Category Archives: Historical

Quote-tastic Monday: The Janus Affair by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

janus-affairSome books are good, but it’s really the individual lines that make the book.  Others are good, but you can’t pick out any piece of text or dialogue to explain it.  The Janus Affair is one of the second.  I love this series.  I believe it is the first pure steampunk series I have read and I don’t know why it has taken me so long to get back to them.  I read the first two when they were initially published and never noticed when the rest of the series came out.  I am making up for that now.

In these books, there is a gender role reversal, especially for the Victorian period.  Eliza Braun is a Ministry field agent, or at least she was, and Wellington Books is the Archivast – not a librarian as he is quick to tell you.  And yes, I do love their names.

Anyway, the most memorable line so far is from Books when he is talking to Braun,

“Admittedly, yes, but even you, the South Pacific Angel of Wanton Destruction and Calamity has to sleep sometime.”

And that pretty much describes Eliza and her penchant for explosives.

There are five books in the series and a the first book in a spinoff series was published in 2016.  I really, really need to get caught up on my TBR mountain.

“Quote-Tastic Monday” is a meme hosted every Monday on Herding Cats & Burning Soup.  Head on over there to see what everyone else is posting about this week.

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Quote-tastic Monday: With This Ring (Vanza, #1) by Amanda Quick

Yeah, yeah.  I know it’s Wednesday.  As a matter of fact, this isn’t posted yet and it may even be Thursday before I get it together.  Don’t ask about my week.  Just don’t ask.

Now for a little background.  The hero of the book has decided that the heroine, Mrs. Poole, should stay at his estate for a couple of days for her own safety.  He summons the butler to give him his orders.

“In the morning you will inform Mrs. Poole that she cannot leave Monkcrest until the day after tomorrow at the earliest.”

“You wish me to stop Mrs. Poole from leaving?”  Finch’s jaw unhinged.  He swallowed twice, very quickly, and recovered his composure.  “M’lord, such an action may not lie within my power.  Mrs. Poole is a very forceful lady.  I’m not sure the devil himself could stop her if she took a mind to vacate the premises.”

I love it and Finch is right.  “Forceful lady” is putting it lightly.  Force of nature would probably be more accurate.

I read this series when it was first released back in the late 90s and early 2000s.  They were great then and have definitely stood the test of time.  I am enjoying a reread after so many years.  It’s like I have discovered them for the first time.

If you are not familiar with Amanda Quick, that is the pen name for Jayne Ann Krentz when she is writing historicals.  She also writes science fiction as Jayne Castle.  It doesn’t matter what name she writes under, they are all wonderful.

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Quote-tastic Monday: The Summer Bride by Anne Gracie

This is the fourth book in the Chance Sisters series and as far as I know, it is the last.  However, there is definitely room for at least one more book.

Anyway, I have to say that Flynn is my favorite hero from the series.  I loved them all, but he is such a scamp, he outshines them.  Oddly enough my quote does not involve him and Daisy, but Flynn and Lady Beatrice.  Lady Beatrice is an elderly woman who has taken in and claimed the Chance sisters.  She has the most personality of all of the characters in my opinion.  Anyway, she forced Flynn to attend a dancing lesson with the sisters because she knows he does not come from a privileged background and assumes he needs all the help he can get.  She is proven wrong (something that rarely happens) at a ball the very next night.

“Why did you not tell me you knew how to dance?”

Flynn smiled.  “I never tell a lady what she doesn’t wish to hear.”

She snorted again.  “That little habit — if it’s true — is going to get you into a lot of trouble then.”  Her beady old eyes twinkled up at him.  “I look forward to it.”

“So do I, ma’am, so do I.”

Didn’t I tell you he was a scamp?Summer Bride

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Quote-tastic Monday: The Spring Bride by Anne Gracie

Although I have read other books since last week’s Quotastic, this week’s quote is from the same series.  Her books are not memorable because of the quotes, but every now and then one just jumps out at me and I think “I have got to use that one.”  With no further ado,

Jane has rescued a dog of dubious breeding from a pack of young men who were torturing it.  Zachary cannot believe she means to keep it.  He is thinking to himself,

In his experience, ladies of quality kept overbred bundles of dainty fluff, not — he looked at the dog again — whatever this was.  There was a Staffordshire or bulldog somewhere in its ancestry, he’d wager.  Along with a dozen other breeds.  And possibly a warthog.  Whatever, it was not a dog for a lady.

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Quote-tastic Monday: Winter Bride by Anne Gracie

Many times over the years, I have wanted to say something to an older person who was rude or just out of line.  I always restrained myself because I could hear my mother teaching me to “respect my elders.”  Of course, as I get older that means there are fewer people I have to restrain myself with.  -grin-

Anyway, in Winter Bride, Damaris is having dinner with her betrothed’s parents . . . an extremely unlikable pair.  In response to Freddie’s father’s comment that she knows which side her bread is buttered, she says,

“Nothing of the sort; it’s just that I was taught to show respect to old people,” she said sweetly, adding, “no matter how little they may deserve it.”

