‘Romeo and Juliet: A Novel’ by David Hewson

rajan dh raSTORY: It’s a story you think you know: the age-old tale of “star-cross’d lovers”; two families at war; a romance, so pure and absolute, fated for a tragic end. It’s a story so thoroughly embedded in our culture, and so frequently retold. Yet, nothing captures the spark, the possibility, and the surprise of Shakespeare’s work quite like this….

In Romeo and Juliet: A Novel, author David Hewson reworks and expands on the classic story so that it becomes something richer, something new and entirely its own. Much more than a simple love story, it is a brilliant examination of young versus old, hope against despair, and, for Juliet, the search for individual identity at a time when women were regarded as little more than chattel.

An original production commissioned by Audible, Romeo and Juliet: A Novel marks the second pairing of David Hewson and actor Richard Armitage, whose previous partnership resulted in Audible’s 2014 Audiobook of the Year, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel. Hewson’s talent for writing for audio is undeniable, and he finds his perfect vocal foil in Armitage, an actor of immense range and absorbing intensity. Together, they bring you a familiar story told in a surprising way – with an ending you might not expect.

Exclusively written for Audible, only available in audio

Bonus: Audiobook includes an afterword written and narrated by David Hewson.

REVIEW: First, I must say that I’ve never really read the “original”, but I’ve seen many, many performances and reimagining’s of it, and liked most of them.

Since this was exclusively offered to us through Audible only, and narrated by one of my all time favorite actors [I still say RA stole every scene in Robin Hood the series and overshadowed the main character] Richard Armitage, I just had to have it.

That’s why I am loathe to say how disappointed I was with the narration. I was conflicted between the retelling and narration. One I liked and the other not so much. And here’s why.

I liked the way all the characters were written. They all had a personality and were fun to get to know. The feel of the novel was fresh, yet old and familiar. And the ending came as a surprise and pleasant at that.

That said, Richard Armitage’s narration wasn’t bad, but for some reason most of the characters sounded the same, old and decrepit. That bothered me to no end! His voice is deep and memorable while conveying the story, but as soon as he goes into the dialogue, I just cringed.

Do I recommend it? You bet! It had enough humor that I’ll forgive RA for his less than stellar performance 😉

Melanie for b2b


‘A Heart for Milton’ by Trudy Brasure

AHFM TBSTORY: When Margaret Hale hastily rejected the wealthy industrialist’s fervent marriage proposal, she could not have foreseen the events that would lead her to change her mind and open her heart. But was it too late now to let the handsome, brooding mill owner know?

Set amidst the clamor of Victorian England’s Industrial Revolution, this is a tale of hope, trial, and love’s fulfillment. Based on the novel ‘North and South’ by Elizabeth Gaskell, this book weaves a change in the original plot to create a beautiful continuation of an enduring love story

REVIEW: I never read ‘North and South’ by Elizabeth Gaskell, but I did watch a four-part mini serial with Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe, which I liked a lot.

If you’re looking for retelling of Ms. Gaskell’s novel, or the adaptation of it, you’ll be disappointed.

‘A Heart for Milton’ is a Fan Fiction; a continuation of both, novel and adaptation; it concentrates on what really happened after that memorable ‘train station kiss’.

Ms. Brasure’s tale opens with Margaret mourning her father’s passing and her public acceptance of John’s proposal.

This is a well told and very complex ending, a closure, which most fans of John and Margaret probably needed to read.

I have to admit, even though this story ‘reads’ well, I wanted to ‘feel’ it. I wanted the author to show me more, and tell me less.

Regardless, in the end I give Ms. Brasure a lot of credit for taking on this project that is so close to her heart. It takes a lot of courage to write not just a novel, but a continuation of a well-loved tale and characters from another author.

If you are a fan of ‘North and South’ you should check this book out, and if you’ve never heard of either the book or the serial, please watch the serial before you read the book.

I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.

*Melanie for b2b

*Book provided by the author.

‘The Baron’s Lady’ by Charlotte Hawkins

TBL CHSTORY: Owen Gisborne is a knight in training. He vows not to lose his heart to a woman, but only to dedicate himself to the prestige of his warrior’s class. But to be a Gisborne is to love with a great passion, even if it goes against the rules…

Lady Isabella is a woman with a heart that is desperate for love. Denied the happiness that she sees in so many others, she makes a choice that changes the course of her life…and puts her very existence in danger…

Can love survive the adversity of an unforgiving world? Or will the mistakes of the past destroy any hope of happiness?

