Tuesday, May 31, 2016

REVIEW: The Deepening Night by Jayne Castel

The Deepening Night
by Jayne Castel

Publisher: self-published
Page Count: 230
Release Date: February 16, 2014
Format: Kindle

How got: personal buy from Amazon

First attention getter: setting and synopsis


From GoodReads:

BRITAIN - 630 A.D.

Saewara, sister to the King of Mercia, has just lost her husband. Finally free of a cruel bully, Saewara wishes to take the veil and retire to a life of peace and solitude.

But, the king destroys her plans when he orders her to remarry – to her people’s enemy.

Saewara will wed Annan of the Wuffingas, the King of the East Angles. Following his kingdom’s humiliating defeat to Mercia six months earlier, Annan must ‘bend the knee’ to his new lord. However, what begins as a forced marriage develops into a slow-burning passion between Annan and Saewara. Two proud individuals, they must come to terms with more than an unwanted marriage.

A woman of quiet, indomitable will, Saewara leaves her past behind and attempts to forge a new life for herself as Queen of the East Angles – but her fragile happiness risks destruction by the ambitions of her ruthless brother.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 4

I’ve gotta say I was fairly impressed with this work. While most self-published works seem to get some things right while lacking in others, this one impresses in all areas but one. This is a great look at a historical era often ignored in fiction.

Dark Ages Britain doesn’t get much love when it comes to historical fiction, especially the century this one is in, the 600s. We’re talking pre-Viking, pre-Alfred the Great, pre-anything the average person nowadays is aware of. For a self-published author to tackle this seems all the more impressive knowing this. And she does it fantastically well!!

Castel goes the extra length to pull real names from the fogginess of poorly recorded history and fleshes these people with real personalities. Most of the characters and settings that people this work are real individuals and places too, even down to the babes-in-arms and where they were baptized. Towns, protective works, landscape features, and counties are all vibrant settings that could be located on a map today. Obscure, barely legible names on parchment splash their motives, plans, love, and revenge across the page with panache.

All the characters are well-fleshed out, even the antagonistic ones that drive me up a wall. However, I have to give a special shout-out to our lead, Saewara.

She’s a woman with guts, especially given the timeframe she lives in and the special hardships women faced in it. She tries to shape her own life only to fail. She pays the price for her independence striving and goes to a truly dark place emotionally. Yet, she doesn’t let that completely overtake her life; she takes stock of her situation and creates other opportunities and connections to for a new life. As a result, she is able to find a new purpose in life and a beautifully passionate love match that she never saw coming. Where she ultimately ends up in the end is jaw dropping. Badass doesn’t even begin to cover it! The phrase “You go, girl!” echoed through my head more than once.

My only hitch with this book is a specific scenario that happened once Saewara got to her new home. Of course, being who she was and in the locale she found herself, she was bound to get some flack. Yet, it developed into a scenario one would find more in a modern high school than Dark Ages Britain. The exchanges and personalities involved came off as more juvenile teenager exchanges than between female romantic rivals. Saewara faced everything with her calm, strong exterior, but every time she was engaged with these people, I cringed.

Despite that one ding, this book is a solid historical fiction and romance. With strong characters (You go, Saewara girl!! LOL) and fantastic research, this author has proven her skills and chops along with the best of the field. I look forward to diving into more of her works!!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

REVIEW: The Conqueror's Wife by Stephanie Thornton

The Conqueror's Wife
by Stephanie Thornton

Publisher: NAL
Page Count: 512
Release Date: December 1, 2015
Format: Trade Paperback

How got: personal buy from Amazon

First attention getter: this author is awesome!!!!


From GoodReads:

We are the women who loved Alexander the Great. We were lovers and murderers, innocents and soldiers.
And without us, Alexander would have been only a man.

Instead he was a god.

330s, B.C.E., Greece: Alexander, a handsome young warrior of Macedon, begins his quest to conquer the ancient world. But he cannot ascend to power, and keep it, without the women who help to shape his destiny.

His spirited younger half-sister, Thessalonike, yearns to join her brother and see the world. Instead, it is Alexander's boyhood companion who rides with him into war while Thessalonike remains behind. Far away, crafty princess Drypetis will not stand idly by as Alexander topples her father from Persia's throne. And after Alexander conquers her tiny kingdom, Roxana, the beautiful and cunning daughter of a minor noble, wins Alexander’s heart…and will commit any crime to secure her place at his side.

