Month: June 2014

Review: The Escape, Mary Balogh

Available July 1: The Escape (Survivor’s Club)

****4.5/5 starsMary Balogh The Escape

The Escape lived up to my Mary-Balogh-romance expectations and delivered a romance with depth, character and twist up to the end.

Recommended readers:

  • If you like imperfect heroes
  • If you are a historical romance lover, but sometimes want a little more depth to the story

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 4.5/5 for characters
  • 4.0/5 for plot
  • 4.25/5 overall
  • Note: Steamy factor (2 of 5 … little steaminess)


I’ve been a fan of Mary Balogh’s historical romances forever – and was excited to see this new title as part of the Survivor’s Club series.  Balogh lived up to my expectations. A non-traditional hero, Sir Benedict Harper, barely survives the Napoleonic Wars and is still trying to come to peace with his new life.  He meets widow Samantha McKay, who is trying to escape her controlling in-laws. I loved the pace of their relationship – emotionally and physically.  Even more I loved the depth of the story – I continued to read and unpeel layers of the plot until the last moment.


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Travel Lit Review: At Least You’re in Tuscany

Available now:  At Least You’re in Tuscany: A Somewhat Disastrous Quest for the Sweet Life

****3/5 stars

When Jennifer Criswell dropped everything for a writer’s dream life in the Tuscan hills, she didn’t expect quite so much reality to invade….
Recommended readers:

  • Travel Lit Buffs
  • Adventurous Americans
  • Wannabe Italians

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 3/5 for characters
  • 3/5 for plot
  • 3/5 overall


I don’t know what it is about these reinvent-yourself travelogues, whether it’s having been there literally or figuratively, or  just wanting to be, but they work for me, and everyone else it seems, every time.  Jennifer Criswell’s At Least You’re in Tuscany shows that it’s not all fun and games when you trade lawyer in big apple for job hunting in the Tuscan countryside, but with a air of self-discovery, not self-misery. She is candid and relatable, and her portrayals of relationships with fully realized Italian inhabitants–more than just characters populating her avventura– are a pleasure to read.  Transport yourself to Tuscany today- figuratively– so that you could be prepared to do so literally, in the event that the fancy strikes.


Susan Mallery Review: Until We Touch

Available June 24: Until We Touch (Fool’s Gold Romance)

****3.0/5 stars

Until We Touch lives up to what we expect in a Susan Mallery contemporary romance.Susan Mallery Until We Touch

Recommended readers:

  • If you are a contemporary romance lover of any kind
  • If you ever dreamed of catching a QB.

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 3.0/5 for characters
  • 3.5/5 for plot
  • 3.0/5 overall
  • Note: Steamy factor (2 of 5 … little steaminess)


A popular and bestselling author, I had high expectations for Susan Mallery’s Until We Touch (part of the Fool’s Gold Series). The plot has a twist on the simple employer/employee storyline with Jack, a retired pro quarterback, and Larissa Owens, an a-typical secretary at Jack’s PR firm.  While the plot and characters didn’t feel outstanding, I have to give Mallery credit for keeping me up until 2 a.m.  And there’s a nice addition to the story in the form of a teenager that I really enjoyed. It was a sneakily good read … one of those books that may not get the credit it deserves for giving you a book hangover.


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Review: Bride of a Scottish Warrior

Available July 1: Bride of a Scottish Warrior

****4.0/5 starsabasso-brideofhighland

A captivating highland romance, Bride of a Scottish Warrior is a fun and refreshing read.

Recommended readers:

  • If you like the romance to have some challenges and anticipation
  • If you like a Scottish man … or any historical romance

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 4.0/5 for characters
  • 4.0/5 for plot
  • 4.0/5 overall
  • Note: Steamy factor (3 of 5 … steaminess)


For some reason I had forgotten my love a good Scotsman, but Adrienne Basso’s bold and loveable Sir Ewan Gilroy brought me back. There’s something wonderful about the highland setting – a place where the elite still have to work to build their keeps and protect their lands. In Bride of a Scottish Warrior, Ewan has gained new lands and needs to find perfect wife to help him rebuild. A natural storyteller, Basso’s writing is natural and the characters are captivating. I highly recommend this for any historical romance reader.


