Crumpets & Cowpies by Shanna Hatfield

30 May, 2016





Length -  354 pages
Published -  January 15, 2015
Sold by -  Amazon
Genre -   Sweet Historical Western Romance
Series -  Baker City Brides Book 1
Language -  clean
Sexual Content -  0/5


PLOT


Detestable! Arrogant! Insufferable!
He'd been called worse...
Rancher Thane Jordan reluctantly travels to England to settle his brother’s estate only to find he’s inherited much more than he could possibly have imagined.
Lady Jemma Bryan has no desire to spend a single minute in Thane Jordan’s intolerable presence much less live under the same roof with the handsome, arrogant American. Forced to choose between poverty or marriage to the man, she travels across an ocean and America to build a future on his ranch in Oregon.


REVIEW


It's as difficult to know where to begin with this review as it was for me to finish the novel.

I'd like to point out right away, though, that this received an award, and I'm darned if I know why.

Then I suppose I should admit to being at fault (again) for not paying closer attention to the additional details about the book prior to purchase.




Namely the Religious & Inspirational and Christian tags.

Dumb me.

I should also explain why I decided to review this novel with its 2-star rating after I said I wouldn't do such a thing.

It won an award.

This was so dry, repetitive, and predictable it isn't funny.

It wasn't even well written!

Lots of what I call rebound wording --




-- that drives this particular reader right up a wall.

As for its being an Historical, aside from the h behaving stuffy and boorish, this read more like a contemporary with hardly any dialogue that would indicate a genuine feel for the times.

In the redundant category, there was a lot of body sniffing going on; both good and bad smells, and with the same unimaginative wording for emotions, thought, and habit on both the H and h part.

Zero sexual content, a far-fetched plot, and plenty of ain't no way in HELL that'd ever happen regardless of the time period.

And, for those of you who like this kind of writing, don't assume because there is no sexual content that I'm not interested in reading the story because that's just not true.

Graphic scenes are just as difficult to read through as this story with its zero content.

This IS under the Romance category, yet the author chose to make the H behave more like a thoughtless jerk than a romantic hero (he treated the children far better than he did the h), and for the h to behave too well-bred and uppity for her station (they weren't even her children, but she self-sacrificed straight through for their benefit) -- message: independence means no men, no marriage, no dreams or desires.

Yawn.

Then there were the two children who received a majority of scene time, which (for me) is a huge turn-off -- especially when it's romance I'm seeking and assuming to be reading!

It went on and on and on and on with no logical excuse or reason, except for the author to drive home the fact that she knows little kids really well and can write them into nearly every scene.

But, why? Children and their childish tendencies is hardly what I'd consider to be the stuff of romance.

Personally, I didn't want to hear about or from them after their initial introduction back in England.

And, I've never been there, but I've studied the area enough to know -- and I doubt it'd require rocket science to figure out -- that OREGON is hardly a place to describe as being arid, desolate, treeless, and covered in tumbleweed.

At the very end of the story, Thane receives a letter from his late brother, which he'd written (obviously) prior to his death.  HOWEVER -- the letter 'explains' to Thane why he chose to write out his will the way he did, indicating his ability to foresee his own future since the man died not of an incurable illness but a freak fall from a horse.

The real disappointment came in that I thought this had promise (even if the Title is backwards, Cowpies & Crumpets is easier to say), but turned out to be a huge let-down instead.

There was no thrill of the chase, no adversity, no nemesis, no intrigue or angst to help me warm up to these two and their eventual joining.

I just didn't care.

Then again, Christian Romance will always be an oxymoron to my mind.


SERIES


Crumpets and Cowpies (Book 1) - Rancher Thane Jordan is about it meet his match in the lovely Lady Jemma Bryan. Winner of the Readers' Favorite Silver Award in Christian Fiction
Thimbles and Thistles (Book 2) - Maggie Dalton doesn't need a man, especially not one as handsome as charming as Ian MacGregor.
Corsets and Cuffs (Book 3) - Sheriff Tully Barrett meets his match when a pampered woman comes to town, catching his eye and capturing his heart.


