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review 2017-07-10 04:58
Mistress of Mellyn
Mistress of Mellyn - Victoria Holt

I picked this up at a local church book sale over the weekend on a whim - I'd read and enjoyed one other Victoria Holt book, was interested in reading more, and the book synopsis sounded good.  It sounded, in fact, similar to a favorite Phyllis A. Whitney book Window on the Square.


Indeed, the first third of this book read as though one author cribbed the plot from the other:  orphaned, well-bred, but stubborn woman, forced to seek a position as a governess in a spooky old house, overseeing the education of a troubled young child, and waging a battle of wills against the broody but enigmatic master of the house.  But Mistress of Mellyn deviates from Window; here the wife is dead but haunts those who remain, and from about the 1/3 mark the story goes off in a direction entirely its own.


I loved this book right up until the last 20 pages or so.  Loved it.  It was so easy to lose myself in the story... but those last 20 pages sort of let down the side.  They almost worked perfectly, but either the author lost steam or the publisher felt parsimonious.  I never bought Connon's sudden change of heart. In fact, I suspect it wasn't supposed to be a change of heart at all, but a slow growing realisation, but something was missing so it just felt like he flipped a switch.  And the ending... oh man, that ending was good.  I did not see that coming and it certainly put the suspense in the book's romantic suspense tag.  But the motivation of the person (no spoilers) felt incredibly flimsy.  I didn't buy it.


Ultimately, these things, along with an embarrassing amount of melodrama on the part of our heroine upon her rescue, dropped my rating down to 4 stars from the 4.5/5 it was heading for.  It's still a very solid, enjoyable read, but it's not quite all it could have been.





Total pages:  254

$$: $6.00

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review 2017-06-22 16:33
Lord of the Far Island / Victoria Holt
Lord of the Far Island - Victoria Holt

Ellen Kellaway, orphaned at age five, was raised by wealthy cousins, but was never allowed to forget that her every advantage was owed to the charity of others. However, when the son of a powerful London family asks for her hand in marriage, her world is opened up to untold wealth and social position. She never imagined that such an unlikely dream would come true.

Despite these wonderful new developments in her life, Ellen continues to be wracked b the bad dreams that have haunted her since childhood. What is the meaning of the lifelong nightmare—the image of an unfamiliar room, a door opening and behind it a dreadful presence? Perhaps it is a message urging her to uncover the secrets of her long-lost family—the secrets of the ancient home of the Kellaways on the Far Island, off the wild coast of Cornwall.


***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***

I think this may have been the very first romance novel that I ever read in my life, at around age 11 or 12. I remember how much I loved the book at that age and that is probably influencing my rating today.

Talk about Gothic! A heroine who is an orphan, living with distant family members as a Poor Relation? Check! Beautiful & spunky? Check! Mysterious goings-on? Check! Subtly threatening handsome man with secrets who arrives in the nick of time to save her from the horrid fate of governessing? Check! New family members who maybe aren’t as into her as she is into them? Check and double check! A second handsome and more straightforward man as a foil for the intense, dark one? Checkeroo!

I believe it was my mother who introduced me to Victoria Holt and she & I read our way through many of Holt’s novels. This was very much a nostalgia read—it reminded me of my teenage reading years and reading with Mom. I can definitely see where works like this one set my tastes in romantic fiction, leading to my current affection for paranormal romance.

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text 2017-06-16 15:49
Starting my Summer Lovin' reading list
Death in Cyprus - M. M Kaye
Lord of the Far Island - Victoria Holt
A Hunger Like No Other - Kresley Cole
The Bitter Seed of Magic - Suzanne McLeod
Tangled Threads - Jennifer Estep

Friday night seems like a good time to start on my fluffy Summer Lovin' reading list.  I'm going to indulge in a few old favourites, a bit more romance than I would usually choose, and anything that looks like fun.


Have a great weekend, everyone!

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review 2017-03-07 06:15
The Curse of the Kings
The Curse of the Kings - Victoria Holt

This was another difficult read to rate properly.  I couldn't put it down, but there was so much eye-rolling too.


The description on the book record is terribly simplistic, but it's as close or closer to anything I could come up with.  Honestly, Holt packed a lot into this book.  The first half is taken up with Judith's background and childhood; it isn't until page 174 that we even get to Egypt.