Within a few short years, Alexander controls an empire more vast than the civilized world has ever known. But his victories are tarnished by losses on the battlefield and treachery among his inner circle. And long after Alexander is gone, the women who are his champions, wives, and enemies will fight to claim his legacy…

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 5

Another winner from Thornton! Not many authors can bring the ancient world and obscure historical figures to life quite like Thornton. Every one of her books transports me away to a different world, a different life. This one is no different.

Who hasn’t heard of Alexander the Great? His name is known in all corners of the world and probably in most of its languages. Many would also probably know of his steadfast companion Hephaestion and his mother, Olympias. But who has heard of the others that helped shape him, his destiny, and his ultimate legacy?

Persian princess Drypetis, prostitute-wife Roxana, strong sister Thessalonike, warrior sister Cynnane, general Antipater, and his son Casssander…. All are names not often repeated in history but who played such an important part in Alexander’s story. Thornton makes all of them real to the reader; they’re not just names on a page but real individuals with thoughts, ambitions, motives, and emotions all their own.

I’ve also got to give a shout out for Thornton’s characterization of Alexander too. While the story is never told from his POV, she still gives us a window into the mind of a man who is intelligent, courageous, and ambitious all the while being a bit psychotic, warped, and cruel. His actions speak volumes for what he believed in and what he stood for.

Then, as always, there’s Thornton’s skill at scene setting and historical detail. Like every other novel of hers, the ancient world makes a vibrant painting in the mind’s eye of her readers. From ancient cities like Susa and Persepolis with their incredible murals, mosaics, and grand palaces to the arid battlefields of the Middle East and Persia, the book spares no expense at giving us visceral descriptions interwoven with intriguing dialogue.

I keep loving this author; she could probably write a dry mathematical mechanics paper, and I’d still like it. LOL She always writes strong characters, vivid landscapes, and dramatic historical stories. This book is no exception. I can’t recommend her highly enough. Her books, including this one, are all keepers for me and have a prized place on my shelf of awesome.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

REVIEW: The Red Lily Crown by Elizabeth Loupas

The Red Lily Crown
by Elizabeth Loupas

Publisher: NAL
Page Count: 418
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Format: Kindle

How got: personal buy from Amazon

First attention getter: the pretty cover (yes, I'm a cover whore! :D)


From GoodReads:

Elizabeth Loupas returns with her most ambitious historical novel yet, a story of intrigue, passion, and murder in the Medici Court...

April, 1574, Florence, Italy. Grand Duke Cosimo de’ Medici lies dying. The city is paralyzed with dread, for the next man to wear the red lily crown will be Prince Francesco: despotic, dangerous, and obsessed with alchemy.

Chiara Nerini, the troubled daughter of an anti-Medici bookseller, sets out to save her starving family by selling her dead father’s rare alchemical equipment to the prince. Instead she is trapped in his household—imprisoned and forcibly initiated as a virgin acolyte in Francesco’s quest for power and immortality. Undaunted, she seizes her chance to pursue undreamed-of power of her own.

Witness to sensuous intrigues and brutal murder plots, Chiara seeks a safe path through the labyrinth of Medici tyranny and deception. Beside her walks the prince’s mysterious English alchemist Ruanno, her friend and teacher, driven by his own dark goals. Can Chiara trust him to keep her secrets…-even to love her…-or will he prove to be her most treacherous enemy of all?

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 4

A gripping tale of Renaissance Italian politics, the author shows us a tale of shifting loyalties, murderous family dynamics, and two souls just trying to survive it all. I found myself drawn in quickly and thoroughly, not being released until the very end. While there were fantastical elements that seemed out of place, they didn’t drag the book down too much.

Ruan and Chiara are fantastic leads. Two individuals from identically poor and harsh backgrounds, they made a life for themselves through hard work, intelligence, and cunning. With similar motivations and goals, their journeys dovetail into a powerful duo. They play off each other well, making the reader care for them as individuals and as a pair.

I also enjoyed the attention paid to the other characters fleshing out this story. The Medicis in all their autocratic glory are present, front and center. The author paid attention to all the major and minor players of this family: emotional Isabella, despotic Francesco, psychopathic Pietro, scheming Bianca, and clever Ferdinand. The way they plot and move their metaphorical pieces across the board of life keeps the reader enthralled.

