Monday, March 24, 2014

The Scoundrel's Secret Siren

By:  Daphne du Bois

It has been some time since I have read such a fun and sweet story. The author writes to spark our imagination and lead us through a fantasy. Even in this era (21st century), don't we dream of doing something out of the norm, something unacceptable, but fun? Further, having our fantasy of an illicit encounter with a roue'.  An Earl that is tall, has broad shoulders and chest (mandatory), the smile that admits him in and out of trouble-not to mention the lips, and a deep, resonate voice. He absconds first with her lips, her virtue and her heart...take me away!

So it goes for Lorlei Lindon, who meets said Earl on the Paddington the middle of the night...when she is ghost hunting.  His carriage is disabled so he climbs up behind her to be rescued. Even her horse, Tulip, doesn't mind. As a thank you, he gives her a first memorable kiss under the veil that hides her face, and he snatches her deceased mother's locket.

Later, in town for her presentation and first season, at a garden party given by her new friend Julia who introduces her to her uncle-she recognizes the name-Alasdair Tilbury, sixth Earl of Winbourne. And he recognizes her golden locks.

Much as she tries, she cannot stay away from him-that voice, those arms, those lips.  And, try as he might (tongue in cheek), he cannot stay away from her. He cannot deny she is chipping away at his cold rake's heart. This ducking and dodging leads to some unexpected, humorous and enticing scenarios including her showing up to act at his inconspicuous 'second' in a duel in which he spots her, thus leading him getting injured, and she risks her reputation to take him to an inn to tend to his wound for a week.

LaThere is dancing, walks/rides in Hyde Park, horseback riding instructions at a country estate with the earl in tow, that all ends in chaos and Lorlei lost in Alastair's eyes...and his lips...on hers.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Moment of Contentment

For any of us to be able to tell about ‘a’ moment when complete and utter contentment chose to shine upon us seems impossible. As we travel the roadways of life, some are dirt lanes, cobblestone or brick streets, the paved boulevards and the cement interstate highways.
I walked, or rode my bike, on dirt paths through the desert in Texas. I can still smell the damp mesquite and flowering cactus after a summer rain, and see the poppy’s covering the San Jacinto mountains. On the weekends my parents took us into the mountains of New Mexico to follow other dirt paths on horseback. We would gallop across meadows then go to the stream to water the horses. No worries, just dirt paths.
The cobblestone or brick streets signified the growth and changes, because in history as the roads changed so did we advance and the horses are replaced by the automobile. I, too, grew with the times (in my SS396) and went out on my own travelling the country as a photographer. I learned to care for, trust an like myself. hen one learns to be a responsible adult (said tongue in cheek) there is a great contentment in knowing ones self.
I relate my (finally) going to college and the paved boulevard with its wide, multiple lanes and accessible turn arounds. While driving you can easily turn and go another direction without addressing a stop light, as in college changing majors. For myself, I travelled, experienced and grew before knowing what I wanted to go to college for, and there I learned structure as in an outline. The pride in myself and from my parents made me very content.
But then it was time to get on the interstate high speed highway of professional employment. The scenery is mostly gone but who notices because there is so much traffic and everyone is in a hurry. But then you look and you are coming into NYC, Chicago or Chattanooga at night and the lights are so beautiful; or you are driving through the Blue Ridge Parkway or up Highway 1 and you look to your right or left to a pasture or amazing seascape (for those of you in the UK, sheep) and everyone sees it too so the flow of traffic turns gentle just like a great job.
My contentment, now that I am retired is reading and writing and I am riding a bike down a land in Provence or I ride a horse in Devon or the Highlands of Scotland, or my beloved desert southwest. I am content in books and writing and, hopefully, we will all be content with our memories.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sailing to Capri

This is a well written, and pleasantly read (for Audible) by Carrington MacDuffie, multifaceted story by Elizabeth Adler. 
A sad, cold, wintry day...Sir Robert Waldo Hardwick is laid to rest.

 Daisy Keane is put out of her life, her home by her unfaithful attorney husband, who takes everything and drives off with a 20 yr. old blonde.  Daisy runs off to London to start a new life, it isn't going so well. She is eating cereal and cheese sandwiches, and she is unemployed.  She comes across an invitation to a society cocktail party. She is approached by a, similarly bored, imposing man who invites her to dine with him. She agrees and is swept off to a fine, low key restaurant in his Bently. He is an interesting, and very rich man, unpretentious. She thinks he looks like Shrek or the Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk, Sir Robert Waldo Hardwick. Nonetheless,  he knows her. He sees through her lies, the ones she tells outward and the ones she holds within. He is accepting of her with all her insecurities and self doubt, and offers her a job as his personal assistant. She moves into his Yorkshire estate, Sneadly Hall, with his dog "Rat".  For years now, besides being his social secretary, personal assistant and public relations maven, they have shared travel, food, arguements and a deep friendship. A perfect 'marriage' without the sex. What will she do now without his guidance...without his friendship?

