The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Lawrence Browne Affair: by Cat Sebastian
Release Date: February 7th, 2017
Pages: 352 • Format: eARC
Published By: Avon Impulse
Purchase Links:
AmazonKoboBarnes & NobleItunes

An earl hiding from his future . . .

Lawrence Browne, the Earl of Radnor, is mad. At least, that’s what he and most of the village believes. A brilliant scientist, he hides himself away in his family’s crumbling estate, unwilling to venture into the outside world. When an annoyingly handsome man arrives at Penkellis, claiming to be Lawrence’s new secretary, his carefully planned world is turned upside down.

A swindler haunted by his past . . .

Georgie Turner has made his life pretending to be anyone but himself. A swindler and con man, he can slip into an identity faster than he can change clothes. But when his long-dead conscience resurrects and a dangerous associate is out for blood, Georgie escapes to the wilds of Cornwall. Pretending to be a secretary should be easy, but he doesn’t expect that the only madness he finds is the one he has for the gorgeous earl.

Can they find forever in the wreckage of their lives?

Challenging each other at every turn, the two men soon give into the desire that threatens to overwhelm them. But with one man convinced he is at the very brink of madness and the other hiding his real identity, only true love can make this an affair to remember.

four-half-stars

Alright now, Cat this is 2 for 2 for me with your stories. I enjoyed the Soldier’s Scoundrel, but I really really liked this book. Georgie and Lawrence were hot like fire. The chemistry and adoration between these two were astounding. This book is in the same world as book one, but can be read as a standalone. Georgie is a con man but with a conscience. Lawrence is the mad Lord of the town who is scientific genius. They push each other buttons continuously, and I can feel the connection on page.

I really liked what the author did by having them be completely different towards each other, but have some of the same similarities of comfort with one another. Georgie needs to lay low for a while so he escapes to another town and poses as a secretary. Its not so far fetched since he knows how to do honest work, he just prefers conning. He is employed with Lord Radnor, and its frustrating, he’s infuriating, ungrateful, and downright mean at times. Well a little discomfort doesn’t hurt Georgie, in fact he is the ideal person to deal with the madman of the village. Georgie is falling and fighting his feelings on the same accord when it comes to Lawrence. He isn’t a bad guy per say, he is just prone to loud outbursts, and bouts of craziness according to Lawrence and the men in his family. The only way to be safe is to isolate himself from people, and his last living relatives. He stays coupe up in his family’s’ estate that he let go to hell. He things that if he stays away from people then they won’t have to deal with him. He lives on ham sandwiches, and apples from the only two servants that he allows to stay on at the house.

I am not usually one for slow burns, but this was much needed. The slow burn added on top of all the copious amounts of attraction that Lawrence and Georgie had for one another. Another kudos to the author for keeping the authenicty and dialogue up to reflect the period of time.

I found myself laughing at times, and tearing up at other. I thought the author did another great job with these characters. I think I enjoyed this one better then the first. The chemistry between the two was real. I liked the pacing, plot, and overall feeling that this story had. I do love regency romances, and Cat Sebastian can add herself to my auto-buy list as of now. I can’t wait for the third book in this series. I did love him in this book. Highly recommend this series!

About Cat Sebastian

Cat writes steamy, upbeat historical romances. They usually take place in the Regency, generally have at least one LGBTQ+ main character, and always have happy endings.

Before writing, Cat was a lawyer and a teacher. She enjoys crossword puzzles, geeking out over birds, gardening badly, and–of course–reading. In high school, her parents went away for a week, and instead of throwing raucous parties, Cat read Middlemarch. Even worse, Cat remembers little of a trip through Europe because she was busy reading Mansfield Park. Her proudest moment was when she realized her kids were shaping up to be hopeless bookworms too. Currently, her favorite genres are romance, mystery and fantasy.

Cat lives with her husband, three kids, and dog in an improbably small house. After growing up in the northeast, she now lives in a part of the south where every body of water seems to contain alligators or sharks, and every restaurant serves biscuits and gravy. She likes the biscuits, but not so much the alligators.

