Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Review- The Blue Enchantress

The Blue Enchantress is the sequel to The Red Siren, and book two in the Charles Towne Belles series. Mary Lu brings her love of the sea and pirates to every book she writes, and this one is no exception.

One of Mary Lu's great strengths is characterization. Hope is a deeply flawed woman with a shameful past who would be easy to hate. Yet the reader is drawn into her story and filled with compassion for her, even though she richly deserves everything that's happening to her.

Having lived through a few hurricanes myself, Mary Lu's descriptions of the hurricane are spot-on. She easily captures the fear of everyone on board, and the superior arrogance of someone who's never been through one and doesn't think it can be that bad.

I also very much enjoyed the spiritual warfare angle. It began in The Red Siren and she continued to build on it in The Blue Enchantress. Spiritual warfare is something that's often overlooked in Christian historical fiction.

All in all a very enjoyable read with vivid characters, memorable settings and plenty of "meat". I eagerly look forward to the release of The Raven Saint, the final book in the series that will feature Grace Westcott.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

SoE review: Ransome's Honor

Ransome's Honor
by Kaye Dacus

Regular readers may remember that I am no fan of Jane Austen. However, I love Horatio Hornblower, and not just because of Ioan Gruffudd. That is part of what drew me to Kaye's Ransome trilogy. That and watching her perfect it, pitch it and finally sell it.

Click on the above link for a plot synopsis from CBD. I won't repeat it here.

The book was an absolute delight! I loved every page. All of the characters are fully developed and well-rounded. It's hard not to fall in love with William Ransome. I'm very much looking forward to getting to know certain members of his crew in the next book, Ransome's Crossing.

It was also refreshing to see a Regency heroine with guts and pluck who still remains true to what women were like then. That's another part of why I don't usually read Regencies. I know so much about the daily life of the period and the thought patterns and customs that few people can get it right enough to hold my interest. Kaye got it right!

I found William's character arc the most interesting, but anyone who knows me won't find that surprising. Sometimes one can hide in honor and duty, and William realized that. His character was flawed, but not to the point that it was off-putting. Same for Julia. By the end of the book each has realized their flaws and is working on overcoming them.

If you like Regencies or high-seas adventures, this book is not to be missed!

Monday, August 10, 2009

More on character thoughts

I just finished Ransome's Honor by Kaye Dacus. (excellent book, btw. If you haven't read it yet, do so post haste!) The hero, William Ransome, is a captain in the Royal Navy. That can be a difficult type of character to bring to life, yet Kaye did so beautifully and in such a way that I am convinced he's real.

So how did she do that? A large part of it, to me anyway, was in her use of inner monologue and thoughts. William always thinks like a sailor. When Kaye is describing things in his POV, she describes things as a sailor would. He views things in terms of his vocation and finds his strength in the familiarity of his ship and the sea.

To me this is one of the strongest ways to bring a character to life. When done well, it flows seamlessly with the narrative and dialogue. Kaye does it very well in all of her books, but I think it's most clear in the way she writes William Ransome.

Which brings me to my own character. Nick, one of my SEAL's. He's Russian-born, adopted by an American family and grows up in Colorado on a cattle and horse ranch, then joins the Navy. His thoughts are a mixture of horse terms, cowboy slang, love of the mountains, Russian phrases and an intense love of the sea. Once he stands on the beach for the first time and looks out at the vastness of the Pacific Ocean nothing else will do. As he progresses through his training, more and more of his thoughts take on the images of the Navy and the ocean, and the slang that goes with his chosen profession.

I hope it all makes for an interesting character and shows his progression from someone with little to no self-confidence, to an officer in charge of a SEAL team.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Losing history

The last living link to World War One, the war to end all wars, has died. He passed on July 25th and his funeral was yesterday. His name was Harry Patch and he was the last surviving veteran of World War One.

The Daily Mail has an article online, complete with pictures.

WW 1 was not the war to end all wars, as so many believed. Rather it was the war that started it all. Every conflict of the 20th century can trace its roots back to WW 1. Yes, *every* conflict. Even the fighting in the Balkans, the debacle in Bosnia, and the split of what used to be known as Czechoslovakia.

One of the books in my research pile is "King, Kaiser, Tsar" by Catrine Clay. Kaiser Wilhelm II, Tsar Nicholas II and King George V were cousins. Nicholas' wife Alexandra was George's niece, Wilhelm's cousin and one of Victoria's favorite granddaughters. Victoria called her Sunny. These three men found their fates intertwined. Only one survived the war with his kingdom and throne intact.

I've often wondered how family could do that to each other. George refused his own niece asylum and Wilhelm financed the man who was ultimately responsible for the deaths of the Romanovs. Here in the South that sort of treachery against one's own family is unthinkable. This whole relative thing is one of the dynamics that makes the World War One so fascinating to me.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Spotlight on Europe

Today it's Surrender the Wind by Rita Gerlach! It just released on the first, so look for it! Here's the back cover blurb, taken from Rita's website.

Surrender the Wind . . .

A quick~match tale of unexpected love . . .

A fuse that burned rapidly ...

After a harrowing escape from the British, patriot Seth Braxton finds his father dead at Yorktown. Now battle scarred and grieving, he endeavors to settle down for a peaceful life along the shores of the Potomac by restoring the land his father loved.

Thinking he will forever stay in the secluded wilderness, he receives a message that he has inherited his grandfather's estate in faraway England. Seth is torn between the land he's fought for and the prospect of reuniting with his sister, Caroline, who was a motherless child at the onset of the Revolution, taken to England in order to spare her the horrors of war.

With no intention of making his stay at Ten Width permanent, he journeys to England to do his duty. When he arrives, he finds his sister in the throes of grief after being told her young son has died of a fever. In the midst of so much tragedy, he meets Juleah, the daughter of an eccentric landed gentleman. Her independent spirit and gentle soul steal his heart, and she becomes his wife and lady of the manor, enraging the man who once sought her hand and hoped Ten Width would be his own.

From the Virginia wilderness, to the dark halls of an isolated English estate, Seth inherits more than a crumbling ancestral home. He uncovers a sinister plot that leads to murder, abduction, and betrayal --- an ominous mix that threatens to destroy his new life and new love.

Rita is a fellow HisWriters member. Over the last two years we all had the privilege of watching Rita finish this novel, tweak it, submit it to just about every publishing house in the industry and garner enough rejections to wallpaper a bathroom! Then we all celebrated with her when Abingdon Press bought it. I will never forget her joy at getting that contract.

By going to her website and clicking on the "Surrender the Wind" link at the top of the page, you can go to Abingdon's website and read the first chapter of the novel. Rita also has the privilege of being the debut novel for Abingdon, and they have shown a great willingness to look at and buy novels with non-American settings.