*This book was sent to me by the publisher Open Road Media, in exchange for an honest review.
In 1750 Scotland, the MacDrumin clan fights in the wake of the Jacobite rebellion to remain together, profitable, and safe. The Highlanders are fighting for a way of life. When Maggie MacDrumin travels to London to deliver illicit messages to others who believe in her cause, a literal wrong turn down a London street lands her in court, accused of theft. Knowing only one name, the name of the English earl who has absconded the clan’s lands, she speaks his name – the Earl of Rothwell, Edward Carsley.
Though she saves her own neck, invoking the name of Rothwell brings about circumstances Maggie doesn’t foresee. Determined to bring Jacobites to justice, Edward demands she remain in his house until he can return her to Scotland, but Edward hasn’t encountered a Scotswoman before. Bold and determined to better the lives of her people, Maggie MacDrumin is a force to be reckoned with. As each learns the other isn’t simply a cause or a stereotype, their attraction to one another turns to love.
I think I’ve found the style of romance for me: strong female lead whose existence isn’t wrapped up in love and marriage; good female friendships; love that grows and encounters realistic, valid problems. At her core, Maggie isn’t going to change. She has seen the injustice of the English. Even after she realizes Rothwell isn’t a typical Englishman, she still distrusts his nature. Edward, on the other hand, expects obedience from Maggie, thinking he knows what is best and right regardless of circumstance. It isn’t until each sees the folly in his or her own way that the two are able to truly love one another, attraction or no.
Highland Fling by Amanda Scott is book one in this trilogy, and it’s full of good Scottish brogue, fierce Highland females, and plenty of intrigue. I’ll be hunting down the other books in this series the next time I’d like a littleromance.
*This book was sent to me courtesy of the publisher Harlequin Mira, in exchange for an honest review.
Andi Gordon was in need of escape. A successful pediatrician, Andi still manages to disappoint her parents – both esteemed in the medical field. Her fiance has left her at the altar and married his secretary in a quickie wedding in Vegas. But Andi doesn’t run to Fiji or drown her sorrows in some other frivolous way. Instead, she buys one of the Three Sisters Queen Anne homes on Blackberry Island. With plans to renovate the decrepit house into a home with a pediatric office on the first floor, Andi knows her venture with a fixer upper is an outer manifestation of her problems, but she doesn’t care. Nor does she realize she has inherited neighbors as well.
Deana Phillips thinks her husband is having an affair but is astonished to learn that he isn’t – but that he and her children are unhappy with her. Meticulous and exacting, Deanna had no idea her desire to be the perfect mother was turning her into a monster.
Boston King, on the other hand, is stalled. A painter, Boston has painted nothing but images of the infant son who died less than a year ago. Deeply in love with her husband but with no idea how to move forward, Boston takes Andi under her wing before realizing they both need one another.
Neighbors are…interesting. If you’ve ever lived in the type of neighborhood where you get to know your neighbors – or not – you know that they’re a bit of a mixed bag. These ladies are no different, but their isolation and love of their homes draw them together, and they slowly open up to the idea that they can share their pain without appearing weak. New and renewed romance enter the picture, but more than anything, Three Sisters is a tale of friendship and healing, as well as the love of home.
If you ever find yourself in the mood for a romance, I can recommend this one without my tongue firmly in my cheek. 🙂
Maybe it was because after almost twenty years of marriage my husband and I seemed to be running out of things to say to each other. But when the anonymous online study called “Marriage in the 21st Century” showed up in my inbox, I had no idea how profoundly it would change my life. It wasn’t long before I was assigned both a pseudonym (Wife 22) and a caseworker (Researcher 101). And, just like that, I found myself answering questions…
7. Sometimes I tell him he’s snoring when he’s not snoring so he’ll sleep in the guest room and I can have the bed all to myself.
