Review: Silent in the Sanctuary (Lady Julia Grey #2) by Deanna Raybourn

silent-sancI didn’t like this one nearly as much as I did the first book in the Lady Grey series. I have to admit, I started to give it a mediocre rating. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy it, I just felt it was missing some of the charm and the prepossessing nature of the first novel. Let’s also be honest and admit I felt some of the banter between Ms. Grey and Brisbane was missing…or there wasn’t enough of it. Julia Grey seemed a bit fickle at times, wanting her independence and then being a bit disappointed when Brisbane didn’t pressure her or demand answers. However, I have to be honest and say that’s often how it is in real life, is it not?

However, the few talks that Julia has with a few characters at the end really made me love this book. There really was some profound tidbits in there that made me sit back, stop the book, and marvel at how even a light, fun read can make you ponder life.

Now living in England, stories such as these really are a delight since I am familiar with many of the places that are mentioned. I was often able to see that some life long traditions and some favourite places of the characters are now some of my favourite traditions and places of my very own.

There were several storylines going on in this novel, so I shall leave the description and plot summary to the book’s cover and to other reviewers, and, instead, leave you with a few of my favourite quotes from this one…

I took a sip of my tea and averted my eyes. The tea was bitter now, and I put it down again.

‘Ah, the taste of regret,’ Magda said softly. ‘You wish you had not come. But you did, and you must let me finish the tale I have begun.’

Those are facts. Are they the truth? No, for they do not tell you of the heart, and that is where truth lives.

It is astonishing how words can cut one to the quick and yet leave no outward trace. One would have expected a lash like that to leave a mark.

Life is either far too short or far too long to make yourself miserable.

‘But surely such things are better left unknown, I too have the curious cousins, but we do not speak of them.’
‘That is the difficulty, my dear. In your family you do not speak of them. In my family, we celebrate them. In Italy, one must always be conscious of la bella figura, of presenting one’s best self. Among the Marches, we please ourselves and the devil take the rest.’

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn

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Review: Silent in the Grave (Lady Julia Grey #1) by Deanna Raybourn

silent-graveI don’t know what it is but I truly love these Victorian mysteries. Perhaps it is because the ones I’ve read so far have been with ladies set as the main characters.

This one is no exception. Here we have Lady Grey trying to solve the mystery of what might have been her husband’s murder. She is determined to become the strong independent woman that she has always imagined she should be. It’s not always an easy thing to reconcile the person you imagine yourself to be with the person that shows themselves to the rest of the world. Especially when you have a dominate (albeit handsome) detective by your side. Add to that being a widow that should be in mourning in Victorian England…well, it certainly can add many complications to your life.

I was also happy when the mystery was solved. Raybourn did a really nice job of allowing the reader (and the lead characters as well) imagine several different scenario. I even imagined a few that I believe Raybourn was clever enough to desire me to conjure up so I could feel superior that I figured it all out on my own….alas, I was not….The ending was believable, but not any of the ones I imagined. Even better, I didn’t find it drop down jaw unbelievable either….I didn’t feel like she pulled the rug out from under me and went for something totally outrageous just for the drama factor. I really appreciate that from an author. Sometimes, I am often left to feel insulted…instead, Raybourn has made me delighted to follow Ms Grey into her next great adventure….

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

Review: Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

25785334Oh dear….

I’ve read a few Gudenkauf novels and have absolutely loved them. This one? Ehh….not so much…

It read like a very bad Columbo drama episode on the telly.

Here we have Sarah and Jack going to back to Jack’s hometown after his absence of 20 years. As Sarah starts to learn more about Jack’s past, she becomes less sure of her future.

I suppose that I just had a problem with Sarah and Jack as characters. After 20 years of marriage they just didn’t seem to click at all. Even at the ending, the connection between them never seemed there…

I am also one that always has problems when a scared, inexperienced person walks away from a relatively safe situation and places themselves in grave danger, especially knowing that a police officer is closer and would be able to able to handle the situation and that they, themselves, wouldn’t be able to protect themselves, let alone any one else.

When authors do this exact thing it really puts me off the entire book. Saying that, I can honestly say it didn’t take just the ending to put me off this book. I was bored with my constant eye rolling with Sarah’s behaviour pretty early on. I don’t have to like a character to enjoy a book, but I do have to believe that a person would have acted in that way in real life. With this one I just felt, again, that it was an overreacted plot to create drama and suspense. A good novel doesn’t do that…No “overacting” is needed…

I’ll still read the next Gudenkauf novel that comes out…One bad book doesn’t put me off an author…especially one that I have enjoyed so much in the past…

I also hope Colombo does not take offense at me over this review 🙂 I loved Columbo when I was growing up….hahahaha

Until next time…

Urania

ARC provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

Buy it now Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

Review: The Way You Look Tonight by Bella Andre

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3.5 stars
This well-written, fun romance delivered witty dialogue and likable characters. It also delivered spicy bedroom scenes – so many that it kind of took away from the storyline. I really enjoyed Brooke and Rafe, and Rafe’s siblings. I would have loved to read more about them. I also would have enjoyed more conversation between Brooke and Rafe, and more home-improvement scenes by Rafe and friends. Brooke and Rafe are excited to see each other at their lake houses – after 15 years apart. Rafe’s siblings come to help him move back in to the family lake house that needs more TLC than one person can give. Fun plot, right?!