An Invitation to Scandal by Kelly Boyce

20 May, 2016


The Sins & Scandals Series Book 1

Pages -  373 pages
Device Usage -  Unlimited
Publication Date -  November 18, 2013
Sold by -  Amazon Digital Services LLC
Series -  Sins & Scandals (Book 1)
Genre -  Regency Romance
Language -  n/a
Sexual Content -  3/5
Stand-Alone -  Yes


SYNOPSIS


Nicholas Sheridan, Viscount Roxton, is as wicked as they come, but when his sinful actions result in the death of one of his peers, guilt forces him to change his scandalous ways and seek redemption through marriage to a proper lady.
Miss Abigail Laytham is a lady on a mission, determined to see the man responsible for her beloved uncle’s death pay. But revenge has its price, and with scandal courting her every step, can the headstrong beauty find the satisfaction she craves, or will she find something else entirely at the hands of her former beau, Viscount Roxton. 


REVIEW


Loved it.

This was a delight to read and get lost in even for a little while.

Well-developed characters, interesting plot, and well thought out build-up to a relieving HEA.

The author also remained relatively true to the time period, though there were a few instances that said otherwise, but it was hardly enough to give this one a lower rating.

And despite what some of the low Amazon reviews said, I felt that both leads had strong character, valid purpose, and behaved accordingly throughout the story.

Abigail is an unfortunate soul who lost her father ten years ago and had to move with her mother and older brother into their uncle's home. Their aunt is a cold, unaffectionate woman but their cousin Caelie is sweet and pretty while the uncle is the complete opposite of his wife.

When the story unfolds, Abigail's uncle has been dead for eight months, and the scandal resulting in his having committed suicide in a public house still reigns down on her and her family.

She believes the cause of her uncle's decision and the resulting snub by the ton has everything to do with her former beau, Viscount Roxton.

Nicholas believes it, too, and as a result has firmly resolved to change his evil ways, so he begins to court one of the uppity-est, most mannerly of ladies with the intention of marriage at some point.

The two continue to bump into one another, their misconceptions about the past and what really happened to break them apart start to make themselves more clear, and then fate steps in to make their lives even more difficult.

Recommended to anyone who likes a feel-good read with plenty of action and suspense set in the Regency period with a dashing, faulty Hero and a stubborn, prideful heroine who slowly comes to realize the error of her ways.

I read the snippet for Book 2 afterward and am very interested to read and discover Caelie's story, even if I am still unable to figure out how to pronounce her name -  (I chose Shaylee and am sticking to it).


WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE


It did seem as if I read the same lines and the same thoughts/emotions again and again, but it was the author's decision to repeat words and phrases one on top of the other that irked me more.

Not from the work itself, but examples would be: She liked him, he liked her, and they liked each other well enough.  ~It was clear to Abigail that Mr. Tarrington clearly didn't believe in love.  and  ~The dark, dismal sky matched her dark, dismal mood.

Also, when it came to description, the same words and phrases were used to describe a person, a thing, or a place. She was pretty, he was handsome, she was lovely, he was charming . . . never varying for the sake of  give us something with a bit more thought, please.

Also, for a majority of the story, H was referred to as Blackthorne, and then about a third of the way through, he was suddenly Sheridan.


THE SERIES


This is book one in a six-part series, and while they are stand-alone, it might be a good idea to read them in order so that you will know and understand the up-coming leads and their respective backgrounds, though I'm sure the author will take the time to re-introduce us one by one.


While there are those who spend their time in modest pursuits, upholding propriety befitting the lords and ladies of the ton, it would seem that for others scandal is just a sin away… 



#1 AN INVITATION TO SCANDAL 
#2 A SCANDALOUS PASSION 
#3 A SINFUL TEMPTATION 
#4 THE LADY'S SINFUL SECRET 
#5 SURRENDER TO SCANDAL 
#6 A SINNER NO MORE 





Some Thoughts on Useless Information

08 May, 2016




I'm bored and need to write, so here I am.

