Monday, September 30, 2013

What Were They Looking For? September 2013

Let's see what I have this month...


Dirt bike riders are sexy... Yep, they are. :)

Evonee Kummer...boobs...1940s. I Googled her as I've never heard of her. She was a performer in the New York World's Fair 1939-40. She was in something called American Jubilee in the Hall of Inventions. See the photos here and here. Beautiful woman. That same year she was the first star on a new magazine called Spot. It says, Bosoms are back in style...

So that ended up being interesting.


Let's ignore the offensive bottom one...and instead focus on victor cruz nude. I wish!!!!! I, too, wouldn't mind a racy picture of that hottie. Does anyone have one? Do share...


*smh*



Sunday, September 29, 2013

Royalist Rebel by Anita Seymour

Royalist RebelI know next to nothing about the English Civil War and the Charles vs the Puritans thing...until now, now that I've read this. This novel shows us that war from the Royalist side from the eyes of Elizabeth Murray. Because her father was Charles's whipping boy and now part of the court, her family endures much abuse at the hands of the rebels. They face constant threat of losing their lands, harassment at every turn, and live in fear.

But that doesn't stop these ladies from speaking sharply and also, carrying royal secrets...and by these ladies I mean Elizabeth and her mother.

Elizabeth comes off as a tad unlikable at times, I won't lie. She's scathing toward her cousin. I didn't much like how she treated the servants, but it's to be expected for that time period. And as this is based on a real woman, well, you can't change the lady's personality!

I actually liked her though. I liked how she continuously stood up to the rebels when they showed up, how she was willing to marry to save her family home and help her family. She didn't become petulant or whiny. She knew what needed to be done.

If you're interested in the reign of Charles II, in Cromwell's army and rise to power, (this is the beginning stages), how Parliament took over, what families faced during this time, or in the downfall of the monarchy during this time period, this is an entertaining way to learn about it. I especially enjoyed the brief bits about Prince Rupert?? I hope I'm writing down his name right. I lost my highlights. LOL He's a prince who is said to take his dog into battle. Oh, just read it.

Anyway, this novel, this heroine, is a prime example of showing strength by standing up for what you believe in and saving your family even at the loss of your own happiness.




Skirts Ahoy: A Musical Movie Featuring the WAVES

I watched this on TCM recently. Now, I confess I'm not that into the old musicals. The musical scenes are really cheesy. This was no exception. I found myself fast forwarding most of them. I mean, let's be realistic, who is going to start singing, dancing, and swinging around chairs in the middle of an upscale restaurant? OR even sillier, put on some sudden underwater performance with two children? (And singing to a water toy was a bit much.)

But...I watched this because it's a comedy about WAVES (the first ladies in the Navy). The WAVES were started during WWII, 1942 to be exact. This is not a biographical movie, however, but a comedy and musical. It follows three women during basic training.

Whitney Young (Esther Williams) is a runaway bride with a reputation for making trouble. Even though her uncle can pull strings to get her an officer position, she say she "doesn't want it to be easy" and wants the same privileges or lack of as the other ladies. She rises based on her own merits and starts a romance--really rocky at first--with the base doctor. She's a cool character and does the gist of the singing. As I said, I fast forwarded those.

Mary Kate (Joan Evans) is a jilted bride. She is really spineless at first, wants nothing more than to go home and play house. I didn't like her...but then when her former beau pays her a visit, whoa, the claws come out!!! LOVE the scene in which she says she no longer thinks him good enough, or something along those terms. You'd have to see it, but I guarantee you'll be delighted to see this gal grow a backbone.

Yancy (Vivian Blaine) is a girl who joined the WAVES just to find a man she's crushing on. Can't say she ever grew on me but she was funny sometimes.

Liked: Some of the funny bits. Watching Mary Kate grow. The rocky romance between Young and the doctor. Enjoyed watching these ladies try to get their men... Liked the uniforms. Got a kick out of it when they misbehaved and got punished for it.

I've never seen another WAVE movie before, but I imagine life as a new WAVE was pretty similar to this--minus the dancing. They had to do chores, get up early, taking swimming lessons, and they got leave here and there. They also faced reprimand and chose squad leaders.

Disliked: The theme and especially the song about "what's a gal without a guy?" Too much of the tale implied these women HAD to have men to be complete. The musical scenes were cheesy. As I said above, nobody just starts singing and dancing in the middle of a pool or restaurant. Also didn't care for the sudden love confession at the end, when there was no inkling whatsoever he felt anything for her...hum. 

Fun fact found on IMDb's trivia page for this movie:
Esther Williams "designed the swimsuits in the film (with the help of Cole of California), after seeing the Navy's swimsuits for women. Esther describes the old ones as "cotton sleeveless T-shirts" that were not at all good for swimming. She spoke to the director of the Navy, who then made the swimsuit the new official swimsuit of the US Navy."



Saturday, September 28, 2013

My Ever-Growing TBR Pile 9/28/2013

Isabella: Braveheart of FranceSpotted on fellow author Lisa J. Yarde's FB feed and the title and cover immediately nabbed my attention. I've also read this author before. Isabella: Braveheart of France by Colin Falconer. This book just screams strong n sexy. It's on my wishlist.


