Tag: Historical

Viking Wolf by Emmanuelle de Maupassant

4 and half 1

 

Viking Wolf

This is the second instalment of the Viking Warrior series, Viking Thunder being the first. Viking Wolf carries on where Viking Thunder left off and opens towards the end of the crossing by boat from England to Erik’s homeland. Elswyth and Faline took the decision to leave their village where both had bad memories and nothing to stay for, and joined the Vikings on their ship home.

Elswyth meets Erik’s brother and feels a shiver of danger, not wanting to be left alone with him. On Erik’s home turf, Elswyth feels that she is looked down on and not to be trusted by his kin folk. She slowly makes friendships when sickness sweeps the village but is mistrusted by some. There is plenty of Viking folklore, lust and eroticism to keep the reader entertained, with the story moving at a good pace and a touch of fantasy giving a very satisfactory ending.

As with each of Emmanuelle’s books, this is very well written and edited and I look forward to the next in this action-packed Viking series.

 

First in the series: Viking Thunder  Viking Thunder 2

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The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Four Stars

This is an old fashioned who-dun-it style crime story but with a fantasy twist. No year is mentioned but I feel it is set around 1900 – give or take a decade or two.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Evelyn Hardcastle is murdered each evening for seven days. Aiden Bishop has the task of solving the crime from the perspective of eight guests at the celebratory party at Blackheath before he can leave the house. Each morning he wakes in the body of a different guest and re-lives the same day using the skills of the ‘host’ body to his advantage. Some host bodies seem, at first, to be of little use in solving the murder but each has something, even if it’s only being in the right place or hearing the right conversation, to find who did it.

This book is quite unique and requires a high level of concentration to remember what has already been learned and to keep up with new perspectives of repeated events.  It’s very well written and the author must have an amazingly well organised mind to create such a faultless and intricate plot as this one.

 

The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shrive

four-and-a-half-stars

The Stars Are Fire is a tragic fictional story based on real events in Maine, east coast of America, in 1947. This is a sophisticated story of love, loss, tragedy and striving against all odds to do the best for your family.

The Stars Are Fire

Grace is in a fairly loveless marriage with Gene. They have two children but they weren’t conceived in the raptures of which Grace’s friend, Rosie, talks about, in fact, Grace hardly dares believe that bedroom relations can be pleasurable. Times are very hard in spring 1947, and Grace’s only happiness is spending daytimes chatting with Rosie, sharing the odd half grapefruit which was difficult to come by. There has been nothing but rain for weeks and everything is sodden and muddy until, all at once, it isn’t. The sun shines, the ground dries up and it continues like this until everything is tinder dry. With the drought, the inevitable fires start and when one night Grace and Rosie’s husbands go off to help put out the fires, the two women have to abandon their homes and rush to the waters edge to keep safe. When only one of the husbands returns, there are tough days ahead, both emotionally and financially.

Shreve’s writing style is quite fine, always beautifully written, and I think you have to have read two or three of her books to really appreciate the subtlety and nuances which seem to speak louder than the written word. Her books are not particularly gripping or un-put-downable, but do have a certain intrigue and sophistication, and I found those qualities in this book.

Anita Shreve

 

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The Pilot's WifeStrange Fits of PassionLight on Snow

 

 

 

 

 

Italian Sonata by Emmanuelle de Maupassant

four-and-a-half-stars

Italian Sonata is the second volume in Emmanuelle de Maupassant’s noire trilogy, the first being The Gentlemen’s Club. This one is a full and complete story in itself but to get the most from the characters, particularly Maud and Henry, I would advise you to read The Gentlemen’s Club first.

Italian Sonata 1

Italian Sonata is set in 1899, mostly at a castle on cliffs high above the sea near Sorrento, Italy. Henry fell deeply and unconditionally in love with Maud in The Gentlemen’s Club and this book follows straight on, travelling through Europe for Maud and Henry’s honeymoon. Henry’s sister, Cecile, at the insistence of Maud, accompanies them on their honeymoon. Part way through their European tour, Cecile stops off at the ‘Castello’ for a few days to give Maud and Henry time and privacy on their honeymoon. Little does naïve Cecile know that she is a sexual pawn between debauched Lorenzo and his promiscuous sister. The Castello holds its own dark secrets and before long Cecile is out of her depth.

Emmanuelle’s writing is impeccable. She writes beautifully and poetically of places, people and, of course, erotic sex scenes.  She uses different language depending on the scenes – sweet roses and moist petals for loving scenes, and thrusts, clenches and aggression for brute sex.

This noire series is a work of art.  The eroticism, especially in The Gentlemen’s Club, is second to none and, unlike many other books of the erotic genre, Emmanuelle’s have a great storyline.  There is a good sense of time and place with the countries of Europe being accurately and beautifully described, and the dark, gothic feel of the castle, the clothing and smells, puts you right back to the turn of the Victorian century.

The Gentlemen's Club 1Italian Sonata 1

 

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Should You Ask Me by Marianne Kavanagh

Four Stars

This is an unusual and quirky story set in wartime 1944 with two past timelines giving the personal lives of Mary and William.

Should You Ask Me

William was injured earlier in the war and now has a desk job as a police officer in a sleepy town in Dorset. His back story is just a couple of years earlier but he has a lot of hang-ups and carries a lot of guilt about his survival over others during his time serving in the Army.

Eighty-six year old Mary’s back story is the book’s main storyline and when two bodies are unearthed during the war, she feels compelled by past knowledge and guilt to hand herself in as being responsible for the bodies.

The way Mary tells her story to William, the police officer taking her statement, is a work of art. She goes off at tangents (all relevant to the plot) and rambles her way through what happened all those sixty-two years ago, irritating William by her long-winded way of telling who the bodies are and how they died. There is not a moment of boredom for the reader, it is a cleverly crafted book full of nostalgia and pathos, but annoys the life out of William with her whole week in giving her statement.

This is a beautifully written book, quite unusual in its style of telling, and certainly one I will recommend to my friends.

Marianne Kavanagh

 

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