The story was SO good that I’m not sure why Andre didn’t give us more of it. Though the spiciness was a fun part of the story, I would have gladly traded a few scenes for conversation and character building.

If you’re looking for a well-written, quick, hot romance, this is it. If you want something more like the Sullivans’ stories, this is in a little different vein.

-Calliope

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Review: The Swiss Affair by Emylia Hall

20140403-223359.jpg I have such a list of books to read and review that sometimes I gingerly open a book expecting – but hoping not – that it will be drudgery. And so it was with The Swiss Affair. I had prolonged it so many weeks that I created false bias in my mind: probably historical fiction, I know nothing about Switzerland, there better not be spousal cheating going on, etc, etc, etc.

I was in for the surprise of my life. The Swiss Affair is so many things, wrapped up in beautiful language, distinct and varying characters, and set upon wintery white Lausanne, Switzerland.

While reading, I felt like I WAS Hadley, young British innocent. I was brought back to my university days, with eyes wide and bright, seeing more in people than may have truly been there…. A time and place where anything was possible, adventure abounded, and I lived for luxuriating in every moment.

“There’s a phrase in French, you know … Il faut profiter. It means ‘make the most of it’ … But it’s more than that. It’s about… luxuriating in a moment.”

So there’s the coming of age bit.

Then, the affair. The forbidden romance. The love story. It’s not perfect, but I love it all the more because it isn’t. And really there are three affairs – Hadley’s, Hadley’s friend Kristina’s, and the love affair with Lausanne – all worthwhile, and all bittersweet.

And there’s a murder mystery woven in The Swiss Affair. Lucky for Hadley she befriends a former detective novelist who wants to help her solve it. It’s well done with a few twists and turns, but nothing you can’t guess if you put your mind to it.

There’s skiing. There’s cognac and whiskey and beer. Hugs. Friends. And lots of snow. Walks amongst snowflakes — alone or together or in a large party. Wonder. Awe. And sadness. Guilty, heart-wrenching, lonely sadness.

I don’t remember reading anything that comes close to the well-roundedness of The Swiss Affair. It’s romance, tragedy, mystery, drama, chick lit, new adult, adventure, and literary fiction all rolled into one. It’s dark and it’s bright. And it’s dark again. And even though I’d always tell you I prefer a happily ever after, I appreciate that this ending isn’t. This ending is teary for the reader but full of new beginnings for Hadley and Henri.

–Calliope

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Review: Kissing Under the Mistletoe by Bella Andre

20140325-221756.jpg This 10th installment of The Sullivans is a look back into the history of Mary and Jack Sullivan, the parents of the Sullivans who star in the other books in the series.

Bella Andre takes us on a charming, sweet trip down memory lane. A box of Christmas ornaments is the catalyst for Mary to recall milestones in her life. Then she gets lost in thoughts of her romance with her husband so many years ago.

I breezed through this book, enjoying Mary’s strong will and gentle spirit, and Jack’s patience and persistence. Mary and Jack’s story is original and well-thought-out. There were chaste kisses, steamy scenes, arguments, giddiness, fun dates, a proposal, and all the trimmings of a good romance.

Now that I’ve read their history, I’m totally ready for the next present-day Sullivan romances! Soon I will review If You Were Mine (book 5, Zach Sullivan), published in 2012; and Always on My Mind (book 11, Lori Sullivan), to be published this April.

–Calliope

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Review: Come Home to Me by Brenda Novak

20140318-221559.jpg March 25 release — newest Whiskey Creek

Come Home to Me is an excellent, complex, original romance, unlike any I’ve read recently. Novak takes her time developing the characters on their own, and then showing how they fit in with the cast. I admit I was a little impatient to get the story going, but all that character development made the plot nice and substantial.

So. Presley and Aaron. They’re the main romantic couple in the novel. What a pair. They have history together. They have chemistry. Still. But it’s just not that great of an idea for them to get together again, for a whole host of reasons.

I took this book nice and slow, and really enjoyed seeing how Aaron tried to entice Presley into a relationship with him. And even though I didn’t personally identify with Presley, I loved watching her give Aaron a hard time… sometimes because she just wasn’t feelin’ it, and sometimes just to watch Aaron squirm. 🙂

In Come Home to Me, Novak writes excellent characters with real and deep sibling relationships. Those family connections held up the characters of Presley and Aaron, and made their relationship part of real life instead of a romance bloomed in isolation. (I like those unrealistic kind of romance novels, too, but this was a pleasant breath of fresh air!)

–Calliope

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