Saturday, May 09, 2009

Three historical book reviews. One movie.

I'm not sure why, but of late I've taken to reading historicals from different time periods. I've even looked for classic movies without realizing I was doing that. So, what's the deal with these stories?

Maybe it's the return to harder times, looking to gain insight into how others survived with less of everything? Not that I suffer anywhere near what the heroines in these stories do. But, it is good and heart warming to read about strong heroines willing to fight for their (or their family's) survival. We all stare down the threat of losing everything we've worked so hard to gain, yet hold out a promise that the situation will improve. Hopefully, like the heroines in these stories we're also making adjustments to our lifestyles, cutting back, doing without, appreciating the simpler things, enjoying the love of family and friends, and being strong in our belief that the hardships we deal with today are nothing like those of the past.

When His Kiss is Wicked, by Kaitlin O'Riley:
Colette Hamilton cares for four sisters and an ailing mother, after her father dies. With little money, and a bookshop to run, she makes inroads into improving the shop she loves and making more sales. All of this in a time when a female shopkeeper was frowned upon. Her uncle sets about getting Collette and her sister married off. But both sisters are resistant.
Then Lucien Sinclair(son of an earl with a desire to marry a plain, simple woman, who will do his bidding) enters the picture. He wants nothing to do with a woman of beauty because they bring their own problems, but when he meets and becomes intrigued by beautiful Collette and her delightful family, he must fight the attraction. He however, finds himself like a moth attracted to the flame.
This was a delightful book about overcoming hardship, and I enjoyed the author's narrative voice. The story left me with a smile on my face.

Siren's Song, by Trish Albright:
Olivia Yates is a scholar in times when women were not. With an archaeologist father, and no mother, she learned from him about Egyptian artifacts and taught herself to decipher hieroglyphics. With her father at an archaeology site and possibly in trouble, Olivia knows she holds the key to deciphering a code and must go to him. Someone is trying to murder her. Samuel Stafford is a sea captain, not a treasure hunter, yet he soon finds himself on a whirlwind journey on the high seas, headed for Egypt and its untold treasures, and reponsible for one very fiesty young woman.
This story of family loyalty and protecting loved ones at the risk of ones own life, is an exciting adventure filled with action, humor, and romance. It left me breathless.

The Promise, by TJ Bennett:
Alonsa Garcia de Arunjuez is a Spanish beauty, haunted by a Gypsy curse that threatens death to any man she loves. Thinking she is betrothed to a "safe" man, he is killed in battle. But not before begging a promise from his friend and fellow soldier, Gunter Behaim, to marry his betrothed. Betrayed by love, Gunter has sworn off making promises, but the man saved his life. He relents. Alonsa and Gunter have met before and there was an initial attraction but both quashed it. Now with the promise made, the sparks ignite and against the backdrop of the dark cruelties of war, these two who seem like total opposites must risk everything they've believed in to cast off the curse and unite their souls. A wonderful romance with an excellent grip on the historical time period. It left me sated and satisfied.

And the movie:
Sense and Sensibility.
What a wonderful cast. I know I saw this one years ago but couldn't resist watching it again. It's the 1995 version, starring Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and so many more wonderful actors and actresses. Based on Jane Austen's classic novel, it tells the story of the Dashwood sisters whose chances at marriage seem doomed when their father dies and the family fortune reverts to the son. The suitors are trapped by the strict rules of society and the conflicting laws of desire, and the two older sisters, Elinor and Marianne, must face many losses before finding their happily ever after while adjusting to their altered economic situation and standing. It left me sobbing, but in a good way. : )

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