Outlander Ep. 101 – ‘Sassenach’

129RECAP/REVIEW: From the first frame, first sound and Claire’s narration the viewer is intrigued and drawn to the story.

"Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I bought that vase and made a home for it. Would that have changed things? Would I have been happy? Who can say?I do know this. Even now, after all the pain, and death, and heartbreak that followed, I would still have made the same choice."

“Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I bought that vase and made a home for it. Would that have changed things? Would I have been happy? Who can say?I do know this. Even now, after all the pain, and death, and heartbreak that followed, I would still have made the same choice.”

Through her narration, we are informed that this woman is longing for permanence in her life after the WWII. Even their holiday in Scotland is used as a second honeymoon, an excuse for reconnection. They chose Scotland as their destination for a few reasons, but mainly to investigate Frank’s ancestry and are successful in locating one man in particular, Jonathan Wolverton Randall or “Black Jack” as he was known to the Highlanders of the 18th century.

Frank & Clare on holiday in Scotland; second honeymoon and "a convenient mascarade to get to know the people we've become" after 5 years apart ...

Frank & Clare on holiday in Scotland; second honeymoon and “a convenient mascarade to get to know the people we’ve become” after 5 years apart …

 

Every flashback we see is there with a purpose to tell us about the character of this woman. Right off the bat, as we get a glimpse of her fixing a wounded soldier, we are confronted with a character that is decisive, brave and tough. Yet, as she stands all alone on the sidelines as everyone else is cheering the end of the war, we can feel her loneliness, her vulnerability.095

Another one is a very short scene in which Claire at tender age of around ten lights a cigarette for her Uncle Lamb, an archeologist on a dig, [he brought her up after her parents died in a car crash], and even that small glimpse is telling of a woman that she has become. You have no doubt about her upbringing because she tells you that it was unconventional and you see that she was loved and enjoyed the time with her uncle.

As we watch these two try to resuscitate the relationship they once had through their activities during the day and night, you get a sense of the two vastly different characters. In all scenes, Claire is shown to be outgoing, fun-loving extrovert, while Frank appears to be an introvert, bookish and subdued but both are definitely sophisticated lovers, which is in full evidence at the ruins of Castle Leoch. Here is a line that you haven’t heard before my Outlander fandom.

 “Why Mrs. Randall, I do believe you left your undergarments at home.”

Got to admire this modern woman who freely admits that she relies on sex to bridge that divide both she and her husband feel it’s there.

The 'ghost' ...

The ‘ghost’ …

It’s plain to see that Frank loves this woman very much, so much so that as he is walking back to the B&B on a stormy night and spots a man in all his Highlander garb on a corner of the street watching his wife comb her hair, he immediately accepts the notion that this man might be her lover that is seeking a reconnection and is willing to forgive her the infidelity. That’s how much he loves her! She is a bit too quick to forgive him, although we can clearly see that Frank’s apology and his declaration that he loves her no matter what, comes from the heart.  Once more she falls back on using sex to burrow as close as she can to a man we can see and feel is torn with something, but are not sure with what.

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Craigh na Dun, a circle of stones on a nearby hill, offers another adventure. Both are fascinated with these women dancing around and watching them made Claire feel a bit uncomfortable and unwelcome. The ‘dancing druids’ was such a mesmerizing scene and I can only say that the music made it poignant and eerie. Claire wasn’t the only one feeling unwelcome as a voyeur.

226Following scenes are also heartwarming; Frank is off by himself, again deep into researching his ancestry, and Claire is on her own as well, going back to the circled stones to check out the flower she thinks is ‘forget-me-not’. Those are scenes that are telling of the relationship these two have. They are modern people with a sophisticated marriage. Both are highly intellectual and both seem to support one another’s endeavors, yet portrayed so brilliantly by Caitriona Balfe and Tobias Menzies, you can feel the awkwardness of two people who are trying243 hard as hell to figure out how to go on after the ravages of war. Their conversations are stilted yet touching, such as the scene in which Claire tells Frank of how much she missed the sounds of her husband’s loving, and he comes back with a heartbreaking revelation that he used to doodle her palms lines on everything, even his reports, just to bring her closer to him.

247And we come to the crucial scene of ‘falling through time’ as Claire hears one of the stones come to ‘life’ with an eerie, loud and frightening hum that to me sounded like a combination of running cattle and tornadoes fury. Again, my kudos go to the show’s creator and his team to handling this part with care and forethought. There is no CGI here. What Claire experiences, the audience does as well. She admits to not being able to define it, yet tries with the only comparison she could237 find in her mind, and even that, of a person that has fallen asleep in a passenger seat of a moving car, feeling serene weightlessness, and as that car went spinning out of control, she felt a sickening sensation of falling,  but even that “falls woefully short” of what she felt happen to her.

253The first thing the viewer notices as she wakes up, laying on the grass at the same circle of stones, is the bright color of the green grass and the second is the loud chirping of the birds. Neither was seen or heard in the previous scene. She is confused, disoriented and visibly baffled as she can’t locate her car. You will find me gushing on many occasions for the brilliance of the creator of this masterpiece [YES! It will be, if it already isn’t], Ron D. Moore. Pure genius for having the next few scenes void of any distracting music or narration, and letting the viewer be lolled into sense of security with the sounds of the forest and visage of the landscape…only to jump [DAMN that shot was loud] upon hearing a shot, then spotting some red-coated men running after some men dressed in kilts.

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Watching it without a sound, you see a woman looking at the running men, but without narration, we are lost to Claire’s thoughts.

As we get privy to all her fear, Bear McCreary‘s music hits you in the solar plexus! And as she stops running, BAM! The music stops as abruptly and here is a man who on a first look is her Frank, and on the second as he introduces himself as Captain Randall, she is off and running, only to be caught, questioned, assaulted, rescued and knocked unconscious by another strange man.

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It’s worth pointing out that the show will feature plenty of Gaelic speech, but no subtitles. We will be in the dark as much as Claire is. We will be all ‘Sassenachs’! BRILLIANT!

