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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

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Death, disorder and disappointments!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

... a mongoose and moonshine! a magical combination!

Let's face it. I love the Maiden Lane series, so any offering will get an automatic 4 star plus rating from me. 'Moonlit Night' does not disappoint! This time the main story is paired with 'The Prince and the Parsnip' or how to uncover the heart of the matter.
Hippolyta Royle fascinated me right from when we first met her in Dearest Rogue.
Even her name is interesting, and she's always seemed a little mysterious. She becomes involved with the Ladies Syndicate supporting the St Giles Home for Unfortunate and Foundling Infants. Then in the Duke of Sin, Montgomery decides he will blackmail her into marrying him. The indomitable Bridget Crumb, housekeeper extraordinaire come to the rescue there. 
Thwarted, Montgomery later kidnaps her! What a beastly man he is! But Bridget again handles the situation and Hippolyta escapes across the moors, although this time pursued by the Duke's fox hunting dogs. And this is where the novella takes over.
Grimly determined Hippolyta forges on, and is rescued by Matthew Mortimer when she flags his coach down. There are some amusing scenes, some charming scenes and quite a few sizzling scenes. Matthew has been called back from his exploits to take on an earldom and an estate on the brink of ruin. Hippolyta is a wealthy heiress. Of course the situation is ripe for all sorts of interpretations and Matthew is convinced, mostly, that rather than him giving Hippolyta a ride to her destination, she is in fact taking him for a ride. He's heard plenty of stories from doxies looking for easy money. Well he's no gull. What ensues is a couple of strangers, at odds with each other and yet there is an attraction, that deepens as they are thrown together.
How they work out their relationship, full of misunderstandings and assumptions as it is, makes for  a fine and not too lengthy read.

A NetGalley ARC


... daring becomes her!

I never seem to tire of the 'girl dressed as a boy' trope. Why? That picture or idea of a girl going against the mores of the times and discovering a new freedom is exhilarating, particularly when set in times where women were segregated and socialized into given roles. What harsher critic can there be than the 'ton' doing their damnedest to harness the maidenly energies of young woman into their 'proper' places and roles.
Lucinda Parnell is a  fiercely independent woman. A perennial wallflower who's closest friends are of a similar ilk. Having discovered that she has no dowry left, no access to funds, Lucy determines to make her own way, to get off the marriage mart roundabout. She conceives of a scheme to earn enough money to make a modest home for herself and her grandmother. To fund it all she turns to the method by which her father had lost her dowry--gambling!
And it's in such a hell she meets Andrew Wentworth, Earl of Dartford, dubbed by Lucy and her friends, the Duke of Daring. Why becomes clear as the story progresses.
Andrew has his own set of ghosts. Haunted by the loss of his family he fends off all who might get close to him--to the point of obsessively changing his London staff every couple of years.
He cannot allow himself to be emotionally touched by anyone!
So enter our Lucy in a disguise that piques Andrew's interest and the groundwork is laid is for a romance with a difference, beset with difficult problems, the threat of exposure and the allure of the unknown. This second of the 'Untouchables' stories contains humour, a certain amount of pathos, stalwart friends, self discovery and excitement--all topped off by the attraction Andrew and Lucy feel for each other, an attraction both are so at pains to deny.

A NetGalley ARC


'Loving you is not a choice. it is the strongest urge I have ever known'

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Cushman's gentle charm underlines the action!

Grayling's Song by Karen Cushman

Hannah, Grayling Strong's mother, a wise woman is bewitched. As it seems are all the country's other enchanters. Having been magically rooted to the ground she is slowly turning into a tree. On top of that Hannah's grimoire (spell book) disappeared. Grayling is her mother's only hope. She must seek out others and try to find the answer. The trouble is that after years of being denigrated by her mother, Grayling is afraid of her own shadow. However, set forth she does. On her quest she is accompanied by a shape changing mouse Pook's attempts at shape changing are more often than not fraught with disaster. A lively and often humorous journey ensues. Grayling and Pook search for answers and find that magic is not the only answer. Heaps of action and mystery, Karen Cushman has once again turned in a stellar novel that both provokes and charms.

A NetGalley ARC


... chance meetings in even chancier places!

What a great read!  Maggie Sinclair breaks all the rules! A highland hellion raised by her brother, schooled not in traditional womanly arts but sword fighting, cussing and beer drinking. Disguised as a lad, Maggie fought at Culloden iand s imprisoned by the English in Fort Augustus. Fortunately her masquerade holds. She and we dread to think of her fate if her gender had been discovered! Maggie avoids detection by clinging to the shadows of her cell. That is all jeopardized when she's joined by another Scot, the injured Colin MacLean. Colin is painfully aware that he isnnow his clan's chieftain, his brothers having been slain during the battle before his very eyes. His  sorrow over their deaths rather than his runs deep. Nursed through a fever by his cell companion, Colin manages to escape the dreaded fortress and takes the lad with him. Only on the journey does he discover she's a lass. And what a lass! Feisty, spirited, unconventional. Colin is a successful smuggler, playing a game at first to tweak the English captain Abbot. Later it became a fully committed endeavour to help his clan and his country. Despite this, he doubts his abilities as a clan leader and is reluctant to return, but with Abbot having taken the keep and his people under English rule he must return. And here's where the pairing between Maggie and Colin becomes so perfect. This combination of determination and innocence that is Maggie is just the thing Colin needs to spur him on to take his place as Laird. Maggie's strength supports Colin in making his decisions. I love that Colin lets Maggie do what she is good at. He worries but he doesn't tie her down. Theirs is an unconventional relationship. But then are both far from the norm. They are very different from their peers. Each has doubts that the other helps conquer and as Colin knows down to his bones and Maggie has promised, Maggie is 'a fine warrior, and there wasn't anyone he wanted at his back more than Maggie Sinclair--Maggie MacLean.' They have each other's backs. Their unlikely enforced marriage gives Colin the  companion of his heart and Maggie the same. A love story from beginning to end.

A NetGalley ARC