The attention to detail is phenomenal in this work. From the little to the big, the setting and historical details breathe with life. The intricacies of court life, beautiful Renaissance clothing details, the polar opposites of rich/poor living, and the different power plays keep the reader reading from page to page rapidly. I also loved all the alchemy details: learning how the emphasis was on more than just finding the Philosopher’s Stone and making gold (though those seemed to be the main reason), how these practices impacted our character’s lives, and how ultimately alchemy was the key to the whole story.

The one issue I have with this book is the few instances of the fantastical the author weaves into it. Usually this wouldn’t be a problem for me; after all, I was a huge reader of fantasy in high school and love it with my historical fiction nowadays. Yet, it felt with all the emphasis on the historical drama of the Medici family politics and its impact on those in their circle that these instances were out of place with the rest of the story.

Despite that one detail, I’d still consider this book a strong look at Renaissance Italy, its politics, and the daily lives of those forced to live/work under the Medici yoke. Loupas proves she knows how to write a gripping, intense tale with strong characters that make you live their lives with them. Highly recommended for lovers of the Renaissance subgenre!

Monday, May 16, 2016

REVIEW: Only Beloved by Mary Balogh

Only Beloved
by Mary Balogh

Publisher: Signet
Page Count: 393
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Format: Mass Market Paperback

How got: personal buy from Amazon

First attention getter: already a fan of the series


From GoodReads:

From the legendary New York Times bestselling author of Only a Kiss and Only a Promise comes the final book in the rapturous Survivor’s Club series—as the future of one man lies within the heart of a lost but never-forgotten love...

For the first time since the death of his wife, the Duke of Stanbrook is considering remarrying and finally embracing happiness for himself. With that thought comes the treasured image of a woman he met briefly a year ago and never saw again.

Dora Debbins relinquished all hope to marry when a family scandal left her in charge of her younger sister. Earning a modest living as a music teacher, she’s left with only an unfulfilled dream. Then one afternoon, an unexpected visitor makes it come true.

For both George and Dora that brief first encounter was as fleeting as it was unforgettable. Now is the time for a second chance. And while even true love comes with a risk, who are two dreamers to argue with destiny?

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 5

A bit of nostalgia and remembrance colors my review, this being the conclusion to a seven book series. I’ve followed these characters through some tough times, watching them find romance and healing while building families. This book wraps up the series beautifully, giving our last Survivor a romance all his own.

I love that the older generation gets a bit of nookie; our leads are 48 and 39. Both George and Dora have dedicated their lives to family and as caregivers that it’s fantastic to see them build a life for themselves later in life. I love it when we get to see romance in an older generation; goes to show that love can happen at any time in life, no matter an age.

I especially love it that Dora and George get their own happily ever after. George has so much love and caring to give that it boggles the mind. His heart makes the Earth look small, and it wants to give shelter to all the world’s hurt, misplaced, or damaged individuals. After his past is revealed, the ability he has to heal and love all his Survivor club shines ever brighter.

Dora is just as caring and loving. She dedicated her entire life to her younger sister to provide her with a secure home, sacrificing her chance at a Season and family of her own. Even though she had resigned herself to a comfortable spinster future, I adored that she got her second chance at family and love. Her healing ways worked again at bringing George some peace and comfort after his past comes to light.

These two together are gold. Even though the marriage starts out as a comfortable agreement for all parties involved, it’s inevitable that a love match would follow given their personalities. They each provide what the other needs: a family, a future, a second chance, and everlasting love. While that sounds smoopy, it’s true. That’s the kind of emotion this book creates.

A resounding success as a conclusion to this beloved series, the book ties up everything and gives George and Dora their happily ever after that’s so richly deserved. Two individuals with a capacity to love that knows no bounds, the reader can’t help but love them back and root them on as they build a better future. Highly recommended for lovers of the series. Those who haven’t partook of past volumes may be a bit lost when secondary characters are discussed, but I think you’d still be able to appreciate and enjoy George’s and Dora’s story. It’s a romance worth savoring.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

REVIEW: The Constant Queen by Joanna Courtney

The Constant Queen
by Joanna Courtney

Publisher: MacMillan
Page Count: 352
Release Date: April 21, 2016
Format: Hardcover

How got: personal buy through Amazon UK

First attention getter: loved the first book in the series


From GoodReads:

