Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Woman Who Loved Jesse James by Cindi Myers


A fascinating story about Jesse James' wife!

The Back Cover:

"I never meant to fall in love with Jesse James, but I might as well have tried to stop a tornado or a prairie fire. The summer that sealed our fate, when we saw each other with new eyes and our love began to grow, Jesse was all heat and light, and I was tinder waiting for a match."Zee Mimms was just nineteen in 1864-the daughter of a stern Methodist minister in Missouri-when she fell in love with the handsome, dashing, and already notorious Jesse. He was barely more than a teenager himself, yet had ridden with William Quantrill's raiders during the Civil War. "You'll marry a handsome young man," a palm reader had told her. "A man who will make you the envy of many. But . . . there will be hard times." Zee and Jesse's marriage proved the palmist right. Jesse was a dangerous puzzle: a loving husband and father who kept his "work" separate from his family, though Zee heard the lurid rumors of his career as a bank robber and worse. Still, she never gave up on him. And he earned her love, time and again. 

Cindi Myers is the author of more than forty novels, both historical and contemporary. Her work has been praised for its depth of emotion and realistic characters. You can learn more about her and her work at www.CindiMyers.com or www.RomanceoftheWest.com.

My Review:

I’m always a big fan of biographical novels, so when I learned about The Woman Who Loved Jesse James, I was eager to read it. It pleases me to let you know that it certainly didn’t disappoint. The novel is about Zerelda (Zee) Mimms James, a distant cousin of Jesse James who ultimately married the legendary outlaw.



As a person who has worked in law enforcement, I often wonder about the “bad guys” and the impact of their actions on their families. How can a woman love a robber and murderer? Well, in this novel, Cindi Myers has given us a peak into the private relationship between Zerelda and Jesse. Although I came to see why Zee loved him, why she ran with him from home to home, town to town, state to state, and lived under assumed names, keeping all his secrets, I still couldn’t quite accept the fact she embraced his lifestyle and often turned a blind eye to his disappearances and crimes. If the truth be told, I doubt no one other than Zee or Jesse will ever understand themselves and their love for each other. Their loving bond is likely the only answer. This unanswered question is what endeared me to the novel, and kept me reading it long into the night.


Zee and their children

First and foremost, Jesse was charismatic and showy and definitely handsome. He lived life to its fullest, taking advantage of every opportunity that came his way. Yes, along the way he murdered and robbed. Despite this, Zee completely and utterly loved him. Why? Well, for one thing, he loved his wife and children. He sheltered and protected them. His mother, also named Zerelda, took great pride in the antics of her sons, Frank and Jesse.


Zerelda Samuel James
(Jesse and Frank's Mother)


Jesse (Upper)
Frank (Lower)

The author did a marvellous job of writing Zee’s story with neutrality and in a non-judgemental way. It is not up to the reader to judge, merely to read about and try to understand one woman’s enduring love for her husband despite his many faults.

After reading this novel, I became more interested in Zee and Jesse’s story, so did a bit of internet research to satisfy my curiosity. I found Cindi Myers did an exceptional job in relaying the historical facts and details. Her research is accurate and detailed, which built my trust in this author, enough to seek out more of her work.  

This novel is beautifully written, accurate, and brings to life a lesser known woman of history. Well worth reading, poignant, tragic, and very enjoyable. Highly recommended.




The story left me wanting to learn more about Jesse James and his fascinating life and Zee's role in supporting her notorious husband. Here are a few videos to spark your interest too.






Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Of Moths and Butterfiles by V.R. Christensen

A beautiful novel and story reminiscent of Jane Austen's work!



Archer Hamilton is a collector of rare and beautiful insects. Gina Shaw is a servant in his uncle’s house. Clearly out of place in the position in which she has been discovered, she becomes a source of fascination . . . and curiosity. A girl with a blighted past and a fortune she deems a curse, Gina has lowered herself in order to find escape from her family and their scheming designs. But when she is found, the stakes suddenly become dire. All Gina wants is the freedom to live her life as she would wish. All her aunts want is the money that comes with her. But there is more than one way to trap an insect. An arranged marriage might turn out profitable for more parties than one. Mr. Hamilton is about to make the acquisition of a lifetime. But will the price be worth it? Can a woman captured and acquired learn to love the man who has bought her?



