Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Perfect Wife by Katherine Scholes

My Thoughts

The Perfect Wife is quaint story, a softly spoken tale of a mismatched couple who in the face of a scandal and their efforts to distance themselves from it, succeed in alienating themselves from each other. It’s well written, almost having a classical feel to it, with long descriptive passages detailing scenery, emotions and past events. There was not a lot of dialogue and I found myself missing conversation, though this did add to the characters isolation.

Whilst the tale was told in a quiet manner, the story still managed to illicit an emotional response from me. I found myself getting frustrated with Kitty and her self-sacrificial manner. I was enraged at Theo and his superior attitudes despite some very obvious flaws and selfish tendencies (I wanted to shake him). What the hell happened back in England? 

I enjoyed the story, I truly did, but at the same time I found myself strangely unsatisfied with it. I can’t quite place where my disappointment comes from though? It truly did get me riled up but at the same time, I felt shut out from the events. I was an observer, but I wasn’t involved. I was angry for Kitty, but I wasn’t feeling her pain. It was strange disconnect.

My Rating


I obtained an ARC from the publisher (via Netgalley) with a view to providing an honest review. The thoughts expressed above, are entirely my own. I don’t really like the concept of rating novels as they are subjective and subject to change. A five star book today, may be re-evaluated when compared to future novels.

Kitty Hamilton arrives in Tanganyika with high hopes for her new life. An exciting adventure halfway across the world could be just what she and Theo need to recover from the scandal that almost tore them apart.  
She is determined to play the role of the perfect wife, but her dreams soon begin to unravel.  Theo is distracted with his important British government post, and while Kitty had imagined doing valuable work of her own, she finds that choosing the right frock to wear to the club is the biggest challenge of her day.
In this wild and foreign land, where very different powers prevail, the head can't always rule the heart. As old wounds resurface and new passions ignite, Kitty and Theo confront emotions that push them beyond the boundaries of all that they know and believe in.
The Perfect Wife is a breathtaking story about the struggle between duty and desire, jealousy and love, commitment and freedom.  And the need to follow the call of your heart, wherever it may lead you…

The Author

Katherine Scholes was born in Tanzania, East Africa, the daughter of a missionary doctor and an artist. She has fond memories of travelling with her parents and three siblings on long safaris to remote areas where her father operated a clinic from his Land Rover. When she was ten, the family left Tanzania, moving first to England and then settling permanently in Tasmania. As an adult, Katherine moved to Melbourne with her film-maker husband. The two worked together for many years, writing books and making films. They have now returned to Tasmania, where they live on the edge of the sea with their two sons. Katherine is the author of four international bestsellers: The Rain Queen, Make Me An Idol, The Stone Angel, The Hunter's Wife and The Lioness.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Eighth Circle of Hell by Gary Dolman

My Thoughts

“Make no mistake: pain of the mind - pain of the very soul itself - can be every bit as insufferable as any other pain, and oftentimes, even more so”.

The Eighth Circle of Hell is a unique story, but not one for the faint hearted. It tells the story of an aging lady who had suffered great abuses at the hands of a family member, “A Great Philanthropist” in the 1800‘s. The reader learns of all that she (Lizzie) endured through her memories. Dementia is setting in trapping her mind and forcing her to live in the past, reliving her early years - a time when “Defloration Mania” was rife and the victims of the craze were invisible to society. It’s not my normal story, I generally prefer a much happy circumstance to a tale.

My interest in this book was piqued by the cover, a broken dolls head that could possibly have been glued back together? The sepia tones alluding to the time in which the book was set, it was perhaps also an indication of the something soiled and sullied. Combine this with the incongruity of the title The Eighth Circle of Hell... it had me wondering how it would all tie together.

The book had a blissfully slow start, and I think it needed to be so. There was enough detail to have you wondering if Elizabeth (Lizzie) would really be safe returning to the home of her tormentor. Enough detail revealed to warn the reader, that going back would surely result in nothing good, and a slow enough pace, that not too much of a harrowing nature was revealed too quickly. “We only have one life, and surely everyone deserves at the very least for it to be bearable”. Lizzie’s life was far from bearable, but thankfully the reader is not overwhelmed by this reality.

