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Search tags: victorian
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review 2018-01-16 21:53
I ADORED this book. It was slow, sweet, and so very much in the vein of a Victorian romance.

A Most Unusual Wedding (The Mage and the Leathersmith #1)A Most Unusual Wedding by Nancy M. Griffis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I ADORED this book. It was slow, sweet, and so very much in the vein of a Victorian romance.

I first met Lord Leo Harris and Master Leathersmith Gerald Smithson in the .5 intro novella called A Most Unusual Courtship.... and I was smitten with them. The love continues in the first full novel by Nancy M. Griffis about these two wonderful men.

Leo and Gerald are getting marries... in less than three weeks! But Gerald really is a trouble magnet and Leo... well, Leo manages to find himself embroiled in a race to cure a magical plague sweeping through London.

Gerald's best friend, Harry, the sailing mage arrives in town for the wedding. There's Leo's nasty bastard of a prejudiced uncle, Mark Harris, who looks down his nose at Gerald and is determined to see that his heir 'comes to his senses' and doesn't marry below his station. Daniel, Gerald's beloved Grandad, is more than meets the eye, and somehow, once again, Gerald has come to the attention of someone of the 'wrong' sort. Gerald has a stalker who can circumvent wards and is apparently a mage.

So Leo must contend with best friends, stalkers and a plague to rival the Black Death - oh my! He has his work cut out for them. And then.... dun dun dun (cue dramatic music) Gerald becomes the latest one to catch the Plague. Time is running out for Leo,

Here's the book blurb:

Adventure brought unlikely lovers Lord Leonard “Leo” Harris and Master Leathersmith Gerald Smithson together. Now it threatens to tear them apart. Three weeks before their wedding, a plague strikes Victorian London—the worst to engulf the city in five hundred years. The symptoms are eerily reminiscent of the Black Death with boils, a horrific death, and immunity to magical cures. As one of the most powerful mages in the country, Leo searches for a cure and the person behind the scourge all while Gerald must finalize wedding plans and try to thwart a persistent—and unwanted—“admirer.” It’s a race against time as Gerald shows symptoms, and Leo must fight a powerful Dark Mage to get the cure before he loses the love of his life, possibly at the cost of his own soul thanks to this plague being driven by the dark.

Will Leo solve the mystery of the plague in time to cure Gerald? What secret is Grandad Daniel hiding? Who is the mysterious mage stalking Gerald? Will Uncle Mark ever NOT be a bastard? And what going on with Harry?

Read the book to find out!

PS... I just found out today that the sequel comes out in February. HUZZAH!!!

View all my reviews

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review 2018-01-14 09:33
On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt
On the Night of the Seventh Moon - Victoria Holt

Helena Trant meets a handsome stranger on the Night of the seventh moon festival in Bavaria. She knows what he's up to, so she plays it safe, and returns home to England untouched...Only to go back to Germany wanting to meet the handsome stranger again.

She does, only to learn the stranger's name is Maximilian and he's royalty, but he's also utterly in love with her. They marry, live a week of bliss...And then she wakes up with everybody telling her her beautiful dream was all a lie, conjured up by her mind to protect it from the truth that what really happened to her was a true nightmare.


Back when I was younger, Victoria Holt was one of my favorite authors and I used to gobble up her books like they were life-sustaining. I liked the suspenseful and gothic elements, the twists and turns, the ambiguity of many of the characters (including the heroes), and I loved the stories kept me guessing what was real and what was a mere supposition on the heroine's part.
Yes, they're all written in the first-person POV, which is rather limiting, but it also serves to keep things interesting way beyond the point where we'd be bored with an omniscient narrator.

This was one of my VH favorites back in the day, but I must confess that while I still enjoyed the story, the length bothered me this time around and so many years later.
The pacing was plodding, dragging its behind in multiple places, the heroine was too gullible for my liking (and for her own good), and the whole thing was too wordy by half.

Does it deliver? Yes, it still does, pity it takes to long to get there.

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review 2018-01-13 23:54
A Most Unusual Courtship (The Mage and the Leathersmith .5)

I LOVED this Novella!

