Thursday, July 2, 2015

Who is Your Favorite Literary Romantic Hero?

One of the most popular posts on my blog was back in 2009 when I wrote about a British Telegraph poll of the most Romantic Heroes with Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre the winner.  I held a month long poll on my blog back in 2009 where Jamie Fraser from Outlander was the clear winner.  Its fun to read this blog post at that point, as there was no Outlander TV series and a face for the character as there is now.  It has been six years since the poll so I am going to hold the poll again for the month of July.  The following characters will be part of the poll (on the right sidebar).

Jamie Fraser, Outlander
As I wrote in 2009,” I agree with my readers that Jamie Fraser is the most romantic character in literature. He is a handsome Scot that runs around in a kilt in Outlander, but he is much more than that. He is a man with deep passions and loyalty that inspires love in not only his soul mate Claire, but in a wide variety of people. His love for Claire grows through the years through trials and tribulations and still remains passionate when they are in their 50’s.”

Here is one of my favorite quotes from him to Claire (in Dragonfly in Amber).

I will find you,” he whispered in my ear, “I promise. If I must endure two hundred years of purgatory – two hundred years without you – then that is my punishment, which I have earned for my crimes. For I have lied, and killed, and stolen; betrayed and broken trust. But there is one thing that shall lie in the balance. When I stand before God, I shall have one thing to say, to weight against the rest. Lord, ye gave me a rare woman, and God! I loved her well.”

Edward Rochester, Jane Eyre
Dark, brooding, and mysterious, Edward Rochester is the epitome of the romantic hero.  He is flawed and intriguing.

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Pride and Prejudice
Mr. Darcy is haughty, handsome and rich.  He is also a flawed, but intriguing character.  By the end of the novel, Elizabeth realizes that there is much more to the man then she first surmised.

Captain Wentworth, Persuasion
Who can forget Captain Wentworth’s letter to Anne describing his love? 

Rhett Butler, Gone With the Wind
Handsome and dashing, Rhett Butler loves Scarlett when she cannot love herself.

Edward Cullen, Twilight
Edward Cullen captured the hearts of teenage girls and their mothers over the past decade, but does he have staying power?

Mark Darcy, Bridget Jones Diary
Mark and Bridget get off to a bumpy start, but Mark shows that underneath his gruff, but handsome exterior, he is a caring man.

Colonel Brandon, Sense & Sensibility
Although Colonel Brandon appears old to Marianne, he is old enough to have survived a romance of his own and to want what is best for Marianne.

Henry DeTamble, The Time Traveler’s Wife
I need some help with this one.  He was on the original list.  I’ve read the book a couple of times and think he’s kind of creepy.  Especially his future old man self-deflowering young teenage Claire.

Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights
Heathcliff has a drive for vengeance, but he is the only man that is Cathy’s soul.

Richard Sharpe of Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series
I have never read this series.  What do you think makes Richard Sharpe a romantic hero?

Gabriel Oak, Far From the Madding Crowd
I also have not read this, but I love Thomas Hardy and the new movie looks fantastic.  It’s on my list.  What makes Gabriel Oak a romantic hero?

Gilbert Blythe, Anne of Green Gables
After the death of actor Jonathon Crombie who so masterfully portrayed Gilbert Blythe in the Sullivan productions, many fans were left remember that Gilbert was their first romantic hero in literature.  He may call Anne “carrots” but he also stands by her through thick and thin.

Ross Poldark, Ross Poldark:  A Novel of Cornwall
This book is next up on my reading list and I’ve started to watch the new PBS series.  Jilted heart, a true gentleman who is not afraid to risk it all, Ross Poldark is a romantic hero.

Hawkeye, Last of the Mohicans
Hawkeye is a man of action who saves Cora and Alice.  I’ll never forget his portrayal on the big screen by Daniel Day Lewis in the 1990’s movie.

Christian Grey, Fifty Shades of Grey
I’ve added Christian Grey to see how many fans he has out there.  I thought he was a scary stalker and wish the book could be erased from my mind.

John Thornton, North and South
John Thornton is in trade and wants to better himself.  Margaret is prejudiced against a tradesman at first, but John finds himself changing as he gets to know and falls in love with Margaret.

William Marshal, The Greatest Knight & The Scarlet Lion
William Marshal started out as a poor knight for Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and through his skill and chivalry he rose to the top.  He finds true love with Isabel de Clare.

Vote for your favorite hero on the poll on the right sidebar and we’ll discuss the winners in August.  Don’t see your favorite romantic hero?  Make sure to comment on who I missed and why they are your favorite romantic hero!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Watch the Lady by Elizabeth Fremantle Review and GIVEAWAY!

Penelope Devereux is the daughter of an illustrious family and will soon be a lady in waiting for Queen Elizabeth I, but she can never have the man she truly loves, Philip Sidney.  She must marry wealth to help her family fortunes, but her true love will never be forgotten as she becomes Sidney’s muse for his sonnet sequence Astrophil and Stella.  As the years pass, Penelope realizes that she must grasp happiness when she can and that she has a great political mind and is willing to use it.

Penelope’s brother Robin, the Earl of Essex is the Queen’s favorite, much to Robert Cecil’s, the Queen’s man, dismay.  Cecil works behind the scenes to bring both the Earl of Essex and Penelope down.  This leads to a stunning conclusion.

I was intrigued by this entire novel.  I had never heard of Penelope Devereux before, and after a quick google search, I discovered she was real as were the facts of this historical fiction novel.  Author Elizabeth Fremantle also has a great afterward where she describes her research, the real facts of Penelope, as well as where she took some fictional liberties based on the facts. I loved the afterward as well as the book club questions.