There are many great quotes in this book, Gary Dolman, the author, turns a nice phrase and used particular phrases to great effect in the story. His use of the term “A Great Philanthropist” to describe the most heinous of child abusers, was ingenious. Everyone considered Alfred Roberts to be “A Great Philanthropist”, but each time he was described as such, it was usually preceding or following a revelation of yet another great abuse that he inflicted upon a poor helpless child. Strangely the more that descriptor was used, the more it amplified a totally opposite meaning and the more I tasted the bile in my throat.

Some points in the negative... :(
Early in the story, I found myself getting confused between the characters. Mr. Fox was suddenly referred to as Atticus, Mrs Fox was Lucie, There were a plethora of the Roberts’ family being discussed as well as the nurses, governess’ and friends of Lizzie whose names seemed to coalesce. At times I struggled to keep them all straight.
Why would the quote “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” be emblazoned across the annexe door, an entry way to the philanthropic orphanage. I understand that this was also the entrance to a “Gentlemans Club”, and I found it hard to believe that no one would have questioned the juxtaposition this created, even if “There’s many a dark secret to be found lurking behind the prettily-painted doors of the well-to-do”.
The story occasionally flicked between scenes with little in the way of a transition and whilst I understand that this is probably a relevant technique as it enhances the reminisces  of a disturbed mind, I did find it disconcerting.

My final thought on this tale, is to wonder again at the importance of the title. The reason for it becomes clear in the telling of the tale. Dante’s Inferno is “composed of nine circles, each circle being full of worse sinners than the last. Now the eighth of these nine circles contained, amongst other, seducers and seductresses.”  This is Lizzie’s Hell. But I would speculate that it is much more profound than even that...for me references to hell and circles also alludes to the potential for any abused soul to have to relieve their trauma in their advanced years through dementia. It’s a sobering thought. “The pain slowly dies to a throbbing ache, deep down in her belly. It dies everywhere, that is, except within her soul. There it will live on forever and grow stronger and stronger and stronger”.

For myself, I think I will treat the old and feeble of mind with a little more sensitivity, who knows what it is they are reliving in the minutes we spend with them?

***  “A scream is a scream whatever the language”: Elizabeth Wilson, whilst in her Eighth Circle of Hell. 

My Rating


This review is totally unsolicited. I bought the story and chose to review it. The opinions expressed are my own. I don’t really like the concept of rating novels as they are subjective and subject to change. A five star book today, may be re-evaluated when compared to future novels.


The Victorian age is often held up as a shining era of British history, a time of wealth and power, of civilisation and philanthropy. It was all of these. Yet it was also a time of cruelty and depravity, where power and wealth were used to ill-purpose. It was the time of the 'defloration mania', where young girls were bought and sold like the slaves they became.

Elizabeth Wilson is an elderly woman who has spent a lifetime of grinding toil and poverty in a workhouse. She fled there as a young girl, pregnant and penniless, to escape her depraved uncle and his powerful friends. However, advancing dementia has caused her to regress inexorably back in her life, to the point where she is once again re-living the awful memories of her life as an orphaned child.

'The Eighth Circle of Hell' is a bleak study of the stark contrast between the polite, strictly ordered society of the Victorian age, and the utter depravity and exploitation of the vulnerable it shielded. This story demonstrates how in the furnace of shared adversity, enmities and friendships can be forged that will last a lifetime, and which are more enduring than the boundaries of life and death.

The Author

I was born in Gateshead on South Tyneside, England but have lived for most of my life in North Yorkshire, England. 

I've always been a voracious reader but have latterly come to write too. The catalyst was a succession of difficult personal circumstances.

My debut novel, 'The Eighth Circle of Hell,' was recently published by Thames River Press, (Anthem Press). It is set in the Defloration Mania of Victorian Britain, probably the greatest scandal in British social history.

Connect with the Author
on Goodreads and Twitter

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Tender Rebel by Johanna Lindsey

My Thoughts

Tender Rebel by Johanna Lindsey proved to be a most enjoyable read. This result is hardly surprising as this author has been a favourite of mine for a long time. I’m not however, going to write another rather gushy review about the merits of Ms Lindsey, I want to see if I can pull this thing apart and evaluate the novel critically (all without giving away any spoilers).

