Publisher: NAL

Guest Review: The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig

Posted July 17, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 20 Comments

Good Morning guys! I hope you all are doing well and enjoying your July. I myself cannot believe how fast this summer is flying. Before you know it, we are going to be in the fall and than the year will come to a close. I miss you guys. It’s been super busy around here but I have managed to keep on reading, so I have a bunch of books to review for you and hopefully be back in full swing soon. Until than, the lovely Sophia has another review for you. Enjoy her take on how she felt about book twelve in the Pink Carnation series. I’ve been eyeing this series what feels like forever, it sounds like a great read with interesting characters.

Guest Review: The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren WilligThe Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig
Series: Pink Carnation #12
Published by NAL on August 4th 2015
Genres: Historical Romance, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 528
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:two-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In the final Pink Carnation novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, Napoleon has occupied Lisbon, and Jane Wooliston, aka the Pink Carnation, teams up with a rogue agent to protect the escaped Queen of Portugal.  Portugal, December 1807. Jack Reid, the British agent known as the Moonflower (formerly the French agent known as the Moonflower), has been stationed in Portugal and is awaiting his new contact. He does not expect to be paired with a woman—especially not the legendary Pink Carnation.   All of Portugal believes that the royal family departed for Brazil just before the French troops marched into Lisbon. Only the English government knows that mad seventy-three-year-old Queen Maria was spirited away by a group of loyalists determined to rally a resistance. But as the French garrison scours the countryside, it’s only a matter of time before she’s found and taken.   It’s up to Jane to find her first and ensure her safety. But she has no knowledge of Portugal or the language. Though she is loath to admit it, she needs the Moonflower. Operating alone has taught her to respect her own limitations. But she knows better than to show weakness around the Moonflower—an agent with a reputation for brilliance, a tendency toward insubordination, and a history of going rogue.
READERS GUIDE INCLUDED

I’ve always had a bit of a thing for espionage stories particularly from the past so the Pink Carnation series has been right up my alley. The Lure of the Moonflower is the twelfth and final book of the series and brings things full circle with a mission for the Pink Carnation herself.

For those not in the know, this series is told split story- present story framing a past story. In the present, Eloise and Collin have their adventures as Eloise lives at the old Selwick country estate to do research for her grad dissertation on the enigmatic shadowy lady spy of the past during the wars with France, The Pink Carnation. And in the past, the stories follow the missions of the members in the Pink Carnation’s league of spies. There is suspense and romance to be had- heavier on the romance much of the time.

The missions can get quite twisty so that sometimes it comes down to the end before secrets are revealed. These are exciting stories, but don’t slip into gritty thriller territory. I confess that the split stories don’t hold my attention equally. I enjoy Eloise, Collin and their families, but I get more engaged with the stories in the past. That said, with this last one, I found both stories engaging and I loved how this last story ended up. And I really hope a few of those possible future threads get addressed.

What I enjoyed about this one was not the actual spy mission itself- Jane, the Pink Carnation, recruiting a dubious Jack to help remove the queen of Portugal from French hands. No, I enjoyed the interplay between stiff, prejudiced, and know it all Jane against a man of equal intellect who is not what she thought he was. The Pink Carnation never errs and never is taken by surprise, but from the outset, she thinks she knows all about him and lets these preconceived notions guide her into making mistakes.

I was so afraid that there would be an imbalance and that the hero would never live up to who was needed to pair with Jane because she is such a strong and highly skilled agent and woman, but that was not the case. Jack was a brilliant complex character- strong enough to stand beside Jane and let her do her thing, but also have her respect because he was strong in his own right. Their chemistry was smoldering at first as they battled wits and figured out how best to get along, but then it was sizzling. Loved how their relationship was brought along.

Incidentally, my paper copy came with some extras at the back- historical notes, author q&a, extended and deleted scenes, and reader discussions.

So this was a great end to the series, but I do hope there are a few more to come someday. These will be for those who can appreciate a split story, gentle suspense that is more focused on romance and character parts of the plot.

 

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

Tags:

Divider

Review: Daughter of the Gods by Stephanie Thornton

Posted April 26, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 31 Comments

Morning guys! I got Sophia on the blog today reviewing Historical Fiction. Gah, how I miss Historical Fiction. Honestly, after reading her review I’m really considering this one. Set in Egypt, it sounds fantastic!

