Review: Voyager

Review: VoyagerVoyager (Outlander, #3) by Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander #3
Published by Dell on October 26th 2004
Genres: Historical, Time Travel
Pages: 1072
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Very enjoyable entry in the Outlander series as Claire and Jaime spend their 2 decades apart but find their way back to one another — both physically and emotionally.

THE STORY:  This story begins after the events of DRAGONFLY IN AMBER. Claire returned to the 20th century pregnant with Jaime’s child and resumes her marriage to Frank. Now that twenty years have past, she has learned that Jaime did not die at Culloden as she always thought. Determined to find out what happened to Jaime, Claire and her daughter search the past. In the 18th century, Jaime lives a life without the woman he loves and attempts to build some life for himself.  Claire and Jaime will be reunited before this book ends (not really a spoiler since there are plenty of other books in this series about Claire and Jaime).

OPINION: This book reflects the journeys that Claire and Jaime take.  First the journey of loss where each tries to rebuild their lives after their separation. How do they live their lives where the other half of their soul is gone? Are they supposed to be alone for the rest of their lives? Although the two spend two decades apart and a lot happens for each of them, it is a time of pain for both Jaime and Claire. It does feel like forever as I waited for the inevitable reunion. Of course, Jaime and Claire have no hope for a reunion during those years so each makes the best of those years.

For me, the story really begins when Jaime and Claire are reunited. The journey becomes how do they find one another again emotionally. Because just as the two had to live alone, they have changed from the two people who were in love decades before. Not only have the years changed them, but both have had experiences which bring a challenge to the love they share. Yes, they still feel that love for one another, but the question here becomes how do they deal with the changes and experiences each has had to rediscover one another.  In that way, the physical journey to come together again is only a pale reflection of the emotional journey that challenges them.

This book continues the Outlander tradition with the intriguing mix of history, adventure, time-travel, and romance. Old story threads are picked up as well which makes me wonder if there is an overarching storyline in this series beyond Jaime and Claire’s romance. (I’ve only read to the third book, so I know there is much more to go).

WORTH MENTIONING: There is a long wait in this book until Claire and Jaime are reunited so be prepared.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  VOYAGER is the third book in the Outlander series. As this series tells the ongoing story of one couple (well actually many couples but one main one), the books should be read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Beyond the Highland Mist

Review: Beyond the Highland MistBeyond the Highland Mist (Highlander, #1) by Karen Marie Moning
Series: Highlander #1
Published by Dell on May 29th 2007
Genres: Historical, Paranormal, Time Travel
Pages: 375
Goodreads
three-half-stars

This cannot be happening.  This is not possible.  This cannot be happening.  Yet in the forefront of her mind, realist that she was, she understood that the words can’t and impossible had not bearing when the impossible was indeed happening.

Unless she woke up soon from a nightmarish and vivid dream, she was in Scotland, the year 1513, and she was indeed getting married.”

FINAL DECISION:  An enjoyable and interesting mix of genres, I thoroughly enjoyed the story but felt that the mixture was clunky at times.  I was both compelled by the story and also felt that this book needed more in the way of world-building to make this a great book.  I would definitely read more based on the romance alone.

THE STORY:  Adrienne de Simone has been cured of the attraction to handsome men.  After the horrible experience, Adrienne knows that she will never trust a handsome man again.  For this reason, Adrienne is chosen by a vengeful fey to bring her back in time almost 500 years in order to torment the fey’s enemy.

Highlander Sidheach James Lyon Douglas, third earl of Dalkeith, known as The Hawk, has been a womanizer and has become a great lover.  When the queen of the fey praises him too much, the Fae king and fool seek revenge by saddling him with a wife who will never love him and might even be persuaded to betray him.  As a result of their intervention, Adrienne ends up taking the place of the Hawk’s betrothed.  Adrienne and The Hawk begin an contentious relationship.  While the Hawk begins to fall for his wife, Adrienne remains committed to not being foolish again.

The two have to confront Adrienne’s distrust, Hawk’s painful past and lovers, and the enmity of the Fae.

