Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

REVIEW

Perhaps not as well known as Jane Austen’s two previous books, Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice, Mansfield Park is still none the less enticing and intriguing.  The unrequited love that Fanny has for Edmund is evident from an early age and continues into adulthood.  The emotional pain and torment she experiences when Edmund becomes attracted to Mary Crawford and everyone becomes excited over her received proposal  from Henry Crawford,  can be felt through the pages.  As an outsider, Fanny observes things that others do not and she is very intuitive about human nature.  She has both the Crawford siblings pegged from the very start and, although there are signs of jealousy, it is far more about their character that she distrusts than her own feelings towards Edmund.

Fanny’s return home is a very emotional experience for her and not at all what she expected. There is little love shown from either of her parents and it is not surprising that her thoughts soon return to Mansfield Park and the extended family she has there.

My only criticism, if you can even call it that, is that the ending seemed to short.  The whole story is about Fanny’s feelings for Edmund but when she does finally ‘get her man’ it is such a small section at the very end.  I suppose in a way it does actually fit with Fanny’s character as it is very matter-of-fact with no heirs and graces, just like Fanny.

A very endearing and captivating story

 RATING 4/5

Synopsis

Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny’s uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with them London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation. As her female cousins vie for Henry’s attention, and even Edmund falls for Mary’s dazzling charms, only Fanny remains doubtful about the Crawfords’ influence and finds herself more isolated than ever. A subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen’s most profound works.

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45032.Mansfield_Park)

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

REVIEW

One of the many classics, and the first book written by Jane Austen, has deep and meaningful undertones. The title itself tells so much about the story to follow.

Elinor is the eldest of three sisters and by far the most sensible. She keeps her emotions private and always presents herself in the correct manner. She is in direct contrast to her younger sister, Marianne, who believes that emotions should be shown and not hidden away. Both girls feel the bitter taste of heartbreak but deal with it in completely different ways, Elinor hides her pain behind a closed-off mask, whereas Marianne is open and direct about her feelings.

The story is beautifully written and although the language used may seem old (it is over a hundred years old!) it is easy to follow and adds to the character of the story. The way that Austen describes the countryside, the cottage, the park etc. had me drawn into the world of the Dashwood’s and living in that time with horses, carriages, 2/3 day journeys to ‘town’ (London) and days spent reading or drawing.

The male characters in the book are as diverse as the female. On the one hand is Edward Ferrars, quiet and unassuming, and on the other is John Willoughby, ostentatious and forthright. My feelings are definitely mixed for Willoughby. He is believed to be a man of little integrity and the cause of much heartache to poor Marianne, and to some extent he is, but towards the end of the story, during a heart-to-heart with Elinor, my feelings for him did change. I am still far happier with the outcome for both the girls and believe that they would have lead much happier and enjoyable lives with the men they finally found love with.

Lovely story of love and heartbreak.

Synopsis

Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love—and its threatened loss—the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14935.Sense_and_Sensibility)

My Champion – Knights of de Ware #1 by Glynnis Campbell

REVIEW

An entertaining and exciting tale of honour, loyalty and love, with a hint of Pride and Prejudice thrown in.

Linet de Montfort has been brought up to believe that all commoners are the same as her money-grabbing mother.  This is the exact opposite to Duncan de Ware’s upbringing. When Duncan first see’s the fiery tempered angel he knows that he can never let harm come to her and vows to protect her with his life.  Linet, mistaking Duncan as a beggar, tries to relinquish Duncan of his vow but the longer they are together and the more trouble they find themselves in, the more her feelings grow for him.

I can understand Linet’s feelings having been brought up the way she was, however her blindness to the true Duncan does get a bit annoying after a while. With all the evidence to the contrary she still believes him to be a commoner and therefore not someone her title would deem suitable for her.

Despite Linet’s prejudice towards him, Duncan is steadfastly loyal to her.  I really liked Duncan’s character.  His whole personality screams loyalty, humanity and understanding.  Besides having many children by many different women it is portrayed in the story that he would be faithful to his wife, although if I was Linet I would want to clarify this with him before I married him….any future children should come form her and her alone.