She was taught to obey. Now she has learned to rebel.

12 year old Isabella, a French princess marries the King of England - only to discover he has a terrible secret. Ten long years later she is in utter despair - does she submit to a lifetime of solitude and a spiritual death - or seize her destiny and take the throne of England for herself?

Isabella is just twelve years old when she marries Edward II of England. For the young princess it is love at first sight - but Edward has a terrible secret that threatens to tear their marriage - and England apart.

Who is Piers Gaveston - and why is his presence in the king’s court about to plunge England into civil war?

The young queen believes in the love songs of the troubadours and her own exalted destiny - but she finds reality very different. As she grows to a woman in the deadly maelstrom of Edward’s court, she must decide between her husband, her children, even her life - and one breath-taking gamble that will change the course of history.

This is the story of Isabella, the only woman ever to invade England - and win.



***

Spotted and nabbed on Amazon Vine, Churchill's Angels by Ruby Jackson.

Churchill’s AngelsThe first in a series of books featuring four young women whose lives will be forever changed by WWII. Perfect for fans of Katie Flynn.

It is 1939 and in the town of Dartford, Grace, Sally and twins Daisy and Rose, are determined to do their bit when war is declared. Grace, desperate to get away from her sad home life, signs up for the Land Army. Sally’s dream of stage school is thwarted by the war, but she finds hope in an unexpected place.


For the twins, nothing has prepared them for the shock of the blitz and the nightly raids on their hometown. Rose signs on at the local munitions factory, but with her brothers away fighting, Daisy is needed at home in her father’s greengrocer shop.


When she unwittingly trespasses on a wealthy estate and meets the aristocratic flying ace, Adair, Daisy initially dismisses him as a ‘toff’. But they become friends and Adair encourages Daisy to indulge her passion for aeroplanes. Could Daisy’s dream of being a pilot be closer than she thinks? And in these uncertain times, a girl would have to be crazy to fall in love, wouldn’t she?



***

The ScribeA Netgalley hopeful. I found it on NG and am hoping it's good. The Scribe by Antonio Garrido.

The year is 799, and King Charlemagne awaits coronation as the Holy Roman emperor. But in the town of W├╝rzburg, the young, willful Theresa dreams only of following in the footsteps of her scholarly father—a quiet man who taught her the forbidden pleasures of reading and writing. Though it was unthinkable for a medieval woman to pursue a career as a craftsperson, headstrong Theresa convinces the parchment-makers’ guild to test her. If she passes, it means access to her beloved manuscripts and nothing less than true independence. But as she treats the skins before an audience of jeering workmen, unimaginable tragedy strikes—tearing apart Theresa’s family and setting in motion a cascade of mysteries that Theresa must solve if she hopes to stay alive and save her family.

A fugitive in the wilderness, Theresa is forced to rely on her bravery, her uncommon education, and the compassion of strangers. When she encounters Alcuin of York, a wise and influential monk with close ties to Charlemagne, she believes her luck might have finally changed. But the biggest secret lies between Charlemagne and her father. Theresa moves ever closer to the truth, bent on reuniting with her beloved father, only to discover that her family’s troubles are inextricably entwined with nothing less than the fate of an empire.



***

2014 is coming...just three months away, and that means I'm already watching for Choc Lit's 2014 releases. The following three hit my wishlist (besides Courtenay's, of course):


The Highwayman's DaughterThe Highwayman's Daughter by Henriette GylandHounslow, 1768. Jack Blythe, heir to the Earl of Lampton, is a man with great expectations.So when his stagecoach is held up by a masked woman, brandishing a pistol and dressed as a gentleman of the road, he wholly expects to have his purse stolen. And when he senses something strangely familiar about the lovely little bandit, Jack also expects to win his cousin Rupert s wager by tracking her down first.But as Jack and the highwaywoman enter into a swashbuckling game of cat and mouse, uncovering an intricate web of fiercely guarded family secrets, the last thing Jack expects to have stolen is his heart.

Follow a StarFollow a Star by Christine StovellMay Starling s had enough of her demanding career and even more demanding ex. Responding to a crew-wanted ad, she follows her dreams of escape only to find herself at sea with red-haired Bill Blythe.Bill warns May that close-quartered living can create a boiling pot of emotions, but even May is surprised by the heat building up inside the vintage wooden boat. And when May and Bill tie up at Watling's Boatyard in Little Spitmarsh, May's determined to test her new-found feelings on dry land. But May s dream of escaping her former life is in danger of being swept away when several unwelcome blasts from the past follow her ashore, all seemingly hell-bent on reminding her that it s never that easy to clear the decks.

