Tuesday, September 29, 2015

All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani

Opening Sentences: A cold gust of wind sounded like a faraway train whistle as it blew through South Bend that morning. Winter had arrived early in Indiana, in the middle of October beneath a cloudless sky. There was proof of it everywhere. 

Synopsis: Adriana Trigiani, the New York Times bestselling author of the blockbuster epic The Shoemaker's Wife, returns with her biggest and boldest novel yet, a hypnotic tale based on a true story and filled with her signature elements: family ties, artistry, romance, and adventure. Born in the golden age of Hollywood, All the Stars in the Heavens captures the luster, drama, power, and secrets that could only thrive in the studio system—viewed through the lives of an unforgettable cast of players creating magic on the screen and behind the scenes.
In this spectacular saga as radiant, thrilling, and beguiling as Hollywood itself, Adriana Trigiani takes us back to Tinsel Town's golden age—an era as brutal as it was resplendent—and into the complex and glamorous world of a young actress hungry for fame and success. With meticulous, beautiful detail, Trigiani paints a rich, historical landscape of 1930s Los Angeles, where European and American artisans flocked to pursue the ultimate dream: to tell stories on the silver screen.
The movie business is booming in 1935 when twenty-one-year-old Loretta Young meets thirty-four-year-old Clark Gable on the set of The Call of the Wild. Though he's already married, Gable falls for the stunning and vivacious young actress instantly.
Far from the glittering lights of Hollywood, Sister Alda Ducci has been forced to leave her convent and begin a new journey that leads her to Loretta. Becoming Miss Young's secretary, the innocent and pious young Alda must navigate the wild terrain of Hollywood with fierce determination and a moral code that derives from her Italian roots. Over the course of decades, she and Loretta encounter scandal and adventure, choose love and passion, and forge an enduring bond of love and loyalty that will be put to the test when they eventually face the greatest obstacle of their lives.
Anchored by Trigiani's masterful storytelling that takes you on a worldwide ride of adventure from Hollywood to the shores of southern Italy, this mesmerizing epic is, at its heart, a luminous tale of the most cherished ties that bind. Brimming with larger-than-life characters both real and fictional—including stars Spencer Tracy, Myrna Loy, David Niven, Hattie McDaniel and more—it is it is the unforgettable story of one of cinema's greatest love affairs during the golden age of American movie making.


All the Stars in Heaven is a rich novel that sweeps the reader into the golden age of Hollywood. Numerous famous actors and actresses make an appearance in this tale. Young is a young actress who falls in love with Spencer Tracy. Among the famous personages is a young nun by the name of Alda who has her own tale to tell which is interwoven between the pages. 

The novel is on the longer side at approximately 450 pages, but well worth read. It is a well written tale with plenty of historical detail that is colored with the author's interpretation of Loretta Young's relationships. I could not help but fall in love with Clark Gable. Adriana writes him just as I imagined, a lovable, handsome rogue with plenty of humor and spirit, a womanizer, but one who is higly adorable. I fell in love with Clark Gable through and through. I was glad I read the book on my iPad Kindle app because I kept stopping to query photos of the people and places mentioned in the book. It helped cement the story in my mind while lending it a whole bunch of credence. 

There is a ton to like about this story. Never rushed, but vivid, I adored the story very much, even though I experienced a bit of sadness that Clark and Loretta were never meant to be. A very good novel to savor! This is the first time I've read a book by Adriana Trigiani, but I plan to read a bit more of her work. I defintely enjoyed her style of writing. 4.5 stars out of 5!

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Friday, September 25, 2015

The Dress Thief by Natalie Meg Evans

2014 Festival of Romantic Fiction's 
Best Historical Read.


2015 Public Book Awards.


2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) RITA Awards

A modern tale of desire and deception set in the world of 1930s Parisian haute couture – perfect for fans of The Perfume Collector or The Paris Wife.

