Showing posts with label Carrie Lofty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carrie Lofty. Show all posts

Sunday, July 15, 2012

June 2012: Reads + Summary

In June, summer finally arrived in full force and my reading slowed down dramatically. By the end of the month, I found myself needing a break from reading and blogging in order to enjoy outdoorsy events. However, as we all know, quality has nothing to do with quantity, and as you will see below quality-wise June was a great reading month for me.

Total books read: 9
 Contemporary Romance: 1
 Historical Romance: 3
 Science Fiction (Police Procedural): 1
 LGBT: 3 (Gay Spec Fic: 1, Gay Fic/Rom: 1, Gay Hist Mystery/Rom: 1)
 Poetry: 1

  1. Slow Lightning by Eduardo C. Corral: Slow Lightning is one of my top reads of the month. I did not write a full review, instead I highlighted it and wrote a recommendation, but this is a magnificent little book of poetry that I will enjoy for a long time since I re-read poetry over and over again. I recommend it highly. Grade: A
  2. Starlight (The Christies #2) by Carrie Lofty: I loved this historical romance for its atmosphere and characters that ended up winning me over. The romance was sexy and ultimately satisfying. Grade: A-
  3. The Touch of the Sea edited by Steve Berman: Overall this anthology was such a wonderful flight of fancy. The stories took me away and made me dream of the sea. This is definitely one of those books that you can read by the beach while people watching. I guarantee that the stories will make you wonder. . . Grade: B
  4. A Night Like This (Smythe-Smith #2) by Julia Quinn: Julia Quinn is known for her fun and light historical romances, and this book has those qualities. I needed some fun and some lightness, so the Smythe-Smith series was perfect for me. Enjoyable! Grade: B
  5. No Tan Lines by Kate Angell: Now here's a book that spells summer. I wanted to be at the Boardwalk while reading it, and after. I had a few problems with the inclusion of two other romances and lack of focus on the main couple, but otherwise this was an enjoyable, if average, read for me. Grade: C
  6. Logan's Outlaw (Men of Defiance #4) by Elaine Levine: This western romance took me by surprise with its combination of harsh, violent situations and sweet romance. Although I believe that there are readers out there who won't enjoy this combination, it worked for me. Grade: B-
  7. Taxi Rojo by Erik Orrantia: This was my first book by Erik Orrantia. I absolutely loved his depiction of Tijuana, Mexico, as well as his rendering of everyday people who struggle to find hope and happiness. Mr. Orrantia's characters stayed with me. Grade: B+
  8. It Takes Two by Elliott Mackle: It Takes Two was my very favorite read of the month. I love the way the author transported me to a racially divided little town in a post-WWII America. There was no waste to this story beginning with the depiction of racial bigotry and ending with the realistic romance that develops between the two main characters. Loved it! Grade: A
  9. The Last Policeman: A Novel by Ben H. Winters: Now... let's talk about this pre-apocalyptic police procedural (that's not easy to say). In this science fiction story the rendering of the main character and the pseudo-contemporary setting really grabbed my attention. I will be reading the rest of the trilogy because I need to know where Winters will take his character and the overall story arc in the end! Grade: B+
What am I reading at the moment? Well, I just finished another book by Elliott Mackle, Captain Harding and His Men, the second book in his Captain Harding series. However overall, I am finding that the heat of summer has given me an appetite for romance suspense, contemporary romance and science fiction! Interesting, right? I'm not sure what I'll pick up next!

That's it for June, I hope yours was as enjoyable as mine. Did you find any great reads in June that you would love to recommend? Any gems out there? Let us know!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Review: Starlight (The Christies #2) by Carrie Lofty

Passion sparkles forever . . . in the shining eyes of a true love.

An esteemed astronomer, Alex Christie, the eldest and most steadfast of the Christie siblings, has never possessed his late father’s ruthless business drive. But to protect his frail infant son from his cruel father-in-law’s bid for custody, the young widower must undertake Sir William Christie’s posthumous million-dollar challenge: to make a Glasgow cotton mill profitable. At sea in an industrial world of sabotage and union agitation, Alex meets Polly Gowan, daughter of a famed union leader, who hopes to seize a mysterious saboteur without involving the police.

