Category Archives: Historical Fiction

Spinster and the Rake by Anne Stuart

Not your normal cookie cutter regency romance.  The hero is most assuredly a rake of the most outrageous variety and the heroine had the bravery and courage to stand up for herself even when her family wouldn’t.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

spinster-and-the-rakeTitle: Spinster and the Rake
Author: Anne Stuart
Publish Date: republished August 15, 2016
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: NetGalley

Publisher’s Description: The Spinster: As a maiden aunt, Gillian Redfern lives as an unpaid servant to her demanding family. Little wonder she finds the attentions of a rake distracting, and even less wonder that her usual good sense begins to unravel when Lord Marlow takes her in his arms.

The Rake: Ronan Patrick Blakely, Lord Marlow, is a man of great charm and little moral character, a gambler, a womanizer, and handsome as sin to boot. He has no qualms about placing a wager on the virtue of one small, shy spinster.

But Lord Marlow is about to discover that Miss Redfern is more siren than spinster. She amuses him, arouses him, and, much to his dismay, makes him a better man. Gillian will discover, in turn, that Lord Marlow possesses the power to turn her into a very wicked woman. The rake and the spinster are poised to find a love that neither could have imagined.

If only someone weren’t out to destroy them both . . .

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words…spoilers.  *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…Nervous_Nellie_100

This was a re-publish from a 1982 regency romance.  Regency romances never go out of style because their style was the 1800’s in England.

There was no serious grit in this book, but it wasn’t exactly sweet either.  The heroine had a feisty, wanton side to her that made me like her.  She did belabor the fact that she was firmly and irrevocably ‘on the shelf’ which at some times annoyed me and at other times made me hate the situation she was in. She was being used by her family as a built in baby sitter.  She was made to feel meek and submissive. All of which, Ronan Blakely proved to Gillian Redfern that she was not.

badge4v5This story had a few different elements between the regular spinster/rake story line.  Gillian’s family didn’t protect her- didn’t particularly care what happened to her.  Ronan, while intrigued by the elder Redfern sister, did not act the gentleman at all.  In fact, he was somewhat callous toward Gillian which did not look good on a hero.  That in itself was a defining feature for me.

It’s not my intention to turn anyone off from this book.  Quite the contrary.  This story was off the beaten path from normal regencies and though there was an awful, hurtful truth exposed, Gillian was the perfect lady and I was proud to call her my heroine book friend.

Other recommendations…

…you might try  Amy Corwin’s books Fencing For Ladies or The Bricklayer’s Helper.  You might also want to look into Alexandra Hawkins Lords of Vice series.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

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Waiting for an Earl Like You by Alexandra Hawkins

Arrogant and ego driven Earl of Kempthorn doesn’t want his brother involved with the neighbor’s daughter, Olivia.  His brilliant idea is to pretend to be his twin brother, sweep Olivia off her feet and then all the other Lords of the ton will want her and she’ll be away from his brother.  That’s all there is to that…or is it?

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

waitingTitle Waiting for an Earl Like You
AuthorAlexandra Hawkins
Series: Masters of Seduction #3
Publish Date: January 3, 2017
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: NetGalley

Publisher’s DescriptionLOVE ISN’T ALWAYS WHAT IT SEEMS.
Justin Reeve Netherwood, Earl of Kempthorn—a.k.a. Thorn—has never cared much for his neighbor’s daughter. But his twin brother, Gideon, befriended the wild, reckless, and wholly inappropriate Miss Olivia Lydall in youth, and two have been close ever since. So when Olivia finds herself in a state of romantic conflict and seeks out Gideon for advice, he’s only too pleased to oblige. Only problem: The man Olivia is speaking to is Thorn. And now it’s too late for him to tell Olivia the truth…

Thorn always believed that Olivia was too smitten with Gideon for her own good. So what’s the harm in steering her away from him? But Thorn’s charade turns out to be anything but harmless once he begins to see Olivia for who she really is: A woman full of spirit and passion…and someone he can’t live without. But how can Thorn claim Olivia’s heart when their deepening connection—and burning desire—is built on lies and deceit?

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words…spoilers.  *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…Nervous_Nellie_100

This is part of a series but I read it as a stand alone and I did just fine.  This is obviously a romance and there is two particularly hot scenes, but other than that there is no sex.  This is not a gore filled story, but there is a couple of scenes where punches are thrown and some blood is lost.

