Saturday, June 25, 2011

WINNER: Queen By Right by Anne Easter Smith

It's time to announce the winner of Anne Easter Smith's Queen By Right as part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours..........and the winner chosen at random is.......

Carole Rae!!!

Congratualtions to Carole Rae -- an email has been sent today notifying you. Thank you very much to everyone for your enthusiastic participation and comments for the giveaway and guest post!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

"Sebastian Ballister, the notorious Marquess of Dain, is big, bad, and dangerous to know. No respectable woman would have anything to do with the "Bane and Blight of the Ballisters" --and he wants nothing to do with respectable women. He's determined to continue doing what he does best -- sin and sin again --and all that' going swimmingly, thank you....until the day a shop door opens and SHE walks in.

Jessica Trent is a determined young woman, and she's going to drag her imbecile brother off the road to ruin, no matter what it takes. If saving him--and with him, her family and future--means taking on the devil himself, she won't back down. The trouble is, the devil in question is so shockingly irresistible, and the person who needs the most saving is -- herself!"

(from the publisher)

my thoughts:

Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels is a hugely popular novel, often topping the list of polls at the #1 spot for all-time favorite romances. Naturally, I wanted to see what all the buzz was about, and now I understand what sets this book apart from all the other conventional romances.

The core of the story is a beauty and the beast theme....with lots of suprises! Not sure I'm a fan of everything that happened in the plot, but it sure was a book like no other.

Jessica Trent is a refreshingly unique character and I enjoyed her from the start. Although she's a spinster, it's not for lack of beauty or brains. She's just been busy being smart and sensible in handling her family's financial affairs as well as raising her insipid brother and a passel of male cousins. Having a really-cool-grandmother as her confidante in matters of men, Jessica is very frank about sexual matters and is completely unashamed of her instant attraction to.....Sebastian, the Lord of Scoundrels!

Sebastian Ballister, on the other hand, is Satan personified. Deeply wounded by his abandonment as a child and the torture he experienced at the hands of bullies, he's hidden his pain by wearing a protective armor. He revels in his reputation for debauchery and fully expects the world to quake in fear when he bellows. He views women as strictly entertainment for his depraved amusement and discards them at will...until a pert little woman named Jessica walks into his life and makes his world wobble on its axis.

These two characters take the reader on one of the most maddening and unusual journeys I've ever experienced in a's funny and sexy and, at times, shocking; I lost count of the times I said, "Well, I didn't see THAT coming!" Expect the unexpected in this entertaining romance!

4/5 stars

Title: Lord of Scoundrels
Author: Loretta Chase
Avon Books
357 pages
genre: historical romance

Monday, June 20, 2011

WINNER: Margaret Mitchell & John Marsh: The Love Story

Thank you to everyone who entered to win a copy of Margaret Mitchell and John Marsh: The Love Story Behind Gone With the Wind by Marianne Walker......... and the winner is........


Anjuli, I will notify you by e-mail as well as inform Peachtree Publishers to ship it off to you! Congratulations and enjoy!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Suddenly Sunday

Happy Sunday to everyone, and a very Happy Father's Day to the special men in your life!

Many things happening here on the blog, so it's a busy Suddenly Sunday.

First, we have a blog name change.....formerly Slice of Life, my new name is Books, Belles, & Beaux. Followers do not need to change a thing as my URL has stayed the same. I hope you like it!

Next, I currently have two GIVEAWAYS for June. In time to celebrate Gone With the Wind's 75th anniversary this June, I have one copy of Margaret Mitchell and John Marsh: The Love Story Behind Gone With the Wind by Marianne Walker. I also have the fabulous Queen By Right by Anne Easter Smith for historical fiction fans. Click on the book cover in the side bar to enter!

I highly recommend two books that are perfect for relaxing summer reading. You can read my thoughts on The Violets of March by Sarah Jio and Only Mr. Darcy Will Do by Kara Louise.

And lastly, since today's post is in honor of Father's Day, I'm going to share a little memory of my father. My dad was very hard working and did not spend any of his rare leisure time reading other than work related papers or the newspaper. But there was one book that he always took time to read to me (or listen to me read to him). Aww...makes me happy just remembering.

Have a great week!

