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All posts for the month September, 2015

Snowbound at Christmas book review

Published September 30, 2015 by francesothomas

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I am a long time viewer of Days of Our Lives, and I suspect Debbie Mason, the author of Snowbound at Christmas is too.  What tipped me off? The name of the diva who stars in the soap opera in her novel is Chloe just like one of the characters on Days.

And what a diva Mason’s Chloe is. She is totally self-centered and treats her sister Cat like a serving wench. Cat has been protecting her sister since childhood. Even more so now that someone is threatening Chloe’s life.

The sisters are identical twins, leaving room for all kinds of mistaken identity. Then along comes an FBI agent to uncover the would-be murderer’s identity while pretending to be a British lord and joining the cast as Chloe’s new love interest.  In real life, however, he falls for Cat. He has to bring his grandmother along on the investigation, since nobody else is willing to watch her. She’s a cross between the Dowager Countess of Grantham and an elderly Elizabeth Taylor. Throw in a gay hair and makeup artist, Cat’s BFF, and the fun commences.

We get to meet the delightful citizens of small town Christmas, Colorado, when the soap cast comes to film. Their reactions, particularly to the faux British-almost royalty, are hilarious. The plot is clever; the dialogue is witty.

This is the fifth book in this series. Maybe Chloe gets to star in book six.

Do you like books about small towns as much as I do?

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Author Info

Debbie Mason is the bestselling author of the Christmas, Colorado series. Her books have been praised for their “likable characters, clever dialogue and juicy plots” (RT Book Reviews). She also writes historical paranormals as Debbie Mazzuca. Her MacLeod series has received several nominations for best paranormal as well as a Holt Medallion Award of Merit. When she isn’t writing or reading, Debbie enjoys spending time with her very own real-life hero, their four wonderful children, an adorable grandbaby, and a yappy Yorkie named Bella.

 

A Little Thing Called Love book review

Published September 23, 2015 by francesothomas

I was a bit surprised as I read A Little Thing Called Love by Cathy Maxwell. Nothing much seemed to be happening. It wasn’t until I got to the end and started reading the excerpt of Maxwell’s next work, The Match of the Century, that I realized that this one is merely a prequel.

Jennifer is the beauty on whom falls the task of rescuing her family from the specter of the poorhouse by marrying up. She loves to read, but gentlemen only want her as arm candy. She and Fyclan fall in love by exchanging notes hidden in lending library books. Finally, someone has realized she has a brain.

Jenny’s family was one of the least attractive I’ve encountered. Her father is a bully, her mother a weakling, and her two sisters stepped right out of Cinderella. Fortunately, Fyclan has a lot of money he doesn’t mind using to buy them off.

The couple run off to Gretna Green, and neither family nor rejected suitors bother to follow. The happily ever after is kind of hollow. The lovers didn’t have to overcome any obstacles to get there. Even Jenny’s heart problem vanishes.

I wouldn’t expect a novella-length work to have a terribly complicated plot, but this one could have used a few complications.

Do you read novellas or just full length works?

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Here’s an excerpt:

Most gently bred young ladies of her age would be just finishing the morning toilettes after a night of balls and routs. Not this one. Crossing the street ahead of Fyclan, she walked with purpose. She glanced at her scrap of paper repeatedly as if searching for an address. Her maid had to scamper to keep up with her. Her aggrieved footman held out his arm to protect her from the heavy traffic and unwarranted advances.

Fyclan crossed the street as well, wanting to keep her in his sights.

He didn’t quite know how he would approach her or gain an introduction, but reach her he would—

His friend Bishard laid both hands on his arm and swung him around. He kept hold of Fyclan’s jacket as he waved his hand in front of his face. “Are you not listening to me? Damn it all, Morris, I’ve never seen you chase a woman before, and now you charge off like a hound on the trace of a scent.”

Fyclan laughed. “Only yesterday you chastised me for not being more aware of the fair sex. Well, now I am aware. Very aware. And I’m about to lose her, so excuse me—”

Bishard held fast. “She’s not for you.”

Those were fighting words. “And why not?”

His friend glanced around as if those on the pavement around them would be keenly interested in what he was about to say. His voice lowered. “Stowe has spoken for her.”

He referred to the marquess of Stowe, one of the wealthiest men in London. The directors of the Company were keenly interested in him. Not only did they want his money for investment, they also needed his political patronage.

Bishard’s warning did give Fyclan pause. He looked in the direction of his goddess. She was moving steadily away, a bright blue gem weaving in and out amongst a sea of drab, hard working men and women, people whose lives held no room for such a lively color.

