Monday, 31 December 2012

The Romanov Cross

Author: Robert Masello
Type: E-book ARC (NetGalley)
Genre: Historical Fiction, Suspense
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
To Be Published: March 5, 2013
First Line: "Sergei, do not die," the girl said, turning around in the open boat."

Publisher Description: Nearly one hundred years ago, a desperate young woman crawled ashore on a desolate arctic island, carrying a terrible secret and a mysterious, emerald-encrusted cross. A century later, acts of man, nature, and history converge on that same forbidding shore with a power sufficient to shatter civilization as we know it.

Army epidemiologist Frank Slater is facing a court-martial, but after his punishment is mysteriously lifted, Slater is offered a job no one else wants—to travel to a small island off the coast of Alaska and investigate a potentially lethal phenomenon: The permafrost has begun to melt, exposing bodies from a colony that was wiped out by the dreaded Spanish flu of 1918. Frank must determine if the thawed remains still carry the deadly virus in their frozen flesh and, if so, ensure that it doesn’t come back to life.

Frank and his handpicked team arrive by helicopter, loaded down with high-tech tools, prepared to exhume history. The colony, it transpires, was once settled by a sect devoted to the mad Russian monk Rasputin, but there is even more hiding in the past than Frank’s team is aware of. Any hope of success hinges on their willingness to accept the fact that even their cutting-edge science has its limits—and that the ancient wisdom of the Inuit people who once inhabited this eerie land is as essential as any serum. By the time Frank discovers that his mission has been compromised—crashed by a gang of reckless treasure hunters—he will be in a brutal race against time. With a young, strong-willed Inuit woman by his side, Frank must put a deadly genie back in the bottle before all of humanity pays the price.

The Romanov Cross is at once an alternate take on one of history’s most profound mysteries, a love story as unlikely as it is inevitable, and a thriller of heart-stopping, supernatural suspense. With his signature blend of fascinating history and fantastic imagination, critically acclaimed author Robert Masello has once again crafted a terrifying story of past events coming back to haunt the present day . . . and of dark deeds aching to be unearthed.

My Thoughts:  This book pulled me in from the get-go.  How could it not?  It literally has a little bit of everything.  We have a mystery, adventure, superstition, supernatural, Inuit culture, historical figures, science, romance and edge of your seat action all set in two different eras!  That's a whole lot of topics in one book ... but in this book it works.

The first thing that struck me with this book was the pace.  It's literally non-stop and I think that stems from the fact that we're dealing with two very different storylines.  We follow the story of the mysterious Anastasia Romanov in the early 1900's in the tumultuous last days of the once powerful Romanov dynasty.  We also have epidemiologist Frank Slater in modern day Alaska with a very arduous task ahead of him.  While this jumping back and forth could prove to be confusing for the reader, the author helps the reader keep track of when and whom they're reading about.

If I had to choose my least favourite parts of the book I'd have to say that the romance between Frank and Nika was at the top.  In my honest opinion, it just wasn't necessary and didn't add to the storyline for me.  The romance between Anastasia and her beau was much more believable and was necessary to further the book.

I also wasn't a big fan of the rag tag band of misfit thieves in modern day Alaska.  While they added some suspense and chaos to the story, they ended up coming off as a bit of a farce.  They seemed to be able to outsmart a group of highly trained military personnel too easily.

The highlights of this book for me were its fast pace but even more so, how the author took two historical topics -- the Spanish flu epidemic and historical real-life figures of Rasputin and the Romanov dynasty -- and linked them with a tense, modern day issue to make a very entertaining, high action read. 

I look forward to reading more from this author.  Recommended.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Note: My sincere thanks to Random House Publishing, Robert Masello and NetGalley for providing me with this complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.

The Secret Keeper

 Author: Kate Morton
Type: E-book (NetGalley)
Genre: Historical Fiction
First Published: October 2012
Publisher: Atria books
First Line: "Rural England, a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, a summer's day at the start of the nineteen sixties."

Synopsis:  During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy—her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother.  

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress living in London.  The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this may be her last chance, Laurel searches for answers to the questions that still haunt her from that long-ago day, answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past.