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As the man who dragged her out of the Captain’s clutches brings her in the little cottage, she rationalizes, deduces and shows her pluck all at the same time. Caught by men that are dressed strange, armed to the rafters and very rough-looking, knowing that she must escape, but can’t in the dark, she is better off keeping her mouth shot. She still can’t help herself as she watches some men attempt to 004wrongly ‘fix’ a dislocated shoulder of a young warrior [Sam Heughan] crouched by the fire, letting her instincts take the charge of the situation.

I loved watching grown, tough men squirm as she gets on with her nursing! And speaking of the word, it005 was pure pleasure watching the young man look at her bosom as she tells him, not a wet-nurse!

As they all leave the cottage, she realizes that electrical lights of Inverness are nowhere in sight, and finally admits something her rational mind is fighting to accept. 20th century is not where she’s at. In the next few scenes we see her riding out, warning the Highlanders of a possible ambush, and when they are attacked, once more she tries 089without success to run away from them, only to be tracked down by the young man she nursed, and threatened into going back with him; stopping in the middle of the night to tend to his new wounds and once more showing her stubbornness and pluck as much as showing him her understanding and acceptance by offering him a hand to stand up. He also showed his gratitude by sincerely thanking her for tending to him.101

As this first episode ends, the motley crue arrives at the castle our heroine only left two days ago, in 1946 and this viewer is left with a long sigh and longing for the second episode.

I honestly enjoyed this first episode from start to finish. I’ve read many reviews of it and there are some issues that are of this first episode as ‘slow paced’, the narration to be ‘excessive’ and ‘boring’ and sex scenes unnecessary. To anyone out there with these issues, I say ‘bah humbug’!

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Seriously though, I respectfully disagree with all of you. I watched this episode without the sound and I dare anyone that had not seen it do the same and come back and tell me what they got out of the show. I guarantee you it won’t be as poignant as my take.

ENJOY A FREE EPISODE 101!

Regarding the three scenes of marital sex in the show, here is what I think. This is a married couple that was inseparable before the war, and very much in love. Both supposedly had no sex during the five-year separation, so sex was something both craved and used as “the bridge” to getting back to what they had before. The first scene [jumping on bed at B&B] was tender and sweet, and left it to our imagination. The second [at the ruins of the castle] was not explicit, and no nudity involved, and yet conveyed to the viewer that the woman is an equal to the man and very sexual. The third [after Frank hints of her possible involvement with another man] is more explicit, but still adding to the story, telling us that once more both characters are using one tool available to them [to bridge the divide and try to piece their marriage] – sex.

PREVIEW of Episode 102!

All the scenes involving sex were thought out carefully and presented to the viewer in a way that we would understand these two and connect with them. They were sensual and in no way gratuitous, and all served as an expansion to their love story. ‘The Black Sails’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ which I am fond of btw, however use sex as T&A, placed in their stories willy-nilly, for the sole purpose of titillation of their male audience. None serves to the enlightenment of a character or the story.

I applaud Ronald D. Moore, the shows writer and runner, for giving me both. With a slower pace, he took me into the life of this woman and her marriage, and with her narration I went straight into her heart!

I would also like to discuss the opening credits. To many fans of the books, they are meaningful because they include the symbols of the books, especially the stag, which is on Fraser of Lovat Clan Crest. The music composed for it is haunting and the lyrics could easily be applied to Claire. Just take a minute and listen…

Before I saw the show, I had to come to grips with which ‘eye’ will I view it. As a fan of the books written by Diana Gabaldon, I had a decision to make and it wasn’t an easy one. I needed to let go of everything that I read so far [and yes I read the latest one, MOBY] and watch the show with an unbiased eye. Let me start off by saying, DAMN but it was hard to do it the first time I saw it. It wasn’t easy to separate THE written word from THE visual offered to me, something I waited for over 23 years to ‘see’, and there were tears…

Photo credit: Matt Roberts

Photo credit: Matt Roberts

I recommend each fan to do the same. Please let go of everything you’ve read and concentrate on the story developing right in front of you. Don’t look or wait for ‘that’ moment or ‘this’ quote as it may never come, but embrace the new ones as they come. I did and it was a glorious experience and I am bursting with joy to share it with all my friends and am looking forward to each episode.

 

Spotlight on Nina Rowan and …

… A Daring Hearts Series!

nr asisA Study in Seduction (#1) 

BOOK BLURB: A Heart Divided

Blessed with an uncanny gift for mathematics, the lovely Lydia Kellaway can solve the most complex puzzles. The one thing she can’t figure out? How to manage the most infuriating man she’s ever encountered.

A Passion Multiplied

Alexander Hall, Viscount Northwood, has purchased a one-of-a-kind locket from a pawnshop, unaware of the priceless sentiment it holds for Lydia. The gentlemanly thing to do would be to simply return it. But Lydia sparks a desire that has Alexander curious to see just how bold this brilliant beauty will be…

A Love Unequaled

What begins as a playful wager quickly escalates into a contest of the minds, a clash of the wills—and a battle of the sexes—as their fiery attraction grows. Even a genius like Lydia can’t account for the feelings Alexander arouses with his smile, or the fire he ignites with his touch. But when a dark family secret is suddenly thrown into the equation, it just might divide them forever.

REVIEW: What a wonderful début novel this is!

Nina Rowan must have had a blast writing this one. I certainly did reading it. Only a handful of authors out there are willing to gift their readers with strong, smart, complex and intellectual heroines such as Lydia. This woman with her brilliant mind adds a very unusual ‘equation’ to this well told story and I reveled in her wit and charm from page one.

As for Alexander Hall, Viscount Northwood, I honestly couldn’t have found anyone better suited to her even if I wrote the story myself [said she wistfully!].

Ms. Rowan paced the story perfectly so we would enjoy the relationship she built between Lydia and Alexander, and watching them get closer to each other was a lot fun.
I truly enjoyed everything in this story, from prose to plot; characters and historical aspect of the story; all of it was well researched and thought out. Whole heartedly recommend it!

nr apfpA Passion for Pleasure (#2) 

BOOK BLURB: Prelude to a Kiss

A brilliant pianist and notorious rake, Sebastian Hall indulges his passion for music and women with equal aplomb. But now that his elder brother has married, his father insists he pursue a more respectable path and find a suitable wife.

