Best Books to Read Now - September 2016
Reminder/ Caveat/ Disclaimer: This is my (hopefully) monthly list of books I’ve read and enjoyed. These are not reviews, I do not include books I didn’t enjoy because life is too short to speak badly of books!
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
This is the first SEP book that made me cry. Again. And again. And over. and over.
Let me back up a few. When I join a book club, I lay down my first rule: no hurting kids stories. I don't care how uplifting they turn out, if there's an abused or murdered kid, I'm out.
So it should be no surprise that it was the KID in this book that made me sob. And really, it wasn't so much the kid as his mother, who loves him so desperately that she's willing to go to desperate measures to provide him food, shelter and clothing.
Even with the tears, do I recommend it? Yes. It has more pain than most SEP books (with a widower hero, to match the widow heroine), but it also has all the feels, the funny and a few Chicago Stars - my favorite.
, by Sarah MacLean
The first few chapters of this book were fine. And if you think I'm speaking badly of this book, please remember that it's written by Sarah MacLean and a "fine" Sarah MacLean novel is better than 98% of all books.
I'm just warning you. It's a fine story about a forgotten ward and the Scottish duke who discovers he's her guardian. And then. ...Slowly, deliberately, artfully, Ms. MacLean began to slice and dice my heart with a Scottish broadsword and stuff it into a sheep's intestine and call it haggis, #romancelandia style.
A SCOT IN THE DARK comes very close to my favorite Maclean (That would be
) (and yes, savvy Sarah Mac fans will note similarities between the Diluted Duke and the Killer Duke and therefore deduce my preferences in heroes - growly, damaged and often violent.) I also loved the bright spots of humor and banter that balance the torturous haggis o'heartbreak. Also? SESILY NEEDS A BOOK, SARAH!!
The Governess was Wicked, by Julia Kelly
As observant readers will remember, Julia Kelly is a friend of mine and I was able to scoop up an exclusive advanced reading copy of this book in July at RWA. Observant readers will also recall that I've been devouring non-traditional historical romance for this whole year, and THE GOVERNESS WAS WICKED fits right into that. The heroine is a governess, of course. The hero? A doctor. And a whole heck of a lot of clandestine sexual tension between two people who are supposed to be very good role models. Scoop this one up quickly (it's on sale for $.99!), because the next two in the Governess series (Wild and Wanton) will be released in the next TWO months.
Julia Kelly is unique among historical romance authors because she has dual citizenship in both the U.S. and U.K. She graciously agreed to provide my readers with this exclusive, insightful and delightful quick BRITISH Q&A w/ Julia.
Austen or Bronte?
Tough one, but I’m going to have to say Austen. Although it feels like I’m betraying governesses by picking her over Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre, Persuasion has been one of my favorite books since I read it in high school. Every time I go back to it I find some other insight that fits another stage of my life.
Sherlock or Poirot?
Another hard one! I was raised on both series of books and TV shows. Choosing one feels wrong. Kind of like this:
If I have to choose, I’d say it’s Sherlock by a hair. He’s a fascinating character, and I really enjoy watching how different actors have interpreted him in so many different ways.
Afternoon tea or ale at the pub?
This is a little easier. An ale at the pub, please. I love pubs and the little communities that surround them.
Also, although I’m a staunch tea drinker I’m actually not crazy about high tea (which is how I interpreted this question). It all stems from having been a waitress in a rather stuffy tea shop before going off to college. I used to have to wear a frilled cap and a pinafore that was a pain to keep clean, starched, and ironed. The one benefit was that developed asbestos hands that can still stand very hot water.
Favorite British historical period?
If you think about it, the Victorian era was an amazing period. You could have been born at the beginning of Victoria’s reign in 1837 and by her death in 1901 have watched the railways and manufacturing boom, the installation of electric lights on the streets of London, the explosion of print media like books and newspapers, and the invention of the telephone.
For a writer, it also is helpful that the Victorian era is a time of social shifts with the rising industrialist classes clashing with members of the aristocracy who struggled to maintain their fortunes in a changing Britain. It’s full of material to write about, and it doesn’t hurt that the frocks were pretty too.
Favorite British tourist spot?
Although I grew up in Los Angeles, my parents relocated to London and live right by Hyde Park. When I go there for the holidays I love taking the dogs for walks in the park. On some mornings you can still see riders exercising their horses along Rotten Row just like a Victorian gentleman would have.
Favorite undiscovered (by Americans) spot in the UK
There were two things I did on my last trip to Edinburgh that I thought were wonderful and I never would’ve known about if my sister and her boyfriend didn’t live there. One was taking a boat called the Maid of the Forth out to Inchcolm Island. There’s a ruined abbey you can climb to the top of if you’ve got a strong stomach for slippery, narrow staircases. There’s also World War I and II defenses on the island, but I went during nesting season for gulls. Here’s what happens when you try to walk by a gull’s nest:
I also paid a visit to the Assembly Rooms on George Street. It’s an imposing Classical building with a grand Georgian interior. I actually gasped when I walked into the ballroom which still has its massive original mirrors and chandeliers. I desperately want to set a scene in a historical romance in that beautiful space.
Music you listened to while writing Governess was Wicked (or series)
I’m not much of a music listener while I’m drafting, but I rely on it to keep me on track while editing. For the Governess series I listened to a lot of dreamy ballads like Beyonce’s “Superpower” and Hozier’s “Work Song” as well as big, joyful songs like Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do” which is the stuff of happy endings.
Will Liverpool win the 2016-17 EFL Cup?
For those who don’t know, I’m a big soccer fan and wake up too early some Saturday mornings to Liverpool play.
To answer your question, Lindsay, I wish that Liverpool could pull out a league-winning season but, I think it’s too optimistic to believe the manager, Jurgen Klopp, can turn around a team that’s hovered at mid-table for so long. He needs time to reshape Liverpool to his own system, and I just hope that the club has enough faith in him to allow him the time he needs to pull it off.
For now, let’s just look at GIFs of the adorkable giant German nerd of a man that is Jurgen:
There are so many! I lived in Manchester while studying abroad which isn’t far from Liverpool where my mother’s family is from. I still miss everyone from bus drivers to the ladies in the school cafeteria calling me “love,” and starting off every conversation with “You alright?” (which sounds a lot more like “Y’alrite?”)
I also love (and believe) that the appropriate reaction to any crisis is to put the kettle on and make a cup of tea.
Is there really an answer other than Harry? Here, look at this BuzzFeed article of him playing with dogs and tell me I’m wrong.
So here’s the deal. The man is a former wild child who served in the military and now does a lot of high-profile charity work for children and wounded veterans. Harry’s also faces a lot less pressure than William who stands to inherit the crown — something I’m not at all interested in. He’s also handsome, seems intelligent, and fun.
Plus the man dances like this which just makes me giggle:
Thank you Julia! You answered all the questions correctly, especially the last.
Interested in winning Julia's book, mine, or tons of other prizes? Julia (and friends) have put together a huge Rafflecopter giveaway to celebrate the release of THE GOVERNESS WAS WICKED. Enter today and as always, let me know here, on Twitter or Facebook what books you're loving!