Romancing the SoulRomancing the Soul by Sarah Tranter. Rachael Jones hasn't exactly chosen an average career path. She s a past-life regressionist and is now hoping to help her clients find their Soul Mates through reconnecting them with their past lives.But despite her best intentions, there are problems. Rachael made the mistake of regressing her best friend, Susie Morris, who has since been haunted by events that occurred in her past life.When Susie meets Hollywood actor, George Silbury in unlikely circumstances, she is completely unprepared for her reactions. There s an intense mutual attraction that neither can explain nor ignore Can George help Susie to overcome the sense of desolation she feels as the result of her past life regression or will history s habit of repeating itself ruin all chances of her finding happiness?After the success of her debut paranormal novel, Sarah moves into mainstream contemporary with a twist - past life regression!

Tip From Tara: Don't Put Yourself First



Today I want to talk about me, you, and I.

Are you conveying a tone of selfishness in your writing? Are you putting yourself first?

What's wrong with the following sentences?

Me and James went to the park.
She offered to help me and my children.
He said he'd take my children and I to the park.

One of the most common errors in writing is PUTTING YOURSELF FIRST.

If I put ME before YOU, it's not only a sign of selfishness--I mean, I am putting myself before ya'll--but it's wrong. 

First lesson here: Quit putting yourself first. Put others first.

The correct way to say the sentences above:

James and I went to the park.
She offered to help my children and me.
He said he'd take my children and me to the park.

Why is it James and I went to the park and not James and me or me and James?

First of all, it's correct, polite, and unselfish, to put James before myself. That's one easy way to remember it... Put others first. 

Secondly, if we were to remove James from the equation, you'd be left with either: me went to the park or I went to the park.

I think you can see the reasoning there. Me went to the park does not work. So when in doubt about me or I, take the other person out and see what it says then.

The same goes for sentence three:

Incorrect: He said he'd take my children and I to the park.
Correct: He said he'd take my children and me to the park.

It would sound really funny to say, He said he'd take I to the park.

And any good parent would always put their children first, right? 

Incorrect: She offered to help me and my children.
Correct: She offered to help my children and me.

Grammar-wise, just like in real life, remember not to put yourself first. Don't be a selfish person.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Review & Bra Slingshot How-To Guide: Lost In Kakadu by Kendall Talbot

Lost In KakaduI have never watched the TV show Survivor or Lost nor read a book called On the Island, (I saw the mentioned a lot in other reviews) so when I picked this book up, I wasn't set on comparing it to anything. I just wanted to get lost in a story...and holy moly, did I!

Frankly, I'm surprised I liked it as much as I did, because I don't normally dig male POV, but I really really liked this hero and in the end, it worked.

I devoured this in two days because I could not put it down. Once you get immersed in the story, you're not going to want to stop. It's just too exciting. It's not the kind of book you pick up occasionally and just read bit by bit.

It had a rough start. We meet a cast of really unlikable people on a plane...even the heroine isn't too likable. Then they crash...and from that point on...just OMG. Wow! The author doesn't gloss over the details of surviving in the wilderness. She gives us the perfect blend of MacGuyver-style surviving--turning airplane bathroom cubicles into bathtubs, making hammocks of parachutes, bras becoming slingshots; foraging for food and learning to hunt--crocodile eggs, caterpillars, frogs; and enough life-threatening, heart pounding moments--I really felt as though I was in the cave and panic was clutching at my throat as they each tried to find their way out. And the description--not too much, not too little.

The romance was really well done--slow, as it should be, considering what they've gone through and the losses they've faced. There was character growth (the heroine becoming a better person, the hero healing from his childhood), bonding, tears and humorous banter. The sex is excellent. I was slightly worried about how it would be as the characters aren't in a position to bathe regularly, but the author kept it short, sweet, and didn't have them doing anything that seemed disgusting in their situation.

I also really really appreciated the side story of the man's letters to his daughter. I loved that. Also of note is the moral about love--that love doesn't discriminate. Some fabulous words came from the hero about that. I wish now that I'd highlighted them, but I was so eager at all moments to find out what happened next... I confess I doubted they would make it.

I loved this story of adventure, surviving, and love. My only quibble (and I'm just being nit-picky) is I could have done without the heroine's bratty teenage daughter. I didn't feel she was relevant to the story and her attitude in the end...it didn't match what I was expecting from her. So since she WAS in the story, some more character development there was needed. I just didn't buy it--her easy acceptance of the twist of events, because she came across as just a pure demon spawn to me in the beginning and middle.

But this story was not only a wild ride; it also made me think about how we need to just forget what others think of us and just...live and be ourselves...cause you never know what could happen next.

I got this via Netgalley.



And...that's not all I have for you today. I contacted the author and practically begged her to write up a how-to guide for me/you. In the book, the heroine's bra becomes a weapon!! A slingshot! Ladies, you never know when you are going to need the Secret Weapon in a C-Cup, as Mrs. Talbott has dubbed it. 


“The Desperate woman’s guide to making a slingshot from your bra”

1) With the flick of deft fingers remove said torture devise from your body.

2) Remove all sentimental attachment to your bra – this is a great excuse to buy a new one.

3) Enjoy your newfound freedom…

4) Right back to slingshot. Find a sturdy forked branch that you can hold with one hand.

5) Cut both shoulder straps from your bra and lengthen them to full.

6) Cut the back strap from the bra cups. You’re enjoying this aren’t you?

