Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki

Title: The Traitor’s Wife
Author: Allison Pataki
Read by: Madeleine Maby
Simon and Shuster Audio
Length: Approximately 16 hours
Source: Simon and Shuster Audio Digital Review Copy – Thanks!

Clara is an orphan and her Grandmother has just died.  She is happy to receive a new position as a lady’s maid for socialite Peggy Shippen.  It is quite a move from the Pennsylvanian countryside to bustling Philadelphia, but after a few missteps Clara becomes a great lady’s maid.  Her lady, Peggy, is a hard lady to please.  Peggy doesn’t seem to think about anyone but herself.  She has a great love for British Major John Andre, but after he leaves Philadelphia, she meets and falls in love with General Benedict Arnold.  In order to increase their wealth and status, Peggy uses Arnold’s fallacy to believe he has been wronged by the Continental Congress to set him up to be a spy with Andre.  As we all know, this doesn’t end well, but this is the often untold story of Peggy’s role in the affair and the imagined role of Clara the servant. 

I like the Downton Abbey aspect of the book showing what the life of the servants was like as well as the “upstairs” people.   It’s nice to know that in order to make it so that General Benedict and Peggy Arnold lived a comfortable life, there were others in the wings doing their cooking, laundry, mending, and dressing.  This reminded me of another excellent novel, Longbourn by Jo Baker about the story of the servants that make it so the story of Pride and Prejudice was possible. I just wish in The Traitor’s Wife, Clara would have had more story for herself.  I did love her romance and her inner conflict about the Arnolds treasonous role.  It was also interesting seeing the drama through her point of view, although Peggy was the clear heroine / villain of the novel.

Overall, I enjoyed this historical fiction novel.  I love the Revolutionary War time period and find the treason of Benedict Arnold to be a fascinating part of history.  The audiobook was narrated by Madeleine Maby who did a fine job, I soon thought of her voice as the definitive Clara.  She did a great job providing a unique voice for all of the other characters as well.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Good Marriage by Stephen King

Title: A Good Marriage
Author: Stephen King
Read by:  Jessica Hecht
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Length: 3.5 hours (3 CDs)
Source:  Review Copy from Simon & Schuster – Thanks!

A Good Marriage is the perfect novella to listen to if you want to be terrified this fall.  It is an especially good read for Halloween.  It is a perfect tale of suspense that really freaked me out (in a good way) on my commute  A Good Marriage is a Stephen King novella, originally published as a part of Full Dark, No Stars four years ago.  

Darcy Anderson has a good marriage and a good life.  Her husband Bob, an accountant, and she have been married for 27 years.  They met over their shared love of vintage coins and besides Bob’s full time accountant business; they have a side business of buying and trading coins.  They also raised two wonderful children together.  They moved from a starter home to a big beautiful home.  Darcy has kept busy as a homemaker raising the kids, but the kids are now grown up.  Bob has always given back to the community, including being a Cub Scout leader.  

One day while Bob is gone on a coin collecting business trip, Darcy makes a run out to their garage to look for some batteries for the remote.  While she is there, she makes a surprising discovery that shakes the foundations of her world and her marriage.  Caught between a rock and a hard place, Darcy must make a momentous decision to right her world.

Overall, this was a perfect tale of suspense that had me terrified, but wanting more.  One of my favorite parts in the novel is Darcy pondering about the mirror side of Bob that she never knew, the dark side.  She discovers that she has a mirror Darcy as well and wonders how to get back through the mirror to the good side.  I loved this.

Jessica Hecht was a great narrator.  She was Darcy to me with Darcy’s “golly gee” attitude that became something frail, yet fearless when her world was turned upside down.

GI Brides: The Wartime Girls Who Crossed the Atlantic for Love by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi

GI Brides is a non-fiction novel about four different British women who find love with American GIs during World War II. After the war, they travel to America and find that the romance of war hides various truths about the men they love.

Sylvia Bradley lost one love on D-Day, but is able to find love again afterwards.  Her family enjoys meeting American GIs she brings home on dates, but she leaves them behind for a new life in America.  Rae Brewer is a tom boy who becomes an ace welder during the war.  She isn’t interested in romance, but it finds its way to her when she meets and falls in love with Raymond.  Margaret Boyle is a beauty with a hard home life.  She meets the man of her dreams, but he isn’t ready for a stable relationship.  Crushed, she meets someone new and he may be the man of her dreams or maybe her nightmares.  Gwendolyn (Lyn) Rowe is a young girl who is excited by the Americans, dances, and fun.  She meets and falls in love with Italian-American, Ben, and they start a new life together in California after the war.