'You need not take England without me, Hari, because I will be your constant queen - there with you; there for you.' Elizaveta is princess of Kiev, but that doesn't stop her chasing adventure. Defying conventions, she rides the rapids of the Dneiper alongside her royal brothers and longs to rule in her own right as a queen. Elizaveta meets her match when the fearsome Viking warrior Harald Hardrada arrives at her father's court seeking fame and fortune. He entrusts Elizaveta to be his treasure keeper, holding the keys to his ever-growing wealth - and eventually to his heart. Theirs is a fierce romance and the strength of their love binds them together as they travel across the vast seas to Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. In 1066, their ambition carries them to Orkney as they plan to invade England and claim the crown ...The Constant Queen is a powerful, absorbing novel which tells the story of a daring Viking warrior, his forgotten queen and a love that almost changed the course of history.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 5

I knew with the first book in this series on the Norma Conquest queens that I’d hit on something special. Courtney pleases with this book as well. It’s rich with historical details, larger than life personalities, and a relationship so emotional it’ll make your heart burn.

Before delving into this book, Elizaveta of Kiev was just a name on Wikipedia to me. Harald Hardrada was a remote vicious Viking king who I only knew for trying to conquer England at the end of the Viking era. Now, my eyes have been opened to a stubborn, courageous, and adventurous queen who pushes people to their limits. I also see a king who was as dedicated to building trade and peace within his kingdom as he was to conquest and warfare.

Courtney seems to have this talent at giving historical figures a personality as human as anyone on the street today. This is a talent she shares with such greats as Elizabeth Chadwick and Susan Higginbotham. Elizaveta and Harald benefit from this skill, giving us two figures who try to build a kingdom and empire al the while living life to the fullest and pushing their boundaries. They vibrate with life and feel like real people to me. I liked that Courtney didn’t downplay the faults to benefit the virtues; everything was portrayed and incorporated into their portrayals.

I adored the main romantic relationship between these two as well. From an instant connection after first meeting to the end when they had to say farewell in spirit, their emotional pull to each other is amazingly shown. Mutual adventurous spirit and fiery personalities make for a sometimes rocky road; yet, their support of each other shines through regardless.

I have got to give props to Courtney for her delicate use of the relationships in the story and how they impact the story as a whole. I’m thinking, as a prime example, the trio relationship of Harald, Elizaveta, and Tora. What could have been used as a plot device for melodrama and angst was actually handled very diplomatically with all parties behind it handled well. While there was some initial jealousy and drama, ultimately all three characters came to an understanding dynamic and worked together like a well-greased wheel to take care of Norway and build a future.

From the sophisticated court of Kiev to the pine-filled forests of Norway, this book tells the epic tale of two people that history has either forgotten or misrepresented (depending on who you ask, I guess). The reader gets a passionate romance, suspenseful tale of conquest and blood, and a humanization of obscure historical figures. This book is a historical fiction lover’s dream. I can’t recommend it enough! Now I can’t wait for book three on Matilda of Flanders and William the Conqueror. Keep ‘em coming, Courtney!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

REVIEW: Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James

Lost Among the Living
by Simone St. James

Publisher: NAL
Page Count: 318
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Format: Trade Paperback

How got: personal buy from Amazon; pre-ordered

First attention getter: this author is awesome!!


From GoodReads:

England, 1921. Three years after her husband, Alex, disappeared, shot down over Germany, Jo Manders still mourns his loss. Working as a paid companion to Alex's wealthy, condescending aunt, Dottie Forsyth, Jo travels to the family’s estate in the Sussex countryside. But there is much she never knew about her husband’s origins…and the revelation of a mysterious death in the Forsyths’ past is just the beginning…

All is not well at Wych Elm House. Dottie's husband is distant, and her son was grievously injured in the war. Footsteps follow Jo down empty halls, and items in her bedroom are eerily rearranged. The locals say the family is cursed, and that a ghost in the woods has never rested. And when Jo discovers her husband’s darkest secrets, she wonders if she ever really knew him. Isolated in a place of deception and grief, she must find the truth or lose herself forever.

And then a familiar stranger arrives at Wych Elm House…

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 5

Another great addition to St. James’ body of works, I loved the feeling I got from this book. I felt like I was getting all the good creepy vibes that drew me to her first books on top of getting a suspenseful mystery to book that are so prevalent in her more recent novels.