***Suddenly Sunday is hosted by Svea @ The Muse in the Fog Book Reviews.*****

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Only Mr. Darcy Will Do by Kara Louise

"Her worst fears come true....
After her father's death, Elizabeth Bennet goes to work as a governess. Little does she know the Willstones are social acquaintances of the Bingleys and the Darcys, and Elizabeth finds herself once again drawn into Mr. Darcy's orbit. To make matters worse, Mrs. Willstone's sister sets her sights on Mr. Darcy. With Elizabeth's social status even lower than it was before, she knows she must abandon all hope of Darcy renewing his proposal, even as she begins to see him in a completely different light....."

(from the publisher)

my thoughts:

Kara Louise is quickly becoming my favorite Austenesque author! Darcy's Voyage was a delightful P & P adaptation, and now with Only Mr. Darcy Will Do, I have two keepers on my shelf.

Thrown into circumstances beyond their control after the death of Mr. Bennett, the family must leave their home to make way for Mr. Collins and his wife. Jane is saddened as, thanks to Darcy's interference, she and Charles Bingley have gone their separate ways. After angrily turning down a proposal of marriage from Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth must set out to make her own way as a governess. Thus begins the really refreshingly original take on Elizabeth's journey to discover her own feelings as well as coming to learn the true character of Mr. Darcy. Much conflict and interest is added to the story by Rosalyn, the aunt of Elizabeth's charge. She is a pretty society young lady who has every intention of becoming the mistress of Pemberley...even though we know how it will end, the path to get there was quite intriguing and original.

A beautiful love story and highly recommended!

5/5 stars

Title: Only Mr. Darcy Will Do
Author: Kara Louise
353 pages
genre: historical fiction/historical romance

Friday, June 17, 2011

What's in a Name? I need your help!

I've been thinking about changing my blog name for a very long time, and I think it's time to have a chat with my faithful followers (and newbies, of course).

When I first started my blog, I had a vision of writing a creative blog that posted about some of my hobbies such as reading, scrapbooking, creative projects, and other interests....thus, each post would be a little "slice of life" or "a little part of me." The blog evolved into strictly a book blog and I feel it's time for a name change. I'm also picking up a book here and there for review for publishers and authors, and I think the blog name should be more indicative of books.

Now I'm not going to do anything drastic like changing the URL, so hopefully I won't lose any followers and my readers won't have to do a thing except remember the blog name change.....everything visually will stay the same and the content will remain with just a different title. I'll still be posting as "Joanne" in my comments. Simple. (I think - I Hope!)

Here's where I would like your help. I like my header and have studied it for inspiration. I thought about what all the books that I read have in common......they are all mostly set in the past with heroines (or belles), and they all have heroes (or beaux). So I've come up with a few names and I'd like to get your feedback.

Which blog name do you like?

A) Books, Belles & Beaux

B) Belles & Beaux Book Reviews

C) Belle of the Ball Book Reviews

D) Don't do it! I suffer from CRS and will not remember the name change! Keep Slice of Life.

Thanks for your input!

Guest Post & Giveaway: Anne Easter Smith, Author of Queen By Right

It is with great pleasure that I welcome the award-winning author of A Rose for the Crown, Daughter of York, The King’s Grace , and Queen By Right to Slice of Life today! Queen By Right is a captivating historical novel that tells the story of Cecily of York, mother of two kings and the heroine of one of history’s greatest love stories.

Guest Post by Anne Easter Smith

Protagonists in Anne Easter Smith Novels

While I was writing Queen By Right, people would ask me whether Cecily Neville was anything like my other protagonists. Certainly all of them were not afraid to speak their minds, except perhaps for Grace, until she was pushed. I like my medieval women feisty, history tells us they were--to a point. I confess my ladies are probably a little too contemporary in their behavior for the academic medievalist, but that’s why fiction is such fun.

Studies of the texts from the period tell us that men thought we had a greater desire for sex, that we were easily led, prone to unfaithfulness--especially sexually. That’s why men felt the need to control us. Fathers, priests and husbands thought it was their duty to keep us virtuous and threatened our reputations if we were not. A sullied reputation often meant no one would marry you, and that was a disaster.

Bold-speaking in women was a vice, so the men said, and there was nothing worse than being a “clatterer”! (Magpies, jays and women were dubbed the three clatterers, so droned on the men.) You could be punished for gossiping or scolding by being put on the cucking stool barefoot with your hair hanging down (very humiliating). It was a chair to which a woman was tied and left outside her door or in a public place, and some even had wheels so the clatterer could be clattered over the cobblestones around the neighborhood. (It is similar to a ducking stool, but no water is involved.) I know Kate Haute should have been put on one for sure! Margaret and Cecily were royalty, so I expect their husbands chastised them in private instead.