I loved this novel. It reminded me of all those timeless classics by Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters – a nice, long, book that truly swallows you up and makes you oblivious to the world around you.

Imogen Everhard is a woman who is desperate to escape her dark past. Exploited sexually by her loan shark of an uncle/guardian to please his shady clientele, Imogen is shocked to learn she has inherited his wealth upon his untimely death.

Leaving everything behind, she flees to the country, and using the alias of Gina Shaw, seeks work as a servant in the mansion of Archer Hamilton, a man also ruled ruthlessly by his callous uncle, Sir Edmund Barry. Love blossoms between them, but it is fraught with trouble from the start as Archer tries desperately to coax her from her protective shell and help her trust again. But the secret of her true identity is found out and one of her aunts takes her back home to find her a husband.

Archer tries desperately to convince her to marry him, while behind the scenes Sir Edmund Barry is secretly trying to arrange a marriage between them to get his hands on Imogen’s money.

What was truly fascinating about this novel was how the author built suspense throughout. Secrets kept, misconstrued intentions, and a hero who was undaunted in his pursuit to convince the heroine to trust and love once again! Christensen takes the reader deep into the thoughts of the main characters. Her ability to paint a vivid story through strong descriptions and detail helps the reader sink deep into the story.

One cannot help feeling sympathy for a heroine who was forced to fall from grace by an unscrupulous uncle. It truly depicted the hardships women faced in history where they had no control over their lives, always subjected to the whims and desires of their male relatives.

Beautifully written, perfectly edited, and wonderfully descriptive, this novel is definitely one to read – especially for fans of Jane Austen. This is a very lengthy novel, one where every page made for excellent reading, yet the story kept me in suspense throughout and the characters drew me in and fascinated me. This is a definite keeper, one well worth the wonderfully reasonable price of $4.99 for the Kindle version. A beautiful novel! 
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Gallagher's Pride by MK McClintock

Reviewed by Ginger Simpson

After the passing of her parents, Scottish lass, Brenna Cameron comes to America looking for family she didn't know she had until she read an old letter her parents kept hidden. Her arrival in Montana is met with a show of violence that is the old west, but definitely made better the moment handsome Ethan Gallagher steps in to rescue her.  Appearing to be a gentle-giant of sorts, he insists there is no place in town suitable for a lady to stay, so she travels with him to his ranch where she meets and becomes quite comfortable with his siblings and their cook.

Ethan Gallagher has already been burned once by a woman, so it's no wonder that he tries to push aside his attraction to the beautiful red-head who graces his home.  He intends to help her find what she came for, and that's it, but his heart has other plans.


Brenna's maternal grandfather is a mean-spirited man, despised by most of his neighbors, but there's a secret shrouding him and she's bound to discover what it is.  Ethan, refuses to expose her to the dangers of the land, so the journey they take together to uncover her family mystery draws them closer to the truth and to one another.


Gallagher's Pride provides an entertaining look at finding love in the most unlikely of situations. There were a few moments that I didn't find totally believable, but this is fiction after all.  I did find myself lusting after Ethan, and that's no lie.  (smile)

The author's flare for description makes the scenery come alive, but I would have appreciated knowing from the beginning, the era in which the book started.  I felt a little lost until I dove into the story and read a little further.  The mutual attraction between the hero and heroine was clearly evident as was the conflict that kept them apart. I easily connected with even the secondary characters as each have their own unique personalities, and I thought the pacing was well-handled.  Were there some editorial changes I would have recommended?  Yes, but the story stood on it's own merit and although I wasn't thrilled with the ending, I'll pretty much bet I'll be looking for the next book in this series to tie up what I consider loose ends. I appreciate the opportunity to read and review MK McClintock's work, and I do look forward to more from her.