First off, I love her heroine. She’s strong, courageous, feisty, driven, and a bit impulsive. Her grief from her war and personal losses didn’t stop her from creating a life for herself and striving for independence. I can think of other personalities that would have buckled under her plat but not Jo. I loved her guts and pluck.

More than one chill went up my spine from the horror elements in the story. They weren’t as in your face as her first books, yet they didn’t take second stage like in another of her works. The horror and ghosts were a driving element in the mystery story and created some truly spine-tingling imagery to spice up the narrative. They whole clothes in the chair thing? *shiver* Still spooks me out.

I actually liked the mystery in this one. While I wasn’t that surprised at the eventual whodunit (there being after all a limited suspect pool), I enjoyed the journey and sleuthing along the way. I felt the clues and steps along the way were spaced out well and kept up a good pace. The reasoning behind the crime surprised me, though. I never saw that bit coming.

That reasoning behind the crime tied in well with the historical details behind the story. I loved how the author tied in the developing situation in Europe pre-WWI, the effects that chaos had on the lives of ordinary people, and the beginnings of the British secret service all into her story. They brought the history behind to tale to life along with the little details like everyday life and the mourning process for late Edwardian England.

The romance was as emotional as in the previous works as well. I can’t say too much on this front as it would spoils lots of the story, but safe to say that I felt the story as much as read it. The romance is visceral in its strength and powerful in how it draws the readers in, making us root for both hero and heroine.

All in all, this is a worthy follow up to St. James’ other books. I loved everything: the romantic pull of the emotions, the great historical details, a chilling supernatural mystery, and a heroine I could get behind. This book illustrates why I keep going back to her again and again for my reading pleasure. Highly recommended!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

REVIEW: The Secrets of Lizzie Borden by Brandy Purdy

The Secrets of Lizzie Borden
by Brandy Purdy

Publisher: Kensington
Page Count: 384
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Format: ARC Paperback

How got: GoodReads Giveaway

First attention getter: subject matter


From GoodReads:

In her enthralling, richly imagined new novel, Brandy Purdy, author of The Ripper’s Wife, creates a compelling portrait of the real, complex woman behind an unthinkable crime.

Lizzie Borden should be one of the most fortunate young women in Fall River, Massachusetts. Her wealthy father could easily afford to provide his daughters with fashionable clothes, travel, and a rich, cultured life. Instead, haunted by the ghost of childhood poverty, he forces Lizzie and her sister, Emma, to live frugally, denying them the simplest modern conveniences.

Suitors and socializing are discouraged, as her father views all gentleman callers as fortune hunters. Lonely and deeply unhappy, Lizzie stifles her frustration, dreaming of the freedom that will come with her eventual inheritance. But soon, even that chance of future independence seems about to be ripped away.

And on a stifling August day in 1892, Lizzie’s long-simmering anger finally explodes…

Vividly written and thought-provoking, The Secrets of Lizzie Borden explores the fascinating events behind a crime that continues to grip the public imagination—a story of how thwarted desires and desperate rage could turn a dutiful daughter into a notorious killer.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 4

I’m a bit mixed on this book. I liked the dark overtone and getting into the mind of an American legend. Yet, there were aspects of her character that I extremely disliked (a goal of the author maybe??), and the flow of the story stream seemed to be skewed to a degree that was confusing and, at times, unenjoyable.

Purdy definitely knows how to set an atmosphere and create a vivid picture. At times, these things can get a bit too graphic (thinking the multiple discussions of Lizzie’s bodily functions). But the miserly life that Lizzie was forced to lead, the constrictions, her escapes, the trial, her later years haunted by shunning and her reputation all create an amazing background for Lizzie’s life story.

My favorite part of this whole book was getting into Lizzie’s head. We got to see what motivated her, her inner urges, and her struggles/triumphs. I liked how human the author made her, almost to other extreme of making her too unlikable. There were times when I was very exasperated at Lizzie; if I knew her in real life, I can safely say that I wouldn’t like her much either. Yet, that speaks to the author’s skill; even though I didn’t like Lizzie, I still rooted for her.

I do wish the balance of the story had been a little different. Much time was spent on establishing Lizzie’s earlier life: how miserable she was, her family dynamics, her trying to find herself in a society that is rigid as all hell, and her search for any type of love. By the time we got to the murder and trial bits, we seem to be on overdrive in that all the page spent on these is maybe an eighth of the book. Then we go back to our glacier pace in exploring Lizzie’s life post-trial, facing prejudice, apathy, and general shunning by most everyone in her life.