Because a sympathetic mill master would aid her cause, Polly becomes Alex’s guide to urban Scotland. From soccer games to pub brawls, Alex sees another side of life, and feels free for the first time to reveal the man—vital and strong—behind his intellectual exterior. Polly is utterly seduced. Their ambitions, however, remain at odds: Alex vows to earn the mill bonus to save his child, while Polly fights for the needs of her people. Is there strength enough in their sparkling passion to bind them together in their quests—and in a lasting love that conquers all?
In Starlight, Carrie Lofty successfully combines all of the ingredients that I love about her romances. The atmosphere created by the gritty setting in this novel serves as an excellent backdrop, giving this romance the perfect historical touch. The characters that populate the story, both central and secondary, also make it happen, beginning with Polly who definitely belongs in the setting, and ending with Alex whose character grows by leaps and bounds right before our eyes.

Alexander Christie is the late William Christie's eldest son. In his controversial will, the industrial mogul leaves Alex the Christie Textile Mills in Glasgow, Scotland with the proviso that he must manage the cotton mills and make a profit within two years in order to receive a $1M bonus, however if he fails, his inheritance will be reduced to $500. Alex is not a businessman, but an astronomy teacher at a Philadelphia university and a widower with a sickly infant son. He resents the situation and doesn't care about the money until his powerful and unbalanced father-in-law threatens to take his beloved son Edmund away, giving Alex the resolve to fight for a future and make a success of his endeavors in Glasgow, Scotland.

Glasgow 1881 is a hotbed of trouble. The cotton mills masters are all powerful, uncompromising and always looking to make the biggest profit, as a result, masters don't care about poor workers' conditions. Mill masters certainly don't negotiate with workers' unions, and when crossed their wrath is often violent and deadly. Polly Gowan is a mill worker and has taken her father's place as the respected leader of the peaceful workers' union. She works at Christie's Textiles where after a suspicious explosion, workers are blamed, the usual suspects rounded up by constables and goons alike, and she meets the new master Alex Christie under difficult circumstances.

Reluctantly, Polly becomes Alex's guide through the troubled political situation with an eye on bringing him over to the union's side. But pretty quickly these two people from different worlds, who stand at opposite ends of this explosive situation, become passionately attracted to each other. Alex and Polly act on that attraction and begin a torrid and passionate affair that has all the hallmarks of a disaster in the making, where each keeps information from the other and trust is gained and broken on both sides.

I loved Polly's character, flaws and all. The first thing you notice about Polly is that she understands her people and selflessly cares about them. She is giving, passionate and tough as nails. Initially, Polly falls in lust with Alex and is willing to take a chance on taking just a few moments for herself (having a little fun), until her feelings for him begin to complicate matters and loyalties are questioned. Her feelings reflect Alex's who also becomes torn between what he feels for Polly and what he has to do to keep his son safe from his father-in-law.

Alex, I adored. Alex almost has a split personality. In Flawless, he is described as an astronomy teacher and that led me to visualize his appearance as that of a rather refined and sophisticated young man. Reading A Little More Scandal prior to reading Starlight, helped me visualize the differences in Alex's physical attributes and physicality. Lofty beautifully captures the duality to his personality and even to his physical appearance in this novel -- both Alex's rough side, the one that comes from William Christie, and the astronomy teacher or New York society gentleman.

Alex is basically sexually starved after what was practically a platonic marriage to a woman he knew since childhood. He is such a beautiful man in so many ways -- passionate, tender, rough, tough, protective and even sexually naive. Alex's attraction to Polly is instant and his passion is boundless. It's interesting because Polly loves Alex's protectiveness, but simultaneously resents his propensity for playing the 'knight' who rescues ladies in distress. I understood Polly!

Together, Alex and Polly are explosive, heartbreakingly tender, frustrating, and loving. Polly is really the aggressor in their sexual relationship. He is passionate but whenever he tries to be a gentleman, she is the one who repeatedly drives and pushes him to the next level in their sexual adventure. Polly is no coy miss! Alex and Polly do resolve their immediate differences as master and textile mill worker in a big climactic scene, although unfortunately there are no scenes showing how the changes affect Calton.