Knights, Lords, Ladies and Pirates are all encompassed within this fast-paced action story with love at the heart.

Synopsis

Sir Duncan de Ware is a sworn champion of the common man and a master of disguise.  So when he finds plucky maiden-in-distress Linet de Montfort facing off against a notorious pirate, noble Duncan goes undercover to come to her rescue, despite her insistence that she can take care of herself.  When the pirate abducts her, Duncan and Linet are caught up in a breathless adventure of danger and romance on the high seas.  And soon Linet realizes her only hope is to trust her mysterious hero—with her life and her heart.

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19009284-my-champion)

The Pride of the King – Bold Women of the 18th Century #2 by Amanda Hughes

Lauren De Beauville always knew she was destined for adventure.  Growing up in New Orleans and living the early years of her life in a convent, Lauren’s life turned upside down when, at the age of 15, she was married off to an old English man.  A freak storm on her wedding day started a spiral of events that would lead Lauren on her restless adventures across the continent but always in the background one man would be directing her fate.

James St Clare, a trader of illegal merchandise, is not a man Lauren wants to be associated with but he appears at every turn. With his bunch of misfits onboard ‘The Pride of the King’, James and his crew must out-smart both the French and English when the threat of war breaks out. But when an unknown enemy sets its sights on destroying James and all he holds dear it is left to Lauren to find out who and put a stop to them before she loses everything she has come to love.

REVIEW

Intriguing story of love, adventure, betrayal and heartache.

Lauren finds herself in some of the most difficult and challenging situations for any young women no matter what the time period.  Life in the 18th Century is hard enough but when you find yourself on the outskirts it can be unbearable.  Moving from place to place, one minute living in high society and the next living off the streets fighting dogs for scraps, Lauren has nowhere to call home and no-one to call family.

James St Clare is an arrogant, unpleasant, yet oddly handsome man who tends to treat Lauren with contempt most of the time.  He keeps her at arm’s length but is always around when she finds herself in a bind.  He has his reasons and despite the secrets that exist between them they find that a connection is there none the less.

I was thoroughly captivated by the characters in this story.  Lauren is a head-strong young woman who will take life by the horns and swing it around until she finds herself dizzy with excitement. James is a fascinating character who despite his upbringing cares deeply for those on his crew and within his association. Heloise and Cornelius are absolutely fantastic, a mother and son duo, they take Lauren under their wing and treat her like a daughter/sister. The rest of the crew are brilliant with their different abilities and disabilities.

This is the first book I have read by this author and the story telling had me lost in a world of high society and street scum, wigs and patches, pirates and soldiers. A bond is formed with the characters and the emotions that unfold throughout the book had me on the verge of tears.

Highly recommended and will be reading more from this author in the future.

To Save a Sinner by Adele Clee

When Lucas Dempsey was banished to America by his father, following the murder of Lord Banbury, he never expected to come back.  Now, four years later, he enters the ballroom amidst gossip and speculation about his return.  Closing off his heart and emotions has been easy. He knows not to trust anyone but one women test his limits and threatens to pull down his well-built walls that have protected him.

Helena Ecclestone sees more in that handsome face and cold eyes than the man would want her too, she looks beyond the physical and seeks out the real man inside.  After a brief meeting and an over-heard conversation, she is convinced of his innocence and takes it upon herself to be his protector. Working together to uncover the truth brings the pair closer and walls begin to crumble on both sides.

REVIEW

Helena is a great character.  Although she is not deemed by society as beautiful she has never let this demean her in any way, in fact, she finds it almost comical when she is looked over for dancing in favour of her sister.  She spends most of her time reading and has gained a great deal of knowledge from this pursuit, which has also helped her to look beyond physical features and gain a persons true worth from their character.