Audiobook Review: Touched with Fire (The Fire Trilogy #1) by Christopher Datta

Audiobook Review: Touched with Fire (The Fire Trilogy #1) by Christopher DattaSource: Novel Publicity

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Title: Touched with Fire by Christopher Datta
Series: The Fire Trilogy, #1
Release Date: December 07, 2016
Pages: • Format: 11 hrs and 12 mins (Audiobook)
Published By: Christopher Datta
Purchase Links:   Amazon USBarnes & NobleAudible

Ellen Craft is property; in this case, of her half-sister Debra, to whom she was given as a wedding gift. The illegitimate daughter of a Georgia plantation owner and a house slave, she learned to hate her own image, which so closely resembled that of her “father”: the same wiry build, the same blue eyes, and the same pale – indeed, lily-white – skin. Ellen lives a solitary life until she falls, unexpectedly, in love with a dark-skinned slave named William Craft, and together they devise a plan to run north. Ellie will pose as a gentleman planter bound for Philadelphia accompanied by his “boy” Will. They make it as far as Baltimore when Will is turned back, and Ellie has no choice but continue. With no way of knowing if he is dead or alive, she resolves to make a second journey – south again. And so Elijah Craft enlists with the 125th Ohio Volunteers of the Union Army: she will literally fight her way back to her husband.

Eli/Ellie’s journey is the story of an extraordinary individual and an abiding love, but also of the corrosive effects of slavery, and of a nation at a watershed moment.

three-stars
I have mixed feelings about this audiobook. I am so glad the author took on the story of Ellie Craft and weaved an incredible story of heroism. But that is also part of the problem for me, parts of it were just that, unbelievable. The first part of this book was focused on Ellie as a young slave girl trying to navigate and come to terms with where she fit in with her family and community. The second part of the book was so heavy on war facts. I didn’t quite enjoy the second part as much because I couldn’t buy Ellie as union soldier hiding in plain sight so to speak. The narrator’s voice was okay but the singing parts grated my nerves.

I found the author’s writing to be basic and rough in the beginning, but in the second part of the story, the author found his groove. In addition, the characters in this story under developed and too one dimensional. even Ellie. The slaves, Ellie’s sister, even Ellie’s actions were either black and white (pun aside). The slaves, Ellie’s sister, even Ellie’s actions were either black and white (pun aside). I found the transitions from scene to scene to be uneven. It just didn’t flow smoothly. It got better later in the book.

Ellen was born a “quadroon”, one quarter black and three quarters white. Ellie was born to a half white slave woman who was raped by her owner. The result was that Elle looked white, a fact that made clear her parentage. For most of her young life, Ellie felt angry that she wasn’t acknowledge by her father as his daughter, even though she knew she was a product of rape. Ellie was also angry at her half-sister for treating her like help, and not recognizing her as her sister and perhaps equal. It just doesn’t compute with what we know of slave paternity issues back then. If you were born of a slave, it doesn’t matter if you have white, you were still a slave and almost never acknowledged. The internal musings of why her father didn’t accept or acknowledge her as his own painted Elle as a child who saw herself as more than a slave. This also supports the other slaves claim that Ellie was uppity and thought she was better. Ellie never bothered to deny these assertions, thus incurred the scorn of the other slaves. So, for the first part of her life, Ellie didn’t see herself as a black slave.

When Ellie was barely a young adult, she had a violent encounter with the creepy Reverend. She began espousing views on her blackness that come out of nowhere to me. But this is part of the story I enjoyed most, When Ellie and William become a couple. There was love with this couple and I enjoyed seeing Ellie for the first time show genuine affection, need and concern for someone else. He made her appear vulnerable and more human so I liked this Ellie. Their attempt to seek freedom required Ellie to pass both as a white person and as a man, that’s when things went implausible for me. It’s one thing to for an illiterate slave to pass as a white person, but as a white slave owner and man travelling. There is more to pretending to be a man than wearing clothes. But Ellie pulled it off for six years as Eli where she was fighting, sleeping and leaving among other men. Either way, I couldn’t connect with Ellie as a young girl nor as this cantankerous union soldier. I really wanted to like her because I had empathy for her plight, but she just always came off as self-centered to me.

