Review: A Queen from the North

Title: A Queen from the North (A Royal Roses Book)

Authors: Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese

Published: 2017

Format: Ebook

Set in an alternate universe where the Wars of the Roses (between the Houses of York and Lancaster) never truly ended, the Unified Kingdom of England, Scotland, and Wales is still caught in the aftermath of the conflict. Arthur, the widowed Prince of Wales, needs to marry again to provide heirs to the throne, but is Lady Amelia Brockett, the daughter of a Yorkist earl and nearly twenty years his junior, the right woman to be the next Queen?

While this is, ostensibly, a romance novel, the romance isn’t the only plot worth following. The novel is as much political drama concerning the history (and the present) between the north (York) and south (London) of England, as well as the Commonwealth, as it is about the two people trying to navigate through courtship and engagement in the eyes of not only their family and friends, but also the public and the press.

Admittedly, for me, the political drama could be more intriguing than the romance, but that might just be my inner history nerd trying to parse together the differences between this novel’s universe and the English history we are all familiar with. While the Battle of Bosworth Field happened (ending the reign of Richard III and the Yorkist camp), history is altered from there. And while it would be easy to make comparisons between things happening in the novel and events happening today, they are still grounded in the history of the world the authors created, making them fit into the novel as organic events, not thinly veiled commentary on our world.

As for the main couple, Prince Arthur and Lady Amelia, they were believable as well. Well rounded, flaws and all, the authors made them human enough that the reader became invested in their lives and their world. And it appears there may be more books to come in this series, which has me excited. And maybe hoping to get a little more of the history of the world, if only for my inner history nerd’s happiness.

I give it 5 pages.


Book Review: “The Christmas Widow” by Jillian Eaton

TITLE: The Christmas Widow

AUTHOR: Jillian Eaton



Lady Beatrice Tumbley hasn’t gone outside since her husband was killed two years before, earning her the sobriquet “Mad Lady Bea”. Jack Emerson appears on her doorstep one night, bleeding from a gunshot wound. Can she let go of her past and let love prevail?

I read a lot of romance novels, and while most of them don’t set my teeth on edge, there is one trope that irritates me to no end and makes it hard for me to read a book – and sometimes even finish it. That’s the one where the hero decides that he knows what is best for the heroine to deal with [insert problem here] and doesn’t bother to listen to her or just run roughshod over her feelings/concerns/etc. And of course the heroine eventually falls for him, because He Was Right! (I think I just sprained something rolling my eyes).

Unfortunately, that’s the main plot at work here. Jack knows how to get Beatrice out of her grief and runs roughshod over her coping mechanisms and her feelings. Because he loves her (after knowing her for several days) and she figures out she loves him too.

This was a novella, so there’s not enough to really get to know the characters. We don’t anything from Jack’s point of view until Chapter 8, and by that point, he had already annoyed me to the point where I didn’t care about him or why he’d been shot (or how he was able to miraculously recover) or, well, anything else. Which is a shame because I’ve read other books by this author and enjoyed them. This one was just too rushed, too reliant on a tired trope that needs to go away (in my opinion), and too thin on character development for me to enjoy it.

I give it 1 page.

Book Review – Tender Wings of Desire

TITLE: Tender Wings of Desire
AUTHOR: KFC (YUM Brands claims the copyright)

“For mothers everywhere, I dedicate this to you – a brief escape from motherhood into the arms of your fantasy Colonel, whoever he may be.”

Lady Madeline Parker doesn’t want to marry the man who her parents have given her hand to, so she runs away the night before her wedding and finds work in a tavern, and finds love in the arms of a sailor (also running from his responsibilities) named Harland Sanders.

No, this is not a joke. For Mother’s Day, KFC put out a romance novel, complete with redhead in jeans, accessorized by a purse and a chicken drumstick, in the arms of a rather buff and sleeveless Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of KFC. As the e-book was free*, I picked it up, and figured it would be a light read where I would giggle at the tropes I often encounter in romance novels. Oh no.

