Wednesday, February 16, 2011

TBR Day. Breathless / Anne Stuart. 2010

My TBR choice for this month has been sitting on my Kindle since it was released last October. Now I know that's not very long, but I only got my Kindle in September, so relatively speaking, it's been around. In addition, it turns out that this book fits the challenge theme of Ugly Ducklings pretty well because there are two couples featured in this book. Lucien, the main hero is badly scarred and walks with a limp. Meanwhile, Jane, the secondary heroine, is described as very plain and not at all attractive.

Breathless is the 3rd full-length installment of Anne Stuart's latest historical series called the House of Rohan. I read Ruthless and Reckless back when they came out in August and September respectively. Ruthless was an August Phave. I liked Reckless as well, but when I saw the plot for Breathless, I admit I put this on the back burner. Revenge plots usually don't work too well for me. Sadly, that was true for this book as well, although it did have some moments that were very entertaining.

Miranda Rohan is a ruined woman and lives in peace and quiet on the fringes of society. She is close to her family and her particular friend Jane, but is otherwise a bit lonely. Enter Lucien de Malheur, a man who seeks to avenge the death of his sister, a young woman who supposedly was driven to commit suicide by Miranda's older brother. At first Lucien plans to simply make Miranda a total outcast, but after he meets her he is attracted enough to change his plans. Instead, he'll force her into marriage and then cut her off from her family by leaving her abandoned on his remote country estate. The Rohans will lose their daughter/sister the just like he lost his sister. Although with any luck, he'll get some sex and a son/heir out of the deal.

In a nutshell, Lucien is a selfish, manipulative man and there is little in the book that made me at all sympathetic toward him. He is hell-bent on his revenge, yet in the end it seems that he admits awfully easily that his sister may be as much to blame for her own death as anyone else. We aren't told much about Lucien's background or the cause of his scars until late in the book. By then the only reason I was still reading is because I did like Miranda and I loved so much of the dialog between the two of them. Miranda is a practical woman who works hard to make the best out of her situation. She's biding her time until she can safely escape. In the meanwhile, she stands up to Lucien at every opportunity. I have to give Stuart credit here--Miranda is a great heroine and I loved her. It was just too hard to believe in Miranda and Lucien's future happiness together.

As I said, there's a secondary couple in the book. Miranda's friend Jane tries to help Miranda out of her predicament and she has an unlikely ally. Theirs is a sort of love at first sight relationship, which makes sense because Stuart couldn't devote a lot of attention to them. Jane is shy and timid, but she learns to act with courage because that is what Miranda would do if their roles were reversed. Jane's story was sweet.

I would say that if you're an Anne Stuart fan you'd want to read this book. If you're like me and are not fond of revenge stories you might want to give this one a pass.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Quilted Hearts

The hearts above are part of a small sampler I made when I taught a small beginning quilting class about 15 years ago. The hearts are hand appliqued and there's hand quilting around them.

The hearts below were hand appliqued and quilted back in the late 90s. I don't do much hand work any more. I kind of miss it.

I bet you thought this post was about Valentine's Day. HA! My heart is full of happy because today, Feb. 14, PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT
It's the best darn day of the Winter.

Let's go PHILLIES!!!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Phyl's 5 Phaves from January

I somehow managed to get quite a bit of reading done last month and I included some books in a variety of sub-genres. Yet it should come as no surprise that all my favorites were historicals. I guess I have been, and always will be, a lover of historicals above all else. You've been warned.

5. A Convenient Wife by Carolyn Davidson. This 2001 western historical was my January TBR read. I was enchanted by this story of a naive young woman who comes into her own when she becomes the wife of the local town doctor.

4. A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist. I read a review of this on Hilcia's blog back in December. I was intrigued, in part because I liked the last Gist book I'd read, but in part because of the plot that was about bringing brides to Seattle in the 1860s. See, as a pre-teen I enjoyed a brief, but intense crush on those strapping young loggers in Seattle thanks to a short-lived TV series, Here Come the Brides. (Those of you of a certain age might remember the show that catapulted David Soul & Bobby Sherman to stardom as well as let us see Mark Lenard without his Vulcan ears.) Anyhow, Anna Ivey, destitute after her family has been destroyed by the Civil War, agrees to become a Mercer girl and go to Seattle. She expects to be hired on as a cook. Instead, Joe Denton, the man who'd contracted for her, expects her to agree to be his wife. Joe tries to woo her so that she'll agree to the marriage. The unusual setting, an interesting piece of history, and very likable characters made this a very enjoyable read.

3. One Wicked Sin by Nicola Cornick. I blogged about this one here last week. This Regency historical went against many of the normal tropes of most Regencies. A French army officer and a disgraced, divorced courtesan come together in what turns out to be a lovely story of learning to trust and to love. Well done with lots of fascinating history you don't normally see in a Regency.

2. Rebel by Zoe Archer. This is book 3 in Archer's Blades of the Rose series and probably my favorite so far. I loved the setting in the Canadian wilderness with Nathan, a Native hero who discovers the magic he was born with, and Astrid, frozen in her grief who comes back to life as she and Nathan work together to defeat the Heirs. This is an imaginative series with well-drawn characters, interesting settings, and page-turning adventure.

1. The Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne. I first read this 3 years ago and decided to read it again. This time I knew the plot twist involving Annique was coming, yet the book was just as enjoyable as before. I love the way Bourne writes. The dialog is witty and the conflict that Annique faces is realistic. Robert is a great hero who is single-minded in his pursuit of Annique, yet he gives her the freedom to make her own choices. This is an intelligent, emotional book that no doubt will be read by me many more times to come.