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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Cover Crush: The Women in the Castle

cover crush

We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.

women in the castle

I saw this one pop up on a friends Goodreads feed and the cover caught my eye.  Every time I look at it I notice something else – like the airplane in the sky, which intrigues me in combination with the title because I don’t tend to think of airplanes and castles in the same sentence.  I seem to be drawn to the covers with lots of blue tones as I have noticed that I have selected several covers over the last few weeks that are blue shades. 

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week?  I will post some links tonight.


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Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Book Review: Pox Americana by Elizabeth Fenn

pox americana

Pox Americana by Elizabeth Fenn
e-book, 384 pages
Hill and Wang
October 2, 2002

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Genre: History, Non-Fiction

Source: Personal purchase for my Masters class

The astonishing, hitherto unknown truths about a disease that transformed the United States at its birth

A horrifying epidemic of smallpox was sweeping across the Americas when the American Revolution began, and yet we know almost nothing about it. Elizabeth A. Fenn is the first historian to reveal how deeply variola affected the outcome of the war in every colony and the lives of everyone in North America.

By 1776, when military action and political ferment increased the movement of people and microbes, the epidemic worsened. Fenn's remarkable research shows us how smallpox devastated the American troops at Québec and kept them at bay during the British occupation of Boston. Soon the disease affected the war in Virginia, where it ravaged slaves who had escaped to join the British forces. During the terrible winter at Valley Forge, General Washington had to decide if and when to attempt the risky inoculation of his troops. In 1779, while Creeks and Cherokees were dying in Georgia, smallpox broke out in Mexico City, whence it followed travelers going north, striking Santa Fe and outlying pueblos in January 1781. Simultaneously it moved up the Pacific coast and east across the plains as far as Hudson's Bay.
The destructive, desolating power of smallpox made for a cascade of public-health crises and heartbreaking human drama. Fenn's innovative work shows how this mega-tragedy was met and what its consequences were for America.

This originated as an opinion essay for class and I have adapted it for a review, but because of this it is a little different in tone than my regular reviews.

The experience of reading Pox Americana was a very different one for me as I was not all that sure how this epidemic would relate to American history during the Revolution. I soon found myself thoroughly engrossed in the material and actually interested in learning more. Disease is always a common factor in war, but for me, the association of smallpox with history had always been regarding the indigenous peoples of the Americas and the effect of its arrival on their way of life; I had not previously considered how it might have affected the colonists and almost changed the outcome of history as we know it.

I have never read a microhistory on disease, or for that matter any type of book on disease. That has always been my husband’s area of interest and I was happy to leave that study to him; so I was more than a little hesitant about approaching a history on smallpox (remember that this wasn’t originally by choice). One thing that I appreciated early on, rather surprisingly, was the author’s fairly detailed discussion of the effects of smallpox. While disturbing, especially when reading these passages while eating lunch, it gave me a much deeper understanding of just how devastating the disease would have been to those suffering from its effects during any time period. I have never even had the chicken pox and therefore did not even have that terrible comparison to draw upon when considering smallpox previously in the limited experience I have had with the subject. It also is not a disease that exists in nature today, only in a secured laboratory, which means that I have not heard anything about the disease even in passing. While that portion of the book might have been a little bit gruesome, I found it necessary to my understanding of how devastating the disease would have been to an already hard-pressed army.

I can understand why a subject like the smallpox epidemic might not be covered in American history survey classes in high school or college. In their grand scheme of imparting the most important information on the American Revolution, it is not absolutely necessary to understand the effects of this disease on the troops. At that stage, the big names and events will serve their purpose and there is usually some general discussion of camp diseases that will vaguely touch on the effects of health on army readiness. However, for a Masters level class or for those who are deeply interested in American history, where we should already have a solid understanding of the basic points of the history, I think that Pox Americana provided another level of valuable analysis to dig deeper into why events transpired how they did and allow us to consider, even tangentially, how history might have been different if not for General Washington’s decision to inoculate the troops at Valley Forge. That decision is just as significant a turning point in the American Revolution as the outcome of the Battle of Saratoga. The rate at which smallpox was devastating the American army was placing it in a dire situation, especially when compared to the relative health of the British regulars; you could almost see the crush of the American troops coming. Knowing this, my opinion of General Washington has thus improved after having considered just how difficult of a decision it was to decide to take the chance with inoculation when so many at the time were against it and his troops so badly needed it. It is a great leader who can justify taking an immense risk as that given all the marks against it. If his great leap of faith had gone wrong, the Americans might have lost the war, but they might have lost even if he did not.