The ending of this story got predictable but it was satisfying. This subject matter is a sensitive one and I think the author gave the reader a hero to root for. I just would have liked a little more realism in emotion and actions by the characters. I haven’t read the actual account of Ellen Craft because I didn’t want it to color my opinion of this book. My opinions are based solely on my experience with this author’s narrative.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

on October 11th 2016
Small Great Things Book Cover Small Great Things
Jodi Picoult
Historical Fiction
Ballantine Books
October 11th, 2016
audiobook
480

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy's counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other's trust, and come to see that what they've been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn't offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

I found this book very moving and very thought provoking. I applaud the author for tacking such a topic. Racism in a professional environment is something that many people deal with but often find very little allies when a major situation arises. I don’t want to rehash the blurb because it was clear on the book subject.

I couldn’t put this book down once I started because it was so real especially in this current racially charged environment. I just hope that readers don’t get caught up in the minutiae of the author’s race and really let the message penetrate.
What made the story so powerful was that each character had major flaws and had opportunities to make different choices. I found myself saying “Why did he do that? Why did she say that? What was the point of going over there?” and so on. The insidiousness of racism and the far-reaching consequences to all involved. I found this book painful at times but it is a very necessary read because the problems in the book are still present in society today. I both liked and disliked Ruth and her attorney throughout the book. I mostly despised Turk but I realize that his behavior had been instilled in him at such a young and impressionable age. I have little tolerance for racists so empathy towards Turk is something I didn’t have much of. White privilege is something that many people refuse to acknowledge and that was at the heart of this story.
I wish the twists weren’t so convoluted and dramatic. Even with those extreme leaps in the story, I highly recommend this book to all who are willing to examine their own hearts about race relations in our world today.

Ezi

Audiobook Review: Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Say Goodbye for Now Book Cover Say Goodbye for Now
Catherine Ryan Hyde
Historical Fiction, Romance
Lake Union Publishing
December 13th, 2016
audibook; e-book
366

On an isolated Texas ranch, Dr. Lucy cares for abandoned animals. The solitude allows her to avoid the people and places that remind her of the past. Not that any of the townsfolk care. In 1959, no one is interested in a woman doctor. Nor are they welcoming Calvin and Justin Bell, a newly arrived African American father and son.

When Pete Solomon, a neglected twelve-year-old boy, and Justin bring a wounded wolf-dog hybrid to Dr. Lucy, the outcasts soon find refuge in one another. Lucy never thought she’d make connections again, never mind fall in love. Pete never imagined he’d find friends as loyal as Justin and the dog. But these four people aren’t allowed to be friends, much less a family, when the whole town turns violently against them.

With heavy hearts, Dr. Lucy and Pete say goodbye to Calvin and Justin. But through the years they keep hope alive…waiting for the world to catch up with them.

This story grazes upon on a number of sensitive subjects. There was the issue of a female doctor, Lucille “Lucy” Armstrong, whose husband left her as her professional standing exceeded his. In addition, her adolescent son resented her because of her work schedule. Adding insult to injury, Dr. Armstrong was lacking in respectable patients as many people in the rural area of Texas refused to be treated by a woman. Then author also deals with the issue of child abuse and abandonment as the reader was introduced to the life of twelve-year-old Pete Solomon. When Pete took pity on an injured wolf dog and got help from a ten-year-old black boy Justin Bell to carry the dog to Dr. Lucy, the author introduced animal abuse, racism and hate crimes into the story.

I enjoyed how the author weaved the story together although I felt she didn’t really delve deep into any of those issues. It was enough for the reader to consider each character’s plight and how they dealt with their lot in life. These four people were outcasts or not part of the acceptable society’s circle, but they found in each other an anchor. Many times, people say blood is thicker than water, but many families are “chosen” or “formed” by necessity. This was one of those times that a makeshift family provided love, acceptance, support and encouragement in a situation where it was badly needed.

Once I started this book, I didn’t put it down. It wasn’t exactly tear inducing but there was a small dose of angsty. I definitely had an emotional connection to the characters because I felt bad for Pete, Justin and for Calvin and Lucy as a couple. That journey to lasting love certainly touched me. There were different kinds of love expressed in this book and it made up for the pain and hatred shown to the characters. There was an encouraging evolution in this book that gave me hope for society today.

I didn’t give this book a five-star rating because while the author did a great job developing the heroine Lucy as well as Pete, but I had a surface grasp on Justine, his father Calvin and Pete’s father. I would have liked more information regarding Pete’s father, especially from his own perspective. Still, this book was really a moving and poignant read.