Dorothy’s story takes the reader from pre–WWII England through the Blitz, to the ’60s and beyond. It is the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined. The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams and the unexpected consequences they sometimes bring. It is an unforgettable story of lovers and friends, deception and passion that is told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world.

My Thoughts:  When I saw that a book by Kate Morton was being made available on NetGalley to review I jumped at the chance to request it.  When I got the go-ahead from the publisher I'm not ashamed to admit that I did a little happy dance.  Why?  Because I adore rich historical fiction sagas that are well-written and so descriptive that you can easily picture the scenes in your head.  Kate Morton is one of those author's who can take you back in time and write a story that keeps you interested yet throws you enough twists that make you change your initial assumptions about her wonderfully complex characters.  How's that for a recommendation!?

So did "The Secret Keeper" meet my expectations?  Oh, yes!  This is a wonderfully written combination of a family saga set in a rich, tumultuous historical setting and a murder mystery.  The book jumps back and forth from present day to the Blitz with many points of view.  And while this could make for a very muddled read, Ms Morton writes so seamlessly between the two eras while balancing the various viewpoints that this story and its characters quickly drew me in. 

I think what really helped to keep me interested was how my view of the main characters changed throughout the book.  As I learned more and more about the different main characters and what truly happened, I found myself changing my initial feelings towards them.  The innocent may not be so innocent.  One person's take on a situation may be influenced by various factors and therefore I now see them in a much different light.  I found myself rooting for various characters throughout the book and that helped me, not only learn more about the inner thoughts and motivations of the characters, but made them much more believable and authentic.  There are no clichéd, one-dimensional characters here.  Everyone is layered with the good, the bad and the not so lovely.

There are several main characters, each with a very distinctive voice. We have Laurel, the sixty year old woman who returns home to care for her ailing mother, Dorothy and is determined to figure out what she saw fifty years before.  Then there's Dorothy/Dolly who is portrayed as the ailing mother of Laurel in 2011 as well as during the WWII era where she is a young woman who is just trying to make ends meet during the tumultuous Blitz with her boyfriend, Jimmy.   By contrast, Vivien is the very vivacious and rich younger wife of her famous author husband, Henry. As the story unfolds, we see these characters' fates entangle with each other. What we initially thought about one character we may come to see in a very different light.

Another thing that I adore about historical fiction is that I get to learn about eras in history that I knew little or nothing about.  While I'd heard about the Blitz I cannot say that I knew much about it.  Ms Morton describes vividly what London was like during the Blitz.  The fear of the bombs, the loss, the hunger, followed after awhile by the normalcy of living with the bombings.  She brings a believable voice to a very horrible time.

Overall, I found that the wonderful characters and the turbulent era in which they lived paired with an ending that will surprise you makes this a very enjoyable read.  Highly recommended.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Note: My sincere thanks to Atria Books, Kate Morton and NetGalley for providing me with this complimentary copy of The Secret Keeper in exchange for my honest review.

What's A Witch To Do?

2012 has been a busy year in reading for me.  Even though I didn't come close to my 2010 reading goal of 101 books or meet my 2012 goal of 70 books, reading 53 books in one year is no mean feat for a busy mother of three.

Bookworm Admission: Over the past few months, my reading and my book reviewing weren't quite keeping up with each other.  In order to play catch up a bit I've written three reviews (only 1 more pending) which I will now post as a lovely fairwell to 2012.

Wishing you and yours a very happy, healthy and safe 2013.  May your days be filled with food, amazing reads and a whole lotta happy.

So, without further ado, here is my review for the first book in a new supernatural mystery series, "What's A Witch To Do?" by Jennifer Harlow.

Author: Jennifer Harlow
Type: Kindle ebook (Advanced Reading Copy)
Genre: Supernatural, mystery
Series: Midnight Magic Mystery series #1
Publication Date: March 8, 2013
Publisher: Midnight Ink Books
First Line: "My heart skips a beat."

