Tag Archive | England

“The Other Side of Courage” by Joe Matlock

I know when I have read an outstanding book by the fact that I cannot get the story or the characters out of my mind after having read it.  “The Other Side of Courage” by Joe Matlock is such a book.  This book is written about the American fliers and their counterparts in Britain during World War II.  One pilot, Tom MacMillan is sent to England to fly against the Nazis because he is a scoundrel and one girl did not respect had family connections with his commanding officer.  In reality, he is a coward.  He doesn’t want to fight, is scared to death of going into battle.  During one early sortie, he is hit by flak and is recuperating in the army hospital.  His nurse is Molly Masterson, a wonderful girl who really does not want to be a nurse and who hates American fliers.  Their relationship is a back and forth war-of-words until sparks fly between them.  Her family is not enamored of Joe, but he and Molly love each other and have plans.

During wartime, one can never be sure of the future.  This is true of Molly and Joe.  She worries and frets when he flies his missions, and he just tries to do his job and get home to Molly.  Joe is shot down and is helped by the resistance to get back to England.  He is so anxious to see Molly, but fate has a different path for him.

I was so captivated by the writing of Joe Matlock.  The characters really came to life for me and the descriptions of aerial combat kept me on the edge of my chair.  Joe really goes through so many emotions and life changing experiences that it was hard to imagine anyone surviving all this.  However, I’m sure that in war, especially a war like that the men who fight never come back the same person as they were before their war experiences.  This book will join others in my personal library, not to be loaned or traded.  Joe mentions in the back of this book that he is not a real author.  I beg to differ.  I think his writing is exciting, insightful, and compassionate.  I look forward to reading his next work about Katinka Oostvogels, a Dutch girl and Commander Bob Corey, a survivor of Pearl Harbor and their adventures together in Joe’s next great saga.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Mr. Matlock for my honest review.

“On Her majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service” by Rhys Bowen

I love any book written by Rhys Bowen and “On Her majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service” is no exception.  This book is part of her Royal Spyness Mysteries series.  Lady Georgiana Rannoch is engaged to Darcy of Kilhenny.  He is Catholic and she, being a cousin of the King, is not.  In order to marry, she must give up the rite of succession and this must be approved by Parliament.  The Queen summons her to tea and Georgie is sure this is about her marriage.  In talking with the Queen, she is asked to perform a little subtle spying on the Prince of Wales and his lady friend, Mrs. Wallace Simpson.  The fact that Wallis is a Mrs. and that being two-times over, is cause for concern to the royal family.  The Queen, the Prince’s mother, makes arrangements for Georgie to be invited to a house party in Italy.  She is to keep an eye on the Prince and his “friend” and let the Queen know if Mrs. Simpson has acquired her divorce.  Georgie is also going to Italy to help a friend after the house party.

Among a varied cast of characters at this house party something sinister is happening.  Georgie, being the sleuth that she is, cannot keep her nose out of it.  When someone turns up dead, is she the suspect?  Even Darcy is involved in this little drama.  Everyone has a motive.  Some are planning political allegiances which would turn the tide of the current unrest in Germany.

If you enjoy historical fiction along with a little mystery, you will love this book and the way Ms. Bowen brings real figures in history to life in her novels.  I received a Kindle edition of this book from NetGalley.com.

“The Highland Commander” by Amy Jarecki

“The Highland Commander” by Amy Jarecki was a fast-paced historical romance thriller.  I marveled at the situations that the heroine, Lady Magdalen Keith, got herself into.  During this time in history, England and Scotland are beginning unification.  Scotland’s ships are now flying under the Union Jack and there is treason and espionage abounding.  Lady Magdalen’s father, a Scot, is a Member of Parliament who is loyal to James Stuart, brother to the Queen of England.  His loyalty is seen as treason in the eyes of the English and he is taken to the Tower of London to be tried for his “crime”.  Lady Magdalen travels to London to see to his release.

She is constantly involved in one problem or another and it seems that the dashing First Lieutenant Aiden Murray is always in the vicinity to rescue her.  He is the second son of a Scottish lord who supports the English, although Aiden disagrees.

This story is non-stop catastrophe after catastrophe which certainly keeps the reader engaged throughout the book.  I think that the author has written a very good story and has included historical facts which bring it to life.  Well done.

I received an advance reader copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing in return for my honest review.

D. M. Quincy has written a series debut novel. “Murder in Mayfair” is an Atlas Catesby Mystery and the first one in the series. The story takes place in 1814 in England, where Atlas and friend have stopped at an inn for some sustenance.  After hearing a commotion in the yard, they investigate and find that a husband is auctioning off his wife to the highest bidder.  Sensing that the woman is high born and disgusted at the spectacle taking place, Atlas makes a winning bid determined to see her to her family.  However, the woman, Lilliana, has been forced to leave her two boys behind.  When the woman’s husband is murdered, Atlas must solve the mystery to keep himself and Lilliana from being suspects.  As the story continues, there are many suspects to choose from.

