Kim’s Review of Drums of Autumn (Outlander #4) by Diana Gabaldon

doadgFour books in and The Outlander Series has quickly become one of (if not my favorite) book series. Each book refuses to be boxed in to any specific genre, allowing Diana Gabaldon to continually exceed her reader’s expectations. In Drums of Autumn, the fourth in the series, we find Jamie and Claire beginning to settle in mid 1760s America, while their daughter Brianna and her historian friend Roger continue to unravel their feelings for each other in the late 1960s.

From Goodreads:

It began at an ancient Scottish stone circle. There, a doorway, open to a select few, leads into the past—or the grave. Dr. Claire Randall survived the extraordinary passage, not once but twice.

Her first trip swept her into the arms of Jamie Fraser, an eighteenth-century Scot whose love for her became a legend—a tale of tragic passion that ended with her return to the present to bear his child. Her second journey, two decades later, brought them together again in the American colonies. But Claire had left someone behind in the twentieth century—their daughter, Brianna….

Now Brianna has made a disturbing discovery that sends her to the circle of stones and a terrifying leap into the unknown. In search of her mother and the father she has never met, she is risking her own future to try to change history … and to save their lives. But as Brianna plunges into an uncharted wilderness, a heartbreaking encounter may strand her forever in the past … or root her in the place she should be, where her heart and soul belong….

With every Outlander book Jamie Fraser takes another piece of my heart and claims it as his. I never thought I’d ever utter those words for anyone other than Fitzwilliam Darcy, but Jamie is my favorite character that has ever been written. Every book gives us another sliver of the enigma that is Jamie Fraser. His strengths, his weaknesses. The depths of his love for Claire, for his family. He truly is the very best of men.

While the events of the book moved a little slow for me at first, the last 600 pages really flew by. Within each Outlander book I’ve found that there is a chapter that just suddenly clicks. Once that click happens the pages and story fly by faster than you realize. For the last 680 pages I didn’t even move from my chair. I became so enthralled by this story and the twists and turns Gabaldon was taking me on. The more thorough introductions to Roger and Brianna were welcome (and surprising) additions as well.

I’ve been told that the series jumps the shark a bit beyond Drums of Autumn, but I’m determined to continue. After all, who doesn’t want more Jamie Fraser?

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my twenty-fourth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon
Random House Publishing (2004)
eBook: 928 pages
ISBN: 9780440335177

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Kim’s Guest Review of The Pursuit of Mary Bennet by Pamela Mingle

tpombpmIf you’ve often thought that Mary Bennet from Pride and Prejudice has been neglected in the Austen fan fiction world, listen up. My latest review for Austenprose is on The Pursuit of Mary Bennet by Pamela Mingle and it’s all about Mary!

I can happily tell you that Mingle gives Mary a story well worthy of her character.

For a direct link to my review, click here!

This is my thirteenth completed review for the Pride and  Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge

This is my twenty-third completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

Kim’s Review of Glittering Promises (Grand Tour Series #3) by Lisa T. Bergren

gpltbSeveral months ago I had the pleasure of reading Glamorous Illusions and Grave Consequences, the first two books in Lisa T. Bergren’s Grand Tour series.  The drama immediately took a hold of me, sweeping me with it to Europe.  I was mesmerized by the fashions, the characters, and non-stop action.  For several months I anticipated the release of the conclusion of the trilogy and was pumped when Glittering Promises finally appeared on Netgalley.

From Goodreads:

America’s newest heiress must decide if her potential fortune is rationale enough to give up her freedom and all that God is leading her toward. And when her newly-discovered siblings are threatened with ruin, her quandary deepens. Then as Cora nears Rome, more journalists are track the news story of the decade—“Copper Cora,” the rags-to-riches girl—and want to know more about her family and the men vying for her attention. Meanwhile, a charming Italian countess decides that if Cora isn’t going to claim Will’s heart, she might just try…

Sadly, I was a bit disappointed with this final chapter of the Grand Tour series.  After the tumultuous first two books I was expecting a story that would be moved along by an action-filled plot, not one of repetitive relationship misunderstandings.  I don’t mean that I was expecting 47 kidnapping scenarios, or robberies, or anything of that sort.  I just meant that I was expecting the plot to be more about the conclusion of the tour, and a conclusion to the crimes of book one and two, rather than Cora’s decision over who she was going to love.  Having a few misunderstandings when it comes to the romantic side of the story is acceptable, but when it becomes the only device used to move the plot, it can get slightly stale.

