Monday, September 30, 2013

A Most Devilish Rogue by Ashlyn Macnamara

Book Description:

Years ago, when Isabelle Mears was still a young miss too infatuated to know better, she surrendered her innocence to a dishonorable man. Though ruined and cast out from society, she has worked hard to shelter her illegitimate son, Jack. Having sworn off men in her quiet but dignified life, Isabelle is unprepared for the deep longing that rips through her when a handsome stranger rescues her rambunctious six-year-old from the pounding ocean surf.

George Upperton is a man in trouble with debts, women, and a meddling family. He is, by all accounts, the last gentleman on earth Isabelle should be drawn to. But loneliness is a hard mistress, and caution gives way to desire . . . even though Isabelle is convinced that happiness can’t be found in the arms of such a devilish rogue. Only when Jack is kidnapped does Isabelle discover the true depth of George’s devotion—and how far a good man will go to fight for the woman whose love is all that matters.

REVIEW: This enjoyable romance starts and ends strong, though it admittedly drags in the middle.  Isabelle is a delightful heroine, though it does get a little hard to believe she can focus on a romance when her young son is missing.  George at first appears to be an annoying wastrel, but gradually the deeper elements of his character appear, and it becomes easy to understand why Isabelle would fall for him.  The plot gets rather complicated and frankly I am still not certain exactly why Jack was kidnapped or how that was going to advance the cause of the kidnappers, but in the end I suppose it is the romance and not the kidnapping that is central to this story.  All in all an enjoyable read; I would certainly pick up other books by this author.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield


Caught up in a moment of boyhood competition, William Bellman recklessly aims his slingshot at a rook resting on a branch, killing the bird instantly. It is a small but cruel act, and is soon forgotten. By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, William seems to have put the whole incident behind him. It was as if he never killed the thing at all. But rooks don’t forget...

Years later, when a stranger mysteriously enters William’s life, his fortunes begin to turn—and the terrible and unforeseen consequences of his past indiscretion take root. In a desperate bid to save the only precious thing he has left, he enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner. Together, they found a decidedly macabre business.

And Bellman Black is born.

Hypnotically good is the only way I can think of to describe this book. I loved Setterfield's The Thirteenth Taleand wasn't certain how her latest would stack up. Once again though, the power of Setterfield's prose pulled me in and I had a hard time putting this book down. Her rich descriptions, compelling dialogue and creative storytelling make this book a must-read. From the first days of William's charmed life to its sad last days, this novel is a work of art. It is impossible not to like William, and not to mourn when he is dealt a series of blows that crush his young happy family. It is also impossible not to mourn when his desperate desire to keep some element of his family alive leads him to a bargain and a new life that essentially makes it impossible for him to find happiness. Though I would have liked to see more of William's daughter, that is my only quibble. All in all, a truly wonderful and compelling read!