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Hannah Fielding "Hannah Fielding, romance novelist" (Deal, Kent, United Kingdom)

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Sebastian the Alchemist and His Captive [Medieval Captives 1] (BookStrand Publishing Mainstream)
Sebastian the Alchemist and His Captive [Medieval Captives 1] (BookStrand Publishing Mainstream)
Price: £1.60

5.0 out of 5 stars This is a wonderful novella,, 1 May 2015
As soon as I read the description of this book, I couldn’t wait to start reading. So much emotion and intensity! This book is an absolute gem, so much so that I read it in a single sitting.

First, the setting: dark, wild, rooted in the medieval time. Perfectly executed. The tower seemed so real to me as I read.

Then the story: so much to keep you gripped and wondering, and to pull at the heartstrings. The author expertly sets up mystery, so you are compelled to read on and discover the motives for the characters’ actions, and the idea that ‘someone at the tower seeks to destroy his growing love with Melissa’ had me on the edge of my seat.

How about passion? Well, be still my pounding heart! The love scenes are so beautifully and vividly described, without outweighing the story. I was entirely taken into the world, and loved the passion that built up between them. I especially like how Sebastian respects Melissa, knowing when to be masterful and when to be understanding.

Then the characters themselves, who we get to know well thanks to dual point of view in the book:

Melissa is a very likeable heroine, a mix of innocence and spirit. Her childhood sufferings really moved me, and I was so glad to find her willing to try to make a life for herself with Sebastian and see beyond his prickly exterior. She may be young, but she is mature; so much so that she is willing to probe to find the facts of who exactly her lost parents were.

Sebastian, for me, dominates the book; he is a romantic hero par excellence! A wonderful mix of power and force, courage and brawn, intelligence and, deep down inside, hurt. He reminded me of a hero from classic romance literature, like Heathcliff – not pretty, not always polite, but eminently male. He awoke in me, as in Melissa, that desire to find the truth beyond the mask, the man beyond the weapon-wielding warrior. Most of all, I loved his characterisation as an alchemist, which brings such depth to his character and adds a fascinating dimension.

Finally, it would be remiss of me not to include in this review Lindsay’s fantastic writing style, which makes reading such a pleasure. Her descriptions are just exquisite. For example:

‘Where he was tall and lean and intense, large-jointed and craggy, precise from years of deliberate, often hard-won control, this tiny girl shimmered like a flame. Where his hair was black, dull and fine as silk, hanging straight to his broad shoulders, hers was the color of brimstone and treacle, long heavy ropes of shining curling waves, sunset brown shot through with chestnut.’

In sum, this is a wonderful novella, and well worth reading.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.


How to Tame a Willful Wife (Shakespeare in Love series)
How to Tame a Willful Wife (Shakespeare in Love series)
Price: £4.42

5.0 out of 5 stars To sum up in a single word: Bravo!, 27 April 2015
This book was a real breath of fresh air for me. I was intrigued, I was amused, I was moved, I was enchanted, I was gripped.

I’ve had a soft spot for Christy’s novels for a long time, because her book To Be Queen was the very first I reviewed, and it cemented in me a love for reading and reviewing. Then along came her Shakespeare in Love series, and I was smitten.

This is a brilliant addition to the series. Hats off to Christy: The Taming of the Shrew is not an easy play to turn into a compelling romance, but she achieves it beautifully.

The Regency setting is wonderfully executed, and the character spring from the pages as real and believable. And what characters!
Caroline is a very easy heroine to like. I am quick to enjoy books in which the heroine is feisty – and courageous and independent within the restrictions with which she must live – and Caroline delivers at every turn. I loved her fencing in particular, and her determination not to give up all she is, all she dreams of, just because she is told to do so.

Anthony is a fascinating hero: multi-faceted. At times I could quite happily have shouted at him; other times I could quite happily have hugged him. I love the author’s use of the dual point of view, which allows us to get right inside his head and understand him – essential, I think, otherwise it may be harder to forgive him some of his flaws.