We were only required to read a couple of chapters of this book for class, but I was interested enough to pick it back up and finish the book. It explored all areas of the North American continent and it was interesting to see how the disease effected the regions differently; although I will admit that the chapters assigned were the most interesting.  Some of the later chapters became much more dry resulting in the lower rating. 

While this book was a history of a devastating disease in a localized area, it served an even greater purpose: to bring to light a chronically overlooked, but critical element in the history of the Revolutionary War. The author tells us in her introduction to the book that the outbreak of smallpox killed more people during the war years than resulted from combat with the enemy and that just as much as the war, this epidemic was a defining characteristic for many who lived through that time. Phrases like this do not suggest that the effect of smallpox on the history of the United States should be taken lightly. Disease often kills more people during wartime than the battles do, but it is often the result of many different camp diseases, not just one disease, showing just how powerful smallpox was. Additionally, for something to be a defining characteristic in someone’s life, especially during a time when there was so much change happening in the country to begin with, that means it was perceived to be of vital importance. For these reasons I am grateful to have had the opportunity to explore the topic and further my understanding of the myriad of elements that comprised the American Revolution years. For me, the most eye-opening aspect was the discussion on the differences between how smallpox effected the British troops versus the American troops. Not only did it help me to understand to a greater extent the uphill battle that Washington and his men were facing, but it also helped draw another distinction showing how far the Americans had come from the way of life of the Old World. Other texts have illustrated how their manner of speech had changed and customs began to differ, but nothing is as striking as their susceptibility to a common disease in their former motherland. It is even more interesting when you consider that so many of the indigenous peoples of the Americas died after first contact because of the introduction of this disease by explorers who were not affected by it and that not so many years later, the descendants of these settlers were now being attacked by that very same disease, while again the “invaders” were immune. It makes a very interesting point for further consideration.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

You can check out more from this author about this book on this Book TV segment.

Also by Elizabeth Fenn:

Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People

natives and newcomers
Natives & Newcomers: The Way We Lived in North Carolina before 1770



Friday, October 14, 2016

DNF Discussion: The Valley by Helen Bryan

the valley helen bryan

The Valley by Helen Bryan
Book 1 in The Valley trilogy
e-book, paperback, and audio, 607 pages
Lake Union Publishing
July 19, 2016

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from the publisher for review for tour

Book Blurb:

Left suddenly penniless, the Honorable Sophia Grafton, a viscount’s orphaned daughter, sails to the New World to claim the only property left to her name: a tobacco plantation in the remote wilds of colonial Virginia. Enlisting the reluctant assistance of a handsome young French spy—at gunpoint— she gathers an unlikely group of escaped slaves and indentured servants, each seeking their own safe haven in the untamed New World.

What follows will test her courage and that of her companions as they struggle to survive a journey deep into a hostile wilderness and eventually forge a community of homesteads and deep bonds that will unite them for generations.

The first installment in an epic historical trilogy by Helen Bryan, the bestselling author of War Brides and The Sisterhood, The Valley is a sweeping, unforgettable tale of hardship, tenacity, love, and heartache.

I want to first start off by saying that this is NOT a review – I did not read enough of this book to feel comfortable enough to call this a review.  I completed just about 100 pages of this 600 page book before ultimately calling it quits – and for those of you that have been with me for awhile now you know how rare that is.  In fact, it has only happened once before and that was with Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, which I did ultimately finish with the help of the audio version.  I did not make the decision lightly as I am one of those from the camp that intends to finish every book I begin, but this one was just a mess from the start.  Before ultimately making the decision to put the book down I was conflicted, but talking with several other bloggers who were reading it, were at a further page count than I was, and were still also struggling, I made the decision to quit while I was ahead.  So, I wanted to share some thoughts and encourage you to leave comments on your thoughts on the book if you have read it. 