SynopsisThirty-five year old Mona McGregor leads a busy life.  She runs the Midnight Magic Shop in her small hometown of Goodnight, Virginia, she's raising her two young nieces on her own and she's the High Priestess of a large coven.  Unfortunately Mona's love life isn't one of the things keeping Mona busy.  For the past 15 years she's been on a romantic lull but when a new young doctor begins paying attention to her Mona hopes that her luck is changing.  

One night, Adam Blue, the Beta werewolf of his pack, arrives on her doorstep injured and near death.  He has shown up out of the blue to warn Mona that someone wants Mona dead.  Against her initial feelings and with little other options available, Mona agrees to allow Adam to stay and protect her and the girls.  When Mona learns that an evil demon is stalking her, she teams up with Adam to find out who among her family, friends and the locals would want her dead.

My Thoughts:  This book has a lot going for it and while I can't say that I loved it, it did have enough going for it that I enjoyed the overall experience.  We're given a complicated main character (more to come on dear Mona), a brawny and tough leading man, a good mystery and interesting secondary characters and nice dose of supernatural.

The main character, Mona, is a complicated gal.  On the one hand she's a strong woman who has kept her family, business and coven together all on her own.  Even when Adam comes into her life she still prefers to do things on her own and even tells him that she doesn't need him to save her.  Score one for girl power!  On the other hand, her fairly consistent bouts of self loathing take away from her strength and even her general likeability.  At times these bouts seemed to take too much centre stage for my liking.

Adam, the werewolf, plays the part of the young, sexy, muscle-bound hunk with a big heart.   His character was believably written in that I could see him aggressively protecting Mona and in the next scene see him interact with the two young nieces made my heart melt. 

While the pace of the book was decent I did find that it lagged in the middle.  And while I did like the build up to the ending I found the demon slaying to be over too quickly and resolved much too easily for my liking. 

Overall, as a first book in (I assume) a new paranormal mystery series it's a good start.  Ms Harlow has set up future storylines well so that I'm quite intrigued to find out why Mona's younger sister (the mother of Mona's nieces) left so many years ago and disappeared from her family's lives.  I'd also love to see Adam's Pack be involved more in future storylines to cause a little friction. 

This is a well written light mystery with a healthy dose of supernatural.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

Note: My sincere thanks to Midnight Ink Publishing, Jennifer Harlow and NetGalley for providing me with this complimentary ebook copy in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Frozen Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls of JOY!

I have something to admit.  I'm a closet Snack Sneeker. 

One of the things that brings me a ridiculous amount of joy is grabbing a really quick treat when no one is looking.  Something delicious, totally not appropriate to snack on at that time of day and a relatively rare treat that I can pop into my mouth quickly and therefore don't have to share with my small humans.  Ya, I don't always want to share. 

It's a stupid, kind of immature and slightly devious thing but it's apparently how I get my ya-ya's. (Note: I also get a thrill from keeping wee chocolate bars in my night stand and believing (falsely) that Brad is none the wiser.  A girl needs to have some not-so-secret secrets and a hubby willing to play along, right?)

Anyway, these little chocolate chip cookie dough balls fit the bill for an illicit sugary treat because they are pure joy and so easy to sneak!  Not only are they egg-free (so you don't have to worry about nasty food poisoning) but you can keep them in your fridge freezer and pop a couple directly into your mouth when you're feeling either ticked off, happy, frustrated, weepy, or (for a certain week of the month) when you're feeling all of the above at the same moment! Yes, they even cure PMS!  They are little miracle balls.

When Boy 1 and I made these several weeks ago (they've been on my proverbial recipe blog post back bench for awhile) we made them with one goal in mind - to make homemade cookie dough Blizzards.  Due to his peanut allergy we cannot go to Dairy Queen (the home of the Peanut Buster Parfait and our guaranteed trip to the ER for anaphylaxis) so we decided to make our own Blizzards.

Armed with my Kitchen Aid mixer, Chapman's peanut-free ice cream, sundae toppings, sprinkles, cherries, crushed Oreos etc and these cookie dough balls we were in glucose heaven if not a sugary stupor.  Perhaps we went a little overboard with all of the sugary treats in the Blizzards but you can bet your sweet bippy that we'll be making these cookie dough balls again because, for some odd reason, when Boy 1 went to sneak his own dough ball from the freezer they were almost all gone.  Huh.  Wonder how that happened. ;)

Frozen Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls of JOY!

