Frenchman’s Creek

by Daphne du Maurier

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I tried this book when I was younger – & like Jamaica Inn it was a DNF. But I have become such a big fan of Du Maurier’s work & it was one of the books in the Book Pool at Retro Reads, so I thought I would give it another shot.

I couldn’t warm to the character of bored aristocrat, Dona St Columb (view spoiler) & wondered if she was based on Du Maurier herself. She improved by the end of this book, & was certainly very brave. I can’t even remember the name of the French pirate Dona fell in love with – & I only finished the book last night. He didn’t have much personality at all.

There was a lot of fast paced action, some of the more minor characters like the enigmatic William were very well depicted. I enjoyed this book, but I know I will never read it again.

Demelza

by Winston Graham

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is my first completed book of 2022, & it could well be my best fiction read of the year -I loved it that much!

This book continues Ross & Demelza’s journey, & while I don’t think the beginning was a strong as Ross Poldark, from around the 40% mark it becomes a very powerful book. While Ross is a very complex character, Demelza is simple in the best possible meaning of the word – when something feels right to her that is what she does – then, thinks about the consequences later.

But all the characters, whatever their way of life, are well realised & easy for me to remember.

Graham writes beautifully;

He was not a man who spoke his innermost feelings easily, but now he saw himself powerless to help her, and only words of his and not actions would give her aid. ‘Nothing else matters but you,’ he said. ‘Remember that. All my relatives and friends – and Elizabeth, and this house and the mine… I’d throw them in the dust and you know it – you know it. If you don’t know it, then all these months I’ve failed and no words I can give you now will make it otherwise. I love you, Demelza and we’ve had such happiness. And we’re going to have it again. Take hold of that, my sweet. Hold it and keep it, for no one else can.’

Of course this being Ross, there are hidden layers…

I won’t be able to wait too long to continue this saga. &, in a piece of rare good fortune, I went to an op (charity) shop looking for the next two books (Jeremy Poldark & Warleggan) – & there they were.

Should have bought a Lotto ticket!

Ross Poldark

by Winston Graham

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I absolutely loved this book.

All the characters were so alive, so three dimensional. I had no trouble keeping even quite minor characters sorted out. After (part) reading The Mirror & the Light finding that my aging memory can still keep track of large character casts if the book is compelling enough is quite a relief! The book contains everything – major setbacks, romance, tragedy, family life and humour. It is not surprising that two different TV series have been made from the Poldark saga.

The three main female characters Demelza, Verity & Elizabeth were what I particularly loved. They are all nice people but none of them are saints. I particularly like the joy that Demelza brings to the page, skipping around with huge bunches of wild flowers, yet also working so hard.

As well as giving us compelling characters, Graham does some of the best writing of a blighted romance I have ever read.

She pushed the bolt across the door and sat abruptly in the first chair. Her romance was over; even though she rebelled against the fact, she knew that it was so. She felt faint and sick and desperately tired of being alive. If death could come quietly and peacefully she would accept it, would sink into it as one sank into a bed wanting only sleep and self-forgetfulness.

So beautiful and tender. & unlike many male writers, Graham doesn’t disdain to give us clothing descriptions. It is a criticism often levelled at Georgette Heyer, but I enjoy it as part of the historical novel experience.

I now also own parts 2-6 in this series. I can’t wait to read Demelza i hope that all of these books hold my interest – I think it will depend how much detail there is about tin mining, which to be honest, doesn’t interest me at all!

A Song for the Stars

by Ilima Todd

Rating: 2 out of 5.

A DNF at page 156.

Given that this is quite a short book, this is quite a late DNF decision for me.

I persevered as long as I did because this book was part of a reading challenge in the BLK group & because the book featured Captain Cook, a historical figure I find interesting. (He is credited as the first European to discover New Zealand) & because the author is Hawaiian and the story is based on some of her own ancestors.

Unfortunately Captain Cook’s appearance was very brief, the choice to write in first person, present tense (with dual POV!) gave the narrative a very wooden feel. The characters never came alive for me & I didn’t care what their outcome was going to be.

The only things I liked were the lovely cover and I was interested how close some common Hawaiian words were to some Maori ones.

Unfortunately these are not sufficient reasons to carry on with this book.