My first issue was with the writing – it could use a serious editing job – and not just for small grammatical things either.  There were entire sections of the novel (even just within those first 100 pages) that could have been purged and the story would have been better for it.  There were even sentences that appeared almost word for word a couple paragraphs after they first appeared on the page, and this happened over and over.  This book quite likely had no reason to be 600+ pages.  The writing was weighed down and clunky and sentence structures were difficult on the ears, such as:

“Sophia felt herself happily in looks tonight and, observing the other girls and the fashionable ladies, saw that her own dress was much the prettiest.”

There are areas where there is a lot of detail – which would be great if it was something that mattered, rather than just superfluous  comments about how the clothing appeared. 

Quite frankly, those first 100 pages didn’t seem to matter to me at all and made no positive impression on me to keep reading.  Considering that this is a sixth of the book, I would think that by that point there should have been something in the book that mattered to the plot and I should have been made to care about what was happening.  I simply had no drive to pick up the book again.  Additionally, if I hadn’t taken notes on this while reading I would have had no recollection of what happened in these 100 pages, which tells you how much it stood out to me.  From what I gather from other reviewers, the story that was promised in the book blurb, which made me want to pick up the book to begin with, didn’t even begin to get moving for almost another 150 pages after the point in which I stopped!  So that means it was almost a third of the way through the book before it really got anywhere – which makes me glad I put it down when I did.

I still find the premise intriguing and if it went through a much more rigorous editing process I might have had a chance of enjoying it.



Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Cover Crush: The Confectioner’s Tale

cover crush

We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.

the confectioners tale

While I haven’t read this book, my first glance at the cover makes me think that it at least serves the title well, can’t judge it about the story.  I love the soft pastel colors that make me think of iced cakes in a bakery. And I love that those same pastels are in the pastry, the atmosphere, the title, and in the decoration in the woman’s hair.  I can tell that it is likely set in France from the Eiffel Tower in the background.  A beautiful cover.

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what covers my friends are crushing on today?  2 Kids and Tired Books | Flashlight Commentary | A Bookaholic Swede


keep calm and support book bloggers



Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

New Book Alert & Excerpt: My Brown-Eyed Earl by Anna Bennett

My Brown Eyed Earl

My Brown-Eyed Earl by Anna Bennett
Book 1 of The Wayward Wallflowers series
e-book and Paperback, 352 pages
St. Martin’s Paperbacks
October 4, 2016
Genre: Historical Romance
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Book Blurb:

William Ryder, Earl of Castleton, is at the end of his noble rope. Not only has he broken ties with his longtime mistress, his mother has publicly announced her wish for him to marry a suitable young lady―if only to help him raise the twins left in his care. Hiring a governess should solve some of Will’s problems…but when he meets the candidate in question, he finds himself in an entirely new predicament.

Miss Margaret Lacey is brainy, beautiful, and, once upon a time, Will’s betrothed. But she bowed out of the engagement―and, since then, has never been the same. A tragic accident robbed her of everything, and now, at age twenty-three, her marital prospects are slim to none. Penniless but not without pride, Meg convinces the vexingly handsome Will to hire her for the job. What neither of them could have expected from this arrangement, however, is an attraction that burns stronger than ever. Are these two lost souls finally ready to be schooled in the art of love?

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

I have to just tell you that I recently finished this book and I quite enjoyed it! There is a review to come in a week or so (after it runs at Romantic Historical Reviews), but in the meantime, here is a lengthy excerpt to tempt you to pick it up!

Excerpt: (This is a good scene Smile)

End of Chapter 4:

“Miss Lacey.” Valerie pointed across the lawn. “I think the woman over there is waving to you.”

Meg turned and raised a hand to her brow, shielding her eyes from the sun. Several yards away, Charlotte waved happily as a young girl skipped beside her.

“Who are they?” Diana asked.