Music to Her Ears

As a girl, Clara Whitmore quietly loved her piano teacher from afar. Yet her youthful crush cannot compare to the powerful desire she feels when she unexpectedly meets Sebastian again. Perhaps the man who once dominated her dreams could be the husband she has hoped for—and save her from the fate she most fears.

Love Strikes a Chord

Risking scandal, ruin, and their own reputations, Sebastian and Clara enter into a marriage of convenience. But the pair soon discovers that their undeniable attraction is anything but convenient. Swept up in a crescendo of desire, Sebastian and Clara take each other to new heights of ecstasy—until secrets from the past threaten to doom the duet forever. Now Sebastian will have to change his tune—and prove his love is true.

REVIEW: This second book in Nina Rowan’s Daring Hearts series, we are treated to Alexander’s brother Sebastian’s happily ever after and once more Ms. Rowan gifts us with a very ‘lyrical’ character such as Sebastian.

Sebastian Hall was a gifted pianist as well as well known womanizer, once upon a time, but those days are now gone and he must figure out how to appease his father and find himself a bride and at the same time help Alexander locate the plans for a machine that he’d like to build. Enter Clara Whitmore, a widow with a possible plan that just might solve both their dilemmas.

She is a mother that is willing to sacrifice everything for getting her son back from her own father who took the position of her son, thinking her unfit to raise him. She misses him dreadfully and needs a plan to get him back. Enter Sebastian, her former piano teacher who she had a crush on since she was sixteen.

Together, these two will forge a bond in matrimony, friendship and passion in order to face their past and create a future together.

This story has it all, from intrigue, romance, mystery and characters as real as you and I. I’m beginning to like this authors way of telling interesting and complex stories very, very much.

nr ttnbm‘Twas the Night Before Mischief (#2.5) 

BOOK BLURB: When Penelope Darlington is persuaded to elope with a most unsuitable suitor, she wastes no time. With visions of passion and adventure dancing in her head, she steals away in the middle of the night, just before her father’s Christmas feast.

Fearing for his daughter’s reputation, Henry Darlington begs Darius Hall, the Earl of Rushton’s daring yet discreet son, to bring Penelope home. When Darius finally catches up to Penelope, he is shocked. She’s not the silly little girl he expected, but a beautiful woman with a sharp mind and an allure that cannot be ignored.

Now forced to kidnap Penelope in order to bring her home, Darius and his new charge spend the next several days—and nights—in very close quarters. Penelope wanted passion and adventure, but she never could have imagined the pleasures Darius can provide…

REVIEW: This was my first time reading and reviewing this author and I read this little novella over the holidays, but I’m sharing it here again with those of you that missed it last December.

At a first glance, this might sound like a predictable story, but the further you go into it, the more you realize that not to be the case. It is one of those love stories that involves two people who have a total misconception of one another, yet both are attracted to the other.

I thoroughly enjoyed the journey they took to finally come together. I can’t recommend this one enough for the simple reason that this hero may as well have been my husband. It made me chuckle all the way through. It really is true that opposites attract, and I can vouch for that!

nr adodA Dream of Desire (#3) 

BOOK BLURB: No Distance Can Keep Them Apart.

For most her life, Lady Talia Hall has been dreaming of the day James Forester will take her in his arms and kiss her with unrestrained passion. Tired of waiting, Talia decides to take drastic measures to make James see her as more than his best friend’s little sister. But her bold plan goes awry when the scoundrel informs her that he is leaving London—and her—for a life of adventure traveling the world. Crushed, Talia throws herself into her reform work and vows never again to let her foolish heart get the better of her.

But even halfway across the world, James can’t stop thinking of the beautiful Talia, her bold declaration . . . or her brazen kiss. And when James learns that Talia’s reform work has thrown her into the path of danger and scandal, nothing can keep him from returning to London. But a broken heart is not easily put back together, and old habits die hard. Talia and James must learn that trusting in true love is the greatest adventure of all…

REVIEW: In the third book of this series we watch Talia, Alexander’s sister, get her heart broken by the only man she ever loved, James Forester, Baron Castleford, and put back together by the same man, many years later.

Damn but there’s so much I liked in this book, I’m not sure where to start! In spite of this being a romance novel, this little gem of a story encompasses a lot of historical detail about reformation of a juvenile prison system in England, to which our heroine dedicates her time and resources as well as her love for those less fortunate.

I also loved the characterization of the hero. He was a typical Beta hero that by the end of the book was all Alpha and I loved his whole nature, his explorer side as well as his outlook on the society in general.

Talia was another strong and capable heroine that I’m used to by now from Ms. Rowan. Her heroines are not just beautiful but smart, tenacious and very witty.

The romance was slow, sweet and subtle; characters were rich in-depth and the plot fast paced and engaging.  This whole series was a pleasant surprise from the first book to the last. I highly recommend you read it.

As someone who cherishes her time, I’ve become a bit of a cynic when it comes to ‘new to me authors’ [especially début authors], and that’s why I try to buy books that are novellas.  I started this series with ‘Twas the Night Before Mischief, a #2.5 in the series, and just knew I’d like all the others that were coming up. You can do the same. It’s still only $1.99 so go forth and check it out!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copies provided by the publisher

Spotlight on Mary Balogh and …

The Web Series

mb tgw‘The Gilded Web’

STORY: All she wanted was to escape the hot, crowded London ballroom. But moments after stepping into the bitterly cold night, she is seized by a pair of strong hands and spirited away. Fully expecting to be ravished, sheltered Alexandra Purnell instead finds herself at the mercy of the man who saved her from certain scandal.

Edmund, Earl of Amberley, is bold and sensual, tempting Alexandra to be reckless for the first time in her life. But as passion ignites, Edmund’s offer of marriage takes Alexandra completely by surprise. Now a woman who craves her freedom above all else is about to discover how far one man will go to protect and possess the woman he loves.

REVIEW: I am a huge fan of Mary Balogh and I can safely say that she’s one of my all time favorite authors. She just has this incredible talent of sucking me into the story so deeply that I have a hard time coming up for air.

The Web series had been published awhile back, and it has been on my TBR forever, so it was time I dived in.

After many stories that featured funny, likeable and charming characters that I enjoy reading about, I was ready for some unique, intriguing and complex heroes and heroines to sink my teeth into, and let me tell you, Mary Balogh delivers on all the above in spades.

