Reviews of books published before 2000

Pride of Lions by Marsha Canham

707252Pride of Lions by Marsha Canham
Dell Publishing Company: 1997
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Purchased secondhand

Beach vacation

This has been on my to-read list for at least a year, and I finally got around to purchasing it secondhand recently. Unfortunately, it’s old enough that it’s difficult to find at the library.

I expected this to be a historical romance along the lines of Julie Garwood, but was pleasantly surprised to find it more substantial than that.

It still has all the classic romance tropes, so if that’s your thing then you’re sure to like this book. (more…)

“Storm Front” Rolls in, With a Chance of Magic

6219313Storm Front by Jim Butcher
ROC: April 1, 2000
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Free From Library

I’d go there again!

You’re a wizard, Harry. Wait, wrong wizard.

Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is a wizard PI who’s tight on cash and low on cases. This Harry is not a graduate of Hogwarts.



Harry is summoned to the scene of a murder as part of his consulting gig for Chicago P.D. Considering the fact that Harry advertises the fact that he is a wizard, it’s pretty much a sure bet that the murder is of a unusual nature. Soon Harry is neck deep in mob bosses, missing persons, magic and frog demons. This consulting case turns out to not be the easy money that Harry initially anticipated. (more…)

Exotic Adventure in the Oddly Named, “The Book of True Desires”

818202The Book of True Desires by Betina Krahn
Jove: August 29, 2006 (Historical Romance)

I’d go there again! vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

I discovered this little gem of a book while I was doing a little bit of weeding at my library. It’s always fun discovering a new author serendipitously and this one was a delightful surprise. The Book of True Desires was an absolute hoot. This was a tale of adventure and romance, and my absolute favourite part, how about a butler for the hero?

Cordelia O’Keefe is your average lady Indiana Jones (quite a feat in 1898) and is hoping to be off on a new adventure; however, this time she wants the support of her estranged grandfather. Cordelia’s grandfather isn’t exactly thrilled to see his granddaughter, he disowned his son when he married Cordelia’s mother. That said, the grandfather is a manipulative old coot and decides that if Cordelia wants his money she’s going to have to earn it. Only by locating the Mayan “Gift of the Jaguar” will Cordelia receive a penny, and she’ll have to take along her grandfather’s surly, proper, British butler to serve as financier.

Hartford Goodnight is not your average butler. He’s disrespectful, grumpy, and altogether too stuffy to be off on a jungle adventure. However, his employer dangles his freedom: find the cure for his gout and Hart will be released from his indenture. Now if only that woman weren’t leading the expedition. (more…)

More Cozy Crime in “All Shall Be Well”

8938036All Shall Be Well by Deborah Crombie
Scribner, January 1, 1994 (Mystery)

My rating: Beach vacation (3/5)

Last week I shared my thoughts about Crombie’s first book in her Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James series, and now I’m back for more. The second book in the series is a little less cozy and there’s a lot more focus on Duncan and Gemma, which made this one all the more appealing than A Share in Death.

In All Shall Be Well, Duncan is once more pulled into an investigation that is unrelated to his job when his neighbour, Jasmine, dies. Jasmine had been suffering with cancer and Duncan is grief stricken to learn that his friend has quietly passed away; however, when he learns that it’s possible that she might have committed suicide, he is duty bound to order a postmortem. The more Duncan looks into the case, the more convinced he is that Jasmine did not succumb to her illness naturally, she just might have been murdered. (more…)

Crime Classic: “A Share in Death”

9212204A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie (Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #1)
Avon, August 26, 2003 (Mystery)

My rating: Beach Vacation (3/5)

Deborah Crombie is an author I’ve heard about and recommended often, but I have to admit that I’d never picked up one of her books. It was time.

A Share in Death marks the beginning of Crombie’s popular series featuring Scotland Yard superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his sergeant, Gemma James. Book one opens with Kincaid taking a much needed vacation, unfortunately this turns into a working holiday when someone is murdered and Kincaid finds himself up against the local coppers in his search to find justice.

I was surprised reading this book at how much of a “cozy” quality there was. I was expecting violence and suspense, something a little more grittier, but I didn’t get that here. There was a lot of description of the details surrounding Kincaid and it lent a participatory quality to the mystery. If you paid close enough attention, you were sure to determine the guilty party. (more…)

For the Love of re-reading

I had great intentions for today’s post. Research was going to be involved and I was going to write something long and tangling. Alas, this did not get accomplished this week, partly because for the past week or so I’ve been a little obsessed with books that I’ve been re-reading.

A few years ago my reading tastes were dramatically different. Today, I rarely move outside three genres: fantasy, historical fiction, and historical romance (it’s even better when they’re combined into one supergenre!). However, before and during university I was really into contemporary romance and romantic suspense. It provided a nice escape from the seriousness of school. Ever since I’ve been working on a readers’ advisory project this summer at work, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I used to read and how reading moods and tastes change over time. Hence, my re-visitation of past books that I loved. So what did I enjoy back in the day? Well, I am more than happy to share… (more…)

Anthropological Science Fiction in ‘Hard to be a God’

hardtobeagodHard to be a God, by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky and translated by Olema Bormashenko
Chicago Review Press, June 1st, 2014 (Science Fiction)*

My rating: Beach vacation (but be prepared to think!) (3/5)

Written by two Russian brothers in the mid-20th century in response to political pressure on art and artistic works under Khrushchev, Hard to be a God is about one man’s struggle with the questions of how far to go to save others and live by his moral code, and if he can observe without interfering.

