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review 2018-03-20 17:10
DNF at 30% mark.
The Girls in the Picture: A Novel - Melanie Benjamin

I think I should have just read a biography of either or both of these women, because they led extremely interesting lives which the book managed to make fairly dull. I wanted way more about actually making movies, and less angsting about boys, and a lot of the writing felt overwrought and melodramatic. It kept skipping over actually making the movies and what that was like into other issues.


The author backed herself into this weird smarm corner of saying the main character was completely fine with gay people, and then immediately insisting that she didn't get lesbians at all because who doesn't like cock, amirite? By the way, the character really likes cock, and isn't gay at all. Look, I don't mind stories about two women having a friendship rather than a romance, but the notgaynotgaynotgay(but not homophobic!) dance got old a long time ago. I felt like I'd fallen into Xena gen fic from the '90s. At the same time, the author had the same characters not blinking at the racism in the industry in general and Birth of a Nation in particular. So I'm not sure why period-typical racism was okay, but period-typical homophobia was not?


I did like some of the discussion about being a woman in a male-dominated field, which mostly managed to stick to period language and not sounding like it was cut from modern day. But so much of it was telling not showing, as we very rarely see the dynamics on set, or the sets at all, just hear about them after the fact. I looked at some reviews to see if it picked up, but apparently the middle is even more draggy and about boys, so I bailed.

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review 2018-03-20 16:45
Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning
Beyond the Highland Mist - Karen Marie Moning

Thanks to a woman's pricked pride, two people from different points in time, find themselves embroiled in the battle of wills...And hearts.

Aoibheal, Queen of the Fae, decides to make her husband, the King, and her jester jealous by talking about the almost mystical prowess (both in the battlefield and the boudoir) of Sidheach James Lyon Douglas, third Earl of Dalkeith. Apparently his appendage and stamina are able to possess a woman's soul. And the Queen claims to have experienced in first hand. Which makes the King and the Fool rather peeved and intent on revenge.

Enter Adrienne de Simone, all the way from 1997, badly burned by a beautiful, deceitful man with a black soul, which makes her hate all beautiful men at large. So what is she to do, when she's thrust back into 1513 Scotland and wed, by proxy, mind you (!) to a devastatingly beautiful (both in and out) man?

This is the first book in Moning's romance Highlander series. I prefer her in the romance author guise myself, because I like my books to actually have a beginning and an end all in one book, but that's just me.

It's obvious, this is the first book, since it sports the many first-book problems. It looks like KMM was still looking for her voice, tempo, and narrative style with this one.

For starters, the conflict dragged on for too long (almost two thirds of the story) and in the end came across as more of a stubbornness issue on the heroine's part than anything else. There was nothing to the conflict really to start with. Sure, she was badly burned, but hating all beautiful men because of the action of one specimen is a bit over the top.

The second problem I have with this story is the fact, the romance doesn't really "register". It's there because it's written, the resolution comes across as plausible, believable and sweet, because of the length of the conflict, so in the end the reader wants the hero and heroine to be together just to end the idiocy of the conflict that's keeping them apart.
Unfortunately, the story is so focused on the conflict and heroine's trust issues that it never lingers overmuch on the characters, leaving the reader slightly bewildered to the fact why these two love each other so much in the end, when the reader barely knows them.

And the third problem is the antagonist, but that's just me, since I loved him in his own book that comes later in this series.

Still, the story is well-written, though slightly underdeveloped, overblown in places and rather plodding in others. It's set in Scotland (my favorite setting of them all no matter the time frame), it features a yummy Scottish, kilt-wearing laird that falls (inexplicably) head over heels for the first woman who resists him (novelty, I guess), and is filled to the brim with wonderful supporting cast.

It could be better. It should be better, but it could also be a lot, lot worse, so it gets three stars.

I like it and I won't mind re-reading it in the future.

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text 2018-03-20 15:04
Blog Tour: The Captain of Her Fate by Nina Mason
The Captain of Her Fate: A Regency Romance (The Other Bennet Sisters Book 1) - Nina Mason


Today, we are featuring The Captain of Her Fate, a saucy and sophisticated Regency romance by Nina Mason, the author of Devil in Duke’s Clothing and The Governess Next Door, among many other books.



Here’s the blurb:

Captain Theobald Raynalds lost his leg at the Battle of Trafalgar and with it, his belief any woman could find a cripple like him unobjectionable enough to love.


Louisa Bennet finds Theo incredibly attractive—both as a man in his own right and as an alternative to the odious cousin her father has arranged for her to marry.


First, however, she must convince the Captain her interest in him stems from the man he is, scars and all, and not on his being the lesser of evils.



Here are the links:

Buy it now on


Add it to your TBR


Here’s an excerpt:

After the Captain’s sister quit the room, Louisa took her advice and dozed until a knock on her bedchamber door brought her back to herself. Just as she opened her mouth to ask who was there, Capt. Raynalds called through the door, “Miss Bennet, may I have a word?”