On the other hand, I enjoyed the character development of Cora and her siblings.  Seeing them hone their strengths, accept their weaknesses, and become adults responsible for their own futures was a reward for sticking with all three books in the series.  Cora’s journey was unarguably the most well done of all.  The complete transformation from books one through three was incredibly well written and probably my favorite part of the whole series.  This book would have been a total win for me if the plot had more moving it, but I can’t say I’m not satisfied with the trilogy’s conclusion.  The final plot twist in this book really shocked and surprised me (Bergren sure knows how to keep you on your toes!)  If you’re looking for a clean historical fiction that focuses on finding one’s self, this series is a sure bet.

3 out of 5 Stars

This is my twenty-second completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

Glittering Promises by Lisa T. Bergren
David C. Cook (2013)
eBook: 496 pages
ISBN: 9780781410854

Special thanks to David C. Cook publishing for my review copy via Netgalley!

Kim’s Review of Born of Persuasion (Price of Privilege #1) by Jessica Dotta

bopjdPride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Jane Eyre are my three favorite novels.  It’s no surprise then that a novel being marketed with Austen’s humor and the dark drama of a Brontë novel immediately made it on to my must-read list.  Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta is a unique combination of these two opposite traits, and definitely seemed like something I couldn’t pass up.

From Goodreads:

The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.

With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly.

I was at first very iffy about my feelings towards this book.  Born of Persuasion is the first in the Price of Privilege trilogy and is written with a serious amount of foreshadowing.  I think what made me feel so conflicted with all the foreshadowing is that much of it is foreshadows books two and three (it is a trilogy after all.)  While I enjoy dark drama (hello, I love Jane Eyre!) I sometimes became lost in what was going to be future story and what was the present story.  By the end of the novel, however, I had become so mesmerized by the characters that the foreshadowing issues fell away.  In fact, by the end I was eagerly anticipating the next two novels.  The final third of the book flew by must faster than the first two-thirds, and before I knew it I was ready for round two (book two, Mark of Distinction, has a possible publication date of early next summer.)

Dotta’s writing truly shines with all of the crazy plot twists and turns.  Just when you think you’ve figured out a plot line or a character, something shifts and you’re left trying to piece it all together again.  It’s evident that the gothic-ness of Brontë’s writing and social humors of Austen’s writing were inspirational for Dotta.  Born of Persuasion truly feels like a book that the two women could have worked on together.  Julia herself is a cross between Jane Eyre, Elizabeth Bennet, and Anne Elliot (to say the least).  So, if you’d love to see this pseudo-collaboration firsthand, pick up a copy.  Janeites and Bronte fans (as well as historical fiction fans) will love it!

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my twenty-first completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta
Tyndal House Publishers (2013)
Paperback: 435 pages
ISBN: 9781414375557

Special thanks to Silver Seas PR for my review copy!

Kim’s Review of Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson

bjdIf you were to ask me what my absolute favorite genre to read is I’d tell you historical fiction in a heartbeat.  I love being given the opportunity to read about a period of time I’ll never experience.  I also enjoy being given the opportunity to learn what the culture of the period was.  When I learned that Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson offered me these chances and more, I instantly sent in a request to review it.

From Goodreads:

Kate Worthington knows her heart and she knows she will never marry. Her plan is to travel to India instead—if only to find peace for her restless spirit and to escape the family she abhors. But Kate’s meddlesome mother has other plans. She makes a bargain with Kate: India, yes, but only after Kate has secured—and rejected—three marriage proposals.

Kate journeys to the stately manor of Blackmoore determined to fulfill her end of the bargain and enlists the help of her dearest childhood friend, Henry Delafield. But when it comes to matters of love, bargains are meaningless and plans are changeable. There on the wild lands of Blackmoore, Kate must face the truth that has kept her heart captive. Will the proposal she is determined to reject actually be the one thing that will set her heart free?

