I love historical fiction and romance and knowing a little about Marie Antoinette, I thought this novel would be a nice change of pace for me. It was the first in a series, and I think I would like to continue and see how the series evolves. This first novel focused on the arch duchess of Austria in her childhood and the early years of her marriage, and really shows how the Austrian girl turned into the French Queen.

Series: Marie Antoinette, #1 
My Rating: ❀'s
Genre: Historical Fiction
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By the time the novel ends, Marie Antoinette really is the queen of France, and not just the Dauphne, but we don't see any of her life as queen. The later books will focus on that, and that's why I'm so curious to read them. I've always been interested in Marie Antoinette and her famous words, "let them cake" although it's largely thought now she never said such a thing. But how does a woman become so hated?

This novel begins with Marie Antoinette as a small girl, and we see her as a silly, inattentive pupil who is perhaps too naive and artless for her own good. She doesn't have a mind for political shrewdness like her sister or mother, and instead wants only to please her mother by marrying the Dauphin of France, Louis who will one day be king. She even hopes that he will love her, something someone in her position at the time would not likely expect. Realizing that she is too Austrian and too uneducated to ever please the French, Marie Antoinette sets about doing everything her mother and the French ambassador advise, including getting eighteenth century braces to correct her teeth. She hopes she will please Louis and not fail her mother in the one task she must perform for Austria, to marry and bear an heir.

One has to wonder why her mother chose Marie Antoinette from her many children to marry the French Dauphin. It seems Marie Antoinette is utterly unsuited to the destiny her mother has designed for her, and even once she marries Louis and is adjusting to life at the French court, she hardly seems much different than the utterly uninformed girl she was at the opening of the novel. She is completing lacking in understanding of the machinations of the French Court, and eventually has to swallow her pride and acknowledge the king's mistress because she just can't see the political necessity of doing so. Nor can she get her husband to bed her. From what little I know of the couple, Louis did have trouble consummating the marriage, but I have to believe that after such a lengthy marriage Marie Antoinette herself might have been more bold in her efforts rather than patiently waiting and sweetly comforting Louis.

Just as the novel starts to get good--that is, Louis is king and we can't be far away from more interesting history, the novel ends leaving me hoping that the next novel will really sink its teeth into the life of this doomed royal couple. This first novel was interesting to read, but needed more omph and I hope the next novels in the series provide that.


Happy Reading,
Jewels
As you know, I love me a good highlander romance and Lynsay Sands delivers her highlander novels with sizzle and wit. They never fail to make me laugh. And I've yet to be disappointed with this series; they've all been really great reading and I look forward to reading more as they are released.

Series: Highlander, #4 
My Rating: ❀'s
Genre: Historical Romance
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So what was so great about this novel? Well, I always love a story where a hero recuses a damsel in distress. Our heroine has a weak willed, uncaring brother with huge debts who actually tries to sell her to our hero, Dougall, to pay for some horses! So naturally, Murinne decides it is high time she get away from her brother before he succeeds in selling her. She makes her escape on the most unusual of beasts and is runs into Dougall and his brothers along the way, who agree to escort her to their sister's home.

Dougall and Murinne are attracted to one another, and Dougall can't help but feel protective once Murinne starts fainting--a medicial condition of hers he is set on fixing by stuffing her full of food and by guarding her constantly. Which turns out to be a good thing as one too many accidents happen along the road to Murinne. Some of them are funny, but others start to questions and by the time they make it back to the keep, Dougall has made his mind to marry Murinne.

I honestly enjoyed this novel. It was a bit ridiculous in spots, but the kind that simply left you laughing and made this a lighter read, and it was always sweet. I liked that Murinne's sweetness captured the hearts of the brothers and that all of them found her likable because although she does tend to faint a lot, she isn't at all weak and really proves to be very brave during several dangerous scenes. I could easily connect with her because she seemed a bit insecure at times, and made for a heroine that was jolly good fun to read.

My only compliant against this novel is maybe it was too light hearted. While the smexy scenes were pretty steamy, I felt the novel as a whole was nmore humorous than romantic or adventurous. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I would like to see something a little more meaty in a lot of romance novels, especially in historicals if only because they are my favourite genre.

Great banter in this read, a fabulous hero and heroine, I had a lot of fun reading Falling for the Highlander.

Happy Reading,
Jewels
Dear readers, you might have noticed of late that I have not been blogging much. The spring was really hard on me. Lots of drama, lots of change. Just lots. I won't bore you with details, I'm sure that's enough said. However, things are looking up and I am looking forward to some R and R time.

I remember last summer I reminded myself that there is lots to do and enjoy--a walk in the park, a good book, time with friends, a relaxing bath. And there is still all of that to enjoy, and I fully intend to pamper myself. I've earned it. I'm sure you have too, so please don't forget to take care of yourself.

The trouble is, I think everyone these days is time poor. Everyone is running around trying to get stuff done. You work, then you run around to events with friends, appointments, errands like groceries, Wal-mart visits for household essentials, and then you take the kids to a birthday party, or perhaps if you don't have kids you're going out to play tennis or see a concert or whatever. Maybe like a friend of mine you are in a wedding party and somehow being someone's bridesmaid is taking up all of your spare time.

