Thursday, October 30, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition

Thank you to Shabby Blogs (http://shabbyblogs.com/) for the free frame!

Happy Thursday, everyone! And welcome to a new feature on Buried Under Romance and Love Saves the World.

What is Throwback Thursday?
Traditionally, Throwback Thursday celebrates nostalgia, asking participants to post a personal photo or an image from their past -- usually from 5 to 10 years ago. There are a lot of book blogs that also do a book-related Throwback Thursday.

The Historical Romance Edition:
Since Mary of Buried Under Romance and I are unapologetic lovers of historical romances, we've decided to focus on our beloved genre.

Here are our rules:
1. It must be posted on a Thursday.
2. It must be a historical romance novel published before October 3, 2008.


A Singular Lady by Megan Frampton, published October 2005

Blurb: 
During the Season, debutantes rush to London to find a man who’ll fill their hearts with love -- or their bankbooks with money. The Honorable Titania Stanhope is of the latter category. She simply has no choice–for her father has bequeathed his entire fortune to his mistress. Armed with velvet, dancing slippers, and a firm resolve, Titania heads to do battle in the ballroom in order to vanquish -- and marry -- a gentleman who can afford to keep her family from ruin.

Edwin Worthington, Earl of Oakley, wants nothing to do with money-grubbing young ladies. He wears scuffed boots and old jackets, allowing Society to regard him as the penniless black sheep of a wealthy family. But in reality he has a fortune -- and no plan to marry -- until he meets Titania, a woman whose sharp wit and keen mind are rivaled only by her lovely face. Can Edwin let go of his pride in order to follow his heart?

*Blurb copied from the author's website.

I recently reviewed Megan Frampton's "debut" novel, Hero of My Heart, and I really enjoyed What Not to Bare, her second book. I recently discovered that Megan Frampton published 1 Signet Regency Romance in 2005 and this is it. Now I wish this book with be digitized soon because I really want to read it. ^_^ Megan Frampton also writes contemporaries as Megan Caldwell and has one book out, Vanity Fare: A novel of lattes, literature, and love.

To find out more about Megan Frampton and her books, click below:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

Head over to Mary @ Buried Under Romance and Ki Pha of Doing Some Reading for their picks for Throwback Thursday.^_^

Fellow historical romance readers are welcome to join us. Enter your link below so we can visit your TBT: HR Edition post for the week! (Then go here to copy the Link code to your blogs.)





Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Book Review: Hero of My Heart by Megan Frampton


Click here to buy the book on Amazon

As I read through Hero of My Heart, I kept seeing Alasdair as a dark pit of despair: riddled with guilt over the death of his wife and his older brother. His guilt manifests itself into terrible nightmares and Alasdair's only peace comes from opium. It is not a situation that a marquess should find himself in, and, so Alasdair has made plans to end his terrible suffering, but his plan is interrupted when an impromptu auction happens at the pub he is in. Alasdair could have chosen to remain indifferent, but when he sees Mary and her helplessness, he knows he needs to rescue her.

Oblivion interrupted: Alasdair never imagined he'd be someone's knight in shining armour. His experience has led him to believe that he brings only death and despair to the people who dare get close to him: his brother, Anthony, died trying to protect him when they went off to war, and his wife, Judith, didn't want him. (She was promised to his older brother before he died.) Alasdair saw Mary as his way of making amends, of making right by the world: and so he quietly married her, brought her to London, launched her successfully into society before proceeding with his original plan.

But he never counted on Mary to be ... Mary.

"You are growing tiresome, Miss Smith. I said no."

Mary straightened herself and glared at him. The moon threw enough light that he had to be able to see her expression. So be it. He should understand that even though he'd bought her, he didn't own her. "Tiresome is when the squire's wife has told the same story at every social gathering, and expects you to marvel at her cleverness each time. Tiresome is realising your father has misplaced his sermon notes again. Tiresome is not, my lord, when a woman has been bought by a marquess who habituates low places where a woman might be sold."