61. He was cutting peppers for the salad. I looked at those hands and thought, I am going to have this man’s children.
32. That if we weren’t careful, it was possible to forget one another.*
At his business dinner one night, William, Alice Buckle’s husband, makes an offhand comment in front of his coworkers about Alice’s “smaller life” – he doesn’t intend to hurt her, but Alice, already uncomfortable in the business suit that doesn’t feel quite right, is thrown. Her life is already off kilter. Alice’s birthday will mark her as the same age as her mother when she died. And Alice’s life may be small, but it’s not inconsequential. She directs school theater. She raises two children. She meets with her grief support group. But her husband, the man she fell madly in love with, sees her life as small. Going online becomes Alice’s solace, so when she receives the survey on marriage, the questions allow her to open up and relive the closeness and love she once felt for her husband. But in sharing the answers with Researcher 101, she becomes fascinated by his position as anonymous reliquary for her deepest secrets and desires, and the further she feels from her life with William.
My thoughts: Alice is so funny. Wife 22 has been compared to Bridget Jones’s Diary, and I can see why. Alice is just a bit older than Bridge. She thinks her son may be gay and is a little overzealous in her acceptance. Her daughter is slim and hoards junk food, so she’s afraid she’s bulimic. Alice is so concerned that her mother’s death left her without the proper tools to be a mom, that she fails to see that she’s doing it and has done it and is ok.
And I know people bemoan the Internet, but right or wrong, it’s there for Alice in those moments when no one else is or can be, and watching Alice connect…to the Internet, with her husband, and with her children/friends is a humorous, fun, heart-rending ride. I absolutely raced through this book. I loved it. I’m not married, and I don’t have kids, but I can relate to Alice. She is completely imperfect. She can be selfish and negative and really silly at times, but let me tell you. Last week on Twitter I was complaining because my new jeans are too big. Too big. This is a problem I was begging for a month ago. So Alice? High five right here.
She, too, is self aware. She knows that she can be unreasonable and selfish, but unlike many of us, she owns it. She feels as though her life is converging on her, and she doesn’t apologize for it. Instead, she confesses, “When I’m in pain I want everyone I love on the island with me, sitting around the fire, getting drunk on coconut milk, banging out a plan.â€ I can get on board with that. Is it inconvenient? Selfish? To hell with it. Alice wants what she wants, and for the first time in a while, she’s not afraid to say it. Double high fives.
Annnd…Random House has generously offered up two copies of Wife 22 for two U.S. readers of the blog. All you have to do is ‘fess up…what’s the last romantic gesture someone made for you that made your knees go weak? [Giveaway runs until midnight central time on Friday, May 25, 2012.]
GIVEAWAY RESULTS: Congrats Debbie and Con! Check your email for details. Thanks to everyone who commented. 🙂
* Alice’s answers are listed sporadically, and the questions are at the end of the book. I never flipped and didn’t feel the need to. In fact, I think Gideon would have been better off leaving them off entirely, allowing the reader to wonder instead what Alice is saying with each response. In other words, don’t peek. Just leave it and enjoy the story.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Looking for a bit of romance today? I’ve got your number. No, really. The book I’ve Got Your Number is perfect for today, whether this is your first Sophie Kinsella or not.
Poppy is in big trouble: she lost her engagement ring, the engagement ring that has been in her fiance’s family for about a generation. How? Well, you know. When your girlfriends want to try on your ring and everyone passes it around the table and suddenly the fire alarm goes off, things get crazy. Especially when your cell phone is swiped as you’re trying to get help and you’ve given that number to everyone in case they find the ring. Poppy spies a phone in the trash bin, and hey – finders keepers. The only problem is the phone belonged to Sam Roxton’s assistant before she ditched him in the middle of a business transaction, and Sam needs help urgently. In exchange for hanging on to the phone until she can find the engagement ring, Poppy agrees to help Sam out, forwarding texts, voicemails, and emails to Sam. So what if she reads some of these emails and texts and thinks she can help Sam out? Sam is curt, and he doesn’t always respond to emails. Poppy thinks that an email or text here and there won’t hurt….right?