And he knew he must not lose her. “Who is Stowe to me?” he said and would have charged off again in pursuit but his friend held on.

“She is also Miss Jennifer Tarleton, Colonel Russell Tarleton’s daughter.”

“The fool who cost us Konkan?” Fyclan referred to the battle the Company had fought against the Maratha rulers over the northern provinces. Fyclan had been the Company officer in charge and had removed the man from his command. Fyclan had lead the counter offensive himself, barely saving the Company from a humiliating defeat.

“The same. And still just as foolish. From what I understand, he is in dun territory. His only hope is to marry his daughter to a trunk full of gold. Trust me, Morris, you don’t want this one.”

“I have money.”

“But not as much as Stowe,” Bishard answered.

 

 

 

Last One Home book revie

Published September 16, 2015 by francesothomas

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It’s been a long time since I read a Debbie Macomber novel. I strongly favor the Regency period and the like. However, I am finally working on a book of my own-gasp!-and it is contemporary and “clean.” Who better to draw inspiration from than Macomber?

I decided to check out Last One Home. It has more than 1000 reviews on Amazon, and 87 percent of those are either 4 or 5 stars. Would that I could do as well.

Oh, the writing was top notch. You don’t sell 170 million books without having extraordinary skills. But the characters were stereotypes and the plot was predictable.

The redeeming quality, and the one that makes Macomber a best-seller, I suppose, was her willingness to tackle spousal abuse in a realistic, albeit subdued, manner. Cassie’s ill-fated marriage displayed all the warning signs. And her inability to escape until her life was threatened was sadly typical of many women in her situation.

The family dynamics with the other two sisters rang true. Cassie had been her father’s favorite; when she needed help, her sisters turned on her. Sometimes those sibling rivalries do last a lifetime. The reunions and forgiveness happened a bit too easily to be totally believable to me.

The fact that Cassie didn’t jump right in to a happily ever after was a pleasant surprise.

Macomber hasn’t become my first choice in reading material, but I give her the respect she deserves for integrity and longevity. Is she one of your favorites?

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One in a Million book review

Published September 9, 2015 by francesothomas

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When I saw via live feed that Jill Shalvis won the 2015 RITA award for Contemporary Mid-Length Romance at the recent Romance Writers of America convention in New York City, I knew I had to read her book. One in a Million was, indeed, a winner.

The plot was not too revolutionary. Two people, each dumped by a previous love interest, are commitment-phobic.

The characters, however, are what made this book a delight for me. Callie is a lovable klutz whose business as a virtual wedding planner means receiving hilarious text messages from a series of panicky bridezillas. Tanner is a delicious alpha male, trying to learn how to be a dad to a teenage mini-me.

Callie’s social media savvy grandma leads the supporting cast with flair. As is often the case with books set in small towns, Lucky Harbor is also a character.

Callie’s two BFFs have their own earlier books. I have not read those yet. Is it important to read a series in order?

When a Scot Ties the Knot book review

Published September 5, 2015 by francesothomas

Tessa Dare has become one of my favorite authors. Her latest novel When a Scot Ties the Knot is full of fun. The variations on the name Captain MacKenzie alone made me laugh out loud a time or two.

I am a major scaredy cat when it comes to anything creepy or crawly. I run shrieking when I see such a one. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t even like to read about them. For this book, I gladly made an exception. These are the very things Maddie surrounds herself with. She even has a pair of lobsters-lobsters!-as pets.

Romantic couples always complement each other’s personalities. Think “You fulfull me.” Dare describes how this process works in a way I haven’t read before. Maddie also draws all those critters. To complete a likeness, she has to discover where the empty spaces are within and around her subject. She does the same with Logan.

And what a braw hero he is.

Dare won the 2015 RITA for short historical romance. She may have another award winner on her hands with this one. Do you pay attention to awards when you choose what book to read?

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Finding Gabriel book review

Published September 2, 2015 by francesothomas

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I was seduced by the stunning cover of Rachel L. Demeter’s novel Finding Gabriel.

Set in 1815 in Paris, the story is a dark one. Some of the details are so horrifying that I had a difficult time reading them. But somehow I couldn’t stop turning the pages.

Gabriel is the quintessential tortured hero, but of course the love of a good woman eventually draws out his secrets. Ariah too has secrets to overcome. Her scars are just not as visible as his.

Together, they struggle to reach the light. There is much to overcome: poverty, madness, regrets, and a plot twist or two.

Demeter has a gift for evocative descriptions. Let her take you to a different place and time.

If you could live in a different period in history, when would it be?