November was a great reading month. I read quite a bit, helped in part by Thanksgiving travel that saw me trapped in the car for hours on end (I'm a good in-car reader as I let my DH do all the driving). I really liked almost everything I read and it was not easy to pick my top 5 for the month. The "winners" include not one, but TWO "chicks in pants" historicals. Loved them both.
5. SEAL of My Dreams by various authors. This anthology was released on Veterans Day and I was happy to purchase it as the proceeds go to a worthy cause. The stories in the book are quite short and some are better than others. Overall, I really enjoyed this. They are a wonderful tribute to the sacrifices that military service members make on behalf of our country.
4. Sea Change by Darlene Marshall. Besides being a very nicely done romance, this book was a fascinating look at life at sea during the early 19th century. This was the first of the two books I mentioned above featuring a heroine who disguised herself as a man. Charlotte Alcott learned a lot of medicine when she helped her late father in his medical practice. After he dies, she disguises herself as a young doctor to earn passage aboard a ship bound for the West Indies to go live with her godfather, also a doctor. But her voyage is interrupted when privateer David Fletcher kidnaps her off her ship so she can save the life of his seriously injured younger brother. "Charley" and David get to know each other, and of course, David eventually discovers the truth about Charlotte. Both characters are interesting, but I especially enjoyed Charlotte and her determination to pursue her dream of being a doctor in an era when women were routinely denied that opportunity.
3. The Lady's Secret by Joanna Chambers. Georgiana Knight is the cross-dressing heroine in this book. She is posing as a valet to Lord Nathaniel Harland because it will give her access to a home during a house party where she hopes to find evidence that her parents were married, thus making she and her brother heirs to their father's estate. In this book Nathan discovers Georgy's masquerade early on and he decides to keep her secret. This is a lovely character-driven romance. Georgy and Nathan have time to get to know each other in ways that would have been impossible under normal circumstances. I also liked the way differences between the servant class and the aristocracy are explored. Nathan's frustration with Georgy's need to act the proper servant was fun. I was really entertained by this book and I'm sure I'll read it again.
2. If You Hear Her by Shiloh Walker. This first book in a new romantic suspense trilogy hooked me from page 1. Lena Riddle hears a scream in the woods behind her home and when she tries to get the local authorities in her small town of Ash, KY to listen to her, she runs into a brick wall. Lena is blind and one officer in particular is extremely dismissive of her. Fortunately, Ezra King, a state police officer on leave and temporarily living in Ash, does believe her. Ezra has issues of his own--he's recovering from a gunshot wound from a case that turned his world upside down. Both Lena and Ezra are fascinating characters and I do wish there had been a little more focus on their relationship. But the book is full of very interesting secondary characters and when a body is found to confirm that the screams were real, the suspense really kept me immersed in the book. It's a good thing that the next book in the trilogy is out soon, because the mystery isn't solved here in this book. I'm looking forward to both books to come.
1. The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne. Do you know that Bourne's 3 previous books in her "Spymaster" series have been #1 picks in the months I read them? I hardly know how to describe my love for this book, Bourne's gifted writing, and the fascinating look at the French Revolution. Justine and Adrian appeared in previous books; their story is finally told here. The two met as young teenagers and have occasional contact with one another over the course of a very long war. If I recall correctly, some 24 years pass before they achieve their HEA. They are on opposing sides of the war and their conflicting loyalties keep them apart until the war's end. Their story is mostly told in flashbacks and it is so effectively done. There is humor and heartbreak. I felt as if I'd been put through an emotional wringer when I was done--and I love when that happens! Nothing is easy for these two, and what I especially appreciate is that you cannot look at one side in this war and declare it wholly evil. I'm reminded that revolutionary America held the same ideals as revolutionary France; we Americans were fortunate that a dictator like Napoleon did not usurp those ideals. I cannot recommend this, and the other books in the series, enough.