The Alchemist's Daughter
by Katharine McMahon
Published by Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
Dark secrets haunt the manor house at Selden in Buckinghamshire, where Emilie Selden, motherless, fiercely intelligent and beautiful, has been raised in near isolation by her father. John Selden, student of Isaac Newton, is conducting a secret experiment. He aims to turn Emilie into a brilliant natural philosopher and alchemist and fills her with knowledge while recording every step she takes. In the spring of 1725, when Emilie is eighteen, father and daughter begin their most daring adventure - an attempt to breathe life into dead matter. But they are interrupted by the arrival of two strangers. During the course of a sultry August, Emilie is caught up in the passion of first love and, listening for the first time to her heart rather than her head, she makes her choice...with consequences that are far-reaching and tumultuous.
This one started out quite slowly, and some of the events seemed to unfold in a way that came as a surprise to the protagonist, but felt inevitable to an outside observer. On the other hand, some of the secrets revealed and the later events of the story came as a complete surprise to all concerned. Wonderfully rich, all in all.
All Lessons Learned
by Charlie Cochrane
Published by Samhain Publishing Ltd
"He's at the end of his rope...until fate casts a lifeline." "Cambridge Fellows Mysteries," Book 8 The Great War is over. Freed from a prisoner of war camp and back at St. Bride's College, Orlando Coppersmith is discovering what those years have cost. All he holds dear--including his beloved Jonty Stewart, lost in combat. A commission to investigate a young officer's disappearance gives Orlando new direction...temporarily. The deceptively simple case becomes a maze of conflicting stories--is Daniel McNeil a deserter, or a hero?--taking Orlando into the world of the shell-shocked and broken. And his sense of Jonty's absence becomes painfully acute. Especially when a brief spark of attraction for a Cambridge historian, instead of offering comfort, triggers overwhelming guilt. As he hovers on the brink of despair, a chance encounter on the French seafront at Cabourg brings new hope and unexpected joy. But the crushing aftereffects of war could destroy his second chance, leaving him more lost and alone than ever... "Warning: Contains sensual m/m lovemaking and is a three hankie story, two of which you'll need for the happy ending."
Another stunning installment in the Cambridge Fellows series, and yes I did sniffle at times. Some sad losses, but also some welcome returns for other characters. Not to mention more than we've ever discovered before about The College Nextdoor. I even loved the epilogue, and that's unusual for me.
by Liz Crowe
Published by Decadent Publishing Company, LLC
Ramon Castillo, world famous soccer player and international playboy has been brought low by a career-ending injury. After the humiliation of a shattered leg at the World Cup final, he has spent a year enduring surgeries and painful therapies, the last three months of which are at the Castillo resort in Las Vegas under the watchful eye of his cousin, Jackson Castillo and owner of the Castillo hotel chain. But Ramon’s lack of interest in soccer, women, or in anything besides the blackjack tables has Jackson worried.
Gillian Winter, catering and banquet manager for the MGM Grand Hotel is nurturing her own deep wounds. Her beloved husband has died unexpectedly, leaving her with a young son whose one dream is to meet his hero: Number 17 on the American National Soccer team, Ramon Castillo. When an apparent chance encounter in the lobby of the MGM reveals Ramon's presence in their midst, everyone's lives are changed forever.
Can Madame Eve work her magic and bring true healing to Ramon and Gillian? Or is it too late?
I'm not at all a fan of football, but I was intrigued by the hero of this one, and the story definitely delivered. Plus the heroine is a former sporting legend in her own right, which makes for an interesting match. A fun little read.
I Believe in Yesterday: My Adventures in Living History
by Tim Moore
Published by Jonathan Cape Ltd
In 1989, Tim Moore moved into the last house in Chiswick with an outside toilet. Intrigued by a subsequent encounter with an elderly former resident, and shamed to confess the phobic haste with which he demolished this facility, he finds himself inspired to travel back to the land before now, experiencing the horny-handed hardships and homespun pleasures enjoyed and endured by Moores gone by. The journey that follows takes him through the world of historical re-enactment, sitting at the bare and grubby feet of retromaniacs who have seen their future in the past, and learning their singular ways. Living on bramble leaves, Johnny cake and porridge, Moore travels from the Iron Age to the Steam Age, sharing straw beds and daft hats with period obsessives driven by socio-historical curiosity, disillusionment with the pampered fecklessness of the modern world, or a simple nostalgia for campfires, flatulence and brutality.As a Roman legionary, Moore is put to the Gaulish sword twelve times a day for the entertainment of the Danish public; as master of a Tudor manor's domestic staff, he works his young charges to heatstroked collapse, and serves up moat-drowned hare to the sneering gentry. He crosses the snake-happy Kentucky wilderness with a Vietnam veteran and his ox-drawn wagon, gets arrested as a Yankee spy in the Louisiana no man's land, and lets a party of taunting French schoolchildren have it with a medieval bazooka. Along the way, he meets living historians for whom authenticity means pulling their own teeth out and dyeing outfits in urine, and those who stride back through time with a Nokia and a packet of fags stuffed down their codpiece. "I Believe in Yesterday" is an odyssey through 2,000 years of filth and fury, where men were men, the nights were black, the world was your outside toilet and everything tasted faintly of leeks.
Fascinating though the premise was, this book took me a long time to read, because the author's style didn't click with me for a long time. I found myself reading one chapter at a time, with a different book in between each. The last couple of chapters flew by, though, and I found myself wondering what I'd make of the author's other books, possibly those where he began with rather more enthusiasm for the subject material.