This Chick’s Audio Review: The Fiery Cross (Outlander #5) by Diana Gabaldon, narrated by Davina Porter

The Fiery Cross, as a novel, is a behemoth. The paperback novel numbers 1008 pages and the audiobook somewhere around 55+ hours. This is truly a commitment to read and listen to, however Diana Gabaldon’s writing does a great job of continuing the story of one of the most beloved romantic couples, Jamie and Claire Fraser. It is the year 1771 and war is quickly approaching. As the founder of Fraser’s Ridge, Jamie and his family have founded a Scottish community based upon those he trusts. He does so with land he received from the Governor of North Carolina, stating that he will gather a group of men and support the Governor’s and England’s cause. Twice in this novel, Jamie must gather the troops assured somewhat by his time traveling wife and daughter that the war is still a few years in the future.

After 55 hours of listening to The Fiery Cross over six weeks I have determined that this novel is one of those that connects the dots to future novels. Davina Porter, our narrator, does a great job with all of the characters voices, accents, and imbuing life into situations and scenes about everyday life that were just interesting enough to keep me listening. Or maybe it was just my resolve to just finish. I’m not sure, but if I had stopped listening it would not have been Davina Porter’s fault. She is truly amazing. As a lot of other reviews have said, The Fiery Cross gets bogged down in details and descriptions, moving at a snail’s pace and ultimately only reaching a conclusion that is similar to the sun setting on another day.

I read the Outlander series for Jamie and Claire, not Roger and Brianna, so I’ll admit to wanting to hurry the book along when the scene shifts away from the main duo. However, if it weren’t for all of the bad things that happened to Roger in this book, and Jamie’s intense feelings of needing to save his daughters husband time after time that kept this book interesting. So, for once, I will say “thank you Roger” you kept this book moving, while at the same time I have to say to this author, “Ms. Gabaldon, you need to give this guy a break!”. I swear, Roger had just about every bad thing that could happen to him happen in The Fiery Cross. Maybe the book should’ve been re-titled “Roger’s Cross to Bare”. I felt really bad for him.

If, like me, you are reading this series for all of the romantic moments between Claire and Jamie, you won’t be disappointed. He is truly lovely in this novel and his love for Claire only grows stronger as they age. They have been through a separation for 20 years, her raising his daughter in the future while married to another man, his being married to another woman, having a son out of wedlock, and then reuniting and overcoming all of these hurt feelings etc. It is a wonderful thing to still see how strongly they feel for each other.

Would I recommend listening to 55 hours of The Fiery Cross? If I were reading the novel I could’ve skimmed ahead and skipped some gruesome medical descriptions or banal day to day activity, but I’m not sure I would’ve felt as strongly about these characters and their future stories. Listening to all 55 hours takes commitment between the reader and these characters. A commitment that will give me the resolve to listen to book #6 A Breath of Snow and Ashes. I’ll admit that I may let another year go by before I commit the time. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link to purchase!* The Fiery Cross

Copyright 2022 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: Dearest Rogue (Maiden Lane #8) by Elizabeth Hoyt

You all know my love for historical fiction. For me it’s the perfect diversion after reading a mystery or too many contemporary romances back to back. Dearest Rogue is an older book, written in 2015 and I do think that the genre has made a shift that is on trend with what has gone on in the world today. The MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements have made diversity, equality, and historical truthfulness important to both writers and readers. So, this novel from 2015 is a little more old school. However, it does divert from the normal heroine has Duke fall in love with her theme. Our heroine, Lady Phoebe Batten, is the sister of a Duke, and is blind. Our hero is her guard, former Dragoon, Captain James Trevillion. Honorably discharged after being wounded in service. He is the security hired to keep her safe, which of course becomes an issue when someone is out to kidnap her.