Review: Daughter of the Gods by Stephanie ThorntonDaughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt by Stephanie Thornton
Series: Standalone
Published by NAL on May 6th 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 442
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 5 Stars
Heat:three-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Egypt, 1400s BC. The pharaoh’s pampered second daughter, lively, intelligent Hatshepsut, delights in racing her chariot through the marketplace and testing her archery skills in the Nile’s marshlands. But the death of her elder sister, Neferubity, in a gruesome accident arising from Hatshepsut’s games forces her to confront her guilt...and sets her on a profoundly changed course.
Hatshepsut enters a loveless marriage with her half brother, Thut, to secure his claim to the Horus Throne and produce a male heir. But it is another of Thut’s wives, the commoner Aset, who bears him a son, while Hatshepsut develops a searing attraction for his brilliant adviser Senenmut. And when Thut suddenly dies, Hatshepsut becomes de facto ruler, as regent to her two-year-old nephew.
Once, Hatshepsut anticipated being free to live and love as she chose. Now she must put Egypt first. Ever daring, she will lead a vast army and build great temples, but always she will be torn between the demands of leadership and the desires of her heart. And even as she makes her boldest move of all, her enemies will plot her downfall....
Once again, Stephanie Thornton brings to life a remarkable woman from the distant past whose willingness to defy tradition changed the course of history.

Before I get into my review, I have to tattle on myself a little. Usually, I’m a blurb reader and that leads me to actually take up a book. But I was distracted, glanced at the cover- saw female ancient Egyptian and assumed. Yeah… I was prepared for Cleopatra and got a little surprise. Not Cleo, but Hatty. And this book suddenly became sooo much more interesting for me. Hatshepsut is one of my favorite historical figures. I was thrilled to death to read this one.

Alright, so this was Hatshepsut’s story from her early years as pharaoh’s daughter, to a pharaoh’s wife (yeah, they do that brothers marrying sisters thing to keep it all in the family), and then a regent before finally, she goes for the crown and becomes pharaoh. Exciting life to be sure.

I loved how the author went about this story. She doesn’t try to paint a romance or a tale of a woman’s story based on her male relationships. The author focused on Hatshepsut, her fiery temper, and her drive towards more. Yet, there are more facets in play here. There are a blend of public and domestic scenes, of points in this woman’s life where heartbreak touched her. She finds fulfillment in her achievements, but also as a mother and lover, and friend. There were so many wonderful layers to the story. Hatshepsut and the land of Egypt during the New Kingdom era came alive.

And even though this is a real life story, the author takes the facts and manages to slip in some extra intrigue at the court with a few very believable additions that could have really happened even if there are no records to show for it.

For those who follow Egyptian history closely, you’ll know that there is great speculation about Hatshepsut’s relationship with the boy she set aside until after she was gone and his later decision to remove her existence from Egyptian history. I actually take the author’s point of view so I was well pleased with how she wrote this part of the story.

All in all, this was a great colorful and engaging piece- historical fiction at its best, I thought. I would definitely recommend this to those who enjoy historical fiction bios.

My thanks to Penguin-Random House for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

Tags:

Divider

Review: The Angels’ Share by J.R. Ward

Posted April 6, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 22 Comments

Afternoon everyone! This feels a little late but better later than never right? I got Sophia Rose back again today on my blog and she will be reviewing the next book in  The Bourbon King’s series. I have to admit, her reviews have left me really curious about it. I haven’t read Ward before nor a lot of family sagas and phew, does this book have a lot going on or what?

Review:  The Angels’ Share by J.R. WardThe Angels' Share by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #2
Published by NAL on July 26th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 415
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:three-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

#1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward delivers the second novel in her Bourbon Kings series—a sweeping saga of a Southern dynasty struggling to maintain a façade of privilege and prosperity, while secrets and indiscretions threaten its very foundation…   In Charlemont, Kentucky, the Bradford family is the crème de la crème of high society—just like their exclusive brand of bourbon. And their complicated lives and vast estate are run by a discrete staff who inevitably become embroiled in their affairs. This is especially true now, when the apparent suicide of the family patriarch is starting to look more and more like murder…   No one is above suspicion—especially the eldest Bradford son, Edward. The bad blood between him and his father is known far and wide, and he is aware that he could be named a suspect. As the investigation into the death intensifies, he keeps himself busy at the bottom of a bottle—as well as with his former horse trainer’s daughter. Meanwhile, the family’s financial future lies in the perfectly manicured hands of a business rival, a woman who wants Edward all to herself.   Everything has consequences; everybody has secrets. And few can be trusted. Then, at the very brink of the family’s demise, someone thought lost to them forever returns to the fold. Maxwell Bradford has come home. But is he a savior...or the worst of all the sinners?

In this sequel to The Bourbon Kings, the story continues for the Bradford family. The first book set the scene, introduced the characters, and dropped a few bombs of surprise that really made things interesting. Right at the end of book one, there was quite the big twist in the plot closing things out on a bang.