The passion between them is just what the reader wants from such a book: at times it takes them over, forcing them out of their roles and to a place of equality and pure bliss.

Above all, I loved the story. Plenty of mystery and tension to keep me turning the pages, a couple of dangerous and emotive spanners in the works, and an ending that had me closing the book with a satisfied smile.

To sum up in a single word: Bravo!


Venice in the Moonlight
Venice in the Moonlight
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this book, 27 Mar. 2015
I’ve had this book on my ‘to read’ list for a while now, because I love Elizabeth’s writing and because I adore the setting: Venice. But I put off reading it until now because my last novel, The Echoes of Love, is also set in Venice, and I didn’t want to confuse myself in my writing. I’m so glad I kept hold of the book because I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

There is so much emotion; from the opening, when we encounter the heroine trapped in a loveless and cruel marriage, I was so engaged that I could not put the book down. I very much liked Marietta, and her spirit in striking out alone in a man’s world and trying to seek justice for her father. So much passion and strength of character.

Thank goodness the horrendous husband does not stick around for long in the story, leaving the path clear for Marietta to find someone new – something worthy of her. I really liked Nico, the man she falls in love with. He has steel in him, but his own struggle to fight as well: he is losing his eyesight, and is desperate to seek out a miracle cure.

The Venetian setting is wonderful, so atmospheric and vivid that I could really imagine it in my mind as I read. I adored the use of Carnival masks, those iconic objects of beauty that allow all manner of subterfuge and passion. I also loved the cast of characters in Venice, which felt true to the time, especially Casanova. The Venice of 1753 that the author describes so well comes across as small, claustrophobic even, where everyone knew each other’s business and cunning and debauchery were rife.

Art is important in the narrative. Marietta is distraught when her mother-in-law burns her paintings (a terrible moment), and her poor father had struggled to paint after his wife’s death. I very much enjoyed the references to art; and what better location for a story around art than Venice, which has inspired so many great artists in history?

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and recommend it to those who, like me, love the city of Venice and are swept away by the intrigue and romance of the place, while also having a willingness to look beneath her beautiful, exotic mask to see what lies beneath.


The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic (P.S.)
The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic (P.S.)
by Hazel Gaynor
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The ending is sheer perfection, 27 Feb. 2015
A very poignant, moving, beautifully written book that had me utterly gripped.
The author has clearly researched the historical content carefully, and she strikes just the right balance between (often terrible) fact and fiction. I especially enjoyed her depictions of the class differences on the ship, and the descriptions of the ship itself, which really brought that world to life in my imagination.

The two timelines – in 1912 and in 1982 – are interwoven perfectly, enough to keep you intrigued by each. In 1912, I warmed to all of the Irish characters, but read with such a heavy heart, knowing so many of these girls with such hopes and dreams and fire in their hearts would not make it to America. I was concerned before reading the book that I may find the sinking of the Titanic scenes too painful to read (I struggle with the movie Titanic), but while I was very moved by the writing, I did not feel overwhelmed and in danger of having nightmares.

The 1982 narrative following Maggie and her great-granddaughter Grace is just as compelling as the past one. I found myself really rooting for Grace, a young woman weighed down by responsibilities and grief. I could picture her so vividly thanks to the author’s fantastically descriptive writing; ‘It was a warm day, full of blossoms on the trees and bees buzzing among the early-blooming azalea bushes’ – just exquisite.

I love the relationship between Maggie and Grace, and how Grace is able to see her great-grandmother as a young woman. How many elderly people do we know without really knowing them at all? All of her life Maggie has been a treasured member of the family, but the truth of her past, of what happened to her on Titanic, has been buried. There’s such a sense of poignancy and liberation in the book as she finally tells her tale, and it is so transformative for both Maggie and Grace.

