Book of the Week: The Rogue Not Taken

I retreated into the world of happy endings this week – and treated myself by letting myself read the new (well relatively new) Sarah MacLean which I have been saving for a Time Of Real Need.

This is the first in her new series – Scandal and Scoundrel – and after the massive high of the surprise reveal and general excitement of the final book of the Rules of Scoundrels, I wasn’t sure this could live up to my massive expectations.  And then I found out that the new series was inspired by celebrity scandals of today and got a bit worried.  But I really didn’t need to.  Sarah MacLean knows exactly what she’s doing.

Paperback copy of The Rogue Not Taken

The cover model is just a bit to… meh. All downcast eyes and no personality – completely un-Sophie like!

Sophie Talbot is the youngest of a line of scandalous daughters of a noveau riche peer.  Her sisters revel in their notorious reputations, but she’s not keen.  She’s the most retiring member of the family right up until she pushes her elder sister’s cheating husband into a pond at a party.  He’s a duke – old family, old money – she’s not.  Suddenly she’s the biggest scandal in society and facing being an outcast.  So she makes a run for it.  But she makes her escape it using the carriage belonging to the Marquess of Eversley, who’s fairly scandalous himself.  He thinks she’s trying to trap him into marriage.  She knows she definitely isn’t. But then Things Happen.

I enjoyed this so much. The characters are engaging, the dialogue is witty and fun.  There’s lots of proper plot – no wishy-washy misunderstandings that could be solved by one person asking the other a question.  And just when you think it’s nearly fixed, MacLean throws in another twist to the tail.  I was a little hesitant about one of these which happened towards the end of the book, but it was dealt with so neatly and resolved so satisfactorily that by the time the book was over I’d almost forgotten it had annoyed me.  I was also desperate to read the next in the series which isn’t out until August, but I’ll try and contain my impatience.

I still prefer the US cover to the UK one – cheesy thought the American romance covers are, they have no shame about what they are – there’s heaving bosoms, unlaced corsets that improbably reveal no under garments, ridiculous muscles and flowing locks, but they’re unapologetic about it, where as the ones here are misty and coy and undersell the contents.  But hey, at least with a British edition we don’t have to pay silly money to get them shipped in anymore.  Although – full disclosure – I got my copy from the publisher who gave them to everyone who went to Sarah MacLean’s London teaparty (she’s lovely) so I may yet buy a US version to match the rest of my books of hers…

Get your copy from Amazon, Foyles or Waterstones, or for Kindle or on Audible.  If you’re in the States, it should be everywhere fine, fine romances are sold (to quote Sarah Wendell.). Happy Romancing!

The Week In Books: June 20 – June 26

I gave up on the Elizabeth Jane Howard this week.  I’ve been hanging in there trying to plough through because I love the Cazalets so much, then my Mum said I didn’t have to keep reading it if I wasn’t enjoying it – and that if she was trying to read something she wasn’t enjoying, I would be the first person to tell her to give up and move on so she was returning the favour for me.  I have a great mum.

Read:

Once a Soldier by Mary-Jo Putney

Poison or Protect by Gail Carriger

Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins by James Runcie

An American Airman in Paris (short story) by Beatriz Williams

Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean

Started:

Queen Bees by Siân Evans

The Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

Still reading:

n/a

I bought six books on Friday.  It was very naughty of me, but I don’t regret it at all.  I’ll try and restrain myself this week though.

Book of the Week: The Tumbling Turner Sisters

Sometimes I sit for ages and think about what I’m going to pick for my Book of the Week, but sometimes I just know.  This week is one of the latter – by the time I was halfway through The Tumbling Turner Sisters I was fairly sure it was going to be this week’s pick. And that was on Tuesday.  Sure enough, here it is.

It’s 1919 and Gert, Winnie, Kit and Nell end up performing a vaudeville gymnastics act to try and make ends meet after their father injures his hand and is unable to work as a boot-stitcher.  As they travel around the US they experience the highs and lows of show business, make new friends, encounter prejudice and the seedier side of life.  Told by Winnie and Gert, you see them grow up as well as their differing perspectives on life on tour.

I love historical novels and I’m always looking for new authors who write good ones.  I’ve never read any of Juliette Fay’s books before – although reading the blurbs for them on Goodreads, this looks like it’s not precisely like any of her previous books anyway. This reminded me in some ways of Laurie Graham – who I love – it’s not laugh out loud funny as her characters often are, but there’s a similar tone and slightly sardonic world view.

I  really enjoyed this and although I had a few reservations about the end – which I won’t go into here because spoilers – they weren’t enough to annoy me and drive my overall impression of the book down.  I’ll be looking out for more from Juliette Fay – and maybe working my way through some of her back catalogue too.

You can get The Tumbling Turner Sisters from Amazon – but it’s only in hardcover and it’s not on Kindle at the moment, so I suspect it’s an American import.  Sorry. I try not to do this, but I really did enjoy this so much I wanted to write about it.  I’ll try and pick something easy to find next week!