Phoebe was fed up with being cushioned from life and wants to explore and live. She is a beautiful young woman whose eyesight disappeared in her teens. Capt. Trevillion has been her security for awhile but it’s only been recently that she has become curious about him. Most definitely because he’s the only man she’s allowed to be around since he’s a pretty surly guy. As we get to know the two of them together you appreciate his protective nature but also how he disagrees with the Duke’s instructions to keep Phoebe insulated from life. It’s because of him that she’s in situations where people can actually try to kidnap her but you can’t fault him for wanting her to have a life.

Other than the fact that someone is trying to kidnap her, the other conflict is more of an internal one. The Captain, with his bad leg, doesn’t feel like he’s good enough for Phoebe. It’s up to her to convince him that their class differences and his leg (and her being blind!) don’t make a difference. He’s the man for her. I really enjoyed their sweet conflict and the length of time it took for them to fall in love. This was a little bit more of a slow burn romance than you’d normally see in a historical novel.

Despite this novel being #8 in the Maiden Lane series, it can be read as a stand alone novel. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the St. Charles Robin Hood underlying plot that some of the other novels have played out. I enjoyed it and if you have a love for older historical novels I think you might too! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link to purchase this book!* Dearest Rogue

Copyright 2022 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: Infamous (Rebels of the Ton #3) by Minerva Spencer

I have been pleasantly surprised by some of historical romances I’ve read lately and I am adding Infamous to that list. Our heroine, Celia, was the belle of the ton with every gentleman vying for her hand. Her beauty was incomparable, but her behavior was not as sweet. When she plays a trick that goes wrong she becomes Lady Infamous, a name that does not do her any favors. When her father’s gambling debts turn society against her she finds herself deserted by both her father and society. She is forced to work as a companion to the peers where she once reigned. When the lady she works for attends a country party Celia finds herself among the peers where she once reigned and with the gentleman she once ruined and his brother whom the trick had been intended to serve. Trying to get through the visit unseen she instead finds herself finding an unlikely friendship with the one she had once hoped to hurt.

It’s not often that you read a historical romance where the heroine is unkind and sympathetic all in one book. I found myself not really liking Celia at the beginning of the novel but when she got to the country and found herself with her old group of not very nice peers she was much nicer in comparison! Her love interest is Richard, the gawky brother of the man she once used to want, who has grown into an attractive man although his interest in science still makes him somewhat geeky. Surprisingly or really not that surprisingly, Richard is somewhat accomplished at the art of love as his analytic view has made him experiment from a very young age. Celia doesn’t really stand a chance against his charms. I thought their romance an interesting change from a young ingenue who falls for a Duke as we usually see in this category of romance.

There wouldn’t be much of a romance without a little conflict and I have to say that this novel had quite a bit of dark mixed in with the light. She has reparations to make against those she harmed in the past as well as an evil past that comes back to haunt her. Infamous was a real page turner! I found this book on a list of great romances to look forward in 2022 and I have to agree, it was really good! I’m curious enough about this author to go back and pick up books one and two in the series. Never fear though, I don’t think you need to read those before this novel. I didn’t miss a thing! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link to purchase!* Infamous

Copyright 2022 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: A Perfect Equation (The Secret Scientists of London #2) by Elizabeth Everett

Six years ago, Miss Letty Finley made the ultimate mistake, she entrusted herself to a man who wooed her and damaged her reputation beyond repair. Shunned from society, Letty turns to her other love, math. Currently she is a member of Athena’s Retreat where scientific women gather to further their learning in a safe environment. When their leader leaves town on vacation, she is asked to run Athena’s Retreat along with the Viscount Greycliff. A man whom she can’t stand and who carries an extreme dislike for her as well. As they work together they start to understand each other better and their budding friendship turns into a sizzling attraction.

A Perfect Equation does a great job of grabbing the reader right away with interesting characters. It’s not often in a historical romance where our heroine is a mathematician and actually gets lost in her mathematical formulas. Furthering her learning in Athena’s Retreat introduces the reader to a cast of wonderfully quirky and real characters that provide diversity and a feeling of realness to this historical romance novel. These women are striving towards equal rights and a better future for women and the reader is given a real feel for their struggle in live and in love.