The first story is Edmunds who is the Earl of Amberley; second one is  one of the twins’ Lord Eden’s, and the third is Lady Madeline’s.

As the eldest and the head of the family, Edmund shoulders a lot, and has been since he inherited the title at nineteen after his father’s unexpected death. He is wise, loving and patient, as well as respectful and caring son and brother. He is brought up in a loving home, by caring parents who were not afraid to foster love in their children, as well as free thinking.

Quite by accident and brought on by his brother, who had best intentions and yet the worst timing, Edmund finds himself in the inconvenient circumstances that require him to offer marriage to our heroine. 

This story is without a doubt character driven and I loved it!

To watch the heroine as she slowly, and I mean very slowly, comes to think for herself and not blindly trust and follow her pious and domineering father was something to behold. I know that many might not have enjoyed her character much just because of that, but I thought it fascinating. The confusion, the  battle within this woman of what her deep, inner self desires and the love for her parents despite their lack of the same for her, was heartbreaking and painful to go through with her.

If you like conflict and struggle of any kind in your love stories, this is a book that will give it to you. It is not a book for the faint of heart, impatient and those that need a quick fix of ‘sugar & spice, and everything nice’.

I have deep respect and appreciation for all authors who take the risk and put their characters through an extreme, just to see how they’ll come out of it. Well played Ms. Balogh, well-played.

mb wol‘Web of Love’

STORY: He’d served with her husband on the battlefield—and secretly desired her for years. Yet for Dominic, Lieutenant Lord Eden, Ellen Simpson has remained tantalizingly out of reach—until she is widowed by the war. Suddenly pursued by the dangerously handsome nobleman, Ellen is stunned by the depth of attraction he arouses in her.

Soon their friendship flames into something deeper…and as scandal ignites, marriage seems the only solution. But Ellen has a secret—one she can share with no one—that prevents her from fully opening her heart to Dominic. Until he devises his own plan for the ultimate consummation of their passion—and the woman he is determined to possess at any cost…

REVIEW: In this second book of her Web series, Ms. Balogh tackles the story of Dominic, Lord Eden, Edmund’s mischievous, charming, and care-free brother.

Let me say this before I go into the reasons behind loving this book most out of the Web Trilogy.

As some series go, you are able to read them out of order and most of the time they can well stand on their own, but I found that this particular series is not one of them and I know for certain that my enjoyment would have been thwarted if I hadn’t read these stories in order.

In the first book we met Dominic as a young man full of mischief, willing to fall in love at a drop of a hat, filled with dreams of joining the fray of an imminent war with Napoleon. In this book we watch him as he finally finds his true heart’s desire and is faced with brutality and reality of the war.

For the first time we meet Ellen, a married, very strong, smart and courageous young woman that Dom met a few years ago in Spain. She loves her older husband who is Dom’s superior and his mentor. The three of them are close friends and it never even occurred to either Ellen or Dom that they would ever end up being lovers. She deeply respects and loves her husband and is wholly devoted to him and their marriage.

As this story opens, we welcome back Alex and Edmund as they arrive with his sister Madeline, Dom’s twin, into Brussels in support of their sibling who they haven’t seen in three years.

And here is where the story gets interesting for me. I loved the setting [think War and Piece movie with Audrey Hepburn!] and Ms. Balogh did an outstanding job in bringing to me this world of uncertainty, bravery and agony that surrounded our maine and secondary characters.

And speaking of those, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved those, from Jennifer, Ellen’s teenage step-daughter to Lieutenant Allan Penworth, a man who becomes very dear to Madeline; I loved Charlie Simpson, Ellen’s husband so much that I mourned him almost as much as Ellen and Dom did.

But what came through the most in this story was the way Ms. Balogh clearly showed her readers that great love can strike twice in a lifetime, and how hard it is to understand and accept that fact. That part touched me deeply personally.

I’m so glad I finally got to this series off my TBR!

mb tdw‘The Devil’s Web’

STORY: The last time Madeline Raine had seen James Purnell, she had been but a chit of a girl, and at his mercy. Purnell had held her helpless in his arms – but protectively above the abyss of her own dangerous hunger for him.

He had left her then, not taking her innocence but taking her heart, as he vanished from England. Since then Madeline had reigned as society’s most dazzling and heartless beauty, making all men pay for one man’s rebuff of her.

Now James was back, more handsome and arrogant than ever. And Madeline steeled herself not to fall under his spell again. But she soon discovered that the melting power of passion ignited by love would not easily die…

REVIEW: If you’ve not read the first two books, especially the first one, ‘The Gilded Web’, I guarantee you that you will not understand our couple’s past, present and future behavior. It really is imperative you at least read book one.

In this book we watch Madeline, sister of Edmund and Dominic, mature, yet when it comes to planning and mapping out her future, she hasn’t changed a bit. She is still kept back with her conflicting feelings toward James and is hurling herself from one plan to another, only to find out that she must face the reality of loving a man who will certainly drag her into darkness with him.

Talk about a man, James Purnell, brother of Alexandra and Edmund’s wife from ‘Gilded Web’, who is torn by the past and his feelings of unworthiness when it comes to his future.

This is the third and last story of the Web Series and if it was the hardest to read for me, I wonder if it was as hard to write for Ms. Balogh.

If you’re not into dark and complex characters, then this story will be wasted on you. But if you can appreciate the intricacies of a very complex relationship between James and Madeline, you will be rewarded tenfold with a story of deep, true, abiding and long lasting love that had to go through many trials in order to blossom.

I loved all three stories and Ms. Balogh’s writing is as strong as ever. The depth of the characters that she writes about is one that I will always appreciate. If you’ve never read this author, these may not be the books to start you on her wonderful writing, but once you do, please don’t miss out on these unique, complex and very interesting characters.

It comes as no surprise to me that she succeeded yet again in creating three romance stories that touched my heart. She weaved these with a historical event that helped the plot and shaped the characters that I was deeply touched by, and will stay with me forever. I highly recommend all three of these engrossing and wonderful stories.

*Melanie for b2b.

*Books provided by my local used book store.

