Review of The Lavender Garden

Set in both modern day – well, the late 90’s – and the Second World War this novel tells the story of Emilie de la Martineres and her whirlwind romance with Sebastian Carruthers.

It emerges that Emilie’s father and Seb’s grandmother were close friends during the Second World War.
As Emilie unravels the past her future certainly isn’t as rosy as she had hoped.

For me the best part of this novel was the reliving the dramas of the Second World War. I found this part of the story very intriguing and just as I thought I had parts of the plot dissed out, the author would throw in a plot twist to keep me on my toes.

At one point, towards the middle of the book – during a modern day section – I really grew fed up with Emelie’s character and considered not reading on until the end. But I persevered and bit was I glad I did!
The gripping tale took a whole new twist and I ended up staying up until the wee, small hours just to find out how everything turned out.

The story is quite strong and the characters from the past are too. Emelie was a bit hit and miss for me, and Sebastian made my skin crawl right from the word go.

I would definitely recommend this book and rate it as 4 star ****

Review of The Forbidden Queen

 

The Forbidden Queen is a story about Katherine of Valois.  Katherine’s early life was pretty dismal, despite being the daughter of the King and queen of France.  She grows up in a convent with her sister, Michelle, after their father loses his mind and their mother abandons them.

Michelle, upon becoming of age, is married off to a nobleman and Katherine longs for her own Knight in shining armor to come and rescue her from the life she has had to endure at the convent.

It seems all of her dreams have come true when her mother arrives one day to break the news to her that Henry V, King of England, wants to marry her.  After a few negotiations Katherine is taken to meet Henry, whom she falls for immediately.

After they marry Katherine believes he will fall in love with her when she is able to produce an heir for him.  Their marriage is far from the romantic idyll Katherine had imagined it to be, instead Henry spends his time preoccupied with the war he is waging in France.  She hopes things will improve between them when she learns she is pregnant, hopefully carrying the son Henry has longed for. 

Katherine soon learns that Henry married her so that he could lay claim to France, but she is determined to make the best of her marriage.  Her plans don’t go quite to plan as Henry becomes ill and subsequently dies, before ever having the chance to meet his son.

Katherine mourns the loss of her husband, sinking into a despair, mourning for the life they would never have, mourning for the love she would never have and mourning for the father her son would never know.

Katherine is dragged from her despair by Edmund Beaufort, brother of one of her damsels. He cleverly pulls her from the depths of her despair, making her fall in love with him.  Edmund eventually asks her to marry him, but makes her promise to keep the proposal a secret.  But their is talk at court about what Edmund has planned and a close confidant of Katherine’s warns her that he is just using her to further his own interests.  Katherine refuses to believe this, until she discovers that her brother-in-law has managed to pass a law that any man who marries her will lose all of his wealth and lands and status.  Edmund Beaufort turns his back on Katherine, much to her dismay.

After sliding into despair again she wonders if she is destined to be alone.  A chance encounter with a member of her staff changes the course of her future.  She embarks on an affair with her servant, Owen Tudor, and they eventually marry.  But Katherine’s brother-in-law again interferes and they pair face a lengthy battle to win the right to live the life they choose.

All in all this story was wonderfully compelling.  Having little knowledge of this particular Queen of England I had no idea where the story would lead.  I thoroughly enjoyed the tale and highly recommend it, giving it five stars *****

 

Review of The Five Acts Of Diego Leon

 

At the very beginning of this book there was a lot of village superstition from the young Diego’s great Aunt, and I expected the book to go with that kind of theme.  Much to my surprise it did not.  Instead the book delves into the personal life of the main character, Diego.  How he struggles in his impoverished life in a village in Mexico during the Mexican revolution.

The book is divided up into five acts – five main parts of Diego’s life – with the first part dealing with his early life in the village.  then he goes to live with his Mother’s parents – Grandparents he never knew – from the age of 12 and they make him lie about who his father is, as they are ashamed to let their well to do friends know that their daughter married a peasant.

It is during his time with his grandparents that he discovers he has a talent for singing, dancing and acting.  A friend of his Grandmother schools him in the art of singing and dancing and she becomes a confidant of his.

His life seems to be set in stone, especially when he leaves school and starts working in his Grandfather’s law firm.  He is paired up with the daughter of one of his Grandfather’s business associates and they become engaged.  But Diego has had feelings for his male friend for quite some time and he is not entirely sure he wants to get married.  On the morning of the wedding he leaves the security of his well to do life in Mexico and heads for America.

Once he arrives in america he sets about trying to establish himself as a movie star in the new talking movies.  He struggles for a long while until one day he cheats his way into a role and from then on he begins to establish himself with the powers that be in the studio he has signed up to.

The story moves along at really steady and progressive stage.  It is beautifully written and interesting characters leave you wanting to know what is going to happen next.  My only disappointment in the story is at the very end, I thought things were going to turn out differently for Diego and was pretty disappointed they didn’t.

Overall I give this book 5 stars *****

Recommended. 

Review Of Roses Have Thorns

I have read very little of this genre so was not sure what to expect with this novel.  I an happy to say that this was a brilliant book.  I started reading it late Thursday (March 21st) and finished it on Saturday (March 23rd).  Every spare moment I had I gave to this book as I was so intrigued by what was going to happen next.
As I have already said, I have never been a huge fan of Tudor history, but this book has actually whetted my appetite and I am now looking for more material on this genre.

The book is about Lady Elin Snakenborg’s time she served as a lady in waiting to Elizabeth I.  The author does say in her write up that this lady was a little known figure from this time, though she was an actual member of court and not a fictional character.  In the book she is portrayed as naive and vulnerable at first, although she does seem to set her heart on marriage with one of the most influential and rich bachelors at court.  Even when she discovers he is still legally married she waits for him, so I am not sure just how naive Elin – later known as Helena – actually is.

That said, the book charts her life from her leaving Sweden right up until just after the death of Elizabeth I and I warmed to this character very much.  The book also lends warmth to Elizabeth I and that helped me enjoy the book all the more.  I am not entirely sure how likeable a character ELizabeth I actually was, not being familiar with Tudor history, but the author wove her into the story really well and for all she came across as a friendly lady the narrative was very credible.

I am rating this book as a five star read and thoroughly enjoyable.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.  You absolutely must go out and buy it, especially if this genre, particularly anything Tudor related, is your thing.

5 star ***** read.

Review Of The Border Laird’s Bride.

I am not overly fond of historical novels, the characters tend to get on my nerves, so it is has been a long time since I actually read anything from this genre.  I have to hold my hand up and say how wrong I was in this instance.  The main female character, Kenzie, was as far from the usual swooning, genteel ladies of this genre.  Her character could have been set in any era and that pleased me.

The main male character, Jamie, was not the typical “I am the male and therefore you will do as I say” character that this genre usually produces, but I wondered if I could warm to him, being a laird.  I half expected him to be full of his own self importance, given his position, yet he was not like that at all.  He was a kind man and I warmed to him almost immediately.

If all novels in this genre could be written in such a way then I would definitely read more of them.  Full marks to the author for writing such a pleasing piece.

Rated 5 stars.  *****