Gallagher's Pride is available on Amazon and featured at Goodreads.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Echoes of Distant Thunder by Frank Slaughter

 Reviewed by Ginger Simpson

As someone who is a steadfast historical reader, I got a realistic dose from Echoes of Distant Thunder.  Most of the books I read are interspersed with romance and contain  historical facts peppered throughout.  This book is a prime example of dedicated research to a specific period that draws the reader in and puts them right in the middle of that era--in this case, the Civil War.

Will Castor, a farm boy from Michigan, finds himself in the middle of a violent time in history, fighting on the side of the north. The blood and gore are aptly depicted in the awesome job Mr. Slaughter does of SHOWING his readers the story.  

Through friendship and shared understanding with a Confederate deserter, an injured Will returns to his home, but there is no end to the nightmares he endures and the guilt over deaths he witnessed--even that of his best friend.  This was perhaps one of the most 'moving' novels I've read.  I can't imagine anyone who won't be moved by the raw emotions of Will's experiences as he seeks an escape to the horror that has become his life. 
 The reality of the battle brings to mind what our forefathers went through, and what following centuries of men and women who defended our nation have experienced.  I have a much better understanding of post-traumatic stress after reading this book.  The author sought to deliver a powerful message and he succeeded.

Were there some writing issues that jumped out at me since I read with an editorial eye?  Yes, but the story was so much more powerful than any minor faux pas.  As another reviewer suggested, if you're looking for a more "filtered" version of history, then this novel isn't for you.  It's real, it's powerful, and it's unforgettable.  Kudos to Mr. Slaughter.

This book is available on Amazon in both print and download.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Queen of the Northern Mines by

“In 1863, California’s gold can decide the outcome of the Civil War.

At Missouri House, a stagecoach stop in the goldfields of the Sierra Nevada, Ida Hatfield and her mother, Molly, are surrounded by danger as Yankees, Rebels, and outlaws vie to possess the glittering treasure of the Northern Mines. In nearby Nevada City, Will Stafford, a young Virginian attorney, finds California becoming as dear to his heart as his Southern homeland. When the War of Rebellion rages on, his loves and loyalties are put to the ultimate test.

Nevada City, The Queen of the Northern Mines, was a vibrant community in the 1860′s. The story’s characters, real and fictional, come from all over the globe. In addition to the central theme of warring Americans, the book tells of Ah Tie, a Chinese mine owner who is denied justice for his two murdered guards; of Peter Kessel, an Austrian musician and absconded revolutionary, who finds an improbable bride in the American wilderness; and of Nutim, a Maidu orphan, who plots revenge against the white ‘ghost people’ who are destroying his tribe.”

What a lovely surprise Queen of the Northern Mines was! From the very first page, it grabbed my interest. The story focuses on Northern California during the Civil War era. The rich and complex historical details were a pleasure to read because they were gently wound around the novel’s intriguing characters and fascinating storyline. The story is told through the point of view of its main character, Will Stafford who becomes interested in Molly, who runs a boarding house. A love triangle develops when Ida, Molly’s teenage daughter, sets her sights on Will for herself. From mine owners, to orphans, to hitmen, there is something on every page to hold your interest. A true treat to enjoy and a wonderful historical fiction novel. 

Keeper of the King's Secrets by Michelle Diener

A priceless jewel.
A royal court rife with intrigue.
A secret deal, where the price of truth could come too high.

The personal artist to King Henry Tudor, Susanna Horenbout is sought by the queen and ladies of the court for her delicate, skilled portraits. But now someone from her past is pulling her into a duplicitous game where the consequence of failure is war. Soon, Susanna and her betrothed, the King’s most dangerous courtier, are unraveling a plot that would shatter Europe. And at the heart of it is a magnificent missing diamond.

With John Parker at her side, Susanna searches for the diamond and those responsible for its theft, their every step dogged by a lethal assassin. Finding the truth means plunging into the heart of the court’s most bitter infighting, surviving the harrowing labyrinth of Fleet Prison—and then coming face-to-face with the most dangerous enemy of all.