Alix Gower has a dream: to join the ranks of Coco Chanel to become a designer in the high-stakes world of Parisian haute couture. But Alix also has a secret: she supports her family by stealing designs to create bootlegs for the foreign market. A hidden sketchbook and two minutes inside Hermès is all she needs to create a perfect replica, to be whisked off to production in New York. Then Alix is given her big break - a chance to finally realize her dream in one of the most prominent Parisian fashion houses - but at the price of copying the breakthrough Spring Collection. Knowing this could be her only opportunity, Alix accepts the arrangement. But when a mystery from her past resurfaces and a chance meeting has her falling into the arms of a handsome English war reporter, Alix learns that the slightest misstep - or misplaced trust - could be all it takes for her life to begin falling apart at the seams. 


The Dress Thief sweeps readers into the heart of Paris during the rise of the fashion industry - from the fashion designers to the manufacturing to the runway. From the very beginning, one cannot feel anything but sympathy for the plight of Alix who lives in poverty with her ailing grandmother, Meme, but who possesses powerful dreams to one day become a fashion designer. She is befriended by a young man named Paul, also poor who cares for his younger sisters. It is Paul who entices her into becoming a thief - whose contacts get her a job at a leading fashion house where she is to copy the designs prior to their launch for reproduction in the United States. 

Alix has a secret benefactor, a wealthy Count, who has taken care of her through the years and who has an unclear connection to her Meme and her dead mother. It is this connection which causes him to be the victim of a blackmail plot in which Alix finds herself involved. Lives are at risk until the blackmailer can be identified and stopped. With several antagonists and suspicious characters, there are plenty of surprises and twists throughout. I found myself becoming emotionally involved with strong impressions regarding each character. 

Natalie Meg Evans has a strong understanding of the fashion industry of the era and this comes through in her sharp writing. This is a very long book at approximately 592 pages. Although the plot slows a little in the middle, there is plenty of story to keep the reader interested. It is not a story to be rushed - rather, it is one to be savoured for its wonderfully rich descriptions and details. It is no wonder this is an award winning book! 

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Finding Gabriel by Rachel L. Demeter

Opening Paragraph: The flintlock pistol felt slicker than ink against Gabriel's weathered palms. Lost to severe thought, he tentatively rotated the firearm between thumb and forefinger. Overhead, light from an oil lamp reflected off the slender barrel and penetrated the darkness of his soul. The illumination spilled acrosss the sleept-covered cobblestones, emitting a faint golden ring through the dense haze of the River Seine. Seduced by the movements, water lapped against the embankment in a mockery of waves.

Book Synopsis:  Colonel Gabriel de Laurent departed for the war intending to die. After a decade of bloodstained battlegrounds while fighting in Napoleon's army, Gabriel returns to the streets of Paris a shattered and haunted soul. Plagued by inner demons, he swallows the barrel of his flintlock pistol and pulls the trigger.

But fate has a different plan. Ariah Larochelle is a survivor. Orphaned at twelve and victim to a devastating crime, she has learned to keep her back to walls and to trust no one. But when she finds a gravely injured soldier washed up on the River Seine, she's moved by compassion. In spite of her reservations, she rescues him from the icy water and brings him into her home. Now scarred inside and out, Gabriel discovers a kindred spirit in Ariah - and feelings he imagined lost forever reawaken as he observes her strength in the face of adversity. But when Ariah's own lethal secrets unfold, their new love is threatened by ancient ghosts. Can Gabriel and Ariah find hope in the wreckage of their pasts - or will the cycle of history repeat again? Perfect for fans of Gaelen Foley's Lord of Ice and Judith James's Broken WingFinding Gabriel features all the dark romance, searing passion, and historical intrigue of The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables.


With its stunning opening chapter, I was hooked on this novel -- deeply hooked. From the horribly disfigured, tragically romantic hero, to the kind and loving heroine, to the fascinating storyline, I enjoyed this novel from first page to last. The romance between the two unfolds slowly, steadily, built out of respect and admiration. Both had painful pasts, both face an uncertain future, but as their emotional bonds strengthen, so does the story. At times, the story left me in tears. heartbroken, yet at other times, I cheered or laughed.  Sometimes, the flashbacks slowed the story, but that is a small matter. The strength of this story is in the plot and the deeply complex characters that are so vivid, so real, they completely won me over. Definitely not your run-of-the mill romance, this is a great book for those who are not big fans of that genre to try out. I definitely recommend this book!