1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup sour cream (I used 14% full fat)
1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until they're fluffy.  Add in vanilla and sour cream and blend well. 

Add flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until mixed well.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Using a melon baller (or teaspoon), scoop balls of dough and place them on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.  Place the cookie sheet of dough balls into the freezer for at least 3 hours or overnight.  Transfer the balls to a freezer bag so you can eat these delicious treats directly from the freezer or, if you have an ounce of restraint, add them to a homemade Blizzard treat!

Recipe Inspired by: Just A Pinch's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Taste of Home: Best Loved Recipes

Genre: Reference, Cookbook
First Published: September 13, 2012
Publisher: Reader's Digest
Pages: 928

Synopsis: An impressive and extensive collection of favourite recipes from the people at Taste of Home.

My Thoughts:  As a long-time subscriber to Taste of Home's 'Simple and Delicious' magazine I was extremely happy when I was chosen to review this cookbook by the lovely folks at Reader's Digest. 'Simple and Delicious' is one of the very few magazines that I receive and, by far, my favourite.  I have to admit that I get more than a little excited when I peek into my mailbox and see my plastic wrapped bundle of joy waiting for me!  I rip off the plastic, plop down at the table and start to dog ear all the recipes that I plan to make.  Heaven, I tell ya!

Why do I get all atwitter about a recipe magazine?  Because Taste of Home embodies good ol' home cooking.  You can't get better than 'tried and true' recipes from 'regular' people.  I'm not talking about some fancy schmancy TV personality with her hard to make recipe with odd ingredients and an army of prep people behind the scenes.  I'm talking about delicious meals straight from the kitchen of Edna from Maine, the mother of five kids or Estelle, the grandmother from Montreal, QC or Stephen from Vancouver.  Family favourite recipes that people have taken the time to send in and hopefully share with thousands of other readers.  You cannot get a better recommendation for a recipe than that! 

This book celebrates the home cook and is veritable warehouse of family favourite recipes all in one easy to use book.  I'm talking about 1,485 recipes hand chosen by the Taste of Home staff as their ultimate favourites from thousands upon thousands of recipes that they've received over the past 20 years!  That, my friends is called a Culinary Score!

One of my favourite things about Taste of Home's recipes is that they're written with the home cook in mind.  Each recipe has clear step-by-step instructions; they use common ingredients that you won't have to hunt for at the food store and many have a beautiful colour picture to entice you.  This means that these recipes will impress the experienced home cook as well as not intimidating the newer cook.  There are 26 chapters filled with delicious recipes as well as cooking tips.  There is everything from appetizers, to quick breads to main dishes and delectable desserts.

One of my favourite recipes that I reviewed from the sample that I received from the publisher were the 'Garlic Knots'.  Oh m'gravy these were good.  You wouldn't believe the kudos thrown my way by my small humans and hubby.  They were definitely a hit with my carb lovin' family!  And the best part?  So, so easy!  I'm talking 'whipping-them-up-as-a-quick-side-dish-for-a-spaghetti-supper-on-a-busy-Tuesday-night' kind of easy!   Yes, the good people at Taste of Home provide awesome recipes as well as helping to keep Moms' stress levels low on those hectic nights when you have to feed the brood to get them off to extracurricular events.  Tasty food, easy to make and peace of mind.  Perfect!

I highly recommend this cookbook as well as the Taste of Home magazine publications. 

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Note: Special thanks to the wonderful people at Taste of Home and Reader's Digest for providing me with a complimentary sample of this cookbook in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Garden of Stones

Author: Sophie Littlefield
Genre: Historical Fiction
Type: Kindle ebook from NetGalley
Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin
First Line: “San Francisco, Tuesday June 6, 1978 --- Reg Forrest lowered himself painfully into this desk chair, which was as hard, used and creaky as he was.”

Synopsis:  This book begins with the police arriving at the house of Lucy Takeda to question her on the murder of someone she knew decades before.  Lucy's adult daughter, Patty, is taken aback at the police's accusations of her quiet mother.  Against Lucy's wishes Patty decides to find out the truth behind these claims in order to clear her mother's good name. 