I loved reading about each woman and her experiences.  What I thought was most interesting was how the imminent danger they were all in under constant bombing by the Nazi’s and the romance of the GI’s in their uniforms hid a LOT of problems that they would discover when they returned to America with their husbands.  Being alone in a strange land with a man who wasn’t what he appeared to be in England would be terrifying.  These women found the strength to continue on and make a good life for them.  

I enjoyed the way this book was written, it was non-fiction, but read as fiction.  I loved the middle section of pictures of the women.  I also loved the extras at the end, including an interview with one of the authors, Nuala Calvi.  Her Grandmother was Margaret and she didn’t learn of her story until shortly before her death.  That put her on a search to find others like her Grandmother to learn their amazing stories to share with the world.  

Overall, I thought this is one of the best books I have read about WWII.  It dealt with the human aspect of what was going on in England during WWII, the terror and the triumphs, but also what happened after the war.  How did former soldiers cope when the battle was over?  I highly recommend this book.

Book Source:  Review Copy from William Morrow – Thanks!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Spotlight: Grace Burrowes author of What a Lady Needs for Christmas (and a Rafflecopter giveaway for an iPad mini)

I have made it no secret that I have a great love for Christmas romance novels.  One of my favorite authors for Christmas romance novels is Grace Burrowes.  I’ve read many of her wonderful regency Christmas romance novels in the past.  This year she is back with a brand new Victorian Highland Christmas romance novel, What a Lady Needs for Christmas.  I’ve just started it and it is wonderful, my review will follow. For an exclusive excerpt, book information, and how to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway, more details are given below.
Book Information
Book: What a Lady Needs For Christmas
Author: Grace Burrowes
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Genre: Historical Romance
Lady Joan Flynn needs a husband—any husband—if she’s not to find scandal and mischief under her Christmas tree; Scottish wool magnate Dante “Hard-hearted” Hartwell needs an aristocratic wife to gain access to the financing that will keep his wool mills secure. Can holiday magic spin an expedient match into true love, and wary differences into trust?

Dante and Joan’s wedding night has begun with a discussion of holiday gift-giving, though neither bride nor groom can stay focused on that topic for very long…
Joan stretched out her chilly foot, and encountered Dante’s calf. His bare, warm, hairy calf, because her husband slept without the benefit—or hindrance—of clothing.
He moved onto his side, facing Joan. “What shall I get you for Christmas, Mrs. Hartwell?”
“You’ve given me your very name. That’s gift enough.” Also his trust, his respect, his kisses…so many treasures.
He rolled to his back, suggesting Joan had provided the wrong answer.
“I don’t want your gratitude, madam. Loyalty, fidelity, and a good-faith effort to make something of this marriage will be a fine bargain on both of our parts. The marriage is as much opportunity for me as it is convenient for you.”
Joan did not want a fine bargain, but she did want the warmth her husband’s body gave off. She yielded to the craving and snuggled right up to his side. His arms came around her, as if they’d spent many nights visiting their way to shared sleep.
“I kept my nightgown on.”
“I know, lass. I’ll forgive you that modesty if you kiss me.”
She kissed him, and the contour of his lips told her he was smiling. “You should kiss me too, sir. My feet are cold.”
“You need your new husband to warm them up?”
Joan needed her new husband in so many ways. “Shall I take off my nightgown?” She didn’t want to, but Dante was naked, and the intimacies she’d tried hard not to dwell on were commencing.
“You feel safer with it on,” he said, shifting to blanket her with his body. “I’ll try not to tear it.”
Gracious. “I can stitch it back together if you do.”
He nuzzled her ear, sending a shivery feeling down Joan’s spine. “Kiss me some more, Mrs. Hartwell.”

Buy Links
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/BNWhatALadyNeeds
Author Biography
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes' bestsellers include The Heir, The Soldier, Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal, Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish and Lady Eve's Indiscretion. Her Regency romances have received extensive praise, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Grace is branching out into short stories and Scotland-set Victorian romance with Sourcebooks. She is a practicing family law attorney and lives in rural Maryland.
Social Media Links

Rafflecopter Giveaway
For a chance to win an Ipad mini, leave a comment below describing your favorite Christmas romance novel, then go to this link, and click that you left a comment.  Giveaway ends at midnight on October 30, 2014.  Winners will be selected and contacted by Sourcebooks.