“My friend Miss Winters and her charge, Abigail.”

“I think she’s our age,” Valerie said.

“I believe she is.” Meg cast a glance at the bench behind her where the earl had been joined by a pretty blond-haired woman in a stunning pink gown. The woman slowly twirled a yellow parasol trimmed in delicate lace while she giggled at something Lord Castleton had said. Her maid stood to the side of them, a discreet distance away. No, the earl would not mind if she introduced the twins to Charlotte and Abigail.

He was too busy making his next conquest to notice. In fact, Meg doubted he’d notice if she and the girls toppled head-first into the Serpentine.

“Meg!” Charlotte cried as she approached. “What a lovely surprise.” Pink-cheeked and breathless, she pulled Meg into a quick, fierce hug. “How are you faring—well, I hope?”

She cast a meaningful glance over her shoulder toward the earl. “Quite.”

Charlotte followed her gaze and nodded. “Well, then,” she said to the girls, smiling, “we must all become acquainted, for I’ve a feeling we’ll be spending many afternoons together.”

After introductions, Meg handed the ball to Abigail. “Here, you may take my place in the game. You’ll keep up with these two far better than I.”

While the girls played, Meg and Charlotte walked to the shade of a stately oak nearby. “It’s so wonderful to see you,” Charlotte said. “You look very well, indeed. Are you happy?”

The question caught Meg off guard. She couldn’t very well tell her friend the truth—not after she’d been so kind as to arrange the interview. “I miss Beth and Julie, of course. But the twins are delightful.”

Charlotte raised a brow. “And the earl?”

“So far, we’ve managed to tolerate each other.”

“What?” Charlotte’s forehead knitted. “He hasn’t done anything . . . untoward, I hope?”

“No,” Meg reassured her. “It’s not that.” She frowned as the girls drifted across the lawn, farther away from her. “I’m going to bring them back here.” She started toward them, but Charlotte placed a hand on her arm.

“They’re fine. Let them enjoy a bit of freedom.”

Meg relaxed. Unlike her, Charlotte knew what she was doing. And the girls were in plain sight. “Tell me this gets easier.”

“It does. Building trust takes time.”

Meg nodded but was unsure whether her friend referred to the children or the earl.

“You said that there was some history between you and Lord Castleton,” Charlotte said. “When did you two meet?”

“Ages ago. We used to be neighbors.” Meg glanced back at the earl. He and his beautiful companion had begun strolling down the path by the lake. She might as well tell Charlotte the whole sordid tale. “I was barely fifteen when—”

“Diana!” Valerie shouted. “Stop!” Several yards away, she stared helplessly as her twin sprinted across the park lawn, head down, her new boots churning up the grass.

Meg ran to Valerie’s side. “Where’s she going?”

“She told us to count how long it takes her to run to the other side of the road and back.”

Meg’s heart plummeted. “That’s Rotten Row.” She lifted the front of her gown and took off, running after Diana. The little girl seemed oblivious to the phaeton careening down the path, pulled by horses galloping like their tails were aflame.

“Diana!” she cried, shouldering her way past a man puffing on a pipe.

But the girl kept moving, closer to the road and the out- of-control phaeton.

Her slippers slapping the ground as she ran, Meg gasped for air, and called out again, louder. “Diana!”

The little girl stumbled to a stop in the middle of the road. She spun around to face Meg, her blond curls blowing in the breeze. Smiling, she raised her hand to wave.

Then froze.

She stared wide-eyed at the huge horses barreling down the dirt path toward her.

Never in her life had Meg felt so powerless. Not when her parents announced she’d marry a man she barely knew. Not when she’d been forced to leave the only home she’d ever known. Not ever.

She had to reach Diana in time.

Meg sprinted. She launched herself at Diana, knocking her off her feet. The girl tumbled into the grass, out of danger.

But Meg’s chest slammed onto the dirt, knocking the breath from her lungs. With the horses almost upon her, she struggled to her feet, but her slipper caught on the hem of her dress, and she landed on her knee with a bone- jarring thud.

The ground vibrated with the pounding of hooves. Dear God. She was about to be trampled.