The reader learns of Lucy's past through many flashbacks that vividly retell Lucy's tragic past. --- Before WWII, Lucy Takeda was a typical fourteen year old living in Los Angeles.  Lucy enjoyed an easy, upper class life with her parents.  Her father was a successful and respected businessman and her mother Miyako, was known for her beauty. 

Suddenly the bombs were dropped on Pearl Harbour and within a few short weeks Lucy's world begins to crumble.  Her father unexpectedly dies and shortly afterwards Lucy and her mother, Miyako, are rounded up along with thousands of other Japanese-Americans.  They are forced out of their homes, leaving all that they own and are herded into Manzanar Camp.  An internment camp which was quickly and poorly constructed to hold the influx of Japanese-Americans.

The camp places Lucy and her mother in horrible conditions - dilapidated and unsanitary housing, inedible food, intense heat and, worst of all, corruption of those in power.  Unfortunately Miyako, already slightly unstable, soon becomes victim to abuse by those in charge.  Unwilling to allow her daughter to have the same fate Miyako takes drastic and horrific measures to ensure that her daughter doesn't suffer the same fate.

Littlefield uses the points of view of three generations of Japanese-American women to tell a very moving and truly memorable tale of what happened to these citizens before, during and after living in the Japanese camps. 

My Thoughts: There a few items that a book has to have in order for me to love it and for it to stay with me long after I've turned/clicked the last page.  I love to learn something new and I love an emotional story with characters whom I truly care about.  This book has it all ... and then some.

"Garden of Stones" showed me quite clearly that although I had heard about Japanese-Americans being taken to 'special camps' during WWII, I had no idea the extent of their experience.  This book's account is truly eye opening and heart wrenching as it describes how innocent Japanese AMERICANS were treated so horribly solely based on their physical traits.  While the atrocities of Nazi concentration camps from WWII are well-known (and truly heinous) it is sad that the travesty that occurred on American soil is not as well known (at least to this Canadian).

While this book showcases the horrible conditions that the Japanese-Americans were put in, it is also a wonderful testament to how the Japanese people held onto their pride and cherished their culture even through these horrible times.  Honestly, reading about Japanese culture was one of the high points in the book for me.
As I mentioned above, for a story to stay with me it has to evoke some kind of emotion in me.  This book had me on a roller coaster of emotions. 
  • From embarrassment that I knew little to nothing about the Japanese camps. 
  • To anger at the American government for allowing such blatant racial profiling and prejudice of innocent citizens and treating them so horribly.  
  • To helplessness seeing how the Japanese-Americans were treated in Manzanar
  • To the heartache over what Miyako had to resort to in order to protect her only daughter. 
  • To horror at the terrible conditions of the Manzanar camp and the horrible things that went on in the camp.  
  • Happiness at how resilient the human spirit can be
  • and, finally, hope that this kind of mass prejudice never happens again. 
Oh ya, LOTS of emoting goin' on in this book!

If I had to choose something that I didn't love about this book it would have to be the minor plot of the murder that Patty (Lucy's daughter) is trying to solve.  While it did provide an interesting way to begin the book it soon fell by the wayside and I lost interest.  I preferred seeing how Lucy and Miyako dealt with the camps and the aftermath more than finding out who was the murderer of someone who I didn't care about in the least.  Plus, the resolution of the murder at the end of the book felt too quick.

All in all, I truly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Note:  My sincere thanks and appreciate to Harlequin, Ms Littlefield and NetGalley for providing me with this complimentary ebook copy in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, 3 December 2012

The Contessa's Vendetta

Author: Mirella Sichirollo Patzer
Genre: Historical Fiction
Type: ARC (Kindle ebook), Canadian
First Published: October 2012
Published By: History and Women's Press
First Line: "I know what it is like to be dead, because I was once dead to the world."

Synopsis:  A plague has swept across the countryside and has devastated the town of Vicenza, Italy in the 17th century.  Contessa Carlotta Mancini is a much beloved woman of status but despite her position in the town she also becomes sick with the illness and is assumed dead.  Her body is swiftly tossed into a crude coffin and put into her family's tomb.  The problem is, Contessa Mancini is not dead.