Most of all, it was the romance in the book that swept me away. I don’t wish to provide any spoilers here, so I will simply say that if you are a romantic you must read the book. The ending is sheer perfection.

Overall, I found this to be a very well written and engaging book, with a story that will stay with you long after you read the final words on the page. Inspirational and beautiful.


A Little Scandal
A Little Scandal
Price: £4.46

5.0 out of 5 stars It’s full of action and twists and turns, 30 Jan. 2015
This review is from: A Little Scandal (Kindle Edition)
Having read and enjoyed Meg’s historical romance Ransom My Heart a couple of years ago (http://www.hannahfielding.net/?p=1285) and enjoyed it immensely, I was intrigued to try one of the newly presented Patricia Cabot titles. Meg wrote these early on in her career, and I wondered whether I would see a difference in her writing.But I was delighted to find that her voice and style are intact and as engaging as ever.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story. It’s full of action and twists and turns, and feels entirely plausible and realistic for the historical setting. The mystery had me gripped, and the author expertly drip-feeds information through the story so that you learn slowly the nature of the scandal that haunts Kate, and the truth behind the night that changed her life forever. I do love a book with a villain in it, and this one certainly delivers that!

Kate makes a wonderful heroine: feisty and strong-willed but endearingly vulnerable and inexperienced too. And Burke is man I couldn’t help but fall for. He reminds me of my own alpha male characters – powerful, handsome and masterful, but tortured by misdeeds and misunderstandings of the past. I especially loved him in his role as father; his attempts to control his headstrong daughter are quite comical at times. But most of all it is in the role of lover that he shines. Bright enough to blind the reader, at times!

This is a witty, exciting book to read, but it is the romance that really sets it apart. I’d give it a ten out of ten on the heat scale. At a certain point I wondered whether the story could possibly progress, so engrossed were Kate and Burke in discovering each other. The love scenes are beautifully written and very passionate.

The ending is wholly satisfying, exactly what you hoped for but couldn’t quite expect, so difficult are the circumstances in which the characters find themselves at the end. I was left smiling, but with that twinge of sadness deep down that the story had ended: a sure sign of a good book.

The Patricia Cabot novels are out now in ebook format, and I shall certainly be downloading the others to read now. I greatly admire Meg’s current works in the romance genre – paranormal and contemporary romance for adults and teenagers – but having read this novel I have to say that I wish she would dust her Patricia pen off and write more historical romances. I, for one, would read every one!


Where the Rainbow Ends
Where the Rainbow Ends
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A good book to start the New Year, 3 Jan. 2015
If you’re looking to start the New Year in good cheer and keeping in mind what matters most in life then this is a good book to start with.

I would class this as a plot-driven book: there is plenty of story here, spanning quite some years, with lots of twists and turns and action to make you want to keep turning the pages. There’s darkness and light, and some laughter too, but foremost in the novel are two themes:

The quest to make something of oneself: There are plenty of characters to admire in the book for their grit and determination to find security and to build a prosperous life. The author also shows the other side to that quest, through those characters who are foolish or ruthless and will trample on others in the search for a fortune.

The search for real and lasting love: This is classed as a romance novel, but it’s not purely – the romance isn’t at the heart of the book, I don’t think. That said, it’s important. Amelia has her share of sorrows in love, and learns much about herself along the way, and I really liked the realism of her relationships – she and her partners felt vivid to me in how they interacted with each other and chased their own dreams. Across the sea in England, I enjoyed the story of Amelia’s brother James and his family; the dual perspective makes for interesting reading. And it is the family love that shines through the most, I think – the love between those who became a family when they were abandoned, the matron who became their mother figure and the next generation that is born to happier circumstances.

I liked the setting for the book. The era comes through clearly; I had a good sense of James and his wife in Liverpool, and of Amelia in the Klondike. I think Amelia encapsulates well the spirit of the times, and she’s a character you can’t help but admire for her work ethic and determination to succeed.