Chapter Five:

Her throat thick with dust, Meg couldn’t breathe, much less scream.

She braced herself for the inevitable pain. She wasn’t ready to die, and yet—

Whoosh. A blur of dark green dove in front of the horses’ hooves. Bam. A large body landed on top of her, forcing the air from her lungs. Strong hands grasped her shoulders and pulled her away from the hooves, the dust, and the danger.

She rolled over the ground like a log, the man on top of her one moment, she on top of him the next. And when they finally jolted to a stop beside a row of prickly hedges, both of them clinging to each other and breathing hard, she was on top.

Meg pressed her hands against the solid wall of his chest, and raised her head to look at her rescuer.

Lord Castleton. Naturally.

He wore a lopsided grin that, in spite of her brush with death, made her very aware that he was a man and she was a woman—lying atop him.

“Are you quite well, Miss Lacey?” A polite inquiry on the face of it, but his arched brow and suggestive tone made it wholly improper.

“I believe so,” she rasped. “But Diana—”

“Is fine.” He pushed himself to sitting, holding her firmly on his lap. Concern darkened his brown eyes. “You, however, seem like you could use a glass of brandy.”

CREDIT: From MY BROWN-EYED EARL by Anna Bennett. Copyright © 2016 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin's Paperbacks.

About Anna Bennett:


Anna Bennett started swiping romances from her mom’s bookshelf as a teenager and decided that books with balls, dukes, and gowns were the best. So, when she had the chance to spend a semester in London she packed her bags—and promptly fell in love with the city, its history, and its pubs. She dreamed of writing romance, but somehow ended up a software analyst instead.

Fortunately, a few years and a few careers later, Anna found her way back to writing the stories she loves and won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart®. She lives in Maryland with her husband and three children, who try valiantly not to roll their eyes whenever she quotes Jane Austen. Other weaknesses include reality TV, cute shoes, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

Find Anna Bennett: Website | Facebook | Twitter


Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Historical Board Game Spotlight: Bring Out Yer Dead

Bring Out Yer Dead
Designed by Aaron Watts
Published by Ginger Ale Games, Upper Deck Entertainment
2-5 Players ... 30-45 min ... Ages 12+
The head of your family is dead.  The will has been read, and you're last on the list.  The only way for you to get your share is for your family to find their final resting places in the most exclusive cemetery in the city.
Bring Out Yer Dead is a surprisingly upbeat game about the Black Plague in 14th century Europe.  As the only person left in your family, you have to clean out all of your late relatives from your hovel.  Depending on which cemetery plots you are able to bury them in, you will gain more influence in the city and more victory points.  You will need to negotiate with the gravedigger to get the best plots.  You will need to search for (and steal) valuables that the dearly departed have left behind.  You may even need to enlist the help of grave robbers, plague doctors, and fortune tellers to help you in your goals.

The board depicts the cemetery that lies just outside of town.  Grave plots are each associated with an amount of points that you will gain if you can bury your family in them.  Some plots can only fit one coffin while others can fit a pair of stiffs.  You will usually want to bury your kin in the highest valued plots, but you will also have to pay attention to gaining majority in certain areas and keep in mind that your opponents may dig up and move your coffins to less favorable areas!
The game board toward the end of the game.  Most grave sites are filled and some coffins ended up in the river.
Each round, players will play cards from their hand that either depict death certificates, valuable treasures, or special events.  Once all cards are played face down, they are revealed and they go into effect in order of their number.  Brown death certificate cards allow you to place coffins on the gravedigger's cart.  Green treasure cards gain you victory points.  Purple fate cards allow you to do many different things to mess with the current layout of coffins.

Some fate cards (top) and treasure cards (bottom)
The sooner you are able to get to the gravedigger with your recently deceased, the better your chances are of getting them into valuable cemetery plots.  If you wait too long, there may not be enough spots on the cart and the gravedigger may toss them in the river!  Caskets in the river deduct points from your point total.

Death certificate cards and the gravedigger's cart.  There aren't many spots left!
Play continues for a number of rounds.  After these rounds, players total up the points of their occupied cemetery plots and any bonuses they received from treasures.  The player with the most total points wins.