I've done a lot of reading, and I read before going to bed each night, so plowing through my stash is inevitable and why I'm still in the habit of browsing Amazon reviews.

One day, while reading reviews for potential new purchases, I came across something that made me laugh.

It also caught my attention because, apparently,


I too suck at Show v Tell


Great protagonists and antagonists. Great plot. Smooth action, solid connection between friends.  But...stop "telling" me and start "showing" me.
For example: "The pain eating through Dylan was like a chainsaw cutting through his gut."
How much more exciting it would've been if I'd experienced it WITH Dylan: The pain ate through Dylan's gut like an angry chainsaw. OR A chainsaw cut a swathe of pain through Dylan's gut.  Less use of passive words and phrases (phrasing) would catapult your already fabulous writing into the realm of unbelievable. Less "was."


It still makes me laugh, and not in a good/entertaining kind of way.

Awhile back, I was told by an 'editor' that my writing is bad, not worth publishing, and filled with tell v show, which any self-respecting editor would toss in the trash without bothering to read beyond the first few paragraphs.

She also said I lack fundamental knowledge of writing basics, which raised several red flags about her ability to judge my work at all.

The same 'editor' pointed out the fact that "...the internet is filled with useful information on how to show v tell" and that it would do me good to research the topic if I ever hope to get published.

Funny thing is, when I do this 'internet research', the above quoted review on the topic is the type of so-called helpful advice I get.

This, and tons more like it, is not helpful in the least.

Personification is preferred to Tell?

Really.

"The pain eating through Dylan was like a chainsaw cutting through his gut." is a bad sentence?

The reviewer doesn't like this sentence and refers to it as TELL, then offers her own example of SHOW preferred reading with:

"The pain ate through Dylan's gut like an angry chainsaw." OR  "A chainsaw cut a swathe of pain through Dylan's gut."

Chainsaws getting angry and Chainsaws cutting a swath is acceptable to this reader.

Inanimate objects coming to life and doing or feeling human emotion is preferable to "The pain eating through Dylan was like a chainsaw cutting through his gut."

Her final comment: "Less "was."" makes me think this is an editor, an editor-in-training, or a college student with zero 'education' to fall back on prior to the late 20th Century revamping of said laughable education system.

Helpful Advice?



"I could feel her hair curly locks swaying as her head tracked me."

HE could FEEL HER  hair swaying . . .

If I or anyone else is ever capable of 'feeling' the actions  of an inanimate object OR another, it would be worth writing to a scientific journal about or requesting an application for a Nobel Prize in Psychic Phenomenon.

And, a head being capable of tracking is preferred reading because it apparently 'shows' the reader something not only impossible but that I fail to see or understand.

"Tennis shoes and sandals stepped around me."

More personification and less clear, concise wording.

"Waiting for me to notice her."

I guess because he's got ESP and can read her mind at the tender age of ten.


WHATEVER


I've read a ton in various genres as well as Romance and remain confident in my ability to write.

Far more confident than I am in the 20 or 30-something editor who claims I am lacking and need to find a new hobby.

I've read a ton of crap that receives more 5-star reviews than deserved, especially the ones written by "Best Sellers",  and I've read just as many novels that use a style similar to my own (while also employing Tell) that receive just as many 5-star reviews saying the reader enjoyed the story.

In college I was taught to avoid passive voice AND personification, or to at least be aware of both and be overly cautious about using either in a sentence to know that TELL isn't as bad as I'm being led to believe.

I'm also in my early 50s with 8 years of college under my belt, as many years employed as an educator, and with a far superior education in English, Literature, Language, and Linguistics than most people younger yet established in the business.

Which just means I rely on old-school knowledge, an abused copy of Strunk & White, and decades of reading material to gauge my own ability to write with at least a modicum of know-how and unique style.

And, since January, I've been working with several authors on BETA reads, but only one said she refused to read my work beyond the first few paragraphs due to the Tell issue.

