“Who in hell …?” Ginger got up and opened the door.
Annie Fannie stood there in all her hoity-toity glory.
Ginger glared up at the tall, svelte woman, her shock evident. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
Dressed in a designer outfit that no doubt cost more than Ginger’s entire wardrobe, hell, probably her entire apartment, the uninvited guest pressed the back of her hand to Ginger’s shoulder to nudge her aside. “Let me in. The heat out here is insufferable.” She came to an abrupt halt just inside the door, leaving Ginger stuck in the open threshold to deal with the heat. “Well, well, well. Look … at … this,” Annie snarled as she sauntered into the room and stood like a queen looking down her nose at her peons. “The whole gang is here. Hello, girls. It’s been a long time.”
Dolly huffed. “Not long enough.”
“Aren’t you going to invite me to sit down?”
“No, Annie, we’re not,” Ginger stated flatly.
“I haven’t gone by Annie since I quit performing. It’s Anastasia now.” She patted her dyed blond hair, making certain they noticed she had a chichi coif.
“I’m guessing you’ve never quit performing, one way or another.” Dolly stood up to face the interloper mano a mano.
Merry hopped up to join the line of defense.
“My, my. What hostility. What did I ever do to make you all so rudely hostile toward me?”
“Gee, Annie, I’m surprised you ask, because we know you don’t give a rat’s ass what we think.” Dolly balled up her fists and ground them into her hips, at the ready.
“As for the hostility,” Ginger seethed, thirty years of hot anger boiling up unexpectedly, “how about the fact that you lied to my boyfriend about me and stole him away? Huh? How about that?”
“Pfft. Please. He wasn’t worth having. I only dated him a few times. You could have had him back. Oh wait. I remember now. He went on to Pussy Willow after me. I guess he liked her … willow.” She smirked, amused at her supposed wit.
“You treated us like shit,” Dolly growled. “You insulted our costumes and our acts and even our bodies. Like you thought you were so much better than us.”
“Well …” Annie made the mistake of throwing her arms out wide and looking around the room. “I’ve certainly never lived in a hovel like this.”
That did it. Ginger flung herself at their tormenter, clawing at the viper’s haute couture dress and tearing it down to her waist.
“You little bitch!” Annie Fannie, once the most elegant of exotic dancers, turned out to be a formidable foe. She grabbed a handful of Ginger’s hair and with that they hit the floor, rolling around and throwing punches as best they could. Arms and legs flailed about at random, like a game of Whack-a-mole gone bad.
Dolly and Merry jumped into action, each snatching a brawler and yanking her away. Everybody got roughed up in the process. The Women’s Wrestling Association had nothing on them.
“Girls! Girls!” Dolly hollered. “This isn’t going to change anything.”
“Stop! Stop!” Merry yelled at the same time. “You’re both acting like Neanderthals.”
Once separated and on opposite sides of the room, the brutal enemies tried to kill each other with laser stares.
“Look at what you did to my dress. It’s ruined.” Annie slung the comment across the room. Her pink, embroidered, lacy, padded, underwire bra poked out at them.
“Yeah. Well, that’s nothing compared to what you did to my life. I loved Harold!” Ginger’s lower lip quivered as she shook a quaking finger at her nemesis.
Annie frowned, paused, then said, “His name was Howard.”
“No, it wasn’t! He was my Harold.”
“Ah, Ginger, honey.” Dolly’s gentle tone caused Ginger to look at her friend. “I remember him.”
They watched as awareness clicked in on Ginger’s face.
“As much as I hate to admit that Annie is right, his name was Howard,” Dolly reminded her.
Ginger looked to Merry for support, but all Merry could offer was a helpless shrug.
“Oh. Oh. Well. Yeah, sure. Now I remember.” Ginger straightened herself, patted her mussed up hair, casually sat down at the table, and calmly clasped her hands. “I knew that.”
“Now that we’ve done a brawling bump and grind down memory lane,” Annie chided, stuffing the torn edge of her dress up into her bra straps, “I’d like to get to the reason for my visit and then get out of this dump as quickly as possible.”
“Do tell,” Dolly said. “Why in hell are you here?”
A sharp click echoed in the room, and everyone froze. The Russian’s cocked pistol pointed at Tato. “Are you resisting orders? If you are, we will have to label you an enemy of the people. We all know what happens to enemies of the people. I could shoot you right now, and nobody would care.”
Katya’s head buzzed. All the anger she’d felt morphed into sheer terror as she stared at her Tato. His beet-red face glistened with sweat and his hands curled slowly into fists, the anger crackling off him like a hungry fire seeking fuel. If someone didn’t intercede, he would be shot for attempting to murder Prokyp with his bare hands.
Mama, too, saw his inner struggle, for she stepped in front of Tato and spoke calmly. “I apologize for my husband’s behavior. He’s overprotective of his daughters. He didn’t mean what he said. We’ll cooperate, I swear it.”
The Russian smirked and lowered his gun. Dropping Alina’s hand, Katya pulled her father into a hug and spoke in his ear. “Please, Tato, there is no harm done, but we can’t lose you. Please.” She felt the tension lessen from his body, but vibrations of anger still throbbed like the veins on his neck.
Prokyp watched the scene with amusement, then sauntered back over to his cohorts, smiling. The Russian turned to him and asked with complete sincerity, “Have you been offended by this man? What would you like to do, Comrade?”
Prokyp glanced at Tato and then at Alina, who was white as a sheet, but holding her head high as Mama had taught them to. Katya’s legs wobbled, so she locked her knees and held her breath as they waited for this fool to decide the fate of their family.
