Monday, 26 August 2013

Book Review: The Reluctant Bride by Beverley Eikli

Publisher: Choc Lit
Published: 2013
Format: Paperback
Length: 353 pages
Summary from Goodreads:
Can honour and action banish the shadows of old sins?
Emily Micklen has no option after the death of her loving fiancé, Jack, but to marry the scarred, taciturn, soldier who represents her only escape from destitution.
Major Angus McCartney is tormented by the reproachful slate-grey eyes of two strikingly similar women: Jessamine, his dead mistress, and Emily, the unobtainable beauty who is now his reluctant bride.

Emily’s loyalty to Jack’s memory is matched only by Angus’s determination to atone for the past and win his wife with honour and action. As Napoleon cuts a swathe across Europe, Angus is sent to France on a mission of national security, forcing Emily to confront both her allegiance to Jack and her traitorous half-French family.

Angus and Emily may find love, but will the secrets they uncover divide them forever?
Aside from Pride and Prejudice, this is my second foray into regency romance and I thoroughly enjoyed Beverley Eikli’s novel of secrets and spies. There are quite a few authors who write regency romances, and as I got sent The Reluctant Bride for review, I was intrigued and excited to how my first experience with a modern author would be like.

Thankfully, I was engrossed by the story the second Emily and Angus agree to marry each other. I know I would certainly be a ‘reluctant bride’ if I were in Emily’s boat; if situations such as these were the norm back then I wonder how many women actually married for love. Angus was definitely a sweetie and sounded like the perfect kind of guy a girl could marry back then.

Emily Micklen comes from a wealthy family and is shocked to find out her fiancé Jack has been killed in battle. As she is pregnant, she and Major Angus McCartney, who delivers the news, agree to marry each other, as it would be the most convenient way of settling the situation.
Angus and Emily grow closer as they spend more time together, and the both uncover secrets about people close to them.

I found the writing style really easy to understand, although at time I was a bit slow to catch up on all the details of Napoleon, I guess it’s because I don’t know that much about the French Revolution and everything that followed, but still, I will probably read more books about it now. Ms Eikli lets you sympathise with the characters and thankfully I liked both Angus and Emily a lot.

In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed my foray into regency romance, and will definitely check out more books by the author and more works in the genre in the future.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Book Review: Beneath an Irish Sky by Isabella Connor

Published: 2013
Publisher: Choc Lit
Length: 414
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars

Summary from Goodreads:
Jack Stewart thought he’d put the past behind him. On the surface, he has everything success, money, a big house and is never short of an attractive woman by his side, but a tragic accident shatters Jack’s world.

Raised an Irish Traveller, Luke Kiernan hasn’t had it easy, and when he wakes up in a Dublin hospital to find the man he’s hated since childhood at his bedside, he’s hungry for revenge. Two very different worlds collide, bringing new dangers, exposing past deceits and unearthing dark family secrets buried long ago. But from tragedy springs the promise of a fresh start with two women who are intent on helping Jack and Luke mend their lives.

Can new love heal old wounds, or are some scars there for good?

Beneath An Irish Sky was quite a different book for me to review. I don’t usually read books that have family secrets and things like that in them so it was definitely a refreshing read. I also hadn’t read anything about Irish travellers; the only knowledge I have of them is from watching Big Fat Gypsy Weddings which was quite a fascinating insight into their community.
I really connected with Luke as one of the protagonist’s; I couldn’t believe Jack’s parents reactions to him. How could anyone behave so vile and insensitive to a young guy who has just lost his mother? They were complete judgmental snobs and I didn’t feel anything for them throughout the entire book.

I can somewhat understand at where the people in the close community of Baronsmere were coming from; travellers in general don’t  appear to have the best of reputations, so I was interested in learning more about the community.
Luckily, I really warmed to Luke and Annie, although the latter is dead (this isn’t a spoiler as it is mentioned she died on the back cover), my heart broke whenever I read about Luke reminiscing about he and his mother’s time together, and the bond they shared.
We also get to hear from Jack Stewart, Luke’s father who doesn’t know he has a son until his estranged wife dies, and it’s a struggle for him and Luke to have an easy going father-son relationship, and they have plenty of disputes.

Luckily, I quite liked Jack, although I could understand why he acted the way he did with regards to the Luke situation; he just found out he has a 20 year old son and is unsure how to act around him, they most likely weren’t going to bond with each other straight away. I also really warmed to Emer, an Irish counsellor who is a friend to Luke and becomes Jack’s love interest; she just has a warm, caring personality and it was a pleasure reading about her and Jack’s relationship grow as the book went on.

Books that tend to have family secrets don’t tend to draw me in, but this one gradually did and has made me want to read more so I can get a feel for the genre more. I recommend it to anyone who likes reading about family secrets and small communities, as it is really an interesting story in that way, and really delves into culture and class differences well.