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Kisses under the Mistletoe?

A Mistletoe Vow To Lord Lovell Book Cover A Mistletoe Vow To Lord Lovell
(Mills & Boon Historical)
Joanna Johnson
Fiction
HarperCollins UK
October 1, 2020
368

Will their vows last a lifetime... Not just for Christmas? Abandoned by her husband, and society because her father was a slave, Honora Blake will never rely on anyone again. Until dashing Lord Lovell breaks the news that she is a widow – and penniless – and insists she spend Christmas with him and his pregnant ward. Beneath the mistletoe, passion flares between Honora and Isaac. Then childbirth places his ward’s life in jeopardy, and these strangers suddenly face marriage to protect the baby!

Another in the Black Lives Matter and slavery theme. Set in the time period (1817) when being Black in England was unusual and not always recognised well by Society. Even when people were born free. And the ideas that brought about Abolition of Slavery were still in their infancy.

Honora came from America and had been courted for her dowry by a scoundrel – of which there were quite a few as Society men didn’t dabble in Trade or work to make a living – other than gambling of course! She existed, one can’t really say lived considering the state of it, in a house her husband had left her in, 3 years previously, with no money and no way of gaining any – her only options being to wait on her husband to deign to send her some, or for her to sell her possessions. She was far too proud to go home – even if she could afford the fare – and admit just how right her family had been about Frank Blake.

We also have the illegitimate children theme added in to this story and the need to conceal a pregnancy from Society as it would impact on future marriage possibilities let alone the difficulty of concealing the existence of the child if you were a woman and the father did t take responsibility. It was not uncommon for a rich man to require his wife to take into her family the offspring of his lovers – as long it wasn’t too many! It was easy enough to isolate yourself in the country if you were married, for a few months after a discrete bit of padding to enhance the lie…

A nice story line bringing out some of the social issues of the time. And a promise to kiss under the mistletoe…

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A Watery Tale

Once Upon a River Book Cover Once Upon a River
Diane Setterfield
Fairy Tales, Myths, Historical Thrillers, Literary fiction
Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Doubleday
(29 Aug. 2019)

It was the longest night of the year when the strangest of things happened . . .

____________________

On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames, the regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open and in steps an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a child.

Hours later, the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

And who does the little girl belong to?

An exquisitely crafted multi-layered mystery brimming with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.

Once upon a time – we still see echoes of it today – people gave offerings to the water goddesses. And in this story we delve back into the myths surrounding these water goddesses and fairies and the birth caul, as well as the River Thames.

In the time when traffic on the river was heavy and barges came and went loaded up with goods that were easier to transport on water than road, we find ourselves stopping at ancient inns along the towpaths. And in the dark evenings, sitting around the fireplace, stories were told to keep the travellers entertained.

The Swan Inn was such an Inn situated in the watercress fields – fields nourished by the dead bodies of those that fell in a long ago battle. The Thames has been fought over for many centuries – from Alfred onwards. Later than the time of this story, a railway was built – called the WaterCress Line (!), just to bring this prized salad crop to London. Watercress is an aquatic plant species with the botanical name Nasturtium officinale.
In former times there was little choice of green vegetables in Winter and Watercress filled that gap with its ability to crop at least 4 times a Season. https://astonrowant.wordpress.com/ewelme-watercress-beds/

I really liked the way the story was told. The sentences and phrasing reminded me of nineteenths century novels. It is slow and detailed and the characters come to life and talk to you. There is a narrator too who tells a different story – the story of rivers, the Thames and links into the various lore of the different traditions.

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Early in the morning I went walking….

Dawn with a Duke Book Cover Dawn with a Duke
12 Dukes of Christmas #9
Erica Ridley
Fiction
Erica Ridley
September 4, 2020
200

From a New York Times bestselling author: Secrets and scandal abound when two delightful, strong-willed opposites are snowbound together in this laugh-out-loud, feel-good romance! As the daughter of a duke, Lady Isabelle’s pristine reputation is paramount. Her high status is how she’ll attract the titled suitor her mother insists she wed. When Belle’s chaperone falls ill en route to a party, she must pose as an independent widow to avoid gossip. Why not have a wee innocent flirtation with a handsome tailor staying at the same inn? She’ll be gone in the morning… A sudden blizzard upends Calvin McAlistair’s plans when he’s snowbound at a posting-house. He has no time to play lady’s maid to the helpless beauty next door, no matter how much he enjoys unbuttoning the straitlaced widow. His future depends on impressing an important investor… who will ruin them both once they realize Calvin has spent a scandalous fortnight with Lady Isabelle! The 12 Dukes of Christmas is a series of heartwarming Regency romps nestled in a picturesque snow-covered village. Twelve delightful romances… and plenty of delicious dukes! THE 12 DUKES OF CHRISTMAS: 1. Once Upon a Duke 2. Kiss of a Duke 3. Wish Upon a Duke 4. Never Say Duke 5. Dukes, Actually 6. The Duke's Bride 7. The Duke's Embrace 8. The Duke's Desire 9. Dawn with a Duke 10. One Night with a Duke 11. Ten Days with a Duke 12. Forever Your Duke

Number 9 in the Dukes of Christmas stories / novellas.