Grey also has interesting aspects to his character. Not your normal “Lord” he has epilepsy and fears having seizures and appearing weak in front of his peers. He was taught from an early age that if he controls his emotions he can control his seizures and he’s a bit of a cold characters. HIs place in charge of the ladies of Athena’s Retreat allows him broaden his horizon in regards to equal rights, but it also introduces emotion into his heart. How does he handle the fear of having emotions which may cause him to have seizures? You’ll need to read the story and find out!

I hadn’t read the first novel in this series and although I don’t think I mentioned a thing, it did make me curious enough to look for it in the library and check it out. You don’t need to read it though, to enjoy A Perfect Equation, never fear! ❤️❤️❤️❣️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!

Click this link to purchase this book!* A Perfect Equation (The Secret Scientists of London)

Copyright 2022 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: An Impossible Imposter (Veronica Speedwell #7) by Deanna Raybourn

When Veronica and Stoker are approached by Sir Hugo Montgomerie, head of special branch, to look into the reappearance of a missing heir Veronica knew she was going to be facing a phantom from her past. She once knew Jonathon Hathaway but had thought him dead in a volcano eruption in Krakatoa six years ago. It’s up to her to identify him for the family but things are never as simple as they appear. If he is the missing heir he would gain access to an incredible fortune in jewels and Veronica is their only hope. During this investigation Veronica must come face to face with a ghost from her past and reveal her secrets to Stoker, the man she now loves.

An Impossible Imposter had the same drama and adventure as previous Veronica Speedwell novels, but what intrigued me and kept me reading was again her relationship with her partner and lover, Stoker. We have gotten to know the two of them over these seven novels but I feel like it’s always Stoker’s secrets that are revealed. This time Veronica’s own past comes back to haunt her making her fearful of what he will think if her past is revealed. This added a fine bit of tension that is sometimes missing from the more personal aspects of these novels.

In addition to the mystery of Jonathan Hathaway and if he is or isn’t the heir to Hathaway Hall is only the tip of the mystery iceberg. The background behind the fortune in jewels becomes the center of the story adding some historical relevance to the fictional story by taking the story briefly back to the past when England occupied India. This background added color to an already lurid mystery making this story a page turner.

If you’re a fan of this series you MUST pick up this novel. There is plenty of angst and passion between our two main characters and the mystery while not very mysterious, had all the drama of a good soap opera. I keep expecting this series to taper off, but this author is skilled at making me want to read the next installment. Unfortunately I know I’ll have to wait another year for the next one to appear.

❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley and the publisher for my honest review and it was honest.

Click this link to purchase this book!* An Impossible Impostor (A Veronica Speedwell Mystery Book 7)

Copyright 2022 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

It’s Monday, what are you reading? (1/7/22)

Good morning! I hope you all had a great weekend of reading! I’ll admit, one of my favorite authors had a new audiobook release and so I was listening to her book all weekend and didn’t get much reading done. I did everything with my ear buds in this weekend. LOL. My poor husband was pretty ignored. I did get a book finished last week, so let’s get to what I’ve been reading.

Thanks again to Book Date for starting up this fun dialog for all of us to chime in on what we read.

JUST FINISHED

I have a love for mixing in a historical romance in between my fantasy, romance, and science fiction genre’s. I love how in the past couple of years the diversity of characters has probably mirrored how life was historically. In this case our main characters are white, but the women of Athena’s Retreat are very diverse both intellectually and racially. It’s so refreshing! I enjoyed this book and all of the very diverse characters.

JUST STARTED

YAY! An audiobook released late last week from one of my favorite contemporary romance authors, Mariana Zapata. She is a true genius when it comes to slow burn romances, which also make for great audiobooks. I have been listening to this one in all my free time. The narration truly brings the characters to life.

