Monday, 12 September 2016

Review: King's Knight by Regan Walker


Dubbed the Black Wolf for his raven hair, his fierceness in battle and his way with women, Sir Alexander of Talisand attacked life as he did the king’s enemies. But acclaim on the battlefield and his lusty escapades did not satisfy. King William Rufus would bind him to Normandy through marriage to one of its noblewomen, but the only woman Alexander wanted was a commoner he had saved from a terrible fate.


The shame of being the child of a Norman’s rape dogged Merewyn’s steps from her youth. Determined never to be a victim of a man’s lust like her mother, in Wales she donned the garb of an archer and developed extraordinary skill with a bow. Despite her fair beauty, men now keep their distance. No longer in need of protection from other men, can Merewyn protect herself from Alexander when he holds her heart yet can never be hers?

Regan Walker's novels never fail to capture my imagination, to transport me to another time and place, and her Medieval Warriors series is definitely up there with the best of her work!

Alex is a young man fulfilling his destiny as the famous Red Wolf's 'cub'. He has a fearsome repuation to live up to, and is more than capable of the job. With his flowing black locks and striking grey eyes he is every inch the perfect warrior. Yet the moment he sets eyes on Merewyn we begin to see his softer, protective side, and I fell for him the moment he rode through the gates of Talisand.

Merewyn was a lovely character. Determined to shake off the 'damsel in distress' label and to defend herself from unwanted advances she takes up archery, and amazes everyone with her skill. She is fearless, unconventional, and yet vulnerable in that she can't seem to get past the circumstances of her birth. Her constant worrying that she wasn't worthy of Alex, and that he must marry a bride chosen by the King, really frustrated me - I just wanted her to see how great she is!

Whilst each novel in the series can be read as a standalone, it's lovely to see some familiar faces appearing now and again. Main protagonists aside, Regan has created a medieval world full of wonderful characters, all of whom are worthy of having their stories told, and some of which I'm sure we'll be reading more about in the future.

Wonderfully researched historical fiction, filled with romance, danger and intrigue. What more could you ask for?

*Thanks to Regan Walker for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for a review!*

Review: If I Forget You by T.C Greene

Twenty-one years after they were driven apart by circumstances beyond their control, two former lovers have a chance encounter on a Manhattan street. What follows is a tense, suspenseful exploration of the many facets of enduring love. Told from altering points of view through time, If I Forget You tells the story of Henry Gold, a poet whose rise from poverty embodies the American dream, and Margot Fuller, the daughter of a prominent, wealthy family, and their unlikely, star-crossed love affair, complete with the secrets they carry when they find each other for the second time. Written in lyrical prose, If I Forget You is at once a great love story, a novel of marriage, manners, and family, a meditation on the nature of art, a moving elegy to what it means to love and to lose, and how the choices we make can change our lives forever. 

Compact, neat, beautiful. This is one book that you can judge by it's cover. Sure, the plot is nothing new, but whole novel is just beautifully written. It's poetic in places, which of course perfectly reflects Henry, the poet turned creative writing professor.

Margot from appearances is your typical all American rich girl. Summering on Martha's Vineyard - just using summer as a verb is indicative enough of her social status- she is expected to do little more than marry well and maintain her rung on the social ladder. Yet on the inside she is different from the others. She strives to break the boundaries set for her, she feels restricted. And in Henry she finds herself. Margot and Henry couldn't be more different in upbringing, and while Henry strives to better himself and find his place in the world, Margot has her rich-girl life mapped out for her by her parents and peers. The two complement each other perfectly, and knowing that they end up leading separate lives makes the chapters detailing their youthful college romance all the more poignant.

There is more than an echo of Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence in Margot and Henry's mutual longing for each other, their desire to break the mould and find a way to be together. And fans of the TV show Gossip Girl won't be able to help but make comparisons between these two and Serena and Dan, one an infamous upper eastside social darling, the other a budding writer from Brooklyn. Forbidden love is an age old story, but one that still resonates to this day.

I devoured this book in a couple of days, eager to find out what would happen when Margot and Henry eventually met again. I'd have liked a bit more of a definitive ending as I couldn't help thinking there was more to be said. I'm surprised at the negative reviews though, this really is gorgeous.

*Thanks to Corvus Books for sending me a copy of this novel in exchange for a review!*

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Review: Late Summer in the Vineyard by Jo Thomas

Working for a wine-maker in France is the opportunity of a lifetime for Emmy. Even if she doesn't know a thing about wine - beyond what's on offer at the local supermarket.

There's plenty to get to grips with in the rustic town of Petit Frère. Emmy's new work friends need more than a little winning over. Then there's her infuriatingly brash tutor, Isaac, and the enigmatic Madame Beaumont, tucked away in her vineyard of secrets.

But Emmy will soon realise that in life - just as in wine-making - the best things happen when you let go and trust your instincts. Particularly when there's romance in the air... 

Pack up your suitcase, it's time for another holiday with Jo Thomas! Her books never fail to transport me to another place, with a wonderful cast of characters that by the novel's end you will consider friends.

Emmy may be a tad stereotypical as a chick-lit lead character, but her love interests most certainly are not, and my feelings towards both Isaac and Charlie fluctuated throughout the novel, leaving me wondering which, if either, she would ultimately end up with. Another staple of Jo Thomas novels are the animals, often characters in themselves. This time we have Cecil the dog, and Henri - the beautiful wise old workhorse.

The plot is fairly predictable stuff but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable - if anything knowing what's going to happen makes for relaxing worry-free reading, exactly what I need at the moment!

Whilst I'm not a wine drinker I fully appreciated the amount of research that must have gone into this book, and left it feeling a little more cultured, educated, and wanting to visit France myself!

**Thanks to Bookbridgr for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for a review!**

For more on Jo Thomas, check out my reviews of The Oyster Catcher, The Chestnut Tree and The Olive Branch!