I loved Starlight. The setting, atmosphere, characters, conflict and passionate romance all drew me and kept me reading. There's no way I will miss reading the next installment in The Christies' series. Highly recommended.

Category: Historical Romance
Series: The Christies
Publisher/Release Date: Pocket/June 26, 2012
Source: eARC Novel Sidekick
Grade: A-

Visit Carrie Lofty here.

Series-The Christies:
Flawless, Book #1
A Little More Scandal, Book #1.5
Starlight, Book #2

Thursday, June 7, 2012

New Releases: June 2012

June Releases are almost here already! There are quite a few books that I'm looking forward to reading this month. As always, I will highlight only a few from my list.

These are books that I can't wait to read!


Title: Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.

Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.

Title: Hex Appeal edited by P.N. Elrod
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Fall under the intoxicating spell of their hex appeal…

In the magical world that lies hidden beneath our own, witches and conjurers play deadly games. They know just the right spell to kill a man with one kiss—or raise him back again. And they’re not afraid to exact sweet revenge on those who dare to cross them. But what if you’re the unlucky soul who falls victim to a conjurer’s curse? And if you had the power to cast a magic spell of your own, would you use it?

In this bewitching collection, nine of today’s hottest paranormal authors tell all-new, otherworldly tales. Spellbinding stories featuring bigfoot, albino vampires, professional wizards, resurrected boyfriends and even a sex droid from the twenty- third century named Silicon Lily. But as our conjurers are about to discover, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hexed. And sometimes, even the best spun spells can lead to complete and utter mayhem.

Title: Scandal Wears Satin (Dressmakers #2) by Loretta Chase
Release Date: June 26, 2012
From the Journals of Sophia Noirot: A dress is a weapon. It must dazzle his eye, raise his temperature . . . and empty his purse.

A blue-eyed innocent on the outside and a shark on the inside, dressmaker Sophy Noirot could sell sand to Bedouins. Selling Maison Noirot's beautiful designs to aristocratic ladies is a little harder, especially since a recent family scandal has made an enemy of one of society's fashion leaders. Turning scandal to the shop's advantage requires every iota of Sophy's skills, leaving her little patience for a big, reckless rake like the Earl of Longmore. The gorgeous lummox can't keep more than one idea in his head at a time, and his idea is taking off all of Sophy's clothes.

But when Longmore's sister, Noirot's wealthiest, favorite customer, runs away, Sophy can't let him bumble after her on his own. In hot pursuit with the one man who tempts her beyond reason, she finds desire has never slipped on so smoothly . . .

Title: Thief of Shadows (Maiden Lane Series #4) by Elizabeth Hoyt
Release Date: June 26, 2012

Winter Makepeace lives a double life. By day he's the stoic headmaster of a home for foundling children. But the night brings out a darker side of Winter. As the moon rises, so does the Ghost of St. Giles-protector, judge, fugitive. When the Ghost, beaten and wounded, is rescued by a beautiful aristocrat, Winter has no idea that his two worlds are about to collide.


Lady Isabel Beckinhall enjoys nothing more than a challenge. Yet when she's asked to tutor the Home's dour manager in the ways of society-flirtation, double-entendres, and scandalous liaisons-Isabel can't help wondering why his eyes seem so familiar-and his lips so tempting.


Title: Starlight (The Christies #2) by Carrie Lofty
Release Date: June 26, 2012
An esteemed astronomer, Alex Christie, the eldest and most steadfast of the Christie siblings, has never possessed his late father’s ruthless business drive. But to protect his frail infant son from his cruel father-in-law’s bid for custody, the young widower must undertake Sir William Christie’s posthumous million-dollar challenge: to make a Glasgow cotton mill profitable. At sea in an industrial world of sabotage and union agitation, Alex meets Polly Gowan, daughter of a famed union leader, who hopes to seize a mysterious saboteur without involving the police.

Because a sympathetic mill master would aid her cause, Polly becomes Alex’s guide to urban Scotland. From soccer games to pub brawls, Alex sees another side of life, and feels free for the first time to reveal the man—vital and strong—behind his intellectual exterior. Polly is utterly seduced. Their ambitions, however, remain at odds: Alex vows to earn the mill bonus to save his child, while Polly fights for the needs of her people. Is there strength enough in their sparkling passion to bind them together in their quests— and in a lasting love that conquers all?

