Review: Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan

Suddenly Last Summer
Suddenly Last Summer

 

Suddenly Last Summer
by Sarah Morgan
Series: O’Neil Brothers, Book 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published by Harlequin HQN, 2014
E-book, Purchased
384 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: Fiery French chef Élise Philippe is having a seriously bad day. Not only have the opening day plans for her beloved café fallen apart, but Sean O’Neil is back in town, and looking more delectable than ever. Last summer, they shared an electrifying night together…and the memories have Élise really struggling to stick to her one-night-only rule! Her head knows that eventually Sean will be leaving, so all she can do is try to ignore her heart before she spontaneously combusts with lust.

Being back in Vermont—even temporarily—is surgeon Sean O’Neil’s worst nightmare. For Sean, returning home to the Snow Crystal Resort means being forced to confront the reasons and the guilt he feels about rejecting his family’s rural lifestyle years ago. But discovering that Élise has settled in Vermont and still sets his blood racing is a very welcome distraction! Thinking he can persuade her into a replay of last summer is tempting, but remembering how good they are together is going to make walking away more difficult than he could imagine…

More often than not, he saw a family as stifling, whereas in fact it was a cocoon. Not a straightjacket, but a protection. He’d always had that, it had always been there, even when he hadn’t noticed, or wanted it.

and

“What she means is you are truly terrible at cooking.” Élise poured coffee into mugs and set them on the table. “What? Why are you all looking at me?”

Brenna grinned. “Because you don’t know the meaning of the word tact.”

“I speak the truth so none of us is poisoned….”

Cheers

  • The O’Neil Brothers series celebrates family–the love, the anger, the belonging, the fear for our loved ones, the friendships. Sure, it’s idealized, but the family isn’t perfect either. They have problems to work out and don’t always do the best communicating.
  • I like Élise and Sean. Neither wants a relationship (for different reasons), but there’s mutual attraction (which they fight against at first). They get to know each other better and they become friends.
  • Élise and Sean must learn to trust each other and Élise especially must bury the ghosts of the past.
  • I like the humor and comradery found between so many of the characters.
  • I like the cooking Élise does in the book. Not too much detail, just enough. I wish I could cook some of her dishes!
  • A nice summer read.

Jeers

  • I was bored sometimes in the early part of the book. I think this is just me…I’m not reading much romance these days and even less contemporary romance.

And a few thoughts

  • The third book in the series–Maybe This Christmas–comes out on November 1 of this year. I look forward to this one since I love Snow Crystal in winter and at Christmas!

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Review: These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer

these-old-shades

 

These Old Shades
by Georgette Heyer
Series: Alistair-Audley, Book 1
Genre: Historical Romance (France and England during reign of King Louis XV)
Published by Sourcebooks, 2009 (originally published 1926)
E-book, Purchased
400 pages
Grade: C-
Synopsis: Justin Alastair, Duke of Avon, is called ‘Satanas’ by enemy and friend alike. In the aristocratic circles of London and Louis XV’s he has a reputation as a debauched rake.

Late one evening, the Duke stumbles across Leon, a red headed urchin fleeing a certain beating at his brother’s hands. On a whim, Avon buys the boy and makes him his page. But it soon becomes clear that Leon is not what he seems…

When the grubby Leon turns out to be the enchanting Leonie, the Duke is not prepared for the breathtaking transformation or the tender emotions she awakens in him, or the unconditional love she has for the man who saved her.

 “This,’ she told herself, ‘is not very nice, I think. Monseigneur has gone away, and I could never find him in this great, horrible London. That Fanny is a fool, I think. Or perhaps she is mad, as she said,’ Leonie paused to consider the point, ‘Well, perhaps she is is just English….”

and

“She is twenty, my dear, or near it. ‘Twould be charming! She will always think him wonderful, and she’ll not mind his morals, for she’s none herself; and he — oh, he will be the strictest husband in town, and the most delightful. She will always be his infant, I dare swear, and he ‘Monseigneur.’ I am determined he shall wed her. Now what do you say?”

Cheers

  • The book is fun to read for the fashion, the manners, the social chatter.
  •  I like the titles for each chapter. I’m not sure if that was still common when Ms. Heyer wrote her books, but it reminds me of books from the 1800’s.
  • The fashions of the time–maybe 1750’s–are so interesting because the men dress just as extravagantly and gaudily as the women.
  • The Duke of Avon is fun to read about. He dresses extravagantly, acts languid and indifferent much of the time, but is very intelligent and quick to size up a situation.