At first I really rooted for Gideon.  He was the carefree twin. He was the one that wasn’t so full of pompous hot air, but I guess he has his own story to tell.  The author wrote Justin a/k/a Thorn in such a way that my affection was transferred to him away from Gideon rather seamlessly.  She also easily shifted my attitude towards Thorn from “not so keen” to “I guess he’s all right”.

Olivia is a great heroine.  She has embarrassing moments just like all of us and she brazens them out with fabulous spirit.  She isn’t a swoony, angst ridden female which is a super plus for me as a reader.  She is a balanced character full of life, who badge4v5is deemed beneath those snarky, viperous members of the ton.

The situation that Olivia and Thorn find themselves in has probably happened countless times in history.  It’s not so unbelievable, but it is a tough spot to be made to endure especially when one of the participants is not willing.

I enjoyed the story and although I probably would have kicked Thorn really hard more than once, it was a good book.  I still like Gideon better.

Other recommendations…

…you might try  Amy Corwin’s books Fencing For Ladies or The Bricklayer’s Helper.  Actually, any of Amy’s books are a delight.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

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Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

2016-standout-award-badge-smallJack the Ripper, Victorian England, Sherlock Holmes—as much as has been written about them, they never seem to get old. Debut author Kerri Maniscalco has written a fresh new take on the subject that will thrill young adult and grown-up reader alike.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Stalking Jack the RipperTitleStalking Jack the Ripper
AuthorKerri Maniscalco
Series: stand alone (for now)
Publish Date: Sept. 20, 2016, JIMMY patterson
Genre: YA Historical Horror
Source: BEA 2016

Publisher’s DescriptionPresented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Luna_Lovebooks_100Luna Lovebooks says…

Likes: I love Audrey Rose! She is a character before her time and I love the way she stands up for what she wants to do and still holds to the etiquette for a young lady in the Victorian Era. I also love that there is an ode to Sherlock Holmes as well with the character Thomas Cresswell. He is a brilliant mind outrageous flirt. I like that the story is dark and creepy without being overly so. The writing had me gripped from page one!

badge5v4Dislikes: Even though I didn’t know who exactly in her family was Jack, I guessed pretty early that one of the male members of Audrey’s family is the killer. After that information is revealed the story loses some of its luster and much of its suspense. As much as I like the Victorian time period and the mystery of Jack the Ripper and as much as I love to read young adult series, everything I have seen points at this becoming a series. However, I feel like this is a standalone book as everything wraps up nicely.

The beautiful writing and great characters make for an amazing read. I give this book five scalpels.

If you like this book…

…you might try A Taste for Monsters by Matthew J. Kirby, Iron Cast by Destiny Soria, or The Electric Empire series by Viola Carr.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear

In her 12th novel, Maisie goes to Nazi Germany at the behest of the British government just before WWII begins to bring back an imprisoned man who is vital to Britain’s war (preparation) effort. I particularly liked the intrigue that made this novel more of a classic espionage tale rather than the detective story I’m used to.

journey-to-munichTitleJourney to Munich
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
SeriesMaisie Dobbs, Book 12
Publish Date: March 1, 2016 by Harper
Genre: Historical Mystery
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionIt’s early 1938, and Maisie Dobbs is back in England. On a fine yet chilly morning, as she walks towards Fitzroy Square—a place of many memories—she is intercepted by Brian Huntley and Robert MacFarlane of the Secret Service. The German government has agreed to release a British subject from prison, but only if he is handed over to a family member. Because the man’s wife is bedridden and his daughter has been killed in an accident, the Secret Service wants Maisie—who bears a striking resemblance to the daughter—to retrieve the man from Dachau, on the outskirts of Munich.

The British government is not alone in its interest in Maisie’s travel plans. Her nemesis—the man she holds responsible for her husband’s death—has learned of her journey, and is also desperate for her help.

Traveling into the heart of Nazi Germany, Maisie encounters unexpected dangers—and finds herself questioning whether it’s time to return to the work she loved. But the Secret Service may have other ideas. . .

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Agent_Annie_100Agent Annie says…

Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear is a very satisfying Maisie Dobbs novel. Maisie continues to process through the tragic loss of her husband, James, and is struggling with how to be in London as a widow. Winspear deftly uses the daughter of John Otterburn, who Maisie blames for the death of James, as the means through which Maisie learns forgiveness, to understand how people are not what they seem, and that she must continue to learn the lessons her mentor taught. One particular lesson is eloquently stated:

“May I know what it is to feel the weight on another’s shoulders. May I know forgiveness in my heart. May I be given strength to extend my hand across the divide to pull another from the abyss, though that person has wounded me.”

badge5v4I give this novel a 5. Winspear has captured the feel of the original Maisie Dobbs novels and left the reader with the characters and story in a place where Maisie can continue as a psychologist and investigator.