OPINION:  I thought this book was an intriguing mix of genres.  That was one of its great strengths because it felt intriguing and fresh.  It was also its greatest weakness because the mix didn’t always mesh well.  In the years since this book was written, many authors have taken to the mixing of genres and this early innovator suffers a bit in comparison.  That being said, I enjoyed the romance and the interaction between the characters and I am willing to read more of the series to see how Moning developed the mixture of genres in future books.

The interaction between Adrienne and Hawk was a highlight of the book for me.  Hawk was not what I expected in the book.  It was especially nice to see such a strong, sexy, handsome historical character who really just wanted peace and a family.  I liked how Hawk is a little clueless about how to have a relationship with Adrienne and continues to make mistakes that complicate his courtship.  The book contains an interesting twist about his reputation with women that gives him a sympathetic past.  At the same time, his painful past was written in a lighter fashion than I generally prefer.  Despite his history (and that of Adrienne as well) the emphasis in the book is on the present story.  While the characters have a history, it is quickly subsumed in the drama of the present.

Adrienne is a modern woman who is swept into the past.  One of the problems I had with the book was that she didn’t seem to have any trouble with adapting to the past.  There was little time paid to the disorientation that would have to result.  (I thought that the similar A KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR by Jude Deveraux did a better job with dealing with that complication).  But this book seems to be more of a paranormal fantasy book in that regard than a true time-travel.

As for the romance, I loved it and really connected with the characters.  If this had been written as a historical or time-travel book, I might have given it a higher rating.  At the same time, the paranormal elements are what make this book unique and memorable.  I just felt that this book reads as a historical/time-travel in which the paranormal elements were not integrated as well.  The Fae seem a bit disjointed from the rest of the book because they remain without a true history or world.  There is some of the feel of Shakespeare’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM where the fairies interfere with the mortal world, but the Fae here feel less developed than I need to truly love this book.

While I didn’t love this book, I was intrigued and fascinated by it and the possibilities as the author developed her craft further. This was my first book by Moning, but I definitely will continue reading the series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book mixes paranormal, historical and time-travel.  It definitely pushes the boundaries of what can be expected in one romance book.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  BEYOND THE HIGHLAND MIST is the first book in the Highlander series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: Slightly Sinful

Review: Slightly SinfulSlightly Sinful (Bedwyn Saga, #5) by Mary Balogh
Series: Bedwyn Saga #5
Published by Dell on April 27th 2004
Genres: Historical
Pages: 368
Goodreads
four-stars

More Madcap Then Usual

SLIGHTLY SINFUL is the fifth book in the Bedwyn series. It is the story of Alleyne, the youngest son. The events in this book occur concurrently with those in SLIGHTLY TEMPTED. Alleyne is injured during the Battle of Waterloo. He is rescued by Rachel York, who find him unconscious and naked. Alleyne awakes with no memory of who he is. Rachel is a young woman who has fallen on hard times and is currently staying in a brothel with four prostitutes. Soon Alleyne is helping Rachel by masquerading as a newly married couple.

This is a story about who we are and what knowledge of the past makes us. Both Alleyne and Rachel are missing the truth about their pasts. The two fall in love while engaged in the fake marriage. This book is more madcap adventure than the others. Rachel and Alleyne travel with four prostitutes and a one-eyes former sergeant. Their deception, however, allows them to discover the truth. I really enjoyed this book. It was funny and poignant at the same time. The end of the book where Alleyne finally finds himself was so incredible that I forgot that the madcap adventure went on just a touch too long. I really like Alleyne and Rachel’s romance.

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four-stars

Review: Slightly Tempted

Review: Slightly TemptedSlightly Tempted (Bedwyn Saga #4) by Mary Balogh
Series: Bedwyn Saga #4
Published by Dell on December 30th 2003
Genres: Historical
Pages: 368
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Story of Revenge and Forgiveness

SLIGHTLY TEMPTED is the fourth novel in the Bedwyn series. It is the story of Morgan, the youngest Bedwyn sibling. In Brussels, she meets Gervese Ashford, the Earl of Rosthorn. The clever, smiling Gervese approaches Morgan at a ball and ends up wooing her. What Morgan doesn’t know is Gervese is seeking revenge against her brother, the Duke of Bewcastle because of events that lead to Gervese’s exile from England nine years ago. Because of the return of Napoleon, war is coming to the continent. Morgan and Gervese end up spending a week together where they become genuine friends. Once returning to England, Gervese’s desire for revenge and the events of 9 years ago threaten to tear the two apart.