Captain Blood

4.5★

With the world in crisis, this is the sort of escapist reread I needed!

Unjustly convicted after the Monmouth rebellion for an act of humanity,Dr Peter Blood is transported to the Caribbean & becomes a slave to the cruel Colonel Bishop. The colonel has a lovely niece…

On about my tenth read I still loved this book, although it doesn’t hold up to rereading as well as the author’s [book:Scaramouche|938105] did. The hero and heroine are both appealing characters although man, Blood really needs to let go! One remark by Arabella colours his actions for chapters. And chapters. And… I loved the physical description of Arabella – I could see her in front of me. So far all the Sabatini’s I have read have given his heroines very varied descriptions.

While there are exciting parts where I could scarcely bear to put the book down, there are also parts that drag. Sadly the heroine appears only in Peter’s thoughts for large chunks of the book. I knocked half a ★ off my rating, but keep in mind if you are more a reader of the historical than the historical romance genre things that bothered me may not bother you.

Designed for me by my daughter, Chloe.

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Dark Desires

Dark Desires by Eve Silver

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


My reasons for reading this novel were not my usual reasons.

❤ The stunning cover. I mean, just look at it! (you will have to look on Goodreads. I’m struggling to post images now for some reason)
One of my favourite covers of all time.
❤ Kindle freebie.

OK I’m lying. These are quite usual reasons for me! 😅

But the third reason is not so usual.

These six books keep being made into a series and I don’t think this is a series by Goodreads standards. A series on Goodreads should have a character, setting or an overarching story line in common – & that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Dark Gothic is a theme not a series – otherwise all Victoria Holt‘s books would be a series.

I’ll discuss here in a few days why readers should be glad Goodreads has set this standard.

So…seduced by the incredible cover, I was entranced and intrigued by the first chapter & the horrible position the destitute Darcie was in. But after that things started to plateau and then go downhill. Darcie (not a usual female name in nineteenth century England) & the hero’s attraction never seemed real to me & multiple depictions of the hero’s grey eyes do not a character make. I became bored.

DNF at 34%. Supposedly. This book finishes at 93%.

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Love-At-Arms

Love-at-Arms by Rafael Sabatini

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


4.5★

What a tale of derring-do!

I’m a big fan of Sabatini’s well known novels

Scaramouche Scaramouche (Scaramouche, #1) by Rafael Sabatini & Captain Blood Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini. I was expecting this early work to be inferior in quality. & so it is – but only marginally.

The lovely Madonna Valentina’s uncle wishes to marry her to the unlovely Duke of Babbiano to cement an alliance against Caesar Borgia. But in spite of only recently having emerged from a convent, Valentina isn’t one to submit tamely to her uncle’s commands. Willing to aid her is the impoverished courtier, Romeo. But Valentina doesn’t realise Romeo’s true motives – or character. But there is another…

Out of all the wonderful features of this book, one of the best is the characters of the heroine & hero. Valentina isn’t typical of heroines of romantic fiction written in the early twentieth century – she is no passive damsel in distress but wishes to control her own destiny. Francesco is courtly,brave, handsome and intelligent.

I did have to knock half a star off for a somewhat confusing beginning and a very sudden ending. (anyone who thinks Georgette Heyer ends her books abruptly, really should read this one) I had to check the page count on Goodreads to make sure there weren’t a couple of pages missing.

Speaking of Heyer, it is clear that Sabatini is a strong influence of some of her early works.

A wonderful book.

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One Dark Night

One Dark Night (The Dark Moon Series #1)

One Dark Night by Anna Faversham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


3.5★

I had high hopes for this one – but it didn’t quite measure up.

The time period for this historical was the the tail end of the Regency, but it wasn’t a copy cat of my beloved Georgette Heyer and this wasn’t set in her world – which usually means a cut & paste of some of GH’s dialogue and characters behaving like it is the 21st century – only wearing long dresses or pantaloons! But this was the hard and terrifying world of smugglers – and the start had quite a few threads going.

I had a few quibbles about the beginning, but they were later resolved to my satisfaction. But after these were resolved was about the time the story started to sag. It never recovered for me, sadly.

I still think Anna is a fresh new voice in historical romance and I’m happy to give her time to develop her gifts.

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