‘Rutherford Park’ by Elizabeth Cooke

rp ecSTORY: Snow had fallen in the night, and now the great house, standing at the head of the valley, seemed like a five-hundred-year old ship sailing in a white ocean…

For the Cavendish family, Rutherford Park is much more than a place to call home. It is a way of life marked by rigid rules and lavish rewards, governed by unspoken desires…

Lady of the house Octavia Cavendish lives like a bird in a gilded cage. With her family’s fortune, her husband, William, has made significant additions to the estate, but he too feels bound—by the obligations of his title as well as his vows. Their son, Harry, is expected to follow in his footsteps, but the boy has dreams of his own, like pursuing the new adventure of aerial flight. Meanwhile, below stairs, a housemaid named Emily holds a secret that could undo the Cavendish name.

On Christmas Eve 1913, Octavia catches a glimpse of her husband in an intimate moment with his beautiful and scandalous distant cousin. She then spies the housemaid Emily out in the snow, walking toward the river, about to make her own secret known to the world. As the clouds of war gather on the horizon, an epic tale of longing and betrayal is about to unfold at Rutherford Park…

REVIEW: The building of Rutherford Park first began in 1530.  It is a vast estate added onto and improved by each Earl who has lived there over the years.  Currently, William Cavendish, the 8th Earl and his wife, Octavia reside there with their three children, Harry, 19, and daughters Louise and Charlotte.  Louise is soon to be presented at court.  Rutherford Park has always been run is a very strict way and the staff is very attentive to their duties.

Harry is a young man who dreams of flying in a plane and hopes one day to do so.  Louise and Charlotte dream of their season and the balls and dinner parties they will be able to attend.

Octavia is woman who is becoming bored with her life.  Her children are nearly grown and her duties of running her home are not enough to stimulate her.  Her husband, William, is a good man but when Octavia sees him in the arms of a visiting distant cousin, her faith in her marriage is shattered.

The servants know their places and keep themselves separate from the family.  However, when housemaid Emily Maitland suffers a tragedy, the results end up affecting the Cavendish family.

An indiscretion from William’s past comes back to haunt him and ends up driving a wedge between him and Octavia.  Will their marriage be able to survive it?

With the threat of war imminent, life changes for the Cavendish family, the staff and the entire country. Louise finds herself caught up in a frightening situation that ends up showing the entire family what is truly important in life.

I enjoyed this novel.  It was written in a rather depressing way although it was still quite good.  Downton Abbey fans should find this book to be interesting to them.

Connie for b2b

 ‘The Devil Takes a Bride’ by Julia London

tdtab jlSTORY: A plan born of desperation…

Once the toast of society, Grace Cabot and her sisters now await the shame of losing high status and fine luxuries upon the death of the Earl of Beckington. The dire circumstances are inevitable unless, of course, Grace’s wicked plot to seduce a wealthy viscount into marriage goes off without a single hitch. But once a stolen embrace with the wrong man leads her to be discovered in the arms of Geoffrey, the Earl of Merryton, her plan takes a most unexpected—and scorching—twist.

…and altered by passion.

Governed by routine and ruled by duty, Geoffrey had no desire for a wife before he succumbed to Grace’s temptation. Though his golden-haired, in-name-only bride is the definition of disorder, he can’t resist wanting her in every way. But once her secrets meet his, society might consider their lives to be ruined beyond repair…while Geoffrey might just see it as a new beginning.

REVIEW: The Earl of Beckington has passed away.  His second wife, Lady Beckington and his four stepdaughters, Honor, Grace, Prudence, and Mercy Cabot are now finding themselves without the funds that they used to enjoy.  The Earl’s son by his first marriage has taken over as heir.  The large dowries the girls had always expected have now been significantly lowered and the girls are afraid that no one will want them.

Grace Cabot decides to take her future into her own hands and plots to be found being seduced by a well-known rake, Lord Amherst.  The plan goes well until the person she meets in the dark turns out to be Amherst’s brother, Jeffrey Donovan, The Earl of Merryton.  When they are caught, he agrees to immediately wed Grace and takes her to his home, Blackwood Hall.  Jeffrey has a reputation for being a very cold man but Grace hopes that she will be able to learn to love him and find out about the real person inside him.

Jeffrey is a man ruled by habit and perfection.  He has an obsessive compulsive personality resulting from the cruelty he was subjected to by his father.  In addition, much of his thoughts are filled with sexual depravity.  He thinks of himself as a mad man and tries to keeps his habits secret.

