Monday, August 25, 2008

Remembered by Tamera Alexander

Remembered is the third in Tamera Alexander’s Fountain Creek Series. This last installment features the tales of Veronique Girard and Jack Brennan.

Parisienne, Veronique Girard is used to a luxurious life as the companion to a noble Frenchwoman. When her mother passes away, however; Veronique is manipulated into embarking on a quest to search for her father in the far distant, and utterly foreign Colorado Territory.

Jack Brennan is a man on a mission. He has been leading families west for thirteen years, since a tragedy took his wife and son. Now he has come to grips with his past and is ready to settle down.  He takes a job as freighter from the banks of Fountain Creek up into the mining camps.

His plans are disrupted when Veronique arrives in town and buys “his” wagon out from under him. When every other option fails and his obligations loom, he finally agrees to take her with him into the mining towns, in order to search for her father, in exchange for the use of her wagon.

The sparks fly as these two well-drawn characters are inexorably drawn together. The writing is accomplished and Ms. Alexander has a wonderful style. In particular, her characterization shines. She builds a delightful inspirational romance that comes complete with a satisfying end, and a rock solid foundation of truth that speaks to hearts. Highly recommended if you enjoy sweet romance.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Affectionate Adversary by Catherine Marshall

I am incredibly sorry to say that I was disappointed in The Affectionate Adversary. I enjoyed the setting, particularly the time period, and the opening chapter, which was set in the Indian Ocean. However, I found the rest of the book lacking. The conflict felt contrived, in so far as the hero would tell the heroine that he could never see her again, and then she would send him a note, asking to meet, in order to explain that she could never see him again. Ms. Palmer did a good job of getting the research on the big things right (i.e. the corn laws, and their effect on the poor), but I didn’t feel that she was as successful in conveying the realities or the mindset of the era. Finally, her dialogue sounded stilted, much more so than expected of a historical novel. Particularly when compared to the inner monologues, which were not just less formal, but much more modern in tone. Unfortunately, this is not a book that I can recommend. 

Monday, August 11, 2008

Elementary, My Dear Watkins by Mindy Starns Clark

In Elementary, My Dear Watkins, the third of her Smart Chicks mystery series, Mindy Starns Clark really hits her stride. Don’t be fooled by the series name, this is not a chick lit novel, either in style, voice or even point of view.

Jo Tulip is hounded by her ex-fiance, Bradford, who begs for a chance to explain why he jilted her at the altar. Having moved on and found true love with her best friend, Danny, she has little interest in trying to reconcile, but his persistence pays off and she agrees to meet him. To her shock Bradford reveals much more than she bargained for. Not only was he paid to marry her, but her life is in danger. Jo can’t credit his assertions—until she is almost pushed in front of a subway train, and Bradford is seriously injured trying to save her life.

Danny Watkins is in Paris pursuing the opportunity of a lifetime for an aspiring photographer, an internship with Scene It magazine. It is a three-month commitment and he would be sitting on top of the world, if only he hadn’t had to leave Jo behind, in order to take the assignment. When someone tries to get him fired and odd things begin to happen he begins to become concerned about Jo’s safety, but what can he do from Europe?

The danger quickly escalates and Jo seeks refuge at her grandmother’s estate. As the mystery progresses, Jo must figure out how the development of a new medical miracle drug, an old will, and her almost marriage fitted together to place her in danger. And more importantly, how to escape the threat.

There were a few clich├ęs at the beginning of the novel, (i.e. the unseen hand pushing the heroine in front of a speeding train), but it quickly moved into new territory. I found it interesting that there was little romantic conflict in this novel. Jo and Danny know they are meant for each other, and they act as a team. In that sense it was almost as if Ms. Clark was portraying an already married couple. That is not to say that there was no conflict, there was plenty, it was just from other, outside sources. I personally found this to be refreshing. They had made a commitment to one another and they never wavered in that regard.

The ending was nicely twisted and the resolution quite satisfying. I definitely recommend this novel.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Falcon and the Sparrow by M.L. Tyndall

M.L. Tyndall is known for her popular The King’s Pirates series. However, in The Falcon and the Sparrow she draws inspiration from the intrigue and elegance of the Napoleonic era.

Miss Dominique Dawson, is the daughter of an English admiral and a Frenchwoman. After her parents die, she is left financially destitute and adrift in Paris. She turns to a distant cousin for help, but her hopes of returning to a comfortable life are crushed, when she is forced to make a terrible bargain. To save her younger brother’s life, Dominique must agree to spy on her homeland.

Admiral Chase Randal is landlocked, a temporary replacement for a member of the Admiralty board. Despite the honor, he would much rather be at sea. Ashore he finds too many reminders of the wife he lost.

Though struggling with overwhelming grief, Admiral Randal is trying to be a good father to his bright, affectionate son, William. To that end, he hires Dominique Dawson as a governess for the boy. Chase finds the new governess inexplicably timid, but decides to give her a chance for her father’s sake.

Dominique quickly bonds with her young charge, and her heart goes out to his stern father. Against her will, she comes to care for the members of the Randal household—especially her employer. Still her brother’s life is in jeopardy, and Dominique faces her greatest struggle of all in turning her future over to God, and trusting his plans for her.

Chase is quickly enchanted by his new governess, but fearful of loving again. He cannot bear the risk of losing someone else.  At the same time, the Admiralty is informed that Chase has a spy in his home and he lays a trap to catch any would be traitor.

The plot thickens as Dominique and Chase navigate the treacherous seas of society and espionage, and the clock is running out.

Anyone who enjoyed Ms. Tyndall’s first series won’t be disappointed with this new offering. Her writing is a deft blend of romance and adventure, with an interesting setting and unique characters. In particular, she works hard to make her characters real—with very human foibles and feelings. I definitely recommend The Falcon and the Sparrow

Must Reads

  • All the Tea in China-Jane Orcutt
  • In the Shadow of the Sun King-Golden Keyes Parsons
  • Wings of a Dream-Anne Mateer