7) Tie the shoulder straps to either end of the back strap so it’s in one long piece.

8) Now tie the other ends of the shoulder straps to the widest part of the forked branch.

9) Place your projectile into the back strap, stretch to maximum capacity and then let it fly.




Thursday, September 26, 2013

Strong is Sexy Heroine of the Week: Jessica Sales & Debbi Overstreet

Book: Ice Queen: A Jessica Sales Novel/Spy Catcher
Author: Lindsay Downs
Heroines: Jessica Sales & Debbi Overstreet


What makes a heroine sexy?
Is it her physical appearance? Tall but not too tall. Exotic eyes guaranteed to melt a man’s heart with a sultry glance. Long, shoulder length hair soft to the touch. A figure even the highest paid models would have killed for.
Or maybe how she moves? gracefully with an air of confidence in her stride.
What about the way she dresses? Functionally fashionable.
What if it’s really none of these?
Let’s take a look at two of my heroines, Jessica Sales from A Jessica Sales Novel contemporary romantic suspense series. The first, Ice Queen released on June 14. Then Miss. Debbi Overstreet, a lady’s maid, the daughter of a Countess, who marries a Baron in Spy Catcher, a regency romantic suspense released in July. Both from Secret Cravings Publishing.
When I created Jessica one thing I was looking to do was make her forgettable at the same time someone people would remember. This, usually, with deadly results for the unlucky few. Here are two examples of what I mean. They’re taken from different parts of the book and I’ll let you decide if she’s sexy or not.
Don’t forget having a sexy heroine isn’t always in the physical.

Example 1- “Yep, and if you don’t want to sing with the Vienna Boys Choir, I’d suggest you remove your hand. Oh,” she paused to let the words sink into his lecherous brain, “and look down if you don’t believe me.”

Example 2- Cold, calculating one minute. The next, hot enough to melt the polar ice cap with a smoldering glance. Behind her soft green eyes with their intriguing sparkle, he knew was a woman of enormous drive and energy. Either in the business world, which was her reason for being here, or a more comfortable, private setting, a place he planned on having her.
He flexed his fingers as he watched the sun dance off her hair, creating a mixture of silver to pure white colors as a warm breeze gently tossed about the strands. Soft, tempting to the touch he speculated how it would feel as he combed his fingers through it as it lay splayed out on the red satin covered pillows of his bed.

Now let’s take a look at Miss Debbi Overstreet, the heroine in Spy Catcher. Since this is a regency many more proprieties need to be taken when writing the story. BTW- this book hasn’t gone to edits as of yet so there might be a few mistakes.
This is when the hero sees the heroine for the first time-

Example 1-“This couldn’t possibly be the companion Thomas was talking about. She’s much too young and pretty.”

From the angle he was watching them greeted by Whitchurch’s offspring, it would appear the other woman was known to them as well.

With the skill of an artist he studied her. Slim but not too as the traveling gown gracing her hugged her curves suggested. From under her fashionable bonnet he observed wisps of blonde hair tossed about by the gentle breeze.

He wondered what colour her eyes were; blue, green, hazel or brown. With her lips, so pleasingly full and turned up slightly at the corners, he wagered passion would fill her beautiful orbs when kissed. Something he wagered he’d be doing before weeks end. 

Now, what  sexier than rescuing the man you love from being killed.

Example 2-She leaned forward and gave her horse a pat on the neck. “Girl, looks like we’re going to set a new record for ourselves. Think you’re up to it.”

It was almost as if her mount understood as Debbi watched the mare nod in agreement. Changing course she increased the distance to the jump, looking back until she was satisfied Debbi wheeled around. She slipped the sword from her skirt throwing off the scabbard, then settled the hilt comfortable in her right hand. Debbi then set her horse into a full gallop within three paces.

As the jump rushed toward her, Debbi calculated where to ask for the horse to engage its hindquarters. At the selected spot she sat deep in the saddle and touched the mare with her heel and used the side of the blade as her crop.

Debbi smiled as the mare responded like it was something she did on a regular basis. As they cleared the jump Debbi risked a glance down and saw Gerrard tied with the younger Thompson holding a knife to his throat.

The brief sight of her beloveds life being threatened caused Debbi to so something she’d never done. No sooner were the four hooves on solid ground did she rein the mare in. Without waiting for a complete stop she turned the horse and leaned over the mare’s neck. With her right arm extended as she’d seen the cavalry do, she charged Thompson who was now running for his life, having abandoned Gerrard.

So folks, having a sexy heroine isn’t only physical but what she does.



Are you an author with a strong heroine in your book? Want to see her featured? Find out how here.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Louise's Dilemma by Sarah R. Shaber

Louise's DilemmaFirst of all, I haven't read the first two books in this series. However, it wasn't hard to get up to date. I didn't feel lost as I read this. Granted, I don't know all the back-story, but it's told in such a manner, you don't NEED to know every single person's history.

If you're wanting a romance, this isn't for you, but I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS STORY AND HEROINE.