The First part of this book is simply magnificent. It is beautiful and poignant. Gervese struggles with his desire for revenge and his feelings toward Morgan. Once they are back in England, I loved the scene where Morgan confronts Gervese with his perfidy. Although young, Morgan is strong and no one’s fool. I also very much enjoyed the idea expressed in this book that forgiveness is a conscious choice that can give peace.

I really enjoyed the scenes with the various Bedwyn siblings who I have become fond of in this series.

I would rate this one a 4.5.

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four-half-stars

Review: Slightly Scandalous

Review: Slightly ScandalousSlightly Scandalous (Bedwyn Saga #3) by Mary Balogh
Series: Bedwyn Saga
Published by Dell on June 3rd 2003
Genres: Historical
Pages: 374
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Balogh Makes Me Like Freyja

SLIGHTLY SCANDALOUS is the third book in the Bedwyn series. It is the story of the oldest Bedwyn sister Freyja. Readers of the prequels will have encountered Freyja as woman who was in love with Kit and had expected to marry him. Freyja was particularly nasty in that book and it was hard to imagine that she could be made into a sympathetic heroine. Balogh does a great job of giving the reader an understanding of Freyja’s character. Her brashness hides a soft heart.

She meets her match in Joshua Moore, Marquees of Hallmere. Joshua is a smiling, laughing rake who challenges Freyja and encourages her free spirit. The two end up in a fake engagement. Some readers may not like this old standard, but Balogh does particularly well with them because it allows the characters enough time and togetherness to really investigate their feelings for one another.

I really enjoy these slow developing relationships. Balogh does such a great job allowing the relationship to develop slowly and the characters change and grow.

Definitely worth a read. I’d rate it 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Slightly Wicked

Review: Slightly WickedSlightly Wicked (Bedwyn Saga #2) by Mary Balogh
Series: Bedwyn Saga #2
Published by Dell on April 29th 2003
Genres: Historical
Pages: 342
Goodreads
four-stars

Classic Romance from Balogh

SLIGHTLY WICKED is the second book in the Berwyn series. It is the story of Rannulf Bedwyn and Judith Law. The two encounter one another while traveling to the same area. Judith is on her way to be a poor relation in her aunt and uncle’s house. She knows that she will have no future once there. Ralf is on his way to his grandmother’s house to be presented with a potential bride. The two end up spending two nights together in an inn. Both are shocked to encounter one another again at their destination.

This book was enjoyable. The beginning where Judith and Ralf meet was great. The book slows down in the middle while the two begin to feel their way towards love. Once Ralf figures out his feelings, the book picked up again. I thought the relationship between Ralf and Judith is different and interesting. Judith is a strong woman and while she is sometimes rescued by Ralf, she is never a damsel in distress.

For fans of the series, this book is a must. While the first book in the series is not necessary, it helps with the family dynamics to have read it and the prequels.

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four-stars

Review: One Night for Love

Review: One Night for LoveOne Night for Love (Bedwyn Prequels #1) by Mary Balogh
Series: Bedwyn Saga #0.5
Published by Dell on August 1999
Genres: Historical
Pages: 375
Goodreads
four-stars

Heartbreaking Story of Two People from Different Worlds

ONE NIGHT FOR LOVE is the story of Neville Wyatt, Earl of Kilbourne. Neville is marrying his cousin when a ragged woman enters the back of the church and declares herself his wife. Lily Doyle is the daughter of a commoner. Lily and Neville met when Neville was in the army. They married and the next day both are shot. Neville believes Lily dead and goes on with his life. He never tells any one about his marriage, returns to England and a year and a half later plans to marry the woman that he was expected to his whole life. Lily has returned after being held prisoner. She is illiterate, uneducated and far from being a lady. The gulf between the two seems impossible to cross. The two love one another, however, and this book is the story of how they learn to live together.

I really liked this story. The book is slow at times because it is a lush, romantic exploration of the feelings of the two. It is the story of how love alone is not enough. Lily and Neville need to deal with guilt and pain. Lily also has to change so that she can learn to live in Neville’s world. Those changes.are about discovering one’s.potential. By the time, this book ends the reunion and happy ending between the two is satisfying.

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four-stars