As always in this series a very sweet story with a soupcon of feminine issues in the 19th century. Here we are thinking about the fact that women, especially in higher levels of society, were items for sale or barter. They were to do as they were told in all aspects of their life and their husbands, fathers, brothers or other male relatives were their owners. And mothers and older women reinforced this attitude as they had succumbed to it. Women of the higher ranks must never go anywhere without a female companion not be seen alone with a male. And of course the garments that they wore were not designed to be easily put on and off without help. It wasn’t until 1848 that corsets were made with front lacing so that a person could take them off herself. And whilst coats (pelisse)  might have front frogging fasteners, most upper-class dresses were fastened at the back so as not to spoil the line/effect.

Ready to wear clothing of any style and quality were not available, most people mad either own or employed someone to make them for them.

This story looks at how the first manufactured garments began in the nineteenth century and how ready to wear clothes could be made and sold. In fact ready to wear clothing has a much older history than this -The Short History Garment Industry from Bellatory says that ancient Babylonia shipped and distributed some ready-to-wear garments as early as 1400 BCE (BC). In Ancient Rome, garments were produced in workshops of up to 100 workers to outfit the military. But even in the 19th century, whilst ready to wear was still developing, most garments relied on hand stitching and it wasn’t until the late 1800s that factories were supplying large quantities of clothing.

THE 12 DUKES OF CHRISTMAS:

1. Once Upon a Duke

2. Kiss of a Duke

3. Wish Upon a Duke

4. Never Say Duke

5. Dukes, Actually

6. The Duke’s Bride

7. The Duke’s Embrace

8. The Duke’s Desire

9. Dawn with a Duke

10. One Night with a Duke

11. Ten Days with a Duke

12. Forever Your Duke

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Senatorial?

Memoirs Of The Senator's Wife Book Cover Memoirs Of The Senator's Wife
S. M. Ford
Historical Fiction, Romance
BooksGoSocial, Global Enterprises & Holdings Inc
August 30, 2019
352

The International Best Selling novel, Memoirs Of The Senator's Wife is the saga of a tempestuous forbidden love affair between a beautiful politician's wife, Estella Myrtle- Cyrus, and a sensuous Secret Service agent, Michael Hagar. Set during the '50s to the present-day; their romance spans decades of the most turbulent times in America. Xavier Cyrus meets and marries the impoverished Estella in college during a tumultuous courtship. Being a member of a wealthy prominent political family, Xavier runs for Congress and easily wins. Thrusting his new family into the exciting DC social scene and an Ancient Secret Society's magic sex rituals. However, Xavier's abuse and indiscretions with celebrities quickly destroy their marriage. Due to the responsibilities of motherhood and duty Estella remains in her unhappy marriage but finds love with her kind and gentle protector, Michael. Will Estella abandon her responsibilities to live happily ever after with Michael or will she remain in the glamorous and powerful world of a Senator's wife?

This book starts with something I didn’t realize ever existed, let alone still did, which is the Rape and Marriage laws.

Not that long ago a child (!) of 11 was married in Florida to her rapist, because – get this, she had had a child as a result of the rape. This resultant child  meant that the minimum age for marriage could be ignored!

It appears that even still, the Federal Govt can provide an exception to the minimum age for marriage in the case of a rape.

It is still the case in  a large number of countries, that after a rape, the woman is forced into marriage with the rapist – as rape is not rape within a marriage!

  

There were also some good points made about campaigns for racial and social equality and what would happen if the senators etc found out they were black and that Renee and her daughter were ‘passing’. But this was not enough to redeem the somewhat sludgy writing.

I confess, I did not finsih this book. I got just over half-way through, but the the 2 weird sects and the ‘happenings’ and… I just could not be bothered.

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The Worst Always Happens

Plan for the Worst Book Cover Plan for the Worst
The Chronicles of St Mary's #11
Jodi Taylor
Fiction
Headline
April 14, 2020
512

The eleventh book in the bestselling Chronicles of St Mary's series. If you love Jasper Fforde, Ben Aaronovitch or Doctor Who, you won't be able to resist Jodi Taylor. I would have trusted this man with my life. Until a couple of days ago, anyway. You know what they say - hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Max is quite accustomed to everything going wrong. She's St Mary's, after all. Disaster is her default state. But with her family reunited and a jump to Bronze Age Crete in the works, life is getting back to normal. Well, normal for St Mary's. And then, following one fateful night at the Tower of London, everything Max thought she knew comes crashing down around her. Too late for plans. The worst has happened. And who can Max trust now? Readers love Jodi Taylor: 'Once in a while, I discover an author who changes everything... Jodi Taylor and her protagonista Madeleine "Max" Maxwell have seduced me' 'A great mix of British proper-ness and humour with a large dollop of historical fun' 'Addictive. I wish St Mary's was real and I was a part of it' 'Jodi Taylor has an imagination that gets me completely hooked' 'A tour de force'

So Jodi, I mentioned the yellow puddles to my husband- he wanted to know Why I was giggling_and the answer came back: Liquid dynamics;
pressure flow; pipe diameters and drips. So there you have it.
 I have read every book in this series so the beginning confused me.
I had last read of Matthew being grown, so to have him back as a child was wrong. However, I soon got back into the swing of reading, giggling, and sheer amazement at the characters' behaviour and pickles they find themselves in.
 I should point out though, that the flu pandemic mentioned about Paris, was no doubt COVIDI9.
 Just not recognized in this version of history.
 This is not the book to start the series though, and it really isn't standalone. There are too many characters who appear tangentially and too many past adventures.
 I love this series and the madcap weary disasters and  the strange romances between unusual characters. 
History is explained in a very readable form and thus the books are educational too! And very very funny, but with bathos and pathos, and sadness too.

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