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review 2016-10-09 16:38
The course of true love never did run smooth
The Lady Anne (Above all Others; The Lady Anne Book 2) - Ammonia Book Covers,Brooke Aldrich,Lawrence G. Lovasik

I write this review as one of the members of behalf of Rosie’s Books Review Team. I was provided with a free copy of the book as part of the team.

I have read and enjoyed La Petite Boulain, the first book in the Above all Others series and really enjoyed getting to know a bit more about Anne Boleyn’s childhood, and particularly, the way the story was told, in the first person from the point of view of young Anne, or, to be more precise, the young Anne as remembered by the older Anne at the moment of awaiting her death in the Tower.

Here we see Anne return to England after spending part of her childhood and teenage years in courts abroad. She is sad to leave France, as she feels by now more French than English, and the weather and the difficulties of her trip don’t help make her feel at home. Luckily, things take a turn for the better quickly. She meets Thomas Wyatt, a neighbour, accomplished poet, and a childhood friend, and once she joins the court, becoming one of Queen Katherine’s ladies in waiting, she soon meets interesting people, makes new friends, rekindles old friendships, and becomes a fashion icon and very admired for her style, accomplishments, and her personality.

I was curious to see how this novel would portray Anne as a young woman, in an era more familiar to most people than that of her early years. She is presented as an interesting mixture of a clever and intelligent woman, with far wider knowledge and experiences than many of the women her age she meets, but still a young girl at heart, who loves the idea of courting, handsome and romantic knights, and has to admit to being proud of the way men are attracted to her and women copy her dresses and jewels. She changes her mind often and she thinks she is in love with Tom Wyatt one day, although it’s an impossible love, but then decides it’s only friendship. She falls in love with Henry Percy (of much higher standing than her as he’s due to become the Earl of Northumberland) and with her father’s approval pursues a marriage that would have been very advantageous for her family, but when Cardinal Wolsey and Henry’s father forbid the match, her disappointment makes her hate him. And then, there’s King Henry…

I must confess that I enjoyed the discussions about Anne’s ideas and her education in religion and philosophy in the first book, and there were only passing references to it here (partly because she worried about the company she keeps and how they would react if they were aware of her opinions, and partly because there are other things that occupy more of her time), and there is much more about romance and romantic ideas. King Henry seems to notice her following an accident (although perhaps before that) and her behaviour and her refusal to become his mistress seem to spur him on rather than make him forget her and move on. If Henry Percy gave up on her without a fight, this is a man who would risk everything (even the future of his kingdom) for his own enjoyment and to prove himself, and in Anne, he meets a challenge. Not being a big reader of romance, the pull and push of the relationship and the will she/won’t she (especially knowing how things will turn up) part of it was not what interested me the most, although the scenes are well done and I found the fights and disagreements between the couple enjoyable. I became intrigued by King Henry’s portrayal, not so much by what he does and says, but by how others see him. There is a very apt warning her brother George gives her, recalling how King Henry was walking with his arm around a nobleman’s shoulders one afternoon and two days later the said nobleman’s head was topping a pole on the King’s orders.

I was more interested in matters of politics and alliances (confusing as they were), the inner workings of the court, marriages and births, and Anne’s reflections about the roles of women and men in the society of the time, that she struggles against but ultimately feels obliged to follow. I was also intrigued by the depiction of her family, her brother George, always close to her, her sister Mary, who although Anne always saw as too free and easy, she comes to understand and appreciate (and who manages to achieve a happy existence in her own terms, eventually), her mother, who suffers from a strange illness, and her father, who appears to be only interested in the family’s advancement (although claims that it is not for himself, but for those who’ll come after). He seemingly has no respect for morality if it can get in the way of achieving his goals, and at times he treats his daughters as pawns or worse. In the novel, Anne is portrayed as having much of the initiative, at least at the beginning, regarding her relationship with King Henry, but I was very intrigued by the role her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, would come to play, and how much he influenced later events and the rise of Anne to become Queen.

This volume made me wonder, more than the first one, how reliable a narrator is Anne supposed to be. She makes a very interesting comment about wearing masks and the fact that we all perform our roles in public, whatever our feelings or thoughts might really be. After all, this is Anne remembering her life and trying to distract herself from her likely dark fate. Sometimes she does protest too much, when talking about her accomplishments, intelligence and fashion sense, and insists that she does not believe in false modesty. She also talks about Tom Wyatt’s affections and how she had not encouraged him, but she evidently enjoys his attentions. At other times, she describes events and scenes as if she were at the same time protagonist and observer (from telling us what she was feeling and her concerns, she will go on to describe what she looked like or what she was wearing). She does highlight the behaviours she thinks show her in a good light and easily finds ways in which to dismiss some of her more selfish or problematic behaviours, but at a time such as the one she’s living through, after having lost everything and everybody, it’s only understandable. If anything, it shows her as a complex and contradictory individual and makes her appear more real.