Another question I am asked is which of my “heroines” I like the most. Of course, I love them all, but here is what I love about them individually.

• Kate Haute because she was my first and, I thought, my only (and because I wasn’t expecting to write another book). I grew as a writer with her, so she’s special. And she is modeled on my younger daughter, Kate, who in puberty and teenage years mostly definitely would have been on the cucking stool a lot!

• Margaret of York is the one I related to the most as I was living with her. She was a rebel at heart, she was her father’s favorite, and she left her homeland for a new life (just like I did). She was also tall for a woman (like me) and loved books (like me).

• Grace is probably my antithesis. Petite, quiet, gentle, but I loved that she gave her heart in the wrong place at first (like me). I admired her tremendously for rising above her convent upbringing, being a bastard, being invisible at court, and yet managing to find herself among her beautiful and strong-minded siblings. I loved her loyalty to Elizabeth Woodville and John of Gloucester, and I loved the way she gently kept the peace and sorted out the mystery of who was Perkin Warbeck.

• Cecily is the woman I admire the most, and whereas I’d love to sit down to lunch with Margaret and have a natter, I’d be a bit intimidated by Cecily. This is no simpering miss! I am in awe of her strength, amazing health (she lived until she was 80), and her political savvy. She was lucky enough to experience one of the love matches of her century with Richard, duke of York, and her story is so colorful and dramatic it took me two years to tell. Cecily was in Rouen when Joan of Arc was tried and executed, she gave birth to a dozen children, she had a passionate marriage, she watched her husband fight his way to the throne to claim his right which eluded him in the end with his death at the Battle of Wakefield. And she watched her son, Edward, crowned in June 1461--550 years ago.

I invite you to dive into Cecily’s world with Queen By Right. I have been told by the wonderful woman who owns our local bookshop that this is my best book and she could not put it down. And Michelle Moran, author of Madame Tussaud, said “it kept me up for most of one night needing to know how it all wrapped up." It is my hope you will all be up nights reading it.

“Thank you Joanne, for hosting me here at Slice of Life”. – Anne Easter Smith

It is my pleasure! -- Joanne

For more information please visit Anne Easter Smith’s WEBSITE and FACEBOOK PAGE.


As part of the Anne Easter Smith Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour, I have one copy of Queen By Right available for one lucky winner! Contest is open to U.S. residents only, and the winner will be announced June 25, 2011.

Simply leave a comment with contact information for a chance to win. GOOD LUCK!

**************THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. 6/25/11***************

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Queen By Right by Anne Easter Smith

"From the award-winning author of A Rose for the Crown, Daughter of York, and The King’s Grace comes another masterful historical novel—the story of Cecily of York, mother of two kings and the heroine of one of history’s greatest love stories.

In Cecily Neville, duchess of York and ancestor of every English monarch to the present day, she has found her most engrossing character yet. History remembers Cecily of York standing on the steps of the Market Cross at Ludlow, facing an attacking army while holding the hands of her two young sons. Queen by Right reveals how she came to step into her destiny, beginning with her marriage to Richard, duke of York, whom she meets when she is nine and he is thirteen. Raised together in her father’s household, they become a true love match and together face personal tragedies, pivotal events of history, and deadly political intrigue. All of England knows that Richard has a clear claim to the throne, and when King Henry VI becomes unfit to rule, Cecily must put aside her hopes and fears and help her husband decide what is right for their family and their country. Queen by Right marks Anne Easter Smith’s greatest achievement, a book that every fan of sweeping, exquisitely detailed historical fiction will devour."

My thoughts:

When I read historical fiction, it is important to me that the author creates a seamless blend of the facts and fiction and evokes an authentic sense of time and place. Of course, I also want to be entertained as well as informed. In Queen By Right, author Anne Easter Smith succeeds on all levels.

Smith's attention to the details of daily life in the 15th century as well as the political and historical events of the period transported me to an intriguing time when claims to the throne of England from the Houses of York and Lancaster eventually resulted in the Wars of the Roses. Even though some readers may have definite loyalties to a particular side of the issue, the journey of Cecily of York is a compelling and poignant one as she evolves from a spirited and independent young girl betrothed at an early age to Richard, Duke of York, into a deeply spiritual, courageous, and devoted wife and mother.