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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The Hague by Candida Martinelli

Opening Paragraph: The ninety-year old Dutch dairy-farmer was small scale compared to just about every other dairy-farmer he knew. His cows were more like his children, so the villagers said, his hobby. Each dawn he would ride his bicycle along the raised pounded-earth path dotted with broken bricks he'd acumulated over the years, to visit his ladies, as he called them.

Book Synopsis:  An Italian with Europol deals with crime and women. For fans of European crime fiction, especially A.C. Baantjer's Inspector DeKok series. And for fans of cozy mysteries, who enjoy clean mysteries with light romance, a Rom-Crime novel. Europol Intelligence Officer Tony Sampaoli weaves together solutions to European crime puzzles with the help of four law enforcement friends and a consulting psychologist-graphologist, in this novel set in The Hague, in The Netherlands. In The Hague, Italian Tony takes on ripped-from-the-headlines cases set in Europe in the year 2000, while working to unify European Union policing practices. Europol, The European Police Office, an agency of the European Union, is based in The Hague in The Netherlands. Contrary to popular-culture representations, Europol is not a police force like the F.B.I. that can conduct investigations and arrest suspects. Europol is a bureaucratic entity, that collects data and offers training, while it assists with cooperation between police forces. Tony is bored by his paper-pushing, meeting-chairing, training-coordinating job. He relies on his law enforcement friends to provide him with interesting crime puzzles to keep his investigative skills honed, and to keep him sane. Cases such as these: a body mysteriously appears in the middle of a milk cow paddock, another body is found in a cement mixer, four students and their sailboat disappear sailing from Holland to England, and an American professor dies at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport. Psychologist-graphologist Jennifer Eastman uses the study and practice of handwriting as a therapy tool, graphotherapy, to help troubled children. She also works as a graphologist, a handwriting analyst, with clients in business and law enforcement, a common practice in many European countries. One of her clients is Tony Sampaoli, a man who has captured her interest from day one. Tony's friends don't need a psychological report to know that Tony Sampaoli has a problem with women. Despite his interest in Jennifer since day one, he's yet to make a move, even when the opportunities are dropped in his lap. While Tony works to weave together solutions to the criminal cases, his friends work to help Tony weave together his damaged love-life. Clean fiction: no vulgarity, no explicit sex, no in-scene violence.


I'm usually a historical fiction purist, but having worked in a law enforcement background most of my life, I couldn't resist reading this novel about EuroPol, an international police agency that somewhat reminded me of InterPol. I especially enjoyed the fact that the story is a cozy murder mystery, written realistically and believably, a psychological thriller without the need for graphic gore and violence. 

The story opens in The Hague with two romantically entwined protaganists Tony Sampaoli and Jennifer Eastman who are thrust together to investigate a rash of unusual murders.  Author Candida Martinelli has a strong grip on her research, and presents diplomatic and national problems and red tape between the involved countries in a forthright, accurate manner. Yes, there are plenty of complications in the investigations the two protaganists are involved in, but Candida knows how to delve deep into their heads and reveal their motives and thoughts. Neither of these main characters are perfect. They come with plenty of baggage, but they come across as likeable. For me, this novel had it all, intrigue, mystery, and a strong romance that ran steadily through the background. I loved this story and have a great admiration for the level of knowledge and research the author demonstrated in her writing! Brilliant!

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Lamp Black Wolf Grey by Paula Brackston

Opening Sentences: In the darkness something scuttled. The girl shivered in the chilling damp of the small room. The dead grey stone of the walls seemed to drain the warmth from her body. Even in her heavy velvet gown she felt naked, exposed, vulnerable.

