A Bride by Moonlight by Liz Carlyle

a bride by moonlight

  • Title:  A Bride by Moonlight (Series: Fraternitas Aureae Crucis #4)
  • Author:  Liz Carlyle
  • Genre:  Historical Romance
  • Published:  February 2013 – Avon – 432 pages
  • Source:  Review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss

Synopsis (publisher):  Royden Napier, Baron Saint-Bryce, is tall, dark, and ruthless—and on the hunt for a dangerous beauty . . .

On the eve of her escape to the Continent, bold, beautiful Lisette Colburne accepts a proposal she dare not refuse: masquerade as the future bride of the steely-eyed Royden Napier and help him solve his most dangerous case. Soon Lisette is in even greater danger—of losing her heart to the one man with the power to destroy her . . .

Estranged from his aristocratic family, the enigmatic Napier has forged a reputation as Scotland Yard’s most relentless police commissioner. He’s vowed to bring Lisette to justice—but with every forbidden kiss and every tantalizing touch, he finds himself becoming less convinced of her guilt . . . and more certain he must have her. But when danger touches Lisette, can he save her?

My take:  A Bride by Moonlight is the 4th book in the Fraternitas Aureae Crucis series. We met Napier and Lisette in the third book, The Bride Wore PearlsTheir book starts where TBWP left off – a murder has taken place and now Lisette is a prime suspect in Napier’s investigation.

I enjoyed Napier and Lisette’s reluctant relationship. Reluctant until it wasn’t, that is. They are incredibly strong characters who’ve lived their lives with purpose and a sense of honor and duty. Sometimes it was misguided honor and duty but admirable none the less. I would love to see this pair in their own series as a crime-solving couple who have a passionate love for each other.

Liz Carlyle’s attention to detail is appreciated – wow, this author does her research! I was thankful for the list of characters and their relevance to each other and the story. It would be easy to be confused by such a large cast especially when many are related by blood or marriage.

If you enjoy intricate detail and strong characters in your historical romances, I think you’ll like  A Bride by Moonlight.

Treadmill Reads: In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming

in the bleak midwinter

Synopsis (Publisher): Clare Fergusson, St. Alban’s new priest, fits like a square peg in the conservative Episcopal parish at Miller’s Kill, New York. She is not just a “lady”; she’s a tough ex-Army chopper pilot, and nobody’s fool. Then a newborn infant left at the church door brings her together with the town’s police chief, Russ Van Alstyne, who’s also ex-Army and a cynical good shepherd for the stray sheep of his hometown. Their search for the baby’s mother quickly leads them into the secrets that shadow Miller’s Kill like the ever-present Adirondacks. What they discover is a world of trouble, an attraction to each other – and murder….

My take:  In the Bleak Midwinter is an absorbing mystery filled with interesting characters – some who may or may not be suspects in the murder of a young woman from the wrong side of the tracks. Other crimes follow that are connected to the abandoned baby and further involve Rev. Clare and Chief Russ in their search to solve the crimes.

Clare is an interesting primary character. She’s the new Episcopal priest in a small town where everyone knows everyone – and they talk. She needs to prove herself capable of leading St. Alban’s and, at the same time, remain true to herself. As far as her relationship with the Chief goes, he’s married but seems to genuinely like Clare. They “get” each other so it’s not surprising when they become confidants. It will be interesting to see where their friendship goes over the course of the series.

I live in the North and found that reading this book in February (there’s a lot of snow on the ground and temps have been frigid) it was easy to sympathize with Clare as she acclimates to the cold, wintery weather of New York. Having grown up in the South she has inadequate clothes but hasn’t had time to shop. My feet were cold when hers were and I wished I could loan her my down duffle coat and insulated boots. I guess my point is that the author’s detailed setting and character descriptions greatly enhanced my reading experience. The pace of the novel was good and I loved how the denouement played out.

I see there are seven books in the series (so far) with another due out near the end of 2013. I look forward to reading the second book. If you enjoy small town mysteries with interesting characters you might want to try the Rev. Clare & Russ Van Alstyne mysteries. I’m glad I did!

  • Title:  In the Bleak Midwinter – Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries series, #1
  • Author:  Julia Spencer-Fleming
  • Genre:  Mystery
  • Published:  April 2010 – Minotaur Books
  • Source:  I bought it

Audiobook: The Good House by Ann Leary

the good house

Synopsis (Publisher):  The Good House tells the story of Hildy Good, who lives in a small town on Boston’s North Shore. Hildy is a successful real-estate broker, good neighbor, mother, and grandmother. She’s also a raging alcoholic. Hildy’s family held an intervention for her about a year before this story takes place – “if they invite you over for dinner, and it’s not a major holiday,” she advises “run for your life” – and now she feels lonely and unjustly persecuted. She has also fooled herself into thinking that moderation is the key to her drinking problem.

