Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Review: The Clockmaker's Daughter

The Clockmaker's Daughter The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Kate Morton.

In the past: 1860s, and a group of artists spend a summer at magical house. It ends in a robbery and murder.

In the present: an archivist finds an old sketch book and a photograph and finds herself drawn to the house it depicts. She is also about to be married, but uncertain about what it is she does or doesn't want from life.

Birdie, the clockmaker's daughter, was part of that group of artists and her ghost tells her story and the stories of others who come to the house. At times, it's a school for girls with a lonely young girl; a place for artists, where a damaged World War I veteran goes to research and to hide away; a refuge for a family who have left the dangers of London during the Blitz.

And now the present, with Elodie, and her discovery that she has links to the house.

All these stories weave together and it's just wonderful and tragic and hopeful and beautiful. And I both want to read all of Morton's books at once, and also delay it, so that I'll always have some left to discover.

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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Review: Scandalous Desires

Scandalous Desires Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


So, in book 1, for reasons, Silence (the youngest sister of the main character) went to beg the local crime boss, I mean pirate because it is the mid 18th century, to do something for her husband.

The pirate was handsome so I knew of course somehow they'd end up together.

This is that book.

I have to say, part of me was "ugh" because of his earlier treatment and manipulation of her. How was he redeemed? Well, partly because he's a self made man in a time when there are little options for someone born into poverty, with all that involves. Partly because his manipulation was to the wider world: he made it appear as if he'd slept with her, but did not, and said to her: if your family and husband love you, they'll believe you when we say we didn't have sex.

Guess what? They don't believe her.

So, yeah, he's pretty much redeemed, but I'm a bit torn on how this series is treating women who are sex workers. Many are shown as being pushed into it, because of poverty, because of the men in their life, because they are children without choices. But, even then, there is so much dismissive talk of the women who are free with their favors and sell themselves -- maybe a future book will take that type of woman as a main character and I'll see a more nuanced view.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Review: Sugar Pine Trail

Sugar Pine Trail Sugar Pine Trail by RaeAnne Thayne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, I skipped book 6 because my library doesn't have it.

She's a librarian who for reasons, is renting the second story apartment to a handsome pilot playboy.

This was the first time there wasn't any real sickness or accidents involved; or any secret parents/children.

I like that she presents at first as drab enough that he's met her a number of times and doesn't remember her.

I like that it's not so much as she's drab as for many reasons, her life has been on hold for years, mainly caring for sick parents. The death of both her elderly parents has left her alone, but it's also freeing her to pursue her own desires, her own wish list.

What brings this couple together? Well, I guess there is sickness and accidents. Two young boys are in need of a temporary foster home: father died in military, mother is sick, and for reasons, librarian Julia is the only possible one who can take them in. But, as an only child, she has limited experience with kids and pilot Jamie, who is from a large family, steps in to help and save the day. I loved the two boys, because they are portrayed very real. Which means, sometimes they are as annoying as heck.

Characters from earlier books appear, sometimes wed, sometimes with kids, so the "happy ever after" happens -- but it doesn't happen at the end of the book. I'd call most of the endings as "happy for now," in that the two folks are together and yes, it's love, but it's not engaged/married/pregnant.

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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Review: Snowfall on Haven Point

Snowfall on Haven Point Snowfall on Haven Point by RaeAnne Thayne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, Andie works from home, some sort of website design.

Marshall Bailey is the Sheriff in the next town over and he's been in a recent accident so is stuck at home and doesn't want help.

But! Andie is besties with Marshall's sister, Wyn, so she's going to bring him food and comfort.

So. What I like about this series: people are introduced in earlier books, but because a whole community is created, it's never clear who the stars of the next book will be. Here, Andie is friends with Wyn, from an earlier book, and in that book we learned that Andie's first husband, a police officer, died in the line of duty and his partner, under the guise of "helping," stalked and then raped her, so she left town and was kind of in hiding and then Wyn, her boyfriend, and her brother -- Marshall -- were all involved when the rapist found her and attacked her again.

So, yes, Andie has a tragic backstory, but it's not the point -- it's part of who she is, yes, but, like Wyn's story, it's treated well.

This book continues the trend of folks in Haven Point having something health related going on -- here, it's Marshall's broken leg from a car accident.

BUT I also realized there is something else going on in many of these books! Secret parents/children! In one earlier book, the heroine was a secret love child who was brought into her father's family after her mother died. In another, someone learned that their emotionally abusive dad wasn't their dad after all. And someone else was the father of two kids and he suspected he wasn't the father of the younger boy, but darn it, he loved that kid and it was his son, gosh darn it.

Here, it turns out Marshall has a secret son! And again, I didn't realize until this book that secret/hidden family members were a recurring thing.

What else? Christmas solves so many problems. You have no idea. The next book isn't available from my public library, so I'll be skipping ahead in the series.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Review: Notorious Pleasures

Notorious Pleasures Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Both folks are titled here, and it's pretty much an arranged marriage but then she falls for his rake of a brother instead.

I have to say, this is the book that made the series just 3 stars for me.

So, triangle: heroine, fiance, hero who is fiance's brother. And there is some interesting stuff going on, in terms of the fiance having a mistress and double standards and also some family drama because of his hate for his brother.

But, at one point the fiance reacts violently about something and while he is forgiven in the book, I just can't with that type of violence. Both that it happens, who shrugs it off, and who forgives and why.

I also disliked the heroine's brother, who goes from "arranged marriage but I want you to be happy" to "marry who I say or else" and he's not supposed to be a bad guy.

There's also an interesting side story about gin: both the damage it's doing to the working poor but also how things like making gin support the fancy lives of the rich and I'm curious as to how this plays out as the series goes on.

There's something about this series so I continue!

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Review: Shelter in Place

Shelter in Place Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Only Nora could pull off a romantic suspense book against the backdrop of a mass shooting.

Why it works: it's set over several years. So this isn't romance after a trauma; it's about folks who survived something, how that shapes them, and then how as healed adults they come together.

It's no spoiler to say one of the folks behind the mass shooting survives, and plots their revenge, viewing themselves as the victim. This was a strong point of the story, in that their identity is known by the reader fairly early on so that the reader isn't guessing who the killer is. But, for me it was also a weak part because I really disliked the person and spending so much time with them was just ugh.

Things I like about Nora's books in general are here, also: the main characters are strong characters with backstories that make sense, they are independent, and they have sexual pasts and aren't shamed for it.

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Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Review: Wicked Intentions

Wicked Intentions Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Historical Romance, mid 18th century, centered around the slums of London, specifically St. Giles.

She's the widow running the orphanage her family started; he's the noble looking for the person who murdered his mistress.

Future books are around their family and friends, and one thing I really liked about this book was the intersection between the workers and the nobles.

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