REVIEW: In this, her third book of the Gisborne saga, [The Tempest, My Lady Gisborne] Ms. Hawkins tells the tale of Guy of Gisborne’s son, Owen. However, this is not a story that comes after the last book, but rather a parallel to it, and told mostly from Owen’s point of view.

Owen is only seventeen when he gets infatuated by Lady Isabella, a beautiful young and married woman who is clearly out of his reach. As he gets to know her and her story better, he gives into his feelings more and more, finally admitting to himself that his heart belongs to this woman and no other.

Charlotte Hawkins manages to paint a picture of two people that are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Both make many mistakes before their love is given a chance to blossom, and that’s what made them more real to me. Their imperfections were dealt with as they grew closer together and it’s what made them come to life.

As in her earlier books, Ms. Hawkins takes the bones of a TV show ‘Robin Hood’ and gives it her own muscle and sinew to bring the Gisborn’s to life as we’ve never seen or read about before.

Each story is an original, well told tale of love found, lost and then found yet again.

The women in her medieval tales are strong and are not much relying on their knights in shining armor to rescue them, but are willing to work hard and sometimes rescue their knights instead.

But most of all, her books are about a family that loves one another through thick and thin.

The Baron’s Lady is one medieval story you should try to read this summer, especially now that’s FREE on Amazon. I hope you’ll like it as much as I did.

*Book purchased from Amazon.

“The Tempest: A Guy of Gisborne Story (The Gisbornes) by Charlotte Hawkins

STORY: Guy of Gisborne is a fierce, brooding knight. He is both feared and scorned by those under his command. But under his harsh exterior is a tormented soul, haunted by his many sins…

Cassia is a peasant with a gift for healing, and a secret longing for the feared lord Gisborne. When fate thrusts him into her hands, she quickly finds that he lives up to his dark reputation. But she also learns there is more to him than meets the eye…

Soon they are drawn into a passionate affair, discovering that love is a power that can overcome all things.

REVIEW: I’m sure that this take on Robin Hood’s nemesis will not appeal to diehard Prince of Thieves fans, but if you’ve had a chance to watch BBC series (which lasted only three seasons), you will gobble this book and revel in it. I did. I loved every word this author wrote, and then some!

First, because of the said series, I knew what to expect, or I thought I did. It actually went a bit further then the series in giving us depth to Guy’s character that helped me understand his dark and brooding nature. As the title states, this tale is all about Sir Guy and if you’re expecting this to be your run-of-the-mill ‘hero worship’ tale, you’re in for a big surprise. Ms. Hawkins doesn’t shy away from painting her hero with multiple flaws and that’s what gave this story a very real, human element that kept my attention.

Cassia is one of those heroines that can be strong yet at the same time very vulnerable. I think that her strength and abundance of patience was what attracted Guy to her. No matter how hard he tried to ‘manage’ her, she never gave into him nor did she allow him to turn her into a meek, withering female. The attraction, chemistry and the tension between the two was built with perfect pace and allowed us to watch Guy slowly show to Cassia his good side, without losing his ‘bad boy’ edge.

As a Guy of Gisborne fan, this story was ‘up my alley’ and I loved it so much that I’m now in the middle of the second book in the series ‘My Lady Gisborne: A Love Story’ and without a doubt I would recommend both. The author continues where she left off and I was happy to catch up with now older couple and their children. William, Theodora, Owen and Evelyn are all a mix of both of their parents and it was so much fun watching their different personalities.

This last year I’ve read so many new and good authors that the element of surprise in how well this book was written, by an unknown, is lost on me by now. I haven’t done much research on Charlotte Hawkins, but I can tell you this: Both her books are better than Catherine Coulter’s last one ‘The Valcourt Heiress’ and that, my bookworms, says it all.

If you’d like to step out of your comfort zone as I did, I promise that both of these books will keep you well entertained with its good writing, quick pace and sharp dialogue. And I would be remiss in not letting you know that sensuality in the first book is OFF the charts and it will definitely appeal to many romance lovers. Highly recommended!

Here’s just a little clip of BBC’s show that I fell in love with:

…as much as I loved the first and second season, the third left me baffled and stunned.