Keeper of the King’s Secrets is the sequel to In a Treacherous Court and continues the story of Susanna Horenbout and John Parker.

Once again, author Michelle Diener strikes a balance between intrigue, mystery, romance, and believable, well-developed characters. The secrets surrounding the Mirror of Naples captivated me and kept me reading. This book is definitely a bit of a page-turner aided along by an endearing love affair between the hero and heroine.

In a book market that is far too oversaturated with Tudor novels, don’t let this book scare you away. The characters in this story are lesser-known historical figures and fictional characters who reside on the peripheral of the Tudor court. Although there is much mention of the historical complexities of the time, the story is entertaining. Otherwise, I do not think I could have tolerated reading yet another novel about the far too over-done Tudors.

Although there is a romantic element in this novel, it does not resemble a formula romance. Rather, it is more of an adventure and mystery story with an element of unpredictability. And this is precisely why Michelle Diener’s novels are so much fun!




Thursday, March 15, 2012

The King's Agent by Donna Russo Morin

Historical Fiction fantasy with the thrill of adventure!


Welcome to all the guests of the blog tour for The King's Agent!

Also visit History and Women

The tour scheduleTour schedule:  http://hfvirtualbooktours.blogspot.com/2011/11/donna-russo-morin-on-tour-for-kings.htmlhttp://hfvirtualbooktours.blogspot.com/2011/11/donna-russo-morin-on-tour-for-kings.html

Links for author Donna Russo Morin:  WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER




Book Description

An adventurous quest in Renaissance Italy with undercurrents of the supernatural, powers that could change the balance of supremacy throughout Europe.

To the casual observer, Battista della Paglia is an avid art collector, or perhaps a nimble thief. In reality, the cunning Italian is an agent for François, the King of France, for whom he procures the greatest masterpieces of the day by any means necessary. Embroiled in a power struggle with Charles V, the King of Spain, François resolves to rule Europe's burgeoning cultural world. When he sets his sights on a mysterious sculpture, Battista's search for the elusive objet d'art leads him to a captivating woman on a mission of her own. . .

Having spent her life under the controlling eye of her protector, the Marquess of Mantua, Aurelia longs for freedom. And she finds it in Battista. Together, they embark on a journey to find the clues that will lead him to the sculpture-- a venture so perilous it might have spilled from the pen of Dante himself. From the smoldering depths of Rome to a castle in the sky, the harrowing quest draws them inextricably together. But Aurelia guards a dark secret that could tear them apart--and change the course of history. . .

THE KING’S AGENT is based on the real life of Battista della Palla—a patriotic plunderer, a religious rogue—of the 16th century, a lifelong friend to the great Michelangelo. To some he is an avid art collector, or perhaps a nimble thief. In reality, the cunning Italian is an agent for François, the King of France, for whom he procures the greatest masterpieces of the day by any means necessary. When François sets his sights on a mysterious sculpture, Battista’s search for the elusive object leads him to a woman with a mission of her own.

As the cloistered ward of the Marquess of Mantua, the Lady Aurelia is a woman with a profound duty, and a longing for adventure. In search of the relic, Battista and Aurelia cross the breathtaking landscape of Renaissance Italy. Clues hide in great works of art—symbols that speak of other worldly forces—political forces collide, secret societies and enemies abound, and danger lurks in every challenge, those that mirror the passages of Dante’s Divine Comedy.


Book Review

The King’s Agent by Donna Russo Morin is a fun historical fantasy adventure set in Renaissance Italy. At the heart of the story is Battista della Palla, a true historical figure, who is an art aficionado/procurer who is searching for a sculpture that will convince the King of France to lend his support to defend Florence. While committing an art theft, Lady Aurelia comes to his rescue and convinces him to take her with him in his adventures. As they work to unlock the mystery based upon Dante’s Divine Comedy, they trek perilously in dark corridors beneath dark castles, muddle through labyrinths, find openings to secret doors, and discover mysterious clues that lead to dark secrets.