While saying her final goodbyes, and trying to pry Rat away from the grave of his master, a tall, dark stranger comes to her aide. He helps to get them home before the onset of a major snow storm, which means he stays for the night. He is Harry Montana of Dallas Texas, a private investigator and security specialist. He has worked with Sir Robert on and off for the past decade.  In his last days, Sir Robert was concerned for his life and that is why Montana is there. This makes Daisy uneasy, and defensive for her beloved friends memory. But Montana convinces her there is reason to believe the auto accident that took his life was in fact MURDER. He gives her an envelope from Sir Robert containing three envelopes to be opened at different times. The first instructs her to host a week long yacht cruise to his Capri Villa Belkis where his final Will is to be read. He gave Montana six names of people he thinks have reason to kill him including:
1) Diane, the self-centered, gambling ex-wife
2) Filomena, the Italian mistress, who could have had it all
3) Rosalina, the love of his life
4)Heir Dopplemann, the genius scientist
5) David Ferrell, Wall Street to Queens
6) Charles Clement, the devious sex marketer
Who will get the estates and the fortune?  Who is a murderer?

Upon the yacht, Blue Boat, tensions run high. Especially between Daisy and Montana, the tension is palpable, each fighting their own personal demons but the attraction unveils just as the personal stories of all the suspects unravel.

Daisy misses SIr Robert but still feels his presence in the wind in times of need. Further indication of his love and promise to always take care of her.  But he also teaches them all about love and integrity in the end.

I love this story.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Responding to your inner 'circle'

How can one have a circle that is deemed theirs to be concerned? Sure there are those who are selfish and narcissistic enough to live withing their own little circle that is “ME”, but mostly people are good, caring and benevolent souls. We all have encountered situations where we feel, and then act, responsible. There is just something in us, even men, that makes us respond because our hearts will allow us not to respond.
Years ago, I would admonish myself for always doing for others. Why, to make them like me or, in some cases, to quell the situation? Then, one day, I decided I did not need to justify what or how I did for others. It is in me and it makes me happy. So, on that day, I chose to make myself happy. I am a caretaker, like many of you are, and I am happy ironing the seam in my (now ex-) husband’s shirts and pants and I can iron his work clothes too.
Outside of my ‘circle’, I worked in the health care field. In the mornings, for first medication rounds, instead of walking into the patient’s hospital room and flipping on the lights, I would turn on the bathroom light so there was just enough to see. And I would then bring them a warm washcloth for their hands and face, and go get a coffee/tea for them. Little considerations that make one’s day start a little nicer.
In the nursing homes/extended care facilities, as many of you may know, the patient’s often get taken out of bed, put in a wheel chair and lined up around the halls, many are still in their thin hospital gowns. My mother attitude kicked in and I would go to the Salvation Army and buy sweaters and sweat shirts/pants and socks and haul them back to bed. Can you imagine being on several medications that make you drowsy and being stuck in a wheelchair in a flimsy nightgown, under flourscent lights.
I was happy doing what my instincts told me and I didn’t feel guilty about ‘doing too much for my husband’ or ‘kissing up to the hospital administration’…okay, that didn’t happen, actually I got in trouble for a nondescript reason. But, the moral to the story is to do what your heart tells you, what makes your soul happy. Be good to yourself and it will enhance your inner ‘circle’ relationships

Monday, December 2, 2013

Heart For Rent

By: Karla Brandenberg

Michelle is a ghostwriter who has spent most of her life supporting her selfish sister, Hope, since the day Col. “Uncle Ted” Stratton came to them, alone…no priest even, to tell them their father died in a military operation. Then, after the unrequited, thankless act of love for her barren sister, she finds herself recovering from complications, when she donated her eggs, in France. Her literary agent, Nancy, has arranged for an author to let her home and act as his blog/social media ghostwriter. Although her return is sooner than planned, she allows her tenant to remain so he may be close to his dying mother, in a nursing facility close by. He is quite appealing and, although he does not seem to appreciate her literary talent, she cannot turn him away. Michelle and Rose Schumaker have a cosmic relationship as she appears to Michelle, encouraging her to accept love.

Keith Schumaker, the on-the-tight-leash-deadline author is not happy with relinquishing his identity to a ghostwriter but it is necessary what with deadlines and going to be with his dying mother in the Extended Care Facility close by each day. He worries about his mother’s stories of visiting France. His landlady is enticing and they are drawn to one another, so why does she keep pushing him away?

Rose Schumaker, a young fifty-nine year old cancer victim does not seem confused by her cosmic travels to France, and her transatlantic airplane ride with Michelle. She thinks she will be perfect for her son. But she will make sure by getting to know her a little better. She makes periodic visits to Michelle.