Jeers

  • It bothers me Leonie is constantly talked about as being so young–an “infant.” She’s actually 19, but she does act younger than that sometimes. In other ways she’s older than her years because of the way she was forced to live. However, check out the quote above.
  • The characters in the book (including the Duke) are aware of the difference in age. The Duke of Avon is 40 and Leonie is 19. That age gap just seems too big…especially since the Duke constantly calls her “infant.” This has an “ick” factor for me.

Thoughts

  • I thought this book was too long. but I suspect that is just me. I’m used to books getting to the point quicker! I know I read some of Ms. Heyer’s books when I was in high school and liked them. I guess I had more patience then…LOL. I don’t remember ever reading this one.
  • Maybe the age difference isn’t that unusual in both the 1700’s or 1920’s. It bothers me because of the terminology used in the book (and because one of my daughters dated someone who was 38 when she was 19!)
  • The Duke of Avon reminds me of some of Mary Balogh’s heroes/rakes…though I don’t think their age difference is as great as between Leonie and the Duke.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

I’m participating in the following reading challenges for this book:

Review: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

I’m participating in the 2014 New Author Reading Challenge hosted at the Literary Escapism blog. I’m also participating in the TBR Pile Challenge hosted at the Bookish blog and in the Book Bingo Challenge. This is an audiobook so this is also part of the Audiobook Challenge hosted by Hot Listens and The Book Nympho blogs.

maisie-dobbsMaisie Dobbs
by Jacqueline Winspear
Narrator: Rita Barrington
Series: Maisie Dobbs, Book 1
Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by Soho Press, 2003
E-book and Audiobook, Purchased
294 pages (10 hrs.)
Book Grade: A-
Narrator Grade: A-

Synopsis: Maisie Dobbs isn’t just any young housemaid. Through her own maisie-dobbs-bknatural intelligence — and the patronage of her benevolent employers — she works her way into college at Cambridge.

When World War I breaks out, Maisie goes to the front as a nurse. It is there that she learns that coincidences are meaningful and the truth elusive. After the War, Maisie sets up on her own as a private investigator. But her very first assignment, seemingly an ordinary infidelity case, soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind.

“Truth walks toward us on the paths of our questions.” Maurice’s voice once again echoed in her mind. “As soon as you think you have the answer, you have closed the path and may miss vital new information. Wait awhile in the stillness, and do not rush to conclusions, no matter how uncomfortable the unknowing.”

and

“Stay with the question. The more it troubles you, the more it has to teach you. In time, Maisie, you will find that the larger questions in life share such behavior.”

What worked for me:

  • Maisie is a wonderful character. The book is a mystery, but it’s also Maisie coming to terms with her life and her past.
  • This is such a powerful book. For me the middle part–about the WWI was very strong. So heartbreaking to read (hear) about. It made me think about our America’s time in Afghanistan.
  • The middle part of the book goes back to the time Maisie is 12 years old to the time she’s grown up and during the war years of WWI. I don’t normally like flashbacks, but this takes up much of the book. It’s very absorbing and often horrific and sad during the war years.
  • The book is a mystery, but it is more than a mystery. It’s also a character study.
  • I like the narrator of the audiobook. Even though she’s British and I sometimes have trouble understanding British English Ms. Barrington’s narration is excellent. She’s able to create the different characters, dialects and voices.
  • The narrator sings fragments of songs such as “It’s a long way to Tipperary.” Very nice.
  • A lovely, wonderful story.
  • The book did have flashbacks to her early years and WWI and these parts are important to the plot and to understanding Maisie.

What didn’t work:

  • I can’t think of anything!

My thoughts:

I’ve had the paper book for a number of years and hadn’t read it. I bought the Kindle book almost a year ago and hadn’t read it. Finally, I bought the Audible edition of the book in February and listened (read) this book. I’m so happy I finally read this book and I’m counting it as part of my TBR books since I’ve had so many versions for so long!

I bought the second book in the series and hope to read it soon. I like Maisie Dobbs very much!

Have you read this book or others in the series?