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All posts for the month June, 2015

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey Review

Published June 24, 2015 by francesothomas

I am so very, very glad I finally got around to reading While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax.

I myself was late to arrive at Highclere Castle, but once I did I, like the characters in this novel, was hooked. Who could resist the darkly mysterious Mr. Bates or not want to become as outspoken as the Dowager Countess Violet? But despite the title, the television series and those who dwell within are merely supporting players.

The three main characters in the novel have a few twists and turns in the plots of their lives. Claire is a writer who finds a million ways to procrastinate. (I could really relate to her, I’m sorry to say.) Brooke is the wife who got dumped after putting her plastic-souled plastic surgeon husband through med school. Samantha has mastered outward appearances but is terrified of letting anyone beneath her surface perfection.

The other players in the novel are well-written. I wish I had the services of Edward, the dapper concierge, and I am grateful I don’t have Samantha’s steely mother-in-law.

Like a respectable soap opera, all ends if not happily ever after at least happy for now. Wendy Wax left me hoping for a sequel.

Wendy Wax

Wendy Wax

Mad about the Major review

Published June 17, 2015 by francesothomas

Mad about the Major, a novella by Elizabeth Boyle and part 8.5 of her Bachelor Chronicles, is just the thing for a summer read, light and fluffy as cotton candy.

Poor Arabella. As the daughter of a duke, she is doomed to wed the heir to another duke, sight unseen. And poor Kingsley. As the heir to a duke, he is doomed to wed a high-born chit, also sight unseen. Wait a minute! Can we see a plot unfolding?

The mistaken identities begin immediately and continue as Arabella, now just using her nickname Birdie, and Major Kingsley, who fails to disclose he’s also titled, set off on a day’s adventure. We and the bystanders they encounter along the way quickly see that romance is afoot although it takes the protagonists a while to reach that conclusion.

I loved the clever dialogue and the charming characters.  A fun diversion.

Elizabeth Boyle

Elizabeth Boyle

Love in the Time of Scandal review

Published June 10, 2015 by francesothomas

Love in the Time of Scandal is the third book in Caroline Linden’s Scandalous series. I had already read book two, so I was eager to see this follow up.

I must say I found Penelope, the heroine of this one, more appealing than Benedict, the hero. He has been bullied all his life by a really nasty father. It takes Penny’s gumption to rub off on him to make him finally stand up for himself. He’s looking for an heiress to support him so he doesn’t have to be beholden to dear old dad. Why couldn’t he strike out on his own and find a way to support himself?

Penny, on the other hand, is a delight. She is still avidly reading the naughty pamphlets that were also described in book two. But she also has a nice depth of character. She is resolute about not betraying a friend and really tries to understand what makes Benedict tick.

The book did hold my attention although the ending felt a bit too deus ex machina. I hope there will be a fourth book to let us know what became of Olivia, the troubled friend.

Caroline Linden

Caroline Linden

When Love Comes review

Published June 3, 2015 by francesothomas

I am not much into beer, but I like to think I am fairly knowledgeable about wine. As I was reading Darcy Burke’s When Love Happens, I kept thinking the author didn’t know much about either. This is Book Three of her Ribbon Ridge series where the Archer family owns a highly successful microbrewery in the middle of Oregon wine country, and the author lives in that region herself. Her characters seem to imbibe an awful lot but not at the appropriate time. For example, they wait until after a meal to drink a good Pinot Noir.

I found the premise to be equally difficult to accept. Tori shuts out her new husband because she feels guilt over her brother’s suicide. Why? She didn’t answer a phone call from that brother the night before he died, which also happened to be her wedding night.

Tori is also so self-involved that it never occurs to her that her husband Sean is desperately trying to hang onto his job so he can help support his parents. She’s got a trust fund but surely should have figured out he wasn’t as well off. That Sean isn’t above a little manipulation in order to keep that job was off-putting too.

Ms. Burke also writes historicals. I think they’d be more my cup of tea.

Darcy Burke

Darcy Burke