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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

Saturday, April 20, 2013

…an atlas ‘remained open, a small scrap of lace marking someone’s place.’

This is not just your run of the mill regency historical romance.
Intrigue, murder and politics hide around corners and in places no sane lady would tread. Caught in the middle of secrets, the Napoleonic wars, Portugal and the Iberian peninsular as the centre pieces, Lady Cassandra has a hard time knowing who to trust. Lord Armadale, (Weston Barrington, or rather West) with all he has to hide may pursue her secrets but can he be trusted with her heart
The storyline provides more than just the 'rake meets daughter of the house' canon and is an entertaining read. 

A NetGalley ARC

Friday, April 19, 2013

Do you really think justice has been done?

A Barcelona Heiress by SergioVila-Sanjuan

Barcelona in the 1920’s at a time of civil unrest and anarchy. Social injustices and civil unrest combine as the striking background to this novel of murder, intrigue and anarchy. Spain is unraveling!
Justice is for the rich and powerful. The story opens with a client (a young showgirl) reporting an attempted robbery by three men to our storyteller, lawyer-journalist Pablo Vilar.
The ingredients are all here for an excellent novel. The background descriptions to the Spanish civil war are compelling. The story that develops against this rich portrayal of the times is somewhat hampered by the labored conversational style of Pablo Vilar as he narrates events. As a consequence the interaction between characters is somewhat stilted. It could be that the flow has been lost in translation, which is a pity; or maybe I should read the work as a traveler searching for meanings in a different cultural and historical framework. Either way this is an otherwise interesting view into the times. I enjoyed the historical aura. I have not been to Barcelona but when I do, I will reread ‘A Barcelona Heiress’ for a sense of place and history.

A NetGalley ARC

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Victoria…tyrant or self centered mother?

In Seducing the Princess, by Mary Hart Perry, early descriptions of Princess Beatrice, the youngest unmarried daughter at the mercy of her mother, paint Queen Victoria in a whole different light. Gone is the suffering, stoic queen disarmed and rendered emotionally bereft with the death of her one true love, Prince Albert. That vision is replaced by one of a selfish, self-centered despot when dealing with her family and those who fall short of her standards. I really needed a chart to keep straight Victoria's children, whom they married, her grandchildren etc. It is fascinating to realize how many of Victoria's descendants are threaded throughout the thrones of Europe. We are introduced to other members of the royal family and are given hints of dark days to come especially with the part played in this story by Prince Wilhelm II of Germany as the later Kaiser.  Victoria's pronouncement to `Willy', `your arrogance and willfulness will be your ruin!' gives us a hint of Wilhelm's character, and is interesting in light of the world history to come.Princess Louisa (from The Wild Princess: A Novel of Queen Victoria'sDefiant Daughter, which I read immediately after this because I enjoyed Seducing the Princess) and her companion Stephen Byrne (code name the Raven) join the action as the story progresses.
In this historical thriller/romance, dastardly plots and romance stride side by side.
Beatrice is the focus of a larger plot to undermine the British throne by placing a spy and a would be lover in Victoria's entourage.
This fictional interpretation of Beatrice and Henry of Battenberg's love for each other in the face of Victoria's disapproval, amidst the swirl of political intrigue, is fascinating.
I thoroughly enjoyed this work.

A NetGalley ARC

Monday, April 1, 2013

…’how had she [Poison] ended up…in the middle of a frigid river wearing completely ridiculous lacy underthings?’

Poison by Bridget Zinn 

Here is a clue to the story. Mind you the opening sequence of our heroine assassin clinging to the side of a building by the shingles wishing for a rope or if not that a crisp, crackling berry pie drew me in immediately. The frigid river quote cinched my conviction that this novel would entertain.
Kyra sounded like my kind of heroine--foolishly daring, yet competent, desperate, and with a wry sense of humor.
Poisoning your best friend, Princess to the Kingdom, probably doesn’t help you to win friends and influence people. Yet Kyra’s reasons appear sound, though devastating.
Now Kyra is being pursed across the kingdom by royal troops and fellow assassins.
Kyra’s nemesis Fred, is equally as delightful, but more frequently, downright puzzling.

An enjoyable YA read with some surprising twists.

A NetGalley ARC