Bring Out Yer Dead is easy to learn and contains aspects of bluffing and reading your opponents. There is some strategy in deciding which cards to play.  You want to play your cards in such a way to ensure you bury as many of your coffins as possible, but if you push your luck too far, you may accidentally dump them all in the river.  The theme sounds dark, but the game pulls it off in a comedic way akin to the Monty Python skit that it is likely named after.  

If you like light strategy games, bluffing, and fun themes, give this game a try!

Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, October 10, 2016

Book Review: To Kiss a Thief by Susanna Craig

to kiss a thief
To Kiss a Thief by Susanna Craig
Book 1 in the Runaway Desires series
ARC, e-book, 264 pages
Lyrical Press
August 16, 2016
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Heat Rating:

Genre: Historical Romance

Source: Received for review from publisher
In this captivating new series set in Georgian England, a disgraced woman hides from her marriage-for better or worse...
Sarah Pevensey had hoped her arranged marriage to St. John Sutliffe, Viscount Fairfax, could become something more. But almost before it began, it ended in a scandal that shocked London society. Accused of being a jewel thief, Sarah fled to a small fishing village to rebuild her life.
The last time St. John saw his new wife, she was nestled in the lap of a soldier, disheveled, and no longer in possession of his family's heirloom sapphire necklace. Now, three years later, he has located Sarah and is determined she pay for her crimes. But the woman he finds is far from what he expected. Humble and hardworking, Sarah has nothing to hide from her husband-or so it appears. Yet as he attempts to woo her to uncover her secrets, St. John soon realizes that if he's not careful, she'll steal his heart...

This review was previously posted at Romantic Historical Reviews.

Sarah thought that her marriage to St. John would be one of the best days of her life, but little did she realize that it would all quickly be snatched away from her, and she had no idea how everything transpired! Within a day of their nuptial ball and accusations thrown at her of thievery, Sarah is whisked away to a small and poor seaside village where she is left to survive on her own. Several years later, St. John finds his wife and is determined to prove she stole from his family, but what he finds makes him question his views on his wife and everything he has known.

The bulk of this story takes place once St. John has found his wife again on the shores of a poor fishing village. There is a very short introduction for the reader to the events that transpired on the night of their nuptial ball, and the reader will be left just as confused as Sarah about these early events and what exactly transpired. While this is sometimes confusing because you want to know more, it keeps the reader on the same level as Sarah, who doesn’t exactly know what happened because of being in an inebriated state. The reader doesn’t have any more knowledge about the actual events that transpired than Sarah or St. John, so you can’t join any characters side right from the beginning.

The relationship between Sarah and St. John is rocky throughout the novel – from beginning to end. They did not know each other very well prior to their marriage and there has been significant accusations thrown into the mix to further push them apart. There is no trust on either of their parts. They both question the motives of the other and vacillate back and forth as to whether they are going to be able to have a real chance at their relationship. Even more road blocks pop up – such as the fact that they might actually be falling in love with each other. But can you have love without trust? I loved the back and forth that occurred between these two. It was funny and real. Right up until the end I wasn’t sure if they were going to be able resolve their issues or not – and I think I would have been happy regardless of which way it ended as it was well crafted.

The question of whether Sarah took this expensive family necklace lingered throughout the novel and we don’t get the answer to the question until the very end of the book. While I didn’t exactly predict the outcome that was ultimately revealed, I was on the right track, so it’s not entirely predictable and was refreshing. The resolution entirely made sense with events that had transpired when you think back over them without being obvious. While this was the main point of conflict within the story, it wasn’t the main plot line (that would go to the relationship between Sarah and St. John).

The main characters could sometimes be infuriating. Sarah was a tad too naïve at the beginning of the novel – and in some ways throughout – although she does grow and adapt with her new way of life and I really liked her by the end. St. John is a little bit all over the place. He was very willing to accept that his wife was a thief and stole the jewels, but throughout questions that conviction while still holding on to it like a lifeline. He alternately wants her to be guilty and also innocent, and struggles against those conflicting ideas. His conflict though kept him an interesting character.

