Saturday, October 30, 2010

A cover

Remember that contest I won?

The book is due in April. I found a picture of the cover on Candice Hern's website.


Monday, October 18, 2010

The Dangerous Viscount / Miranda Neville. 2010

Let me state up front that I found Miranda Neville's third release, The Dangerous Viscount, to be a highly entertaining read. My favorite sub-genre has been, and probably always will be, the Regency-set historical. Neville's books show great respect and affection for the period. In addition, she gives us characters who are usually a step or two removed from the London ballroom for a taste of something a little different. There is both humor and emotion in this book and I worked hard to squeeze in some quality reading time between all the game-watching and quilt-making I've been doing these days. It was worth the effort.

The hero of TDV is Sebastian Iverley, is a shy, bookish, misogynistic young man who has traveled to his uncle's country estate to use the library there. He is dismayed to find that his cousin Blakeney is hosting a small party. One of the ladies' attending the party is a wealthy widow, Lady Diana Fanshawe, who happens to have grown up nearby, and she has set her cap at Blakeney who will one day be a Duke. In spite of himself, Sebastian is strongly attracted to Diana. He is further entranced when he has an opportunity to meet her eccentric, but loving family. Sebastian is shy and socially inept; he doesn't know how to handle this attraction he feels, but he can't help seeking her out. Meanwhile, Diana is the confident, self-possessed half of the pair. See how the normal conventions are turned upside down?

There is a strong undercurrent of dislike between the cousins Sebastian and Blakeney. As a result, Diana finds herself making a bet with Blakeney that she can get Sebastian to kiss her. She succeeds, but her misgivings over the event have her hoping that Sebastian will never find out. Unfortunately, he does learn about the bet (although Diana is unaware) and that reinforces his misogynist attitudes; Sebastian leaves the party abruptly and Diana re-dedicates herself to winning Blakeney.

The action skips forward 6 months. Sebastian's elderly great-uncle has died and Sebastian is now the Viscount Iverley and the possessor of a huge fortune. He returns to his home and book club in London and sets himself to the task of exacting his revenge on Diana for the bet. He goes to his friends (characters from the previous book in this series) for advice. They tutor him on how he should dress and behave in society. Neville's website calls Sebastian "a Regency nerd who is about to get an extreme makeover." That's an apt description. Eventually Sebastian and Diana reconnect and their romance takes place among the deceptions they are both guilty of.

Sebastian and Diana are flawed human beings who must confront their respective wrongs and seek forgiveness. Especially because their relationship has unexpected consequences. In addition, both Sebastian and Diana need to confront Sebastian's past to understand why he is the way he is. All of this is gently and steadily revealed with flawless pacing and engaging secondary characters. I loved how Diana is the "alpha" in this story and how Sebastian learns that women are not the enemy. These two are a well-matched pair and their relationship is highly believable.

Already I'm looking forward to Neville's next book (Aug. 2011?) and hopefully the one after that will be about Diana's wonderful little sister, Minerva. I also think that Neville left room for Blakeney to be redeemed and become the hero of a future book. If you've read this, what do you think?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Phyl's 5 Phaves from September

Obligatory baseball note: ROY HALLADAY throws a no-hitter for my beloved Phils. How awesome was that?

I've been working on this post for several days. Which really means I've been busy sewing. And giving serious thought to taking Christine up on her idea to open an Etsy store. I must be insane, but truth is, I recently got laid off from a part-time copy editing job. It was very, very part-time and I made just enough to feed my fabric habit. But the publisher took the work in-house and all of us contractors were left out. Hubby & I figure if I replace those hours with sewing, I might be able to replace the income so that my fabric habit doesn't hurt the family budget. And at the rate I'm hitting up the Kindle store, I may need the revenue to cover that, too. So, we'll see.

Meanwhile, back to our late, but regularly scheduled phaves post.

In September I finished 12 books. I haven't gone back to verify this, but I'm pretty darn sure that's the lowest total since I began keeping this blog over 4 years ago. And while I did enjoy most of what I read (Sureblood was a disappointment), nothing had me locked into reading, despite the acquisition of my nifty new toy. I suspect  you can blame the baseball pennant races on some of my distraction (Yea! Phillies). Which means October may not be much better. I certainly won't be sleeping much thanks to baseball's east coast-friendly start times.