“I suppose I can overlook it this once, as long as he and his family promise to cooperate fully in the future.” His gaze lingered on Alina. “But we shall have to check back here often to make sure they are behaving.”
Another activist pushed into the house with a large sack of wheat balanced on his shoulder. “I found this, and another just like it, hidden in the barn loft.”
Katya’s heart sank. She’d worried the wheat in the barn wasn’t hidden well enough, but Tato thought it safe out of sight beneath the hay.
“You can’t take that!” Tato shouted. “It’s my seed for planting this fall!”
“This will pay your quota. For now.” The Russian Soviet waved a hand dismissively, as if suddenly bored by them. “Come, we must move to the next house.”
The woman cast an apologetic look toward Mama and hurried behind the men as they left. The door swung wildly in their wake, and none of them moved until Tato strode forward and slammed it shut, though not before Katya saw the activists’ cart stacked high with sacks of grain, just like the ones they’d taken from the barn.Read More
A Regency Family is Reunited.
Another story in the ‘wrong man’ trope. He wants her, but she is close to marrying his brother – but if he has her, she has to go out of the country with him due to his previous commitments. Thus taking her away from all she knows and her family. And how can he steal his brother’s intended wife? Even it was an arranged marriage?
Follows the trope in nice style. When you read a Mills and boon novel you know that there won’t be many, if any, proofreading errors and it will be historically accurate.
And, depending on the imprint, can be cosy or racy. This was cosy. With little unexpected twists and turns.
Laura Martin: Author Bio
Laura Martin writes historical romances with an adventurous undercurrent. When not writing she spends her time working as a doctor in Cambridgeshire where she lives with her husband and young son. In her spare moments Laura loves to lose herself in a book and has been known to read cover to cover in a single day when the story is particularly gripping. She also enjoys travelling, visiting historical sites and far-flung shores.
|Another nice historical romance. |
I like the way authors take the name of real seats of the aristocracy and then change their location – hence Longleat masquerading as Chatsworth.
Set after the Battle of Waterloo we have the soldier back from the wars with trauma hidden in his psyche. And a less than stellar relationship with his father. All of which makes him melancholy and less than jovial. But hiding his pain from all but his friend’s sister who had had a young crush on him that resulted in a very public and very unfortunate action in a church.
And we have a young woman with an unusual hobby for the ton – a scientific one at that and so she has a keen mind and is well read.
We then have a courtship of the usual type and trope that goes up and down with many mis-adventures. Whilst we know from the first chapter that all will be well at the end, it is always nice to read how the author will get them there – if the style of the written word is good and contents are well plotted.
I loved this book – but then I am a keen gardener and plant afficionado and as it happens I collect agaves and aloes especially, of all succulents and exotic Mediterranean plants. Not cactii. But a few euphorbia. Preferably not too prickly! I do have an Agave Americana in my collection, and interestingly of all agave, these are now the most common, even though, to be honest, I have never seen one flower in a garden. I have seen them flower on Mediterranean mountain sides. The flower is not very exotic. Normally they grow a lot of offsets and propagation is through them. I have masses of grey agave from offsets.
I thought that the sensory discussion about smells having colours was interesting as this is a well known phenomena – people also have music colours and taste colours. And I liked the idea that smells produce emotions as people often associated perfume with a particular time, place, or person.
The setting up of the new Botanical Garden was fascinating. And how they transplanted the trees. In barrels. I always thought that they used sacking round the roots to transplant and to remove the soil. This was clearly a very different, and perhaps less brutal way, as the finer roots wouldn’t be damaged.
The argument over whether a botanical garden is for medicinal uses still ranges – especially now that we discover that many plants that were once thought to be ornamental – such as green beans – are now used for food; and others such as yew are used to extract (a cancer) drug from it called paclitaxel (Taxol), which is an antimitotic agent which stops cell division, resulting in cell death and this prevents cancer growth.
I knew about pineapples being a status symbol and that many wealthy plantation owners put a pineapple finial on their gates to indicate that they had grown them, but I was unaware about strawberries being a new plant. According to wikipedia, the garden strawberry was first bred in Brittany, France, in the 1750s via a cross of Fragaria virginiana from eastern North America and Fragaria chiloensis, which was brought from Chile by Amédée-François Frézier in 1714. Strawberry fragrance is extremely complicated – it has 31 elements that give it its flavour and scent and it is claimed to be useful in alleviating diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and osteoarthritis.
I did like the idea of a bath oil to help alleviate period pains – the doctors all being male (at this time, and what about later researchers and grants?) would think that was nothing to concern themselves over. And so it has continued for many years. As has been said, if only male doctors got periods there would have been a cure for the pain and discomfort long ago! Today the use of oil for cramps is common in the complementary medical world, and they recommend: peppermint, lavender, cypress oil, clary sage, rose, copaiba, cinnamon, and bergamot peel, roman chamomile flower, ylang-ylang, cedarwood, geranium, fennel seed, carrot seed, palmarosa herb, and vitex leaf berry, not to mention siberian fir. So there is a large number of essential oils that can help and special blends are available.
So what did I think of the book apart from all this wonderful plant knowledge? I loved it. I thought it very clever the way the various stories about the people of Edinburgh were blended into the story of the Botanical garden move and the excitement over a unique flower and other special, and new to that time, plants. The style was good and easy to read as well as being informative. We well understood that this was a blend of historical facts and fiction. The visit in 1822 of the Prince Regent to Edinburgh was real. Sir Walter Scott and his insistence on tartan for the dress code elevated the fabric to become again symbol of identity – as it had been forbidden after the Jacobite Rising.