As Grace and Jeffrey settle into Blackwood Hall, she realizes that he has a problem and does all she can to help him relax his stringent ways which is not an easy task.  However, she is relentless and hopes to help him with his problem.  However, Grace has a secret too.  Her mother is mad and continues to go downhill.

The story is a perfect example of OCD and their sexual encounters are quite explicit.  This is a different type of story that may appeal to many people.  I enjoyed Grace and found her to be a strong woman. However, Jeffrey is a person that I would find hard to like.

Connie for b2b

#AskOutlander/Live Twitter Chat w/@lotteverbeek1



HI EVERYONE!!! ready to roll :-)))

Was it a blessing or a curse not to get the role of Claire

It was amazing to get the part of Geillis as she is so fun to play!

I wonder, how long it took to put that fake pregnant belly on You? PS. I loved You in Nothing Personal :)

Thanks for watching Nothing Personal! did you see it on Netflix? belly took about 2 hours!!

You’re absolutely brilliant in this week’s ep! Would love to see more back-story on Geillis. Would you?

Yes! And we might…. ;-)

What is it about Geillis that makes her so quirky about how she wears some of her clothes? It’s great!

I like to think of Geillis as a creature more than a person. Something wildly animalistic about her

Any new projects coming out soon? Love your work on FIOS and as Geillis of course

tnx! THE LAST WITCH HUNTER opening Oct 23.

Did you read The Fault in Our Stars before being cast? How badly did you want that role?

Yes! I just new I had to have it :-)

Shout out from one Dutchie to another ^^ love you on Outlander! What has been the biggest challenge so far?

Thank you!! i would say… trying to nap wearing a bumrole… #luxuryproblems

Are you as tactile as you portray Geillis to be? One of my kids is like her, touchy-feely.

Yeah…. very much so….

Was it difficult to do the naked ritual scene last episode? You were amazing, I was swept away as I watched

tnx! i love being naked so that is not so different from Geillis. But it’s the added cameras …..

You are an amazing actress! What has been your favorite scene to film so far?

Thanks!!! The one coming up this weekend. plus dancing in the forest too

I read that many signed extended contracts. As the story progresses, it will be you coming back, I hope?

Who knows….

How many pronunciations of your name have you heard this year?

Lost track. Best ones were Vladimir and Lobster.

What did you think of all the fan support at the recent NYC premiere?

Amazing stuff! Thank you everyone who came out to support!

In the beginning, did you realize how dedicated Outlander fans are?

No! #overwhelmed #grateful

Do you color your hair?

Nope. Got it from my dad :-)

Would love to see how Gellis got along after she first came through stones!

Me too! Let’s add a scene?!?

Dogs or cats or horses???

I am more of a guinea pig type gal

What TV shows are your favorites? If you watch TV, that is

Love Ray Donovan

It all comes from @Writer_DG where would all of you be without her?

True that

I recall seeing a picture that you tweeted of your feet very muddy. What scene is this?

Good memory! Dance scene in the forest

I love Gellis’ squeaky “unlaugh” . Do you do that IRL Lotte ? I wait for Gellis’ to do that! ;)

Yes I love to laugh and am not shy about it :-)

Who is your favorite actor/actress you would or would’ve liked to work with?

The Meryl of course!

Geillis understands Gaelic, but she doesn’t ever speak it that I can recall. Is there a reason?

To make my life easier on set..??

Voice is great, but creepy – as befits her character. How did you come up with it?

Well, @Writer_DG wrote her really really well!

How was it like acting with Vin Diesel in ‘The Last Witch Hunter’?

Fantastic! Vin is the best

What’s your fav color??


Who is the funniest person on set?

My on screen man Graham McTavish

Hey, do you have a life philosophy?

I am a Buddhist!

Hi! I’m curious why the different colors on the sides of your hair? It looks AWESOME!

Nature’s way. Truly.

Do you have any secret talents?

Am a great cook. No poison intended.

What has been your favourite costume to date? You are sensational portraying Geilis…

tnx!! The pixie coat and The Raven!

How many pronunciations of your name have you heard this year?

Lost track. Best ones were Vladimir and Lobster.

Has anyone mentioned to you that you look and sound a great deal like Angelina Jolie?

Ha-ha I feel very humbled. Love her

Your prosthetic baby bump in the dancing scene looked pretty real – what was it like to wear one?

Cozy. It made me feel very maternal.

How would you compare your role as Geillis to your former iconic role of Giulia Farnese? :)

So many differences. GD is just a bit more foresty, I would say

You are truly very sympatica when it comes to the fans. Thank you!!

Because you are sympatica y’all!

Where do u think Dougal and Geillis met to consumate their affair? Include details

Ha! Naughty question. The still room? in front of the fire where she throws away the poison??