Spotlight on Diana Quincy and …

Accidental Peers Series

dq sc‘Seducing Charlotte’ – Book 1

BOOK BLURB: Opposites attract…Even if he is the catch of the season, Charlotte Livingston has a low opinion of the wildly handsome Marquess of Camryn. He’s an industrialist who thinks nothing of replacing workers with machines, depriving them of an honest living. Camryn is everything a social reformer like Charlotte detests. Besides, her loyalty belongs to another man.

Worlds Collide…Yet, as a violent machine-breakers rebellion rages across England, an undeniable attraction flares between the passionate adversaries. Camryn vows to destroy the rebel movement, unaware that the spinster who has captured his heart, harbors a secret – a shocking connection to one of its leaders that could shatter them both.

REVIEW: Here’s the deal. Even though this is the first book in the series and the début for Ms. Quincy, if you want to read this series in order, you should read Willa’s story first, then Charlotte’s second and Bella’s story is the last in the series. For some reason ‘the men in suits’ that bought these stories, decided they should be published out-of-order. Don’t ask!

Okay, now that I got that out-of-the-way, let me tell you why I loved this story.

Charlotte. Charlotte. Charlotte.

I thought the characterization of this young woman was wonderful. She was such a mixture of innocence and maturity that you couldn’t help but like her. She’s much more than just a bluestocking. She’s passionate about her causes but also about life and people she loves. She doesn’t cower and when confronted, is terrible at lying and is more than capable standing up for herself and those that need her protection. The dialogue between Cam and Charlotte is intense, intelligent and intriguing.

Arthur Stanhope, Marquess of Camryn, [Willa’s cousin who inherited her father’s title] is one of those heroes we can’t help but love. He’s the oldest of four brothers; Sebastian, Basil and Will do make an appearance and all are interesting and mischievous in their own right.

Cam always knew he would inherit the title from his uncle and he was ready to take on that challenge and take on more by involving himself within the industries that have shaped the future of his country despite many oppositions in its and his path.

It was interesting watching this privileged man slowly reviling himself to Charlotte in small increments, so we would get the full impact of his character as she did.

I was also impressed by this author’s research and it shows as she introduces her audience to the history of manufacturing, and the masses that were affected by it, aristocracy as well as the common man.

If you’re looking for a well-written, well researched and interesting, entertaining and fun read, this is a must read.

dq tb‘Tempting Bella’ – Book 2

BOOK BLURB: Mirabella can hardly remember the man she married as a girl. And it’s just as well. She feels nothing but contempt for the man who wed her for her fortune and promptly forgot she existed. The ton may call him “The Saint” but Bella knows better.

Forced to marry as a teen to rescue his family from certain ruin, Sebastian has been apart from his child bride since their wedding day. When he encounters an enchanting impish beauty at the opera, he’s is thrilled to find she is none other than his long-ago bride and he is more than ready to make her his wife in truth.

Too bad the beguiling beauty has no intention of coming meekly to the marriage bed.

REVIEW: Bella’s story is actually the last in the series, but all three stories in this series may be read out-of-order and stand on their own.

And now here’s what I loved most about this story.

Sebastian. Sebastian. Sebastian…and have I said, Sebastian?!

Holy cow, this was a man to die for. I adored this man. Talk about honorable, patient, loving and saintly. No wonder his brothers nicknamed him Saint!

I loved the complexity of this character. His childhood was not easy and he had to work extra hard to please his parents and prove himself to them and to himself that he’s worthy of their love, but he knew in his heart that no matter how hard he tried, it seemed to him that it was never enough and that was very hard for him to accept.

DAMN but I wanted to give this man a huge hug!

I know this book carries Bella’s name, but boy I thought Sebastian’s story totally took my breath away.

The character of the heroine, Bella, was also complex and couldn’t be compartmentalized. She grew up abandoned and it showed in all she did and wanted to do. It took her awhile to ‘come into her own’ and Sebastian was a perfect man for her.

Again, besides being well written, plotted and fast paced, as were all the stories in this series, I was most impressed with the dialogue between the main protagonists. It had wit, passion and substance that I just loved. Hope you give it a try.

dq cw‘Compromising Willa’ – Book 3

BOOK BLURB: Lady Wilhelmina Stanhope is ruined and everyone knows it. Back in Town for the first season since her downfall, Willa plans to remain firmly on the shelf, assuming only fortune hunters will want her now. Instead she focuses on her unique tea blends, secretly supporting a coffee house which employs poor women and children. If her clandestine involvement in trade is discovered, she’ll be ruined. Again.

No one is more shocked by Willa’s lack of quality suitors than the newly minted Duke of Hartwell. Having just returned from India, the dark duke is instantly attracted to the mysterious wallflower. His pursuit is hampered by the ruthless Earl of Bellingham, who once jilted Willa and is now determined to reclaim her.

Caught between the clash of two powerful men, a furious Willa refuses to concede her independence to save her reputation. But will she compromise her heart?

REVIEW: This is actually the first book in this series, although you need not read them in order whatsoever. All three books are stand alone as well as the part of the series, and with that said, here is the reason I liked this book.

Hart. Hart. Hart.

Here’s a man who is praise worthy and one who is worth rooting for!

He’s not only a duke, but a man with a vision and an eye on the future; handsome, rich and willing to stand up for a woman he believes compromised.

Willa is a strong heroine and someone who has embraced her lot in life as a compromised woman and still refused to be cowed by the society.

I must say that as villains go, we had one sick bastard in this one and I was so happy about the way the author engineered his ‘exit’.

This is another well-written, entertaining and very fun read. I’m coming to enjoy this author’s writing style, but it’s the witty, entertaining and intelligent dialogue I enjoyed the best.

>>> Rafflecopter <<<

Giveaway Details:

Grand Prize_edited-1
1 Paperback of Tempting Bella

1 tin of Compromising Willa Custom Tea, and

a $10 Starbucks Gift Card! US Only.

3 eBooks of Compromising Willa/International!

Diana Quincy

AUTHOR BIO: Diana Quincy is an award-winning former television journalist who decided she’d rather make up stories where a happy ending is always guaranteed.

Fans of Madeline Hunter, Lisa Kleypas and Sabrina Jeffries will love Diana’s Regency world of dashing dukes, irresistible rogues and the headstrong, determined women who capture their hearts. New York Times bestselling author Grace Burrowes says SEDUCING CHARLOTTE is “Sweet, steamy, and thoroughly enjoyable…Equal parts action, passion and fun.”