I also commend the author for including helpful guides for the general reader. Queen By Right includes a list of characters and geneology charts, a map, bibliography, glossary, and an author's note detailing a few areas in which Smith used her creativity to embellish her story. (For example, the storyline of Cecily's encounter with Jeanne D'Arc is vividly told and plausible, but there is no evidence that the two historical figures ever met.) Together with her discussion questions at the end of the novel, these additions to the story enriched my knowledge of the period and added to the enjoyment of the story. I'm very much looking forward to reading more of Anne Easter Smith's novels.

Queen by Right was a delight to read and highly recommended for all historical fiction enthusiasts.


4/5 stars

Title: Queen By Right
Author: Anne Easter Smith
Simon and Schuster
genre: historical fiction

Special thanks to Amy @ Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

****I received a copy of Queen by Right by Anne Easter Smith for review from the publisher. I was not compensated for my review, and the thoughts expressed are my own personal opinion.*****

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

GIVEAWAY: Margaret Mitchell & John Marsh: The Love Story Behind Gone With the Wind by Marianne Walker

I am pleased to announce that Peachtree Publishers is providing one copy of Margaret Mitchell and John Marsh: The Love Story Behind Gone With the Wind by Marianne Walker to one lucky winner here at Slice of Life!

All you have to do is leave a comment below WITH CONTACT INFORMATION and I will select one winner at random on June 20, 2011. The contest is open to U.S. addresses only.


Here's my review of this wonderful resource for GWTW fans!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Margaret Mitchell and John Marsh: The Love Story Behind Gone With the Wind by Marianne Walker

"The marriage of Margaret Mitchell and John Marsh was more than one of great love and deep friendship; it was a lucky literary match, both for them and for a world made richer by the creation of GONE WITH THE WIND.

Based on almost 200 previously unpublished letters and extensive interviews with their closests associates, Walker's biography of Margaret Mitchell and her husband, John Marsh, offers a new look into a devoted marriage and fascinating partnership that ultimately created a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. This edition of Walker's critically acclaimed biography celebrates the seventy-fifth anniversary of the publication of GONE WITH THE WIND in 1936."

my thoughts:

It's been seventy-five years since Margaret Mitchell's phenomenal novel of the Old South took the world by storm, and Gone With the Wind to this day remains a beloved favorite of countless readers. It is certainly one of my personal favorites, and I am always interested to read about the background of the creation of both the novel and the blockbuster movie. What many may not know is that the love story behind the creation of GWTW is just as fascinating as that of the fictional love triangle of Scarlett O'Hara, Ashley Wilkes, and Rhett Butler.

In Margaret Mitchell & John Marsh: The Love Story Behind Gone With the Wind,
Marianne Walker, through interviews and extensive research, has written a fascinating portrait of Margaret ("Peggy") Mitchell that indeed seems to reflect many of the same facets of Scarlett O'Hara's fiesty and sparkling personality.

As a young southern debutante, Peggy enjoyed being the center of attention -- a pretty and pert flirt, she had no shortage of handsome young men to escort her to a never-ending round of parties and dances. Not very interested in school or studies but very much interested in being a writer, she could often be found at places where artists, writers, and others interested in a creative life frequented.

When she met the tall, quiet John Marsh in 1921, they became very close friends and shared an interest in books and writing. Marsh was a serious man who worked incredibly hard as a respected journalist, and he fell deeply in love with the vivacious and fun-loving Peggy. He knew she dated many other men and was very popular, but their friendship was very strong and deep and he believed one day they would be married. Peggy often found herself at odds with her social-conscious family over her impulsive and improper behavior, and the icing on the cake was when she shocked everyone by marrying "Red" Upshaw, a dashing and handsome bootlegger with a scandalous reputation!

I mention this background material of the book as it is important to see how the seeds of Gone With the Wind may have begun in Peggy's own experiences. Walker's biography continues to reveal how Margaret Mitchell and John Marsh finally, (as destiny must have planned all along) got together and became utterly devoted and supportive of each other.