As if battling her demons wasn’t enough to keep her busy, Hildy soon finds herself embroiled in the underbelly of her New England town, a craggy little place that harbors secrets. There’s a scandal, some mysticism, babies, old houses, drinking, and desire – and a love story between two craggy 60-somethings that’s as real and sexy as you get. An exceptional novel that is at turns hilarious and sobering, The Good House asks the question: What will it take to keep Hildy Good from drinking? For good.

My take:  Hildy Good is like that neighbor lady who knows everybody and will tell you everything about them. She’s lived in the quaint New England village of Wendover her entire life and knows all the secrets of the town’s major players. She has a big chip on her shoulder due in part to her family’s intervention which made her feel betrayed and downright angry. Also, the real estate market has suffered in recent years and Hildy needs to sell some houses.

Now, as crusty or salty as Hildy may seem she does have a softer side. She will quietly help people in need without making a big deal out of it. BUT pity the person who crosses Hildy or suggests she might want to stop drinking because she will turn on the poor soul and lay him or her out in no uncertain terms. Hildy sometimes feels as persecuted for her drinking as she might imagine her ancestor felt when she was tried for being a witch in Salem!

As the novel progresses, drama unfolds in Wendover that involves people who are close to Hildy. I began to wonder if certain characters were who I originally thought they were. This is Hildy telling the story so how reliable can she be given she’s still drinking. Ann Leary kept me guessing in the second half of the book.

I enjoyed The Good House and look forward to reading more of Ann Leary’s books. Hildy Good is a character that will stay with me and will undoubtedly bring a smile when I think about the book. I love it when that happens. Recommended.

Narrator:  I adored Mary Beth Hurt’s performance. The voice she gave to Hildy Good was perfect. I also liked how she voiced Frank, the man who was Hildy’s boyfriend when she was a teen. I’m so glad I decided to listen to this book!

  • TItle:  The Good House: A novel
  • Author:  Ann Leary
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Narrator:  Mary Beth Hurt
  • Published:  January 2013 – Macmillan Audio
  • Source:  I bought it

Friday Freebies (Kindle)

Here are some free Kindle* books I picked up this week. As of this morning they were still free:

a wild goose chase christmas  out on a limb  armed and outrageous  lucky bang  the sisters montclair

I’m not sure how long they will remain free so if they sound good to you grab them quick 🙂 

UPDATE: (Saturday, Feb. 16) only LUCKY BANG remains free this morning. A couple of the others are free loans to Amazon Prime members. 

* I’m not an Amazon affiliate

Treadmill Reads: Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins

somebody to love

Synopsis (Publisher):  After her father loses the family fortune in an insider-trading scheme, single mom Parker Welles is faced with some hard decisions. First order of business: go to Gideon’s Cove, Maine to sell the only thing she now owns—a decrepit house in need of some serious flipping. When her father’s wingman, James Cahill, asks to go with her, she’s not thrilled…even if he is fairly gorgeous and knows his way around a toolbox.
Having to fend for herself financially for the first time in her life, Parker signs on as a florist’s assistant and starts to find out who she really is. Maybe James isn’t the glib lawyer she always thought he was. And maybe the house isn’t the only thing that needs a little TLC…

My take:  Kristan Higgins did it again. She managed to make me laugh out loud one minute and the next minute was pulling the old heartstrings.  I loved the story of Parker and James and how they learned that sometimes you have to ask for a second chance and sometimes you have to give one. A sweet story that has me checking my shelves for another Kristan Higgins novel. Reading Somebody to Love made my treadmill time a breeze!

  • Title:  Somebody to Love
  • Author:  Kristan Higgins
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  April 2012 – HQN Books
  • Source:  I bought it

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

song of achilles

Synopsis (Publisher):  The legend begins…  Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. “The best of all the Greeks”—strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess—Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not. Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions. Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine—much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.

When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece, bound by blood and oath, must lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.

Built on the groundwork of the Iliad, Madeline Miller’s page-turning, profoundly moving, and blisteringly paced retelling of the epic Trojan War marks the launch of a dazzling career.

My brief take:  The Song of Achilles is told from Patroclus’ perspective. It is the story of the years leading up to the time when he and Achilles joined the Greeks who were going to Troy to rescue Helen as well as the ten years of war.

Madeline Miller wrote a wonderful adaptation that was easy to read and had me walking longer on the treadmill than I’d intended because I didn’t want to stop reading. I knew how it would end but I loved the new spin on the original story.

I bought the enhanced eBook edition that, with a click on a link, offered pop-up bios of all the important Greek characters, video interviews with the author, and illustrations of armor, etc. There were also audio clips from the audiobook edition for each chapter. I was impressed with the narrator (Frazer Douglas) and would recommend listening as a possible option.

If you’re at all interested in experiencing a classic in a new way I recommend The Song of Achilles (enhanced eBook). I’m glad I took a chance on it!