The heroine is a widow now working in the OSS office, kinda like the CIA during WWII. She's an index card person who spends most of her time poring over suspicious material, such as the postcard in this book, but because she has special training, she gets to work with an FBI agent as they try to determine what the strange message on this card means.

The FBI agent is a jerk who introduces her as his assistant, treats her likes she's stupid, and oh, does this gal put him in his place! Probably my favorite part of the book, save for the ending, which just had me in utter heart-stopping suspense.

"You seem to have forgotten. I am not your assistant. I'm your colleague, your liaison with the Office of Strategic Services. It was our initial inquiry about a postcard from France mailed to Leroy Martin that brought us here. I am going with you to talk to the constable and everywhere else you intend to pursue this investigation. And if I feel it's necessary I'll ask my own questions."

The history in this is superb. The author has obviously done her homework. I really felt as though I were on the icy, crowded streets of an over-packed Washington, exhausted from the mandatory 48-hour work week, and dreading the bologna casserole rationing was going to force me to eat.

I also appreciated how the story took us to a more rural area where the citizens were angry about price control and tires and stuff. That's not something you read about often in WWII stories...and oh, the man and his dog. I did not know that dogs were drafted during the war, and I've read my share of stories of this time period. I love how these random facts were instilled into the story.

In a nutshell though: a postcard from France leads Louise to a small, hostile town where there's mysterious nighttime activity, murder, and a major breach of security. Louise's dilemmas throughout the story are 1. She's on the verge of a passionate affair with a foreign man, but if she follows her heart, she could lose her job. 2. She makes a mistake. Does she want to bring attention to it? Can she fix it in time?

Fabulously likable heroine. I appreciate how she doesn't feel a man is really worth losing everything over. It's a refreshing change from most heroines in books nowadays, who seem to need a man at all times and live and breathe solely for love and romance. Here we have a heroine who truly sees the bigger picture and isn't afraid of independence...even embraces it. Overall the book is exciting, suspenseful, and great in historical detail. I will read the rest of the series.

I received this via Netgalley.




Giveaway & Guest Post Featuring Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson


Today, I'm pleased to introduce Julianne Donaldson. I asked how there was hints of classic book heroines in her heroine...

At first glance, Kate Worthington is an uncommon heroine for a Regency novel. Instead of seeking marriage as a route to a comfortable life, her story in Blackmoore begins with her avowal that she will never marry. in fact, in an effort to prove that to her mother, and to win her freedom, she enters into a bargain to receive and reject three marriage proposals. Some might think that women in this time period were a slave to the social conventions of the day. But in writing Kate, I wanted to explore the hidden minority of women who lived in that time--women like Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters--women with aspirations that did not correlate with how society told them to live. I wanted to delve into the psyche of a girl who fights against the social mores of her time; who beats against the bars of her cage; who finds a way to have what she truly desires in life without compromising her integrity. Kate is a heroine that any modern woman can cheer for, and I think readers will love her.
About Blackmoore:
Blackmoore: A Proper RomanceKate Worthington knows she can never have her heart’s desire and so believes she will never marry. But Kate’s meddlesome mother has other plans. Kate journeys to the stately manor of Blackmoore on the cliffs above the seashore, where she must face the truth and the man that has kept her heart captive.

Set in northern England, Blackmoore is a Regency romance that tells the story of a young woman struggling to learn to follow her heart. With hints of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, Blackmoore is a page-turning tale of romance, intrigue and devotion.

Blackmoore is the third book in the Proper Romance series and Julianne's second. This one and the first, Edenbrooke, are on sale this month for 7.99.


About Julianne Donaldson:
Julianne Donaldson grew up as the daughter of a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot. She learned how to ski in the Italian Alps, visited East Berlin before the wall came down, and spent three years living next to a 500-year-old castle. After earning a degree in English, she turned her attention to writing about distant times and places. She lives in Utah with her husband and four children.

GIVEAWAY!!!! U.S. Residents Only. Use the Rafflecopter below to enter to win a paperback copy of Blackmoore. Winner will be contacted via email and have 48 hours to reply. If I do hear from the winner within 48 hours, a new winner be chosen.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Isabel: The TV Series

I have to thank Lisa J. Yarde for telling me of this show. It's on a website called Drama Fever. (You can watch for free if you don't mind ads or you can pay ten dollars to avoid ads) It's Spanish, from Spain, with English subtitles. It's about Queen Isabel--the queen responsible for the Inquisition and Columbus's adventures.

The Inquisition...makes this not a favored queen of mine, but I'm a sucker for a period drama...

Season one starts with Isabel becoming queen and suddenly takes us back many years to when she was a girl being raised in a castle with her mother and younger brother Alfonso. An older half brother, Enrique, is on the throne of Castile and he's incompetent as well as impotent...

The entire series is back and forth, back and forth. Due to people wanting to make Alfonso king over him, Enrique basically imprisons Isabel and her brother, keeping them from their ailing mama. This is his first mistake. Then he removes them from the line of succession, wanting to put a daughter that may not be his on the throne. Second mistake.