He flung his head back to laugh, then winced as it slammed against the wall. "Ouch." He rubbed his head. "Excellent point."
- Chapter 2

Mary Smith is the illegitimate daughter of a small-town vicar, whose half-brother has gone through their family's savings and has now auctioned Mary off in order to make some money. Mary is more than just a vicar's daughter, and, when her half-brother discovers who Mary's mother is, he sees this as an opportunity to make even more money.

Our hero and heroine have an uphill climb ahead of them:
1. They must deal with Alasdair's addiction to opium.
2. They must deal with Alasdair's cousin, Hugh, who stands to inherit his title and wealth if he can prove that Alasdair is insane.
3. They must deal with Mary's half-brother, Matthias, who is blackmailing Mary.
4. They must deal with Mary's mother, who is a well-established person in society.

And, finally, Mary and Alasdair must deal with each other: their marriage isn't even one of convenience, or mutual gain. They married as strangers, and had not intended on consummating the marriage. But there is an undeniable connection between the two of them: Mary is prepared to explore this, but Alasdair is afraid to hurt Mary if she gets too close.

Hero of My Heart has a very different tone and style from Frampton's What Not to Bare, which I really enjoyed for its wit and humour -- but, I have to say, Hero of My Heart shows another aspect of Frampton's talent: what worked for me is how the author really focused on her tortured hero and his journey to redemption. I've read about opium addiction in other historical romances, but Alasdair's recovery was the most brutal, I think -- because he went cold turkey and Frampton chose to show the agonizing stages of drug withdrawal. (I do question, however, the "treatment/cure" for our hero's withdrawal: he drew comfort from Mary's touch. It does convey quite a romantic message, but I would've wanted a more plausible method.)

..."Why am I here?" she asked, raising her voice to the sky so it echoed in the trees.

Alasdair propped his head up on his hand, regarding her. "Don't you remember? I bought you."

She glared at him and he saw her hands close even tighter. "Not that. I know that. But why am I here? Father always assured me there was a purpose to each and every person on earth, and I used to believe him, but now I don't know."

"Maybe you're here to save me."
- Chapter 10

The author maintains the tension throughout the story as Alasdair and Mary go through the series of conflicts (opium, her half-brother and his cousin, etc), but it's Alasdair and Mary's battle with themselves that I was most interested in. Initially, I didn't quite understand this conflict and wondered about Alasdair's plans. I also felt it was a bit cruel to Mary, who had already endured so much to have to overcome yet another obstacle -- but I understand that Frampton really wanted to test her hero and heroine's resolve and relationship. My one other complaint was how the situation with Mary's mother was resolved. I felt it would've worked as a separate story altogether, and, I thought it would have been Mary's emotional/pivotal moment, but it lost a bit of its friction/strength because it because just one part of a series of events.

The tone of the story is also a bit uneven: it starts out quite dark, but ends with a lighter note, but, overall, this was an engaging read.

Hero of My Heart is Megan Frampton's debut novel. To find out more about Megan Frampton and her books, click below:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Friday, October 24, 2014

Book Review: Wallflower Gone Wild by Maya Rodale


Click here to buy the book on Amazon
Click here to buy the paperback at The Book Depository

In the second instalment of Maya Rodale's Bad Boys and Wallflowers series, Lady Olivia Archer is dreading the upcoming reunion at Lady Penelope's Finishing School, because she will be one of the very, very few graduates who have not yet married. It's one thing to be labeled a "wallflower" but it's entirely a different thing to be labeled a "spinster" and a "failure" -- but, just as she and her friends start thinking of an outrageous plan to get her married, Olivia meets Phinneas Cole, Baron Radcliffe -- and it's love at first sight for both of them.

