Showing posts with label The happily ever after. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The happily ever after. Show all posts

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Review: The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley is a combination historical fiction and contemporary with romances taking place during both time lines and running parallel to each other. Kearsley uses one central character, Carrie McClelland, to tie both storylines and romances together.

James VIII of Scotland
(1688 - 1766)  
Carrie McClelland is a seasoned historical fiction author writing a historical fiction romance that took place in the midst of the failed Jacobite conspiracy to return James Stuart or James VIII to the throne of Scotland in 1708. Unfortunately, Carrie is suffering from writer's block, but while visiting Scotland fate takes a hand and she ends up at a place that calls to her, Slains Castle in Cruden Bay and there meets a man with winter sea eyes. Carry moves to a cottage within sight of the Slains Castle and begins the process of writing her story from the perspective for a fictional woman as the central character, one she names after a long-dead Scottish ancestor, Sophia Paterson. At first her story seems to spill out of her with characters and situations so vivid and real that she can't seem to stop writing, but slowly Carry's research shows that her characters and events, down to the smallest details, were indeed true. Carry ends up with more questions than answers. How can this be happening?

Admiral Thomas Gordon
This is where I fell in love with this book. Kearsley seamlessly weaves two beautiful stories together. She focuses the historical fiction romance of the young, orphaned Mistress Sophia Paterson whose kinswoman the Countess of Erroll, mother to the Earl of Errol takes her in to live as her companion in Slains Castle at Cruden Bay. Soon, Sophia is embroiled in a Jacobite conspiracy to return James Stuart or James VIII to the Scottish throne and meets the young and loyal Jacobite John Moray who already has a price on his head for treason against the crown. Kearsley then proceeds to weave a gorgeous romance between these two characters that is full of danger, betrayal, excitement, angst, and timeless love.

James, 4th Duke of Hamilton
(1658 - 1712)
I love that within this romance Kearsley includes historical characters John Moray, Nathaniel Hooke, Captain Thomas Gordon, the Duke of Hamilton, the Earl of Erroll, his mother the Countess of Erroll, and more. However, these characters are not portrayed as two-dimensional historical figures but become viable characters in the novel that contribute to both the story and the romance. I was particularly taken by the Countess of Erroll whose characterization is extremely well-rendered, as is Thomas Gordon. Sophia and Moray's romance made me sigh out loud, bite my nails at the danger they both faced, and cry. . . Yes, this was an emotional read for me.

But Kearsley's main character is Carrie McClellan and she is a historical fiction romance writer, so think of this as a romance within a romance. By setting up the story this way, Kearsley uses her character's portrayal as a writer to incorporate pertinent historical background and deftly avoids making it feel like info-dump, instead history becomes a key element of the exciting romance/story Carrie is weaving. However, this set-up also serves to give readers an intimate view into a writers world: how they conduct research, the writing process, and even little details like daily routines, and even relationships with readers. I loved that little peek into a writers' world.

All of those details are an intrinsic part of the contemporary storyline which includes a straight forward romance with Carrie as the female protagonist. This romance narrated in the first point of view from Carrie's perspective has little angst and not much conflict, but it includes some of my favorite secondary characters and it ties in quite well with the historical fiction story and romance. Additionally, in Mariana I loved how Kearsley executed the time-travel aspect of her story, in The Winter Sea although on the surface the end result of how Carrie gains knowledge about a different period in time may sound similar, in reality it is quite different and if not necessarily as arresting to me, how Kearsley develops this aspect of the story is definitely intriguing.

Kearsley's writing swept me away to Scotland, both to 1708 and contemporary times. This is only my second read by this author, but I'm loving her writing style, the excellent fusion of historical fiction romance and contemporary romance that she uses to whisk me away to another time while simultaneously keeping me grounded to the present, and her talent for bringing historical characters to life and creating a romance that stays with me. So, the end result is that I will definitely continue to explore her backlist with pleasure.

Slains Castle, Cruden Bay, Scotland

Part I: Group Read: The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley hosted by Christine of The happily ever after...

Part II: Group Read The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Life According to Books I read in 2011

And, because I'm on vacation and having fun this year, I decided to go ahead and join Christine with this fun, fun post that she has been posting for the last three years at The happily ever after... This is the first year I have the time to participate, so I'm going to play!

Basically it's very simple, answer the questions below with titles of books read in 2011. They have to be appropriate to the questions, of course. It gets tough... because you're not supposed to repeat your own answers. that others post. I've only just read Christine's! So, I hope I'm not repeating anyone else's answers at this point. Here goes!

Describe yourself:
A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear

How do you feel:
Unlocked by Courtney Milan

Describe where you currently live:
Embassytown by China Miéville

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:
The Abode of Bliss by Alex Jeffers

Your favorite form of transportation:
Love and Rockets by Gavin Atlas

Your best friend is:
Somebody Wonderful by Kate Rothwell

You and your friends are:
We the Animals by Justin Torres

What's the weather like:
In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Flemming

What is life to you:
A Lot Like Love by Julie James

Favorite time of day:
Winter Knights by Harper Fox

Your fear:
Drown by Junot Díaz

What is the best advice you have to give:
Chill by Elizabeth Bear

Thought for the day:
Never Cry Wolf by Cynthia Eden

How I would like to die:
Playing Dirty by Susan Andersen

My soul's present condition:
Dangerous Ground by Josh Lanyon

That's it! I had a tiny problem with transportation -- my answer is the title of a book I didn't review, so no link for that title. AND, although I had two different titles to answer "Your Fear," both were for books I just finished reading this week!

That was fun. Thank you, Christine. :)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

'In Death' Reading Challenge

The 'In Death' Reading Challenge is hosted by our own Christine from The happily ever after...

I was a bit reluctant to join this Challenge. I've avoided reading J.D. Robb for years! You see I've been a Nora Roberts fan for years, but I've always been a bit intimidated by the extensive backlist, and frankly there are other concerns. I'm afraid that because I love Roberts' writing I'll become obsessed with this series and won't be able to stop reading it -- and there are ALL those books to read! When would I stop?! Could I stop myself?! Or would I spend the rest of the year hunting used book stores, libraries and/or book stores trying to find the whole series? We'll see... we'll just have to see... I can become obsessive when it comes to reading the next book, and the next, and the next...

The bottom line is that it is high time I read this much acclaimed series. I have to start somewhere. I already have the first 5 books in my TBR pile and I'm ready to begin. I'll be starting at the beginning, so I have a long way to go.

Christine's rules are pretty simple. Read one book per month, post a review or commentary and link it to her blog post.

I'll be keeping track of all my reads and reviews below:

January:  Naked in Death - Review here
February: Glory in Death - Review here
March: Immortal in Death - Mini-Review here
April: Rapture in Death - Review here
September: Ceremony in Death & Vengeance in Death - Reviews here
October: Holiday in Death - Review here
November: Midnight in Death Novella



Thank you Christine for getting me to finally give J.D. Robb and this series a chance! :)