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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Sunday, May 20, 2018

...'then they took New York!'

The Judge Hunter     
by Christopher Buckley


Another brilliant parody of history depicted by Christopher Buckley. This expose, the story of Stuvyesant and the English attainment of New York, within the context of the Dutch-English casts our eyes back in a refreshingly new way.
Samuel Pepys, his position and his diaries are the hook to begin with. His brother-in-law gives us the subtext. Baltasar “Balty” St. Michel is an annoying nincompoop whom Pepys manages to have dispatched to the new world to track down the judges who'd sentenced Charles 1. Charles II is still determined to see them pay.
To cut a funny story short Balty, fumbling in the best traditions of '1066 and all that', or a Mel Brooksian movie at the very least, manages to shape history, along with the taciturn spy Huncks, whom one can't help but feel sorry for, being saddled with this Rowan Atikinson type figure. The commentary on the practices by the 'godly' is illuminating bringing to the fore the stringent effects of religious laws on communities. The treatment of both the Indians and other religious groups like the Quakers by these puritanical pilgrims shows the disconnect between faith and grace. There really is much than can be unpacked in Buckley's work. The casual introduction of famed figures is wonderful, with hilarious added touches that only a fictionalized account can allow. Hence Stuyvesant's Brazilian parrot, who makes a nicely framed presence on the book cover, offers us a question right from the get go, did we but know it.
Slickly written, a comic, yet true look at history through jaded and not so jaded eyes. Hidden away is at least one nod to the current political contretemps when Stuyvesant muses that they need a bigger wall to keep the English out and perhaps he can persuade Charles II to build it.
Read the who's who at the end to see well known descendants of the various figures portrayed. Quite an eye opener.
I loved every minute of this witty foray into the early times of the 17th century New World.

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Lost love!

A Duke Like No Other (Playful Brides #9) 
by Valerie Bowman
   


                              

Master spy General Mark Grimaldi must take a wife to ensure his promotion as the Home Secretary.
The only trouble is he already has a wife whom he hasn't seen for ten years, living in France.
Nicole Huntington Grimaldi has put her life with Mark behind her, although in her heart--never!
When Mark seeks her out to make a bargain and return to England for three months, she acquiesces. She has a bargain too!
A bargain that is more a contract with the Devil. And Nicole certainly isn't 'supping with a long spoon.' It only takes one kiss for Nicole to miss even more the husband she'd fled.
Add to this a murder, the ramifications of which shake Mark to his core, and we have an explosive romance that right to the end keeps at least Mark and Nicole guessing.
Super read!

A NetGalley ARC

*****


Murder and mystery!

The Scandalous Widow (Gothic Brides #3)   
by Erica Monroe      



                           

What more can you want in a novel? A beautiful widow, 
Lady Jemma Forster, the Countess of Wolverston. A 'rogue runner', Bow Street Runner Gabriel Sinclair, the love Jemma forsook for the sake of her family. Now Jemma needs Gabriel's help. Her husband, Gabriel's best friend was murdered. Anguish exists on both sides and as the plot plays out that emerges. All the time we wonder, can the past be healed?
When their search takes them to Jacob's Island, "If futility could be defined by a place, then it was here, in this strange maze of decrepit bridges and slopping muck, “ one can't help but be drawn irrevocably into the conditions of this place and time, as Jemma and Gabriel struggle to find answers on many different levels.
This tightly written, intricately woven novel is another jewel in Munroe's Gothic Bride series.

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Desperate measures!

The Luck of the Bride (The Cavensham Heiresses #3)  
by Janna MacGregor      


A young woman struggling to make ends meet for her family resorts to various tasks, mostly honest, but now, out of despair, quite the opposite.
March Lawson and her siblings were orphaned just as March was about to make her come out.
Various trustees had failed to provide for them, so March made what shifts she could. Brilliant at figures, she eked out the family income by doing bookkeeping
Add to that running the estate and shearing sheep they'd somehow made do. But times are desperate so March forges a trustee's signature in order to embezzle from her own trust fund.
And that's when her world came crumbling down.
Michael Cavensham, the Marquess of McCalpin, who unknown to him, has become a trustee for the orphans, discovers the game and decides to investigate. After all, it's his signature that's being forged! More problems arise, especially as March and Michael are so aware of each other. Michael does describe March (to himself fortunately), "as a banquet of sensual delights." To March, Michael appears as the statue David. Mmm! 
Talking about banquets, the scene around eating the rabbit for dinner that Maximus the dog presented to them is priceless. I loved March's nine year old brother Bennett, Lord Lawson, and how he conducts himself, with a quaint mix of innocence and dignity. Mind you his early demand for sweets with dinner is also hilarious.
And then there's Michael's secret problem--he struggles with numbers. Thankfully his brother has looked after the estates investments for him.
Just when these two are coming to some accord, March is blackmailed and Michael thinks she's wronged him. All bets are off!

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Enchanting!

Someone to Care (The Westcotts #4)     by Mary Balogh


                             

Screaming from loneliness the Countess of Riverdale, Viola Kingsley runs, well really by happenstance falls into the arms of a former 'never happened adventure' in the person of the well practiced rake, the Marquess of Dorchester, Marcel Lamarr , in this funny/serious autumn romance. An invigorating plot where two souls who decide on a spur of the moment romantic adventure embark on more than they bargained for.
At last the story of the wife who found herself trapped in a bigamous relationship and lost all. The emotional toll and how she's not managing behind that oh so proper facade rings so true.
And then there's the family who see her, but don't really see her--their shock and horror about her disappearance and the disapproval of who she disappears with.
I really just wanted them to leave Viola alone to work out her own destiny. And that's why she ran, because she was alone despite having all these people who cared about her.
As for her and Marcel ... Well!

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Monday, April 30, 2018

Fun read!

Private Lies (Jane Avery #1)    by Cynthia St. Aubin      


                          

So when Kerrigan Byrne (one of my fav author's) said this was a great read, I just had to follow suit. And it is a great read! Jane Avery is a fabulous character, with an unusual mother and and even more unusual upbringing. Having just graduated from law school, and having missed out on being valedictorian by three-tenths of a GPA point ( pay attention this slim margin is a recurring mantra for our girl), Jane steps off the stage of her graduation ceremony to find her mother has disappeared.
When I say Jane's upbringing was unusual, I mean UNUSUAL! Did I mention that Alex Avery is a Private Investigator
Put that together with Jane's quest for her mother's whereabouts, various hard ball characters, the laconic Jane with a mouth that opens and utters, well, amazing things, and you have a fun, eye blinking sort of read.

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Saturday, April 28, 2018

More Shifter surprises!

Midnight Wolf (Shifters Unbound #11)    by Jennifer Ashley  



                           

Just when you think you have a handle on all things Shifter, Fae and everything else in between, Ashley throws in another surprise.
Midnight Wolf has that and more. Angus Murray is the strong silent type whose backed into a corner when the Shifter Bureau seizes his cub in exchange for his tracking skills. His instructions are to find a rogue shifter and bring her back to them.
Of course everything is not as simple as it seems. Tasmin Calloway is more than Angus expects. We meet old friends and make new ones. Angus' son Ciaran is just wonderful, as is his interaction with Tamsin. That's of course not even going anywhere near the Sparks that fly between Tamsin and Angus!
Another sensational episode from Ashley's Shifter realm!

A NetGalley ARC

*****