I thought the novel was well planned and executed.  The characters were very likable and I enjoyed reading about the time period as well.  I have a feeling that Ms. Quincy’s series about Atlas Catesby and his puzzles will be well received and successful.  I will be looking for the next book in the series.

I received an advance uncorrected proof of this book from NightOwlReviews.com in return for my honest review.

“An Independent Woman” by Anna Jacobs

I really enjoyed reading “An Independent Woman”, written by Anna Jacobs.  The story is set in 1918 right after the end of the Great War in England.  Ernest Fleming is a slum lord, gambler, womanizer and all around pitiful person.  It begins with Serena Fleming, his daughter, caring for her dying mother.  Serena knows that the end is near and before she dies, her mother reveals a secret that she has been harboring – the fact that Ernest Fleming is not Serena’s real father.

Serena has spent her life cowering under the hateful and vicious actions of her father and she is overwhelmed with gratitude that she is not descended from this madman.  Serena’s brother Frank has been listed as missing in action and presumed dead and she has no reason to stay under Ernest’s thumb.  She is to come into her inheritance from her aunt when she turns thirty which is in a few weeks.  She plans her escape from the Fleming house carefully so that Ernest has no clue that she is planning on leaving and fighting for her inheritance.

Meanwhile, Marcus Graye has come home from the war wounded in body and spirit.  The Hall has been his family’s home for years, but the dissolute actions of his uncle and cousins have left the manor house in more ruin than grandeur.  He and his family have been conned and cheated by Ernest Fleming too and the family lawyer is attempting to find out the true condition of the estate.  Marcus and Serena are thrown together by the viciousness of Ernest Fleming and they determine to outsmart him and his hooligans.

I thought that this book was a wonderful read.  First of all I always enjoy books written about this time period and I especially enjoy novels about Britain and its lords and ladies.  Women’s suffrage is becoming a rallying cry for women at this time and this plays a role in what transpires as the story continues.  I highly recommend this book.

 

I received a Kindle copy of this book from NetGalley.com in return for my honest review.

“The Forgotten Seamstress” by Liz Trenow

In England right before the start of the First World War a young teen-age girl, Maria, who from the age of two lived in an orphanage where she learned to be an excellent seamstress, was summoned to Buckingham Palace to be a part of the staff.  While there her choices and behavior dictated the rest of her life.  In “The Forgotten Seamstress”, Liz Trenow writes a fictitious account of the seduction of a naïve young girl who is dazzled by the attentions of the young Prince Edward, heir to the throne of England.  Her skill with a needle brings her to the rooms of the Prince to alter a garment for him.  He initiates meetings with her and soon they become lovers.  When the Prince is called to war, mind you, only behind the lines and in no danger, he promises that he will return and will continue to write.  After a while, there are no letters and no further contact between them.  However Maria is left with a lasting remembrance of the Prince and their affair.  A few months after the Prince has gone to “war”, Maria is swept away by one of the palace’s staff to an insane asylum where she and her “fantasies” about her relationship with the royal son are dismissed as those of a lunatic.  The story comes to light as we follow a young woman who inherits a beautifully made quilt and tries to find the story behind the creation.  Even though this story is fiction, as I read, I could imagine exactly this scenario happening in real life, especially during the beginning of the twentieth century.

I did enjoy this novel, but I must say that it took a few chapters before I fully understood what was going on.  The book skipped back and forth from 1918 to present day and following the story was at times difficult.  This story was written so well that after I was finished reading I was almost convinced that this story was true.  Ms. Trenow has a knack of bringing history to life and intertwining her love of fabric and its history with the characters.

I was received complimentary Kindle copy of this novel by NetGalley.com in return for my honest review.

“The Hidden Thread” by Liz Trenow

In “The Hidden Thread” by Liz Trenow, Anna Butterfield is traveling from Suffolk to her aunt and uncle’s home in London.  Her mother is dead following a long illness, and Anna has cared for her and for her father and sister, Jane during this time.  In order to be able to provide for her family it is necessary for her to marry well.  To this end, she is sent to her aunt and uncle’s home in London.  Her uncle is a very successful silk merchant and it is hoped that Anna will be presented to society and thus find a desirable husband.

These are turbulent times in London in 1760.  Silk is being smuggled into England at a reduced price and the weavers and cloth makers are losing their jobs because the price of goods has dwindled to the point that people are starving.  Smuggled goods bring in no taxes, so the merchants are getting richer while the poor workers are destitute.

On her way to her new home, Anna is aided by two young Frenchmen, whom she later finds to be weavers of fine cloth.  This class of society is beneath her, or so her aunt warns.  She is forbidden to have any contact with them.  Instead, she is paraded in front of a friends’ son, a pompous dandy.  The novel continues as we discover how Anna uses her talents to design cloth and is in partnership, secretly, with one of the French weavers to produce silk cloth.  After the silk riots threaten her family’s security, she must decide if she wants to be a proper lady in society or pursue her dreams.

You can always count on Ms. Trenow to write an engaging story.  Her family had been silk weavers in Suffolk for three hundred years, which inspired this story set during the 18th century.

I was sent a complimentary Kindle copy by NetGalley.com.