Ultimately, it is the symbolism of the rainbow that draws the threads of the book together, and I found that to be quite beautiful. Does Amelia find a pot of gold at the end of her rainbow? I will let you read for yourself to find out – but I’ll say this: she finds a whole lot more besides the security money can buy.


A Christmas Feast
A Christmas Feast
by Katie Fforde
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Christmas is a wonderful time of year, 19 Dec. 2014
This review is from: A Christmas Feast (Paperback)
Christmas is a wonderful time of year, of course, but a busy one, and if you’re an avid reader like me, you can end up feeling a little bereft come the New Year: what happened to the time to yourself you dreamt of when you would curl up and get lost in a romance novel? This short-story collection is the perfect answer – offering quick-grab romance stories on a Christmas theme.

The author suggests in her foreword:

‘[T]he point of A Christmas Feast is that it’s full of little treats – stories you might have time to read while you’re waiting for the mince pies to brown or for the bath to run.’

Of course, I’ve devoured this ‘feast’ pre-Christmas, but I do think the book would lend itself well to offering a little escape here and there over the holiday season. The style is easy to read, and the stories easy to dip in and out of. Some are longer; some are like a magazine story.

I really like the feel of the writing: it’s not frivolous and silly, but warm and witty with the odd touch of poignancy. The stories just the right picks for the season. I especially enjoyed one that is centred on two strangers getting snowed in together in the wilds of Scotland. There’s quite a cast of characters through the collection, but I liked them all. I was intrigued by the professions the author incorporates – the publisher’s PR girl trying to handle a difficult author; the charity-shop worker dealing with what on first glance seems to be a very grumpy man; the newspaper reporter working undercover in a hotel kitchen. My absolute favourite story involves a rather uptight woman learning from a passionate Italian man how one should really eat – cue mouth-watering descriptions!

For me, the most wonderful part of the book is the theming. The stories have been pulled together to offer a Christmas feast to the reader, and so they are organised as courses:

Champagne and canapés
Starter
Main course
Dessert
Coffee and chocolate truffles
That alone feels delightfully indulgent.

A lovely book to pick up as a gift for a female friend or relative this Christmas – or, better yet, a gift to yourself. Think of it as your sanity saver for the holidays!


The Prince Who Loved Me (Oxenburg Princes)
The Prince Who Loved Me (Oxenburg Princes)
by Karen Hawkins
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The writing style is wonderful: witty and warm,, 5 Dec. 2014
An absolute delight to read – this book gave me a week’s worth of bedtime reading that left me falling asleep with a smile on my face.

The storyline draws from the Cinderella trope in a fun way, but isn’t weighed down by an attempt to faithfully retell the classic fairytale. For a standalone novel, the book has just the right amount of story, I think – plenty of action, but not so much that the author does not make space for great character development.

Alexsey makes for a wonderful prince. I love his self-confidence, his belief that he can just get what he wants when it comes to power and women, and also his humour and affection for his family and friends (and, ultimately, Bronwyn) which soften his character. Bronwyn is a brilliant heroine: smart, independent and strong, the kind of woman who’s undeterred by being locked in a room and simply climbs out of a window and down a tree. The secondary characters are also colourful and likeable; I especially enjoyed a second love story interwoven in the plot, and the machinations of Bronwyn’s prickly-but-not evil stepmother and Alexsey’s gypsy grandmother, Natasha.

The writing style is wonderful: witty and warm, and so easy to read. My favourite element of the book is the author’s incorporation of quotes from another (fictional) book, The Black Duke – a melodramatic romance novel that Bronwyn is reading. Cleverly, the author juxtaposes the story of The Black Dukewith that of The Prince Who Loved Me, which makes for a sometimes funny, sometimes poignant comparison. In doing so she helps the reader who is reading this romance novel to connect to Bronwyn, who is also reading a romance novel. The layering of the stories is fun, original and clever, and made this book really stand out to me as a treasure in the genre.

I eagerly await the next book in the Oxenburg Princes series.


