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    In Other Spaces and Places

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    2011 Reading Challenge

    Fiendishly Bookish has read 3 books toward her goal of 250 books.
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    Saturday
    Jul172010

    New Fiendish Review: Whisper of Scandal by Nicola Cornick

    Book:               Whisper of Scandal

    Author:             Nicola Cornick

    Publisher:        Harlequin

    ISBN/ASIN:      9780373774401

    Release Date:  Sept 28, 2010

    Rating:   4.5 Stars

    Buy: | Amazon | B&N| IndieBound | Powell’s | Books A Million |

    Check out Nicola’s page.

    Read a Sneak Preview of Whisper of Scandal.

    Lady Joanna Ware holds a secret close to her heart, and after having been devastated over and over again in her marriage, she has perfected a frosty persona that the ton has both embraced and whispered about.

    It has taken her twelve months to get used to the death of her husband, explorer Lord David Ware. And during that year she has lived on borrowed time, in a house that is no longer hers, and an uncertain future. When Lord Alex Grant returns from the Arctic with a missive from her husband’s deathbed, it can only spell more trouble for Joanna.

    But that is just the tip of the iceberg. When she has been delivered the news that her profligate husband has left his illegitimate child at the monastery of Bellsund, and named both Alex and Joanna as guardians, then its gets much, much, worse.

    Lord Grant despises Joanna despite his searing attraction to her, and has been turned completely against her by the things that he has heard from her late husband. Joanna realizes that she cannot fight his prejudice. But somehow they must come to an accord, to make it to Spitsbergen and fulfill the terms of Lord David’s will.

    What follows is a bracing adventure into wilds of the Arctic Circle, as their unlikely entourage encounters bears, inescapable sea ice, island natives, and each other. Somehow, somewhere, things start to thaw between Alex and Joanna, and she must entrust her secret, and her heart, yet once again.

    Nicola Cornick is by no means a cookie-cutter historical romance novelist. Rather, her characters are earthy, tangibly real, and not always cut from a pristine cloth. In fact, Cornick’s characters dwell both the in the haute ton, and the lowliest slums and rookeries of London.

    It is that diversity, that allows Cornick to push the envelope of her characters and flesh out compelling stories that have not been told a dozen times before. Her historicals are sprinkled with unapologetic fortune hunters, disgraced courtesans, and pure debutantes that willingly embroil themselves in a scandalous quest for sensuality.

    Whisper of Scandal is such a story, spilling with excitement, scandalous scenes, and a stirring romance that pulls the reader willingly along on an adventurous journey. The sensual attraction between Alex and Joanna honestly could melt the polar ice cap. It was breathtakingly original AND without a doubt, the scene between James Devlin and Lottie Cummings just about made me blush! Scorching. Naughty. We definitely need a book about dashing Devlin!

    After finishing Whisper of Scandal, I decided I needed more Nicola Cornick! The very same day I devoured her scintillating Lord of Scandal, and Secrets of a Courtesan. Both were incredible, fun, and had a satisfying and genuine HEA. Great reads!

    A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)


    Monday
    Jun282010

    New Fiendish Review: My Dangerous Duke by Gaelen Foley

    Book:               My Dangerous Duke

    Author:            Gaelen Foley

    Publisher:       Avon/Harper Collins

    ISBN/ASIN:    9780061733970

    Rating:             3.75 Stars

    Release Date:  June 29, 2010

    Buy:   | Amazon | B&N | Borders | Powell’s

    Read Chapter One of My Dangerous Duke (you won’t be disappointed!)

    Check out Gaelen’s page here 

    Gaelen Foley’s debut Inferno Club series starts off with a saucy bang as Duke Rohan Kilburn, aka The Beast surveys his latest present: a trussed up delectable morsel known as Kate Madsen. But all is not what it seems. In fact, Kate is not what she seems. She could very well be the most dangerous thing dropped into Rohan’s lap in quite a while.

    Deposited at Kilburn Castle in the wilds of Cornwall by a band of smugglers, Kate apparently is a “gift” for the notorious lord. But as Rohan unravels the mystery of Kate, he realizes that she is the mere tip of the iceberg of a conspiracy that straddles centuries between the Prometheans and the Order of St. Michael. Who exactly is Kate Madsen and how does she threaten the cause of St. Michael? Can Rohan stifle his attraction to her in order to fulfill his duty to the Order and the Inferno Club?

    My Dangerous Duke has everything a saucy historical romance should have: thrills, a mysterious legacy, a curse, two warring factions, a treasure hunt, pirates, a long lost father, and yes, torrid, steamy naughtiness. Foley, at times, leans more into plot than romance, yet the overall feel of the book is one of good fun though lop-sided. We have the expected HEA, and some breathless sighs to go along with it-and the anticipation of more. I definitely want to see more of Drake who is in quite a pickle.

    I actually read My Dangerous Duke on a road trip and along the way read passages out loud to my sister who giggled along with me. We loved how Foley painted Rohan, which was a collaborative effort of both good characterization and language. My only criticism of the book is the title. For such a fun, juicy substance filled book the title itself seems a bit benign. The plot alone is so much more than “My Dangerous Duke” Could we have come up with something better perhaps? Maybe “The Infernal Duke” or “How the Duke of Warrington aka The Beast Manages his Noble Member” (lol) either way, the book has definite toe-curling appeal and will delight all who dives into its minty freshness.

    A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)


    Saturday
    Jun192010

    New Fiendish Review: Love & Scandal by Donna Lea Simpson

    Book:                     Love & Scandal

    Author:                  Donna Lea Simpson

    Publisher:             Carina Press

    ISBN/ASIN:          B003NX7BXA

    Rating:                  4 Stars

    Release Date:  June 21, 2010

    Buy:   | Amazon | B&N | Carina Press |

    Find out more about Donna Lea Simpson!

