand time. But nothing about this adventure is what it seems and disaster is biding time on the grounds of a glittering French chateau, waiting only for Charlotte to make a single mistake...

 

One of the best aspects of my 2019 summer reading list (The Summer of Sherlock) was the discovery of this charming series, the Lady Sherlock series. I’m really enjoying a lot of these feminist revisionist Victorian adventures! The Victorian age as it should have been.

I love Charlotte Holmes as a character and I relate to her when she would rather be at home with a cup of tea and a pastry than out in the world pursuing criminals! I rather favour coffee and popcorn, but it’s the same idea. I have to laugh at her concept of Maximum Tolerable Chins, which is the point at which she restricts her pastry consumption until her clothing fits more comfortably. Been there, done that, my dear Charlotte!

My only disappointment with this book was that it did not deal with the Treadles’ plot line until the very last pages! I really want to know what happens between Inspector and his wife, but it seems that I must wait for the next book.

In the meanwhile, I have to applaud the author for being able to bring Charlotte and Lord Ingram together and then separate them so skillfully, retaining the romantic pursuit and it’s accompanying plot tension into the fourth book of the series. Of course I am also interested in the Livia and Stephen Marbleton situation, but it is Charlotte & Ash who command my attention in terms of relationships.

Ms. Thomas also uses the Maharani’s character deftly as a way to explore colonialism and to introduce a person of colour into the very white, upper-class world that the main characters inhabit.

All in all, I will be very excited when Book 5 is published, hopefully next year.

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