Review: The Making of a Marquess by Lynne Connolly

The Making of a Marquess by Lynne Connolly

Published: March 31, 2020 by Kensington Books

Buy this book at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis:

The Society for Single Ladies is a crime-solving club founded by the wealthiest woman in London. Yet even Miss Angela Childers’ charming detectives are not immune to the forces of love…

Dorothea Rowland attends a country house party to investigate a long-lost heir—not to find a husband. But when the dashing American claimant discovers her prowling for clues, she is startled—and then seduced—by his provocative kiss. It’s all Dorothea can do to remember her mission. Especially when a series of accidents adds up to something far more dangerous…

Benedict only meant to silence lovely Dorothea—not find himself enamored. What’s a gentleman to do but join forces—and propose to the clever beauty? Yet as Ben and Dorothea pursue the truth about his inheritance, their faux betrothal threatens to become the real thing. Soon, Ben’s plan to return to his life in America is upended—not only by his deepening bond with his bride, but by someone who wants his fortune badly enough to jeopardize his future—even end it. And Dorothea can’t let that happen. Not for the title, but for Ben…

Review:

***Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Kensington Books!***

This book was a fun ride and Dorothea was a delightful leading lady. Ben was an interesting bloke too but he was often times too serious and seemed to be blind to obvious things. Dorothea was sharp and didn’t miss a beat in contrast. I liked the fact that Dorothea being present when her former betrothed comes home is incidental. She was there on behalf of his cousin’s banker who wanted her to find out if he was good for the loans that had been given to him or not. The fact that Ben showed up was entirely unexpected and naturally throws her emotions through a loop.

I enjoyed the mystery that surrounded the pair, but honestly it felt like it took a long time to get going. I enjoyed all the slow burning romance that we had in the meantime, because Dorothea and Ben are fabulous together, but it seemed like we went from one incident that could have been an accident to murder all of a sudden. And there was not too much that happened in between. I did fall for the red herring though. I admit it, I did not suss out who was the real culprit.

The only drawback to the book was that I have no idea what the connection was to the Society for Single Ladies. I mean, that sounds fantastic. A group of society women who use their status as single women to investigate mysteries. And Dorothea was on assignment for the SSL. But all of that got sidetracked by an attack and romance. So, in the end, it didn’t seem to have much connection at all. I was rather looking forward to that part and it was more of an afterthought by the end. I might pick up the first book though and see if that quenches my desire for single society ladies solving crimes.

Overall this was a great romance and a decent mystery, but I wished for a bit more.

Highly Anticipating Sunday

Another Sunday and another installment of upcoming books that I just can’t wait for.

52867387._SX318_SY475_Beach Read by Emily Henry

Expected publication date: May 19, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

Why I’m excited: I got this book for the Book of the Month club because it was the most different of the selections that month. It sounds funny and witty. I typically approach romantic comedies with some caution because they often are cheesy and silly. But this sounds different enough to be worth a try.

 

48673052The Swap by Robyn Harding

Expected Publication date: June 23, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: Low Morrison is not your average teen. You could blame her hippie parents or her looming height or her dreary, isolated hometown on an island in the Pacific Northwest. But whatever the reason, Low just doesn’t fit in—and neither does Freya, an ethereal beauty and once-famous social media influencer who now owns the local pottery studio.

After signing up for a class, Low quickly falls under Freya’s spell. And Freya, buoyed by Low’s adoration, is compelled to share her darkest secrets and deepest desires. Finally, both feel a sense of belonging…that is, until Jamie walks through the studio door. Desperate for a baby, she and her husband have moved to the island hoping that the healthy environment will result in a pregnancy. Freya and Jamie become fast friends, as do their husbands, leaving Low alone once again.

Then one night, after a boozy dinner party, Freya suggests swapping partners. It should have been a harmless fling between consenting adults, one night of debauchery that they would put behind them, but instead, it upends their lives. And provides Low the perfect opportunity to unleash her growing resentment.

Why I’m excited: I admit it, I cannot get enough of the domestic thriller/mystery. I love the idea of a best friends gone awry. I will eat it up every time.

Review: The Age of Witches by Louisa Morgan

51024058The Age of Witches by Louisa Morgan

Published: April 7, 2020 by Orbit Books

Buy this book at: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Synopsis: Harriet Bishop, descended from a long line of witches, uses magic to help women in need — not only ordinary women, but also those with powers of their own. She must intervene when a distant cousin wields dangerous magic to change the lives of two unsuspecting young people… one of whom might just be a witch herself.

Frances Allington has used her wiles and witchcraft to claw her way out of poverty and into a spectacular marriage with one of New York’s wealthiest new tycoons. She is determined to secure the Allingtons’ position amongst the city’s elite Four Hundred families by any means necessary — including a scheme to make a glorious aristocratic match for her headstrong and reluctant step-daughter, Annis, using the same strange power with which she ensnared Annis’s father.


To save Annis from this dark magic, Harriet reveals to her Frances’ misuse of their shared birthright and kindles in Annis her own nascent powers. Together, Harriet and Annis must resist her stepmother’s agenda, lest she — and the dashing young lord she suspects she could come to love — lose their freedom, and possibly their lives.

