August 7, 2013
Sometimes small is good!
I was in the mood for some fast reads, so I paid a little visit to the Lunch Hour Love Stories website to see what they were up to. I found four historical books there, three by authors that for one reason or another I haven't read in a long time. The four authors were Karen Hawkins, Danelle Harmon, Barbara Samuels and Virginia Henley.
Let's start with Danelle Harmon's The Admiral's Heart. I stopped reading Ms. Harmon in 2001, not because I wanted to but because she took some time off from writing. And, now she has returned to the scene republishing her old books and giving us this tiny little treat of a story, The Admiral's Heart. Of the four short stories that I picked, this by far was the best of the lot and I'm hoping for some new full-length ones from Ms. Harmon soon. The Admiral's Heart is only 43 Nook pages long, but it's a satisfying read nonetheless. It's not very complex - hey, at 43 pages don't expect War and Peace. But the couple, Pippa and Elliott, are cute; the love scenes sensual; and the ending lovely. This is part of Harmon's de Montforte series, but you won't need to read those to follow along. Although, after reading this short story, you may just want to read the others anyway.
Time/Place: Regency England
Then we have my old standby Karen Hawkins with The Lucky One, which is part of her
Wicked Widows series. This story comes in at 105 Nook pages and it is pretty standard fare. This one has a lovely widow hiding out with her precocious daughter at a hotel owned by a devastatingly handsome, self-made man. Why the lovely widow Catherine chose a public place to "hide" is beyond me, but hey this is a romance, not a murder story so it doesn't have to make sense. Catherine and James go together really well, the sexual attraction is almost immediate and there is a pretty hot floor scene. But the best part of the book is the little girl Lily; she almost stole the show. I did have a problem with Catherine's self-absorption with her art, almost to the point of ignoring her daughter and maybe in a longer book I wouldn't have liked Catherine half so much. Overall, this was an adequate read.
Time/Place: Regency England
Next up is Barbara Samuels. A long time ago Ms. Samuels happened to write one of my favorite historical books, The Black Lyon (1999). Then in the year 2000 she stopped writing historical romance so I quit reading her, but still hoped she would return to Historicalville
someday. Anyway, The True Story of Mattie Groves caught my eye because I saw the word medieval...turned out that actually meant ghosts and reincarnation and a medieval murder being solved by a modern day archeologists or whatever she was. This story has sort of a Gothic feel with our heroine, Rose, experiencing things as she treads through dark, dank rooms. We also have a mysterious, gloomy, glaring hero, Robert. Although there was supposed to be a connection between Rose and Robert, both in current times and medieval times, I think the book was just too short for any true emotion building. The True Story of Mattie Groves was just a little disappointing to me, but I'm still hoping for a Barbara Samuel's historical someday. This story came in at 137 Nook pages.
Time/Place: Current Scotland (sort of)
Then we have Scandal by the Ton by Virginia Henley and it didn't take me long to remember
why I haven't read any of her books since A Woman of Passion in 1999. Although, I think I liked Ms. Henley's rewrite of the history of Bess Hardwick and George Talbot. In Ms. Henley's version, Bess and George actually like each other, unlike the real-life couple. Scandal by the Ton is full of actual historical characters and for the most part they are horrible people. In fact all the characters in this story, whether they are based on real people or not, are appalling. The mother is a Snow White kind of mother - doesn't want to be old and is nasty. The grandmother pretends to be deaf and says salacious things. The heroine, Julie, is almost as bad; she insults people, she writes a secret scandal sheet, and she runs around all over London without any chaperone. She's only 18, by the way. The hero, Royston, is the typical older Henley hero. He's studly and overwhelms women with his male essence and bulging pants. Yes, I understand this is a "short" story, but it had the feel of a literature project. The phrases were stilted, the plot unbelievable, and the characters in the book were just awful. Comes in at 363 Nook pages.
Time/Place: Early Regency England