Sophie Kinsella writes such fun books, and this one is no exception in that the more Poppy interferes with Sam’s business, the more I cringed and wanted to peek between my eyes…in a fun way. I also love that Sophie Kinsella doesn’t try to insult my intelligence like some writers of chick lit. Very often, writers of chick lit make the guy the girl is dating the totally wrong guy, so that when Mr. Right comes along, it’s so clear and obvious that she should be with him. No, in I’ve Got Your Number, Poppy’s fiance Magnus is a great guy, an academic who loves her and is thoughtful and kind. They are clearly attracted to one another and in love. Is he perfect? Of course not. No one is, but I liked that (until the end) the fiance is a good guy. I’m not sure if I buy the there’s-only-one-person-out-there-for-each-of-us business, and this book is a perfect example of how you can be attracted to more than one person and have to figure out the messy stuff. Poppy has to make some tough decisions, even with all the silliness.
And Sam. I liked him immediately. He’s intelligent and business savvy. He’s loyal to the man who began the business for which he works. He’s attractive and flirty. He’s kind of the antithesis of any rom-com movie you see, which is great because those shows often drive me crazy. Sam Roxton doesn’t fall all over Poppy, but he grows to enjoy her company and her lighter side.
So whether or not you have a hot date tonight or your hot date is a book and a glass of champers, consider making this your V-Day companion. Cheers!
Agatha Christie continues to astound me. I am sure you guys have noticed my Shelfari sidebar and the fact that it keeps flashing more Agatha Christie titles, but I can’t help myself. First, I listened to And Then There Were None. Then I read The Mysterious Affair at Styles and The Secret Adversary. This week I listened to The Man in the Brown Suit, on your many recommendations.
The woman was a versatile writer, which may just be the understatement of the last half a century. The Man in the Brown Suit, in case you are a non-mystery-reader (we can still be friends), I have to tell you up front, is more of a romantic jaunt, in the literary sense of the word. After finishing it yesterday, all I wanted to do was drink buckets of champagne and interject the words “loads” and “simply” into every sentence.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Anne Beddingfield is raised by her anthropologist father, a well-known academic but a poor man more wrapped up in the dead than the living. After he dies, Anne refuses a more “suitable” arrangement and determines to find adventure like she has read in the (most likely salacious) The Perils of Pamela. Adventure finds her when a man on the train platform near her falls to his death after seeing something behind Anne that frightens him. The doctor who tends to the man wears a brown suit, and after he leaves hurriedly, Anne has her suspicions as to whether or not he is actually a doctor. The plot thickens, as they say, and hot on a clue, she knows she has found her adventure, setting off for South Africa, only to wind up with much more than she ever bargained while traveling with a hodgepodge group: Suzanne Bailey, Sir Eustace Pedler and his suspect secretaries Padgett and Rauburn, and Colonel Race.
The novel is told from Anne’s recollections but also from the diary of Sir Eustace Pedler. Ah, Sir Eustace, he likes his domesticity and hates to be put out. While Suzanne and Anne exist, he is put out. They just don’t act as women should, yet he admits he doesn’t really understand women. He complains a lot, about the weather, his secretaries, and South Africa, yet he is absolutely loveable and quite an important figure in the novel.
Anne – and Emilia Fox, who did a marvelous job narrating – have me wanting to walk around affecting an accent. Anne is full of grit and doesn’t frighten easily. She is practical in many ways, but she knows her life is not meant to be dour and domestic. She is, in many ways, a precursor to Nancy Drew. She is the girl we – or at least, I – want to be.
Between the two, there are hijinks aplenty, and the novel is part travelogue, mystery, and romance all in one. There wasn’t a single second I was disappointed in this book…until it ended.
Read this: and dream of the wilds of South Africa, train travel, and refinement. Maybe have a cup of tea to revive you when you realize you’ve never had such an adventure.
P.S. If you aren’t big into audiobooks but would like to try them out, I would say start with Agatha Christie. The books lend themselves very well to the format, and they are just such fun to listen to!