Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade
by Diana Gabaldon
Published by ARROW BOOKS LTD
It's 1758 and Europe is in turmoil - the Seven Years War is taking hold and London is ripe with deceit. The enigmatic Lord John Grey, a nobleman and high-ranking officer in His Majesty's Army, pursues a clandestine love affair and a deadly family secret. Grey's father, the Duke of Pardloe, shot himself just days before he was to be accused of being a Jacobite traitor. Now, seventeen years on, the family name has been redeemed; but an impending marriage revives the scandal.Lord John knows that as Whitehall whispers, rumours all too often lead their victims to the wails of Newgate prison - and to the gallows. From barracks and parade-grounds to the bloody battlefields of Prussia, Grey faces danger and forbidden passions in his search for the truth. But it is in the stony fells of the Lake District that he finds the man who may hold the key to his quest: the enigmatic Jacobite prisoner Jamie Fraser. Eighteenth-century Europe is brought startlingly to life in this compelling adventure mystery.
I'm very close indeed to giving up on this series, although I'll probably get the latest on audio when it appears in the library catalogue. I've had enough of Grey's miserable love-life and pining for the unobtainable Jamie Fraser, even though the non-UST parts are well written and the fight scenes are excellent.
The Unconventional Maiden
by June Francis
Published by Mills & Boon
SHE'D RATHER GO INTO BUSINESS THAN MARRY ANY MAN! After her father's murder, headstrong Beth Llewellyn finds herself under the reluctant guardianship of Sir Gawain Raventon. Already chafing against the constraints put upon her sex under Henry VIII's rule, Beth knows Gawain will have his own opinion about her unconventional attitude to marriage! Working with Gawain to solve the mystery surrounding her father's death, Beth starts to realise that perhaps marriage to the right man - a man in whose arms she feels so safe - will bring a happiness she's never dared imagine...
Another of those romances with promising subplots that fizzle out halfway through the book, or are resolved in a rush so as to give more time to the main plot. I loved the historical details though, and am very heartened to see a story that's a good distance away from the Regency era. Not to mention that the history of printing is particularly fascinating and this book brings that to light well.
Tim Frazer Gets the Message
by Francis Durbridge
Published by BBC Audiobooks Ltd
From the creator of popular radio detective Paul Temple, here comes this gripping adventure featuring undercover agent Tim Frazer. "The World of Tim Frazer", shown under the banner 'Francis Durbridge Presents...', was the longest-running BBC serial of the early Sixties, and one of the most successful. The popularity of the TV programmes inspired Francis Durbridge to write several novels featuring the easygoing engineer-turned-spy Tim Frazer. In this one, Frazer becomes involved in another complex case full of twists and turns. St Bride's guest house, just outside the town of Melinfforest, was a restful place with glorious views of the Welsh countryside. Tim Frazer, however, had no time for fishing and long country walks. He had been sent there to find out why Miss Thackery, a British intelligence agent, had been brutally murdered and her body dumped in a nearby wood. There was also the matter of a missing German scientist, Kurt Lander, who had been working for the British Government before mysteriously disappearing. Can Tim Frazer find out what links the two agents - before it's too late?
Once again my library had the unabridged version, read by Clive Mantle, but which I can't find a buy-link for. Another fun romp with lots of era-specific details which entertain me delightfully. The power of hindsight makes some of them unintentionally amusing, of course.
by Lija O'Brien
Published by Prizm Books
Nancy Dodd grew up privileged, at least for the early nineteen hundreds, until her father died, leaving an overbearing uncle as her only choice of a legal guardian. Instead of going to live with her mother’s brother, Nan is spirited away by her father’s less-acceptable family to become a player on vaudeville, staying in hiding until she reaches adulthood.
Joining a troupe called the Five Larks, Nan begins her new life. Gradually learning about show business, Nan sings and dances her way into the Corbin family, which includes hoofer Pete, and talented writer Beatrice. Nan knows she’s not like so many of the other girls she sees on vaudeville. She has no interest in boys, and she doesn’t want to settle down and get married. She finds a kindred spirit in Beatrice, and as they grow up, they find they have more and more in common.
As Nan, Beatrice and Pete struggle to form a new act, one that will take them to the big time, Nan knows she has to take the bull by the horns with her uncle, who is still searching for her. She wants a life free of fear, where she and Beatrice can live together. Can she pull off the biggest acting job of her career and be free of the past at last?
This started well, slowed down a little too much in the middle, but resolved most of the threads neatly in the end. A couple of subplots could have done with being padded out a little more, but I enjoyed this brief visit to a well-loved era seen from an angle I'm less familiar with.