by Kate Williams
Published by Cornerstone
A dramatic, sparkling tale of sex, glamour, intrigue, romance and heartbreak, "England's Mistress" traces the rise and rise of the gorgeous Emma Hamilton. Born into poverty, she clawed her way up through London's underworlds of sex for sale to become England's first media superstar. Nothing could stand in the way of her dreams - except her self-destructive desires. Drawing on hundreds of previously undiscovered letters, and told with a novelist's flair, "England's Mistress" captures the relentless drive, innovative style and burning passion of a true heroine. In a world of tabloid fame and three-minute wonders, Emma's life is truly a tale for our time.
I borrowed this from the library at the same time as Flora Fraser's Beloved Emma, and found this to be much easier going (the other was an interlibrary loan and went back before I'd finished it). Well worth reading, if only to see that nothing changes in the lives of the (supposedly) rich and (in)famous.
Skull and Bones
by John Drake
Published by HarperCollins Publishers
The third in the rip-roaring adventure series of Treasure Island prequels for fans of Pirates of the Caribbean and Flashman When infamous 'gentleman of fortune' Captain Flint is captured by the Royal Navy and condemned to hang for mutiny and piracy, it seems that the secret location of his buried treasure will die with him. But Flint has an audacious plan to gain command of ship and crew before they reach London and escape the hangman's noose. Meanwhile, aboard Flint's former vessel The Walrus, Long John Silver seeks one final prize before retiring from privateering. However his wife Selena has jumped ship to pursue a career on the London stage -- only to fall into a trap -- so Silver must give chase to save the woman he loves. Once more Flint and Silver's paths are converging ! and it will bring them a vast fortune or certain death.
I worried that this might be the last in the series, but the author's notes, as well as providing details of historical research, hint not. More fun characters, who stay true to their time even when that's at odds with readers' modern sensibilities. Lots of gore too, no not for the easily squicked.
by JL Merrow
Published by Torquere Press
Cursed by an impatient witch to turn into a tortoise at inopportune moments, Tip is horrified to find himself tortoise-napped by a customer at the cafe where he works.
Things start to look up when Tip ends up very literally in the capable hands of drop-dead gorgeous Steve -- but Tip soon begins to wonder just how far he can trust Steve, who turns out to have a close connection with his kidnapper. Tip's attempts at a normal life seem doomed to remain frustrated in more ways than one!
I picked this one up the week it came out, and read it one lunchtime. Cue much giggling at Tip's adventures, and the people he meets, all of whom think that turning into a tortoise is not particularly remarkable (but then they are on the Isle of Wight). Very cheering indeed.
by Darcy Abriel
Published by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
No matter what the law decrees, Entreus is no one’s chattel. And he’s determined that no other humanotic—part human, part robot—spends one more second under the stranglehold of the power-mad government machine. That means doing whatever it takes to advance the cause for freedom. Even seduce a government minister’s favorite toy, a newly minted trinex named Silver.
Silver was a free woman until she committed the ultimate sin—pretending to be male to gain entrance to an exclusive science academy. Her punishment: modification. Now she is equal parts female, male and machine. The property of the secretive, charismatic Lel Kesselbaum, whose appetites push her new sexual abilities to heights of pleasure that make her wonder who is master, who is slave.
Until Entreus bargains his body in exchange for a secret meeting that rekindles her longing for freedom. Yet helping the fiery revolutionary execute his plan isn’t so simple, especially when she discovers her master’s secret—a secret that leaves her heart torn between two men. And one step in the wrong direction could mean death for them all.
This was an interesting mix of a book that defies genre classifications. I picked it up because I wanted to read something I might nominate for the Tiptree Awards, and while I'll nominate it as soon as it comes out in print, it didn't quite feel gender-transgressive enough for me (although it may be too transgressive for some readers). It also had one of those epilogues (if you know what I mean). I'd like to see more books set in the same universe, and hope the author continues to be brave and to bend conventions as far as possible.