5. A Twist in Time by Susan Squires. I'm a fan of Squires' Companion series, one of the few paranormal series I still read. This book spins off in a slightly different direction, taking the time machine that was introduced in the last book and making it the focal point of this new book. ATIT was published last spring. Another book, The Mists of Time, also involving the time machine, was just released and I hope to be reading that one soon. Anyhow, ATIT is the story of Lucy who holds the key to using a time machine which is hidden away in a secret lab. When she uses it, she finds herself landing in the middle of a battle in tenth century Britain. She panics and returns back to the present immediately, but she accidentally brings back with her a Viking warrior named Galen. Lucy soon learns that she needs to hide Galen, and herself, from people who would use the time machine to manipulate history. While hiding, Galen learns how to cope in a time period so very foreign to him and he and Lucy fall in love. Eventually they take control of their circumstances to permanently keep the time machine out of the wrong hands. Time travel books like this one are often fun as the author imagines what it would be like to bring a medieval character into the 21st century. I enjoyed how Squires wrote Galen's character and his reactions to his new world. Lucy, who starts out as a doormat, has to be the one to protect Galen and keep them safely hidden. This was a nicely paced story and I enjoyed it.

4. Unspeakable by Laura Griffin. This is another winner from Griffin who writes tight, well-paced romantic suspense. I have quickly become a fan of her books. This book involves Elaina, a newly-minted FBI profiler who is eager to prove herself. She is assigned a case and reaches the conclusion that the serial killer she's investigating has been killing for years. And that another man may have been wrongly convicted for some of these murders. True-crime author Troy wrote a best-selling book about that man and he's very interested in Elaina's theory. If he was wrong about some of what appeared in his book, he wants to set the record straight. Only the local police don't believe Elaina and are not interested in her skills. Elaina races the clock to stop the killing, and in the process becomes a target herself. Elaina and Troy join forces, and of course fall in love in the process. If you like romantic suspense, I do recommend this one, or any of Griffin's previous books.

3. One Touch of Scandal by Liz Carlyle. Carlyle starts a new series at a new publisher with heroes who are members of a secret society, tasked with protecting certain individuals who share a common ancestor and possess rare psychic gifts. While still Victorian-set and still with a mystery sub-plot, this book is a departure for Carlyle with the inclusion of the paranormal elements. The hero, Lord Ruthveyn, keeps himself closed off from people because of his gift. Yet when he meets heroine Grace Gauthier he is inexplicably drawn to her. Grace has become the chief suspect in the murder of the man who had not only been her employer (Grace was governess to his children), but had also been Grace's fiance. As Grace gets to know Ruthveyn she realizes that she had been settling for less than she deserved by agreeing to marry her dead employer. And Ruthveyn learns to open up to Grace and embrace the future. I think this book lacks the emotional depth that some of Carlyle's earlier books have, but as might be expected, the book is well-written, the paranormal elements are interesting while not overwhelming, and I enjoyed the growth of the main characters.

2. Heart Journey by Robin D. Owens. I love these books and I especially love the world-building Owens has done over the years. While this isn't the best book in the series, I like that it has a number of elements that are different from previous books. This latest book gives us a heroine who lives outside the main city of Druida, is very independent, and has every expectation that her heart mate will drop everything and join her in her travels around Celta. In many of these books, the heroine is the character who is reluctant to accept her heart mate. This time, the hero Raz, an actor who is also a few years younger than heroine Del, is the one who is reluctant to meet his heart mate and settle down. He's a bit like a Regency rake, but he loves the energy that is part of his relationship with Del. The two of  them need to find a compromise as their careers are very different. The book also delves a little more into the original settlement of Celta and the history of their ancestors who made it their home. I think anyone who likes this series would enjoy the book, although I would not recommend it if you haven't read any of the previous installments.

1. The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne. Last month I finally read My Lord and Spymaster. So while I was enjoying Bourne's wonderful writing, I had to dive right into her latest book, which is actually a prequel to the two Spymaster books. It takes place in Paris during the Reign of Terror and is a fascinating look at an almost unfathomable era of history. It's also a wonderfully romantic tale of an English spy helping a young French woman who has been trying to save people from the guillotine. Once again I was just enthralled by Bourne's writing and her subtle use of humor. Her characters come alive to me and I know that just like with her other books, I'll want to re-read this sometime soon.