Although Peggy worked as a reporter in Atlanta for a time, she was often sick in bed or in pain from numerous maladies, and her enforced bedrest gave her time to work on a story of the Old South that had been germinating in her mind. She had a keen interest in southern history and was entertained since birth with tales of the Confederacy. To quote her,

"I spent the Sunday afternoons of my childhood sitting on the bony knees of
Confederate Veterans and the fat slick laps of old ladies who survived the
war and reconstruction."
p. 24

Her manuscript, which had no title up until the time of publication, was the couple's "baby." For years, Peggy worked on her manuscript, researched extensively, traveled to Civil War sites, and worked tirelessly to get her historical facts completely accurate. In the evenings when her husband returned home, they sat together and reviewed her writing of the day. The writing was deeply personal to them, and they did not share the manuscript with anyone -- indeed, it seemed as if her novel was a very intimate part of their relationship, and it's a wonder the world ever had a chance to see it. Peggy suffered from bouts of depression and insecurities, and she referred to her work as

"...just that old dog-eared and dirty bunch of copy paper which took up
so much space in our small apartment and seemed with each rewriting
to get worse."
p. 289

Thankfully, a publisher did get to see this "dirty bunch of copy paper" as it eventually became a Pulitzer Prize winning novel! It is clear, though, in Walker's biography, that without the help and support of her beloved and devoted husband, Gone With the Wind might never have been completed.

Marianne Walker's meticulously researched biography is a richly detailed look at a complex love story every bit as compelling as the characters in GWTW.
Recommended for all GWTW fans, with many black and white photos and excerpts from personal letters included.

For more information about the book and Marianne Walker, visit Peachtree Publishers.

4/5 Stars

Title: Margaret Mitchell and John Marsh: The Love Story Behind Gone With the Wind
Author: Marianne Walker
Peachtree Publishers
paperback, 554 pages
June 2011
ISBN 978-1-56145-617-8
genre: biography

***Thank you to Samantha Grefe and Peachtree Publishers for sending me a copy of Margaret Mitchell and John Marsh: The Love Story Behind Gone With the Wind by Marianne Walker for review. I was not compensated for this review, and the thoughts expressed are my personal opinion.***

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio

"In a mystical place where violets bloom out of season and the air is salt drenched, a heartbroken woman stumbles upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous author.

In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world; she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily-ever-after.

Nearly a decade later, the tide has turned on Emily's good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington state, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life.

A mesmerizing debut with an idyllic setting and an intriguing dual story line, The Violets of March announces Sarah Jio as a writer to watch."

(from the publisher)

my thoughts:

The Violets of March was an absolutely beautiful story.....I loved the author's seamless blending of romance, mystery and suspense with a haunting story of a long-ago love affair. I found myself unable to put this book down as I immediately became emotionally invested in the players.....a hidden diary with stories of youthful, carefree times before World War II that reveal, over time, heartbreaking memories of love, betrayals, loss, and a lifetime of regrets.

Who is the author of this diary and why was it locked away in unused room in her aunt's house?

As Emily tries to find closure for her own failed marriage and find a new direction in her life, can she draw lessons from the mistakes of the past in the pages of this diary?

An utterly charming tale that left me deeply moved and holding on to the book long after I finished the last page.

5/5 stars

Title: The Violets of March
Author: Sarah Jio
Plume/Penguin Publishers
296 pages
genre: literary fiction

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Books Have a Soul

Yesterday, I took my daughter to the bookstore for our annual summer reading shopping spree. Both of my children attend schools where there is a required summer reading list (which I'm happy to support), and when we have time we try to make a regular stop at the library. I'm so grateful that my kids enjoy reading and are just as interested as I am in collecting books in their own particular genre. Interestingly, even though my kids are "technology kids" -- I have to ask them how to do everything from computers, iphones, ipods, you name it -- they haven't embraced the e-book phenomenon. I actually gave them both e-readers for Christmas last year, and neither one of them uses it much. I was also a little sad walking into B&N yesterday as an entire section of the store is now stark and empty.... they have moved shelves with rows upon rows of glorious newly released titles to make room for their electronic books, and it looks.....bare and sterile.

There is a terrific article on the Poisoned Pen bookstore blog (The Romance of the Written Word by Steve Schwartz) that articulates how I feel about the future of paper-and-ink books better than I could ever express. I love how he describes that "books have a soul" and that beloved, well-worn books make your senses come alive with the smell and feel of the novel in your hands. What wonderful memories come flooding back when I hold a cherished favorite book in my hands!

I truly understand the absolute necessity of e-books (and audiobooks)...they are very convenient for people who want and need to read on-the-go, it's such a space saver with thousands of books in one place (not to mention environmentally friendly to the trees!), and so fast, easy, and less expensive to download.

So my question to you as a bibliophile is this -- what do you see for the future of your personal library? Have you begun to switch to an e-reader (or audiobooks) exclusively? Do you still purchase paper-and-ink books? Are you 50%/50%?