Book Synopsis:  Artist Laura Matthews finds her new home in the Welsh mountains to be a place so charged with tales and legends that she is able to reach through the gossamer-fine veil that separates her own world from that of myth and fable.
She and her husband Dan have given up their city life and moved to Blaencwm, an ancient longhouse high in the hills. Here she hopes that the wild beauty will inspire her to produce her best art and will give her the baby they have longed for. But this high valley is also home to others, such as Rhys the charismatic loner who pursues Laura with fervor. And Anwen, the wise old woman from the neighboring farm who seems to know so much but talks in riddles. And then there is Merlin.
Lamp Black, Wolf Grey tells both Laura's story and Merlin's. For once he too walked these hills, with his faithful grey wolf at his heel. It was here he fell in love with Megan, nurse-maid to the children of the hated local noble, Lord Geraint. Merlin was young, at the start of his renowned career as a magician, but when he refuses to help Lord Geraint it is Megan who may pay the price.
From New York Times bestselling author Paula Brackston, Lamp Black, Wolf Grey is an enchanting tale of love and magic featuring her signature blend of gorgeous writing, an intriguing historical backdrop, and a relatable heroine that readers are sure to fall in love with.

Lamp Black, Wolf Grey is a blend of gothic, romance, time-travel, and mystery. Laura is a character of current day whose life becomes intertwined with that of a 13th century young woman named Megan. Merlin of King Arthur's era also is a prominent character in this novel. Set in an ancient croft in the mountains of Wales, the atmospheric, almost haunting tone with plenty of secrets, permeates each page. The author writes in a compelling way striking a good balance between description and pace. She skilfully evokes the mystical history of Wales as a backdrop for a tale filled with passion that does not shy away from a bit of violence and gore. For readers who like elements of fantasy weaved into their historical fiction, this one should definitely satisfy. 

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Golden Earrings by Belinda Alexander

Opening Paragraph: It was 24 November, the day after the funeral of Generalisimo Franco, the dictator of Spain, that I saw my first ghost. The morning started off ordinarily enough. I woke at six o'clock and stretched my arms and legs before slipping out of bed. It was still dark and I turned on the bedside lamp with its floral shade. By its mottled light, I pulled on my leotard and tights.

Back Cover Blurb: For fans of Colleen McCullough, Kate Morton, and Lucinda Riley, a powerful saga of family, love, honor, and betrayal set in historical Barcelona and romantic Paris, from the author of Tuscan Rose.

“You who judge me: come! Let me tell you a story…” Paloma Batton is the granddaughter of Spanish refugees who fled Barcelona after the Civil War. A disciplined student attending the school of the Paris Opera Ballet, Paloma lets little get in the way of her career until she receives a mysterious pair of golden earrings. She begins exploring her Spanish heritage and becomes fascinated by la Rusa, a woman who rose from poverty to become one of the great flamenco dancers of modern times before committing suicide. As Paloma begins to unravel the secrets of the past, she discovers more than one person who had good reason for wanting la Rusa dead—including Paloma’s own grandmother. Written with the same depth and emotion as Belinda Alexandra’s “rich, unforgettable saga” (Kimberly Freeman, author of Wildflower HillTuscan RoseGolden Earrings moves between two of the great cities of Europe: Barcelona in the lead-up to the Civil War and Paris in the 1970s. It is the story of two women and the extremes to which they are willing to go for love. And above all, it is a story of great passions—and great betrayals—where nothing is quite as it seems.

Review by Mirella Patzer

A stunning cover introduces an equally stunning story!  This time, Belinda Alexander sweeps readers into the tumultuous period of the 1970's Civil War in Spain. Through the eyes of a compelling protaganist named Paloma Batton, we are introduced to Spain's gypsies and the art of Flamenco dancing. Along with Paloma, the story involves her grandmother, who has plenty of secrets in her past. As Paloma sets out to unravel the past, she also learns about the deceit and tragic circumstances that colored their past. I love that there is a hauntingly beautiful ghost that appears. It's well done and believable! The story moves between Barcelona and Paris. Like all of Belina Alexander's stories, she combines fiction with historical fact about the issues and turmoils in the various countries that make up her settings. Yet another stunner by this fabulous author!