At this point, I will be unable to avoid series spoiler stuff from book one so stop here if you plan to catch the series.

Okay, so we had millions of the family fortune vanish then the culprit winds up dead. Money is still gone and this affects the surviving Bradford family members in different ways. This is a true drama and there are many narrative threads for the large cast of characters. The main threads focus on the three adult children involved in the family crisis. This is a fascinating blend of character and action plot with mystery, romance, and more going on.

I am still enjoying how many of the characters are so flawed and not very likeable yet somehow I still care about their story and I want them to make good. Lane is really stepping up in this one and seems to carry the weight of the world on his shoulder. Gin- well she starts out still morally bankrupt and weak, but then she surprised me. Poor Edward. I can’t help pitying this guy. He’s the oldest and should be the one holding the reins of it all and married to his wonderful lady love, but instead he’s a broken unstable man who may or may not have committed murder. Though, gotta say, that if he did, I’m pretty sure that justice was served.

So, this was a transition book. It moves the Bradfords story from point B to point C. There are some surprises, reveals, and twists happening, but it is very much a middle piece and it is obvious there is a ton more to come. And like with The Bourbon Kings, I closed this book on an old Kentucky Bourbon Making family and wished there was more.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

Tags:

Divider

Review: Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

Posted February 16, 2015 by Lily B in Reviews / 2 Comments

Review:  Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan MeissnerSecrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner
Series: Stand-alone
Published by NAL on February 3rd 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 386
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


She stood at a crossroads, half-aware that her choice would send her down a path from which there could be no turning back. But instead of two choices, she saw only one—because it was all she really wanted to see…

Current day, Oxford, England. Young American scholar Kendra Van Zant, eager to pursue her vision of a perfect life, interviews Isabel McFarland just when the elderly woman is ready to give up secrets about the war that she has kept for decades...beginning with who she really is. What Kendra receives from Isabel is both a gift and a burden--one that will test her convictions and her heart.
1940s, England. As Hitler wages an unprecedented war against London’s civilian population, one million children are evacuated to foster homes in the rural countryside. But even as fifteen-year-old Emmy Downtree and her much younger sister Julia find refuge in a charming Cotswold cottage, Emmy’s burning ambition to return to the city and apprentice with a fashion designer pits her against Julia’s profound need for her sister’s presence. Acting at cross purposes just as the Luftwaffe rains down its terrible destruction, the sisters are cruelly separated, and their lives are transformed…

The moment I saw that Susan Meissner wrote another book, I knew I had to have it. Last time I read one of her books I fell completely in love with her elegant writing and storytelling and found myself falling in love all over again. She is one of many authors that keep my interest with historical fiction alive and why I keep coming back to this genre over and over again.

The story mostly follows a 15-year-old girl Emmy Downtree, her story told by Isabel McFarland when a young scholar comes to interview the elderly woman in hopes of learning some secrets about the war. Emmy has big dreams, and all she really wants is to find love and acceptance from her mother, for her to be proud of Emmy. She loves to draw wedding dresses, so when she get’s a job at a wedding dress shop, it feels like a dream come true. When her boss informs her that she knows a man who is willing to look at Emmy’s brides and could offer her an apprenticeship, Emmy can’t believe her luck. Luck, that unfortunately soon starts to run out. When the war escalates, Emmy’s mother signs both of Emmy and her half-sister Julia to evacuate London and find refuge in the country side. What happens next changes both of the girl’s life forever…

Such an emotional, riveting tale about love, lose, hope and perseverance. I found myself glued to page after page, immersed in the fantastic storytelling by Meissner. Emmy was just a young girl who thought she was doing the right thing, who just wanted to make her dream come true. In turn she watched her entire world crumble into pieces when the blitz hit and she found herself losing everything that has ever been important to her. I don’t want to dig into the story as much as I want to talk about it more with a fear of revealing a little too much. I did find myself irritated by Emmy’s reckless behavior, I found it selfish and one-sided, but I understood that she was just a young girl who was looking to make her mother proud. In hopes that Emmy would never feel like she had ruined her mother’s life, she wanted to show her that she could do something good with hers.

I found myself in tears by the end of the book. Everything that left me with questions midway through did get answered at the end of the book. Luckily there was closure, or else I am not sure how I would have done without it. I wanted to know what became of Emmy and how she coped with the hand that was dealt to her. How she managed to get through with losing so much in so little time. Her tenacity and ambition to make things right were inspiring, so was the fact that she had a hard time giving up. The 15-year-old girl had to grow up fast during the blitz and become a strong and independent woman.

I could have just hugged this book after reading it. Enjoyed it immensely, glad I gave it a shot and hope to see more from Susan Meissner soon.

Tags:

Divider