Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Women's Fiction - Among the Fair Magnolias by Harper Collins!

In the most turbulent decade of our nation's history, four Southern women--destinies forged by birth, hearts steeled by war--face near impossible choices on their journeys in life . . . and in love.  
To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander
Savannah Darby would do almost anything to revisit her family home. So when new owner, Aidan Bedford, a Boston attorney and former Union soldier, seeks to redecorate the house for his fiancée, Savannah jumps at the opportunity. But the clock is ticking. Can she find the box her father supposedly hid there during the war before her assignment is completed? And before she sees yet another battle lost on the home front. This time, one of the heart.

An Outlaw's Heart by Shelley Gray
When Russell Stark returns to Fort Worth, he's determined to begin a new life. But when he arrives at his mother's homestead, he discovers she's very ill, and the woman he loved is still as beautiful and sweet as he remembered. With time running out, Russell must come to terms with both his future and his past.

A Heart So True by Dorothy Love
Abigail knows all too well what is expected of her: to marry her distant cousin Charles and take her place in society. But her heart belongs to another. A terrible incident forces Abby to choose between love and duty.

Love Beyond Limits by Elizabeth Musser
Emily has a secret: She's in love with one of the freedmen on her family's plantation. Meanwhile, another man declares his love for her. Emily realizes some things are not as they seem and secrets must be kept in order to keep those she loves safe.
Each novella includes a scrumptious Southern recipe that's inherent to each author's story and that will suit your book club meeting to a T!

Between the pages of the stunning cover are four heartwarming novellas by four talented, bestselling authors. The four stories swept me to the historical American south and each tale was a wonderful escape. The most enjoyable part was the recipes in each story. So much to love here. If you're looking for rich romance in a brief read, then this book is for you! And if you've never read any of these authors before, it's a wonderful way to get to know them and their work, and follow up with other books they have written. 

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Flora MacDonald - The Pretender's Lady

Flora MacDonald

(1722 - 1790)

"A woman of soft features, gentle manners, 
kind soul, and elegant presence...
..a name that will be mentioned in history,
and if courage and fidelity be virtues, 
mentioned with honour."
Dr. Johnson

In Scotland's rich history, Flora MacDonald is revered and remembered to this day as a Jacobite heroine. When Flora was a child, her father died. Back then, bride kidnapping was common, and her mother was soon abducted and married by a man named Hugh MacDonald from Armadaleon the Isle of Skye. In 1746, Flora was 24 years old and the Jacobite Risings was in full swing. After the Battle of Culloden, Bonnie Prince Charlie took refuge on the island of Benbecula where Flora was residing at the time. 

Charles Edward Stuart
(Bonnie Prince Charlie)
Known as the Young Pretender
Captain Conn O'Neill of The Feeva, County Antrim, Prince Charlie's closest friend and confidant asked for her assistance to help the young royal evade capture when he learned her clan was sympathetic to the Jacobite cause. Legend has it that Flora and the Prince fell deeply in love with each other. She was beautiful and he was a dashing lovable rogue. With the help of her stepfather, Hugh MacDonald, who was the commander of the local militia, the charitable Flora agreed to help the handsome prince escape. Her stepfather provided her with a pass to the mainland for her and her entourage which consisted of a manservant, a maid named Betty Burke, and a boat crew that consisted of 6 men. And who was Betty Burke? None other than Bonnie Prince Charlie himself in disguise. 
Soon, they ended up in a town called Kilbride on the Isle of Skye. The prince hid in rocks while Flora went for help. She arranged for him to be taken to Glam on the island of Raasay. However, while she managed the prince's escape, her boatment's loose tongues brought attention. She was arrested for aiding the prince's escape and transported to London where she was under constant supervision by guards. Her part in the escaped gained Flora great fame and popularity. While she languished in jail, Bonnie Prince Charlie fled to France, eventually moving to Rome. Plagued by alcoholism, he suffered through numerous failed relationships until he died in 1788. Fortunately for Flora, the government passed a new law called the Act of Indemnity, so she was released. 
Three years later, she married an army captain called Allan MacDonald of Kingsburgh. They settled down on the Isle of Sky where Flora presented her husband with seven children. When her husband;'s father died, the family moved to the family estate at Kingsburgh. 