*Special Thanks to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for the e-book given in exchange for an honest review.”

Ezi

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads) five-stars
From Sand and Ash Book Cover From Sand and Ash
Amy Harmon
Historical Fiction; Historical Romance
Lake Union Publishing
December 1st, 2016
audibook; e-book
386

Italy, 1943—Germany occupies much of the country, placing the Jewish population in grave danger during World War II.

As children, Eva Rosselli and Angelo Bianco were raised like family but divided by circumstance and religion. As the years go by, the two find themselves falling in love. But the church calls to Angelo and, despite his deep feelings for Eva, he chooses the priesthood.

Now, more than a decade later, Angelo is a Catholic priest and Eva is a woman with nowhere to turn. With the Gestapo closing in, Angelo hides Eva within the walls of a convent, where Eva discovers she is just one of many Jews being sheltered by the Catholic Church.

But Eva can’t quietly hide, waiting for deliverance, while Angelo risks everything to keep her safe. With the world at war and so many in need, Angelo and Eva face trial after trial, choice after agonizing choice, until fate and fortune finally collide, leaving them with the most difficult decision of all.

This book was a lyrical work of art.

Definitely Amy Harmon’s finest work and I have enjoyed all of her books thus far. There were so many things I loved about this book but writing stands out the most. Amy Harmon’s storytelling was so intense, visceral and poignant. This story was set in Italy starting before the German invasion and lasted for the Nazi occupation of the Italy. It was such a dark and depressing historical period, but the author managed weave a tale of love, hope, faith and loyalty.

Eva Rosselli and Angelo Bianco were childhood best friends despite being her being Jewish and him being Catholic. Despite their affection for each other, Angelo decided that he could best serve God as a priest.

“God makes me strong. He gives me courage. He gives me peace. He gives me purpose.”

As Angelo joined the priesthood, Eva began navigating life in Italy where Jews were stripped of every conceivable right of citizenship despite the Jews “making up 1% of the countries population”. At her darkest hour, Angelo took in Eva and some other family friends to hid them, but it endangered all the priests around.

Angelo was forced to consider what his life would be like if the Nazi’s were to find Eva and the other Jews that the priests were protecting. While Eva struggles to survive, she was also forced to deal with the fact that the man she loved chose to be a priest over a life with her.

This story was both inspiring, enlightening and emotionally POWERFUL. Every time I felt despondent, a gestured or an event occurred that contributed some reason for hope and encouragement.

“Hope is the only thing resistant to the fear, and it is the hope that makes the next breath possible, the next step, the next tiny act of rebellion, even if that rebellion is simply staying alive.”

The author didn’t mislead the readers by painting a rosy picture of war times. But those tendrils of devotion and faithfulness kept me optimistic as I listened to tale. The narrator Cassandra Campbell was excellent in her various accented voices. She was a great choice for this book.

I loved both Eva and Angelo for different reasons. Both were strong characters, loving, honest and altruistic. Eva though just stole my heart. She had a clarity about almost everything. She was decisive and even stubborn. Angelo was so endearing because he truly tried to honor his faith even if he had to sacrifice his own heart. I admired his commitment and his perseverance. The author did an amazing job developing these characters as well as the overall plot. I never felt that the author sacrificed the historical plight of the people in favor of a love story. It made everything feel so much more authentic and genuine. I am always amazed at the blessings that occurred despite immense suffering during the tragedies of war. This story was one of the best written historical fiction novels I have ever read.

 **Special Thanks to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for the e-book given in exchange for an honest review.

About Amy Harmon

Amy Harmon is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and New York Times Bestselling author. Amy knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and she divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story. Her books are now being published in thirteen languages, truly a dream come true for a little country girl from Levan, Utah.

Amy Harmon has written ten novels – including the USA Today Bestsellers, Making Faces and Running Barefoot, as well as The Law of Moses, Infinity + One and the New York Times Bestseller, A Different Blue. Her recent release, The Bird and the Sword, is a Goodreads Choice finalist in Fantasy.

