The Lost Letter by Mimi Matthews #amreading #BookReview

 

Lost Letter

Here is a classic tale of love lost and ensuing misfortune. Paralleling the situation in the tale of Beauty and the Beast, the heroine, Sylvia Stafford finds herself in a stately manor house where the Earl of Radcliffe, badly injured in the Indian rebellion, hides himself away from society so no-one can see his facial scars.

But Miss Stafford had originally met the Earl 3 years earlier in London, when he was Colonel Sebastian Conrad. There had been flirtation, the exchange of kisses and he had taken a lock of her hair as a keepsake. Since then, her circumstances had changed dramatically. Her father, losing all his money at the gaming tables, committed suicide. Penniless and alone, Sylvia had accepted a position as Governess with a family in Cheapside and Sebastian had not contacted her.

Sylvia Stafford is a determined, proud, young lady of 25. She carries out her teaching duties enthusiastically and will not demean herself for the sake of money. Sebastian now believes that she is a fortune hunter, despite the efforts of his sister, Lady Julia Harker, to bring the two together.

Mimi Matthews writing reflects her deep academic knowledge of Victorian social history, subtly making every action and speech believable. Much of the story is told through conversations between the two protagonists and this engages the reader with their personalities and a wish for their happiness. The essence of this thwarted romance was deceit and misunderstanding and they extricate themselves from this in a credible way. I found myself rooting for Sylvia and enjoying every moment of this delightful novel.

The Lost Letter will be published on September 19th and can be preordered on Amazon

Mimi Matthews

Mimi Matthews is the author of The Pug Who Bit Napoleon: Animal Tales of the 18th and 19th Centuries (to be released by Pen and Sword Books in November 2017) and A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty (to be released by Pen and Sword Books in 2018).  She researches and writes on all aspects of nineteenth century history—from animals, art, and etiquette to fashion, beauty, feminism, and law.  Her scrupulously cited articles have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web and the Journal of Victorian Culture, and are also syndicated weekly at Bust Magazine.

When not writing historical non-fiction, Mimi authors exquisitely proper Victorian romance novels with dark, brooding heroes and intelligent, pragmatic heroines.  She is a member of Romance Writers of America, The Beau Monde, Savvy Authors, and English Historical Fiction Authors, and is currently represented by Serendipity Literary Agency in New York. Her debut Victorian romance The Lost Letter will be released in September 2017.

In her other life, Mimi is an attorney with both a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature.  She resides in California with her family—which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, two Shelties, and two Siamese cats.

https://www.mimimatthews.com/

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The Orchid Tree by Siobhan Daiko #BookReview

Daiko

The Orchid Tree is a dramatic and moving account of wartime events in Hong Kong and the repercussions in 1949 for the three main characters, Kate, a British teenager, Charles, a young Eurasian and Sofia, whose home is on the neutral island of Macau.

 

Kate Wolseley tells us of her privileged life living on the Peak, in her own words.  Almost 16 when the Japanese bombs fall on the city, her days of horse riding, going to the yacht club and spending time with the son of their amah are changed to the hardship of Stanley Internment camp, where the family try to survive in one room, with very little food.  There she meets Charles Pearce, sharing the sadness and difficulties, as they fall in love.

 

Meanwhile in Macau, there is a semblance of normality despite the many Japanese soldiers, but Sofia Rodrigues, beloved daughter of the head of the successful Macau Consortium, has to bear the unpleasantness of her stepmother and her arrogant half-brother, because her mother was a Chinese concubine.  Seeking the company of Her Chinese uncle and her Russian governess she is growing up as a courageous, independent young woman.

 

When Kate reluctantly returns to Hong Kong, she is determined to help those who are less fortunate and she no longer expects happiness herself.  Lieutenant James Stevens, who has come to Hong Kong in search of a successful future hopes that Kate will become fond of him but she is evasive and uncommitting.   In dramatic circumstances, he encounters Sofia and suddenly his life takes another turn.

 

Knowing Hong Kong, I was impressed with the accuracy of the historical detail and the feel of the surroundings in this novel.  The complex strands of the plot work well and there are surprises to confound the reader.  A delightful mix of  adventure, romance and tragic modern  history.

Siobhan

Siobhan Daiko was born in and spent her childhood in colonial Hong Kong. She and her hubby moved to the UK shortly before it was handed back to China. She has worked in the City of London, once ran a post office/B&B in Herefordshire, and, more recently, taught Modern Foreign Languages in a Welsh high school. Siobhan now lives with her husband and two cats in the Veneto region of Northern Italy, where she spends her time writing, researching historical characters, and enjoying the dolce vita.

The Orchid Tree was inspired by her early life in Hong Kong. Her grandparents had been interned by the Japanese in the ex-colony from 1942 to 1945, and it was while she was researching their life in the internment camp that the idea for the novel came to her. She wanted to bring alive a time and place that no longer exist, but one that will forever be in her heart.

 

On a Wing and a Prayer by Helen Carey #FridayBookShare @ShelleyWilson72

#FridayBookShare is a game created by Shelley Wilson to help search for an ideal read.

Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the following questions based on the book you are currently reading/finished reading this week and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare

First line of the book.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Your favourite line/scene.

ON A WING AND A PRAYER by Helen Carey is a nostalgic and heart-warming novel of south London during the Second World War.  It is the third of Helen Carey’s Lavender Road series, but the only one I have read.

First Line    “So?” Angus McNaughton closed the interview room door, nodded at the military police  corporal waiting outside, then glanced at his assistant as they began to walk away down the long, grey-walled War Office Passage.  “What do you think, Helen?  A possibility?”     

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

October 1941. London has been ravaged by war for two years now and life couldn’t be tougher for those living on Lavender Road. Many loved ones have been lost and sacrifices made, but Lady Helen de Burrel is about to take the biggest risk yet.

Inspired by the courage of her friends on this south London street, Helen volunteers to join the Special Operations Executive and puts her life in jeopardy for the sake of her country. But it’s hard to know who to trust, and when her heart is on the line even love becomes dangerous.

The war has changed everything, but one thing is certain; the women of Lavender Road will rally together, no matter what the future has in store…

Introduce the main character –Helen is courageous, independent and considerate.

Delightful Design

lavender-three

Audience appeal  For those who enjoy reading about twentieth century social history especially the role of women during wartime and also for its humour and romance.

Your favourite line/scene

It was only when she read the word Capotes scrawled on the fallen lid of the box that it dawned on her what the packets must contain.  What the English called French letters.  To her dismay she felt colour flood her cheeks.  She felt she had been standing there for hours when one of the men took pity on her.  Stepping forward from the doorway, he cupped his own hands under hers.

“Donnez-les moi, mademoiselle,” he murmured.  Then as she opened her hands and let the beastly things fall into his, he smiled.  “Ah yes, these should just about see me through the weekend.”

…………………………………………………………………..

One quick glance into his face had rendered her utterly tongue-tied.  She couldn’t look at him again.  The best she could manage was a gruff, “Merci,” as she edged away from him towards the door.

……………………………………………………………………

And then, as he glanced back at her, she knew at once.  It was his eyes.  Behind those dark lashes his gaze was self-possessed and direct.  She had never seen such strength of purpose reflected in someone’s eyes before.  He was clearly quite unfazed that she had seen him pocket some of the contraceptives.  He simply smiled faintly and nodded her a courteous, “Au revoir.”

Find the book on Amazon UK  and  US

If you want to join in, then answer the F.R.I.D.A.Y questions and use the Friday Book Share meme. Tag Shelley (@ShelleyWilson72) in, so she can read what you have added, too.

Blood is Thicker by Heather MacQuarrie #TuesdayBookBlog

Blood thicker

This is the third book in Heather MacQuarrie’s trilogy of love and deception in a modern, extended family. In Blood Is Thicker we return to the lives of Matthew and his estranged wife, Suzy and to the on/off relationship of Neal and Charlotte. There are still repercussions from the complicated parentage of their families. We meet a new character, Georgia, who brings love and happiness back into Matthew’s life, although she also proves to be a catalyst for dramatic changes in the lives of several others.

The story is told, partly in the form of emails, giving us the perspective of several different protagonists as well as clarifying events for the reader. All the threads of the lives of other characters from the previous book are drawn together as they face up to their mistakes and find love and friendship.

In this novel, Matthew, Neal and Ralph face a dangerous situation together, which helps to unite them, until a secret is revealed which could ruin everything. If you like reading about the many difficulties that can face men and women in contemporary society but which can be worked out with understanding and consideration then you will enjoy this feel-good trilogy.

Blood is Thicker can be found at Amazon here

#FridayBookShare The Dirigible King’s Daughter by Alys West #BookReview

#FridayBookShare is a game created by Shelley Wilson to help search for an ideal read.

Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the following questions based on the book you are currently reading/finished reading this week and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare

First line of the book.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Your favourite line/scene.

The Dirigible King’s Daughter is the second novel published by Alys West.

First Line    Harriet Hardy took her pistol from her reticule and flipped open the barrel.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

When Harriet Hardy moved to Whitby, newly famous from Mr Stoker’s sensational novel, she thought she’d left her past and her father’s disgrace behind her. But then an amorous Alderman and a mysterious Viscount turn her life upside down and she’s never been more grateful that she doesn’t leave home without her pistol.
But when defending her honour lands her with an attempted murder charge, Harriet’s only option is to turn to the mysterious Viscount for help. Fortunately, he turns out to be not so mysterious after all and, fortified by copious amounts of tea, she sets forth to clear her name.
As the court case looms Harriet fears she’ll forever be tarnished by her father’s scandalous reputation. Can she avoid conviction, and just possibly, find a happy ending? Or will she always be trapped by her past as the daughter of the notorious Dirigible King?

Introduce the main character –Harriet is smart, businesslike and brave

Delightful Design

Dirigible pic

Audience appeal  This book will appeal to a wide audience; those who appreciate historical romance, fans of steampunk and those who like a book about an independent woman.

