women who disguise themselves as men

The Spinster Dons a Pair of Pants in “The Duke of Daring”

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The Duke of Daring by Darcy Burke
Darcy Burk: July 5, 2016
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Free From Publisher

Beach Vacation
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The Duke of Daring is Darcy Burke’s most recent historical romance and it features a cross-dressing heroine who is prowling gambling dens in search of a fortune so that she and her grandmother can retire to Bath. What this heroine doesn’t count on is having her disguise discovered. Let the romance games begin!

Our cross-dressing heroine is Miss Lucinda Parnell, a spinster who has failed at the Marriage Mart. With finances now strained for her and her grandmother Lucinda decides that she needs cash and she needs it now. Having learned games of chance from her father Lucinda’s hit on one method to get rich quick; however, she doesn’t count on Andrew Wentworth, the Earl of Dartford discovering that she is a woman or her own attraction to the man. Andrew, being the gentleman that he is, decides that Lucinda can’t be entering disreputable gambling dens on her own and makes a deal with the lady to accompany her on her adventures. Naturally, this close contact leads to an attraction, and just as naturally, it leads both the hero and heroine forced to reconcile their desire for each other with their reluctance to enter into marriage. (more…)

The Aptly Named “The Price of Valor”

23435269The Price of Valor by Django Wexler
Roc: July 7, 2015 (Military Fantasy)

I’d go there again!
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The Price of Valor is the third book in Wexler’s Shadow Campaigns series and it doesn’t disappoint. In fact, I’m left wondering how a book that is so long (512 pages) can leave me with so many questions and have me anxiously awaiting the next book. It is absolutely masterful how the author creates and sustains an action-packed plot and balances it will truly compelling characters.

The Price of Valor picks up directly after the events of The Shadow Throne, and indeed turns it’s attention to the cost of victory. While Janus may have helped to install Raesinia on the throne, the war is far from over. Now Vordan has to fight outside forces as well as dissent from within. Fighting external forces is Winter, who has been promoted to Colonel and is leading her own regiment under the leadership of Janus. Back in Vordan City, Marcus pushes back against the Deputies-General alongside the unconventional queen. Winter, Marcus and Raesinia are the focus of the book, each chapter broken down by their viewpoint. (more…)

Illusion, danger, and mystery in The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter

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The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter, by Rod Duncan
August 26th, 2014 – Angry Robot Books (Steampunk)*

My rating: Beach read that I might read again (3.5/4)

In this steampunk novel, Elizabeth Barnabus lives on her own in the restrictive, Calvinist-esque society of the Anglo-Scottish Republic. For propriety’s sake, and to facilitate her private eye investigations, she tells everyone she lives with her brother, a private investigator. In truth, as the daughter of one of the greatest illusionists of her time, she disguises herself as her brother as she conducts her work, when she pays her rent, and whenever he is required to assuage her neighbors’ curiosity or concern. This book encompasses one of her investigations, involving the Duke and Duchess of Bletchley, from Elizabeth’s home country – which Elizabeth fled in exile after a nobleman decided he wanted her, impoverished her family, and bought up all their debts so he could claim her as payment. The Duchess of Bletchley asks Elizabeth to find her missing brother, who escaped punishment for using forbidden (un-patented) technology. While Elizabeth agrees to take on the case, the danger that comes with it give her pause. Along the way, she falls in with circus performers, evades pursuit by the Patent Office (tasked with the regulation and prohibition of new, un-patented technologies), and disguises herself as many different characters.  (more…)

‘Crown of Dust’ A fantastic Gold Rush tale

crownofdustCrown of Dust by Mary Volmer
Soho Press: November 1st, 2011

My rating: Outstanding Adventure! (5/5)

I’ve been waiting for a good time to post this review, and my vacation on the West Coast seems ideal. Sharing the west-coast theme, Crown of Dust is a historical fiction that takes place during the Gold Rush.

In the late 19th century, a young man arrives in Emaline’s town of Motherlode, a small mining start-up near the grass valley. Alex, the young man, is running from a past he doesn’t want to remember, and hiding a secret that could ruin his life, and take his freedom. For Alex is not a young man, but a young woman. The story is about Emaline and Alex, and all the other inhabitants of Motherlode, with their many desires, ambitions, dreams, cares, and problems. The setting is a poor town with plenty of water in the creek and enough gold to keep the miners panning, but not much else. A town with an unfinished church, and a wild but mostly decent population. (more…)

House of the Four Winds: Too long-winded for me

housefourwinds The House of the Four Winds (One Dozen Daughters #1) by Mercedes Lackey, James Mallory
Tor Books: August 5th, 2014 (Fantasy)*

My Rating: The plane was delayed, the luggage lost, and the museums closed. And it rained. The whole time. (1/5)

Argh! This was one of the more frustrating books I’ve read all year. Mercedes Lackey was a favorite author of mine growing up, but this latest, a collaboration with James Mallory, had only a wisp of the entertainment I used to get out of Lackey’s Valdemar novels (I recommend those). Everything felt flat and slow. I’m not interested in slogging through passages, pages, and chapters of “sea life” and internal monologues about what falling in love feels like. I want action, adventure, romance, danger, suspense… none of which ever materialized in this novel. Word to the wise: don’t judge a book by its (amazing, gorgeous) cover…

Based on the description and the opening passages, I thought this would be a swashbuckler. Princess Clarice, eldest of twelve or something sisters, is sent off by her parents to see the world and make a living. She chooses to be a swordmaster, Mr. Clarence Swann. The next time something interesting happens, she’s boarding a ship to get to the new world. And what follows are bland descriptions of her bland friendship with the ship’s navigator, bland tales of the awkward dinners at the Captain’s tables, and even a bland recounting of a mutiny. The only exciting moment being the fight that Clarice gets involved in during the mutiny. So for the first half of the book, it’s not a tale of a young woman disguised as a man who struggles to be (accepted as) a swordmaster, it’s a tale of a young woman disguised as a man who sails on a ship for weeks and weeks. (more…)