I'm trying to remember what the heck I was doing in September that kept me so busy. Because apparently I only read 8 books and a small collection of 4 very short stories. Weird. Because all it did was rain. It's not as if I went outside and did something active or useful. I didn't finish a quilt either. Oh well. But that leaves me with only 4 books that I want to talk about this month. And they are:
4. The Unmentionables by Karen Ranney. Here is the product description from Amazon: The Unmentionables is a collection of short stories told by Victorian undergarments, from the under appreciated pair of drawers belonging to a countess, to the corset owned by a young miss, to a pair of enthusiastic stockings, and finally to a maid's shift. This collection of very short stories barely took me 30 minutes to read--about 5-10 minutes per story. It's a fine piece of whimsy that was both romantic and interesting as I considered how different the Victorian clothing was from what I typically wear each day. For less than the cost of my Daily Diet Coke I was treated to something fun and imaginative from my favorite author.
3. Kissing Comfort by Jo Goodman. Goodman's latest is a western historical that takes place largely in San Francisco. The story begins with a prologue that tells how 5-year old Comfort Kennedy became the ward of her two "uncles" and continues 20 years later with a fully grown Comfort reluctantly entering into a sham engagement with Bram DeLong. Bram and Comfort had been friends for a long time; Comfort had even believed herself to be in love with Bram. But when she agrees to the false engagement she realizes her feelings aren't quite what she thought. Meanwhile, Bram's older brother Bode, who has long had feelings for Comfort, proves to be a more steadfast, honest individual, especially when Comfort finds her life in danger. The tumultuous post-gold rush setting of San Francisco is an interesting one as secrets are revealed and Comfort learns what it really means to be in love. While not as deeply emotional as Goodman's other recent books, this was still a very satisfying and entertaining read.
2. After the Fire by Kathryn Shay. I've only read a few of Shay's books before this one; as near as I can tell this is one of her early books that she's made available as an ebook. This is the first in a trilogy involving three siblings and the fire department they all work for in the town of Hidden Cove, somewhere in upstate New York. When a huge fire injures all three of them, and some of their colleagues die, the siblings make a promise to one another that they will make the changes necessary in their lives to improve their lives and live without regrets. Mitch, the oldest, is in a bad marriage and wants to try and put things right. Jenn, twice-divorced, wants a baby. Zach, also divorced, wants another chance with his ex-wife. Shay switches back and forth, telling the stories of all three. There's a resolution to two of them and the 3rd carries into the next book. I found this to be a rather realistic look at the fact that life is often messy and sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees. Not everything ends the way you might expect. I had a hard time putting this down and I went back to Amazon when I was done and bought the next book in the trilogy.
1. Vienna Waltz by Teresa Grant. This book is primarily a mystery, with some very nice romantic elements. And I have to say, I'm really not normally fond of mysteries. I'm not sure why, but that's how it is. What I am, though, is a Regency history junkie and I especially enjoyed this book that gave me a look at the pomp and society surrounding the 1814 Congress of Vienna. This fictional story incorporates all of the main players at the table: Talleyrand, Castlereagh, Metternich, and Tsar Alexander. The main protagonists are Suzanne and Malcolm Rannoch who have been married little more than two years and still have a rather fragile relationship. They met in Spain where Malcolm did intelligence work for the British Army. Now he's attached to the British delegation. When a rather infamous courtesan is murdered, it is Suzanne who finds her husband bent over the woman's body. Questions surround Malcolm's involvement with the woman and the questions threaten Suzanne and Malcolm's marriage as well as Malcolm's life. Together they must solve the mystery of who murdered the beautiful Tatiana and as they do so, they begin to trust each other with their secrets. It's a complex story, but Grant's writing made it easy for me to follow along as she unraveled the mystery. My favorite parts, though, were about Suzanne and Malcolm. I'd read that many Regency fans are very fond of Grant's earlier books involving sleuths Melanie and Charles. Turns out this is the same couple, re-named at the request of Grant's new publisher. While the other books were written earlier, this is the first one in the time line. I may finally go and read the other books since I certainly liked this one well enough.