So I wasn't sure what to read and then I happened across this short little novella that takes place in an alt-realty Victorian England where mages and magic are an every day occurrence and gay marriage has been legal since the time of the Greek empire. So I figured what the hey, I'll give it a shot.

I'm so so so glad I did! I loved loved loved it!

We start the novella - which is a prequel to the next book but can totally be read alone - in the workshop of leathersmith Gerald Smithson. In walks a bright peacock of a man, Lord Leo Harris, mage. Trouble is the master leathersmith doesn't like mages. He avoids them, refuses their commissions and generally distrusts them. Leo tries charm, tries sweet talk and is flatly refused. Does this stop our Mage Lord? Noooo... Challenge accepted.

Problem is, that one extremely brief interaction brings Gerald to the attention of someone out to do Leo ill. A Dark mage. Cue ominous music. Gerald is kidnapped by the dark mage and its up to Leo to save him and then convince him to work together with Leo and maybe take a chance on a romance.

Gerald's grandfather is the comic relief in this - a cantankerous old curmudgeon with a heart of gold who only has Gerald's best interests at heart.

Seriously. Read this book!

 

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review 2018-01-10 12:50
The Victorian Christmas
The Victorian Christmas - Anna Selby

by Anna Selby

 

Non-fiction

 

This is a nice collection of information about British Victorian Christmas traditions and where they actually originated. It includes the Pagan origins of the date for Christmas and the Germanic background to Christmas trees and to putting charms into the Christmas pudding, as well as a comprehensive recipe for making a traditional Christmas pudding from a Victorian hand-written recipe book. It also details what contributions the Victorians added to our modern view of Christmas, including the pudding and the slow adaptation in modern times to Christmas Cake. I had to smile at the suggestion that the transition was due to making the cake without alcohol, as my family recipe for Christmas Cake uses nothing but brandy for the liquid in the recipe.

 

It's a well-researched book that goes into every possible Christmas tradition, including the origins of Christmas cards and singing carols. There is a wealth of old recipes, many from the Mrs Beaton Cookbook for things like traditional Wassail, gingerbread in various forms and mincemeat, as well as a vast array of recipes for cooking a spectrum of meats that Victorians from different stratas of society might include in their Christmas feast.

 

Christmas decorations and the origins of many of the traditions for those are explained followed by the background to Panto and Boxes, two things still common in England though not well known in the U.S.

 

While I'm not likely to use the wealth of recipes provided, their historical significance makes them of interest. Also included are the lyrics for many old Christmas carols, script samples from mummer's plays and an excerpt from Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Whether these are historically significant or filler could be a matter of opinion.

 

The book finishes off with related New Year traditions and some information that the date for Christmas has actually moved from the new year dates over time and changing calendars, which I didn't know before.

 

As a reference book this is very thorough and professionally presented. It's not always riviting reading, but most reference books aren't.

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review 2017-12-27 23:09
Queer, Demon-Summoning Bohemians of the Victorian era ^^;
Creatures of Will and Temper - Molly Tanzer

Absolutely outstanding writing. I'm always impressed when an author can tell a story I can't help but respect and enjoy, even when I don't really agree with the philosophy, themes, or messages it expresses.

 

Creatures of Will and Temper is the story of two sisters in Victorian England growing into themselves and finding their place in the world. It has a highly unique, essentially amoral take on demons, and some excellent trickery in its direction, setup and twist. I almost stopped reading at the beginning, as it does open with a scene that doesn't involve either of the sisters, but rather a middle-aged lesbian demonologist, which made me think I wouldn't be interested in the story, but then things broadened rather.

 

This was a good effort as far as historical fiction goes; even the linguistic style lends itself to period writing (as opposed to the anachronistic use of too much modern language), and historical worldbuilding and background detail was flawless. Very interesting and well-explored human relationships, flaws and proclivities.

 

There is very strong homosexual (male and female, possibly implied bi) content, so if that's not your thing, be warned. Not too much highly explicit content, intimate scenes are mostly fade-to-black.

 

As far as historical fiction goes, it's an interesting angle on the more bohemian elements of Victorian society, and extrapolates that amoral and artistic attitude in a new and creative direction. In my opinion, a worthwhile and entertaining read whether or not you agree with the conclusions the author heads toward, and extremely well written.

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