The Love List
The Love List
Price: £1.20

5.0 out of 5 stars I knew from the first pages of the novel that I was going to thoroughly enjoy this book, 21 Nov. 2014
This review is from: The Love List (Kindle Edition)
What woman can resist a novel that opens with a fashion calamity! I knew from the first pages of the novel that I was going to thoroughly enjoy this book. Poor Nora has managed to glue a shoe to her hand, right before meeting an important client – the designer of the shoe in question – and meeting Ethan; not exactly the first impression you want to make on a handsome man!

There’s an air of Bridget Jones style humour to the opening, and a witty tone permeates the writing. The dialogue especially reached out and grabbed me for its realism and, occasionally, had me laughing out loud, as with:
‘Is she always this hyper?’ Ethan asked Fran, as if she wasn’t there.

‘No way. Only when she’s done something…oh, good grief, Leonora, have you been multi-tasking again?’

But the fun in the book does not detract from the passion between the characters and a serious issue to explore: Nora’s grief over losing her father.

Nora is an eminently likeable character. I love her strength. When Ethan tells her to let go a little, that he’ll catch her, she bristles: ‘You can’t help yourself, can you—you want to save me? You want to rescue me?’ For Nora, independence is key; she buries her pain deep down and won’t let anyone – even herself – touch it. But Ethan has made a life out of helping people in extreme distress, and it’s obvious to him that Nora is hurting.

The pace of the novel kept me turning the pages, and I was delighted by the ending – by Nora’s father’s legacy to her, and how the author connects adult Nora, doing her best to get along and be a successful businesswoman, with the girl she once was and the dreams she had for herself then.

In all, this is a great read, and I think the author, as she describes herself in her bio, comes shining through: ‘a book-devouring, slightly melodramatic, romance-writing sassy heroine’. I’m delighted to have discovered Eve. She writes on her website ‘in a world where it's far too easy to settle back, opt out and be cynical, I like that reading romance redresses the balance a little’.

Well, with The Love List, she provides perfect material to help anyone redress the balance – read this book and you’ll come away with that warm, glowing feeling that makes the sun brighter, the sky bluer and your step jauntier.


His Island Bride
His Island Bride
Price: £2.84

5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, moving, passionate – I heartily recommend this book., 21 Nov. 2014
This review is from: His Island Bride (Kindle Edition)
I requested this book on NetGalley because the cover is beautiful and the blurb intrigued me. I confess I’ve a soft spot for ‘forced to marry for convenience, not love’ storylines; you just know somewhere along the line business will dissolve into pleasure!

The book did not disappoint: so much emotion shines through in the storyline, and I found myself so gripped that I read the story in two sittings. I love the island setting (I found myself rather wistful and wishing I could live somewhere so idyllic and away from the hustle and bustle), and I love the idea of a wedding-destination hotel. What a wonderful establishment to set up and run – the very epitome of romantic; but of course how credible it is that a run of divorces could be bad for business!

For me, this book is character led, and both Jace and Brooke are the kind of characters that make you just have to read on to discover their pasts, presents and futures. I love the fact that both characters have a good deal of honour and loyalty to family and the local community – both will enter into a sham marriage just to protect those they love and ensure the hotel, the main source of income for the people, is secure.

There’s such an honesty to writing that it is impossible not to believe in these characters. For example, Jace and Brooke were together years ago, but Jace left Brooke without much of a thought, focusing instead on his own future, which is saddening but realistic. The realism extends into the character’s chemistry – such passion between them!

But above all the element of the book that really affected me was Brooke’s secret (I won’t spoil the plot by explaining that here). It’s heart-rending and terrible and so powerfully affects who she is and how she relates to Jace – poor, oblivious Jace. When a storm strikes and the characters are plunged into danger, will the truth out – and when it does, will Jace stand by Brooke? You see why I stayed up late to read to the end: I just had to find out!

Compelling, moving, passionate – I heartily recommend this book.


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