The Bronze Horseman

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina SimonsThe Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons took my breath away. Absolutely and completely took my breath away. The story opens on June 22, 1941, the day Russia goes to war with invading Germany. It is on this day where everything is in chaos that Tatiana and Alexander meet. Tatiana is a young, innocent girl, and Alexander is an officer in the Red Army. Nothing is certain in their lives except for their love for each other.

Tatiana struggles to hide her love from her sister Dasha who is convinced that Alexander is the one for her. Add in the blockade of Leningrad, and Tatiana and Alexander have incredible hurdles to get over. I don’t want to say anymore, plot-wise as I don’t want to spoil anything for you. I won’t even tell you how they meet because it’s just so magical and carries throughout the entire book (and series for that matter).

I have loved this book since the instant I began reading it. Tatiana and Alexander climb from the pages and into reality through Simons’ words. You go through their struggles, their hunger, their longing, and their love. You feel every emotion as if it were happening to you. You cry with them, and laugh with them, and love with them. Their story is truly epic. One that will survive forever.

You will not want to put this book down once you start. I brought it with me everywhere. I read it at the gym, at stoplights, on work breaks, before bed, eating breakfast. I wanted to read it again the instant I finished it. And the last few lines are so beautiful that you won’t be able to stop your tears. Don’t worry I won’t spoil them for you.

I spent such a long time trying to find some quotes to share with you that won’t lessen the magic of the story, and I could only come up with one:

“They kissed as if in a fever…they kissed as if the breath were leaving their bodies.”

I think it embodies the relationship between Tatiana and Alexander perfectly. So beautiful. So incredible. So amazing. If I could experience a life such as theirs, I don’t know if I could survive, but if I have a man who loves me the way Alexander loves Tatiana nothing could tear us apart.

Please do me a favor, do yourself a favor, and read this book. You will not be disappointed. I know I wasn’t.

The Lost Duke of Wyndham

The Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia QuinnThe Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia Quinn tells the story of Grace Eversleigh who is the companion of the dowager duchess of Wyndham. Traveling one night, their carriage is overtaken by highwayman Jack Audley. The dowager duchess sees something in Jack and believes him to be her long lost grandson and brings him back to her home to try to prove that he is the son of her deceased favorite son. As his title is threatened, the current duke and cousin to Jack must find a way to prevent everyone from learning whether Jack’s parents were legitimately married in Ireland. As Jack tries to come to terms with his possible increase in social standing, he finds himself enamored by Grace, and she by him. But if Jack is a duke why would he ever want to marry a lowly servant?

I was emailed a preview of this book a while ago and always wanted to read it, so when I was at the library and saw it out of the corner of my eye, I knew I had to finally see how it ended. I was sad to say that it was not as good as I anticipated. Things seemed to come so neatly together, and the characters did not have the depth I would have liked. It was an extremely light read without enough substance. I’m glad that I only checked it out of the library and didn’t buy it. It wasn’t terrible by any means. I just was expecting something with a little more depth to it.

The Tea Rose

The Tea Rose by Jennifer DonnellyThe Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly is the prequel to The Winter Rose. The Tea Rose is the story of Fiona Finnegan and Joe Bristow. Both work in a tea factory run by William Burton and are in love, after having grown up together. Fiona is very talented at her job and wants nothing more than to open her open business selling tea with Joe. Just as things seem to be going well, Fiona’s life is torn apart. Her father is murdered for trying to start a union, her mother is brutally killed by Jack the Ripper, Joe is ripped away from her and tricked into a loveless marriage, and her brother Charlie is found dead in the river Thames. Fiona finds her life in danger when she tries to gain compensation from Burton for her father’s death and overhears how he plotted to kill her father. Fiona wastes no time in getting her younger brother Seamie and leaving the country as quickly as she can with the aid of Nicholas Soames.

Fiona runs to the only relative she knows is still alive, but when she arrives at her uncle’s apartment in New York, she finds a shell of a man, heavily in debt as he mourns the loss of his wife and child. Having nowhere else to go, Fiona has no choice but to rebuild her uncle’s grocery business. She is more than successful and finds a way to come back to exact her revenge on the man responsible for her father’s death.
I loved this book as much as I loved the sequel. Fiona is such a strong character that I couldn’t help but emphasize with her. She is determined and will do everything she can to accomplish her goal. She takes terrible situations and turns them around so that she comes out better off. The characters are all believable, and I couldn’t help but love Joe even through all the mistakes he made. The settings were realistic and added wonderfully to the story. I cannot wait to read more by this author. She is wonderful!