Rating: 3 star

Review: This book started as a 4-star book, then dropped to a 2-star book and finally by the end is an “it was fine” 3-star. The writing of this book was lovely. I found myself entranced by the prose and would look up to find that several hours had passed. Just last night I was so enthralled with the plot and the writing that I stayed awake reading until 2 a.m. It’s not surprising that the book only took me 3 days to finish.

I love books about witches, probably because I am one. I love books that explore the role of witchcraft in history and how women have historically used this knowledge to empower themselves. The characters were rich and I enjoyed them all. The basic premise is that Harriet and Francis are descended from a witch named Bridget Bishop. Bridget was executed in the 1600’s for witchcraft. Harriet’s side of the family tree has adopted the gentler side of the craft, using it mainly for herbalism and assisting locals with their various ailments and ills. Francis’ side of the family tree had adopted the “bad” side of the craft, manipulating and magically forcing others to do their bidding in order to gain power for themselves. Annis is a young girl from the family tree who is just coming into her powers and for whom Francis has nefarious plans. Harriet endeavors to stop this plot and it culminates in a clash between the two witches with Annis as the prize.

This book was a slow burn with not a lot of action to it, and I was fine with that. The information being presented was largely interesting and once we did get the showdown between Harriet and Francis it was really refreshing and exciting. That portion is what kept me up most of the night.

***Spoiler alert:*** From this point on there will be spoilers.

The biggest problems I had with the book are the ending and that this book didn’t know what it wanted to be.

Is it the story of Annis? A girl ahead of her time, bucking the norm, and determined to make her own way with her newfound powers. Is it the story of a 200 year old battle between two sides of a family to ultimately decide if they are bad witches or good witches? Is it a story of the temptations of good and evil and the blurry gray area in between? Unfortunately it could have been all of these things, but ended up being none of them. None of these things are explored in any depth and I was really disappointed by that.

The ending was very plain. James and Annis decide that they didn’t just have feelings for each other because of magic, they actually do love each other and want to get married. How boring. How predictable. And then we are subjected to a very long lecture about how James might seem like a good man, but we should keep his manikin around just in case he decides to start behaving like an ass later. Because he’s a man after all, so you just never know and a woman can’t be too careful. Why can a novel not show us strong women without equaling telling us about how all men are asses? Even ones who aren’t asses but they might decide to be later because….well they’re a man. I am weary of it. It is possible to tell a story about strong, empowered women without demeaning men. I promise it is.

There was also an unintended moral problem in the story. We are told early on that good witches use their powers to help, bad witches use their powers to compel. Bad witches will always succumb to darkness and be lost to a lust for power. But on at least 3 occasions the “good” witches use their magic to persuade people to give them things. A horse, money, and then more money. All for their own benefit. So while those people may not have been harmed, the man was reimbursed for the horse and the money was plentiful and wouldn’t be missed, does that make it okay? What is the difference between magically persuading someone to give you something and just outright forcing them to give you something? Unfortunately, I don’t think the author intended for this issue to be presented and so we never get the answer to that question. In the end, even evil magic can be tucked away in a corner for safekeeping…just in case, and one will still be a good witch.

Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

mrs poe Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

Expected publication October 1st, 2013 by Gallery Books

Pre-order this book at: Books A Million / Book Depository / Amazon / B&N

 

Synopsis:

A vivid and compelling novel about a woman who becomes entangled in an affair with Edgar Allan Poe—at the same time she becomes the unwilling confidante of his much-younger wife.

It is 1845, and Frances Osgood is desperately trying to make a living as a writer in New York; not an easy task for a woman—especially one with two children and a philandering portrait painter as her husband. As Frances tries to sell her work, she finds that editors are only interested in writing similar to that of the new renegade literary sensation Edgar Allan Poe, whose poem, “The Raven” has struck a public nerve.

She meets the handsome and mysterious Poe at a literary party, and the two have an immediate connection. Poe wants Frances to meet with his wife since she claims to be an admirer of her poems, and Frances is curious to see the woman whom Edgar married.

As Frances spends more and more time with the intriguing couple, her intense attraction for Edgar brings her into dangerous territory. And Mrs. Poe, who acts like an innocent child, is actually more manipulative and threatening than she appears. As Frances and Edgar’s passionate affair escalates, Frances must decide whether she can walk away before it’s too late…

Set amidst the fascinating world of New York’s literati, this smart and sexy novel offers a unique view into the life of one of history’s most unforgettable literary figures.

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

This book was an interesting read for me but not entirely what I expected. I expected to find a forbidden love story complicated by a manipulative and conniving wife. What I got was a whole lot of social repartee of the wealthy and elite of early 1900’s New York with a kind of love story and suspicions about the wife that weren’t very well proven with facts. That disappointed me but the story was still ultimately entertaining.

Frances was the main character, despite the title suggesting that Mrs. Poe plays the main role. I felt a lot of sympathy for Frances. Her husband has left her and their children destitute to philander his way across the country, forcing her to try and sell her poetry and live with a family friend. Her first connection to Edgar Poe is round about, she is told that her flowery love poems are not in style since Mr. Poe’s Raven poem but that if she manages to write something more “shivery” to come back and they’ll buy it. After that she begins something of an obsession to be his better until she meets him at a social gathering and….well, I’m not sure exactly when or why she fell in love with him but she does at some point.