Growing up as a foreign service brat, Diana lived in many countries and is now settled in Virginia with her husband and two sons. When not bent over her laptop or trying to keep up with laundry, she enjoys reading, spending time with her family and dreams of traveling much more than her current schedule (and budget) allows.

Diana loves to hear from readers. You can find her on the following social media:

     

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Help save “Copper” on BBCA by Carla Ives

BBCA

Good Monday my bookworms!

Mel here….

This post is a bit personal for me. I’ve actually never done this before…try to bring back a TV show…but I do feel strongly about it, so here goes.

I really don’t watch TV much. I’d rather read a book However, there are some shows that are worthy of me lighting my tube and “COPPER” is just such a show that I thought was well written and executed.

Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather when last month, just before the cliffhanger of the second season, I find out the show had been canceled…WTH?! I mean, really?! In the midst of all these reality shows that we’re inundated with, we finally get a decent show that even men like, and BBCA just yanks it off…I don’t get it! Check out these videos and tell me what you think of the show….

Well, I found like minded people on Facebook and they’re not taking this ‘laying down’ and are willing to try and get the show back on the air….so, I thought to give them a spot today to appeal to some of my faithful readers and followers who either saw the show, or would like to see it, once they bring it back. Please help us sign as many people as we can to these groups so we can bring back this show….

Without further ado, I’d like to welcome Carla and her guest post!

It’s 1865. President Lincoln has been assassinated and John Wilkes Booth, the assassin, is dead. Loyal union soldiers Kevin Corcoran and Major Robert Morehouse, along with former slave Dr. Matthew Freeman, did their part to help bring Booth to justice. They’re back in Five Points and Detective Corcoran gets word that he’s wanted to replace the late General Brendan Donovan in Tammany Hall.

Normally, I would be excited over this type of a season ending. Sadly, for fans of the BBCA show “Copper,” it turned out to be a series ender. The network unexpectedly cancelled this very popular show with little to no reason.

“Copper” has a loyal following and they are very disappointed. Fans want the show brought back and are willing to work at it. Groups have been started to try to sway the producers to bring the show back, if not on BBCA then maybe on another network. Rumor has it that a movie is in the works, but diehard “Copper” fans want their weekly fix of the show that details the life of Irish immigrants in the mid-19th century.

If you loved the show, you can help. Get involved! Here are a number of ways you can do just that. Click on the blue links to access the information.

Email: Write to Tom Fontana. He is on the side of the fans and looking at doing the movie. Let him know you want the show back.

Sign: There is a petition at Change.org, among others. To sign this petition, click HERE.

Tweet: If you have a Twitter account, follow Save Copper TV HERE.

Facebook and Google +: There are many pages set up to save “Copper.”

Bring Back Copper

Copperholics Anonymous

Google+

One of the best things you can do is make a fan video. The video can be as simple as talking about why you love the show and think it should have been renewed. You can do this with your phone, a camera or even by creating a Power Point presentation with voiceover. Upload it to You Tube and then use the link to with your emails and page comments for added emphasis. You can upload the video to You Tube HERE.

If enough of us band together, the producers and powers that be have to take notice. The phrase, “There is strength in numbers,” has never been more applicable. If enough of us care, we can get Corky, Francis, Andrew, Major Morehouse and Dr. Freeman back where they belong!

PLEASE JOIN OUR CAUSE!

GIVEAWAY by b2b!

“COPPER” Season One DVD to one commenter who signs up the most names to 

Bring Back Copper Facebook page!

*Make sure your friends mention you when they join the group. 

*Contest open until 10/12/13 

*US ONLY

??????????????????????Carla Ives is the owner of the Ms. Atlantic City web site and Facebook page, the ultimate guides to casinos, entertainment, restaurants and hotels in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She is sort of a Jill of All Trades, master of a few.

She’s also a ghostwriter, freelance writer, editor and history lover. You can find her strolling on the Boardwalk, sitting on the beach or over at Ms. Atlantic City madly scribbling away. Please contact her HERE with comments, questions and suggestions.

TV shows to watch out for ….

Am I the only one that’s tiered of the “reality” [if they are real, then I'm 100 lb's! HA!!] crap that’s overtaken the small screen?! The only “reality” show I’m still sticking to is DANCING WITH THE STARS. That’s it! Everything else is just depressing!

As far as the quality TV goes, I’m not going to mention GAME OF THRONES. That’s too obvious. I love that show and hope it goes on forever and ever! I was devastated with the ending of season 3….

Just a week ago I discovered a show and had to do some catching up. Have you watched it yet? It’s called ‘HELL ON WHEELS’ [AMC network] and it ROCKS! It’s well written; actors are phenomenal and their 3rd season will start on AUGUST 10.

You’ll notice I haven’t put out any actor names, but if you’d like to know who’s in these shows, you can click on the name of the show and it’ll take you to their websites.

Here are my season’s Must see TV!

HOW season 1 Trailer

Another show I got hooked on last year was ‘COPPER’ [BBC America network] and  it just resumed its second season. Guys, this show is amazing. So much talent in one place is scary!

And that’s all…That’s all I managed to like. I honestly couldn’t get into anything else, although I tried. I thought ‘CAMELOT‘ [Starz network] would have been good, but I wasn’t blown away with it. It was just okay.

Now, I was pleasantly surprised with some of the shows that are slated for the new 2013/2014 season and I thought to share them with you and see what you think about them….

For all Phillipa Gregory fans, I say wait no more as the ‘WHITE QUEEN’ takes her throne on AUGUST 10 [Starz network] and I’ve already caught the first episode of it! It really looks good!

Here’s a bit about the show from Starz website:

The White Queen is a riveting portrayal of one of the most dramatic and turbulent times in English history. A story of love and lust, seduction and deception, betrayal and murder, it is uniquely told through the perspective of three different, yet equally relentless women – Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville. In their quest for power, they will scheme, manipulate and seduce their way onto the English throne.
The year is 1464, before the Tudor dynasty ruled the country, and war has been ravaging throughout England over who is the rightful King. It is a bitter dispute between two sides of the same family, The House of York and The House of Lancaster.