The Devlin Diary

The Devlin Diary by Christi PhillipsI loved The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips. Claire Donovan has just made her way to Cambridge and is looking for something to write her next paper on. She stumbles upon an encrypted diary and becomes intrigued.

The diary belongs to Hannah Devlin who practices medicine in the seventeenth century. She is unwillingly brought to take care of the king’s favorite mistress. Soon several bodies start showing up with different symbols carved into their chests. Hannah and Dr. Edward Strathern find themselves on the trail of the killer.
Meanwhile in present time, Claire and Andrew Kent, a Cambridge Fellow, are on the trail of another killer when one of their colleagues is murdered. The diary appears to be an integral part in finding both the killer in the present and the killer in the seventeenth century.
This is the sequel to The Rossetti Letter and one I have been waiting for ever since it was announced. I loved the first book and couldn’t wait to read this one. And it did not disappoint. I loved how Claire and Andrew came back in the second book and how the past and present paralleled each other. It was wonderful. The characters were so well-developed that I felt like I knew them well.
The past was so vivid and alive. The mysteries kept me going from one chapter to the next as I tried to figure out who the two killers were and what their motives were. I also enjoyed the romance which was spread across the two centuries and served as an undertone to the intrigue. I couldn’t get enough of this novel and cannot wait for her third novel whatever it may be!

The Inheritance

The Inheritance by Tamera AlexanderThe Inheritance by Tamera Alexander reminded me a lot of Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman in regards to the time period. McKenna Ashford is trying to start over with her younger brother Robert. The two move west to join their cousin and her family, but it seems as if nothing is going to go as planned as McKenna encounters one surprise after another.

McKenna especailly doesn’t expect to meet U.S. Marshal Wyatt Caradon. He seems instantly drawn to her even though he’s not sure if he should risk his heart again. And although McKenna finds his attractive, she wants nothing more than to get him out of their lives. As McKenna struggles to take care of her brother and the new hand life has dealt her, she finds herself relying on Wyatt a little more than she would like.

I really liked this novel. The characters were strong and well-written especially McKenna. I loved how each character had a different way of dealing with the hard situations which are continuously thrown at him or her. I thought Tamera Alexander portrayed this time period well. I got a good taste of the beginning prejudices against certain races and how other cultures were viewed during this time period. It was very enlightening.

This was my first book by this author, and I picked it up on a whim. I’m glad I did. The story was full of good family values which I think some other novels lack. I looked and saw that this was the first in a series of books so I’ll probably be checking out the next one once it’s released.

A Lady of High Regard

A Lady of High Regard by Tracie PetersonI thought A Lady of High Regard by Tracie Peterson was an enjoyable read. Mia Stanley is unlike other girls her age as she has little desire to marry and does what she can to play matchmaker to her friends and fellow socialites. Against her family’s desires she works for Godey’s Lady’s Book magazine. While there, she finds herself involved in the plight of seamen’s wives who are mistreated when their husbands are away at sea.

Mia seems to always get herself in a sticky situation and, by doing so, might be losing the respect of her best and longtime friend Garrett. The two are slow to discover their feelings for each other and are unable to find a proper way to express them if at all.
While I liked this book, I didn’t like it as much as some of the other historical fiction books I’ve read. I did enjoy that we were able to see through both Mia and Garrett’s eyes. I loved Mia’s independence and tenacity when it came to her political ideals, but I felt that she should have used some of those qualities to tell Garrett what she truly felt about him.

The Winter Rose

The Winter Rose by Jennifer DonnellyI absolutely loved The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly. India is a new doctor during the turn of the century, trying to break through the barriers that women doctors faced during this time. The thing she most wants to do is open a free clinic for women and children who live in the poorest parts of town. Everywhere she turns she finds another roadblock in her path. But she soon finds she’s not alone when she meets Ella, a nurse who works for her less than caring boss.

Though India is engaged to a man named Freddie who wants nothing more than to work his way up the political ladder, she find her path crossing with Sid Malone, the notorious leader of underground crime, more than once. As soon as something seems to be going right for India, something awful happens, usually at the end of a chapter which made me want to read the next one that much more. I almost always did too.

Along with the story of India, Sid, and Freddie, I was immersed into the lives of Fiona and Joe Bristow, and many other wonderful characters. I loved how Donnelly was able to intertwine so many stories seemingly effortlessly in a way that wasn’t overwhelming in the least. There was something about each character I fell in love with or hated (if they were a less than desirable person). It was perfect.