The other four readers never said a word about it but did point out other issues I wasn't aware of until then, and THAT advice was actually helpful.

Bottom line: there is no useful, constructive advice about TELL that will help me to recognize it in my own work other than avoiding passive voice, which I already do.

Passive isn't the same as Past-Tense, but I'm aware of the fact that neither are a good idea in any body of work.

TELL is simply concise wording minus the flowery prose used to say the same thing.

And finally, if readers/editors prefer nonsense sentences, passive voice, and personification to Tell, then I'll simply have to remain on the Tell side of the fence until further notice.



The Spinster and the Earl by Beverly Adam

07 May, 2016




Pages -  238 pages
Device Use -  Unlimited
Publisher -  Lachesis Publishing Inc
Published -  September 8, 2013
Sold by -  Amazon
Series -  Book 1 Gentlemen of Honor
Genre -  Regency
Sexual Content -  4/5
Language -  irrelevant
POV -  3rd Omnis (mostly h)



Synopsis


She was known as The Spinster of Brightwood Manor, and that suited Lady Beatrice O’Brien just fine.
She was happy being a spinster; happy running her father’s estates while amassing a fortune of her own; happy tending to the needs of her community; and most of all, she was happy not having a man around to tell her what to do.
But when Beatrice accidentally shoots her new neighbor, the Earl of Drennan, her life turns upside-down. Suddenly, this very arrogant gentleman, who also happens to be charming and attractive, makes himself at home at Brightwood Manor, and proceeds to court her!
Beatrice knows one thing for certain. Marriage will complicate her life. But falling in love? That’s an entirely different matter.


REVIEW


I read this twice.

Liked it a little better the second time, but not well enough to give it a glowing review.

It isn't a bad story and it isn't written so horribly juvenile as to be impossible to comprehend or enjoy -- save the odd punctuation choices and misspellings as the chapters progressed.

The author chose to write Omniscient style, and it didn't bother me one bit.

This style choice does not intimidate, irk, or befuddle me to the point of needing to vent at Amazon along with a low star score.

I feel confident in my ability to get the picture regardless of the number of heads in any given scene and find it slightly ridiculous that others argue against the omniscient style for that reason.

For me, it is more jarring to see (****) breaking up every few paragraphs than it is to simply be allowed to read the words that are written.

Tell vs Show occurred as well, and again, even if I'm now able to notice when this occurs, I still don't see the reason to nit-pick and bemoan its occurrences -- especially if flow isn't an issue.

On the other hand . . .

The Spinster and the Earl was loaded with inconsistencies and an obvious lack of basic Regency knowledge that both worked against an enjoyable read.

He is an Earl, yet is often referred to as Your Grace, making him a Duke (in my mind) and then reading reference to his being an Earl followed by his being referred to as Your Grace . . .

He 'inherits' a title, which I'm pretty sure isn't possible for that time frame, and it is his late uncle, a Duke, who bestows the Dukedom to a 3rd son of an Earl -- not first-born, but third.

Which still isn't possible for the time period.

She, on the other hand, receives a substantial income from a late aunt yet is still living with her father on his estate in Ireland, and she runs this estate while also investing through a male proxy who isn't actually an attorney or investor by trade.

Ireland is mentioned and the entire story takes place in Ireland, yet the nobility's ability to travel from London to Dublin regardless of the season seems more like airline possibility rather than horse & buggy (to me).

And when she is kidnapped, it is the bounder's intention to flee to Gretna Green, which is in Scotland, yet the bounder flees via horse and carriage -- leaving a pretty vast expanse of water between them and the target destination.

And, not to sound prudish (because I'm not) but the h and H copulated rather early in their non-existent relationship which, to me and again, does not go with the time period in the least.

If it was the author's intention to meld modern-day morality into the mind of a nineteenth century woman, it failed.

It always and will always fail because it isn't logical, practical, believable, or accurate.

If the author wants her heroine to be of a loose moral mind and possess modern-day mentality, the easy and obvious choice is common woman or widow.