    Simpson writes with such a raw sensuality rarely seen in historical romance. The intimacy between her characters are heartfelt, acute and meaningful. And the connection between novelist Collette Jardinaire and Charles Jameson scorches and burns in way that there should be a delicious flaming red disclaimer emblazoned the front cover.

    Simpson has refreshingly painted Collette, a published novelist under a gentleman’s name as a firebrand, and bluestocking making her way in a man’s world: publishing. A country miss whose only alternative is living with her relative in a small seaside cottage at Listerwood-on-Sea and penning her torrid fantasies on parchment, Collette is infuriated when her hard work might actually be attributed to rake Charles Jameson.

    Determined to get to the bottom of the manner, Collette hastens to London to track him down and have him summarily recant his statements alluding to him taking the credit for writing her wildly popular, but scandalous, novel. But she doesn’t plan on getting involved with him, and between the two of them they inflame a society scandal of epic proportions.

    Love & Scandal has all the hallmarks of a great read: an intriguing theme that mixes literary characters with the fictional, a passionate author as a heroine in the largely male dominated sphere, and a steamy scandal that will bend Edwardian society on its ears. Simpson has managed to nimbly stretch the boundaries of historical romance, fill it chock full of love, lust, and substance that will appeal to contemporary readers as well as traditional.

    Special thanks to Carina Press for sharing this amazing galley with me. 

    See what Fresh Fiction has to say about Love & Scandal.

    A Fiendishly Bookish review (and one grumpy cat).

     

    Tuesday
    Feb022010

    New Juicy Review: Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan

    Book:              Proof by Seduction

    Author:            Courtney Milan

    Publisher:       Harlequin

    ISBN/ASIN:   9780373774395

    Rating:            Four Stars

    Mischievously sweet, Proof by Seduction charms as much as it endears the reader to its very unconventional main characters. Courtney Milan’s writing takes historical romance to a new level with its unpretentious overtones and tweaks the historical romance mold in an appealing way. The moral to Milan’s story is that truth will preside, and that honest infatuation, attraction and yes love, will win all.

    In many historical romances you have rampant posturing: the depiction of a Regency era rake, a powerful family, the focus on society, the haute ton and its ilk. Regency romances are rife with illustrious personages posturing over one another-the sheer heft and weight of the peerage can strong-arm a romance and bind it to its whim.

    But Milan’s tale is a clearly an 18th century romance, not a Regency, an altogether different kettle of fish and quite refreshing. The distinction being that her story takes place in 1838 after the Regency has gasped its last breath and society is barely living on the remnants of its fumes. The solid glue in Milan’s tale is that of truth, honesty, the most basic calling cards of love and its the focus is on its diverse characters Jenny Keeble and Gareth Carhart, not the ton.

    One gets the impression that Gareth Carhart, Lord Blakely is a real man, not a cleverly cast construct. His intense academic and naturalistic nature brings to mind William Adamson of Byatt’s Angels and Insects meshed with nine generations of Blakely DNA to call his own. His personality leaps from the pages, as does his healthy desire for a dishonest woman: enter Madame Esmerelda.

    Jenny Keeble is a likeable character despite her occupation of bilking others (albeit gently) out of their pocket change for a fortune told. It is done with the best intentions, but still as Madame Esmerelda issues are coming to a head. Jenny will have to face herself and the consequences of her actions.

    There won’t be relatives coming out of the woodwork to save Jenny, she won’t mysteriously be revealed to be a long lost relative to aristocracy. What will save Jenny is herself and her love for Gareth. The chemistry between these two work very well and with Milan’s succinct and wholesome writing, I actually had tears pricking my eyes several times (darn you Courtney Milan!) But if my red eyes are any indication, I expect we will be seeing more of Miss Milan in the future.

    A Fiendishly Bookish Review

    Thursday
    Oct082009

    New Juicy Review: Lord of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle

     

    Book:             Lord of Pleasure

    Author:          Delilah Marvelle

    ISBN:             1420104497

    Rating:          Four Stars

    Marvelle's tale of Alexander Baxendale, third Earl of Hawksford and Charlotte, Lady Chartwell is indeed sweet, delightful and endearing to readers. What originally sold the purchase of The Lord of Pleasure were reviewers' consistent comments that Marvelle's novels were hilarious and fun. Nothing is better when you have laughs along with romance. And nothing is harder to write. So special respect should be set-aside for those authors who are able to successfully concoct hilarity for us.

    It had been a while since I'd picked up a historical romance. Favorites include Christina Dodd, Gaelen Foley, Judith McNaught and Julia Quinn. Lord of Pleasure largely reminds of early Julia Quinn with some Jude Deveraux naiveté thrown in. Marvelle's second novel is green, but with great promise and careful attention. The characters each have their own voice; personality, and connects with readers.

    Just like Quinn capitalizing on the Bridgertons, Lady Whistledown, and the Featherington's (dear, sweet, befuddled Penelope always enveloped in yellow!), so too has Marvelle carved out some unique characterizations: Madame de Maitenon, Harold, the bull-faced butler-stevedore, Alexander's saucy mother and sisters, and of course, Lord Caldwell.

    But by far the most interesting (and funny) of Marvelle's characters is Alexander's deeply quirky, gothic-bound, funereal sister Mary whose desire for caskets and mourning gowns are driving Alexander to distraction. Marvelle has enough material about Mary to develop a great story. Just imagine Mary looking for her dark highwayman to sweep her away in pure Byronic style! Throw in a few capers of the Baxendale sisters and that indeed would be hilarious! 

    A Fiendishly Bookish Review