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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White Gardenia by Belinda Alexander

Opening Paragraph: We Russians believe that if you knock a knife from the table to the floor, a male visitor will come, and if a bird flies into the room, the death of someone close to you is at hand. Both these events occurred in 1945, around my thirteenth birthday, but there had been no om,ens of dropped knives or stray birds to warn me.

Back Cover: From internationally bestselling author Belinda Alexandra comes a sweeping, emotional journey that “depicts vividly the powerful lifelong bond between mothers and daughters” (Paullina Simons, author of The Bronze Horseman).

In a district of the city of Harbin, a haven for White Russian families since Russia’s Communist Revolution, Alina Kozlova must make a heartbreaking decision if her only child, Anya, is to survive the final days of World War II.

White Gardenia sweeps across cultures and continents, from the glamorous nightclubs of Shanghai to the austerity of Cold War Soviet Russia in the 1960s, from a desolate island in the Pacific Ocean to a new life in post-war Australia. Both mother and daughter must make sacrifices, but is the price too high? Most importantly of all, will they ever find each other again?

Rich in historical detail and reminiscent of stories by Kate Morton and Lucinda Riley, White Gardenia is a compelling and beautifully written tale about yearning, longing, and the lengths a mother will go to protect her child.

Review by Mirella Patzer

I have been a fan of Belinda Alexander ever since I read and reviewed her novel, The Tuscan Rose. Her novels are ambitious family sagas that reach deep into various cultures and turmoils. This book follows along the same themes. 

Anya Kozlova is thirteen, and the novels follows most of her life as she climbs out of poverty to marry a man she is deeply in love with but who ultimately betrays here. The political situation in Shanghai during World War II is desperate and she is forced to flee the country along with other Russian refugees like her. 

Anya's story is very much one of loss. Intersprinkled throughout the tale are numerous characters, some kind, some deceitful, some harsh, and some who arouse suspicion. I thoroughly enjoyed Belinda Alexander's portrayal of these complex characters who evolve and change and never bored me. She writes with great poignancy while weaving a plot that is intricate and intriguing. Some underlying themes throughout are the bond between a mother and daughter, courage to persevere despite adversity, and trust and forgiveness. 

I adored the story from start to finish and highly recommend it those readers who love richly detailed, sprawling family sagas! Belinda Alexander's books are always ambitious, beautifully written, and solid reads. She is one of my favourite authors. 

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Uninvited by Cat Winters

Opening Paragraph 

I admit, I had seen a ghost or two. The childhood night my mother's father died, when silver moonlight graced the floorboards and the antique furniture in our front room, I came upon my granny Letty--gone one year and a month--rocking in my mother's chair, next to the upright piano.

Back Cover Blurb

From the award-winning author of In the Shadow of Blackbirds comes a stunning new novel—a masterfully crafted story of love, loss, and second chances. Set during the fear and panic of the Great Influenza of 1918, The Uninvited is part gothic ghost-story, part psychological thriller, perfect for those who loved The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield or The Vanishing by Wendy Webb.
Twenty-five year old Ivy Rowan rises from her bed after being struck by the flu, only to discover the world has been torn apart in just a few short days. 
But Ivy’s life-long gift—or curse—remains.  For she sees the uninvited ones—ghosts of loved ones who appear to her, unasked, unwelcomed, for they always herald impending death. On that October evening in 1918 she sees the spirit of her grandmother, rocking in her mother’s chair. An hour later, she learns her younger brother and father have killed a young German out of retaliation for the death of Ivy’s older brother Billy in the Great War.
Horrified, she leaves home, to discover the flu has caused utter panic and the rules governing society have broken down. Ivy is drawn into this new world of jazz, passion, and freedom, where people live for the day, because they could be stricken by nightfall. But as her ‘uninvited guests’ begin to appear to her more often, she knows her life will be torn apart once more, but Ivy has no inkling of the other-worldly revelations about to unfold.
The Uninvited is an atmospheric, haunting, and utterly compelling novel.