Her husband took the family to North Carolina where he served in the 84th Regiment of Foot for the British Government during the American War of Independence. She encourage and urged the regiment as they headed off to the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge, only to learn they had faced defeat and her husband had been captured. That's when poor Flora faced numerous hardships. Although she kept a low profile and hid the best she could, American Patriots ravaged her family plantation and stripped them of all their possessions. Meanwhile, her husband had been held prisoner for two years before a prisoner exchange happened and he was sent to Fort Edward in Windsor, Nova Scotia. He sent for Flora and the family was reunited. 
In 1779 Flora booked passage on a merchant ship in order to go back home to Scotland. During the crossing, a privateer attacked the ship. While the melee was occuring, in order to protect her, she was told to go below deck where she would be safer. She refused and did her part, but suffered a wound in her arm. Upon her return, she visited and stayed with relatives. 
Several years later, her husband returned and they moved back into the family estate at Kingsburgh. She died at Kingsburgh on the Isle of Skye in 1790, at the age of 68 and was buried in the Kilmuir Cemetery on the Isle of Skye. It is greatly rumored that she asked to be buried wraped in Bonnie Prince Charlie's bed sheet. 
Author Alan Gold has meticulously researched Flora's life. The story is accurate, lush, and highly compelling. A definite recommendation! Awesome!

From the author of The Last Testament comes the true love of Bonnie Prince Charlie, her adventures in America and her lasting legacy.

In the page-turning popular genre trail-blazed by Antonia Fraser and Phillippa Gregory, The Pretender’s Lady, Alan Gold’s meticulously researched novel, accurately opens history’s pages on a peerless woman who helped change the course of history and whose legend lives on in Scotland today—Flora MacDonald.

She was the most famous Scotswoman of her day, single handedly saving Bonnie Prince Charlie. This is her fictionalized life story—her relations with the Prince, her flight to America, Ben Franklin’s influence, and her return to Britain to lobby for peace

But what’s hidden from history, revealed now for the first time in Gold’s dazzling new work of fiction, is the result of Flora’s and Charlie’s love: a beautiful and talented boy raised on an American farm. But only she knows his true heritage and his claim to the world’s greatest throne. And only the genius of Ben Franklin understands how to use this naïve boy to change the history of America.

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The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

"Camille Iverness met the big man's gaze. Bravely. Boldly. She would not be bullied or manipulated. Not in her own shop." Opening paragraph.

Synopsis:  “It is not just a ruby, as you say. It is large as a quail’s egg, still untouched and unpolished. And it is rumored to either bless or curse whoever possesses it.”
Camille Iverness can take care of herself. She’s done so since the day her mother abandoned the family and left Camille to run their shabby curiosity shop. But when a violent betrayal leaves her injured with no place to hide, Camille must allow a mysterious stranger to come to her aid.
Jonathan Gilchrist never wanted to inherit Kettering Hall. As a second son, he was content to work as the village apothecary. But when his brother’s death made him heir just as his father’s foolish decisions put the estate at risk, only the sale of a priceless possession—a ruby called the Bevoy—can save the family from ruin. But the gem has disappeared. And all trails lead to Iverness Curiosity Shop—and the beautiful shop girl who may be the answer to his many questions.
Caught at the intersection of blessings and curses, greed and deceit, these two determined souls must unite to protect what they hold dear. But when a passion that shines far brighter than any gem is ignited, they will have to decide how much they are willing to risk for their future, love, and happiness.

Review by Mirella Patzer
Also visit History and Women

Author Sarah Ladd mixes mystery with a sweet Regency romance in this fascinating story about a young woman who owns a curiosity shop. The book is filled with interesting characters, several of which have a strong interest in collecting old antiquities or curiosities. At the heart of the plot is a mysterious stolen ruby. Theft, robbery, a stabbing, a plague of Scarlet fever, a magnificent mansion, and compelling protaganists and antagonists made for an excellent read. This is definitely a book for women with a stunning cover and intricate plot. A lovely romantic cozy mystery set in the popular Regency era. A nice easy read!

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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