Title: Caliban's War (The Expanse) by James S.A. Corey
Release Date: June 26, 2012
We are not alone.

On Ganymede, breadbasket of the outer planets, a Martian marine watches as her platoon is slaughtered by a monstrous supersoldier. On Earth, a high-level politician struggles to prevent interplanetary war from reigniting. And on Venus, an alien protomolecule has overrun the planet, wreaking massive, mysterious changes and threatening to spread out into the solar system.

In the vast wilderness of space, James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante have been keeping the peace for the Outer Planets Alliance. When they agree to help a scientist search war-torn Ganymede for a missing child, the future of humanity rests on whether a single ship can prevent an alien invasion that may have already begun . . .

Caliban's War is a breakneck science fiction adventure following the critically acclaimed Leviathan Wakes.

Title: At Last (Lucky Harbor) by Jill Shalvis
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Amy Michaels loves her new life in Lucky Harbor. A waitress in the local diner, she's looking forward to her first weekend hike through the mountains. But when a wrong turn takes her off the trail, she finds herself up close and personal with forest ranger Matt Bowers. And even though she's tempted to kiss that sexy smile right off his face, she won't make the mistake of getting involved with the town heartthrob.

A former cop whose life went south, Matt doesn't let anyone get too close. But something about the feisty beauty caught his eye the moment he first saw her in the diner. After a hot night under a starry sky, Matt can't deny their attraction-or the fact that for the first time in a long time, he feels the stirrings of something more. Now it's up to Matt to help Amy see that, no matter what is in their past, together they can build a future in Lucky Harbor.

I enjoyed Scalzi's work at the beginning of the year and frankly Redshirts just looks fun! Also, I read Dark and Stormy Knights edited by P.N. Elrod in 2010 and it turned out to be pretty solid, so there's an anthology I don't want to miss.

Do you know what's interesting besides the fact that the rest these books are releasing on the same date? Chase, Hoyt, Lofty, Corey, and Shalvis wrote some of my favorite books last year and most were from these same series. It is going to be tough choosing which book to read first. It looks like my end-of-month reading schedule will be busy, busy, busy. :)

What about you? What books are you looking forward to reading in June?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

May 2012: Reads + Updates

May is over! During May I celebrated my 3rd bloggiversary by reading and reviewing books by authors whose works I have recommended throughout the past three years. Favorite authors.

I was lucky that many of them had recent releases, and was able to read and/or review books by Mary Balogh, Nora Roberts, Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Mayberry, Carrie Lofty, Nalini Singh, Lisa Dale, Alex Jeffers and Steve Berman. And since I love to 'discover' new-to-me authors, there a few of those in there too. I'll be following up by reading Catherine Lundoff, Sally MacKenzie and Annika Martin. :)

As you can see, May was definitely a great month!

May Books Read: 20
 Contemporary: 5
 Historical Romance: 6
 Paranormal Romance/Sci-fi: 1
 Fantasy: 1
 LGBT: 7 (Fantasy=2, Romance=5)

1.   The Proposal by Mary Balogh: B-
2.   Range of Ghosts (Eternal Sky #1) by Elizabeth Bear: A-
3.   Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff: B
4.   Firooz and His Brother (Free Short Story from Wonder Stories) by Alex Jeffers: *NG
5.   The Last Boyfriend (Inn BoonsBoro #2) by Nora Roberts: C+
6.   College Boys by Daisy Harris: C
7.   Addicted to You by Bethany Kane: C+
8.   Under Her Uniform by Victoria Janssen: B-
9.   A Promise of Safekeeping by Lisa Dale: B+
10. The Charm School by Susan Wiggs: B+
11. Boys of Summer edited by Steve Berman: B
12. The Hostage Bargain by Annika Martin: B
13. Hard Tail by J.L. Merrow: B
14. Her Best Worst Mistake by Sarah Mayberry: B+
15. Frog by Mary Calmes: C+
16. A Little More Scandal by Carrie Lofty: B+
17. Bedding Lord Ned (Duchess of Love #1) by Sally MacKenzie: B-
18. Permanently Legless by J.L. Merrow: C+
19. The Seduction of Phaeton Black by Jillian Stone: (Upcoming Review)
20. Tangle of Need (Psy/Changeling #11) by Nalini Singh: B
     *NG = No grade yet, will save it for the book release (Great story though!)