Whoever wrote this did no research into whatever era they placed this in, given the mistakes they made in forms of address for peers, most of which can be found with a quick internet search, or a character calling another a “dish”, as well as a lot of little things that just read like nails on a chalkboard to me. The plot was trite and, really, nothing was done to make us really care about Madeline, or, dare I say it, Harland. While there may be eleven herbs and spices in the Colonel’s secret recipe, they were all lacking from this book and these characters.

Which brings me to the biggest issue I had with this book – Colonel Harland Sanders. KFC/YUM Brands stuck a disclaimer in the beginning that “characters are fictitious or used in a fictitious manner.” But this is nothing more than someone at (or hired by) KFC writing real person romantic fan fiction about the founder of the restaurant. Frankly, the real Colonel Sanders, and yes, he was a real, actual person, deserves better than to be reduced to this, a bland caricature of a man running away from his responsibilities to his restaurant empire. While the real Colonel Harland Sanders’ rank was more honorary as a member of the Kentucky Colonels (an honor he shares with persons such as Muhammad Ali, John Glenn, several former U.S. Presidents, and Betty White), he was an actual human being, not just an actor in a white wig, and reading about his romancing this fictional woman just put me off this book entirely. I kept reading in the hope it would get better, and sadly, it never did.

I have to give it 1 out of 5 pages.

*As of today, it’s now $0.99 on Amazon for the e-book, unless you have Kindle Unlimited.

Book Review – Alice in the Country of Hearts: White Rabbit and Some Afternoon Tea Part 1 by QuinRose

Title: Alice in the Country of Hearts:  White Rabbit and Some Afternoon Tea Part 1

Author: QuinRose

Illustrator: Mamenosuke Fujimaru

Format: Paperback

Published: 2015


After pushing through the monstrosity that was last weeks book that shall not be named, I opted to read something light and fun this week.  Yes, another Alice manga.  For those who have been reading this blog for a while you know that this is my obsession.  I don’t know why but I love the story, the idea of an independent Alice who is not looking for love and yet surrounded by it (and gun fights) just intrigues me.  This story had by attention from the start and I love the infinite possibilities that branch from the story.  What if Alice chooses not to love?  What if she falls in love with the March Hare?  What about the Cheshire Cat?  What if instead of falling in love in the Country of Hearts she doesn’t fall in love till the Country of Joker?  There are an infinite number of ways things could go and I love it.  I also love how the love when it is chosen develops.  It also doesn’t hurt that the characters are attractively drawn and are very vibrant.  I am after all a sucker for a good story and great characters make for a good story.


Anyway, with my obsession with Alice in the Country of Heart series I always wondered what it would be like to have a story where Alice might actually fall in love with Peter White the White Rabbit.  It is a difficult story of course, because he was the one who kidnapped her away to Wonderland and he can be a ‘little’ over the top with his affection.  Honestly in almost every story there is a hate that resides with Alice towards Peter.  Honestly one can’t really blame her for that.   Still the idea has always intrigued me and as I’ve learned more about the character Peter White the more curious I got.  Such as Peter being her “Sunday Afternoon”, always there, always loving, and only wanting what is best for her.  It is clear in most manga and in this one in particular that Alice’s safety and happiness is all Peter wants.  While he would love to be with her romantically speaking he will settle for her being there in Wonderland and happy.


This story honestly has done a masterful job of exhibiting the relationship between Alice and Peter and helped push things beyond physical attraction or a sudden change of character personality.  In the story there are many occasions where Alice over hears conversations that show her more of Peter’s character and his love for her beyond the apparent crazy obsession he has for her.  Honestly with out any kissing and hardly any hand holding the romance in this story was impeccable.  The soft quiet moments between Alice and Peter though rare and few were swoon worthy and the suspense in the story didn’t feel like a trope (classic Alice getting dragged into mafia wars or kidnapped.)  Okay so you could call what happened as a kidnapping but it wasn’t a classic kidnapping and that made the story all the more real.


Honestly, I loved everything about this manga.  There is not a single thing I would change, it had me laughing, sitting on the edge of my seat and swooning.  It was impeccable despite the fact that my two favorite characters Mad Hatter (aka Blood Dupree) and March Hare (aka Eliot) did not exactly feature in this book.  I think over all I am actually going to give this book a rare 5 out of 5 because I enjoyed the read that much and had no complaints about anything including the art as that was done my the original artist of the series.    With my high rating I will notate that this isn’t ‘the’ book to start with if you are looking to jump in on this Alice series but at the same time it isn’t the worst either as it will give you a clear picture of everything that is going on and you do not need to have past experiences with the story to derive enjoyment out of the story.