She hesitated before answering. As desperately as she wanted to see him and hear what he came to say, her sense of propriety told her to refuse him entry. Entertaining a gentleman in her bedchamber was shockingly improper. Under the circumstances, however, she could not bring herself to send him away.


Pulling the bedclothes to her chin to cover the sheer nightgown his sister had loaned her, she said, “Yes, Captain. You may enter.”


He opened the door and, with the aid of his cane, limped to the bedside and looked down at her, his expression inexplicably stern. “Does my sister speak the truth?”


The question at once shocked Louisa’s heart and aroused her fury. She could not decide which she would rather do, curl up and die or strangle his sister with her bare hands. How could the girl betray her confidence by telling her brother her plans?—if, indeed, that was what she had disclosed. Perhaps it was not, in which case, Louisa would be wise to tread carefully to avoid betraying her own secrets (and his trust in the process).


She blinked under his probing stare. “How can I answer that when I have no idea what she might have told you?


“She told me your father intends to marry you off to a man you despise.”


He looked very unhappy, which pleased her immeasurably. “Yes, that is true. He wants me to marry the cousin to whom his estate is entailed—to ensure my mother and sisters will have somewhere to live after he departs this world.”


The Captain, hands stacked atop his cane, shifted his stance uneasily. “I can understand his motives—he is only doing what he believes best for his family, one can only presume—but I cannot agree with his forcing you to marry a man you abhor. Does he know how much you loathe your cousin?”


“He does.”


“And he insists upon you marrying this man in spite of your feelings?”


“My feelings are of little consequence to my father, I assure you.”


He scrubbed a hand down his face. “Surely there must be some way around marrying this person.”


Did she dare share her idea? No, she mustn’t. If she did, he would never come to trust her. “There is not, short of running away and living as a gypsy.”


He stood there a long time, as if fighting an inner battle. At length, he said, “There is one way I can think of…but I fear I am not the man for the job.”


Louisa’s heart wilted. “You are right. We are strangers. So why should you care what becomes of me?”


Softening in demeanor, he came closer and sat beside her on the bed. “I do care what becomes of you, Miss Bennet—beyond what I am willing to admit—but my heart is not quite invested enough to put a ring on your finger. Neither is my trust. And now, in addition to my standard reservations, I suspect you mean to use me to avoid marrying this cousin of yours.”


“That is untrue!” She looked away so he would not see the desperation in her eyes. “Well, it might be partially true…but I shall endeavor to fall in love with you as soon as I’m able.”


He smiled at her sympathetically. “Forgive me. I by no means wish you unhappy. Truly, I do not. But neither can I consent to binding myself to a woman on the off-chance she will fall in love with me.”


“So, you refuse to help me?”


Turning away from her, he said, with an indignant edge to his voice, “That is supremely unfair, Miss Bennet. Have I not helped you already? Did I not come to your aid when you fell off your horse? Did I not take you in when your own mother left you to my care? Have I not kept my distance to protect you from scandal and ruin?”


The last bit astonished her. Did he really fear what might happen if they were alone together? Were that indeed the case, she might exploit his passions to aid her cause. Much as she hated to resort to such deceitful measures, she could see no other way to escape her marriage to Charles. And it would not be entirely an act; for just now, with him sitting so near, so dangerously near, she wanted nothing more than to be in his arms.


“What if I want you to ruin me?”



Here’s Nina’s author bio:

Nina Mason, the author of eleven published books to date, is an incurable romantic who strives to write love stories that entertain and edify. A research fanatic, she goes to great lengths to ensure the locations and time periods in her books are accurately portrayed (and thanks the Powers That Be for the internet). Born and raised in Southern California, Ms. Mason lived in Oregon briefly before moving to Georgia, where she lives with her husband and college-bound daughter. When she isn't writing, she makes historic dolls, fairy babies, and putters in her garden.



Here are Nina’s stalker links:

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text 2018-03-19 23:52
Reading progress update: I've read 120 out of 448 pages.
The Girls in the Picture: A Novel - Melanie Benjamin

Long section about how much both characters love and admire D.W. Griffith's Klansmen, or Birth of a Nation, which is mostly about its technical breakthroughs, and it's true, but I just got a lot about how awesome frigging Birth of a Nation is without mentioning you know, the whole thing. Which I guess is fair, because I'm pretty sure my main characters wouldn't have cared that it was really, really immensely racist due to being white women in 1915. And yet, I'm still not over it being Birth of a Nation!


Also way too much worrying about guys. I want to hear about making movies!

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text 2018-03-17 23:07
But totally not one of those lesbians!
The Girls in the Picture: A Novel - Melanie Benjamin

I have this on audiobook, so not bothering with the exact quote, but MC is at a party in 1914, and there's some dudes making out in the shadows, and she goes out of her way to say she's 100% A-OK with that, and with ladies making out, don't mind those lesbians, not at all, but she personally really misses her ex husband in her bed.


In a book about close bonds between women in the film industry, in a period notorious for its permissiveness, this feels like it's laying on the no homo a little thick.

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