Geillis is a character that fans love to hate. Is it weird for you playing that kind of character?

Frankly, i only feel the love… @Outlander_Starz fans are the best!

What is your favorite thing about Geillis?

That she is so freaking wicked!

You must watch this weekend’s #Outlander! “The Devil’s Mark” is an unbelievable hour of TV.

tnx! We are all very excited for this ep to air. Worked on it for over a week!

What’s one thing you can’t leave without that you always take with you?

Dark choco

Do you think Geillis had anything to with Dougal’s wife’s death?


It’s pretty useless but could you tweet me something in French? :) You’re a great actress !

bonne journee a france!!

Did you get to keep the fabulous red shoes? I hope so!

Nope :-( but i do own a few pair of redsies myself

What do you think about a spin off series featuring Geillis?


Why do u think Geillis is so cagey about revealing her past to Claire? I always thought she would have told her

ahaaa… revelations coming up!

Why did you switch your dancing career for acting one? Can we see you dance again?

I kinda liked to be able to say something every now and again. Still love dancing though so the dance scene was perfect!

Was the dance you did in the latest episode choreographed or improvised? And did you enjoy it?

Dance was choreographed. Loved every ice cold second of it :-)

What was your favorite costume your wore?

I loved the coat! Featured last week

If you were to go through the stones, what time would you want to end up in?

1920′. for the skirts

Please tell me you will keep those shoes! #meanttobe

They may or may not have survived the trials and tribulations of this weekend’s episode…

Have we watched your personal favorite scene yet?


When will we see you in Nederland? Groetjesssss****

als de tijd rijp is/ when time is right/ ripe :-)

Which scene did you rehearse for the role of Geillis?

The first meeting with Claire was my audish scene

Loved you in Borgia’s! As an actress do you feel that you may have connected more to Geillis vs Giulia?

Perhaps… plus, GD wears red shoes and dances naked

What was it about Geillis and Outlander that convinced you to addition for the part?

I didn’t want to at first! GD looks so different in the books. But the scene stole my heart

What do you like to do to relax?

Dance. Sleep. Watch movies. Eat food. Make food. Hike.

It was lovely to see you in NYC with the cast. Are you comfortable with the crowds and fan frenzy?

Easing in to it :-)

What do you like about filming in Scotland and what do you dislike? Well done on the accent!

tnx! loved the people. but the bloody rain tho!

Did you fall in love with Scotland when filming here and will you return?

Yes and yes

Still want to join the circus? :)

I did!!! Certainly live that travelling life style now

No real question, just a comment. You STOLE THE SHOW last week! Still stunned over here!


Your favorite line so far

‘They say I’m a witch’

Any chance Geillis will put a spell on Laoghaire for us fans ???

If it serves The Cause ;-)

A beautiful cat with emerald eyes comes to mind. Maybe that’s Geillis’ “Familiar.” :)

Spot on!

What type of dancing were you trained in?

Ballet, modern, jazz, hiphop, tap, improv etc

Best bit of advice your parents gave you?

When I had doubts whether i should pursue acting they said: but this is what we always so you doing!

What’s your most fav components of Geleis’ character that you get to play that is like or unlike yourself?

She is playful like me. she murders unlike me

I can’t believe you are still tweeting. That’s awesome, how much time you give your fans. Thanks so much :-)

Of course!

So what animal would Geillis be?

There is a bit of a squirrel what else you think??

Geillis is one of Diana’s most intriguing characters – have you consulted with her about Geillis’ character?

Yes! Over a couple of drams #wickedconversations

I don’t know if you’ve read the books, but I just can’t wait to see you playing as Mrs. Abernathy! LOVE from Argentina!

What?!?!? Perhaps i should start reading the books…

Please tell me you will keep those shoes!

They may or may not have survived the trials and tribulations of this weekend’s episode…

Thanks everyone for you q’s! Hope you liked my a’s! See you all in the Thieves’ Hole tomorrow? Have a great day xoxo


Outlander – #1.10, Let’s discuss!



With this episode we start two points of view, and I loved it!


We’re still in Claire’s head, but with very few voiceovers, which actually I loved, but I’m cool either way.