Blog Tour: Prince & Pirate by Elliot Cooper

princepirate-smallbanner

Oh My Shelves welcomes author Elliot Cooper to the blog with his latest release Prince & Pirate. Along with an giveaway he’s also brought an exclusive excerpt of Prince & Pirate! Please welcome him aboard!

princepirate-f500

Prince & Pirate: by Elliot Cooper
Release Date: November 28, 2016
Pages: 120
Published By: NineStar Press
Purchase Links:
NineStar PressAmazonARe

Blurb

Prince Gavin is powerless to refuse when his father demands he secure an alliance with a distant kingdom. At first, he sees the journey as a chance to prove his worth and indulge in the grand adventures of his dreams. Yet nothing seems right about his father’s paranoid insistence he travel by merchant ship while disguised as a diplomat. Once out on the open sea, Gavin learns he’s been tricked into boarding an infamous pirate ship: the Ebon Drake.

Captain Marcas Drake is delighted to discover the courtier he’s kidnapped is really a prince. Acquiring such a hefty ransom will prove once and for all he’s a brilliant pirate in his own right, not riding the coattails of his father’s fame. And using his charms to seduce his prisoner makes for an entertaining pastime. But unfortunate events turn the Ebon Drake’s crew against their captain before the ransom can be carried out.

Marooned, Marcas and Gavin’s new equal footing turns the pirate’s sensual game into something else entirely. However, being stranded on a tiny island becomes the least of their worries when rescue arrives in the form of the bloodthirsty Crimson Queen, a pirate who’s been chasing Marcas for years. Working together to escape the queen is their only hope of freedom and a chance their growing love might outlast their misadventures.

Exclusive Excerpt

The distinct smell of smoke woke Marcas from an already fitful sleep. At first, he wasn’t sure if he was imagining the smell, but then Morris burst through the doors to his cabin in a panic.

“Cap’n! Cap’n! There’s a fire on deck! Fire!” Morris squawked, his voice cracking as he shouted.

“Damn it, boy! Get out there and help put it out!” Marcas commanded. He jumped to his feet and didn’t bother to put on his shirt or coat.

He chased after the cabin boy and saw a coil of rope near the mizzenmast was ablaze. The remnants of a shattered lantern were strewn off to the side of it. Kerosene. Some idiot had dropped the lantern. Or maybe the wind? Whatever had happened, Marcas decided while shouting orders to all hands on deck, he would find the culprit if there was one and give them twenty lashings. There was no question about his mood this night.

“The wind’s makin’ it spread!” Morris shouted, still panicked and not doing much to help save the ship or his fellow crew members.

“Stow your gab and help Canker and Bones with the bloody buckets!” Marcas shouted, gesturing angrily. He shoved the boy towards the line of pirates pulling water up from the waves before joining them himself. He wouldn’t lose his ship because of some adolescent who wasn’t worth a damn in a crisis. And he wouldn’t lose his ship to some damn fire!

A calm in the wind allowed the men to douse the final embers. The coil of rope and much of the deck were soaked, but the fire was no more. A cheer sounded on board as Mr. Dawkins shouted back down the line.

“She’s saved! Good work, mates!”

“Excellent work!” Marcas shouted. But any relief he felt was hidden by the rage still evident in his voice. “Now! Who’s responsible for this mess?”

The crew looked around at one another. Some busied themselves with checking the damage done to the ropes while others set about cleaning the mess itself. No one spoke.

“Did no one, not a one of you, see what started the fire?” Marcas snarled. Someone had caused the fire, accidentally no doubt, but that recklessness would not be tolerated. He had his suspicions, but he wanted a confession. He was not in the habit of punishing the wrong crew member.

“Most’ve us were below decks, takin’ our turns to sleep, Cap’n,” Bones said. He shrugged apologetically at his captain.

“Most,” Marcas parroted his bosun. He looked around at his crew again, attempting to look each one of them in the eyes as he spoke. “I know whose watch it was, so don’t count your captain a fool! If it was an accident of the wind, just speak the truth and be done with it. I can’t fault nature for her whims any more than I can the sea!”

Some of them laughed, but a good majority didn’t. An awkward silence settled on board until, finally, Morris walked up to his captain with his head bowed.

“I uh… ’Twas me, sir. I tripped an’ dropped my lantern. I din’t mean—”

Marcas grabbed him by the throat and lifted him up off the deck, cutting short whatever apologies he’d been trying to make.

