Guarding Sophie book review

I like football and I like the writing of Julie Brannagh, so choosing to read Guarding Sophie was a no brainer. I knew I’d enjoy it. But I also had an ulterior motive. You see, I finally finished a romance novella of my own and I wanted to read Brannagh’s with a writer’s eye, not just a reader’s eye.

Her premise was good. Sophie has run away from a physically abusive boyfriend and gone into hiding. Kyle is also in hiding. In his case it’s from the emotional abuse of family and friends who glommed onto him and his wallet from the moment he hit the big time in football.

Sophie’s ex tracks her down with help from her smart phone. Note to others who may be fleeing from domestic violence: turn off the tracking system in your phone if you don’t want to be found. It’s not enough to stop using the phone without deactivating it.

Soon, the whole team of gentle giants rally around to protect Sophie. The whole thing gets resolved pretty quickly. This is a novella, after all, not a full length book.

I really appreciate the way Brannagh incorporates sex into her work without going into explicit description. I’m also a sucker for stories set in quirky small towns like Noel, Washington, where this series takes place.

Thanks, Ms. Brannagh, for a good lesson in novella plotting.

julie brannagh
Julie Brannagh

Julie Brannagh has been writing since she could hold a pencil. She lives in a small town near Seattle, where she once served as a city council member and owned a yarn shop. She shares her home with a wonderful husband, two uncivilized Maine Coons and a rambunctious chocolate Lab.

When she’s not writing, she’s reading–or armchair-quarterbacking her favorite NFL team from the comfort of the family room couch. Julie is a Golden Heart finalist and the author of contemporary sports romances.

A Little Thing Called Love book review

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?


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.




Mad about the Major review

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