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Corner book swap

Just blocks away is this beautiful library and book swap site.


Little Free Library #1908


Today’s book swap collection. Any favorites?


Here’s how my 2-year-old and I stumbled upon this gem … a neighborhood walk.

The sign reads:

Little Free Library #1908
In the beginning -2009–Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading. He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard. His neighbors and friends loved it. He built several more and gave them away. Each one had a sign that said FREE BOOKS.

Our Mission
To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide.
To build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.

Learn more at the Little Free Libary’s website. Or see if one is in your neighborhood.

To our friends at #1908: We’ll return and donate some books soon.  Thanks for an adorable way of sharing books (and literacy) with the world and our neighborhood.  One Little Book Library at a time.

Poll: When you just can’t get into a book


Review: Overseas by Beatriz Williams

Available now: Overseas

****4/5 stars

A dashing WWI hero poet shows up in modern Manhattan to fall hopelessly in love with me, I mean some investment banker? Sign me up!

Recommended readers:

  • If you’re a sucker for a time travel romance…
  • If you like a little historical fiction in your chick lit…
  • If you like some nice healthy suspense with your romance…
  • and if you liked A Hundred Summers, this book is for you

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 4/5 for characters
  • 3.5/5 for plot
  • 4/5 overall


Beatriz Williams, you siren you. If A Hundred Summers is any indication, the back and forth, dual-storyline speed-pacing suspense bit is kind of her thing, and it works for me. The same back and forth had me reading gleefully, enjoying every minute but still wanting it to go faster. She’s a genius with the suspense, though this time I was a bit bigger fan of the characters than the plot. And be warned: it’s some pretty blatant sap.  I for one mostly lapped it up like a puppy.


Steampunk Review: Magnificent Devices Series

Available now: Magnificent Devices Boxed Set

****4/5 stars

The adventures of the intrepid Claire continue in this serial, as British Victorian Steampunk meets American Victorian Steampunk.  The first novel showed promise of decent entertainment to come, and it turns out the rest is nigh on hilarious. Miss it, and miss the entertainment of tidbits such as:


On white underthings:

“It was of no use at all to have a black skirt and stockings in ones raiding rig and have a white batiste corset cover and pantalettes.  If she survived this, by George, she was going to have black underthings made just as soon as she found civilization….This was no time for modesty.  Besides it was dark.”


On amiable employers:

“It would never do for him to know that he was harboring the infamous Lady of Devices, inadvertent murderer of Lightning Luke Jackson and reigning queen of the south side underworld.”


On target practice:

“There is no point in being considered armed and dangerous if one cannot actually hit anything.


On Victorian Mores:

“Blast it all…Just how much was she going to allow convention to dictate her behavior when it clearly obstructed the path to knowledge?”


And, on summing it up: “Escaped lunatics, lost children, vengeful lords, and love.  Really, the situation is becoming quite impossible.”

Enjoy!  The Magnificent Devices Series is a lot of fun!

Recommended readers:

  • If you like a strong, independent heroine…
  • if you like to read for pure entertainment once in awhile…
  • if you like steampunk…
  • if you want to know what steampunk is, then this book is for you.

Here’s my Rankings:

  • 4/5 for characters
  • 4/5 for plot
  • 4/5 overall


Don’t be deterred by the silly covers.  Check out the rest of this series:

Magnificent Devices 1-4 Bundle


Lady of Devices:  A Steampunk Adventure Novel     OR   get it in Kindle

Her Own Devices

Magnificent Devices

Brilliant Devices

A Lady of Resources

A Lady of Spirit


…though be warned, the final two seemed to have moved away from Claire to follow secondary characters.