Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Courtesan's Lover by Gabrielle Kimm

Francesca Felizzi has begun a new life. The former mistress of Alfonso de Este, Duke of Ferrera is now one of Napoli's most sought after courtesans. She attends a social event, masquerading as a grieving widow. Her glittering independent life no longer satisfies the beauty. Seeking to change her life, she falls in love and no longer takes visitors. A disgruntled customer exacts revenge by striking Francesca's heart. To escape her former life, Francesca must reinvent herself one last time.

Francesca was a secondary but important character in Kimm's His Last Duchess. Francesca carries her interesting story with her from Ferrera to Napoli. There she shines, catching the attentions of Napoli's men and the reader. I enjoyed Francesca's frank and confident nature, as well as her humble kindness. Kimm manages to balance the good and bad characters, even with the minor characters. Though the novel is about a courtesan, Kimm manages to get her point across without being vulgar. I immensely enjoyed this little gem of a book!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

White Heart by Sherry Jones

Blanche of Castile is a woman used to power. Granddaughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Blanche learned much at the knee of her grandmother. When she is widowed, she learns that a woman's power doesn't always lie in her beauty as her Grandmother taught her. Blanche must prove her pure heart and fight for the throne of France. Her cunning nature and her determination make her a formidable force as she fights for the Crown of France.

Jones balances Blanche's strengths against her foe's weaknesses. Readers will be amazed as the beautiful Blanche becomes a lion for her son and France. While almost heartless and extremely harsh in her actions, one can easily sympathize with the embattled Blanche. While Blanche remains the villainess that history remembers her as, I enjoyed seeing the world through Blanche's eyes.

Very Great novella!!

I received this book from the generous author.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Secret Keeper by Sandra Byrd

Juliana St. John, daughter of a merchant knight, is brought to serve Kateryn Parr by her admirer Thomas Seymour. Given to visions of prophecy, Juliana struggles to trust Sir Thomas, but quickly learns to love her mistress like a mother. Court life changes quickly as Kate must set aside her love for Thomas to marry Henry VIII. Juliana helps her mistress survive a religiously divided court and a mercurial husband. When Kate is widowed, she is drawn back into Thomas' waiting arms. Juliana forsees sorrows and misfortunes for her mistress, but she stays loyal to Kate, even after her death.

Juliana St. John gives this Tudor novel a breath of fresh air. She is a very likeable woman, with her unrelenting loyalty and daughter-like devotion to Kate. This novel has a very brutal scene, which will leave readers and Juliana scarred. Her loneliness and heart break after this scene is touching.

Sandra Byrd stayed close to history, while weaving in plausible alternate story lines. The gift of foresight had it's place in the novel, but didn't overwhelm the plotline. Romance and heartache are well placed within the story. The ending brought tears to my eyes.