Lucas Dempsey has a typical ‘man-done-wrong’ arrogance but he too sees beyond the physical and knows the true worth of Helena.  The attraction they have for each other isn’t instant but grows over the time they spend together. Lucas never believed he would find love mainly because he didn’t believe he would ever trust anyone enough but Helena shows him what trust and loyalty really looks like.

There are some interesting twists in this story that keeps you wondering.  I loved Lucas’ loyalty to Helena and even more the way Helena believed in his loyalty when the evidence before her eyes should tell her differently.  The connection between these two characters defies the social norms of the time and shows what true love can really be.

This story also introduces other characters within it who also have their own stories.  I will definitely be reading more by this author in the future.

The MacKinnon’s Bride – The Highland Brides #1 by Tanya Anne Crosby

When his son is kidnapped and given to the English, Iain MacKinnon will stop at nothing to retrieve him, even if it means kidnapping the Englishman’s daughter in return.

Page FitzSimon has always been the unloved outcast of her family, the daughter her father never wanted. When Page spends an elicit evening by the river she gets more than she bargained for in the form of brutish Scotsmen.

FitzSimon has no use for his daughter and when the King of England’s life is at stake he relinquishes the boy but refuses to take back the girl leaving MacKinnon to decide…does he take her or leave her to her own fate?

REVIEW

Big, burly Scotsmen with even bigger hearts.  Who doesn’t fantasise about a strong highlander whisking them off to their castle?!

Iain MacKinnon may not always be gentle but he knows he can’t let Page go back to her father and, with the time spent together on their journey back to his homeland, the pair start to rub off on each other.

Page has never been loved by her father or brother’s.  Finding herself mixed up with the unconventional highlander shows her trust and love that she never knew existed. Iain’s weariness at letting another woman close to him does not help with Page’s insecurities but together they find the path they need.

I had not previously read anything by this author before but the story is well constructed, a good plot-line with a hint of mystery and lots of romance (once the main characters get together).  I do not know if all the details are historically correct but I really liked the use of the old Scottish language throughout.  Will endeavour to read more of this series in the future.

 

The Bound Heart – The Velvet Basement #2 by Elsa Holland

For two years Olive Thompson tormented him by coming to his Bookbinding shop.  Every Friday, like clockwork, she would be there with the delivery of twine, thread and ribbon. If she only knew what he would like to do to her with it.  But his world was not for her. How could it be.  The Art of the Rope is not something for an innocent.

Just a taste. That’s all he wanted then he could leave the torment behind.

Olive Thompson knew there was something dark about Mr James Edwards but not until she saw the photos did she ever dream what he could do.  Instead of being disgusted she found them intriguing.  Making Mr Edwards see her as the woman she was would take determination and courage. Becoming the woman she knew she could be would take Mr Edwards.

REVIEW

I have read books on bondage relating to BDSM before but this is the first one dedicated to the Japanese art of the Rope – Shibari. It has an elegant twist in the format of being set in the late 19th century when sexual exploites was much more a taboo subject.

Olive is a very strong character who, despite the constant pressure from her mother and sisters to find work on the streets, sticks to her principles of being an embroider.  For two years she has been infatuated with Mr Edwards and has tried to express her interest but he has always kept his distance.

Jamie Edwards knows what he enjoys and that enjoyment comes in the form of rope and what he can do with it.  Learning from a Japanese master from an early age, the art of rope tying and suspension has always intriugued him.  Finding like-minded women who will indulge his fantasies has not been a problem but the one woman he wants to do it to he knows he can’t, or can he?  Olive has been in his heart but he has his rules and they are set for a reason.  No one, not even Olive, will make him break them…

Olive and Jamie are the perfect blend of light and darkness.  He believes he lives in the dark world not suitable for her, she wants to bring light to his and show him that there is a little darkness in her too.

I was fascinated by the intricate styles that can be created with the rope and how the strength of the woman is highly important for the art.  This book showed the highly erotic nature of Shibari but also the connection between two people who enjoy each other and what they can give each other.