Let's just say, Isabel vows revenge on Enrique and his promiscuous and bitchy Portuguese wife. How she'll obtain that? Take his throne...one of these days.

There's war, negotiations, Enrique betraying her, more war, Pachecho (THE boss around court) switches sides, more war, negotiations, Enrique betraying her, Pachecho switching sides...and it grows increasingly obvious that the kings and queens are merely puppets. Pachecho and his uncle Carrillo are the ones in control.

I loved the costumes, though I grew tired of Isabel wearing nothing but white in the beginning. The acting was excellent. This is the kind of TV show that after you turn it off, you look around your home and go, "Where did my court go???"

The sex and nudity was a bit OTT and unnecessary, especially in the beginning in the king's court. I grew sick and tired of Fernando's whore too. There was only like two scenes in which that chick didn't have a boob showing fully. I'm not sure what her purpose is, why she was in the show...for the nudity?

There's a forbidden romance between Isabel and her right hand/body guard. It's sweet and pure and never consummated in any way, which makes it all the sweeter.

I didn't care for the brutish Gonzalo at first...but he grew on me. What he did for Alfonso at the scene of a battle was just amazing and I began to respect him after that. The fact he couldn't have happiness with the woman he loved saddened me.

Long review short: This season chronicles Isabel's fighting with Enrique, Princess Juana's questionable parentage, Pachecho's ridiculous power, Rome's greed, tons of disputes and wars, Isabel's tricky and controversial betrothal to Fernando, her fear of being a wife, the wedding, jealousy issues, separation anxiety, sickness...and though I had some quibbles--Pachecho and the whore were just annoying, (I was tempted not to finish the season, tbh, but the rest of the stuff going on kept me coming back) I'll be watching the second season. And OH, I LOVE Fernando!!!!! I wouldn't have had any problem on the wedding night. LOL

It's a strong heroine in a tumultuous world. Watching this, it's hard to believe this queen, so against people dying, ended up the reason for the murders of millions.



Teatime for the Firefly by Shona Patel

Teatime for the FireflyIf you are interested in the life of tea planters in India after WWII, this is the book for you.


I'm afraid it doesn't offer a lot more beyond that, except it does show us some Indian customs and traditions and superstitions and just overall way of life during that time as well.

I struggled with some of this. I almost tossed it in the quarter because while I was hooked in the beginning, when the love interest, Mani went to become a tea planter, leaving the heroine behind for three years, their "romance" was through letters and there was nothing remotely romantic about the letters. It was all about the tea life and wild animals.

Then they finally get married and this is where it got interesting. The wedding preparations, the ruckus, the traditions. It is truly intriguing. I was riveted once again.

Then they went to the tea plantation. Enter hornet bites (this was actually kind of cool, but I won't explain why), the clash of cultures: Indian and British, prejudice, a mysterious 11-month pregnancy, man-eating leopards, thieving servants...this had its interesting moments. But again, I began losing interest. I'm just not that interested in the making of tea. I also never felt the wonderful connection between the hero and heroine that I felt like I should be feeling.

There's no huge love story here. It's simply everyday life on a tea plantation and because of this lack of....solid plot, it came off as never-ending at times.

But I did like the writing style overall and the heroine of the story grabbed my heart.

Three stars. I received this from netgalley.


Monday, September 23, 2013

True Spies (Lord and Lady Spy #2) by Shana Galen

True Spies (Lord and Lady Spy, #2)I enjoyed this light, humorous historical romance. Though the second in a series, it can stand alone.

Basic summary: he's a spy and has been hiding that little fact from his wife for all 14 years of their marriage. She feels unloved, unwanted, undesired, and like most housewives...bored. Her children are at that age they no longer need her constant supervision. When a man claiming to be a spy wishes to engage her in a love affair, she just loves feeling desired again and plans to enter this exciting life with the man...but then the husband finds out.

Based loosely on the movie True Lies.

I enjoyed the plot, though I didn't find it as intricate and exciting as book one. I liked this spunky heroine, how she stands up to her husband. I enjoyed their banter and arguments. I appreciated that she was a normal woman, with stretch marks and fullness to her body. Mr. and Mrs. Smythe from book one make enough appearances to please me. I really like those two. Blue...Blue is back and nearly steals the show a few times. I also liked how this story touches on--however lightly--a serious issue that most married couples face after a decade or so: boredom and taking each other for granted.

Sometimes we have to be reminded of what we have in order to appreciate it.

Oh--and you could say there's a theme of compromise. That's an important factor in a marriage and these two really brought that home, so to speak. COMPROMISE is a must.

The story is really really LOL funny toward the end...with the prince. OMG. I laughed out loud and had to cover my mouth as my husband was sleeping.

I'm also extremely excited about book three, which promises to have another woman spy. I can't wait! And I wonder what movie it will be loosely based on. I love this idea.

My quibbles: I can't help but compare it to book one, and I have to say, I don't see myself reading this again and I didn't find it as "unputdownable" as the first. Matter of fact, I didn't laugh my butt off till the end, but I liked it. However, though the ending was funny, some things didn't quite line up for me. Blue being afraid of tunnels, refusing to go in at first, but then hopping in a bit later? No....