“The next time I ask whose fault it is,” Marcas growled through his teeth, “I expect the culprit to answer me straight away. I have no time for blundering fools who bite their tongues!”

Morris whimpered and made a strange coughing sound. Captain Drake dropped him and let him splutter for all of two seconds before pointing at the bosun and the quartermaster.

“Bones! Mr. Dawkins! Give young Mr. Morris here twenty lashes!”

The boy cried out and then shoved his fist against his mouth. He knew he’d earn more lashes if he made so much as another sound.

Marcas wasn’t interested in watching the proceedings. He knew the boy would be days recovering, but it would be well worth keeping him below decks and out of everyone else’s way. The boy was a hazard, not only to himself, but to everyone on board. If he kept it up, he’d be dropped off at the next port with his cut of the gold they had, which was nothing to crow about.

Author Bio:

elliot-cooper

Elliot Cooper writes speculative fiction featuring queer characters. His novels and novellas come with hopeful and happy endings, though his short fiction runs the gamut of styles and genres. He strives above all to make his readers feel, while also increasing positive representation of LGBTQ characters and their stories.

Website:www.elliotcooperwrites.com

Twitter:@elliotwrites

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out our events calendar for information on additional blog stops for Prince & Pirate and other upcoming releases!

The Soldier’s Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

catThe Soldier’s Scoundrel: by Cat Sebastian
Release Date:September 20, 2016
Pages: 213 • Format: eARC
Published By: Avon Impulse
Purchase Links:
AmazonAReBarnes & Nobles

A scoundrel who lives in the shadows

Jack Turner grew up in the darkness of London’s slums, born into a life of crime and willing to do anything to keep his belly full and his siblings safe. Now he uses the tricks and schemes of the underworld to help those who need the kind of assistance only a scoundrel can provide. His distrust of the nobility runs deep and his services do not extend to the gorgeous high-born soldier who personifies everything Jack will never be.

A soldier untarnished by vice

After the chaos of war, Oliver Rivington craves the safe predictability of a gentleman’s life-one that doesn’t include sparring with a ne’er-do-well who flouts the law at every turn. But Jack tempts Oliver like no other man has before. Soon his yearning for the unapologetic criminal is only matched by Jack’s pleasure in watching his genteel polish crumble every time they’re together.

Two men only meant for each other.

four-stars

A really good debut novel from Cat Sebastian. I did side eye the cover, because it reminded me of why I never read Historical Fiction. After second thought, I like that it stayed with it’s roots of how an Historical Fiction book cover should look. I like to think of them of cheesy. Everything about this story was super captivating. I loved Oliver & Jack’s relationship.

Oliver is retired army veteran, who is home after serving time over seas. He’s home with a bum leg, and feeling lost at sea amongst the world. He’s having trouble adapting to the new world. Jack is the scoundrel who people come to when they need help. He’s the private detective of the people. There’s nothing that he won’t do. He’s had to climb his way out from the bottom to the top. This was a perfect enemies to lovers story. The romance is a slow burn from beginning to end. It’s a really well written story.

I did find myself my bored for the first 25%. It took me a while to get into the story. I did feel like it was like I’m floundering while I was reading it. I couldn’t really connect with it like I usually can with historical fictions. All in all, this was a really good story for a debut novel. I’m looking forward to Georgie’s book. He was a fave character of mine. I would love to see more of Oliver & Jack’s relationship. I’ll definitely be reading more from this author.

About Cat Sebastian

Cat writes steamy, upbeat historical romances. They usually take place in the Regency, generally have at least one LGBTQ+ main character, and always have happy endings.

Before writing, Cat was a lawyer and a teacher. She enjoys crossword puzzles, geeking out over birds, gardening badly, and–of course–reading. In high school, her parents went away for a week, and instead of throwing raucous parties, Cat read Middlemarch. Even worse, Cat remembers little of a trip through Europe because she was busy reading Mansfield Park. Her proudest moment was when she realized her kids were shaping up to be hopeless bookworms too. Currently, her favorite genres are romance, mystery and fantasy.

Cat lives with her husband, three kids, and dog in an improbably small house. After growing up in the northeast, she now lives in a part of the south where every body of water seems to contain alligators or sharks, and every restaurant serves biscuits and gravy. She likes the biscuits, but not so much the alligators.