Michelangelo is a minor character and his relationship with Aurelia is quite endearing as the story unfolds. The pages of this novel are filled with brilliant descriptions and dazzling details, typical of Donna Russo Morin’s style. This novel is a remarkably intricate and captivating romance sprinkled with intrigue, adventure, gothic style labyrinths, history, art, mystery, and much more. Rich and complex, there is something here for every reader. As inspiration for this work, the author reveals her passion for the video game Zelda, which helped her build a strong foundation with her this sons as they were growing up. I also enjoyed following Dante's Inferno as the mystery of the story was revealed.

This was a novel to savour and enjoy the richness that leaps off every page as you read it. Highly recommended.

AUTHOR BIO



Donna Russo Morin was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1958. Her writing endeavors began at age six and covered such timely topics as The Pink Pussy Cat for President and The Numbers 2 and 4 are in Love.

Traveling through adolescence on the wings of the ‘60s gave Donna a lot of grist for her writing mill. Feminism, civil rights, the Vietnam War were all a disturbing yet highly motivating muse. Donna found her voice in fiction and with the appearance of a new horror writer on the book scene, a little known author named Stephen King, she turned her pen to the gruesome and the grotesque.

After graduating from the University of Rhode Island, Donna worked in marketing and advertising for large corporations and small non-profit arts organizations. When she had her children, she knew with a certainty that she needed to show them, by example, that if you believe in yourself, anything is possible.

In addition to writing and teaching writing, Donna has worked as a model and actor since the age of seventeen, when she did her first television commercial for Sears. Since then she has appeared in more than thirty television spots and print ads, everything from changing the oil in her car (that was acting) to modeling fur coats. She also appeared in three episodes of Showtime’s THE BROTHERHOOD, as well as in Martin Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED.

Donna lives peacefully, close to the beautiful shoreline of Rhode Island that she loves so much, with her two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress.

Monday, March 12, 2012

...And Remember That I Am A Man by John Bushore


Reviewed by Ginger Simpson

…And Remember That I Am A Man - The Life of Moses Grandy by John Bushore, is a superbly SHOWN story of a strong, humble being born as a Negro, and is an adept portrayal of his life from childhood until death.

According to the author’s notes at the end of the novel, this book was written with several purposes in mind…and after a great deal of research.  I didn’t  have to read his narrative to know the purposes because I’d realized them during the reading of his book. Although I’ve long known about slavery and professed no accountability for it, this was an eye-opening experience.  Everyone of us is most likely a descendent of someone who owned slaves and treated human beings as property.  I’ve always considered the attitude young blacks carry as the excess baggage of their ancestry, but I have a much better understanding of the bitterness that has transcended time.  Mr. Bushore made Moses Grandy my new friend, and I took his treatment and betrayals very personally.

 As for the research, I thoroughly admire Mr. Bushore for doing his homework and knowing his subject so well.  Talk about putting a reader in the character’s shoes…I walked as a slave through every page.  I dripped with sweat at the back-breaking work, swatted bugs in the Dismal Swamp, and cried when my babies were sold.

The few writing issues that jumped out at my editorial eye were minimal considering the power of the story, the emotions, and the reality of Mr. Bushore’s descriptions. This story is definitely a keeper…if not on a shelf, then in the back of your mind so that never again in this country will we so devalue the worth of others simply because of the color of their skin.

As a postscript to my review, the timing of reading about Moses was further enhanced by watching the TV program, "Who Do You Think You Are," where three celebrities traced their roots back to slavery and were appalled at learning their own personal family history.  I so wished I could have recommended they read Mr. Bushore’s novel.  I missed that opportunity, but I can certainly make that suggestion to everyone who reads this.  I’m definitely going to be looking for the companion novel Boy In Chains which is a true story  of the Great Dismal Swamp. Although listed as suitable for mid-grade students through young adults, I intend to share it with my grandson to help him learn there is no place for prejudice in his life.

