Never a Hero
by Marie Sexton
Published by Riptide Publishing
Owen Meade is desperately in need of a hero. Raised by a mother who made him ashamed of his stutter, his sexual orientation, and his congenitally amputated arm, Owen lives like a hermit in his Tucker Springs apartment. But then hunky veterinarian Nick Reynolds moves in downstairs.
Nick is sexy and confident, and makes Owen comfortable with himself in a way nobody ever has. He also introduces Owen to his firecracker of a little sister, who was born with a similar congenital amputation but never let it stand in her way. When she signs the two of them up for piano lessons—and insists that they play together in a recital—Owen can’t find a way to say no. Especially since it gives him a good excuse to spend more time with Nick.
Owen knows he’s falling hard for his neighbor, but every time he gets close, Nick inexplicably pulls away. Battling his mother’s scorn and Nick’s secrets, Owen soon realizes that instead of waiting for a hero, it’s time to be one—for himself and for Nick.
A mostly charming coming out story that's as much about people's attitudes to their own disabilities as it is about their sexuality. I was a little bothered over how Owen dealt with his reactions to Nick's reasons for not getting involved (I'd guessed them early on, so Owen talking in veiled terms to Nick's friends might have led them to guess too), but everything else was great, including Owen's dad towards the end. I definitely want to read more by the author as well as other stories in this shared universe.
Miss Jacobson's Journey
by Carola Dunn
Published by Robinson Publishing
'Improper and impious!' her family cries, but in most unladylike fashion, Miriam Jacobson defies her parents. Finding the thought of marriage horrifying, she rejects their suitable choice of bridegroom, choosing instead a life of adventure and travelling to the continent to join her physician uncle in his work. Following on from his death and the outbreak of war, Miriam decides it's time to go home. To secure passage to England, she accepts a patriotic mission from the Rothschild banking family, though it means enduring a lengthy journey through France and Spain in the company of two insufferable gentlemen - one an intolerant aristocrat and the second a member of her own faith who seems to dislike her and yet is somehow disturbingly familiar...
A smashing adventure story about Jewish society in the era of the Napoleonic Wars. Miriam's parents want her to marry according to their religion, in spite of not being particularly observant themselves (even having her educated at a gentile school). She rebels and nine years later finds herself stranded in France with only her elderly maid for company and not much money towards her fare home, even if their wasn't a war on. Then she is approached by the Rothchilds, who need gold transported to Wellington so he can pay his troops. Two of their employees: one a Jew, the other a Lord, have already volunteered, but neither has much skill with languages compared to Miriam. So off they go, facing hostile officials, too much garlic and decidedly non-Kosher food (even the 'plain roast chicken' turns out to be either stuffed with oysters or served with creamy sauces). Fortunately Miriam has a whole host of mainly Jewish allies, all of whom were helped by her Uncle in her previous travels with him.
Having survived all that, Miriam is left with the question of which marriage proposal she will accept: the boy she rejected years before -- now grown into a very eligible man -- or the non-Jewish Lord, who has turned out not nearly as annoying as he began. At least the rejectedc suitor looks likely to get his own book.
by Elly Griffiths
Published by Quercus Publishing Plc
Ruth Galloway, forensic archaeologist, spends her life looking at death. But now death has found her, with the news that her long-time friend Dan Golding has been killed. Ruth's grief soon turns to suspicion when she receives a desperate letter from Dan, sent the day before he died. He had made a ground-breaking discovery - and was petrified of the consequences. Ruth is compelled to travel north to investigate further, alongside DCI Harry Nelson who is also drawn into the case. But where Ruth goes, so does her daughter, Kate. This time, the risks are even higher.
Probably my favourite of the series so far, although I disliked the bait and switch relating to the fate of one longtime character. Young Kate is a very believable toddler too.
Harvest of War
by Hilary Green
Published by Severn House Paperbacks Ltd
1916. The remnants of the Serbian army are holed up in the Greek city of Salonika. Working as a volunteer with the Red Cross, feisty young Englishwoman Leonora Malham Brown has secretly become the lover of their colonel, the dashing Sasha Malkovic. Meanwhile, Leo's fiance Tom, engulfed in the horrors of the Somme, discovers a shocking secret about Leo's brother, Ralph. And Leo herself is keeping a secret from Sasha...Tragedy and heartbreak will follow before Leo has a chance of happiness.
A fabulous climax to the series. Full review to go live on The Good, The Bad, and The Unread on Wednesday.
The 'Blazing World' and Other Writings
by Margaret Cavendish
Introduction by Kate Lilley
Notes by Kate Lilley
Published by PENGUIN CLASSICS
Flamboyant, theatrical and ambitious, Margaret Cavendish was one of the seventeenth century's most striking figures: a woman who ventured into the male spheres of politics, science, philosophy and literature. The Blazing World is a highly original work: part Utopian fiction, part feminist text, it tells of a lady shipwrecked on the Blazing World where she is made Empress and uses her power to ensure that it is free of war, religious division and unfair sexual discrimination. This volume also includes The Contract, a romance in which love and law work harmoniously together, and Assaulted and Pursued Chastity, which explores the power and freedom a woman can achieve in the disguise of a man.
I love Margaret Cavendish's writing. It defies categorisation and feels radically ahead of its time (although her plays -- read elsewhere -- follow rather Shakespearian themes at times). This edition was let down slightly by the decision to 'fix' the eccentric spelling of the original, and by notes that told me meanings I already knew, while skipping over words I thought would definitely be unfamiliar to more readers than just me. I need to go up to the library at Chawton House and read more of the author's works in their original version.