Upcoming Reviews:

Currently Reading:

If you go by my grades, my top reads last month were Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth BearHer Best Worst Mistake by Sarah MayberryA Little More Scandal by Carrie LoftyThe Charm School by Susan Wiggsand A Promise of Safekeeping by Lisa Dale. However, those "B" grades were really enjoyable too! 

How about you? Did you find any treasures in your book pile last month? 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Review: A Little More Scandal (The Christies #1.5) by Carrie Lofty

Self-made industrialist Sir William Christie tempts the scorn of London society by attempting to seduce Catrin Jones, a modest but opinionated battlefield nurse who earned notoriety after surviving a naval shipwreck. His ambition to secure her exclusive story is part of his latest business plan, while her intention is to marry well before her moment of fame expires. With respectability, wealth, and security at stake, they must decide whether love is worth embracing just a little more scandal...
In a very short period of time Carrie Lofty has become a favorite historical romance writer and her books 'must reads' for me. Ms. Lofty has the touch when it comes to penning passionate romances that combine wonderful characters with those little historical details that I love.

A Little More Scandal is a 90 page novella that can be read as a stand alone or as a prequel to Carrie Lofty's The Christies historical romance series. As a prequel, this passionate romance gives the reader insight into Sir William Christie's character, the patriarch of the family, and adds depth to The Christies' series as a whole.

Sir William Christie is a self-made man who clawed his way from the bottom rungs of Glasgow's society's ladder and gained entrance, if not necessarily acceptance, to the very top of London's ton by using his gift for business and obsession for making money. At 31 years of age, he's a widower, an absentee father, and the head of a successful industrial empire. He is a ruthless businessman who is about to find his match in the most unlikely of women.

Catrin Jones is the Welsh daughter of a country pastor who served as a battlefield nurse for five years in the Crimean War. Her only claim to fame is that she was the only survivor when the HMS Honoria was wrecked while sailing home from the war and Catrin refuses to tell the real story. London is agog with speculation and William needs her story in order to further his latest business plans. William decides to seduce the story out of Catrin, but he doesn't expect that Catrin might have her own plans and might seduce more out of him.

This novella is character driven and as a result the focus is entirely on William and Catrin. There is a sense of urgency to William and Catrin's developing relationship, dictated by events taking place around them, that serves to push them into quick action. Catrin, more so than William, is an absolute gem of a character in this novella. She is forthright and just as ruthless in her own way as William when it comes to achieving her goal. I admired her for her determination. Together, they sizzle and burn. . . sizzle and burn. . .

As previously stated, A Little More Scandal can be read as a stand alone novella since this is a prequel and already known characters from this series do not make an appearance. However, if you've read Flawless, this short is a 'must' read. Lofty delivers all around in this passionate little novella and gives readers a detailed peek into what drove both William and Catrin to build not only an industrial empire, but a beautiful and rather unique family. Of course this novella is a delicious appetizer, but now I am eagerly waiting for the main course, the second book in the series, Starlight (The Christies, #2).

Category: Historical Romance
Series: The Christies
Publisher/Release Date: Pocket/May 29, 2012
Source: eARC from Novel Sidekick
Grade: B+

Visit Carrie Lofty here.

The Christies Series:
Flawless, Book #1
A Little More Scandal, Prequel Book #1.5
Starlight, Book #2 - Releasing June 26, 2012

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review: Flawless (The Christies, Book 1) by Carrie Lofty

Sir William Christie, ruthless tycoon and notorious ladies’ man, is dead. Now his four grown children have gathered for the reading of his will. What lies in store for stepsiblings Vivienne, Alexander, and twins Gareth and Gwyneth? Stunning challenges that will test their fortitude across a royal empire . . . and lead them to the marvelously passionate adventures of their lives.