For me, I have an e-reader, but I rarely use it. Nothing can replace the feeling of a supple, flexible book in my hands -- so currently I'm 90% paper, 10% e-reader/audio. I have the Outlander series on audio which I listen to often, but they are enhancements to the books, not a replacement. I enjoy my audiobooks when driving by myself or working in the kitchen/doing chores around the house.

Your thoughts? What's your preference? (BTW, I'm not trying to sway anyone either way -- I just love talking about books in every way possible, and I enjoy hearing how others incorporate reading into their lives. It's all good!) :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Untamed by Pamela Clare

"In the breathtaking tradition of The Last of the Mohicans....

MacKinnon's Rangers - They were a band of brothers, their loyalty to one another forged by hardship and battle, the bond between these Highland warriors, rugged colonials, and fierce Native Americans stronger even than blood ties.

Though forced to fight for the hated British, Morgan MacKinnon would no more betray the men he leads than slit his own throat--not even when he was captured by the French and threatened with an agonizing death by fire at the hands of their Abenaki allies. Only the look of innocent longing in the eyes of a convent-bred French lass could make him question his vow to escape and return to the Rangers. And soon the sweet passion he awoke in Amalie had him cursing the war that forced him to choose between upholding his honor and pledging himself to the woman he loves."

(from the publisher)

my thoughts:

Another terrific adventure and passionate love story from Pamela Clare! I was blown away at how compelling Surrender was (book #1), and I've been looking forward to continuing this series of the three MacKinnon brothers, exiled Scottish Highlanders forced to serve in the British army during the French and Indian War. Book #2, Untamed, was more great storytelling, and the long-awaited story of the third brother, Connor, will be published (Feb. 2012) to complete the trilogy. The title is Defiant, and I can't wait!

As a huge fan of Diana Gabaldon, I often have discussions with other Outlander readers about books that might be similar. We're all on a quest to find books "like the Outlander series" because nothing seems to compare to Gabaldon's fabulous books and we want more! Well, while I've yet to find anything that comes even close to Gabaldon's series, I think it's safe to say that people who enjoyed Gabaldon's Drums of Autumn and The Fiery Cross might also enjoy Pamela Clare's MacKinnon trilogy (there's no time travel). She's a great storyteller with a talent for recreating the raw, edgy danger of the wilderness, and of course, creating fabulous heroes who love with a fierce passion.

The MacKinnon brothers are fierce Scottish warriors, deeply loyal and proud of their clan heritage, and received Mahican training to survive in the harsh wilderness.

"They were Clan, bound not by the blood in their veins, but the blood they'd lost and spilled together."

In Untamed, we learn Morgan's story where he is gravely injured and captured in a skirmish with the French army outside of Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga). Part adventure story, part passionate romance (sex scenes are HOT!), this story of Morgan and Amalie Chauvenet, (a sheltered and convent-bred daughter of a French officer) is one of love, secrets, and betrayals, and the reader follows them on their journey as they overcome conflicting loyalties and danger to find their happiness.

Another keeper!

BTW, Pamela Clare has a new publisher and will be re-releasing the trilogy with material that was left out of the original books, and the cover art is going in an entirely different direction. Here's a look at the new art for Book #1, Surrender.

Surrender and Untamed are both enthusiastically recommended! Be on the lookout for the upcoming re-releases.

4.5/5 stars

Title: Untamed
Author: Pamela Clare
Dorchester Publishing
347 pages

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer Reading

Ahhhhhhh, the lazy days of summer are upon margarita (with salt) is chilled and I'm heading out to the pool for some relaxing reading.

I don't know about you, but my reading tastes change in the summer....nothing complicated for me in the sizzling heat! Summer reading calls for something light and fresh, with an emphasis on romance and easy mysteries -- historical fiction takes a back seat. Here's a peek at few books I'll be tucking inside my tote bag along with my sunscreen:

All About Romance has a terrific list of top 100 romance books of all time....and I haven't read the #1 favorite on the list! I must rectify this oversight, and try to read a few more top picks that I've missed along the way.

