Daughters of Doubt and Eyerolling

Tag: romance

Steampunk Fun

Elizabeth Chatsworth’s The Brass Queen will be published 12 January 2021.

Comedy, romance, and adventure light up this delightful gaslamp fantasy set in an alternate Victorian age.

THE BRASS QUEEN was a 2018 Golden Heart® finalist, was showcased in Pitch Wars 2017, and won numerous contests including The Far Side Contest 2018 (Light Paranormal category), The Molly Contest 2018 (Paranormal category), Put Your Heart In A Book Contest 2018 (Paranormal, Science Fiction, & Fantasy category), The Best Banter Contest 2018 (Paranormal category), and The Catherine Contest 2018 (Wild Card category).

Elizabeth Chatsworth on Goodreads

Let me tell you, Ms Chatsworth, whom I virtually met on Litsy ages ago, is not boasting. She knows how to write, and the ARC I read clearly showed all the hard work she has put into the book. It was relaxing to read something that had a well thought through timeline and plot, AND there were no inconsistencies whatsoever – something to bring out the champagne for, actually.

What’s the story about? The story is about Constance Haltwhistle, daughter of a baron who’s been absent from his estate for ages, and arms dealer to a company called Steamwerks. And Mr Trusdale, a Stetson wearing American who is and is not the person he pretends to be.

Although Constance lives in an alternate Steampunk Victorian age, she still can’t inherit her father’s estate. Since her father has been absent for a very long time, her uncle is threatening to seize the estate from under Constances bustle, if she can’t manage to snag a decent husband within the next week.

Her coming out ball is a big success until the three exo-suits that were meant as pure decoration start moving seemingly on their own accord and abduct three scientist friends of Constance’s. That’s when Constance decides that, although she is on the planning committee for the royal visit of the Queen, taking place in a few days, and actively looking for a husband, she needs to rescue her friends at all costs.

Aided by the cowboy Mr Trusdale, her coach man and her butler, Constance is on a mission to bring her big plan of rescuing her friends to fruition. Which means, the reader may settle in for a mad-cap ride through a well-designed and thoroughly thought out world-building with weirdly funny characters and excellent pacing.

Going once, twice, sold!

The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk, published October 13 2020.

We’re looking at a fantasy world that’s similar to the British Regency Period. The higher classes meet during a season that’s called Bargaining Season, to basically sell off their eligible daughters to the highest bidder. These daughters are sorceresses. They could perform magic, but -as is so often the case- they are not allowed to. The practice of magic is restricted to initiated men. Young sorceresses learn a few spells, but never get a real chance to outgrow the nursery rhyme phase. Upon their marriage an enchanted collar will be fastened around their necks blocking their magic, so that no malicious spirit may enter and inhabit the soul of any possible unborn child. Magical women’s sole purpose, until menopause, is producing offspring.

The female lead of the story, Beatrice Clayborn, is such an eligible young sorceress. Her father, a non-magical merchant, has indebted the already financially unstable family to give Beatrice the perfect Bargaining Season. Beatrice is to find a wealthy husband so that especially her younger sister might profit by being able to go to an esteemed finishing school.

But Beatrice doesn’t want a husband. Beatrice wants to become a full Magus. Since women aren’t allowed to practice the magic that is necessary to become a magus, Beatrice had to learn to summon a spirit in secret from hidden encrypted books.

When Beatrice meets the handsome heir to a wealthy family of magi and his sister, she at first thinks she’s made enemies for life. In fact, she’s managed to make the best allies in her fight for equal rights for sorceresses. A difficult course, since neither sibling must know that the other is working to find a way for women to embrace both, magic and family.

Although the happy ending was predictable, I quite enjoyed the way it came about. A very enjoyable cosy read that had quite a lot of commentary on women’s oppression.

This is How You Loose the Time War

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone is an unusual book which was suggested by Wolf when I visited Otherland a couple of weeks ago.

It is at the same time lyrical, poetic, and easy to read, straightforward and confusing, a sci-fi time travelling novelette and a romance novel as well. I think hardcore sci-fi fans might find this irritating, but I am always here to try out unique, genre defying books. I read almost everything in one sitting, and I think I only needed a day to finish the whole book (I was on vacation, so I had the time).

I read the book at just the right moment, it was the exact thing I needed. A solid 5/5 stars rating!

Dukes of Christmas #9

Dawn with a Duke by Erica Ridley, publishing date 4 September 2020.

Another great addition to the Dukes of Christmas series.

Due to a snow storm Lady Isabelle, the sister of the Duke of Nottingvale, is forced to stop in a posting house on the way to Chressmouth. Her maid has fallen ill and Belle needs to get creative to get out of her clothing.

Calvin is on his way to an important business meeting in Cressmouth and was also delayed at the same posting house. The circumstances need for them to form an alliance, helping each other and falling in love while doing so.

Belle and Calvin are easy to root for characters.

The perfect historical RomCom for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Feisty – guilty pleasure

Feisty by Julia Kent is the third book in her “Do-Over” series, published January 28, 2020.

Fiona earned her nickname ‘Feisty’ in seventh grade. She’s hated the name and the accompanying image ever since and did her level best to change into the Fiona people know now. An incident in her classroom not only brings Feisty back into Fiona’s life, but also her nemesis Chris ‘Fletch’ Fletcher. When the waters have calmed and Fletch seems to be interested in her, Fiona needs to ask the universe, this time not with her divining rod, whether the stars might align for the both of them.

Confession time, I read or listen to Julia Kent’s books whenever I need a break from what’s going on around me. You might expect a light, fluffy read with some sizzling sheet action, but Julia’s books also have well-researched depths where you might not expect them. This time one of the ‘extras’ is a woman with Multiple Sclerosis. As a fighter against the MonSter myself (that is not a typo, that’s how I call my MS), I wrote to Julia to let her know that those paragraphs made me cry and that I appreciate her putting real people into her stories, people with flaws, illnesses, problems.