The main character in this novel, known mostly as Don Rumata, is a ‘historian’ who has been placed on a more primitive world to live in and observe the feudal culture that exists there. In kind of a Truman Show way, a camera placed in a gold circlet on his head reports everything he sees, his interactions, the daily life of the people. This culture that he witnesses is a mix of medieval feudalism and 20th century totalitarianism, with secret police and attacks on literate, artistic individuals – writers, poets, artists, musicians, scientists, philosophers, etc. (more…)

Exotic Locale in ‘Beyond Sunrise’

1126322Beyond Sunrise by Candice Proctor
Ivy Books, April 29, 2009 (Historical Romance)

My rating: Beach vacation (3/5)

I tracked down Beyond Sunrise after realizing Candice Proctor is also the wonderful author, C.S. Harris (of the Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries). I had no idea that Harris also wrote historical romances under another name, so I had to check one out considering how obsessed I am with the St. Cyr series. While there was a lot to like in Beyond Sunrise I do think the author’s mystery series is much stronger.

India McKnight is a travel writer and she has come to the South Pacific to work on a new piece. Unluckily, India stumbles into a bit of a trap that’s been set for reluctant guide, Jack Ryder, who is a wanted man. When she’s taken hostage by the brash Jack she soon learns there’s more to the events that have put a price on Jack’s head, and there’s much more behind that man’s careless smile.

For his part, Jack’s not all that thrilled to be dragging India around. He’s not a fan of her prim and spinsterish ways, but like India learns about him, Jack also discovers that there’s more to India than she appears on first meeting. Thankfully for both of them, the British navy and cannibals are hunting them down, forcing the pair into closer contact. The more time they spend together, the more they realize that the other might just be what they are looking for. (more…)

Patricia Briggs writes straight-up, old-fashioned fantasy in Raven’s Shadow

ravenRaven’s Shadow by Patricia Briggs
Ace, July 27th, 2004 (Fantasy)

My rating: Outstanding adventure!

From Briggs, one of my favorite authors of paranormal romantic fantasy a la Mercy Thompson, an incredible classic fantasy starring a family of individuals with unique strengths.

This novel opens with the first meeting between Tier, battle-weary soldier, and Seraph, young sorceress from a clan of wanderers. Tier finds her at the mercy of a village who have just burned her brother for being a Traveler – the common name for people of the clans. Seraph is a Raven, sworn to protect non-Travelers and Travelers alike from an ancient evil.

Part Two opens twenty years later, and Tier and Seraph have raised an unusually talented family on their farm. Every one of them belongs to an Order. That is, they each have a different set of magical abilities. On this day, Tier has gone missing, and Seraph and her children set out to rescue him.


Wagering on a Western: ‘The Texan’s Wager’

242344The Texan’s Wager by Jodi Thomas
Jove, October 29, 2002 (Historical Romance; Western)

Rating: Outstanding Adventure!

While I am generally a fan of Regency or Victorian era romances, I’ve had a sudden hankering for the American West. Especially, after reading Ellen O’Connell’s Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Goldwhich I found fantastic in an angsty, sickeningly sweet way . I’ve read a couple western romances in the past that have been hit or miss, but I decided to give Jodi Thomas a shot after seeing her name pop up on many lists for western romance, hoping for a winner, and find one I did. The Texan’s Wager is the first in a series and I totally loved it!

Bailee Moore has agreed to participate in the wife lottery in order to get out of jail. Bailee and her traveling companions have been locked up after possibly killing the man, Zeke, who attacked them. The sheriff decides that to deal with them, he’s going to have the men of the town enter a lottery for the ladies’ hand’s in marriage and handily resolve his problems. Carter McKoy, in a wild, instantaneous impulse, decides to put his name into the ring and by chance ends up married to the practical, spinsterish Bailee. Bailee’s not sure about Carter, her silent groom, but she wants to make the best of a bad situation. Slowly the two of them get to know one another, but trouble brews on the horizon when it seems the man Bailee and co. killed isn’t actually dead, and he’s looking for revenge.

I was totally in love with this book and didn’t put down after picking it up. It’s always fun to find a new author that you like, and I will definitely be looking for more of Thomas’ books, and reading the rest of this series. In the romance department, it was pretty tame, but I loved the relationship development between Carter and Bailee. Carter especially was a refreshing character. You just don’t see very many innocent-type heroes like Carter. After the murder of his parents, he’s basically been the town reclude, never speaking, and totally unfamiliar with the ways of the world. For example, at one point Carter advises Bailee that she could go and live at a “boardinghouse” and he’s got no clue that it’s a whorehouse. It was refreshing to have this kind of character and I liked the complications it brought to the romance.

My one complaint with the book would have to be the under explained events of Bailee’s past. She’s left her family behind to travel out West because she killed someone. This is briefly looked at near the end of the novel, but I kinda feel this is a big deal and I think it deserved some more focus. I would have liked to have found out all of the details for what led Baliee to kill, and I feel like I never got that here.

Overall, I highly recommend this one for fans of Western Romances, and also for fans of romances that focus on the sweeter side of romance. Some may call this “sickly sweet” but I can it awesome and it gets my seal of approval.

Up next on my Western Romance reading education list is Maggie Osbourne, another Western writer who I hear good things about – time will tell.

Similar Reads

Eyes of Silver, Eyes of GoldMountain Wild (Wild, #3)The Officer and the Bostoner

Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold: Like Baliee and Carter, Anne and Cord have a not so great start to married life, but the tough work is worth it in the end.

Mountain Wild: Maggie would be the female version of Carter. She’s innocent in many ways of the world, and it takes an unconventional guy to look past the outer trappings, just like Baliee had to look past Carter’s lack of words.

The Officer and the Bostoner: Allison and Wes marry by happenstance, and like Carter, Wes is hoping to do anything to keep Allison around. I’d say that Wes is the character most like Carter, so if you liked the beta type hero, you’ll likely enjoy this one (or any of Gordon’s books for that matter).