Set in Northern England in 1820, Blackmoore is a Regency romance that tells the story of a young woman struggling to learn how to follow her heart. It is Wuthering Heights meets Little Women with a delicious must-read twist.

I am completely and utterly in love with this book.  There is no simpler way to put it.  The characters, the setting, THE WRITING – it’s all exquisite.  Donaldson’s writing drew me in from page one.  I became completely mesmerized by Kate’s struggle as a woman in the early 1800’s.  Her struggle for freedom, independence, and love was written in an entirely realistic manner.  The anxiety and anger she feels over her lack of independence was clearly laid out before me.  As a reader, I felt the cage she was trapped in just as much as she did.  Kate’s struggle of trying to hide her true feelings for Henry nearly killed me.

Kate and Henry are just fascinating characters.  Henry is this beautiful old-fashioned gentleman with a (in my opinion) modern way of thinking.  He wants Kate to have her freedom and go to India, even at great cost to himself.  Their story is equal parts tragic and romantic.  Heart-warming and heart-breaking.  The journey Donaldson takes us on in Blackmoore is filled with twists and turns, humor, romance, intrigue, and above all, personality.

I highly recommend checking out Blackmoore, especially if you’re a fan of Austen, Bronte, or Gaskell.  I’m so impressed (and in love) with this book that I’m heading out this weekend to get myself a copy of Donaldson’s debut novel Edenbrooke.  

5 out of 5 Stars

This is my twentieth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

This is my sixth completed review for the Color Coded Challenge

Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
Shadow Mountain Publishing (2013)
Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN: 9781609074609

Special thanks to Shadow Mountain Publishing for the review copy I received via Netgalley!

Kim’s Guest Review of When They Fall in Love by Mary Lydon Simonsen

wtfilmlsMy latest review is up on the Austenprose blog today! It’s on Mary Lydon Simonsen’s newest novel When They Fall in Love.  The book gives Elizabeth and Darcy a second chance several years after Darcy’s disastrous first proposal!  The book primarily takes place in one of my favorite places…..Italy! (My review includes a few photos from my own trip to Florence!)

For a direct link to my review click here

This is my ninth completed review for the Pride and  Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge

This is my eighteenth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

 

Kim’s Review of Stealing the Preacher (Archer Brothers #2) by Karen Witemeyer

stpkwLast summer I read Short Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer and completely fell in love with the Archer brothers.  Travis, Jim, Crockett, and Neill had my heart the minute I learned of their tragic upbringing.  I felt so bad for them and how they’d lost out on the innocent and whimsical childhood that all children deserve.  Forced to become adults well before their time they become a serious and a fairly un-trusting group of men, that is until Travis marries Meredith.  Meredith is able to bring love, kindness, trust, and compassion back into their lives.  When the book ended I wondered if Witemeyer would continue writing about the Archer brothers.  With the publication of her newest novel, Stealing the Preacher, my question was answered with a resounding yes!

Crockett Archer is on his way to what he thinks will be a normal interview for a pastoral position at a rural church in the Piney Woods of Texas.  However, on his way to said interview he is forced off of a train by a mysterious man and kidnapped.  He is brought before the man’s daughter, Joanna, on her birthday.  Although she had been asking for a pastor to come and revitalize her community church for as long as she could remember, Joanna didn’t want it to happen like this.  She is torn because although her wishes for a pastor have been answered, it is at the expense of Crockett’s freedom.  Fearing that this experience will jeopardize his future aspirations as a pastor, Crockett tries his best to flee his situation and eventually succeeds.  However, he can’t shake the strong feeling of attachment and connection that he feels towards Joanna.  As an attachment grows between them, Joanna must hope against hope that her prayers are being answered and that she may actually have a chance to develop a relationship with Crockett.  Crockett, on the other hand, must hope that Joanna’s father’s objections to his daughter dating a preacher are short-lived.  Will things ever work out between the two of them?

Witemeyer’s strongest attribute as an author is definitely her character development.  There are so many characters developing in this novel which makes it easy to become captivated by the story.  The plot gently unfolds around the development of Crockett, Joanna, Silas, and Jackson.  Silas definitely undergoes the most drastic of changes and is the character you’re rooting for during most of the story.  While the story is primarily about the romance between Joanna and Crockett, it’s also about a father and daughter’s love for each other, and also the transformation that occurs from having a strong faith.