A sideline issue for me with the novel was the name of the male lead, St. John. That is his first name, St. John Sutliffe, otherwise known as Viscount Fairfax, or just Fairfax. It just made for awkward reading as I kept thinking St. John was his last name and that it would make my reading experience easier if he was named something else.

This is one of those books that I feel the need to comment more specifically on the level of romance within. I placed in squarely as a “4” in the heat level categorization of this blog. There are only a few sex scenes and they fit very well into the story telling, but they were quite descriptive (for reference, a “5” would be an erotic novel in my ranking). I don’t shy away from sex in novels, but I wouldn’t recommend reading some of these scenes while in public because they just might make you blush!

I was very satisfied with this novel as there was an excellent mix of romance, a little intrigue, action, and character development. It was a well-written and evenly balanced read and I am excited to see what comes next from this author.

You can read an excerpt of the book first to get a feel for the story.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Susanna Craig:
to tempt an heiress
To Tempt an Heiress (Book 2)
Releasing Dec 6, 2016

Find Susanna Craig: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Wish List 5: Similar to Devil in the White City


Once a month I am planning on sharing with you all 5 of my biggest wish list books broken up by theme. I know that you all need more on your TBR!!!  This month my inspiration came from my perusal of Goodreads.  I was looking at a book I had read, Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, and I noticed on the right hand side there were recommendations for other books similar to it…and this month’s wish list was born!

**Please note: this is technically my wish list from September – so there will be another one later this month.  I had MAJOR internet issues following our move.**

The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America by Russell Shorto


When the British wrested New Amsterdam from the Dutch in 1664, the truth about its thriving, polyglot society began to disappear into myths about an island purchased for 24 dollars and a cartoonish peg-legged governor. But the story of the Dutch colony of New Netherland was merely lost, not destroyed: 12,000 pages of its records–recently declared a national treasure–are now being translated. Drawing on this remarkable archive, Russell Shorto has created a gripping narrative–a story of global sweep centered on a wilderness called Manhattan–that transforms our understanding of early America.

The Dutch colony pre-dated the “original” thirteen colonies, yet it seems strikingly familiar. Its capital was cosmopolitan and multi-ethnic, and its citizens valued free trade, individual rights, and religious freedom. Their champion was a progressive, young lawyer named Adriaen van der Donck, who emerges in these pages as a forgotten American patriot and whose political vision brought him into conflict with Peter Stuyvesant, the autocratic director of the Dutch colony. The struggle between these two strong-willed men laid the foundation for New York City and helped shape American culture. The Island at the Center of the World uncovers a lost world and offers a surprising new perspective on our own.

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan

worst hard timeThe dust storms that terrorized the High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before or since. Timothy Egan’s critically acclaimed account rescues this iconic chapter of American history from the shadows in a tour de force of historical reportage. Following a dozen families and their communities through the rise and fall of the region, Egan tells of their desperate attempts to carry on through blinding black dust blizzards, crop failure, and the death of loved ones. Brilliantly capturing the terrifying drama of catastrophe, Egan does equal justice to the human characters who become his heroes, “the stoic, long-suffering men and women whose lives he opens up with urgency and respect” (New York Times).

In an era that promises ever-greater natural disasters, The Worst Hard Time is “arguably the best nonfiction book yet” (Austin Statesman Journal) on the greatest environmental disaster ever to be visited upon our land and a powerful cautionary tale about the dangers of trifling with nature.

The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candice Millard

river of doubtAt once an incredible adventure narrative and a penetrating biographical portrait, The River of Doubt is the true story of Theodore Roosevelt’s harrowing exploration of one of the most dangerous rivers on earth.

The River of Doubt—it is a black, uncharted tributary of the Amazon that snakes through one of the most treacherous jungles in the world. Indians armed with poison-tipped arrows haunt its shadows; piranhas glide through its waters; boulder-strewn rapids turn the river into a roiling cauldron.