I thought Maya Rodale's set-up for Olivia's story was exciting: she sees him from across the room and their eyes meet -- and then, sparks. Rodale captures the magical moment so vividly that I was swept away into the romance of the moment as Olivia meets Phinn for the first time. Then the author makes it even more exciting when, on the morning after, Olivia receives a proposal of marriage from a secret admirer, who turns out to be Phinn!

The Mad Baron -- who was indeed a corpulent elderly man with a dark scowl of disapproval -- loudly cleared his throat of phlegm. Olivia did not conceal her shudder of revulsion. The thought of sharing a bed with this man strengthened her resolve immeasurably.

She would not marry the loathsome man who looked so dismissively at her. She would not have him touch her. Honestly, she should have drenched a bottle of perfume on herself as well.

The other man -- his solicitor, presumably -- stepped forward and provided more of a heart-stopping shock.

She recognized his captivating green eyes and his mouth, which she had almost kissed.

The scar she had noted in the candlelight was far more foreboding in the daylight.

...

"Lord Radcliffe, may I present my daughter Lady Olivia," Lord Archer ground out. "I have no idea what has gotten into her. Or on her face."

But it wasn't the corpulent old man with the beady eyes who stepped forward. For a second Olivia felt relief. That is, before the truth of it dawned upon her.

Lord Radcliffe -- the man she'd presumed to be the solicitor, the man who was her handsome stranger -- fixed his gaze on her raccoon eyes and bowed slightly. A tremor of fear rocketed up her spine.

She had nearly kissed a murderer! Thank God she hadn't.
-pp. 38 - 40

It would have been fun to read this as a story of mistaken identities -- but, Rodale takes Olivia and Phinn's story in a different direction: Olivia discovers that Phinn isn't exactly "Prince Charming" but is actually known as the "Mad Baron" and rumoured to have killed his first wife. I have to admit I was a little surprised with Olivia's reaction to Phinn's proposal and I needed to see a clear reason why she would reject it without any serious consideration or thought. I worried for Olivia because I didn't think she knew what she wanted and what she was walking away from:

1. Is Olivia worried about Phinn's reputation as the "Mad Baron"? I think this is partly the reason for Olivia's reluctance, and Phinn didn't help clear this up by being deliberately vague about his role in his late wife's death. I would've thought that Emma's husband's trust in Phinn would have calmed Olivia's worries a bit (Phinn is helping the Duke of Ashbrooke build his Difference Machine) -- but Olivia was really, genuinely concerned about ending up dead. (A bit too extreme, IMHO.)

2. Olivia discovers that the reason why Phinn wants to marry her is because he thinks she's mild, meek, and biddable -- all the qualities that Olivia has been chaffing against her entire life. While she cannot deny her attraction to Phinn, Olivia does not relish the prospect of living the rest of her life as a well-behaved and proper lady.

Olivia's heart sort of broke with happiness for Emma that she should have the steadfast and eternal love of this man. And she was so glad that he was so good as to extend his kindness to her friends. And to her dismay, she was jealous. Oh, she didn't covet Ashbrooke, but she coveted the sort of love they possessed.

That was what she wanted. That was what she'd never have with the Mad Baron. Not when he'd spend all his time at work on his bizarre machines, leaving her to manage the servants and embroider. That is, before her [sic] murdered her.
- p. 137

I thought this was a very valid point for Olivia, and I saw how acting out scandalously would scare Phinn off, but I wondered if Olivia really thought beyond the outrageousness and see what damage she could do to her reputation.

Be careful what you wish for. Olivia and her friends had dreamed of making a match and getting married -- and, now, Olivia is finally getting her wish, but it is not without strings attached. He's handsome and titled, but he also wants her for all the wrong reasons. Instead of wanting to marry, Olivia is now scrambling to get out of marrying. There's nothing wrong with thinking and acting on her feet, but I worried about the long-term, life-altering implications of Olivia's decisions. (And I honestly thought all of her worries could have been addressed with a sincere, authentic conversation with Phinn.) I think this is something that Rodale wanted to address in Wallflower Gone Wild: Phinn and Olivia both struggled to express themselves honestly and took advice from everyone, which led to disastrous results. The message the author sends out is clear: what might have worked for Emma and the Duke of Ashbrooke would not necessarily work for Olivia and Phinn. (And Rogan's advice and "help" was not helpful at all.) In that, how our stories and relationships unfold are all individual and unique. It's when Phinn starts listening to his own heart that he's able to show Olivia the truth of himself.