Lady Vivienne Bancroft fled England for New York, hoping to shed the confines of her arranged marriage to unrepentant rogue Miles Durham, Viscount Bancroft—though she never forgot the fiery desire he unleashed with his slightest touch. And when the gambling man arrives on her doorstep for a little sensual revenge for her desertion, he is met with Vivienne’s dilemma: She must earn her father’s inheritance by profitably running a diamond business worth millions in colonial South Africa. Swept together in an exotic undertaking filled with heated passion and hungry temptation, will Vivienne and Miles discover that the marriage vows they once made are the greatest snare—or the most treasured reward?
After reading and loving Carrie Lofty's Song of Seduction, her historical romances have become a "must read" for me. I'm happy to report that I've yet to be disappointed by one of her books. In Flawless, I again love the fact that Lofty uses a different setting, in this case the diamond mining industry in South Africa. This time the setting is used more as background to give the novel historical context and helps to establish that all-important atmosphere. However, perhaps what I enjoyed the most about this novel is Lofty's depiction of the main characters, Miles and Vivienne, even with their flaws and frustrating qualities.

I really enjoy how Lofty portrays her characters and the fact that they're exciting and yet fit both time and place in both action and manner. Miles and Vivienne are both products of their upbringing and the society of their times. He is the rakish and wastrel son of an English earl, whose upbringing teaches him that no matter his actions a male aristocrat can get away with almost anything. He marries Vivienne for her fortune and a passion that seems to grow with time. However during their marriage, he's very much the aristocrat about town who uses Vivienne's money for gambling and other pleasurable pursuits without compunction or apparent care for her. Tired of it all and caring little for society's judgment, Miles eventually goes too far.

Vivienne on the other hand is the adopted bastard daughter of a self-made man. Born in France, reared in New York and married in London, Vivienne is also a product of her upbringing and the times. Hers is a marriage of convenience that turns into one of passion, but passion is not enough for Vivienne. She needs more from a man. Vivienne wants and needs respectability and safety, and she can find neither of those things with Miles. She also needs a man she can respect and she can't respect Miles, so when he goes too far she leaves him and goes home to New York. But when her father dies and leaves a conditional inheritance in his will Vivienne finds that she will need her husband after all, and Miles ceases the opportunity to solve a few of his problems, most importantly Vivienne and his marriage.

Flawless is a character driven novel with romance as a focus and a background that helps the story along by providing atmosphere, but one that is not as full of historical details as expected. The secondary characters are also helpful, but not truly developed or explored to their fullest. As central characters, Miles and Vivienne are strong and they do carry the novel quite well, with their personal issues as the main conflict, sexual tension that is off the charts and a true passion that manifests itself both internally and externally.

Lofty succeeds in this novel by making two flawed characters, especially that of Miles, understandable and sympathetic to the reader. Vivienne, although easier to understand, can be a bit more frustrating for what may pass as stubbornness and lack of trust, yet she truly reflects her times when it comes to a female's point of view. She is a woman who needs to stand on her own because she doesn't really have any one else to do it for her, (at least that is her initial belief) yet cannot because society won't allow her to do so. Her frustrations feel real in that respect, as do her initial doubts about Miles' supposed change in character.

Having read two of Lofty's previous historical romances I expected a bit more exploration of historical background and further development of some of the more interesting secondary characters, however I enjoyed the romance from beginning to end. Lofty's prose and her approach to a historical romance remains a favorite for me, and without a doubt I look forward to the other books in this series.

Category: Historical Romance
Series: The Christies, Book 1
Publisher/Released: Pocket/September 27, 2011 - Kindle Edition
Grade: B

Visit Carrie Lofty here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Review: Song of Seduction by Carrie Lofty

Tormented by guilt. Haunted by scandal. Freed by love.

Austria, 1804

Eight years ago, composer Arie De Voss claimed his late mentor's final symphony as his own and became an icon. But fame has a price: fear of discovery now poisons his attempts to compose a redemptive masterpiece. Until a new muse appears, intoxicating and inspiring him...