Mr. Bushore is a three-time recipient of the James Award, and two of his stories are included in a university course. He’s a multi-genre author, with dozens of stories and poems in both e-book and print.  You can view his website at http://www.johnbushore.com and find his books listed for sale on http://monkeyjohnstore.homestead.com.  Please treat yourself.  I’m so thankful that I picked this book to review, and I thank Mr. Bushore for the opportunity to examine my own values.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Silk Weaver's Daughter by Elizabeth Kales

Pierre Garneau is a skilled silk weaver in late 17th Century France. He and his family are also Huguenots, which in a predominantly Catholic country make them targets for persecution and prejudice. Up until the Autumn of 1685, the French Huguenots have been protected by the Edict of Nantes, but Louis XIV intends to revoke that law and persecute the country’s non-catholic population to the full.

Pierre decides he must take his family to safety, among them is sixteen-year-old Louise, who is in love with her cousin, Marc, a Catholic.  However Marc and his father spend most of their time abroad as merchants and Pierre hopes he will be able to get Louise out from beneath Marc’s influence when they arrive in England.

The plan, dangerous and tense in places, resulting in an injury to one of their sons on the journey, but the family arrive in Spitalfields safely, where their wealth allows them to rise above the usual émigré status, buy a house with the help of a former émigré, Paul Thibault, and set up their business as silk weavers.

However, Pierre's protection of his eldest daughter comes a little too late as Louise arrives in England already pregnant. To save her own reputation and that of her family, and with March in India for at least two years, the Garneaus convince Louise her only salvation would be to marry Paul Thibault.

Apprehensive at first, Louise finds Paul to be a kind and loving husband willing to accept baby Alice as his own child. The only thing which mars their near perfect marriage is when Marc arrives in London, and Paul discovers he is the child’s father and not a Catholic Dragoon having violated Louise as Pierre would have him believe.

Louise, however no longer yearns for Marc and loves her devoted husband, but life is not always so straightforward and Paul Thibault has enemies determined to ruin his life, and before long, Paul finds himself in gaol.

Louise must find a way to repay his loving kindness and prove her husband’s innocence. Will Marc help her, or does he still resent her marrying another man and bearing him a second child?

Elizabeth Kales is the 6th granddaughter of the Silk Weaver, Pierre Garneau himself and I envy her the task of researching the man’s life knowing he was an ancestor.  The story moves between France, London and India, with good pace, so just when you think it is slowing down and the characters settling into a quiet life, something happens to get you worrying about them all over again.  The historical background of the London Huguenots adds a fascinating dimension as the characters grapple with the events of the times.  An enjoyable story with a satisfactory conclusion, and well worth a sequel to discover where they go from here.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich


Synopsis

At midnight, the dogs, cats, and rats rule Venice. The Ponte di Ghetto Nuovo, the bridge that leads to the ghetto, trembles under the weight of sacks of rotting vegetables, rancid fat, and vermin. Shapeless matter, perhaps animal, floats to the surface of Rio di San Girolamo and hovers on its greasy waters. Through the mist rising from the canal the cries and grunts of foraging pigs echo. Seeping refuse on the streets renders the pavement slick and the walking treacherous.

It was on such a night that the men came for Hannah.

Hannah Levi is known throughout sixteenth-century Venice for her skill in midwifery. When a Christian count appears at Hannah's door in the Jewish ghetto imploring her to attend his labouring wife, who is nearing death, Hannah is forced to make a dangerous decision. Not only is it illegal for Jews to render medical treatment to Christians, it's also punishable by torture and death. Moreover, as her Rabbi angrily points out, if the mother or child should die, the entire ghetto population will be in peril.

But Hannah’s compassion for another woman’s misery overrides her concern for self-preservation. The Rabbi once forced her to withhold care from her shunned sister, Jessica, with terrible consequences. Hannah cannot turn away from a labouring woman again. Moreover, she cannot turn down the enormous fee offered by the Conte. Despite the Rabbi’s protests, she knows that this money can release her husband, Isaac, a merchant who was recently taken captive on Malta as a slave. There is nothing Hannah wants more than to see the handsome face of the loving man who married her despite her lack of dowry, and who continues to love her despite her barrenness. She must save Isaac.