After his humiliating election defeat in 1912, Roosevelt set his sights on the most punishing physical challenge he could find, the first descent of an unmapped, rapids-choked tributary of the Amazon. Together with his son Kermit and Brazil’s most famous explorer, Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon, Roosevelt accomplished a feat so great that many at the time refused to believe it. In the process, he changed the map of the western hemisphere forever.

Along the way, Roosevelt and his men faced an unbelievable series of hardships, losing their canoes and supplies to punishing whitewater rapids, and enduring starvation, Indian attack, disease, drowning, and a murder within their own ranks. Three men died, and Roosevelt was brought to the brink of suicide. The River of Doubt brings alive these extraordinary events in a powerful nonfiction narrative thriller that happens to feature one of the most famous Americans who ever lived.
From the soaring beauty of the Amazon rain forest to the darkest night of Theodore Roosevelt’s life, here is Candice Millard’s dazzling debut.

The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin

the childrens blizzardThousands of impoverished Northern European immigrants were promised that the prairie offered "land, freedom, and hope." The disastrous blizzard of 1888 revealed that their free homestead was not a paradise but a hard, unforgiving place governed by natural forces they neither understood nor controlled, and America’s heartland would never be the same.





The Devil’s Gentleman: Privilege, Poison, and the Trial that Ushered in the Twentieth Century by Harold Schechter

devils gentleman

From renowned true-crime historian Harold Schechter, whom The Boston Book Review hails as “America’s principal chronicler of its greatest psychopathic killers,” comes the riveting exploration of a notorious, sensational New York City murder in the 1890s, the fascinating forensic science of an earlier age, and the explosively dramatic trial that became a tabloid sensation at the turn of the century.

Death was by poison and came in the mail: A package of Bromo Seltzer had been anonymously sent to Harry Cornish, the popular athletic director of Manhattan’s elite Knickerbocker Athletic Club. Cornish barely survived swallowing a small dose; his cousin Mrs. Katherine Adams died in agony after ingesting the toxic brew. Scandal sheets owned by Hearst and Pulitzer eagerly jumped on this story of fatal high-society intrigue, speculating that the devious killer was a chemist, a woman, or “an effeminate man.” Forensic studies suggested cyanide as the cause of death; handwriting on the deadly package and the vestige of a label glued to the bottle pointed to a handsome, athletic society scamp, Roland Molineux.

The wayward son of a revered Civil War general, Molineux had clashed bitterly with Cornish before. He had even furiously denounced Cornish when penning his resignation from the Knickerbocker Club, a letter that later proved a major clue. Bon vivant Molineux had recently wed the sensuous Blanche Chesebrough, an opera singer whose former lover, Henry Barnet, had also recently died . . . after taking medicine sent to him through the mail. Molineux’s subsequent indictment for murder led to two explosive trials, a sex-infused scandal that shocked the nation, and a lurid print-media circus that ended in madness and a proud family’s disgrace.

In bold, brilliant strokes, Schechter captures all the colors of the tumultuous legal case, gathering his own evidence and tackling subjects no one dared address at the time–all in hopes of answering the tantalizing question: What powerfully dark motives could drive the wealthy scion of an eminent New York family to foul murder?

Schechter vividly portrays the case’s fascinating cast of characters, including Julian Hawthorne, son of Nathaniel Hawthorne, a prolific yellow journalist who covered the story, and proud General Edward Leslie Molineux, whose son’s ignoble deeds besmirched a dignified national hero’s final years. All the while Schechter brings alive Manhattan’s Gilded Age: a gaslit world of elegant town houses and hidden bordellos, chic restaurants and shabby opium dens, a city peopled by men and women fighting and losing the battle against urges an upright era had ordered suppressed.

Superbly researched and powerfully written, The Devil’s Gentleman is an insightful, gripping work, a true-crime historian’s crowning achievement.

Looking for some  other books I have read similar to Devil in the White City?

destiny of the republic     isaacs storm     triangle
Destiny of the Republic            Isaac’s Storm                      Triangle
         ★★★★★+                         ★★★★★                       ★★★★☆

Here are some of the wishlists from a few of my friends this month:

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