First, let me ask how surprised were you with that opening scene? I’m in no way a prude, but this scene in anyone’s hands but these two actors could have gone 50 shades of gratuitous. Not so with Sam & Cait! The direction was marvelous and we see, 110abcno…we feel the love she feels …SIGH! Is it just me or are all these intimate scenes in Outlander perfect example of what real love-making is all about? I’m going to digress here and mention a show I almost stopped watching because they had these sex scenes every ten-fifteen minutes. The only reason I stayed with the show [which is a good thing because they certainly changed around in their second season] was the lead, Toby Stephens. You know which show I’m talking about, right? “Black Sails’ must have had an “epiphany” after the first season, or they just might have watched a few episodes of Outlander ;)


Their second season was 80% better than the first and I hope they continue to rely on the story, plot and great characters they have. Sex within a story is great, as long as there’s a purpose to all of it. Otherwise it lacks the emotion and looks cheap, acted.


Here is what I got out of this episode. If you’re a book fan, you know this one went off the track, but in the end came back to it. Like I said before, I’m cool with every change they came up so far, and any that will defiantly come our way. I’m just relaxing and enjoying the ride. BRING IT ON!


I loved all the Leery, Claire and Geillis stuff, but what I loved the most in this episode was all the stuff about the Jacobites and the obvious rift building between MacKenzie brothers. Dougal to me is such a complicated, complex man. To watch him is like watching a train wreck. You can’t avert your eyes. You have to see where this is all going.110d

I also loved watching Jamie’s character evolve more with each episode. We finally get to see this boy immerge a man, and we’re realizing that he is much more than a “stable lad”. He is trying to get the price off his head and he earnestly wishes to go to his home and show his wife his land, home…family.

And last, but in no way least, I loved watching Geillis Duncan show her true colors She is ruthless and ambitious. She is passionate and she is sneaky. I love her scenes at the forest and I love her voice.

The end of this episode  saw Leery smirking as they’re dragging Claire and Geillis off to the thieves’’ hole and as much as I always disliked her character in the books, here in the show she is portrayed as someone who’s misguided, misunderstood, so I’m not in the full “hate” mode just yet. Let’s see if I’ll feel that way after the next episode ;)


What did you like or dislike in this episode? If you’re not a book fan and have never read the books, where do you think the story is going in the next few episodes?

‘The First Wife’ by Erica Spindler

tfw esSTORY: An idealistic young woman marries a man she barely knows only to discover his first wife disappeared under mysterious circumstances. As a child, Bailey Browne dreamed of a knight in shining armor swooping in to rescue her and her mother. As she grew older, those dreams transformed, becoming ones of a mysterious stranger who swept her off her feet and whisked her away from her ordinary existence; then, suddenly, there he was. Despite the ten-year difference in their ages and her working class upbringing and his of privilege, Logan Abbott and Bailey fall deeply in love. Marriage quickly follows.

But when Logan brings her home to his horse farm in Louisiana, a magnificent estate on ninety wooded acres, her dreams of happily-ever-after begin to unravel. A tragic family history Bailey knew nothing about surfaces, along with whisperings about the disappearance of his first wife and rumors about women from the area who have gone missing, and when another woman disappears, all signs point to her husband’s involvement.

REVIEW: Bailey Browne has recently lost her mother to cancer.  Not ever having her father in her life, her mother was her total support.  She decides to take a trip to Grand Cayman using some of her mother’s life insurance money with hopes of helping her to heal from her loss.  While there, she meets the handsome and charming Logan Abbott.  They are instantly smitten with one another and get married.  Logan is a wealthy man who owns a horse farm in Louisiana.  That is where they head next to settle in.

When Bailey begins meeting the different members of Logan’s family, lifelong friends and others, it turns out that Logan is suspected of murdering his first wife, True.  She disappeared some time ago and was never found.  The Chief of Police, Billy Ray Williams, who has been a life long resident of the town, has always hated Logan.  It comes to light that there have been a number of women who have gone missing over the years and Billy Ray is quite vocal about thinking Logan murdered all of them.

When Bailey meets Raine, Logan’s sister, she finds her to be a very hostile woman whose paintings show anger.  When Bailey learns how Logan’s mother, father and brother died, she is quite shocked.  She loves her husband but cannot help but wonder if he could have been the killer of these women.

This book was very written to keep the reader thinking they might have figured how who the killer is only to learn otherwise.  It is not until the very end of the novel that the truth is revealed.  There are a number of scary things that come to light which only adds to the suspense.

While I feel that the book could have been shortened somewhat, I assume the author meant to hold the reader on the edge of their chair for as long as possible.