Time for you to simply be
Picture not my own work
My point is, our lives are busy. When do we ever sit back and soak up the sun? Or walk along the beach? Or just sleep in? I mean, I barely noticed that the trees were in bloom this year and the next thing I knew they all had green leaves! Why didn't I notice that happening? My mind was too busy so I know it's time to slow down, breathe deep and just relax. Read books. Watch the clouds and birds and just be for a little while.

Guess what? It's okay to just be. To do nothing. Or what seems like nothing. It's healthy to spend time alone. It's good to take a break from the rush of doing, going, and just be still for a little while. Be with yourself instead of being swept along by things that likely can wait, or that maybe you just say no to.

So, R and R. That's my plan because it's long past time I put me first. I think, as a result, you'll see more book reviews.

Happy Reading,
Jewels
Last summer I picked up this novel at a flea market and I put it aside and have only now read it. And my goodness, what a breath of fresh air! I did initially feel as though this romance was a bit bodice ripper--you have a determined hero who intends to claim his bride, a heroine who is defiant and bold and sort of naive in some ways, not to mention equally determined not to be claimed. Even the language and setting give you the impression that this is a bodice ripper but then I realized it published way after that romance era.

Series: The Medieval Plantagent, #3
My Rating: 5 ❀'s
Genre: Historical Romance
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I'm not complaining though, it's evident the author took a great deal of time with her work, and I appreciated the consistency of the characters and the history woven into the story. Plus, I like something a little different. Sometimes historicals all start to feel the same, and a good medieval romance is right up my alley. The writing style is more descriptive, the story built up to and detailed and I liked that this wasn't some easy breezy read.

Rosamond is an interesting character, bold, defiant, strong willed, and I certainly can admire a woman who is not a doormat. It does take Rod some convincing to get her to agree to marry him after all, even if they are betrothed. And Rosamond goes with objections to the alter, but I think ultimately she married him because she knew he was exactly the man she needed. The marriage, like the courtship is a rocky one as war breaks out and Rosamond and Rod find themselves diverging on politics and family. Rosamond certainly makes questionable choices and decisions throughout the novel that lead to misunderstandings between her and her husband, but I think it made the romance all the more engaging as they always came together for a romp in the hay leaving those problems behind them, at least momentarily.

I really liked Rod. Level headed, intelligent, patient, he was Rosamond's match because he was just as strong willed but much more practical too. I was surprised sometimes by his mine attitude--he doesn't go around growling it during love scenes or acting like some crazed possessive alpha, but it's very clear that he has staked a claim on Rosamond and has no intention of not marrying her--or keeping her as his wife. At first I wondered if this would led to those grey area bodice ripper scenes, but as I've said, this is in no way a bodice ripper, and I loved that Rod wanted Rosamond willing and loving and never sought to dominate her.

I thoroughly enjoyed this author. I've not read her before, nor did I know this novel was one in a series, but I don't think that much matters in this case. An engrossing romance for this reader, I'll be hunting more novels by Virginia Henley.

Happy Reading, 
Jewels
I really have to thank a friend for this recommendation. I totally love this steampunk series! I love the blend of the historical and paranormal elements in this sub-genre. The cover is totally deceiving however, it makes me think of a woman who is fighting vampires at night or investigating mysterious murders, but the novel's heroine is like nothing the image on the cover conjures. At least, for me.

Series: London Steampunk, #1 
My Rating: 4 ❀'s
Genre: Urban Fantasy
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The heroine, Honoria, is practically killing herself trying to eke out a living that will help support her family, which consists of her sister and ailing brother. They are practically destitute as the money they make hardly covers the essentials of rent and food, and then there is the doctor's bills to add in. Honoria however, is too proud to become a blood slave, even when it becomes apparent that Blade might not give her much of a choice.

I loved Blade. He was a real gentleman, but there was also roughness to him, and he let everyone see that roughness by flinging his cockney speech in their faces. Or rather, in Honoria's. I liked the blend of his character, the hard edges and the good heart and noble intentions. He seemed bigger than life and very dominating, yet he was down to earth and likable. I have to admit, both he and Honoria are hard to describe. There are so many layers to them.

There would be layers to characters who live in this world. It's a dark, gritty London filled with Drainers, blue bloods and vampires. The society is based upon the upper class of England, but is different since all the aristocrats are blue bloods, which means they'll eventually be vampires. And vampires are very bad, very vile things. Honoria is struggling to hide herself from the blue bloods, and Blade is the only one who can offer her protection--as his blood slave.

The novel is perfectly paced, drawing you immediately. You want to know more about Honoria, you want to know more about the world, and soon enough you're totally immersed in this society, especially since Blade and Honoria heat up the pages even before they heat up the pages. They clash, they confide in one another, they flirt, and they fight. It makes for perfect romance. Plus there's action so the novel is one is that always keeps you turning the pages.

I'm curious about the rest of this series.I hope to read more from this author soon.

Happy Reading,
Jewels