Meanwhile, far away in Malta, Isaac is worried about Hannah’s safety, having heard tales of the terrifying plague ravaging Venice. But his own life is in terrible danger. He is auctioned as a slave to the head of the local convent, Sister Assunta, who is bent on converting him to Christianity. When he won’t give up his faith, he’s traded to the brutish lout Joseph, who is renowned for working his slaves to death. Isaac soon learns that Joseph is heartsick over a local beauty who won’t give him the time of day. Isaac uses his gifts of literacy and a poetic imagination—not to mention long-pent-up desire—to earn his day-to-day survival by penning love letters on behalf of his captor and a paying illiterate public.

Back in Venice, Hannah packs her “"birthing spoons”—secret rudimentary forceps she invented to help with difficult births—and sets off with the Conte and his treacherous brother. Can she save the mother? Can she save the baby, on whose tiny shoulders the Conte’s legacy rests? And can she also save herself, and Isaac, and their own hopes for a future, without endangering the lives of everyone in the ghetto?

The Midwife of Venice is a gripping historical page-turner, enthralling readers with its suspenseful action and vivid depiction of life in sixteenth-century Venice. Roberta Rich has created a wonderful heroine in Hannah Levi, a lioness who will fight for the survival of the man she loves, and the women and babies she is duty-bound to protect, carrying with her the best of humanity’s compassion and courage.

Review 

The Midwife of Venice is one of the best novels I’ve read. It is no wonder it became an International Bestseller. The novel is beautifully written; its simplicity makes it delightful to read and allows the reader to immerse themselves completely into the story seamlessly. 

There are numerous novels written with Venice as a backdrop, but author Roberta Rich sweeps us into a lesser known and darker side of the city’s majestic history – the plight of the Jews who lived there. In a city that was famous for its port and used to exotic people and trade, it caught me by surprise how racist and prejudiced the people were against the Jews at the time.

Not only did the author do a great deal of research into Venice and its historical details, she also delved into the ancient skills and beliefs of midwifery. Kidnapping, murder, superstition, birthing spoons, and the plague grace the pages of this exciting new novel. The heroine is likeable and believable, but more importantly, fascinating. There are tragic scenes along with joyous ones as the story takes you from one event to another. There is never a moment of boredom. The pace is quick, the story unencumbered with too much narrative or description. 

For me, this book is a definite keeper and now sits on my shelf along with my other most cherished books. I highly recommend it, for it is sure to please!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Surrender to Honor by Jannine Corti-Peska

 An exciting Italian Medieval Romance


Prima Ranieri seeks retribution for her family's death and the loss of home and land. Her plans go awry when the handsome heir of the powerful Massaro family returns home. After only one glance, Prima's attraction to him undermines her furor at those she blames for her plight.


After a fifteen-year absence, Antonio Massaro returns to Palermo to a war between his family and the evil Falcones. His refusal to accept his rightful position as head of the Honored Society carries serious consequences. The welfare of the people in Palermo is at stake. But one look at the beautiful woman Prima has become costs him his heart. She's a deadly distraction...one that jeopardizes her life as well as his own.


Surrender to Honor is the second novel of a four book series set in medieval Italy. The first book is entitle The Lily and the Falcon. Because of Ms. Corti-Petska’s own Italian heritage, you will find a strong, rich, and authentic Italian flavour to her stories - which is precisely why I enjoy her stories so much.

Her heroine, Prima Raneri, is as tough as they come; determined and ambitious with a set goal in mind – retribution for the murders of her family and the taking of her home. And the hero, Antonio Massaro, is wonderfully fascinating too. Handsome, ethical, and definitely a man of honor, trying to avoid the clutches of a powerful society.  

The author is a lovely writer, utilizing wonderful descriptions and creating interesting characters to bring the story to life. This is a lovely, light, romance that is fun to read and can stand alone without having to read the first book in the series. A worthwhile purchase, especially for readers like me who love Italian and Medieval settings.


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