‘The Songbird’s Seduction’ by Connie Brockway

cb tssSTORY: Effervescent bon vivant Lucy Eastlake is a young operetta singer whose star is on the rise in Edwardian London. Though struggling to maintain her beloved great-aunts’ household, she holds fast to the belief that “things will work out.” Now, with the fiftieth anniversary of a siege her great-aunt Lavinia lived through approaching, it looks like Lucy is right, because a fortune is due to be divided among the survivors. All Lucy and her great-aunts have to do is travel to a small Pyrenees town to claim Lavinia’s share of a fabulous treasure in rubies. What could be more simple?

Professor Ptolemy Archibald Grant is the brilliant, straitlaced grandson of a British lord who also withstood the siege. When his grandfather asks him as a matter of honor to escort his old love on the journey, the about-to-be married professor agrees, not expecting Lucy to be part of the bargain. Losing the great-aunts en route, the handsome, buttoned-down professor finds himself caught up in Lucy’s quirky, bewildering, and probably illegal efforts to reunite with them, as he is drawn further and further into an inexplicable infatuation with the free-spirited singer. What could be more complicated?

But when unwilling attraction gives way to sizzling passion, both will be forced to confront the ages-old question of whether love trumps honor…or the other way around.

REVIEW: It’s 1908 and Lucille (Lucy) Eastlake is living with her two spinster great-aunts at their family home, Robin’s Hall, outside London.  Sisters Lavinia and Bernice Litton have never married and have always lived at Robin’s Hall which is in need of work both on the home and gardens.  However, the sisters do not have the money to undertake these expenses.  Lucy was orphaned at the age of 7 and after being shuffled from one distant family member to another, she finally found a loving home with her great-aunts.  Lucy is a happy, easy-going young woman with a lovely voice.  As such, she has found employment as a singer in the theater.
Many years ago, Lavinia Litton went on a tour to India where she met and fell in love with Lord John Barton.  Their group had been besieged while they were staying at a military hill station.  For months they remained there waiting for rescue.  One of the people being held decided to run for it but decided to leave behind a bag of rubies worth a fortune.  The group agreed to keep them for him.  However, he never returned and the number of people with claim to the rubies being held by a solicitor had dwindled to only a few.  Now, each of them must travel to a designated place by a certain date to claim their share of the rubies. Since Lavinia is one of the claimants, she and Bernice prepare to go with Lucy to accompany them.
Just before departing, Lucy met Ptolemy Grant, stuffy, but gorgeously handsome Professor of Archeology.  In addition, he just happens to be the grandson of Lord Barton who is one of the people with a claim for the rubies.  As it happens, Ptolemy, whom Lucy nicknames Archie, has been asked by his grandfather to travel in his place to make the claim.
As the great-aunts have decided to make a little vacation out of the trip, they plan to make stops in certain places along the way.  This is where the story begins to remind me of the zaniness of the 1965 movie, “The Great Escape.”  There is never a dull moment.
The reader will meet with a lot of laughs along the way and a lot of adventure.  Don’t miss out.  I’m thinking readers will truly enjoy this book.
I’ve attempted to set the stage for the book without giving out any spoilers as this book is not due for publication until September 16, 2014.
Connie for b2b
Complementary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Lady Most Willing: A Novel in Three Parts’ by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James & Connie Brockway

TLMW JQ EJ CBSTORY: At the behest of three of the most talented historical romance authors writing today, you are cordially invited to a ball. No, a party. No . . . a kidnapping.

Taran Ferguson, laird of his clan, is determined that his ancient (if not so honorable) birthright be secured before he dies. When both his nephews refuse to wed, the old reprobate takes matters into his own hands: he raids a ball and makes off with four likely brides . . .

Miss Marilla Chisholm—the bonniest lass in Scotland, and an heiress to boot.

Miss Fiona Chisholm—her older sister, another fine choice (but for that tiny stain on her reputation).

Lady Cecily Tarleton—true, she’s an English beauty, but very, very rich.

Miss Catriona Burns—without name or fortune, clearly someone made a mistake.

Oh, yes. And one very irate duke.

Because somewhere there must be one lady most willing to love a Scottish lord.

REVIEW: This collaborative story is the second one for these three bestselling authors and as of now it’s been for 2 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

If you’ve not read the previous collaborative work from these women, then you might not realize that this is one continuing story through the book, woven by all three authors. This kind of collaboration doesn’t happen often because all three stories must align seamlessly in order for the book, as a whole, to be fully enjoyed.

I am sorry to say that I found that in this case they didn’t. If I can tell which parts were written by Julia and Eloisa, being more familiar with their work, then the collaboration wasn’t a full success, in my opinion. The story in itself, as predictable as I found it, wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as good as I expected, especially coming from the authors I have such great respect and love for.

All three stories left me in want of something more, something a bit deeper, a bit meaningful and less predictable. The writing was good, plot so-so and pace varied from author to author, which in the end wasn’t a bad thing. Maybe that’s why in the end of it, I was left conflicted about which parts I liked and which left me cold.

My conclusion was, despite good and familiar writing of the two authors I greatly admire, I enjoyed it less  because all three stories felt rushed thus the book felt incomplete even though everyone reached their happy ending. Don’t misunderstand me. I liked it, I just didn’t love it.

Book provided by Avon through Edelweiss.