Joanna was my favorite character hands down.  She’s a strong woman who has the best of intentions, always.  The largeness and goodness of her heart is simply immeasurable.  She tries to see the best in everyone and believes that even the worst of souls can be redeemed.  As an individual who isn’t religious personally, I think a lot can be said about how strong and moving Witemeyer’s writing is  when the character who is probably the deepest spiritually turns out to be my favorite. The inspiration in her writing is moving and holds a depth of meaning that anyone (religious or not) can appreciate.

Between the characters and depth of her works Witemeyer has found a fan in me for life.  You should definitely add her works to your to-read lists.  I’ve read Short Straw Bride, A Head in the Cloudsand To Win Her Heart and would recommend every single one of them.  Heartfelt, pure, and good, Witemeyer’s novels will definitely warm your heart.

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my seventeenth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer
Bethany House (2013)
eBook: 352 pages
ISBN: 9781441261458

Special thanks to Bethany House for my review copy via Netgalley!

Kim’s Guest Review of The Passions of Dr. Darcy by Sharon Lathan

tpoddslMy latest guest review, The Passions of Dr. Darcy by Sharon Lathan, is up on the Austenprose blog today.  Fans of Lathan’s Darcy Saga will be excited that this, the seventh book in the series, is focusing on Dr. Darcy!

If you’re a fan of books that focus on character development, you need to add this one to your list.

A direct link to my review can be found here

This is my sixteenth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

This is my sixth completed review for the Pride and  Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge.

Kim’s Review of Glamorous Illusions (Grand Tour Series #1) and Grave Consequences (Grand Tour Series #2) by Lisa Tawn Bergren

giltbIt’s not a secret that I love historical fiction novels.  If you were to take a look at the book genres I read in a pie graph form, I’m 99% positive that more than 65% of that graph would be dedicated to historical fiction novels.  As I was scouring Netgalley one evening I came across a novel entitled Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren.  It was all about a woman finding herself (WIN!) while on a Grand Tour in the early 1900’s! For those unfamiliar with that term, back in the day the wealthy would go on tours around Europe to see the sights, meet people, etc.  For more info, click here.  Excited to see what Bergren had in store for me, I jumped right into Glamorous Illusions.

Cora Diehl’s family has fallen on hard times.  As farmers in a small town in Montana in 1913, her family can barely keep it together as their crops fail and Cora’s father’s health declines after multiple strokes.  Her life takes a dramatic turn, however, when she learns that she is the illegitimate daughter of an incredibly wealthy man, Wallace Kensington, The Copper King.  Through a massive fortune made in the copper business, Cora’s new family has more money than she could ever imagine.  They take her along as they tour through England and France, and Cora begins to experience sights that she only dreamed of before.  Her journey will be filled with danger, discovery, and adventure as she travels across Europe on a journey of self discovery and self acceptance.

Wow. Wow. Wow.  This book, in a word, wowed me.  From the glamorous locations to the high fashions in early 1900’s, this book hooked me.  Cora is a character going through deep transformations: spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  She’s got a lot on her plate, and what better way to figure out what she’s made of than a trip around the world.  Bergren gives Cora and Will great narrative voices for the reader to engage and connect with.  Their emotions are so clearly and eloquently written for the reader.  Their anger, their guilt, happiness, and sadness are all there to make the reader connect with these characters.

I’m not the most religious of people, but I can say that I did find the spiritual elements of the book to be moving.  God is a major part of Cora’s life, and as much as her journey is about finding herself, it’s also about finding her place in His master plan.  I was also incredibly surprised at how action-packed the end of the novel was.  It changed the whole feel of the novel (in a good way) and made me that much more anxious to begin Grave Consequences (book two).  In short, Glamorous Illusions is a solid start to the Grand Tour series, and historical fiction fans should definitely add this mainstay on to their reading lists.

4 out of 5 Stars

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren
David C. Cook (2012)
eBook: 416 pages
ISBN: 9781434705334

gcltbI immediately dove into book two in the Grand Tour series, Grave Consequences.  Taking place immediately following the first novel, it promised to be an exciting continuation to the action-packed ending of Glamorous Illusions.  With that in mind (and the book loaded up on my Nook), I started right in.