Review by Mirella Patzer

I'm a big fan of gothic and ghostly tales as long as they are written authentically and with believability. This story definitely met that criteria. It is set in an American town called Buchanan during World War II. Ivy Rowan lives a normal life in Buchana, but she has a dark secret. Whenever someone is about to die, the ghost of a loved one will appear. The Spaish Flu is ravaging the country, killing many of its victims, and Ivy is struck down. Somehow, she is one of the survivors. When she learns that her brother and father have murdered a German shop owner in town, she flees her family home and decides to live independently in Buchanan. Soon, she is drawn into the lives of several townsfolk. When she begins seeing ghosts, she knows doom is about to descend and she struggles to prevent the inevitable. 

This is a tale of transgression, guilt, forgiveness, prejudice, and love. The setting itself is full of conflict - World War II when neighbor is suspicious of neighbor, especially if they have any ties whatsoever with the nom-allied forces in Europe. Even humming a foreign tune can get folk arrested. Cat Winters has written antriguingly dark, haunting tale, that abounds with mystery and plumbs the depths of the human spirit to persevere in the face of death and danger. There are some surprises and twists along the way with a shocker towards the end. Although there are some mixed reviews on this novel, I for one loved its atmosphere, sense of mystery, and compelling heroine. Definitely one of my favourite gothic/ghost stories! 

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Monday, September 7, 2015

Evergreen Falls by Kimberley Freeman

Opening Paragraph: They keep saying "the body" and Flora thinks this might make her scream and never stop. Speaking in whispers that are not quiet enough, as men do, they say it over and over. "We can't have the body simply lying in a room here." "If we put the body in the bathing pool, then it might appear to be a drowning." "But when they examine the body they'll find no water in the lungs." And so on. All the while, Flora locked in the grim prison of her mind, unable to comprehend anything since she discovered the poor, pale remains, shivers against the icy breeze that licks through the open door and stalks the tall eucalypts that line the dark valley. 

Back Cover Blurb: From internationally bestselling author Kimberley Freeman comes a captivating new novel about a scandalous attraction, a long-forgotten secret, and a place where two women’s lives are changed forever.

It’s 1926 and Violet Armstrong is a waitress at the grand Evergreen Spa Hotel, where Australia’s glitterati are spending a winter vacation. Among the guests who remain are Sam and Flora Honeychurch-Blacks, a wealthy brother and sister ensconced in the hotel for an extended stay. Violet and Sam have an attraction that is as passionate as it is forbidden as the hotel closes down for the winter season. When a snowstorm moves in, trapping them all, no one could have imagined what would unfold. The group must let their secrets be buried by the snow, but all snow melts, exposing the truth beneath… Eighty-eight years later, Lauren Beck takes a job at a café in the Blue Mountains, built as the first stage of the Evergreen Spa Hotel’s return to grandeur. There she meets Tomas, the Danish architect overseeing the project. As their budding relationship grows, Lauren discovers a series of passionate love letters dating back to 1926 that allude to a whirlwind affair—and a tragic secret. Lauren begins to unravel this long-forgotten mystery, but will discovering the truth finally make her brave enough to take a risk that could change her entire life?

Review by Mirella Patzer

Evergreen Falls is a novel about two women of two different generations - Lauren Beck of modern times and Violet Armstrong of the 1920's. Set in 1926, in the Blue Mountains of Australia, the base of the tale is a hotel/spa named Evergreen.  

Lauren works at a coffee shop in the Blue Mountains, running from a difficult past and struggling to maintain her independence. That's when she meets a handsome architect named Tomas who is refurbishing the Evergreen, now in decay. When Tomas invites Lauren to explore the old hotel with him, they stumble upon some old love letters signed only by the initials SHB to an unnamed woman. Enchanted by the mysterious letters, Lauren decides to delve deeper into their history and try to learn the identity of the two lovers. As the story slowly unfolds, her relationship with Tomas grows richer, more profound. 

