Friday, August 18, 2017

Book of the Week - Once a Rebel by Mary Jo Putney

The second book in Putney's Rogues Redeemed series is in a way, a love letter to Baltimore. Wait a minute, Regency romances are set in England, usually London or Bath, but all the same, much of this book is set in Washington and Baltimore and on top of it, the story starts in 1799 (a good decade before the Regency). Readers who love this era, will enjoy Putney's latest.

Catherine Callista Brook, age 16, facing a horrifying marriage to a man three times her age, seeks help from her best friend who she calls Richard to escape the forced marriage. Unfortunately the two teens are caught by their respective abusive fathers and to keep Richard from being beaten to death, Callie accepts marriage to the Jamaican planter who has fallen for her devilish red hair. Fast forward to 1814 and Richard, now called Gordon, a world wise adventurer accepts a contract to go to America and in the midst of the war of 1812, to find and bring  the widow of Matthias Audley back to England. Callie Audley fled to Washington, with her teenage step children and their grandparents after her husband died and the will, freeing the slaves on his plantations including his beloved children and made provision for their futures, disappeared. In Washington, the English born Callie makes a decent living as a seamstress but worries about the future of her mixed race step children. When an attack on Washington seems imminent she sends her family off to safety in Baltimore while remaining behind to protect her home and business. Richard arrives just in the nick of time to rescue her from British soldiers, intent on rape, have burned her house.  Thus begins a series of adventures and dangerous events involving the Battle of Baltimore that inspired The Star Spangled Banner, several murder attempts, a secret passage, and an exploding tower.

Callie and Richard are independent, resourceful, intelligent, and determined protagonists whose relationship begins with a powerful friendship and develops into a passionate love. The setting is fresh. One doesn't usually find much historical fiction about the War of 1812 and the danger and adventure just keep coming. Readers of the Lost Lords series will delight at a couple of cameo appearances of fondly remembered characters.

The dedication to the memory of Jo Beverley brought tears to my eyes and the Historical Notes at the end were well appreciated show Putney's research and respect for history.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Book of the Week - A Promise to Kill by Erik Storey

Last year's Nothing Short of Dying was probably my favorite debut novel of the year. Colorado's Western Slope is kind of a small town even though area-wise it is larger than the 13 smallest states in the Union. If it were a state it would be the smallest in terms of population. So, when a local guy has a book come out that looks to be something my readers would like, I take notice.

Last year I was managing a library in Garfield County and trying to deal with a botched eye surgery which is why I figure I can't find the review I would have written about it. Anyway, I found it impossible to put down. It was set in places across the Western Slope from Grand Junction to the high country around Leadville. I booktalked it wherever and whenever I was booktalking for adults. I had wanted to bring Erik Storey to New Castle but with the larger libraries in Rifle (where there are some major scenes in the book) and Glenwood Springs they were more logical places for him to visit.

As I was reading this second Clyde Barr thriller, in which the kick-ass Billy Jack-like protagonist takes on an outlaw biker gang and terrorists when he finds a community on a Ute reservation under siege, I kept trying to figure out who I would cast in the movie because of its action movie feel and because I expect that if the Clyde Barr thrillers haven't yet been optioned for film they soon will be.

One of the things I love about Storey's books is the vivid depiction of the western landscape. I also enjoyed Lawana, a smart, resourceful, fierce, and educated Ute mother and physician. He treats his characters who are worthy of it with respect. Readers who love lots of action, flying lead, busted bones, blood, guts, and gore will revel in the carnage.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Watch for these reviews

Recent Reviews in Booklist. The links go to Barnes and Noble. If you click on the "Editorial Reviews" tab you will see my review under Booklist.

Freedom’s Ring. - Historical Romance
Chiavaroli, Heidi (author).
Aug. 2017. 425p. Tyndale, paperback, $14.99 (9781496423122).
REVIEW. First published June 14, 2017 (Booklist Online).

Montana Heat: Escape to You. (Only one line) - Romantic Suspense
Ryan, Jennifer (author).
Aug. 2017. 384p. Avon, paperback, $7.99 (9780062645258); e-book (9780062645265).
REVIEW. First published July, 2017 (Booklist).

On Love’s Gentle Shore. (Not showing up at B&N, yet) Contemporary Romance
Johnson, Liz (author).
July 2017. 352p. Revell, paperback, $14.99 (9780800724511).
REVIEW. First published July, 2017 (Booklist).

I'm watching release dates and not posting reviews until closer to the time folks can get their hands on the books.

Reviews slated for August

A Promise to Kill by Erik Storey - Crime Thriller

Once a Rebel by Mary Jo Putney- Romance

The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken - YA Fantasy/Horror

Reviews slated for October

The City of Brass by S A Chakraborty - Fantasy (one of my top 10 for the year)

Reviews slated for November

It's Hard Out Here for a Duke by Maya Rodale - Romance

A Duke in Shining Armor
by Loretta Chase - Romance

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Book of the Week - Serafina and the Splintered Heart by Robert Beatty

Serafina was adopted as a baby by the man who keeps the mechanical parts of the the lavish Biltmore Estate running in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina  This is the Gilded Age, the late 1890s. In the third book, just out, Serafina wakes up to find herself lying down in a wooden box with no memory of how she got there. She uses all her senses to try to figure out what is going on and discovers she's been buried alive. Figuring our a way to free herself she extricates herself only to discover a storm is raging and streams are flooding. When she makes her way home she discovers nobody can see her and she has little to no effect on being able to move objects. She finds her best friend Braeden but he is not the same. There is something very wrong in the world and she is the only one that can stop it but unable to communicate or get help from anyone will she be able to? Mysterious, horrifying, and eerie, this is a great story for kids grades 5-7 who like to read. While it stands on its own some readers will want to read the first two installments in the series but I hadn't read them and was enthralled. 

When the first book, Serafina and the Black Cloak, came out I had a thirteen-year-old who read it and said " I loved the brave and fantastic heroine, Serafina, who is just a bit different than everyone else. And maybe the residents of Biltmore Estate need someone who is different to save them from a mysterious and deadly fiend. If you love the bizarre, and want an interesting cast of characters that will surprise you, then this is the book for you!"

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean

Set in the waning days of the Regency Era, this unusual romance starts with a beautiful woman going to Parliament to demand a divorce from her husband, a duke. Serephina is one of the Dangerous Daughters sometimes called the Soiled Ss. Their father made a fortune in coal and was awarded a title, but the Daughters are looked at askance by the ton. Serefina landed a Duke and then disappeared. But now, three years later she's come back from America with her male business partner to open a tavern that the laws say she can't own because she is married. She needs the divorce. Moving back and forth between the aftermath of the divorce petition and when they first met, Serephina and Malcolm may have had a great love but has that chance been destroyed by outside forces and their own inability of share their feelings? MacLean's storytelling style is unusual for this genre and adds a freshness and vibrancy to this enthralling romance.