‘The Alice Network’ by Kate Quinn

tan kqSTORY: 1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth …no matter where it leads.

REVIEW: I’m a huge fan of WWII movies (The Poet; Shining Through; Anthropoid and many more), so I thought to try and check out some WW books and see if I’d like them too.

What I liked a lot about this story was a couple of things, characters and the setting was a given as soon as I started to read this story, but what wasn’t obvious was how dark and at the same time, humorous it was. It really encompassed the whole of humanity and I liked that very much.

The story jumps between after WWII and a year into WWI. The connection between the two heroines was perfectly plotted and I was at the edge of my seat as I second guessed every clue I was given by the author.

I adored Charlie St. Clair and Eve Gardiner was someone who impressed the hell out of me.

If you’re looking for a gripping, suspenseful and hear breaking and heart warming story, look no further.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

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‘The Bourbon Kings’ by J. R. Ward

tbk jrwSTORY: For generations, the Bradford family has worn the mantle of kings of the bourbon capital of the world. Their sustained wealth has afforded them prestige and privilege—as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly. Upstairs, a dynasty that by all appearances plays by the rules of good fortune and good taste. Downstairs, the staff who work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet.

For Lizzie King, Easterly’s head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing that she intended or wanted—and their bitter breakup only served to prove her instincts were right. Now, after two years of staying away, Tulane is finally coming home again, and he is bringing the past with him. No one will be left unmarked: not Tulane’s beautiful and ruthless wife; not his older brother, whose bitterness and bad blood know no bounds; and especially not the ironfisted Bradford patriarch, a man with few morals, fewer scruples, and many, many terrible secrets.

As family tensions—professional and intimately private—ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive.

REVIEW: Charlemont, Kentucky – May

Easterly, the Bradford Family Estate is home to the owners of the Bradford Bourbon Company.  The Bradford family first settled in the area in 1778.  Their annual sales are around $3Billion with No. 15 being their best seller.

William Baldwine married Virginia Bradford, heiress to the Bradford estate and bourbon company.  They produced four children, Edward, Maxwell, Tulane (Lane) and Virginia (Gin).  William has ruled his children with an iron fist and they hate him.  Their mother retreated years ago to her bedroom where she spends her days medicated.  Edward was always a rule-minder and looked out for his siblings. Today, he is a broken man both in body and mind.  Maxwell lives away from the home.  Lane is married to Chantel, a greedy, ruthless woman whom he hates.  Lane has been away from Easterly for the better part of two years and has just returned.  Gin is unmarried and living at home.  She is also the mother of a teenage girl away at school.

The family and staff are preparing for the annual Charlemont Kentucky Derby party that will host hundreds of élite guests from the area.  It will be a garden party under a tent complete with the finest foods and top-shelf liquors.

Lizzie King, is the head gardener at Easterly.  She is much more than just a gardener. She has an advanced degree in horticulture and has worked there for a several years keeping the grounds and flowers in top notch shape.  At one time, she an Lane had a thing going.  Even though they have not seen one another since he left, Lizzie and Lane still have a instant spark that has never died.  Although Lizzie has told herself that she wants nothing more to do with Lane, can she resist the love they still have for one another?

As the party preparations get underway, we find that things at Easterly are not as perfect as they seem. Hidden secrets are being revealed and the monetary stability of the Company comes into question.

It has been quite some time since I’ve read a book to which I wanted to award six stars.  This is one of those books.  I have not read any of this author’s novels before, quite frankly because I don’t care for paranormal.  However, this new series is so different from her usual books and I cannot wait to read more.  I am now on a search to find when she will be publishing the next novel in this series.  My appetite has been whetted!

Connie for b2b

‘Upstairs & Downstairs: The Illustrated Guide to the Real Life of Masters and Their Servants from the Victorian Era to the Second World War’ by Sarah Warwick

13201933STORY: This beautifully illustrated book takes readers on a guided tour of a single day in an upper-crust English home of the Edwardian era. Starting with the servants hard at work while the family is still abed, and culminating in a lavish dinner party, Upstairs & Downstairs lifts the curtain on this fascinating period, as well as its historical bookends, the Victorian and post-World War I eras.

Includes accounts from actual masters and servants, along with feature spreads on famous figures like Winston Churchill and Virginia Woolf.

REVIEW: This is a great overview of the Edwardian era in England. The book shows not only photos but illustrations of servants, lords and ladies. There is an excellent listing of each rank of servant in the household to include title, general age, wage range, uniform and general job description. There are sections on P.G. Wodehouse, Emmeline Pankhurst, Virginia Woolf, George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill, each with little nuggets of knowledge probably not found in other books. The reader is taken through an average day for the residents and servants and the duties involved for both. Events such as house parties, hunts, picnics and elaborate dinners are meticulously described.

I certainly enjoyed this book as I found it to be chock full of all kinds of information about this era. I feel as though I learned a lot from reading it.

Connie for b2b