I love that line!  It is exactly how I feel sometimes.

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Quote-tastic: A Book to Look Forward To

I have already reviewed A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn, but it has some great lines.  Therefore, I am going to share one of them again.  I am not giving any context.  You will just have to wait for it.  And I do mean wait.  This book is not scheduled for release until January 2017 which should be considered cruel and unusual punishment for anyone who loves Ms. Raybourn’s books like I do.  Anyway, drum roll please, today’s quote (and yes, I know it’s Wednesday, not Monday) is

“Good heavens! I have never seen so many penises in one place,” — Veronica Speedwell

perilous undertaking
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A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell, #2) by Deanna Raybourn

A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell, #2)A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: A Perilous Undertaking
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell, #2
Pages: 352
Publisher: Berkley Books
Date: January 10, 2017

Summary:

“London, 1887.”

Victorian adventuress and butterfly hunter Veronica Speedwell receives an invitation to visit the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women. There she meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Accused of the brutal murder of his artist mistress Artemisia, Ramsforth will face the hangman’s noose in a week’s time if Veronica cannot find the real killer.

But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems, and unmasking her true identity is only the first of the many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural historian colleague Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer, a ruthless villain who not only took Artemisia’s life in cold blood but is happy to see Ramsforth hang for the crime. From a Bohemian artists colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed….”

Review:

I loved the first book in this series, A Curious Beginning, and this one was just as entertaining. The mystery is good, and no, I had no idea who the “bad guy” was until the reveal. That’s unusual for me. I read so many books, I generally have a good idea who the culprit is before the end of the book. Not knowing makes this an exceptional book.

Regardless of the mystery though, it is the relationship between Veronica and Stoker that I really enjoy. They like each other, and maybe a little more, but they had much rather argue than carry on a civil conversation. Veronica likes to enrage Stoker because it pulls him out of the dumps. At least, that’s what she says. Actually, she just enjoys arguing.

In this book, we find out a little more about Veronica’s past, but we really learn some things about Stoker. It’s not enough. It only whets my appetite for more information. It’s not like there are cliffhangers or anything. I hate those. We are just given tidbits to entice us. And man, did that work. I cannot wait for the next book.

To keep you going until this book’s release, here are a few quotes to entertain.

Veronica in Chapter 1: Men, I had observed, were never happier than when they believed they were imparting wisdom.

Stoker in Chapter 12: Veronica, you have a substantial intellect. Perhaps you could trouble yourself to use it occasionally.

Veronica in the same chapter referring to Stoker: That was the true measure of his character; even at the height of his irritation he would never let me fall.

Also, in the same chapter (and why would Stoker ever be irritated with Veronica), Stoker is trying to get Veronica to promise to run to safety if things go bad. :

“For once, do as I ask. Promise me.”

“Very well. I promise,” I said, crossing my fingers behind my back.

Again, in Chapter 12. I had not realized what a great chapter that was. I am not going to give you any context for this quote. I’m just throwing it out. : “Good heavens! I have never seen so many penises in one place,”

Veronica in Chapter 16: It has been my experience in dealing with the male of the species that the easiest way to get one to do as you wish is to encourage him to do precisely the opposite.

You know, I am fairly certain my mother taught me this exact same thing.

And I’ll leave you with an exchange between Veronica and Stoker:

“… That is a stroke of brilliance.”

He preened. “It is, isn’t it? I think I shall bask in this for a little while. I do like being right.”

And don’t we all. I hate that the book is not being released until January of 2017. I have no idea why it has been delayed for so long. It is well worth the wait though and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Quote-tastic: A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

quote-tastic final with green borderI am re-reading A Curious Beginning, the first of the Veronica Speedwell series, to get ready for book two.  A Perilous Undertaking is not due out until January of 2017, but I scored an early reviewers copy, so it is the next thing on my TBR list.

When I first read A Curious Beginning, I gave it five stars.  I seldom do that, so I must have really enjoyed it.  After re-reading about half of it, I know it deserved five stars or better.  I love this book.

In Melissa’s review on GoodReads of the second book, she compares Veronica and Stoker to Peabody and Emerson.  I did not pick up on that, but she is right.  The personalities and relationship does feel the same, which is a good thing.

Anyway, on to the quotes:

Veronica:  “I have faith that men can be as reasonable and logical as women if they but try.”

Veronica again: “I gave it to him because, in my experience, it is far better to tell a man what he wants to hear and then do as you please than attempt to reason with him.”

And finally, Stoker:  “Pay attention when I am lecturing you.  You can woolgather later.”

I mean, what’s not to love?