Your favourite line/scene

“Here she comes!”

From behind the hills the dirigible appeared, coming nose first towards them.  Its silver Duralinum hull several shades lighter than the grey clouds behind it.  Alerted by Charlie’s words, the other passengers gathered around them,staring and pointing.  the airship glided closer, slowly turning until its full size was revealed.  It was huge and Charlie said this was small!  How enormous would be the one which took them down to London?

As I have just finished reading the book, here is my review:-

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Harriet Hardy is an independent woman who is not to be trifled with, but she lives in a steampunk, Edwardian environment where ladies are expected to be proper and to know their place. She has found herself to be the breadwinner and espousing the principles of the Suffragists has not won her many friends. Living in Whitby she has cut herself off from her happy youth in York but now her past is catching up with her, just when she finds herself in greater trouble than ever.

Charlie Davenport is a dashing Dirigible pilot with charm and influence but Harriet has no intention of allowing him to take over her life. She will continue to solve her problems as she always has, with a pistol in her reticule, a brave heart and intelligent wit.

This novel is a tale of romance and peril against the background of the thrilling flights of the dirigibles and escapades on steam-powered omnibuses. It is an easy read and you cannot help wishing Harriet success and happiness against all odds.

alys-west

I started writing when I couldn’t find enough books to read that had all of the elements I loved; fantasy, romance and suspense, although my love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer may have had something to do with it too. Writing steampunk was a natural development from my obsession with tea. How could I not write in a genre where the characters shared my belief that 90% of the world’s wrongs can be solved with a nice cup of tea? It also gave me a great excuse to spend my time looking at Victorian fashions and call it research.

I’m doing a MA in Creative Writing at York St John University and also teach creative writing for Converge, an arts project for people with mental health issues.

When I’m not writing you can find me at folk gigs, doing yoga and attempting to crochet.  I intermittently tweet at @alyswestyork and spend rather too much time on Facebook where you can find me at Alys West Writer.

 

The Magic Touch by Kelly Florentia

The magic

Despite its mystical title, The Magic Touch is very much set in the present day.  With text messages, Facebook and games of Candy Crush as essential tools in the storyline, it is easy for the modern reader to identify with creative heroine, 39-year-old Emma King and her long-term partner Harry.

 

Emma is a very likeable character.  She has become an essential part of Harry’s large Greek family, she gives her 93-year-old neighbour, Alistair, practical and emotional support and she loves Harry, deeply.  But there are mistakes and misunderstandings.  After a previous marriage in which Emma was abused, she is reluctant to commit to another wedding, so once again she has refused Harry’s request.  Now, he seems cooler and he is receiving texts from a female colleague.

 

At first I found all the characters in Harry’s family rather overwhelming, but soon there were twists and turns in the plot and the hint of magic was a welcome touch of humour and hope.  Emma’s previous marriage problems are described in a frank and realistic account and her relationship with Alistair is touching.  The story’s ending is uplifting after two convincing twists in the tale.  An enjoyable summer read.

Kelly

Kelly Florentia

Kelly Florentia was born and bred in north London, where she continues to live with her husband Joe. Her debut novel The Magic Touch was released on 24th March 2016. Her second novel Broken will be published on 20th August 2016.

Kelly has always enjoyed writing and was a bit of a poet when she was younger. Before writing her first novel, she wrote short stories for women’s magazines. To Tell A Tale Or Two… is a collection of her short tales. Kelly is currently working on her third novel.

You can visit her website at: www.kellyflorentia.co.uk

Silent Water by Jan Ruth

 

The Wild Water series includes everything I desire for a perfect read.  It describes contemporary life in all its complexities; love, passion, family connections, humour and tragedy.  After the changes in family circumstances brought about by the blossoming romance between Jack Redman and his childhood sweetheart, Anna, when they reconnect in Wild Water, the plot grew menacing in Dark Water leaving readers on a cliff-hanger.  Silent Water delivers everything I had hoped for.  Events catch up with Jack and Anna and they must decide whether to reveal their secret.

 

Jack Redman can be embarrassing and foolish, but his passion and commitment to those he loves, make him irresistible.  Anna is quieter and more thoughtful, she takes longer to decide on her actions.  The other main characters are also fascinating.  Ex-wife Patsy is miserable in her new life in Chester and her depression leads her to be more manipulative than ever, but does she really deserve our sympathy?  Jack’s daughter Lottie is hilarious as she enters puberty, acting outrageously to cope with her need for a stable home.

 

In Silent Water Anna matures.  She takes responsibility and doesn’t rely on Jack to take care of her.  When she realises that he has been keeping secrets from her, she has to decide whether their love is strong enough to survive.  And as the storyline winds the threads together, there is a delicious twist at the end.

 

If I worked for a TV company, I would be commissioning this trilogy for a serial.  Against the backdrop of stunning scenery in Snowdonia, dramatic events, family misunderstandings, tears and laughter fill the plot.  If you haven’t tried it yet, you really must read all three books as soon as possible.

Rosie's Book Review team 1