The writing is once more fluid and beautifully detailed, bringing to life places, customs and times long past.

Although I know what will happen next, I’m intrigued to read Anne’s version of events and look forward to the next book. I highly recommend this series to anybody interested in Anne Boleyn who enjoys historical fiction, and to anybody who is considering reading about such a fascinating historical figure.

 

 

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review 2015-07-18 22:14
REVIEW: "The Friend Zone" by Kristen Callihan
The Friend Zone - Kristen Callihan

Kristen Callihan's The Hook Up was one of my favorite reads of 2014 so, of course, I was excited to read the sequel, The Friend Zone.  While this wasn't as wonderful as its predecessor, I did enjoy it and continue to impressed with the NA romances I've been reading lately.

 

Gray is the tight end on his college football team and is very close to realizing his dream of being drafted by the National Football League.  He even has an agent waiting to sign him after graduation.  So he is not prepared for the entrance of his agent's daughter, Ivy, into his life.  Ivy and Gray try to remain friends, but it becomes obvious that they are so much more to one another.

 

I really liked both Gray and Ivy.  Gray is a stud athlete, but he also, surprisingly, has a hell of a brain which he keeps a secret from most people.  His childhood wasn't the happiest and he is determined to make it in the pros to finally find a place he belongs.  For her part, Ivy has been surrounded by athletes her entire life and resents the attention that they get from her father.  She has recently graduated from college and is trying to figure out what she wants to do next.  Ivy has never felt a connection with someone like she does with Gray and is terrified of what will happen if they move out into relationship territory.

 

The plot of The Friend Zone basically deals with Gray and Ivy becoming friends (mostly through text messages) and trying to not mess things up when feelings get in the way.  I loved the development of their friendship and how comfortable they were with one another.  It is obvious to readers that they both are in love, but I appreciated that it took time before romance appeared.  The plot ended up being a question of "when will they" rather than "will they or won't they" which was fun.

 

So I would definitely recommend fans of NA romance or contemporaries in general check out Callihan's The Friend Zone.  It has mature characters who respect one another and are just searching for somewhere to belong with some fun side characters and enough sports talk to provide a great background.

Source: feministfairytalereviews.blogspot.com/2015/05/review-friend-zone-by-kristen-callihan.html
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review 2015-05-19 20:22
REVIEW: "The Deal" by Elle Kennedy
The Deal - Elle Kennedy

I have never read Elle Kennedy before, but I have heard great things about her sexy contemporary romances.  Since I adore sports-themed romances, I decided to give her debut New Adult book a try and am blown away by it.


The Deal has a similar plot to other NA books I've read with a college sports star needing tutoring and simultaneously falling in love with their tutor.  Garrett is the best player on his school's hockey team and usually has no problem balancing his classwork with his team commitments.  But, his ethics course is currently kicking his ass and he finds himself very close to missing games due to his low grade.  Hannah is the only student in the class who understands what the professor is wanting and this catches Garrett's attention.  It quickly becomes obvious that Hannah has a crush on one of the football players so Garret and Hannah decide to make a deal.  She will help him pass the class and he will pretend to date her in order to make Justin jealous.

 

While the plot is a little low on the creative side, what makes this book stand out for me is the characters.  Garrett and Hannah both have tortured pasts that they are trying to deal with and the find themselves trusting one another with their secrets as they spend time together.  I loved the way that the author had them growing as friends before jumping into bed.  Their constant back-and-forth was so funny and really showed the development of their relationship.  It was also fun to see Hannah interact with the rest of Garrett's housemates who I believe will be getting their own stories later in the series.

 

I recommend The Deal for anyone who loves mature NA with well-developed characters and a serious look at some current social issues like domestic violence and rape.  I will definitely be continuing this series and will probably add her adult books to my wishlist.

 
 
Source: feministfairytalereviews.blogspot.com/2015/05/review-deal-by-elle-kennedy.html
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review 2015-05-14 15:30
REVIEW: "The Royal We" by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
The Royal We - Jessica Morgan,Heather Cocks

I have been a fan of Heather and Jessica's blog, Go Fug Yourself, for many years so, when they decided to imagine what it would be like for a commoner to marry into a royal family, I knew I had to check it out.  The Royal We is obviously inspired by the much-publicized relationship between the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but the Fug Girls make the story their own and readers are left with an entertaining, surprisingly thought-provoking look into the life in the spotlight.