I am totally in the mood for a mystery next, does anyone have a good one to read?

Happy Monday and happy reading!

Deb

This Chick Read: A Modest Independence (Parish Orphans of Devon #2) by Mimi Matthews

Solicitor Tom Finchley was taken out of the orphanage where he grew up and apprenticed to a solicitor in London. Under his tutelage, Tom learned the Machiavellian ways of manipulation and threats that the solicitors of the time crafted. He is ready to change his ways and settle down to a quiet life as his friend Justin Thornhill has done (in book #1). While helping Justin and Helena he had met Helena’s companion Jenny Holloway and been intrigued. After having been given a modest amount of money which would allow her independence, Jenny is ready for adventure. She comes to Tom to receive those funds so she may go off to India to search for Helena’s brother the Earl of Castledon. While there having the adventure she always wanted and without the help of any man. Needless to say, Tom upsets these plans.

In A Modest Independence Mimi Matthews gives us more of a glimpse of how a woman’s life during this time in history is curtailed by who she is tied to; a husband, brother, or father. In this case Tom decides to join Jenny on her journey as her “brother” as it would not be correct for a man and woman to travel alone, despite his having hired two Indian servants to join her. Their attraction for each other grows due to the close confines, the question is how or if they will do anything about it and the societal rules that would be broken if they did. I’ll admit to finding that fascinating.

Another glimpse behind how people lived during this time is provided through Ahmad and Mira the two half Indian cousins that Tom hired as Jenny’s servants on the journey. As they are half British and half Indian, how are they treated? There are plenty of moments that show their inequality and provide great context to this time as well as help us get to know these two characters who are in A Siren in Sussex.

As an aside, part of the novel takes place in Egypt, which I am currently vacationing in and found fun to read and see through our heroine‘s eyes the sites and sounds of a Cairo That is much different than it is today.

I am again fascinated by this author’s writing style and the realism that she imbues into her story. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed this novel so much without the moments of inequality, conflict, and concerns that our heroine would retain her independence. I loved Tom Finchley’s bravery in the face of this type of woman and loved that they found a way to be together. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️

Click this link to purchase!* A Modest Independence (Parish Orphans of Devon)

Copyright 2022 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- If you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: The Matrimonial Advertisement (Parish Orphans of Devon #1) by Mimi Matthews

When ex-army captain Justin Thornhill advertises for a wife in the paper he expects to receive interviews with homely widows and women of a certain rank. He doesn’t expect the beautiful Helena Reynolds. Despite his misgivings over why an obvious Lady is applying to be his wife he jumps at the chance to have this lady as his wife. It can’t come soon enough for Helena is on the run from a “bad situation” and needs marriage to find her freedom.

I was fascinated with Mimi Matthews writing when I read The Siren of Sussex and knew that I was going to read her entire catalog, starting with this series, and I am not disappointed! Our two protagonists were so interesting! Justin Thornhill was an orphan who grew up in a nearby village and joined the army to become something and earn his fortune. Captured by Indians, he was tortured and bears scars on his body and face, things that only make him more perfect to Helena as she needs a strong hero to save her. She is the daughter and sister of an Earl. Her brother may be dead in India and her cousin has taken over the Earldom. However, her brother left her all of the money. As women are property the only way she can save herself is by marrying someone. Justin Thornhill’s advertisement is the perfect escape.

Mimi Mathews gives us more than great characters in her stories, she provides historical context and facts. She also doesn’t hide from the hard truth. How women were treated, the horrible atrocities for Indians during the British colonialism of India, and more. Her books are historical romances, but they are not light on hard facts and truths, which are a difference maker when it comes to my feelings on a book. In this case, those facts were interesting, provided context, and gave our heroine’s story more conflict providing more enjoyment. I finished this novel and immediately moved on to the next, I liked it so much.

