Thursday, December 15, 2011

Review: Unraveled

Unraveled by Courtney Milan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Miranda Darling is a seamstress/wigmaker with a past in a traveling theatre troupe. For protection on the mean streets of Bristol, she gets involved with a shady, underworld character whose machinations bring her into contact with Magistrate Smite Turner--more than once. But Turner can see through her disguises, and wants to more than just see the woman underneath them. It seems like faint praise to say that this was a satisfying conclusion to the Turner series--although it was--because this book was so incredibly good. Well-developed characters, twisty plot, nice steam level--you couldn't ask for more in a historical romance. What's more, Milan self-pubbed this, keeping the price down and making it lendable. You should read it today!

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Review: Borrowed Light

Borrowed Light
Borrowed Light by Carla Kelly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've always liked Kelly's regencies, so when I heard she had written an inspirational romance, I was naturally curious as how that would work. Now, I'm not Mormon, so the Mormon-y bits of this book were a bit over my head, but the underlying spiritual development of the characters in the book is probably common in any religion.

This is the story of Julia Darling of Salt Lake City, graduate of the Fannie Farmer cooking school of Boston, who dumps her calculating fiance and goes to Wyoming to be a cook on a ranch. Her new employer, Paul Otto, has a somewhat mysterious past, and Julia is the only ranch employee who doesn't seem to be an outcast or misfit of some sort. As her contracted year of employment goes on, Julia will experience the dangers of frontier life: the cold, the isolation, the lack of respect for fancy cooking, the brutal range wars between the ranchers and homesteaders, and the prejudices local people have against Mormons. But she will also experience unexpected friendship and love.

This book was very good. There was a theme of children left alone to wander in the wilderness that probably came either from the Bible or the Book of Mormon. There is also crypto-Mormonism in this book, which is kind of weirdly neat. Kelly has always been meticulous in her research, and I discovered some lesser-known things about the settlement of the West. I'm not sure all Kelly's fans are going to be willing to follow her into inspirational territory, but since this book was well-written, non-preachy, and had compelling characters and an interesting storyline, I suspect she'll be picking up quite a few new ones.

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