Feisty has all the things I know and love from Julia’s books. There is a feisty (yes, pun intended) heroine, a handsome man who can handle her and her quirky besties (Fluffy and Perky – both have their own books), lots of banter, puns, double ententre, romance, realism, blind dates, and a lovely HAE.

Erin Mallon, the narrator of the audiobooks in this series, does a wonderful job. She managed both Fiona’s and Chris’s part very well. Her voice was the perfect accompaniment to my literal jam session.

The Greek Mythology Fanfiction You Need

This is a public service announcement for anyone who – like me – has listened to Stephen Fry’s Greek Mythology books Mythos and Heroes multiple times and needs more while waiting for the release of Troy.

Some weeks ago I fell down a Goodreads rabbit hole and discovered Lore Olympus, a WEBTOON comic by Rachel Smythe. I’m usually not a big fan of romance stories, but you have probably never seen anyone tear through more than one hundred episodes as fast as I did.

It is a fun way to scratch that Greek mythology itch, although it does not strictly follow the original lore. I enjoyed the different take on Persephone and Hades’ story that manages without abduction and Stockholm syndrome. There are still some triggers, but there are always warnings in place if you prefer to skip those scenes. In the later episodes, trauma and grief are handled in a very delicate way.

While life on Earth takes place in the time of Ancient Greece, everything on Olympus is very modern – think smartphones, night clubs and Gods driving sparkling sports cars. It makes for a very entertaining contrast. I could go on and on about how I love to see all those mythological personalities portrayed in a very human way. Persephone and Hades have such a sweet dynamic, Hermes is the buddy we all need and a certain someone will forever be Asspollo in my mind. No, that’s not a typo.

Season 1 is done and the next season starts on August 2. So if I got you interested, right now would be the perfect time to jump on the bandwagon and start with episode 1.

What if your Bodyguard is a woman?

Up Close & Personal by Kathryn Freeman, published June 12th, 2020, turns the gender roles around for a new twist.

Heartthrob Zac Edwards has a stalker and the film studio has decided he needs a bodyguard. Enter Kat Parker, the gorgeous woman, who had literally stumbled into Zac the night before at a studio party.

There is chemistry between the two, right from the start. But, of course, they can’t be together – the reasons why (he’s a job and she seems unqualified for it; she’s an ugly duckling and he’s gorgeous; they are both from the wrong side of the tracks, yada yada) made me strain my eyes rolling, and Zac’s backstory was also eyerollingly underdeveloped. Individually both main characters were good, but when they were together they were acting like angsty teenagers.

The idea behind this book was good, the execution of, though, could have benefited from less exaggerated drama and insta-love.

2.5/5 Goodreads stars (so that’ll be 3/5)

Beach Read on my balcony

Beach Read by Emily Henry, published May 19th, 2020.

It’s been a while since I was so tired from all that was going on around me that I just dove into a book and read it from front to back. When I opened Beach Read I plunged in and only came out when I had finished the book. It was perfect for a lazy Sunday.

Two writers stuck in a rut have nothing in common. They write in different genres, he writes rather dark literary fiction, she writes rom-coms with happily ever afters. They couldn’t stand each other at college. Now they have adjoining beach houses for the summer, either trying to write their next bestseller without much success.

One night they have the brilliant idea to turn this summer into a writing challenge. He’d try to write a book with a happy ending, she’d try literary fiction. He’d take her on interviews for his next book about a death cult, she’d take him on “not dates” that should inspire a rom-com. Neither is allowed to fall in love.

What could possibly go wrong?

This book made me laugh out loud very often, but it also made me cry at a few points. It had a happy ending, of course, but although it was the trope-y ending I might have expected from other romance books, it was totally unexpected in this case.

4/5 Goodreads stars

The Palace of Lost Memories

The Palace of Lost Memories, After the Rift book 1, by C J Archer.

This is the third series by Archer that I am reading. The story follows Josie, a 24 y/o midwife and apothecary, also assistant to her father, the local doctor. She lives in a seaside town on the Fist Peninsula that has recently seen an influx of people due to the new king’s palace near the town that was build within mere weeks.

After having met some of the palace guards, Josie is hoping to get a chance to visit the palace and marvel at its beauty. That chance soon arrives when a female visitor to the palace is poisoned and her father is summoned to help.

Of course, Josie, together with the palace guards, tries to find out who poisoned the lady. She also wants to find out some of the other mysteries (no spoilers) that surround the palace and its inhabitants.

Worldbuilding: The Fist Peninsula is a fictional place that sounds very much like Britain in the 18th or 19th century; Josie has learned a lot about medicine as her father’s assistant, but is not allowed to go to university, no woman is. The possible magic that is hiding in the palace is not further explained, but Josie and her friends hint at magic at play.

Characters: Josie is a young woman who knows what she wants. She can stand her ground, has brains to use and isn’t easily intimidated; still, she has to obey the written and unwritten rules of her time, but she pushes the boundaries whenever it seems in order. Hammer, the handsome captain of the guards, is the possible love interest. We don’t know much about Hammer, for a reason (spoiler), but he seems to be a trustworthy fellow, even if he keeps telling Josie she shouldn’t trust him. The secondary characters are fleshed out convincingly and round up the narrative.

Overall: I listened to the audiobook narrated by Marian Hussy. It was a good narration and I enjoyed my time spent at the Palace of Lost Memories. CJ Archer’s books are my brain candy, if you want.

3.89 stars out of 5.0 (Glass and Steele will always be my favourite, sorry-not-sorry)

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