The historical setting was well done. There was just enough of it to make me feel "there" but not so much that it became bogged in details. I'd say this story overall had the perfect blend of historicalness, romance, humor, banter, and suspense.



Arc received via Netgalley.




Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

The Girl You Left BehindI've yet to be disappointed with a Jojo Moyes book and this is my third. Her books take me on an emotional roller coaster ride. I become so invested in the characters, I laugh with them, I cry for them. I especially love the situations her characters face, that have you constantly questioning..."What would I do?"

Would you betray your husband to save his life? Would you do your job at the risk of hurting others?

This story also made me think about how...what looks good and right on paper may not be the right thing. In the case of the painting...should the artists's descendants have it simply because it's their "family right" or should a woman who understands the woman within the canvas be allowed to keep it?

There's two stories going on here. One is Sophie in WWI, France. Her home has been taken over by the Germans. She's forced to cook for them. She misses her husband, an artist, desperately....and will do just about anything to save him. Through her we see a town under German occupation as they watch their village taken over, their homes destroyed, their items stolen, as they try to survive on rations and also, sadly, spew hatred and venom at each other.

The modern-day story is Olivia as she deals constantly with grief. She's a widow. She has a painting...that someone else wants and through a sick twist of fate, she and her new lover end up on opposing sides...

The character list is extensive yet you feel like you grow to know each and every one. Each person mentioned has an impact. I especially enjoyed Olivia's roommate. She's the kinda gal I wouldn't mind having around. In a story full of heart ache and turmoil, she provided the laughs.

"I'll be back at three o'clock and I'll call in sick to the restaurant and we can swear a lot and think up medieval punishments for f*ckwit men who blow hot and cold. I've got some modeling clay upstairs that I use for voodoo dolls. Can you get some cocktail sticks ready? Or some skewers? I'm all out."

I have nothing bad to say about this book. It transports you, you makes you think, bite your nails, worry, ties your tummy in knots, and it's just....darn. good. writing. I can't emphasize that enough. The historical bits were incredibly realistic and heart pounding. The modern-day bits were full of thought-evoking situations that made me analyze many things about today's society and behavior.

A beautiful book, a beautiful story, about beautiful women who stand for what they believe in, be it saving their husbands' lives or memories or just holding on to a painting they believe is rightfully theirs.

I received this from Netgalley.






Saturday, September 21, 2013

My Ever-Growing TBR Pile 9/21/2013

Happily Ever After: A NovelSpotted on Edelweiss. Intrigues me because I once had a similar idea...I mean, every author has at one time or another fantasized about the hero she's writing coming to life. I think Happily Ever After by Elizabeth Maxwell just sounds fun. On my wishlist. It's a 2014 release.


In this witty, sexy tale, an erotic novelist meets the fictional hero of her most recent book in real life, and must decide whether she wants to get him back between the pages—or between her sheets.At forty-six, Sadie Fuller’s life isn’t exactly romantic. A divorced, overweight, somewhat sexually frustrated mother of an eleven-year-old, she lives in the suburbs, shops the big box stores, makes small talk with her small-minded neighbors, and generally leads a quiet life. But while her daughter is at school, or when Sadie is up late at night, she writes erotic fiction under the name KT Briggs.

Then, during a routine shopping trip, Sadie runs into someone familiar…too familiar, in fact. She encounters an incredibly handsome man exactlylike the one in her imagination—and her latest novel. Is Aidan Hathaway really one of her characters? And if so, what is he doing in Target? As Sadie tries to negotiate this strange new world, her eyes begin to open to romantic possibilities in places she never dreamed of looking…places where Happily Ever After might not be so far-fetched after all.


***

Camp SunshineCamp Sunshine by Ruth Francisco was free on kindle. WWII saga that looks promising.

As the United States enters World War II, military commanders send their best officers to set up an amphibious training camp on Florida's desolate Gulf coast. Major Occam Goodwin anticipates challenges—swamps, snakes, alligators, hurricanes—and the daunting task of turning twenty thousand green recruits into warriors. But when his surveyors discover a murdered black family deep in the forest, he must dance delicately around military politics, and a race war that threatens the entire war effort.

Here, in this harsh but mystically beautiful land, young recruits test themselves to the limit in love and combat; politicos and tycoons offer aid with one eye to profit; women patrol the coast on horseback, looking for German subs; a postmaster's daughter, the only child on base, inspires thousands; a determined woman bravely holds together her family and the emotional soul of the camp. Amid tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the soldiers and their country hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to find his destiny.

Based on the true story of Camp Gordon Johnston, this novel is about young men on the brink of war, and a country on the brink of civil rights, a tale of soldiers and officers, daughters and mothers, death and redemption, and a man unyielding in his integrity, compassion, and struggle for justice.



***

Really enjoyed Gunpowder Tea this last week, so this one has gone on my wishlist: Head Over Heels by Margaret Brownley.