Our reviews in this series…

Check out the Series Spotlight by Agent Annie.

The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

The Other Einstein is an incredibly well-written book that any woman, even of today, can relate to in some way. Many readers will be sad and angry after reading, and no one who has read this book will ever be able to imagine Albert Einstein the same way ever again.

I received an ARC of this book book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

the-other-einsteinTitleThe Other Einstein
AuthorMarie Benedict
Series: stand alone
Publish Date: October 18, 2016, Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Historical, Biographical Fiction
Source: From publisher at BEA 16

Publisher’s DescriptionIn the tradition of The Paris Wife and Mrs. Poe, The Other Einstein offers us a window into a brilliant, fascinating woman whose light was lost in Einstein’s enormous shadow. This is the story of Einstein’s wife, a brilliant physicist in her own right, whose contribution to the special theory of relativity is hotly debated and may have been inspired by her own profound and very personal insight.

Mitza Maric has always been a little different from other girls. Most twenty-year-olds are wives by now, not studying physics at an elite Zurich university with only male students trying to outdo her clever calculations. But Mitza is smart enough to know that, for her, math is an easier path than marriage. And then fellow student Albert Einstein takes an interest in her, and the world turns sideways. Theirs becomes a partnership of the mind and of the heart, but there might not be room for more than one genius in a marriage.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


ivana 100Invested Ivana says…

I have always been a lover of historical fiction, typically that told from a female point of view. I think this may because a feminine POV typically includes more than timelines and heroic deeds. Often it also includes social and personal context on historical events. Or maybe that’s the “fiction” aspect of historical fiction.  In any case, seeing history from a very personal point of view is appealing to me.

The Other Einstein certainly delivers this personal aspect to history. So much so that, several days after reading the book (in nearly one sitting), I still feel sad and angry, as if I’m mourning.  I guess I am; I’m mourning the school-textbook and pop-culture image of Albert Einstein as a brilliant man and something of the “crazy uncle” of modern science.

Mileva and Albert Einstein

Mileva and Albert Einstein

The Other Einstein tells the story of Mileva Maric, a brilliant woman whose father steers her toward the scholarly life, rather than the domestic one, due to her intelligence and a physical handicap—a twisted hip resulting in a limp. Mileva is one of only a handful of women allowed to matriculate in the universities at the end of the 19th century. She endures prejudice and bullying for her daring, but she perseveres, knowing that science is her passion and believing it is the only option she really has.

Until she meets Albert Einstein, who offers her a life of both science and love, of the kind of belonging and acceptance that solitary Mileva has never had.  What comes next is a story in much the same vein as the 2014 film, Big Eyes—a charismatic and narcissistic Albert taking credit for Mileva’s work and slowly stealing her sense of worth until she is a hollow shell of herself, then finally angry enough to make a change.

I love the exchange Mileva has with Marie Curie in the book. In it, Madame Curie, in a very subtle and 19th century way, tries to encourage Mileva to stand up for herself, to take credit for her work, and to be the breakthrough female scientist she was born to be. Madame Curie is a fantastic opposite to Mileva and shows the reader what Mileva’s path could have been without Albert.

Mileva and her children

Mileva and her children

I also adore how the author, or perhaps Mileva herself, has framed her life in terms of Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion. What a perfect metaphor for Mileva’s life before, with, and after Albert.

There is so much I could say about this book, so much to talk about. I’m much too independent of a reader for book clubs, but The Other Einstein makes even me want to join up and talk about all the wonderful themes and ideas it contains—feminism now and in history, independence vs. belonging, the strong need for acceptance, sacrifice, family, domestic relations, intellectual capital, psychological manipulations, living with narcissists, mental health, race and gender relations, the wonder of science, and so much more. But, I think this review is too long already. 🙂

badge5v4This book seems to me to be one of high cultural value in today’s world.  We need to hear more stories of women’s achievements, particularly in math and science. We need to know how history treated women, both good and bad. We need to hear more of the truth behind history, and not just what the textbooks can fit into a fifty-minute lesson. We need to know, even if it means we have to mourn the loss of our old beliefs.

I received an ARC of this book book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.