The story switches to the past, 1926, where the reader is introduced to Violet who comes to work at the new and elegant Evergreen as a means to financially support her ill mother in Sydney. Her time at the Evergreen is not always easy and soon tragedy and hardship affect the staff and customers. Social class, prejudices, forgiveness, and understanding are all themes.

Bit by bit, the two women's secrets are revealed, as are their individual strengths and weaknesses. Rich characters, an indepth plot, and the fascinating setting made for quite the page turner. such rich and fully-rounded characters. Romance with a touch of mystery made for an exciting tale. I devoured the novel in two settings! Another stunning novel by Kimberley Freeman and Simon and Schuster!

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Enchantress of Paris by Marci Jefferson

Opening Paragraph: Footmen threw open the front doors of my casa, my sanctum of peaceful exile in madrid for near a decade, and a whiff of spices and the gleam of moonlight filled my front hall. Olympia brushed in, tall and fashionable as ever in black French silks and familiar diamonds, looking only half of her forty years. though she had come to Madrid for her own exile three years earlier, I had not seen my older sister since her arrival visit. She took one look at my Spanish garb and frowned her disdainful courtier's frown. "Really, Marie, hyave you lost all sense of style?"

Back Cover Blurb:

Fraught with conspiracy and passion, the Sun King's opulent court is brought to vivid life in this captivating tale about a woman whose love was more powerful than magic.
The alignment of the stars at Marie Mancini's birth warned that although she would be gifted at divination, she was destined to disgrace her family. Ignoring the dark warnings of his sister and astrologers, Cardinal Mazarin brings his niece to the French court, where the forbidden occult arts thrive in secret. In France, Marie learns her uncle has become the power behind the throne by using her sister Olympia to hold the Sun King, Louis XIV, in thrall.
Desperate to avoid her mother's dying wish that she spend her life in a convent, Marie burns her grimoire, trading Italian superstitions for polite sophistication. But as her star rises, King Louis becomes enchanted by Marie's charm. Sensing a chance to grasp even greater glory, Cardinal Mazarin pits the sisters against each other, showering Marie with diamonds and silks in exchange for bending King Louis to his will.
Disgusted by Mazarin's ruthlessness, Marie rebels. She sacrifices everything, but exposing Mazarin's deepest secret threatens to tear France apart. When even King Louis's love fails to protect Marie, she must summon her forbidden powers of divination to shield her family, protect France, and help the Sun King fulfill his destiny.

Review by Mirella Patzer

This fictional account of the life of Marie Mancini is a definite 5 star read! It kept me engaged from first page to last. I adored the love letters between Marie and King Louis that author Marci Jefferson recreated. Everything about this story was well done--from the historical details to the characters to the oppulence of the French Court! Utterly compelling. I love a good villain, and the Cardinal fit the bill. Duplicitous, sneaky, mean, and conniving, he never failed to keep me entertained.

Well crafted, nicely researched, and vibrant with detail of the 17th century French court, this was one book that I devoured in two sittings. Definitely highly recommended. One of my favourite books for 2015.   

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Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Book Announcement - The Count of the Sahara by Wayne Turmel

“… a brilliant novel, great historical fiction. I couldn’t put it down.” Angela Best 

“A cleverly woven heart-warming story. Warning, it can make you giggle!” Chris Dangerfield 

“Great characters brought to life in full color. A real page turner.” Ernie Fisher 

“This book captures perfectly US optimism before the Great Depression.” Marianna Cage 

From the scorching desert to the freezing Midwest… a man struggles against the elements, himself and those around him.

Leading a motley crew of ‘experts’ deep into the Sahara, Count de Prorok is about to make a great discovery. The acclaim of the finding the missing tomb of an ancient queen will set him and his family up for life. But, when plotted against, the money dries up as quickly as the goodwill of his team, and in more ways than one, the Count appears to be stranded, and left to the elements. 

Historical fiction at its best… 

The COUNT OF THE SAHARA is the story, recounted by his young assistant, of Count Byron de Prorok, a little known gentleman explorer of Africa in the 1920s. If you enjoy great historical fiction with a captivating plot, superb characters and a light sprinkling of humor, this book is for you! 

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