 

The narrator of The Royal We is Bex Porter, an American college student who heads to Oxford for a semester abroad.  While there, she befriends one of the heirs to the British throne, Prince Nicholas, and eventually that friendship turns into something more.  The book covers almost ten years of Bex and Nick's life together and apart.  It is much more than a romance due to the fact that it shows that there is more to happiness than fancy clothes, exotic vacations, and a huge wedding.  Happily ever after is a difficult thing to achieve and Bex and Nick have to go through major trials to find it.  

 

I adored both Bex and Nick.  Bex is the last person one would think of as the girlfriend of a prince due to her laid-back personality, but she captures Nick's attention with her lust for life and snarky sense of humor.  For his part, Nick is much more than a Prince Charming-like stereotype.  He is a genuinely nice guy who cares about his friends and his family, but he also has trust issues and is not the best at communication.  Bex and Nick both have to grow a lot in this book and I appreciated how flawed they were which made them much more relatable.

 

There are other relationships in this book besides the obvious one between Bex and Nick.  Readers are also given tons of information about their college friends with my personal favorite being Bex's best friend, Cilla, who is both protective of Bex and willing to call her out.  Friendship is a very important component of The Royal We which I wasn't really expecting.  

 

I also have to mention to wonderfully developed sibling portrayals.  Bex is a twin and her sister, Lacey, is a huge part of her life.  They have some issues to go through especially in relation to the media attention that is inevitable once Bex and Nick's relationship goes public.  But, what I loved the most about them was their connection and that, in the end, they were there for one another.  And then there's Nick's playboy younger brother, Freddie, who almost steals the entire book.  I loved his devil-may-care persona that hides someone who has spent much of his life pushed to the side by his family and the rest of the country.

 

In conclusion, I found The Royal We to be a wonderful look at what it might be like to fall in love with a prince in today's society.  There is much more than what the fairy tales showed us and I appreciated the way that the authors balanced the good and the bad.  Love is important enough to sacrifice many things, but this book makes the reader think about whether it really is worth it in the end.  I highly recommend this for fans of the Fug Girls or anyone who has ever dreamed of finding a prince (or princess) of their very own.

Source: feministfairytalereviews.blogspot.com/2015/05/review-royal-we-by-heather-cocks-and.html
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review 2014-09-19 20:24
REVIEW: "Broken" by Lauren Layne
Broken - Lauren Layne

I read and LOVED Isnt't She Lovely, the prequel, so I had to request Broken when I saw it on Netgalley. This book focuses on the character of Olivia Middleton (the ex-girlfriend of Ethan, the hero in Isn't She Lovely) and her attempt to decrease her guilt over their break-up. I will admit that, while I was excited to read this, I was a little hesitant due to the way that Olivia was portrayed in the previous book, but, thankfully, she is redeemed and I really liked her by the end. While you definitely could read this as a stand-alone, I think it works better as a sequel so you can truly appreciate the growth of Olivia as a character.

The basic plot is that New York socialite Olivia drops out of college in order to act as a caretaker for a war veteran as a self-imposed penance for cheating on her ex-boyfriend. Things get complicated when she meets Paul Langdon and realizes that he is not the frail old man she was expecting. Then these two spend a significant amount of time arguing and circling around each other while they deal with their growing feelings. While the romance is a major aspect of the plot, I appreciated the fact that Paul and Olivia's development was even more important.

Olivia is trying to escape her past while Paul just wants to be left alone. Interestingly, they come from similar backgrounds, but took very different paths after high school. Their close proximity first causes some friction due to the fact that Paul does not want a caretaker and Olivia is determined to prove herself as capable and trustworthy. But, they do start to talk and become closer. There are the normal conflicts like when Paul ventures out of the house for the first time in forever and then when someone from Olivia's past pops in unexpectedly. I did appreciate the slow burn of the love story and how well Lauren Layne made me aware of how good these two were together.

Broken is part of a recent string of NA stories that have caused me quite a bit of surprise this year. While I have always enjoyed a few here and there, I have found myself lucky in this genre lately and I believe I can officially say that I am a fan of New Adult romances. There are definitely some plot points I still won't touch and I will definitely continue to research any books that I'm interested in like always, but I'm happy to be getting more into this genre that is just growing in popularity. If you are a fan of NA, I highly recommend both Broken and its prequel, Isn't She Lovely, for the wonderful writing style and lack of drama for drama's sake.

 

I received a free copy of this book from Flirt via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Source: feministfairytalereviews.blogspot.com/2014/09/review-broken-by-lauren-layne.html
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