Grave Consequences begins with Cora and her family continuing their tour, making stops in Austria, France, and Italy.  All seems well, until Cora realizes that she is being followed.  What’s more, she must not only protect her physical safety, but her emotional safety as well, as a mysterious Frenchman makes a bold move to claim Cora’s heart.  Will she be able to escape her past and move forward as a new woman?  What will she make of all the claims laid on her heart?

I LOVE books with angst.  I can’t get enough of it!  I love when I stress out about a book, because it makes me realize how utterly connected I’ve become with the book and the characters.  When you can’t breathe because you’re so worried about what will happen to the characters, then you know you’re really in the thick of the story.  And that is exactly what happened with me and this book.  I felt like I was right there with Cora, Pierre, and Will as their love triangle exploded.  The whole kidnapping plot line afforded the novel an opportunity to become a rapid page turner.  What started out as a small ending plot to Glamorous Illusions turns into a full-blown mystery in Grave Consequences.  The kidnapping helped move the growing relationships between characters in a unique and creative way.  I really like how Bergren writes from both Will and Cora’s points of view.  The duality of the narrative flows surprisingly well as you get multiple perspectives on what’s truly happening.  With all of this being said, it’s no surprise that I’m eagerly awaiting book three in the series, Glittering Promises, due out October 1st.

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my fifteenth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

Grave Consequences by Lisa T. Bergren
David C. Cook (2013)
eBook: 448 pages
ISBN: 9780781408783

Special thanks to David C. Cook for my review copies through Netgalley!

Kim’s Review of Seduction (The Reincarnationist #5) by M.J. Rose – Blog Tour

SeductionPreviously, I was exposed to author M.J. Rose’s amazing writing with her novel The Book of Lost Fragrances (review here) a little over a year ago.  I was struck at how well Rose was able to blend a historical fiction work with her writing style, making it seem as if her writing was perfectly fitted to the time period.  Therefore, when I was approached to be a part of the blog tour for her newest book, Seduction, I was happy to oblige!

As the plot contains multiple storylines and a bit of history, I’ll leave it to Goodreads:

From the author of The Book of Lost Fragrances comes a haunting novel about a grieving woman who discovers the lost letters of novelist Victor Hugo, awakening a mystery that spans centuries.

In 1843, novelist Victor Hugo’s beloved nineteen-year-old daughter drowned. Ten years later, Hugo began participating in hundreds of séances to reestablish contact with her. In the process, he claimed to have communed with the likes of Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare, Dante, Jesus—and even the Devil himself. Hugo’s transcriptions of these conversations have all been published. Or so it was believed.

Recovering from her own losses, mythologist Jac L’Etoile arrives on the Isle of Jersey—where Hugo conducted the séances—hoping to uncover a secret about the island’s Celtic roots. But the man who’s invited her there, a troubled soul named Theo Gaspard, has hopes she’ll help him discover something quite different—Hugo’s lost conversations with someone called the Shadow of the Sepulcher.

What follows is an intricately plotted and atmospheric tale of suspense with a spellbinding ghost story at its heart, by one of America’s most gifted and imaginative novelists.

As I stated previously, one of the best things about reading M.J. Rose’s work is getting to experience her amazing writing style.  I’m happy to report that she did not fail us in this particular endeavor, as her use of imagery and ability to describe multiple time periods simultaneously and clearly was a delight to read.  Jac and Theo’s flaws are evident, but they are likeable in their own right, and Rose is able to weave both their stories and those of characters from the past effortlessly.  Secret fragrances blur the lines between reality and the world of ghosts, as there is a dark and mystical tone overall that kept me riveted from the beginning.  My only complaint is that the pacing seemed slightly disjointed at times, but other than that this was just as enjoyable as my first M.J. Rose experience!  You can definitely count me as a newly minted fan.  This is not one to pass up, so check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

This is my fourteenth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

Seduction by M. J. Rose
Atria Books (2013)
Paperback: 384 pages
ISBN:  9781451621501

Special thanks to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for my review copy! Continue following the Seduction virtual book tour around the web.  A full listing of all tour spots is here.  You can also follow on Twitter by searching the hashtag: #SeductionVirtualTour

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