Back then, it was acceptable and expected of a commoner or widow to behave the way today's woman behaves rather than for a vestal virgin of the nobility variety -- which happened to be what set them apart and became a glowing source of pride for the nobility -- hence the prize value set upon marrying an actual virgin.

The terms common whore and loose woman are around for a reason, and we have the early days in our history to thank for such things -- because they actually meant something at one point.

It took me nearly two weeks to finish this novel, but again, reading it the second time around had a bit more appeal because despite the above-mentioned issues, the story itself ended up being rather interesting even if it wasn't all that great and entirely too predictable.

I'd like to someday write a Regency, and thirty years later, I'd still like that day to arrive when and if I ever find the time to do the research necessary to pull it off with any amount of credibility.

Which makes me wonder, when I read stories like this, if the author didn't just say Fuck It, I'm going to do this and to hell with the consequences of my complete lack of skill or knowledge on the subject.

I mean, I've been tempted a few times myself! But, I just don't have the guts that others do.

Regency Romance will always be my go-to choice when wanting to read for the pure joy of reading.

The escape value is increased more so with Regency than with any other genre, and since I read to escape, it makes sense that I would choose Regency.

I'd just prefer that the story itself be actual, factual Regency and not far-fetched fantasy sprinkled with author notions of what-if scenarios tossed in the mix to convolute and destroy the escape factor entirely.

This is a series of three if you are interested.

1                                                                             2                                                                     3



The Harlow Hoyden by Lynn Messina

03 May, 2016




Pages: 288 pages
Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Potatoworks Press
Published: February 4, 2014
Sold by: Amazon Digital
Genre: Regency Romance
Sexual Content: 3-5
Language: doesn't apply
Voice: third P but Emma's story




Synopsis


Miss Emma Harlow hasn’t earned the reputation as a hoyden for nothing, so when the Duke of Trent discovers her in his conservatory stealing one of his orchids, he’s isn’t surprised—charmed, delighted and puzzled, yes, but not surprised. It is Emma who is amazed. She has naturally concluded that the man reading in the conservatory must be the country cousin (who else in London would actually read?) and is quite vexed to discover that he is the Duke of Trent himself—imagine, stealing the duke’s prize Rhyncholaelia digbyana under his very nose!

But her vexation doesn’t last long. For Emma is a practical young lady with a mission: to end her dear sister Lavinia’s engagement to the villainous (and dreadfully dull!) Sir Waldo Windbourne, and she thinks that the famous libertine is just the man for the job. If he would only seduce her sister away from Sir Waldo…. Well, not seduce exactly, but flirt mercilessly and engage her interest. Perhaps then Lavinia would jilt the baron. The Duke of Trent is resistant, of course. Despite his reputation, he does not toy with the affections of innocents. And besides, it’s not her sister he longs to seduce.


Review


The synopsis pretty much sums up the entire story, and while I found this to be a fun read, it was still a bit tedious to finish.

Relatively well written, but with the anticipated boo-boo's cropping up the more chapters that went by.

The author stuck to the time period for the most part, but like the above mentioned constant, there were times when I had to wonder or just giggle quietly to know it couldn't be possible.

Emma was charming and cute, which gave the impression of her being more of a fourteen to sixteen year old, making it difficult for me to see her in a romantic setting with a grown man, which made things a bit uncomfortable when the seduction scenes commenced.

The Duke was well-formed, but this was one of those instances where you have to question his taste level -- or at least why he would find Emma to be as captivating and desirable as he believed.

Her mission to save her twin sister from a fate worse than death (in Emma's mind) was likely but hardly plausible due to her single-minded attitude, which came as no surprise.

Simply labeling Emma a Hoyden didn't quite work to make me believe she was capable of pulling off a few of the stunts that occurred so she could reach her ultimate goal.

The tension was there, and I was able to wander into the scenes with relative ease, so kudos to the author for her ability to captivate through words.

Overall, the plot was a good one but the author wasn't able to execute in a believable or consistent manner, and it went on far too long to be considered enjoyable or a true page turner.



 
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