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
"They call him many names, but Angelic isn't one of them . . .
Sebastian Ballister, the notorious Marquess of Dain, is big, bad, and dangerous to know. No respectable woman would have anything to do with the "Bane and Blight of the Ballisters"—and he wants nothing to do with respectable women. He's determined to continue doing what he does best—sin and sin again—and all that's going swimmingly, thank you . . . until the day a shop door opens and she walks in.
She's too intelligent to fall for the worst man in the world . . .
Jessica Trent is a determined young woman, and she's going to drag her imbecile brother off the road to ruin, no matter what it takes. If saving him—and with him, her family and future—means taking on the devil himself, she won't back down. The trouble is, the devil in question is so shockingly irresistible, and the person who needs the most saving is—herself!" (from amazon)

Only Mr. Darcy Will Do by Kara Louise
"Her worst fears come true...
After her father's death, Elizabeth Bennet goes to work as a governess. Little does she know the Willstones are social acquaintances of the Bingleys and the Darcys, and Elizabeth finds herself once again drawn into Mr. Darcy's orbit. To make matters worse, Mrs. Willstone's sister sets her sights on Mr. Darcy. With Elizabeth's social status even lower than it was before, she knows she must abandon all hope of Darcy renewing his proposals, even as she begins to see him in a completely different light..."

The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
"The vast multi-generational epic that began with The Tea Rose and continued with The Winter Rose now reaches its dramatic conclusion in The Wild Rose.
London, 1914. World War I is looming on the horizon, women are fighting for the right to vote, and global explorers are pushing the limits of endurance at the Poles and in the deserts. Into this volatile time, Jennifer Donnelly places her vivid and memorable characters:
- Willa Alden, a passionate mountain climber who lost her leg while climbing Kilimanjaro with Seamus Finnegan, and who will never forgive him for saving her life.
- Seamus Finnegan, a polar explorer who tries to forget Willa as he marries a beautiful young woman back home in England.
- Max von Brandt, a handsome sophisticate who courts high society women, but who has a secret agenda as a German spy;
- and many others." (from goodreads)

The Peach Keeperby Sarah Addison Allen
"Allen juggles smalltown history and mystical thriller, character development and eerie magical realism in a fine Southern gothic drama. The underlying tension will please and unnerve readers, as well as leave them eager for Allen's next."
-Publisher's Weekly

The Dark Enquiry by Deanna Raybourn
"Partners now in marriage and in trade, Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane have finally returned from abroad to set up housekeeping in London. But merging their respective collections of gadgets, pets and servants leaves little room for the harried newlyweds themselves, let alone Brisbane's private enquiry business.
Among the more unlikely clients: Julia's very proper brother, Lord Bellmont, who swears Brisbane to secrecy about his case. Not about to be left out of anything concerning her beloved—if eccentric—family, spirited Julia soon picks up the trail of the investigation.
It leads to the exclusive Ghost Club, where the alluring Madame Séraphine holds evening séances…and not a few powerful gentlemen in thrall. From this eerie enclave unfolds a lurid tangle of dark deeds, whose tendrils crush reputations and throttle trust." (from amazon)
Hoping to get a signed copy from Deanna Raybourn at the Romance Writers of America book signing!

The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
"When Sophy goes to stay with her cousins in Berkeley Square, she finds them in a sad tangle of affairs – some romantic and others of a more pecuniary nature. Perhaps the Grand Sophy has arrived just in time to save them." (from goodreads)

Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers (A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery)
"When Harriet Vane attends her Oxford reunion, known as the "Gaudy," the prim academic setting is haunted by a rash of bizarre pranks: scrawled obsentities, burnt effigies and poison-pen letters -- including one that says, "Ask your boyfriend with the title if he likes arsenic in his soup." Some of the notes threaten murder; all are perfectly ghastly; yet in spite of their scurrilous nature, all are perfectly worded. And Harriet finds herself ensnared in a nightmare of romance and terror, with only the tiniest shreds of clues to challenge her powers of detection, and those of her paramour, Lord Peter Wimsey." (from amazon) Both Diana Gabaldon and Lauren Willig are fans of this author, so I'm curious to check out her mysteries.

So, what's in your beach bag this summer?

Favorite Period Dramas

Mount TBR

Joanne's to-read book montage

On a Highland Shore
A Light on the Veranda
The Queen's Vow: A Novel Of Isabella Of Castile
The Edwardians
Maisie Dobbs
Howards End
Lady's Maid
Instruments Of Darkness
When Maidens Mourn
Where Shadows Dance
What Remains of Heaven
Where Serpents Sleep
Why Mermaids Sing
When Gods Die
Before Ever After
The Sugar Queen
Garden Spells
After the Night

Joanne's favorite books »