A Curious Beginning

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Once Upon a Moonlit Night (Maiden Lane, #10.5) by Elizabeth Hoyt

Once Upon a Moonlit Night (Maiden Lane, #10.5)Once Upon a Moonlit Night by Elizabeth Hoyt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: Once Upon a Moonlit Night
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Maiden Lane, #10.5
Pages:
Publisher: Forever Yours
Date: July 5, 2016

Summary:

Hippolyta Royle is running for her life. Pursued by hounds on a cold rainy night, the heiress flags down a passing carriage and throws herself at the mercy of the coach’s occupant. Whoever this handsome traveler may be, he is her only hope to escape a terrible fate. But should he agree to escort her to safety, he’s in for much more than he bargained for.

At first Matthew Mortimer doesn’t believe Hippolyta’s story, that she’s a fabulously wealthy heiress who’s been kidnapped. He assumes she’s a beggar, an actress, or worse. But once his new travel companion washes the mud from her surprisingly lovely face, and they share a breathtaking kiss, there is no turning back.

Review:

I have been reading the Maiden Lane series since the first book, Wicked Intentions, was released in 2010. They are very, very good, but can be dark and intense . . . not to mention heartbreaking.

This is not one of those books. Yes, it is a Maiden Lane. (Be sure and read Duke of Sin before this one. Otherwise, you’ll have no clue.) Yes, it is very, very good. Where it differs is that it is fun! And funny.

The main characters are Hippolyta Royle and Matthew Mortimer. Don’t you love those names? And those are not the best ones. My favorite character is Tommy Teapot. I’m not going to say anything about him because of spoilers, but he is the best.

Hippolyta has escaped from a kidnapper (that’s why you have to read the previous book) and Matthew finds her soaked and muddy on the side of the road. She TELLS him she is really a lady and a heiress, but he doesn’t believe her. And that frees her. She is not as constrained as she has always had to in her reactions and she loves it.

Matthew learns quite early on that she has a temper. It’s his fault. He says something unforgivable to her. After all, she is only a beggar, or a thief, or possibly a prostitute and he really, really wants to kiss her, but decides he better not, because

“And besides, he rather thought at the moment she might bite his tongue off if he stuck it in her mouth.”

Of course, eventually he does get his kiss and it looks like they are going to get their happily ever after. But Hippolyta does have a secret. Something that could ruin her and Matthew.

And she is being blackmailed.

This is a great addition to the series. It fits in with the other Maiden Lane books and I think introduces a character that we will see more of in a later book. At least, I hope so. I can’t tell you who it is because of spoilers (again), but I really liked him.

Duke of Pleasure is next and I already have it on preorder. The release date is November 29, 2016 and I cannot wait.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Duke of Sin (Maiden Lane, #10) by Elizabeth Hoyt

Duke of Sin (Maiden Lane, #10)Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Duke of Sin
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Maiden Lane, #10
Pages: 364
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Date: May 31, 2016

Summary:

A MAN OF SIN

Devastatingly handsome. Vain. Unscrupulous. Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery, is the man London whispers about in boudoirs and back alleys. A notorious rake and blackmailer, Montgomery has returned from exile, intent on seeking revenge on those who have wronged him. But what he finds in his own bedroom may lay waste to all his plans.

A WOMAN OF HONOR

Born a bastard, housekeeper Bridget Crumb is clever, bold, and fiercely loyal. When her aristocratic mother becomes the target of extortion, Bridget joins the Duke of Montgomery’s household to search for the incriminating evidence-and uncovers something far more dangerous.

A SECRET THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY THEM BOTH

Astonished by the deceptively prim-and surprisingly witty-domestic spy in his chambers, Montgomery is intrigued. And try as she might, Bridget can’t resist the slyly charming duke. Now as the two begin their treacherous game of cat and mouse, they soon realize that they both have secrets-and neither may be as nefarious-or as innocent-as they appear . . .

Review:

I went into this book thinking there was no way the author was going to make Valentine a believable hero . . . and she didn’t. He is not a hero, nor does he want to be. What he is is a man who suffered an abusive childhood and turned out no better than can be expected.

And I came to love him.

If ever there was a case of a “man saved by the love of a good woman,” that man is Valentine. Bridget Crumb, his housekeeper, has secrets of her own, but the sparks fly between them. I did have a hard time with a duke developing a serious relationship with a housekeeper, but Valentine has never followed society’s rules. I think Bridget was more bothered by the discrepancy in their stations than he was.

Although this book is set firmly in the world of Maiden Lane, there is no mention of the Ghost of St. Giles until the very end. Of course, as I recall, the stories have gotten away from that plotline in the last few books. There is every indication that is about to change. The next full book looks like it is going to focus on “the Ghost” once again.

And that is a striking point about this book. As much as I enjoyed Bridget’s and Valentine’s story, it is the secondary characters that were introduced that I am most interested in. In other words, I cannot wait for the next few books.

Which says a lot about how wonderful this series is to me.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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