Now both parts of her journey, pre- and post- trial, are interesting as heck for the most part; it’s what explores her innermost thoughts and motivations after all. Yet, I was really hungering for more on the trial itself and its immediate impact on Lizzie and her community. Seeing how such a case got so muddled with counter testimony and the Victorian attitude that a respectable woman just couldn’t do such a crime was what I was really looking for along with getting to know Lizzie as an individual. So sad loss there…

Even though I could have wished for more aspects of the story, that’s a personal wish; another reader may find the balance of the story elements work for them. I liked how the author got into Lizzie’s head. A woman who can be driven to such a bloody, violent crime makes for interesting reading, whether you like her or not. I enjoyed this foray into the underbelly of Victorian society. I think others would as well.

Note: Book received for free from publisher via GR giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 2, 2016

REVIEW: A Plum Job by Cenarth Fox

A Plum Job
by Cenarth Fox

Publisher: Self published
Page Count: 249
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Format: Kindle

How got: free copy from author

First attention getter: description


From GoodReads:

It’s 1940. Germany’s military might is smashing through the Low Countries and the British, Belgian and French forces are trapped at Dunkirk. The Nazis will soon be in Gay Paree.

Louise Wellesley is a gorgeous and aristocratic young Englishwoman desperate to become an actress. But her upbringing demands that young women of her class go to finishing school, the Buckingham Palace debutante ball and then remain at home until the right chap comes along. Such young ladies most definitely do not cavort semi-naked upon the wicked stage. 

But war brings change. People tell lies. Rules are broken. So when you’re in a foreign country and living by your wits while facing arrest, torture and death from the French police, Resistance, Gestapo and a double-agent, you bloody well better remember your lines, act out of your skin and never ever bump into the furniture. 

Oh and it helps if your new best friend is Edith Piaf.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 2.5

This book started with a good premise and had no shortage of skill in scene-setting. When the author approached me for a review, the description sounded right up my alley (WWII being a big weakness of mine in historical fiction). Yet, I found myself growing more irritated and bored as the story went along due to a variety of factors. I think I have to disagree with the majority of reviewers who are handing out 4 and 5 stars.

I’ve read an English gal caught in Nazi occupied Paris before and found it done well. The author does please in the scene setting department, matching up to those previous portrayals of this plotline. I could picture everything perfectly from the beginning rumblings of the war to Louise’s early years in the theater. Her encounters in France, while not exactly as I expected, were still vivid and suspenseful enough to keep me going.

However, after the scene setting is discussed, this book goes downhill fast, in my humble opinion. First off, the main character is far too perfect. She’s beautiful, courageous, desired by all, talented, and the best actress to ever come out of England….. You get the drift. She’s far too perfect to be relatable to your average gal on the street; I got sick of her real quick, myself. That impacted my caring later in the story on what happened to her ultimately, and my enjoyment of the story overall.

Kurt and Max were a bit better, but they were still flat and two-dimensional. They were characterized by bland, straight forward statements rather than developing through what happened and changed. They became mirrors of different aspects of Nazi Germany and didn’t change much.

Another issue is the amount of told scenes in the book. In the beginning, they’re rife. “This happened here” and “that happened on this date” made more than once appearance. “This person is so-and-so”, because I say so. As the book gets further into the action, the amount of told stuff does diminish, as we get to know the characters and their actions more. Yet, they still crop up more often than is palatable.

For a book whose description touts the action set in Nazi Occupied Paris and the suspense that all entails, Louise takes way too long in getting there. I think it was something like 59% in before Louise even got to the continent and then 70% before the war even started. Way too much time was spent on Louise’s early years acting and in college. She could still have been established as a talented and intelligent actress in far less time, with the remaining spent in a Paris in turmoil, at war. Then once in Paris, at least half the remaining time is spent on plot B threads like a murder/mystery that came out of nowhere.

The book had good bones, thoughts, and intentions. Yet, the meat of the book went bad real fast. Characters are either too perfect or too flat. Storytelling and action flows choppy between sedate tales of the theater and fast paced murder plots that went off on a tangent. The book took too long in getting where it could have shone and once there, just whimpered. This book could do with some polish.

Note: Book received for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.