Here’s my main problem with the love story in this, it is almost non-existent until the very end of the book. There were a few flirtations here and there and suddenly they’re proclaiming how much they love each other and can’t live without one another. It was strange and I didn’t completely buy into it.

I also didn’t buy into the fact that Mrs. Poe was as manipulative and conniving as Frances would have had me believe. Again, for most of the book NOTHING shady happened at all. As far as I could see Mrs. Poe was only rightly betrayed and jealous that she was so ill and some other woman is making a move on her husband. I have a feeling I’d be a little cold and pissed off too! I just couldn’t ascribe these negative intentions to her no matter how hard I tried.

The ending was interesting and not what I expected but ultimately was something of a let down too. I was hoping that either there would be dire consequences for their actions or their lives would somehow be better for having had their elicit romance. But there were no consequences at all and still their lives sucked about the same as they had before. I tried really hard to love this book because I liked the main character and it was well written and put together. But by the end I was apathetic about it, which disappointed me.

The Twenty by Claudia Carozza

The Twenty by Claudia Carozza

Published June 6th, 2012.  Self published by the author through CreateSpace.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.  No other compensation or monetary exchange was made.

Photo and synopsis from the Goodreads book page.

Buy this book at B&N / Amazon

Synopsis:

Imagine living in a time when infertility runs rampant and babies are no longer being born. The world is crumbling around you as people start talking about the end. This is the world Hazel DeSales grew up in. After her mother dies from a mysterious cancer, Hazel finds herself taking care of her younger sister Netty and alcoholic father.

It’s not until twenty women, known as the Elect, become pregnant all across the Barronlands when things start looking up. Hazel and Netty apply for jobs working as domestics in the Antioch Center where the Elect will be taken care of and protected. Hazel feels change in the air and her outlook for the future starts to improve.

But she soon learns that change is not without consequence. Rumors are brewing about a government cover up and Hazel finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. So begins the unraveling of secrets that uncover things from her past and, threatening her future. Hazel is determined to seek the truth and promises herself to do whatever it takes to succeed.

Rating:

Review:

This book was very enjoyable for me.  I was prepared to spend a lot of time hearing about Hazel and I found her to be a rather interesting character, so this wasn’t a problem for me at all.  Hazel lives in a world where the human race is going to be extinct soon, it’s just thought to be a fact.  Babies are not being born, women are not getting pregnant, and the cancer epidemic that wiped out much of the population seems to blame.  First, let me talk about Hazel and her family a little bit.  Hazel is very codependent.  Normally this is something that bothers me in a character but for her it makes complete sense.  Her mother died of cancer and her father is drinking himself to death in her absence, leaving Hazel to essentially become the woman of the house and handle all the responsibilities.  So in this way it makes sense that she is codependent, she has been forced into an adult role long before she was ready for it.

The premise of this book is that seemingly out of nowhere 20 women have become pregnant.  Since these women are the hope for all of the human race, they are going to be taken to the most secure facility around to be catered to until they give birth.  I suppose I can understand this mentality but it was a pretty big giveaway that this was going to be linked to the government somehow once they start segregating these women from the rest of society.  I was a little disappointed that we didn’t see more of these women.  Mostly we see then during the limited time that Hazel spends with them, mainly while they are eating, bathing, or going to the doctor.  I didn’t necessarily dislike this, but these women are the key to the survival of human beings so I was hoping they’d be a bigger focus.

I was absolutely thrilled to see that we avoided any insta-love in this book!  I can’t stand insta-love in stories because it isn’t real and it isn’t love.  But we didn’t have this in this book and I appreciated it.  I really liked Shane.  Granted, he came off a bit stalkerish to begin with but that quickly went away and I thought he was a very good match for Hazel.  They got along well and seemed comfortable with each other and things were moving along at a natural pace.  But then Hazel gets her job with the Elect and Shane neglects to write or make any kind of contact with her at all.  Rather than have Hazel shrug her shoulders and think, well it was a budding relationship anyway, and move on she broods.  I honestly couldn’t understand why she was thinking about him so much.  They only knew each other for a few weeks I believe, so what’s the big deal?  This is when I began to suspect that a love triangle was brewing.  Insert sigh here.  Then she meets Luca.  Luca is an awesome guy. He’s smart, protective, and sweet.  But he’s protective in a chivalrous way, not a jerk way.  I was practically shouting at my book for Hazel to fall for him..and she does.  They take their relationship nice and slow and it forms very natural and sweetly and I LOVED it!  Then at the end I was confused again when she starts freaking out about seeing Shane again.  I thought we were in love with Luca, so why are we still moaning about Shane?  Consider me scratching my head on that one.

I also liked the idea of people “disappearing” if they ask too many questions or find out too much information.  I was interested to see where this went and I wasn’t disappointed.  Overall this book was probably 3.5 stars for plot alone, but with my added enjoyment of the book it bumps it up into 4 stars.