Mistress of Rome (The Empress of Rome #1) by Kate Quinn

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Mistress of Rome  (The Empress of Rome #1) by Kate Quinnon 2011-04-05
Pages: 400
Amazon
A.D. 69. The Roman Empire is up for the taking. The Year of Four Emperors will change everything-especially the lives of two sisters with a very personal stake in the outcome. Elegant and ambitious, Cornelia embodies the essence of the perfect Roman wife. She lives to one day see her loyal husband as Emperor. Her sister Marcella is more aloof, content to witness history rather than make it. But when a bloody coup turns their world upside-down, both women must maneuver carefully just to stay alive. As Cornelia tries to pick up the pieces of her shattered dreams, Marcella discovers a hidden talent for influencing the most powerful men in Rome. In the end, though, there can only be one Emperor...and one Empress.
three-stars

I saw the description blurb—Spartacus for girls. Of course I had to pick it up as I just loved the series Spartacus Blood & Sands. This book read like a mish mash of Spartacus, Rome and the Gladiator. The story itself was interesting, but the narrator was unsuccessful in conveying the tone of the period. Given the entitlement, revelry and brutality of the period, the actual writing didn’t appear authentic to me. Words like “giggle” just don’t seem appropriate for the time period. The actual plot of the story was enjoyable, but the modern day language made this historical fiction diminished the quality of the work.
The main character Thea, reminded me of Naevia from Spartacus, with a touch of Kore. The character Arius, reminded me of Crixus, with a touch of Spartacus. They were victims of the republic and one couldn’t help but root for them to gain their freedom. Lepida Pollia, Thea’s owner was a good mix of Illythia and Lucretia, and thus I couldn’t wait for her to get her comeuppance.

The stories featuring the gladiators battles were not as brutal as I was expecting, nor where they memorable. The behind machinations for power and prestige, plus vengeance for wrong doing, gave this book the flavor associated with the Roman Empire drama. I love that time period because good didn’t triumph often. One had to be resourceful and adaptable, and make the proper alliances to elevate their position. Very dramatic stuff if you like characters with depth.
I think Senator Marcus was the unsung hero in this book and he was my favorite character. He was advanced for his time and he lost a lot for the love of his country. I enjoyed his journey the most.
I would recommend this book for someone who wants a lighter version of Spartacus and didn’t care for the “Spartacus Speak” as I call it. This book would make a good TV mini-series.


**Special Thanks to Tantor Media for the audiobook given in exchange for an honest review

Sweetwater by Lisa Henry

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sweetwater by Lisa Henryon September 29th 2014
Pages: 240
Amazon
Wyoming Territory, 1870.

Elijah Carter is afflicted. Most of the townsfolk of South Pass City treat him as a simpleton because he’s deaf, but that’s not his only problem. Something in Elijah runs contrary to nature and to God. Something that Elijah desperately tries to keep hidden.

Harlan Crane, owner of the Empire saloon, knows Elijah for what he is—and for all the ungodly things he wants. But Crane isn’t the only one. Grady Mullins desires Elijah too, but unlike Crane, he refuses to push the kid.

When violence shatters Elijah’s world, he is caught between two very different men and two devastating urges: revenge, and despair. In a boomtown teetering on the edge of a bust, Elijah must face what it means to be a man in control of his own destiny, and choose a course that might end his life . . . or truly begin it for the very first time.
three-half-stars

This book was definitely in the vein of the others I have read by this author.

It featured a young man with some hearing impairments, Elijah Carter, and his need to punish himself or be punished for not deserving the love of his adoptive father.

Of course, the town bad guy, Harlan Crane takes it upon himself to engage with the young Elijah and debase him as often as he can. That is until a drifter Grady Mullins notices Elijah and decides that what Elijah needs is someone to care for him.
Harlan and Grady engage each other and of course there was collateral damage

This book was dark, but like most Lisa Henry books, she always cracks a window to let in some rays of hope. Harlan made my skin crawl and Grady made me feel relaxed. Poor Elijah had to fight and dig deep to find strength and survive.

If you are looking for a romance with flowers and dinner, this isn’t it. It is about pain and a struggle to will oneself to survive in a dog-eat-dog world. But I was satisfied with the ending.

*Thank you to Netgalley for the reading copy