I had a hard time putting it down when I knew I had to study or go to sleep. I kept my roommate updated on what was happening to India and Sid without giving too much away. I didn’t think she was that interested until she was about to leave and wanted me to give her some suggestions for books to read this summer. The book was thick, and I thoroughly enjoyed all 707 pages of it.

Once and Always

Once and Always by Judith McNaughtOnce and Always is another wonderful novel by Judith McNaught. Victoria Seaton has just lost both of her parents in a tragic accident and is brought across the ocean from America to England by a distant relative who is connected to her in a way she had never known. Once there she meets Jason Fielding, a man without a happy past.

Victoria is unsure of how she fits in in the strange country and find herself completely baffled by Jason whose emotions change with a drop of a hat. She tries to find a way to keep herself from being a burden as she waits for her childhood love Andrew whom she is practically engaged to to come for her. Time continues to pass without any word from Andrew, and Victoria finds herself becoming increasingly intrigued by Jason. Every time they get closer something comes up which seems to almost completely wipe away any progress they’ve made.
Just as I enjoyed the other books I’ve read by Judith McNaught I loved this one. Victoria was a lively main character who offset Jason perfectly. Both came from different backgrounds and have to overcome many hurdles before they can be happy together. I couldn’t help but love Jason even if he couldn’t seem to love himself.
I love how Judith creates two characters who are so different yet so perfect for each other and place them together. But I like how their journey towards each other isn’t easy. There is usually more than one obstacle they need to conquer before they can finally be together and happy. Wonderful story. And the quote which incorporates the title is heartwarming and one of my favorite parts.

Almost Heaven

Almost Heaven by Judith McNaughtAlmost Heaven by Judith McNaught was truly heaven. Elizabeth Cameron’s reputation has been ruined two years prior, and she lives as an outcast of society. Her parents are no longer alive, and her father left her to deal with his debts. Her brother has disappeared, leaving his debts along with his father’s. Elizabeth struggles to pay for her home and loyal servants who are the only family she has.

Elizabeth’s uncle has decided he needs to marry her off and as soon as possible and so sends out letters to any man who had offered for her two years during her first and only season. Elizabeth has no desire to marry any of the men who reply, especially not Ian Thornton, the very man who ruined her reputation.
Being back in his presence after two years brings back up all the passion that had filled them those two years ago, but both remain wary of the other’s motives. Neither is sure that if they should follow what they are feeling for each other it won’t end in disaster like it did the first time.
Judith McNaught is one of my favorite authors and wrote one of my favorite book Whitney, My Love. She creates characters which are incredibly realistic and likable even with their flaws. Elizabeth was a strong female lead and Ian’s actions just made me want to melt half the time. I could feel the passion and emotions between the two, and I could barely stand to put the book down. I couldn’t stop reading until I was sure that all was going to end well.
I loved this book and cannot wait to read more by her because I know if they’re as good as Almost Heaven and Whitney My Love they’ll be amazing.

Whitney, My Love

Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaughtWhitney, My Love by Judith McNaught has just become my favorite book of all the books I’ve read so far in my life. Whitney attempts everything possible to win over the love of Paul and as a result is sent off by her annoyed father to her aunt in Paris to become an accomplished woman. In Paris, Whitney has men falling at her feet, but her heart remains with Paul. So when she is summoned back to England, she begins her second attempt to get Paul to offer for her, but this time, she acts with more decorum and uses all she has learned in Paris to do so. But Clayton Westland stands in the way. Unknown to Whitney, Clayton’s real name is Westmoreland, and he is the Duke of Claymore and also her fiancé. Whitney and Clayton butt heads often but find themselves just as often in passionate embraces. But Whitney is unwilling to give up Paul for this man who is going to force her to marry him.

Whitney and Clayton jumped off the pages. The tension between them was achingly real. Every time I thought they had worked it out Judith McNaught threw in another problem which they both had to overcome. The characters came alive and developed as the plot progressed, and I couldn’t help but sympathize with both Whitney who is being forced to marry a man without her consent and Clayton who struggles with Whitney’s many attempts to push him away. The emotions are readily felt, and I had to physically put this book down when I had family obligations only to pick it back up the moment I could. And I almost started reading it again, but had to stop myself.
This was a fantastic book, a wonderful piece of historical fiction. Judith McNaught is now high on my list. She is an incredible writer who knows how to create realistic characters who change and grow in such a way that I have no choice but to change and grow right along side of them. I don’t know what else to say besides this is my favorite book, and it will be hard to top.
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