This novel was certainly a romance, so never fear if that is what you are looking for but the romance is specific to the time in history. A kiss can be just as devastating to a scene as intercourse, and be just as exciting. If you are looking for a bodice ripper, this is not that. The Matrimonial Advertisement is storytelling at its best. Great depth of character, romance, and conflict with a hero that is swoon worthy and a heroine who is bright and daring. A five star read from this blogger!

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link to purchase!* The Matrimonial Advertisement (Parish Orphans of Devon)

Copyright 2022 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- If you purchase through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: The Siren of Sussex (Belles of London #1) by Mimi Matthews

Evelyn Maltravers has traveled from the countryside of Sussex to the social scene in London, needing to make a match so that she and her younger sisters futures will be secure. Although she may not be traditionally beautiful, Evie knows that she needs to set herself apart in order to catch a man’s eye. She thinks her Appalusian stallion and haute couture, along with her superb horsemanship might do just that. When she approaches an Indian tailor, Ahmad Malik, to partner with her in her scheme he decides to attach his rising star to this unique and intriguing woman. What neither of them count on is their unfailing attraction and growing friendship. Can this pair from two different worlds and backgrounds face the bigotry of the upper class and find success so they can be together? This story captured my interest but it was Evie and Ahmad who captured my heart. What a fantastic novel!

I was unprepared for how I would react to a historical romance novel that delved into the history of England’s habitation and conquering of India. The narration has the reader seeing through both Evie’s and Ahmad’s eyes and it is eye opening to see how the heritage is taken for granted without thought to what those people may have gone through. Ahmad’s own background of a mixed heritage Indian man who belonged in neither India or England was interesting, revealing, and inspiring. Evie’s character growth as she comes to care for Ahmad and want to know him, his background, and what it would mean to be in his place in society took this novel to another plane of existence. I felt like what I was reading was relevant and real, not just an interracial romance novel. I actually felt Ahmad’s pain and could see why he chose the path he was on. I think it’s the first time in a long time where I was so interested in a subject that it made me do my own research and want to know more.

Evie was also a different sort of heroine. She was not frivolous or flighty, she had a plan and if it wasn’t for her growing feelings for Ahmad, she would have stuck to it. I enjoyed her own path of discovery she made about herself, her decisions about what was important, and also seeing how she came to that decision. This was not a fluffy novel, the story led our hero and heroine down some dark paths which altered the course of their lives. Sometimes you read a novel at the right time and it hits all of your sweet spots. This was my right time to read The Siren of Sussex.

I have never heard of Mimi Matthews nor read one of her books prior to picking up this novel. You can be certain I am going through her backlog and choosing my next read based upon all of my feelings for The Siren of Sussex and how this author led me down that path. Sometimes the reading gods are looking after us, aren’t they?

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

I received a copy of this ARC through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest.

Click this link to purchase!* The Siren of Sussex (Belles of London)

Copyright 2022 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: My Top 3 Book Releases for Jan’22

How crazy is it to be looking towards a new year? Despite the ups and downs the one thing that remained steady were that there are always some great books being published that need to be celebrated. Here are my top 5 for the month of January.

#1 BOOK RELEASE

If this novel isn’t on your radar it should be! I’m reading it right now and it is so good. Our hero is of Indian and English mixed heritage. Living in London, Ahmad Malik is trying to make a name for himself as a tailor in order to start his own business and support he and his cousin. Evelyn Maltravers is a horsewoman first, and a loving sister second. When her older sister runs off with a man to become his mistress she and her younger sisters are left hanging. In order to save her own family she must marry well. She turns to Ahmad to create her unforgettably fashionable riding habits that she hopes along with her exceptional horsemanship will separate herself from the crowds. What they don’t count on is an extreme attraction. This book is well written and riveting!

Synopsis:

Victorian high society’s most daring equestrienne finds love and an unexpected ally in her fight for independence in the strong arms of London’s most sought after and devastatingly handsome half-Indian tailor.