As romance novels go, and particularly those by JL, there was not much about Tender Rebel, that made it stand out from others in this genre. It had all the essential elements, a rakish hero that enjoys compromising the heroine’s equilibrium as well as risking her reputation, an element of danger, a smidgen of mystery and of course a great love that is in doubt of being fulfilled. 

As good as this story was, I would have liked to have seen (read) more about the danger that necessitated Roslynn (our intrepid Scottish heroine) to get married; and less of what turned out to be two very easy escapes from the clutches of a vile relative who had his sights set on her inheritance. Roslynn was nearly kidnapped, twice! One attempted abduction was arguably successful and yet each time, she got away, a little too easily and with very little consequence - all without any help from the hero, Anthony Malory (WTF??). With the exception of his marrying the lass (and the odd romp ‘tween the sheets) there was hardly a point to his existence in the story. Even his search for the nefarious cousin responsible for causing the calamity was ill conceived and added little to the story apart from extending the romantic angst between himself and his bride... It also served to help set up the plot for next book in the series (more on this shortly).

Which brings me to the point of the romantic misunderstanding that occurred between Roslynn and Anthony. For me, the confusion and angst between the designated love interests dragged on a little bit too much. It was not overly believable and was intermingled with sexual encounters that seemed more directed towards propelling the story along than satiating actual carnal urges.  Then suddenly, after a relatively inconsequential offering of evidence, the conflict was resolved and the tale was all but told. 

Tender Rebel is part of the Malory series. I generally don’t buy into romantic trilogies where each book sees a family of siblings one by one fall foul of cupids arrow. My thinking is that by the time the next book is written, I’ve moved on... especially when it involves secondary characters. I’ve also always found that the little bits of information each successive book gives about those characters you’re already familiar with, is unsatisfying and a little bit skewed from the way I remember them. I normally steer clear of them, and if I do pick up one by accident I usually stop at the one book. This story however, alluded to other romantic liaison’s that I’m quite sure will be part of the series and I do find myself a little bit intrigued. I just might have to go out and read the rest of them now.

I might just sulk about that. Damn author’s angling for repeat sales, manipulating their audience and cementing their brand. It’s diabolical... and... effective?

My Rating

This review is totally unsolicited. I bought the story and chose to review it. The opinions expressed are my own. I don’t really like the concept of rating novels as they are subjective and subject to change. A five star book today, may be re-evaluated when compared to future novels.

Scottish heiress Roslynn Chadwick needs the safety of marriage to protect her from an unscrupulous cousin and from the army of fortune-hunting scoundrels who covet her wealth and beauty. And Anthony Malory is everything she has been warned against.

A ruthless, irresistibly handsome English rogue, Malory's sensual blue eyes speak of limitless pleasures. How she wishes she dare to love such a man... to believe the whispered murmurings of his passionate promise... and to follow the enchanting dream...

The Author
Johanna Helen Howard was born on March 10, 1952 in Germany, where her father, Edwin Dennis Howard, a soldier in the U.S. Army was stationed. The family moved about a great deal when she was young. Her father always dreamed of retiring to Hawaii, and after he passed away in 1964 Johanna and her mother settled there to honor him.

In 1970, when she was still in school, she married Ralph Lindsey, becoming a young housewife. The marriage had three children; Alfred, Joseph and Garret, who already have made her a grandmother. After her husband's death, Johanna moved to Maine, New England, to stay near her family.

Johanna Lindsey wrote her first book, Captive Bride in 1977 "on a whim", and the book was a success. By 2006, with over 58 Million copies of her books have been sold worldwide, with translations appearing in 12 languages, Johanna Lindsey is one of the world's most popular authors of historical romance.

Johanna's books span the various eras of history, including books set in the Middle Ages, the American "Old West" and the popular Regency England-Scotland. She has even written a few sci-fi romances. By far the most popular among her books are the stories about the Malory-Anderson Family, a Regency England saga

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Devil's Thief by Samantha Kane

My Review...
The Devil’s Thief by Samantha Kane

There is a lot about A Devil’s Thief  that was awesome, but there were also a few things that were disappointing. Overall, I liked the story, I wasn’t bored, it flowed, the potential was all there, it just didn’t fully deliver  On that basis, I have found it really hard to write this review.