So why should these two sisters be in danger? The dynamics of these stories comes to a crescendo as the charming characters fight through lies, meddling outsiders and relatives, misinterpretation and misrepresentation to save and love one another. This is a well written, exciting story. I read it twice consecutively, and it will be a book I read every year. You can always expect a great story from Karla.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Repurcussions (Ben Coverdale trilogy #2)

(Apologies to our author for not posting this earlier)
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't try to outfox the fox July 19, 2013
By: Glyn Smith-Wild
In Bk. Two of the Ben Coverdale series, the B&B, in the Loire Valley, France has been a success for Ben. He has had help from the resident nympho, Katie, who has attracted most of the men in Sainte-Justine. Ben rescued her from kidnappers in Germany, brought her to 'La Sanctuaire' to recover and she has been a great help to him. They get a visit from Georgina 'Grunge' who brings along a surprise, it is Mary. But the surprise is Alex, her infant son, whom she has brought to introduce to his father. Mary also brings danger in the form of Donald, the man she left Ben for. His sinister ways, that bloomed after she moved in, are scaring her more each day and he has no interest in Alex at all. Why does he want her to change her hairstyle and her way of dress, styles she would never be seen in? Who are these strange men associated with him? When Ben takes Mary to pick up her belongings, he is met with threats and a sword to his neck. They just get away but are followed through Paris, where Ben loses his tail.
So begins a cat and mouse game as Donald escapes to South Africa, where he takes on his true identity and we learn of his business dealings. But Donald will do anything to get Mary to complete his "plan". Ben questions who this Donald is and learns he has long arms, determination and connections. The pieces come together but not before an attempt is made on Mary's life and Ben is put in jail trying to question the assailant. But their new French friendships and old English are ready to support Ben, Mary and their precious son, Alex.
The story is not just of intrigue. There is a sweet story of friendships, romance and the fine living in France that is so pleasantly described.

Friday, October 11, 2013

After Rafaela w/guest reviewer T.Atashkar

Review of: After Rafaela
by Jo Chumas
Again, submitted by my friend and fellow reviewing enthusiast, Theresa Atashkar

This is a novel about four girls that were teens in the 90’s and the best of friends. They went to school
together, studied together, shared their most secret thoughts with each other, or so they thought. Lenox, or Leni; Sara, who changed her name to India; and Becca all came from unhappy homes where they were either unwanted or discarded; and then there was Rafaela, or Rafi who’s parents truly loved her and gave love and at times a home to the other girls. Leni and Rafi were the closest and were more like sisters than just friends.

Rafaela’s mother had also inherited a Villa in Italy from her family called the Villa San Antonio where the family went every summer to get away from the dreary weather of London. The summer that Rafaela was to turn 18 all the girls were allowed to go with the family for the summer and spend their summer breaks at the Villa to celebrate Rafaela’s birthday. They were tended to by Valentina, an older Italian woman that lived at the Villa and loved the girls as much as Rafi’s parents. The summer was wonderful for the girls! They shopped, partied, swam and became closer. Everything was great until the day of Rafaela’s 18th

Twenty-two years later Leni returns to Villa San Antonio to find her just as dead as Rafi and the rest of the girls had become. “Villa San Antonio looked sad, unloved, grief stricken, as though it were stuck in some sort of ‘after Rafaela’ paralysis. Leni could smell the sadness, musty, closed up, repressed aching.” I could relate to how she felt
having recently lost my mother to Alzheimer’s and found it very hard returning home again with only memories of my mother there.

This novel, written by Jo Chumas is so poignant and heartfelt. Her ability to draw me into the story of what was left of life after Rafaela and keep me up all night to finish grieving with everyone touched by Rafi’s death was amazing. I felt lighter when I was finished, but unable to sleep and lay there thinking about my own grief for the rest of the night. Everything was so wonderfully described; every crack, every garden, every piece of furniture so
deeply described, I felt like I had been there and lived through it all, even the weather! “A storm was brewing, and an occasional, ominous rumble of thunder sounded far away in the mountains of Switzerland. Over the horizon, the sky was turning crimson orange with violent twirls of mocha, like some exotic pudding.” I knew what each young girl looked like as they grew into womanhood and could see them and tell them apart as if they were part of my childhood! “A storm was brewing, and an occasional, ominous rumble of thunder sounded far away in the mountains of Switzerland. Over the horizon, the sky was turning crimson orange with violent twirls of mocha, like some exotic pudding.”  I knew what each young girl looked like as they grew into womanhood and could see them and tell them apart as if they were part of my childhood!

Nothing I say can do justice to this novel and the story that the author has told. It is a story that I will read again and enjoy as much or more than the first time I read it. I loved it!