Head Over HeelsDespite her lovely red-blond hair and exquisite looks, unconventional Kate Whittaker will never find a husband as long as she keeps shocking the town with her newfangled inventions. That is just fine with Kate—until she meets handsome Jonas Hunter, who dares to claim her inventions as his.

Jonas is stunned to discover that this infuriating woman is stealing his ideas. But his fury doesn’t work on her—it just makes Kate angry.

When Jonas tries to trick Kate into admitting she stole his idea, the ploy fails. When he attempts a little romance, it backfires—Jonas never meant to have his heart stolen. But love proves to be a very old invention—one that is made to be shared.



***

TieflandTiefland by Calvin Glover was free on Kindle and caught my eye because it's about a woman movie producer who had some controversy during WWII. I have heard about this woman before. She was a side character in another WWII novel. Now she's the focus of one.


Swing era Germany. A young Leni Riefenstahl is acclaimed as the greatest female filmmaker of the 20th century. Dancer, actor, screenwriter, and director, she is renowned as a consummate artist. Then come the atrocities of the Third Reich and suddenly she is dismissed and despised as a Nazi whore. Tiefland is a fictionalized account of her struggle to restore her reputation and her desperate attempt to regain the adoration she once enjoyed.

Calvin Glover nudges the envelope of historical fiction. Drawing heavily from Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir, several biographies that stake out conflicting viewpoints, and archival news accounts of the day, he has fashioned Tiefland as a dramatic metaphor. It is a literary collage mixing fact and fiction to create a fascinating portrayal of a complex, famous, and notorious woman.

***

The Darling Dahlias and the Texas StarSpotted on Amazon while doing my "women in aviation" search: The Darling Dahlias and the Texas Star (The Darling Dahlias #4) by Susan Wittig Albert. I haven't read the first three, but this went on my wishlist anyway and you'll see why when you read the blurb.

The Texas Star herself—Miss Lily Dare, the fastest woman in the world”—is bringing her Dare Devils Flying Circus to Darling. Unfortunately, she’s also bringing a whole lot of trouble. As the Dahlias prepare for the annual Watermelon Festival—where they will present the famous female aviatrix with her own Texas Star hibiscus—rumors are flying.

Dahlias president Liz Lacy learns from newspaperman Charlie Dickens that Miss Dare has been threatened and her plane sabotaged. Apparently the bold and beautiful barnstormer has made plenty of enemies. And is it possible she may even be involved with the husband of one of Darling’s local ladies?

And speaking of wings, the new cook at Myra May’s Darling Diner can fry a chicken and whip up a sweet potato meringue pie like nobody’s business. But why is she keeping her past such a mystery?

As the Texas Star barnstorms into town, Liz and Verna Tidwell offer to help bring down a saboteur who may be propelled by revenge. Before it’s all over, there will be plenty of black eyes and dark secrets revealed….



***

I said above that I really liked a book by Margaret Brownley. While reading her Gunpowder Tea, a name in the story was mentioned: the first female Pinkerton agent, Kate Warne. I immediately did some more research and discovered there's a historical fiction novel that has her in it. Despite its poor ratings, I nabbed myself a copy. You just never know.

Pinkerton's Secret: A NovelPinkerton's Secret by Eric LernerThis romantic adventure conjures up the passionate life story of the Civil War era's legendary private eye, recounting dramatic exploits and his clandestine love affair with his partner.

Allan Pinkerton's story opens in Chicago on the eve of the American Civil War. After battling con men, train robbers, and vicious gunmen, Pinkerton senses that change is in the air. Already committed to the abolitionist cause and the Underground Railroad, he allies himself with John Brown's radical antislavery crusade. Upholding the law with one hand, he unapologetically breaks it with the other.

Kate Warne joins the Pinkerton Agency--its first female detective-- and quickly takes her place as Allan's closest confidante. He asks Kate to join him, and she embraces his cause in all its contradictions and extremes. Comrades-in-arms, their romantic passion becomes the most combustible and irresistible kind, the mutual affirmation of a world of two. Together they save the life of Abraham Lincoln on his inaugural journey to Washington, root out Confederate spies within the Union government, and establish the nation's first Secret Service, sending their agents deep behind enemy lines. Blind to all consequences, the secret lovers learn too late that some battles, no matter how right the cause, cannot be won.



***


Love Is in the AirSpotted on Harlequin Junkie, my fave blog and now on my wishlist because it's a woman pilot!!! Love is in the Air by Anji Nolan.


When Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Jim Cromwell and airline pilot Captain Sophie Berg are shot in a drive by shooting, their bond is instant and palpable. Jim is investigating a drug running operation in Maine known as The Albatross Alliance, so he assumes he was the target. Until he learns Sophie works for Granola Aviation, a charter airline carrying celebs and alleged drug kingpins about the world, and her latest contract is for Albatross Marine.

The pair meet for dinner and though Jim is attracted to Sophie, he is suspicious. After she reveals her own concerns about Granola Aviation, its passengers and cargo, Jim suspects she is being used. As their friendship morphs into romance, she provides the information to connect the pieces of the drug running puzzle together.

But it’s only when she is kidnapped by one of the drug smugglers that Jim realizes how important she has become in his life.