On the plus side were the characters and their interactions. In fact, if Samantha Kane lined up her characters with little descriptions, much like the cast section of a play; and if upon reading that list you were to visualise each character and how they should look and act, on the whole, you would not be disappointed. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the friendship between the three main gentlemen who somehow managed to maintain a modicum of nobility and respectability through their weird concept of honour. They achieved this despite consorting with criminals, scandalising women and losing an inheritance. I can’t explain how it worked, it just did! 

The developing relationship between Julianna and her step mother, was also nicely done. This was especially evident in the misconceptions one can get when they are thrust into a living arrangement with someone previously unknown to them. Again, Samantha Kane was quite proficient in outlining their evolution from rivals to their almost familial relationship. 

Wiley and Blackman the two notorious blackguards of the tale were also brilliant. Wiley reminded me a lot of a how Oliver would have grown up had circumstance not turned in his favour. Blackman was hopeless, totally irredeemable but necessary to the story. I could almost hear his voice, not his dialogue, his voice.

× On the down side regarding the characters, was Alasdair Sharp, the hero. He just seemed, I don’t know... ignorant? And a little inconsistent. He didn’t seem to grasp the logic behind the events as they unfolded, he was volatile and he behaved eratically. Occasionally, I found myself thinking Julianna would be better of with someone else. Perhaps in an effort to highlight loves first angst, Samantha Kane went too far with the emotional highs and lows?   It somewhat tarnished the inevitability of destiny between Julianna and Alasdair.

Plot and Pacing
× The story itself seemed to run along a little bit and I had to remind myself that what I was reading was an ARC, it’s not a finished product. The optimist in me wants me to believe that those little wrinkles would be ironed out before the final product was determined. 

√  Despite my negativity in some of the above points, I want to say that The Devil’s Thief was really quite a lovely novel. It had a enough drama, plenty of light hearted moments, some wonderful if absurd characters and regular heated exchanges between our heroine and her beau (both passionate and fiery). It certainly wasn’t a hardship to read.

My Rating


I obtained an ARC from the publisher with a view to providing an honest review. The thoughts expressed above, are entirely my own. I don’t really like the concept of rating novels as they are subjective and subject to change. A five star book today, may be re-evaluated when compared to future novels.

...And Back to the Book

The Summary
In Samantha Kane’s sensual tale of wicked passion, a desperate woman must resort to burglary—but the beautiful thief ends up stealing the heart of a rogue.

The daughter of a reformed jewel thief, Julianna Harte knows a thing or two about stealth. When the foundling home she provides for finds itself in dire financial straits, Julianna is forced to do the unthinkable. In a bit of misguided Robin Hood derring-do, she slips through the window of a wealthy rake to search for a treasure she knows is there: an invaluable pearl. But when the towering and very naked occupant of the moonlit bedroom ambushes her with a bargain—a night in his bed in exchange for the pearl—Julianna doesn’t know if it’s masculine heat or sheer desperation that makes his terms so tempting.

Alasdair Sharpe had no intention of keeping his end of the bargain. Planning to offer his little cat burglar carte blanche instead, he promptly loses himself in the delights of unexpected pleasure. But when he awakes the next morning to find his family heirloom gone, fury quickly replaces sensual languor. Of course, Alasdair is more than willing to use seduction to reclaim his stolen pearl—and find the key to Julianna’s heart.

Available from AmazonBarnes and NobleiTunes and Random House

The Author

Samantha Kane lives in North Carolina with her husband and three children.  She is published in several romance genres including historical, contemporary and science fiction.  Her erotic Regency-set historical romances have won awards, including Best Historical from RWA's erotic romance chapter Passionate Ink, and the Historical CAPA (best book) award from The Romance Studio.  She has a master's degree in American History, and taught high school social studies for ten years before becoming a full time writer.

Author's Website Samantha Kane

Follow on Twitter using @SKaneAuthor