The House of York’s young and handsome Edward IV is crowned King of England with the help of the master manipulator, Lord Warwick “The Kingmaker.” But when Edward falls in love with a beautiful Lancastrian commoner, Elizabeth Woodville, Warwick’s plan to control the throne comes crashing down.

A violent, high-stakes struggle ensues between Elizabeth, her most fierce adversary, Lancastrian Margaret Beaufort, and Anne Neville, the pawn in her father’s power game – each woman vying for the crown.”

FOX network is bringing ‘SLEEPY HOLLOW‘ on SEPTEMBER 16th, and it’s looking good. Here’s what’s on their website about the show:

“What if you suddenly woke up from the throes of death 250 years in the future to find the world is on the brink of destruction, caused by unimaginable events, and you are humanity’s last hope?

In this modern day twist of Washington Irving’s classic, ICHABOD CRANE is resurrected and pulled two and a half centuries through time to unravel a mystery that dates all the way back to the founding fathers. Revived alongside Ichabod is the infamous Headless Horseman who is on a murderous rampage in present-day Sleepy Hollow. Bound to the Headless Horseman by a blood spell cast on the battlefield of the American Revolution, Ichabod quickly realizes that stopping Headless is just the beginning, as the resurrected rider is but the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

As this re-invented Ichabod finds himself in present-day Sleepy Hollow, he discovers a town and a world he no longer recognizes. All that is brutally familiar are Headless and Ichabod’s determination to annihilate this immortal being. It’s a mission he must complete quickly, as Headless already has viciously slain Sheriff AUGUST CORBIN. Grey served both as mentor and father figure to Detective ABBIE MILLS, a young cop whose own supernatural experiences help her form an unlikely bond with Ichabod. But Sleepy Hollow’s head of police, Captain FRANK IRVING, isn’t buying any of this.

In fact, the only person who is on Abbie’s side is Ichabod. His extensive first-hand knowledge of our secret American history, coupled with her superior profiling and modern threat assessment skills, will make them a formidable duo as they work together to triumph over evil. The complex pasts of Ichabod and Abbie, from Ichabod’s inclusion in the powerful and secretive Freemasons Society and the ghostly appearance of his late wife, KATRINA, to Abbie’s childhood visions, will help them solve the intricate puzzles of Sleepy Hollow in order to protect its future.

As history repeats itself, the oddly-linked pair will draw on the real stories and hallowed secrets this nation was founded on in their quest to stop an increasingly vicious cycle of evil.”

‘REIGN’ is set to start on OCTOBER 17 [CW network] looks like another show for teens, but I think I’ll give it a try. Here’s a bit about it from CW website:

“Hidden between the lines of the history books is the story of Mary Stuart, the young woman the world would come to know as Mary, Queen of Scots.  Queen of Scotland since she was six days old, the teenage Mary is already a headstrong monarch – beautiful, passionate, and poised at the very beginning of her tumultuous rise to power.

Arriving in France with four close friends as her ladies-in-waiting, Mary has been sent to secure Scotland’s strategic alliance by formalizing her arranged engagement to the French king’s dashing son, Prince Francis.  But the match isn’t signed and sealed, it depends more on politics, religion and secret agendas than affairs of the heart.

Prince Francis is intrigued by the fiery Scot, but like most young men, he resists the idea of settling down into marriage, especially when he has a history with a lady of the court and his own point of view on the wisdom of an alliance with Scotland.  Still, an attraction between Mary and Francis is ignited.

Further complicating things is Bash, Francis’ roguish half-brother, who has a history of his own – despite his illegitimate birth, Bash is his father’s favorite.  And now that Bash has caught Mary’s eye, a royal triangle may be forming.  While at French Court, fierce foes and dark forces conspire to sabotage Mary’s marriage to Francis and even threaten her life, until a mysterious shrouded guide becomes her ally.

With danger and sexual intrigue around every dark castle corner, Mary rallies her ladies-in-waiting and steels herself, ready to rule the new land and balance the demands of her country and her heart.”

In JANUARY I’m looking forward to watching ‘BLACK SAILS‘ [Starz network]. I have to say my only motivation to watch this show is….TOBY STEPHENS! The only time once before I watched a show because of a certain actor [SEAN BEAN} and it was GAME OF THRONES. I just know this will be awesome! Here’s a bit about it from the website:

“1715. The Golden Age of Piracy in the Caribbean is at its apex. The former British colony of New Providence Island is now lawless territory, controlled by a few dozen of the most notorious pirate captains in history. The most feared among them is CAPTAIN FLINT.
But as the British Navy returns to these waters, and the threat of extinction looms, another side of Flint emerges. A man driven by deep, complicated, even romantic motives. He will ally himself with the beautiful ELEANOR GUTHRIE, daughter of the local smuggling kingpin who turns the pirates’ loot into profits. Together, they forge a plan to hunt the ultimate prize, and by winning it, stave off reclamation of their home by a resurgent empire.

Arrayed against them are a series of opponents: rival captains, jealous of Flint’s power; Eleanor’s father, whose ambitions for the island conflict with his daughter’s; and a young sailor, recently recruited onto Flint’s crew, who will somehow manage to constantly undermine his captain’s agenda. His name is JOHN SILVER.”

And last, but certainly not the least, I hope, is the show I’ve been waiting FOREVER to be made and that’s ‘OUTLANDER‘! Sorry, no trailer yet for it because the show’s in pre-production still but without a doubt this will be B.I.G. Will let you know as soon as I find out more about it. However, here’s a vid I found to keep you going ’till then….

Spotlight on Victoria Vane and…

THE DEVIL DEVERE SERIES

A Wild Night’s Bride  (Ned and Phoebe’s story- romantic romp)

AWNB VVBOOK BLURB: What happens when a struggling actress and a grieving widower come together in a night of unbridled debauchery orchestrated by a bored and machinating rake?

She’s a lonely lady down on her luck: Phoebe Scott, alias Kitty Willis, is a struggling Covent Garden actress with a bruised heart and a closely guarded secret.

He’s steadfast and eminently respectable:  Sir Edward Chambers, Ned to his intimates, is guilt-ridden over his beloved wife’s death and avowed to live out a rustic and mundane life … of celibacy.

