Dark Citadel

Cherise Sinclair

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This is the second book in the Shadowlands series, and Sinclair seems more comfortable with her characters. Kari is a schoolteacher, raised by nuns, and not sure Shadowlands is the right place for her. Her boyfriend, an inexperienced Dom, is a real douchebag. Kari is ready to leave when Master Z offers her the opportunity to work with an experienced Dom. She agrees.

Master Dan is still grieving the death of his wife three years ago, and has never played with a Sub more than once. He agrees to take Kari and finds himself drawn to her sweetness, innocence and inexperience.

Watching these two characters work through their problems together was a real treat.

 

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Ordinary People

Judith Guest

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I remember an interview with Judith Guest after the 1980 movie based on this book came out. Robert Redford directed the film and wanted to get to know the author of the book. The interviewer wanted to know what Guest had served her famous guest. ‘Meatloaf,’ was her answer. ‘He is welcome to come again any time.’

Well, I don’t know whether Redford ever took her up on her invitation. but it shows the lack of pretense in the author. She is an ordinary person, just like the people she writes about. An ordinary family, torn apart by an extraordinary event that pulls on all the weak spots in their relationship.

What a sad story it is. We are presented with a son who has attempted suicide and struggles to maintain his balance in life. Gradually we learn that he has survived a boating accident that took the life of his brother. Swamped with survivor’s guilt, he tries to find meaning in his life. His parents also struggle with guilt, and the three of them try to find equilibrium in a world turned upside down.

We learn about each family member and hope they find what they need to keep going. An excellent film, based on an excellent book.

The Maid’s Tale

Rose Plummer and Tom Quinn

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When we think of life with servants, we usually think about those they served. In this book, the memories of a maid, show us what life was like below stairs. It was a life of unending toil and grinding work from rising in the wee  hours, until they turned in at night. The life of the servants was strictly regimented, with very little time to themselves. It was pretty grim until after WWI, when factory jobs opened up as an alternative. Then servants became scarce and life lightened up a bit.

It wasn’t nearly as fun as we think.

 

Club Shadowlands

Cherise Sinclair

Club Shadowlands (Masters of the Shadowlands Series Book 1) by [Sinclair, Cherise]

Every couple of years, usually around the holidays, I feel the need for a comfort read and turn to Cherise Sinclair. Usually I just read the Shadowlands books, but this year I determined to read them all. And I did. Shadowlands, Dark Haven, Mountain Masters, Shifters, and a SF book.

This is where it all started for me. A dark and stormy night, a deserted road, and Jessica’s car in a ditch. Only one set of light visible, a private club where she takes shelter. She signs the membership papers without reading them (bad move, Jessica) and finds herself inside a private BDSM club.

Lucky for her, Master Z is honorable and honest, not to mention protective to a fault. Jessica stumbles around, making a fool out of herself, but Master Z keeps a close eye on her to prevent any permanent damage.

Later, when she returns to real life, she just can’t get that sexy man out of her mind. Neither could I. You always remember your first.

The Paid Companion

Amanda Quick

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Elenora Lodge is in a fix. She is suddenly penniless and friendless. Her gentle upbringing has made her unsuited for work other than that of a paid companion. Unfortunately her intelligence and independence also make her unsuitable for that.

The Earl of St Merryn needs a woman. A woman to pose as his fiancee to draw off the mother/daughter pairs in society that will interfere with his determination to find his father’s killer.

The two were made for each other.

Off the Old Head of Kinsale

Mike Enfield

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This was an interesting take on a m/m romance. Their relationship begins on the Lusitania, bound for England. One passenger is Edmund Blessing, a naive young man fresh out of divinity school, off to assume the post of chaplain in the army. Unfit for duty because of his poor eyesight, he wants to serve any way he can. During the voyage, he is attracted to David, his Welsh cabin steward. Lame from a childhood injury, David is lucky to have his position, which was ordinarily filled by an able-bodied man.

The two discover a mutual attraction and are drawn closer and closer, until their relationship cannot be denied. The most interesting thing about the book was knowing the fate of the ship and wondering how that would affect their relationship.

The Deep Blue Goodbye

John D. MacDonald

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The first of 21 Travis McGee novels lays down the basic elements of the stories: living on a luxurious houseboat won in a poker game and called The Busted Flush, Travis McGee works when he has to and takes his retirement a bit at a time. His business card reads ‘Salvage Consultant.’ What it doesn’t say is that the salvage consists of getting back treasure that can’t be regained legally, and his fee is half of whatever he brings back. His clients in this first book  are the children of an army officer who bought some gems on the black market but died in prison before he would tell where he hid them. While in prison, a fellow prisoner name Junior Allen winkles the info out of him.

At the request of a friend, Travis agrees to help recover the gems from Junior, who is a nasty piece of work. Along the way, Travis meets the broken women Junior leaves behind, and feels perfectly justified in stealing from a thief.

Travis is a delightful character with a strong sense of honor that never wavers. As he says, he may bend his principals, but never breaks them. He is a modern-day Robin Hood, and the stories about him are very enjoyable. This book was originally written in 1965 and stands up very well to the passing years.

The Friar

Samantha Cole

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A contemporary romance, The Friar pairs Adam, an ex-friar with a completed prison sentence in his past, with Sage, a young widow struggling to save her way of life and support her two young plot-moppets, one a young girl with an annoying lisp. Fortunately, Adam has a poop-pot full of inherited money managed for him by his brother. Rich, handsome, a mysterious background, what’s not to like?

This book is a pleasant few hours reading.

The Best Kind of People

Zoe Whittall

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I remember some years ago when a high school teacher was accused of sexual impropriety  with one of his students. It was a small town, and everyone (with or without knowledge of any evidence) had an opinion about his guilt or innocence. He was eventually exonerated, as the girl admitted she was unhappy over a grade. All charges were dropped, but his life was ruined. He and his family left town.

I was reminded of this incident as I read this book about a high school teacher accused of a similar crime. The impact of the accusation on the teacher, his wife and children, and friends, is the topic of this book. No one is left untouched by the shock of such a serious accusation.

As the book describes the events over time, we learn about the trauma experienced by the people who know him. No one is left untouched, whether they are supporting him or convinced of his guilt. The teacher is mostly out of the picture, being held  in custody. It is the people around him who are left to cope with the fallout of the accusation.

The question of his innocence or guilt is left late in the book, and it almost doesn’t matter, The damage is done and cannot be undone.

Thanks to Netgalley for ARC.