I loved how Penelope was a strong heroine in a time when women were not allowed to be strong.  The fact that she survived the intrigue of court while living a scandalous life of her own says a lot about her and her strength.  I thought it was interesting how she was whitewashed from history so that the men in her life would not be tainted by her scandal.  I love how Queen Elizabeth states in the novel that she likes how Penelope has chosen to live her life “as a man” of the time, loving who she wanted to love.  I also enjoyed that this heroine has the same name as my young daughter.

Overall, Watch the Lady had political intrigue, great history, romance, and wonderful characters; it is a book not to be missed.

Book Source:  Review Copy from Simon and Schuster – Thanks!

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Watch the Lady by Elizabeth Fremantle courtesy of Simon and Schuster .  If you would like to win Watch the Lady, please leave a comment on why it sounds interesting, what you know about Penelope Devereaux.

As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner. 
For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.

I will be using (or a Monte Carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.
This contest is only open to US residents (Sorry!).
No P.O. Boxes.
The deadline for entry is midnight on Friday July 17th.
Please make sure to check next week to see if you are a winner. I send emails to the winner, but lately I've been put in their "junk mail" folder instead of their inbox.
Good luck!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer

Georgette Heyer novels are comic regency gold.  When I read one of her novels, I feel like I am reading a 1930’s movie with the witty dialogue between lead characters set in the Regency Period.  If you’ve read all of Jane Austen’s novels and you are looking for something more, I highly recommend Georgette Heyer.  Her novels are historically accurate and well researched for the Regency period and the characters are always fantastic.

Sir Richard Wyndham is a fashionable nobleman during the regency period, thus a Corinthian.  He is being pressured into making an offer of marriage to a young woman of his acquaintance.  Unfortunately she comes from a family in dire circumstances and makes it clear to Sir Richard that she would only be marrying him for the money and not for love.  Sir Richard realizes that he wants something more, and that is a woman who truly loves him.

Penelope Creed is an heiress that is being forced to marry her odious cousin.  She decides to take matters into her own hands by dressing as a boy and escaping through her window.  It is during this escape that she meets up with Sir Richard Wyndham.  Sir Richard is quite drunk and agrees to help Penelope find her childhood sweetheart so they can marry. Sir Richard and Penelope are soon off on an adventure that will include mystery, comedy, and romance.

I loved this book and read it on a road trip to Marquette Michigan for a graduation party.  The witty dialogue had me laughing out loud several times during our journey.  I also though the mystery was good and it kept me guessing how it would all end.  Sir Richard and his finery were great especially when juxtaposed with his renowned prowess in the boxing ring.  I thought he was a wonderful hero and also thought that Penelope was a good accomplice, a young woman who wanted to find love on her own terms, but who had the wit and audacity to keep up with a man ten years her senior and social superior.  I also loved that the heroines name is Penelope – the same as my daughter.

I highly recommend this novel.  It was one of my favorite Heyer novels thus far, and that is saying something!

Book Source:  A birthday present from my best friend Jenn.  Thanks!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick

The Summer Queen follows the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine from age thirteen to her late twenties.  Eleanor was the wife of two kings, the mother to three kings, and the ruler herself of the powerful Duchy of Aquitaine.  She often also appears in Robin Hood movies, shows, and novels as she is the mother of King Richard the Lionheart.  Eleanor is called Alienor in the novel, which Chadwick explains is the spelling of her name as it would have been in her lifetime (appeared in documents and such).

Alienor’s beloved father has died leaving her the heir of Aquitaine; as the eldest daughter with no brothers.  To protect Alienor and her inheritance, her father had made a pact with the King of France making him Alienor’s guardian.  The King sees his chance and immediately weds the thirteen year old Alienor to his son Louis.  The King of France dies shortly thereafter making the young couple the new King and Queen of France.

Alienor has trouble adapting, especially to the idea of not having her opinions accounted for by her spouse.  She is a highly educated woman for her time and was trained to rule her land.  As a married of woman of the time, she is not allowed to rule.  I found this intriguing and also intriguing that she was even able to inherit the Duchy, while most lands still had it so that you could only inherit through male lines.

Louis and Alienor are unequally matched.  They start their marriage happy, but Louis was trained to be a monk before his older brother’s death.  He listens to his church advisors more than his wife and seems to think intimacy is evil.  But he also wants heirs and blames Alienor for the lack although they don’t have any marital relations to create heirs.  This is highly frustrating to the sensual Alienor.

Their marriage disintegrates and the book ends at the beginning of Alienor’s second marriage to the young lion, Henry II of England.  Their marriage is fruitful and the book ends with the start of their reign of England.  I can’t wait to read Book II – The Winter Crown.

I found the treatment and understanding of mental illness in the middles ages to be intriguing.  Alienor’s younger sister Petronella is manic/ depressive and no one knows what to do with her or what is wrong.  This leads to a lot of pain for many people, including poor Petronella.  I also loved the description of the ill-fated crusade that Alienor and Louis take part in.

Overall, I love Elizabeth Chadwick’s novels and was glad to see her take on one of my favorite women in history, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Chadwick writes history so that it feels alive.    The drama of Alienor’s life and loves was riveting and I can’t wait to read the rest of this trilogy.

Book Source – Christmas Present from my Best Friend Jenn.  Thanks!

Book Source – Christmas Present from my Best Friend Jenn.  Thanks!