While I think I understand the thesis behind Wallflower Gone Wild, I think the author could have done a better job of presenting Olivia's dilemma more clearly. (For the most part, Olivia's behaviour appeared a bit childish.) The middle part of the story was hampered by Olivia's indecisiveness, but the ending proved to be satisfying and enjoyable, thanks to Phinn and Olivia's epiphany.

Rules, rules, rules! She knew them all too well. They took up too much space in her brain. They kept her all bound up, restrained, and squeezed into the old of Proper Lady until she couldn't breathe. ... there was only one rule she abided these days.

Make your own rules.

With a smile on her lips, Olivia picked up her needle and selected a vibrant pink thread. She started to stitch and kept at it until Phinn arrived.
- p. 303

Wallflower Gone Wild is book 2 in Maya Rodale's Bad Boys and Wallflowers series. To find out more about Maya Rodale and her books, click below:

Website
Facebook
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Goodreads
Thursday, October 23, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition

Thank you to Shabby Blogs (http://shabbyblogs.com/) for the free frame!

Happy Thursday, everyone! And welcome to a new feature on Buried Under Romance and Love Saves the World.

What is Throwback Thursday?
Traditionally, Throwback Thursday celebrates nostalgia, asking participants to post a personal photo or an image from their past -- usually from 5 to 10 years ago. There are a lot of book blogs that also do a book-related Throwback Thursday.

The Historical Romance Edition:
Since Mary of Buried Under Romance and I are unapologetic lovers of historical romances, we've decided to focus on our beloved genre.

Here are our rules:
1. It must be posted on a Thursday.
2. It must be a historical romance novel published before October 3, 2008.


The Heir and the Spare (Negligent Chaperone Book 1) by Maya Rodale, published August 2007

Blurb: 
All of London is raving about the newly arrived American, Emilia Highhart. She has beauty, charm, wit, and a hint of the exotic. Unfortunately, grace is decidedly not one of her virtues. Staircases, doors, even floors have proven her enemies, often leaving Emilia prostrate and mortified in a pile of muslin. Nevertheless, at her first ball, her dance card soon fills with the names of highly suitable men. But Emilia’s eyes are on just one -- one her aunt points out as the entirely unsuitable Lord Phillip ...

In fact, he isn’t Lord Phillip. While Phillip, the heir, goes about spending the good family’s funds, his identical twin, Devon, the spare, must attend society functions as Lord Phillip -- all because of a few blasted minutes’ age difference. Soon, both twins are vying for Emilia. And, under the not-so-watchful eye of Lady Palmerston, aunt and chaperone to the young lady, Emilia is unknowingly courted by two different men with the same face! But only one of them is the love of her life ...

How do you choose the books you read? Is it the cover? The blurb? I remember picking up and reading this book, but I can't remember why, but I do remember loving Maya Rodale instantly and buying all of her works since her debut novel. The word that comes to mind when I think back to Rodale's books is "quirky" -- there's always a fun factor in her stories and she's very good at writing women. Her current series about Wallflowers is very enjoyable. (I just finished book 2: Wallflower Gone Wild.)

To find out more about Maya Rodale and her books, click below:
Website
Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter

Head over to Mary @ Buried Under Romance and Ki Pha of Doing Some Reading for their picks for Throwback Thursday.^_^

Fellow historical romance readers are welcome to join us. Enter your link below so we can visit your TBT: HR Edition post for the week! (Then go here to copy the Link code to your blogs.)





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