She awakens, weakened from her illness and terrified, inside her coffin.   Luckily for her, the coffin that she was put in was poorly and quickly constructed making her escape possible. But as she escapes her coffin she is disheartened to find that she is locked into her family's mausoleum.  In her attempt to break free of the tomb she unearths a vast fortune of stolen gems as well as the hidden entrance that the thieves used in order to hide their treasure. 

Happy to have escaped certain death, she makes her way back to her villa to her adoring husband, her best friend and her young daughter to let them know that she is still alive.  Unfortunately, when she returns home she witnesses the ultimate betrayal and deceit that, unbeknownst to her, has been going on around her for some time.  Determined to get her vengeance, she decides to not tell her family that she is alive and begins to plan her revenge armed only with her newly found riches.

My Thoughts:  I had high hopes for this book.  I visited Italy 5 1/2 years ago and still have a special place in my heart for that beautiful country as well as its history.  When I read the synopsis of this book I thought it would be perfect for me.  A fictional tale about a woman bent on revenge all set in 17th century Italy?  Yes please!

While this book did hit on some of my favourite themes and places I finished it feeling a little let down.  The star of this book, for me, was the vivid descriptions of 17th century Italy which were stunningly portrayed.  Unfortunately I found the revenge/suspense aspect lacking and the characters came off as very clichéd.  We have the betrayed woman hell bent on revenge, we have the wizened old crone who goads her on her quest, the deceitful yet beautiful younger woman, the conceited handsome husband ....  You see where I'm going.  There were no real surprises. 

Carlotta started off as a good main character.  I liked her.  She was a kind yet strong main character but then she gets betrayed and she loses some of her likeability.  I know she's a woman scorned but the book focuses so much on her incessant inner dialogue of plotting her revenge that it gets old and monotonous quickly.  I'd prefer more action and seeing her get her revenge than hear her talk about it incessantly.  She quickly went from interesting character to a caricature of a woman scorned.

My favourite character in the book was the monk who helped the Contessa in the beginning of the book.  Unfortunately he was not used to (what I think was) his full potential.  He seemed like the most authentic character of the whole book and yet he played a very minor role. 

The same can be said for the notorious brigand Cesare Negri (as well as his band of thieves) whose stolen stash the Contessa found and used.  I was hoping and expecting for Negri to come back to claim his loot making a great addition to the story (in my humble opinion anyway) and added more excitement to the overall storyline.  Unfortunately that didn't happen.

Another issue that I had with the book was how unbelievable and contrived the storyline became. We started off on a good note -- there was the beautiful scenery, the buried alive contessa.  Somewhere after she broke out of her tomb and happened upon some jewels is where I think the story got off track for me.  I had to suspend my grasp on reality for me to believe that the loved ones of this contessa wouldn't recognize her after a short time even with her newly whitened hair, some dark glasses and a few scars.  It was just too big of a leap for me to take and it effected how I enjoyed the book.

Finally, I found the writing, at times, to be too melodramatic and over the top for me. {Please note that I admit that I'm not a romantic at heart and not a lover of romance novels in general}.  For example, when a woman (Beatrice) is telling her love how much she adores him she states "I am jealous of the ground you tread, of the air that touches you ..."  Really?  I guess I'm just not a romantic because I've never been jealous of the air around my husband.  The writing just felt too saccharine for my tastes. 

This romantic tidbit uttered by Beatrice was later followed by Carlotta calling her husband's lover a "worthless, frivolous, turd of humanity".  Nice image.  Accurate description of his character but was it historically accurate?  I couldn't be certain that Italians in the 17th century used the word "turd" but it felt a little odd to read.  Funny, but odd.

All in all, this was a decent if you enjoy a very light, historical fiction/romance read.  If you're looking for more of an in-depth, edge of your seat storyline with more plausibility you may not enjoy this book as much as you hope.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

Note: Special thanks to Great Historicals and History and Women Press for providing me with this complimentary book in exchange for my honest review.

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