Evelyn Maltravers understands exactly how little she’s worth on the marriage mart. As an incurable bluestocking from a family tumbling swiftly toward ruin, she knows she’ll never make a match in a ballroom. Her only hope is to distinguish herself by making the biggest splash in the one sphere she excels: on horseback. In haute couture. But to truly capture London’s attention she’ll need a habit-maker who’s not afraid to take risks with his designs—and with his heart.

Half-Indian tailor Ahmad Malik has always had a talent for making women beautiful, inching his way toward recognition by designing riding habits for Rotten Row’s infamous Pretty Horsebreakers—but no one compares to Evelyn. Her unbridled spirit enchants him, awakening a depth of feeling he never thought possible.

But pushing boundaries comes at a cost and not everyone is pleased to welcome Evelyn and Ahmad into fashionable society. With obstacles spanning between them, the indomitable pair must decide which hurdles they can jump and what matters most: making their mark or following their hearts?

Click this link to purchase!* The Siren of Sussex (Belles of London)

#2 MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK RELEASE

Wibberley and Siegemund-Broka normally write young adult novels, or at least those are their books I’ve read previously. This adult novel about two authors who partner to write romances but had a falling out looks like it could be a winner. I can’t wait to learn why they had their falling out and what will bring them back together, besides that last book they have to write.

Synopsis:

They were cowriting literary darlings until they hit a plot hole that turned their lives upside down.

Three years ago, Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen were the brightest literary stars on the horizon, their cowritten book topping bestseller lists. But on the heels of their greatest success, they ended their partnership on bad terms, for reasons neither would divulge to the public. They haven’t spoken since, and never planned to, except they have one final book due on contract.

Facing crossroads in their personal and professional lives, they’re forced to reunite. The last thing they ever thought they’d do again is hole up in the tiny Florida town where they wrote their previous book, trying to finish a new manuscript quickly and painlessly. Working through the reasons they’ve hated each other for the past three years isn’t easy, especially not while writing a romantic novel.

While passion and prose push them closer together in the Florida heat, Katrina and Nathan will learn that relationships, like writing, sometimes take a few rough drafts before they get it right.

Click this link to purchase!* The Roughest Draft

#3 MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK RELEASE

I am heading off on vacation next week for the holidays and nothing screams vacation novel like a great Jill Shalvis book. I am so looking forward to meeting these characters and the group of friends that I’m sure we’ll be reading all about in the future.

Synopsis:

Beloved New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis begins a new series—Sunrise Cove—set near beautiful Lake Tahoe, with a heartwarming story of found family and love.

During the snowstorm of the century Levi Cutler is stranded on a ski lift with a beautiful stranger named Jane. After strong winds hurl the gondola in front of them into the ground, Levi calls his parents to prepare them for the worst…but can’t bring himself to say goodbye. Instead, wanting to fulfill his mother’s lifelong wish, he impulsively tells her he’s happily settled and Jane is his girlfriend—right before his phone dies.

But Levi and Jane do not.

Now Levi’s family is desperate to meet “The One.” Though Jane agrees to be his pretend girlfriend for just one dinner, she’s nervous. After a traumatic childhood, Jane isn’t sure she knows how to be around a tight-knit family that cherishes one another. She’s terrified, and a little jealous. But an unexpected series of events and a host of new friends soon show Jane that perhaps this is the life she was always meant to have.

As Jane and Levi spend more time together, pretend feelings quickly turn into real ones. Now all Jane has to do is admit to herself she can’t live without the man she’s fallen in love with and the family she has always dreamed of.

Click this link to purchase!* The Family You Make: A Novel (The Sunrise Cove Series, 1)

I know I usually do 5 books but despite all of the books coming out none of them jumped to the top of my list. So this month it’s my top 3. I don’t think anyone will mind. If you’d like to share a book you’re looking forward to, please bring it to my attention! I obviously need to be a little more aware of the great offerings coming out next month.

Have a great rest of your December!

Deb