 

The Week In Books: June 13 – June 19

I can’t work out whether I did well this week or not.  Ok in numbers, the amount of books I read is not that big, but several of them were quite chunky books so I’ve actually done a lot of pages – over 2500 pages in fact.  But is that good or not?  I don’t usually add up pages, so I have no idea, and I don’t have the time (or inclination) to go back and add it up for a representative number of weeks.  My Goodread stats average out at just over 2000 pages a week for this year so far, and just over 2100 a week for the whole of last year – but I know that there are always some books that I’ve read that don’t have a good reads page count so won’t have made it into the total.  But hey, on that basis, I’ve done well – because the 2500+ figure doesn’t include the half of the Mary-Jo Putney that I read on the train on Sunday evening…

Read:

Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt

The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

Stormswept by Sabrina Jeffries writing as Deborah Martin

From Pasta to Pigfoot: Second Helpings by Frances Mensah Williams

Wedding Bells for Nurse Connie by Jean Fullerton

Started:

Once a Soldier by Mary-Jo Putney

Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins by James Runcie

Still reading:

The Long View by Elizabeth Jane Howard

I pre-ordered Eloisa James’s upcoming novella, but that’s it.  I’m trying to be restrained…

Book of the Week: Naked in Death

A somewhat brief and atypical BotW this week as it was a bit of a strange week in reading – a holiday where I didn’t read as much as usual, and where a fair bit of what I read exasperated me.  I would have chosen Vienna Waltz by Teresa Grant, but it’s only a few weeks since I picked Beneath a Silent Moon which is the same series and which I enjoyed more – not least because I’m used to Malcolm and Suzanne being called Charles and Mélanie and it really confused me – for the backstory, see my previous post.

So by default almost, Naked in Death is the BotW.  I haven’t read a lot of Nora Roberts – although she writes these as J R Robb (authors writing under different names clearly a theme this week) – and many people on the various romance sites I frequent have raved about her and suggested her.  I read her latest romantic suspense last year (The Liar, which I reviewed for Novelicious) and quite enjoyed it, so I thought her long running detective-centric romantic suspense series might be a good choice as I’m not a huge straight contemporary romance reader.

And I quite enjoyed it – it certainly kept me turning the pages – right up until I finished it just as the plane arrived on the stand at Gatwick on the way home.  It’s a little too gritty for me and Roarke is a little too close to the controlling manipulative billionaire trope that I hate, but I was intrigued to see what happened next and who was responsible for the crime.  Eve gets points for being a strong woman who is good at her job (if you can discount sleeping with a suspect, which you kinda can, mostly, but the paragraph I wrote explaining why spoils the plot, although I’m sure you can work it out) and I quite liked the futuristic world she lives in – contrary to all my expectations when I realised it wasn’t set in the here and now.

But I’m not rushing out to glom on the rest of the series – if a few come my way, then I’m sure I’ll read them, but there’s enough really good stuff on the pile already (and waiting for me in bookshops!) that it can wait.  And I won’t be devastated if I don’t read them in order – or really at all.  So that’s why I say this is a bit of an unusual book of the week.  There was nothing I read that I wanted to rave about, and having written this, I’m not expecting you to rush out to by Naked in Death on the strength of my review.  But hey, I’ve been lucky to get this far without having a week like this.  If I could have got another book in to rave about I would have done – I tried, but the romance I was hoping was going to fix the problem turned out not to be the solution and I ran out of time.  Here’s hoping normal service will be resumed next week…

The Week In Books: June 6 – June 12

On holiday this week (and last week for that matter) but family wedding, visiting more family and sightseeing means not a lot of reading done by my standards – and certainly not as much as I’d’ve done on a beach holiday!

Read:

Wildflower Bay Part 1 by Rachel Lucas

Goodbye Mrs Chips by Dorothy Cannell

Vienna Waltz by Teresa Grant

Naked in Death by (Nora Roberts writing as) J D Robb

Bury Her Deep by Catriona McPherson

Unnatural Fire by Fidelis Morgan

Started:

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt

Still reading:

The Long View by Elizabeth Jane Howard

I pre-ordered Gail Carriger’s first self-published novella and a copy of Vita Sackville-West’s The Edwardians…

 

Book of the Week: The White Cottage Mystery

We’re back in classic crime territory for the week’s BotW – although it’s a bit of a cheat as this is a reissue of whole book – Margery Allingham’s The White Cottage Mystery – but it is excellent and it gives me a great chance to talk about an author who I think is a bit neglected.

This is a tricksy and intriguing standalone mystery which sees a policeman and his son trying to solve the murder of a particularly nasty neighbour. Jerry happens upon the scene of the crime and soon has his Scotland Yard detective father involved.  This was originally a serialised book (just like some of Harriet Vane’s novels in my beloved Peter Wimsey) and you can really tell from the pacing and multiple cliffhangers. There is a clever drip feed of clues which method you turning the pages, and although I had suspicions about the culprit, it wasn’t until quite late on that I worked it all out.

This was my first non-Campion Allingham and it didn’t disappoint. I usually prefer my detective books to be part of a series (I prefer Miss Marple and Poirot to Christie’s other books) but this was a pleasant surprise. But then it’s not that different in style to the Campion series, you could almost swap the leads for Albert and his son and it would nearly work (except that Albert is not a cop) and that totally works for me! In case you haven’t met Allingham’s most famous creation,  Albert Campion is the younger scion of a noble family, who uses an assumed name and solves mysteries with the help of his faithful manservant and police officer friend. Sound familiar? Well that’s because it supposedly started as a Lord Peter Wimsey parody, but developed into much, much more (an BBC ran for much longer). Albert’s Bunter equivalent is a reformed (ish) criminal and Campion end up being much older than Peter.  They’re also more adventure stories than detective, most of the time you don’t have a chance of working out the solution to Campion’s cases but they’re such great fun you don’t care.

I discovered Margery Allingham when I was living in Essex – where she still had a large presence in their libraries as a local author, even though she’d been dead 40 years at that point. I devoured as many of them as I could lay my hands on, and although the series has its ups and downs, I defy you not to like them if you’re a fan of Wimsey, Marple and Poirot or even adventure stories like Amelia Peabody or Vicky Bliss. It’s not the first one, but start with Sweet Danger and I defy you not to get hooked.

My copy of The White Cottage Mystery can via NetGalley, but you can buy it in paperback from Amazon, Foyles and Waterstones  or on Kindle. You should also be able to find new or secondhand copies of Albert Campion too.   Don’t blame me for the spending spree that will ensue though…