Connie for b2b

‘Starling’ by Virginia Taylor

s  vtSTORY: An aspiring dressmaker, orphaned Starling Smith is accustomed to fighting for her own survival. But when she’s offered a year’s wages to temporarily pose as a wealthy man’s bride, she suspects ulterior motives. She can’t lose the chance to open her own shop, but she won’t be any man’s lover, not even handsome, infuriating Alisdair Seymour’s…

To prevent his visiting sister from parading potential brides in front of him, Alisdair has decided to present a fake wife. He lost his heart once, and had it broken—he doesn’t intend to do it again. But stubborn, spirited Starling is more alluring than he bargained for, and Alisdair will risk everything he has to prove his love is true…

Set against the sweeping backdrop of 1866 South Australia, Starling is a novel of cherished dreams and powerful desires, and the young woman bold enough to claim them both…

REVIEW: Adelaide South Australia – 1866

Starling Smith was brought up in an orphanage.  As she has always had a interest in dressmaking and an eye for combining colors, she works for Alasdair Seymour, owner of Seymour’s Emporium.  When Alasdair receives some complaints on Starling for her suggestions to some customers on the colors that would best on them, he threatens to fire her.  However, as he sees her determined spirit, he offers the “job” of posing as his wife for a couple of weeks.  His sister and her husband are coming for a visit and if he is “married,” his sister won’t be pushing him to get married as she usually does.

When Starling finally agrees, she moves into his home hoping to blend in per his instructions for the allotted time period they agreed upon.

When his sister and her husband arrive, they bring along a beautiful widow named Lavender.  It just so happens that Alasdair has been in love with Lavender for many years and was heartbroken when she married a wealthy older man who has since passed away.  Lavender is a very spoiled woman who wears only shades of purple which is actually not well suited to her coloring.

The irritation that the spoiled Lavender adds to everyday events makes life for Starling quite difficult.  In addition, the attraction and friction between Starling and Alasdair begins to grow.

I had a difficult time trying to like Alasdair.  To me, he is simply an arrogant jerk.  Why Starling accepted some of his demands makes no sense.  I’m sure there are those readers who would truly enjoy the novel more than I did.  Starling does show herself to be a strong character and the author has written the character of Lavender quite well.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Born to be King – Prince Charles on Planet Windsor’ by Catherine Mayer

btbk pcopw cmSTORY: A provocative, surprising, and utterly fresh portrait of Charles, Prince of Wales

He is one of the world’s most fascinating and least understood figures: now sixty-six, Prince Charles has spent his entire life preparing to be king while insisting on being his own man. In this brilliant portrait, he emerges as a complex character driven by a painful past, a questing intellect, and a powerful impulse not only to reshape the monarchy but to use the long wait for the throne to work toward high ideals.

Based on exclusive interviews with members of Charles’s inner circle and on rare access to the Prince himself, this revelatory biography takes us deep into the royal sphere—a world of its own that Catherine Mayer calls Planet Windsor—and shows us the skullduggery and unintentional comedy of court life. At the same time, it provides a clear-eyed view of Charles’s struggles and his achievements as a philanthropist and activist. The book also offers a fundamental reappraisal of one of the most documented episodes in modern history—his marriage to Diana. The reality, as with many aspects of the Prince’s story, is more gripping and more poignant than we knew.

Now closer than ever to achieving happiness, the Prince is still far from settled. He remains committed to bringing about social and political change, but in aiming to be a king of hearts, he often creates heartache, for himself and others. Born to Be King explains how and why Charles may redefine the role of the sovereign, even as it reveals the astonishing extent to which the Prince has already left his mark on the world.

REVIEW: At age 66, Prince Charles is still waiting to ascend to the throne as King of England. His life has been one of preparation and finding ways to add something of significance to his country.  He is portrayed as a deep thinker and a man who truly cares about the many causes that he has adopted.  His childhood was not an easy one as he has always been a very sensitive person and the schools he was made to attend were supposed to toughen him up but only resulted in scarring him.  His father, Prince Philip, has always been hard on him because he wants him to be strong for when it is time for him to take over the monarchy.

The book discusses somewhat his marriage to Diana and their unhappy relationship.  The large difference in their ages is one factor that made their relationship a hard one for them, however, they both had painful and sad upbringings which should have brought them together.

The author tells the reader some things about Camilla and paints her as an intelligent woman who enjoys her grandchildren, her reading and a quiet life.  However, she and Charles truly seem to love one another and are happy together.

Charles is committed to doing all he can to change things to allow for more understanding socially among the people of his realm.  He is also interested in technical change and in introducing more modern industrial changes to improve things.

We hear discussion all the time about whether or not he should become King or step aside in favor of his son, William.  Many people feel that the youth of William and Kate will help to bring more modern ways and refresh the view of the Royals.

I do have to commend the author for not “taking sides” in her discussions of Diana and Camilla.

I found this book to have some interesting things but did not find myself being convinced that he should truly be King.

Connie for b2b