Writer Wednesday – Janie Franz

1. Who are you?
Janie Franz
2. What type of stuff do you write?
I write fantasy and some archaeology-based adventure. I also have a couple of contemporary novels (romances for want of a better word)–one about Hollywood and one about the music industry.
3. What do you want to pimp right now?
My six-part Bowdancer series (The Bowdancer Saga and The Lost Song Trilogy).
4. What if your favorite book?
Besides my own? Seriously, unlike many writers I love reading my own work. As for other authors I love Stuart Clark’s Project U.F.L. trilogy and I really enjoyed NM writer Susan Slater’s Rollover. I’ve been a fan of Tony Hillerman and, yes, I LOVED the Harry Potter books.
5. What other hats do you wear besides the writer hat?
I’m a retired freelance journalist, specializing in music. I’m currently a publicist for a NM music festival, and I do a lot of petsitting/housesitting in New Mexico. I’m a mother and grandmother. I used to be a radio announcer, taught yoga and relaxation, and was a booking agent and publicist for a jamband.
6. What link can we find you at?
Words from the Author…
The first con I ever attended was a science-fiction conference in Fargo ND. The guest author at that con was Margaret Weis, the author of the Dragonlance Chronicles. Those were some of the first modern fantasy novels, other than Andre Norton’s work, that carved out a whole new niche for writers.
The thing that impressed me most about Margaret Weis was the fact that she was everywhere! She tablehopped when she wasn’t on a panel. She visited with everybody. When she came to sit at a table where I was visiting with a friend, I was impressed with how ordinary she was. She was a famous author, but she was also human and very funny.
For me as an aspiring writer, with a lot of starts in a drawer, I realized that being a published author was possible. People–real human people–actually did it. And that one way to market was by showing up and talking to people. It was a great eye-opener for me.
Many years later, as a published author with eleven titles out, I am following Margaret Weis’ example: Be Present. As a guest author of Imaginarium in Louisville this September, I hope to Be Present as much as possible.

Book Review – The Liar

Title: The Liar

Author: Nora Roberts

Format: Hardback

Year Published: 2015

Yes, yet another Nora Roberts novel! (They’re a guilty pleasure, what can I say?)

So, The Liar is the newest offering from Roberts, which explains why it took me a month to get it in from the library. Shelby has been recently widowed and has discovered that her husband isn’t at all who she thought he was. She retreats home to Tennessee, taking her daughter to her family, and settles in, trying to overcome the debt her husband has left her in and ignoring all the mysteries of his past, all the while slowly falling in love with a new man.

Unfortunately, her husband’s past isn’t done with her. Starting with a PI who follows her from Philadelphia to Tennessee, more trouble follows as one of her husband’s ‘associates’ tells her what he was really involved, and then ends up dead. Slowly, the tangled web of lies that her husband built start to fall, and Shelby learns the truth.

So the big plot twist of the story (revealed in the last thirty pages), I called by the end of the first chapter. Some of this may be because I’ve read/watched a lot of detective stories, but this one felt *so* obvious I couldn’t believe that it never even came up as a possibly with the characters. So that felt a little less true-to-life.

I liked Shelby, and I liked Griff (her new love interest) but Roberts has started making her heroes a bit *too* perfect (I know – what else can I expect in a romance novel). Griff is always perfect – he knows when to push and when to step back; he knows how to win over not only Shelby but her daughter, and it all adds up to a rather boring specimen, to be honest.

As usual, Roberts’ skill with interesting characters is showcased in the side-characters – with Shelby’s best friend and her new beau; with Shelby’s mother and grandmother; with the girl who’s hated Shelby since they were girls and her actions once Shelby returns home.

Nothing spectacular, but nothing horrible either. 3/5 stars.

Book Review – The Witness

I wouldn’t classify this as one of Roberts’ best books, but it held my attention once the main part started, and I might want to reread it as some point in the future. A solid 3/5 stars.

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