  • Title:  The Song of Achilles
  • Author:  Madeline Miller
  • Genre:  Literature/Classics/Mythology
  • Published:  March 2012 – Ecco
  • Source:  I bought it

Sunday Post

Book Arrivals:

to catch a bad guy  the promise

Books reviewed last week:

Books I’m in the middle of:

  • Audio:  The Good House by Ann Leary
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
  • Treadmill book:  Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins


Nemo dropped 6 inches of snow at my house before heading to the East coast


Grace visited yesterday. She had fun watching some little boys from the neighborhood make a fort out of the snow pile left by the plow in our front yard.

Happy Reading!

The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister

lost art of mixing

  • Title:  The Lost Art of Mixing
  • Author:  Erica Bauermeister
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  January 2013 – Putnam
  • Source:  I received a review copy from the publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviewer program

Synopsis (publisher)Lillian and her restaurant have a way of drawing people together. There’s Al, the accountant who finds meaning in numbers and ritual; Chloe, a budding chef who hasn’t learned to trust after heartbreak; Finnegan, quiet and steady as a tree, who can disappear into the background despite his massive height; Louise, Al’s wife, whose anger simmers just below the boiling point; and Isabelle, whose memories are slowly slipping from her grasp. And there’s Lillian herself, whose life has taken a turn she didn’t expect. . . .
Their lives collide and mix with those around them, sometimes joining in effortless connections, at other times sifting together and separating again, creating a family that is chosen, not given. A beautifully imagined novel about the ties that bind—and links that break—The Lost Art of Mixing is a captivating meditation on the power of love, food, and companionship.

My take:  If you enjoyed The School of Essential Ingredients you’ll want to read The Lost Art of Mixing. Erica Bauermeister delves into the lives of characters from the first book.  We get to see sides of each that even the other characters never see.

This novel is a connected string of intriguing stories that explain the characters we thought we knew. Just as a recipe is the sum of its ingredients so are the characters a sum of their life experiences. Each strives to find connection to those they love but must rely on being accepted for themselves. To do that, they must accept others as they are. The mix will work or it won’t but, in the end, they’ll know if they should stay or move on – be part of this recipe for the life they want or find another that will work.

I really liked The Lost Art of Mixing. Humor and drama mixed evenly to become a novel that left me satisfied. I’d love to see where life takes these characters but even if this is where Erica Bauermeister leaves them I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

The Richest Season by Maryann McFadden

The Richest Season

Synopsis (Publisher): After more than a dozen moves in 25 years of marriage, Joanna Harrison is lonely and tired of being a corporate wife. Her children are grown and gone, her husband is more married to his job than to her, and now they’re about to pack up once more. Panicked at the thought of having to start all over again, Joanna commits the first irresponsible act of her life. She runs away to Pawleys Island, South Carolina, a place she’s been to just once. She finds a job as a live-in companion to Grace Finelli, a widow who has come to the island to fulfill a girlhood dream. Together the two women embark on the most difficult journey of their lives: Joanna struggling for independence, roots, and a future of her own, as her family tugs at her from afar; and Grace, choosing to live the remainder of her life for herself alone, knowing she may never see her children again. Entwined is Paul Harrison’s story as he loses his wife, his job, and everything that defines him as a man. He takes off on his own journey out west, searching for the answers to all that has gone wrong in his life. One thing remains constant: He wants his wife back. Joanna, however, is moving farther away from her old life as she joins a group dedicated to rescuing endangered loggerhead turtles, led by a charismatic fisherman unlike anyone she’s ever met.

My take:  The Richest Season is a beautiful story about two women striking out on a new path in life. Joanna is starting over on her own terms. She’s not sure where she’s going but if she has to leave her home she’ll go where she wants this time. Grace knows where her path will lead and she’s determined to do things her way. She has a plan.

After Joanna makes her life-changing decision life throws her husband a curve ball that sets him on his own journey of change. It’s an important facet to the story that I thought ultimately made the novel’s resolution possible.

Maryann McFadden’s book is one of discovery, reflection and forgiveness. The two women support each other through difficult times as each navigates her way through challenging circumstances.  I loved the setting, the characters, and the themes. I think book clubs would have lively discussions about the choices made by Grace and Joanna in The Richest Season.

Narration:  I thought Cassandra Campbell’s performance was wonderful. She’s quickly becoming one of my favorite narrators.

  • Title:  The Richest Season
  • Author:  Maryann McFadden
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Narrator:  Cassandra Campbell
  • Published:  2008 – Tantor Audio
  • Source:  I bought it.

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:

gilded age  the good house

Books reviewed last week:

Books I’m in the middle of:

  • Arc:  The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister
  • Audio:  The Good House by Ann Leary

Blog news:

Five years ago tomorrow (Feb. 4, 2008) I began my blog. It’s been an adventure, to say the least. I’ve enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people – readers, authors, publishing industry people – who share a love of books.

The blog has evolved since those early days and continues to change. The focus is still books but I’ve stopped accepting review books opting instead to read from my own shelves. That said, I’m not saying I won’t request from netgalley or edelweiss from time to time 🙂  A book lover has her limits where willpower is concerned!

Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment. I really do appreciate it.

Happy reading!