Mathilda Heidel renounced her own musical gift to marry, seeking a quiet life to escape the shame surrounding her birth. Sudden widowhood finds her tempted by song once more. An unexpected introduction to her idol, Arie De Voss, renews Mathilda's passion for the violin—and ignites a passion for the man himself.

But when lust and lies reach a crescendo, Arie will be forced to choose: love or truth?
What is there not to love about Song of Seduction by Carrie Lofty? There's love, passion, angst, a different and gorgeous setting, excellent historical details and beautiful writing to top it all off.

In Song of Seduction, Lofty weaves a story where both main characters are flawed and in need of redemption and/or forgiveness in one way or another. They need to be accepted and loved as they are, for whom they are and forgiven for past injuries to others. I've always thought that flawed characters provide a writer with a greater opportunity of digging deeper into them, not just into their past histories but even down into their very souls to make them truly three-dimensional and believable. Carrie Lofty achieves this brilliantly in Song of Seduction.

It's 1804 and winter in Salzburg, Austria. Renowned musician and composer Arie De Voss arrives in the city looking for a patron and hopefully some students so he can continue to write his latest masterpiece. That's how he ends up at Lord Venner's home as the entertainment for the evening. Arie is best known for his first symphony, Love and Freedom, a composition that we almost immediately discover, he stole from his dying music master. He is obviously tormented with guilt and self-disgust over his past actions and not willing or able to enjoy the fame that music has brought him.

Arie is socially inept, rude and sarcastic to say the least, and hates and resents having to perform his music in these types of venues. To him these public performances are a necessary evil. Drinking before the performance is the only way he sees himself enduring an evening at the Venners. The only interesting part of the evening turns out to be his introduction to Mathilda Heidel, a widow and close friend of the Venners.

Mathilda first heard De Voss play Love and Freedom when she was sixteen years old and his symphony inspired more than just her inner musician to play the violin. There's hero-worship there on her part, and through the years he's played a central role in her personal fantasies. Tilda is young and alone except for the Venners, who took her into their household after her husband died.

She gave up playing the violin, repressing the inner musician after deciding to marry and lead the life of a doctor's wife. At first when her friend Lady Venner suggests that she should take violin lessons with De Voss, Tilda is reluctant, but after hearing his performance that night she's again inspired and agrees. At first Arie thinks that Mathilda is not really a musician, and just wants an excuse for a seduction. Instead to his complete amazement she turns out to be brilliant both as a violin player and as a composer.

The story has a slow beginning and Lofty takes her time with character development, but believe me it picks up and then it's worth every reading minute. Arie and Tilda don't fall into each other's arms immediately. The music is an important part of their initial relationship, however it creates an intimacy that helps the development of deeper and meaningful feelings on both sides. I love that the characters, especially Tilda, react and behave exactly how I would expect people from that time period to react and behave. As a result, Mathilda's conflicts felt real for a woman that lived in 1804 under her particular circumstances.

The love scenes between Arie and Mathilda are intense and passionate with a capital P. There's a sense of freedom and eroticism in them that I just didn't expect to find in this book, but then... I didn't expect to find the rest either. The love scenes reflect Arie and Mathilda's feelings for each other, as well as the intensity of their musicians' souls -- Lofty conveys this beautifully. Their love and romance is also well done as both Mathilda and Arie learn to love and accept each other as they are with all their foibles and past sins.

The writing is gorgeous too. Not only can this couple’s passion, torment and guilt be deeply felt, but in addition the music can almost be heard coming off the pages as Lofty describes Ari playing the piano and Mathilda the violin. The setting and time period are also so well conveyed that I was transported to the city of Salzburg in 1804, and the historical details and personages are there in spades as well for those readers who enjoy them.

Song of Seduction is a complete historical romance. Despite the slow beginning it has it all, from love and a romance riddled with conflict between compelling characters, to character depth and historical details in a beautiful setting, to excellent writing. I couldn't ask for more.

Category: Historical Romance
Series: Followed by Portrait of Seduction
Publisher/Release: Carina Press - June 7, 2010
Source: I won this book at a Desert Island Keepers book blog giveaway.
Grade: A-

Visit Carrie Lofty here.

Song of Seduction
Portrait of Seduction - May 2, 2011