With the devil in charge — there will surely be hell to pay: Devil in disguise, Viscount Ludovic DeVere, is determined to return his best friend, Ned, to the land of the living. His meddling machinations result in a night of mind-blowing passion after which “dull dog Ned” awakes to find himself in the King of England’s bed!

EXCERPT: here

MINI REVIEW: The first time I ever read this author was under her pseudonym of Emery Lee and the book was ‘Fortune’s Son’. My review of it is here. Since I liked her style and voice, I thought to try her other books, under her Victoria Vane pseudonym.

In this first book of the DeVere Series, she has a couple that no one in their right mind would put together, let alone have them fall for each other, and that is why this romance works.

The story never takes itself too seriously and through its witty dialogue achieves what it’s set out to do: entertain, titillate and intrigue.

The author cleverly spreads a few ‘crumbs’ throughout the story about Devil DeVere that a reader is left with too many questions to now abandon the series, therefore compelling one to follow the trail into the next book.

If you’re looking for a faced paced, funny and very sensual series this summer, this will, without a doubt, fill the bill. Highly recommended.

TVH VVBOOK BLURB: Lady Vesta Chambers is accustomed to getting what she wants…Coddled and pampered, since her mother’s death, Lady Vesta Chambers is beside herself when her father goes to London to prepare for her come-out and returns with a young bride of his own. With her world turned upside down, Vesta accompanies her godmother, Diana, to town, where she is smitten the moment she lays eyes on a certain captain of the Seventeenth Light Dragoons.

But when the object of her passion has eyes for another… it’s time to take matters in hand..

Captain Hewett DeVere, younger brother and heir to Viscount Ludovic ”The Devil” DeVere, has returned from the American war scarred, disillusioned, and looking forward to settling down to a quiet and respectable life. But when the handsome and straight-laced captain turns his eyes toward the widowed Diana, Vesta is prepared to take devilish measures to prove to prove to Hew once and for all that she is no longer a little girl, but a woman with the passion of …a huntress.

EXCERPT: here

MINI REVIEW: This is the second book in The Devil DeVere series and this couple was even more mismatched than the first! I think Ms. Vane thrives on this concept and deliberately plots her stories around these poor characters that have nothing whatsoever in common.

 

The hero is enamored with another woman, and the heroine is hell-bent in snatching him up for herself and blatantly pushing herself on him. I actually enjoyed the many, MANY plots our little virgin puts the hero through in order to show him how perfect she is for him.

Another fun and witty, as well as sensual, little romp. I do recommend they be read in order though.

 

TDYK VVBOOK BLURB: Who can Find a Virtuous Woman…Beautiful, respectable, and dutiful, Lady Diana Palmerston-Wriothesley  has long resigned herself to her twelve-year loveless and childless marriage to a feckless husband…until his gambling pushes them to the brink of  financial ruin.

Sometimes the Devil is in Disguise…As a Gentleman…

Viscount Ludovic, “The Devil DeVere”, is a man accustomed to taking what he wants according to his whim and heedless of the cost…until he encounters a woman who won’t be had at any price.

When Dealing with the Devil, It’s Easy to be Burned…

When Diana discovers a secret that shatters the carefully built façade concealing her private pain, she seeks aid and comfort from the most unlikely place…the devil’s arms. But will a single night of heavenly passion damn them both forever?

EXCERPT: here

MINI REVIEW: This is the third book in the series, but it actually takes place before the other two books, and it gives us a look into Diana and Devil’s past. Once more she pairs a duo of characters that, on paper, should not be compatible, yet once they meet, the sparks fly and the tension this author builds is palpable.

We finally get to know and like Diana. I was surprised at how much I really liked her.As for our hero, he reveal  much about himself and not all of it to my liking. As in earlier books, Ms. Vane plots, paces and entertains well with this first part of Diana and Devil’s story.

To get the most out of this series, I strongly suggest it be read in order. It really gives you the dynamic of the players involved and especially this story which has a mystery plot in it.

TDM VVBOOK BLURB: When Burned Once …Arriving in London as her goddaughter’s chaperone, Baroness Diana Palmerston-Wriothesley wants to avoid her erstwhile lover at all costs. Once nearly consumed by passion, four years has reduced the former inferno to bitterness and ashes.

By An Old Flame… 

A world-weary master of seduction, Ludovic ”The Devil” DeVere is bored with his chosen life of debauchery. When Diana’s charge disappears, she is forced to seek help from the devil’s lair, and their mutual desire reignites with undeniable ferocity.

Fire Is Best Fought With Fire

While DeVere is hell-bent to have her back in his bed, Diana is equally determined to bring him to his knees…by acquiring some sensual secrets of her own.

EXCERPT: here

MINI REVIEW: This is the second part to the third book and Devil and Diana’s story. In this one, the author finally lets us, as well as Diana, see the heart of our hero. Diana finally realizes that this man is more than he lets people see, and we as readers realize that both hero and heroine are two very complex people who are meant to be together.

This was one of those happily ever after stories I was looking forward to and wasn’t disappointed.

The tension, as well as the sensual scenes, in this book is so well written that will leave you breathless.Throughout the series Ms. Vane has done an outstanding job in balancing characterization with plotting a fun, entertaining and interesting story. She enhanced each story with a witty dialogue that at times had me laugh out loud.

This is a must in the series!

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image11427433

JOTE VV
PREQUEL VIGNETTES
DITM VV
TTWS VV

Victoria VaneAUTHOR BIO: Victoria Vane is an multiple award-winning romance novelist and history junkie whose collective works of fiction range from wildly comedic romps to emotionally compelling and intensely erotic romance. Look for Victoria’s sexy new contemporary cowboy series coming in summer 2014.

A lover of history and deeply romantic stories, Victoria Vane combines these elements to craft novels and novellas for a mature reading audience. Her writing influences are Georgette Heyer for fabulous witty dialogue and over the top characters, Robin Schone , Sylvia Day, and Charlotte Featherstone for beautifully crafted prose in stories with deep sensuality, and Lila DiPasqua for creative vision in melding history with eroticism. 

Victoria also writes historical fiction as Emery Lee and is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog.

You can reach Ms. Vane at: Web Site / Facebook / Tweeter / Goodreads