Judith's ridiculous obsession with Tybalt got on my nerves; I'd say someone should have smacked some sense into her, but she never let on to anyone in her world just how insanely besotted she was, she saved all those confidences for the reader.  But the rest of the book was compelling and incredibly readable.


The story itself is pretty trope-tastic; it's got the imaginary love triangle, mistaken for cheating, lack of communication, rags to royalty... not to mention the whole Egyptian theme; likely quite a few more I haven't even thought of, but it was first written in the 70's when some of these things weren't tropes yet, or were all the rage.  That somehow made it easier to roll with.


The writing kept me coming back.  It had all the qualities of a mid-century gothic that appeals to me, in spite of some the silliness coming from Judith.


I'll definitely check out more of Holt's work.

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review 2017-03-02 18:17
Woman Has Choice Between Man Who Treats Her Badly and a Boring But Nice Guy, Guess Who She Chooses?
The Shivering Sands (Casablanca Classics) - Victoria Holt

Sorry for the long title, but this whole book irked the life out of me. I get that Holt is writing Gothic romances, but she always seems to take the worst parts of Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre) and Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights) and uses that to make the male heroes in these stories. I think Heathcliff was terrible by the way for anyone that is ready to jump at me in the comments. I think due to the last book and this one I am going to pass on Holt for a second even though most of her books are available to borrow at my library right now.


Besides the above mentioned issues I had with the hero, "Shivering Sands" has one of the most nonsensical plots I have read this year. And don't forget, I read "Holly" by Jude Deveraux so that's saying something. 


We follow the character of Caroline Verlaine as she goes about investigating (poorly) at Lovat Stacy to find out more about her older sister's Roma's disappearance. Though for most of the book she just blunders along and runs around defending Napier Stacy (sorry getting ahead of myself here. 


The book starts off a bit off (at least to me) when we find out that Caroline is a widow. Caroline we find is a bit of an odd duck. She comes from a family of archaeologists, but she has a natural aptitude for the piano. Her family is not very rich, but they manage to send her off to Paris to get lessons. There she falls in love with a self absorbed man who she says repeatedly was a genius (Pietro). Due to Pietro being a genius she is told by a teacher and even by her husband in his actions and words that she is there to merely prop him up and tell him how great he is. He does not want her playing the piano since that would in some way take away from his awesomeness. I was really happy when Pietro died. 


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Recovering from Pietro's death then has Caroline going off to see her sister who is near Lovat Stacy looking into some Roman ruins that are nearby. The action does not get going until after we have Caroline finding out about her sister's disappearance. She then through a ridiculous circumstance is given the opportunity to teach the piano at Lovat Stacy for three young women who live there and the nearby vicarage. 


Caroline feels something is off at Lovat Stacy after finding about the the estranged son of the Stacy household (Napier) is finally back, ready to marry a ward of the Stacy household, Edith. Even though Caroline is told countless stories about Napier and how he caused his older brother's Beau's death, she feels angry anytime tells her about what a bad guy he is. There interactions are also short and often leave her angry. He has a way about him that is reminiscent of her dead husband's. I honestly didn't get the romance here at all. We eventually get an explanation regarding Napier that I had a hard time believing, it didn't even make sense. 


We get additional characters in this one that may be hard to follow. Besides Caroline and Edith, we also get Sylvia, Allegra, and Alice. After a while my brain just started getting overloaded to switching between them and the other characters (like the Stacy housekeeper) and I think Mr. Stacy's sister who was off as well. 


The writing was okay, it definitely made me think of books like Jane Eyre. I just wish I cared more about anything that was happening.


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The flow was not good in this one though. If you are waiting for anything to happen, just skip to the end (honestly I did to see who was behind things and then went back to reading again) and read the ridiculous explanations that follow. 


The setting of Stacy Lovat could have been something with the so-called "Shivering Sands" but I felt blah towards it. I just got down reading "Murder is Easy" and the village of Wychwood under Ashe felt more mysterious and dark.


As I said above, I booed the ending since for me I wish that Holt had her heroine realize that running off with a facsimile of her dead husband maybe wasn't a hot idea. 


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