Saturday, July 15, 2006

Recent Reads - a couple of very good ones

Since I'm not firing on all cylinders these days, I'm going to cheat a bit here and rely on the description of others for these reviews.

The Gate to Eden – Cathy McDavid

Back cover blurb: Maddie Campbell was not your ordinary thief. A widow and mother, she liked to think her wealthy victims were merely "donating" to the many others of the mining community who had been left with nothing. Maddie was quite good at what she did…until a former lawman arrived in Eden to investigate the recent spate of crimes. He didn’t need to say a word; his piercing gaze arrested her on the spot. Despite her efforts to throw him off track, he was determined to draw out all her secrets in the most exquisite ways—soft caresses, passionate kisses, and exploration of her most intimate places. But when confronted with the truth, would he choose love or the law?

I bought this one because it was a Western, I liked the cover and it was a new to me author. And you know what? Sometimes it pays off big time to take those chances. I loved this book. Maddie is a great heroine. She does what it takes to take care of her daughters and others. She is a Western Robin Hood type. She’s brave and imperfect and wonderful. Scott McQueen is an honourable tortured hero who made a decision he felt was the right one years ago and has been haunted by it ever since.
I really get a case of the warm and fuzzies when I find a good book and this one gave me a good case of them.
Grade 4 ½ out of 5

The Nightingale's Song – Kathleen Eschenburg

Amazon blurb: Against the evocatively drawn backdrop of Baltimore and Virginia 10 years after the Civil War, first-time author Eschenburg spins a gentle romance rich with emotion and vivid detail. Haunted by his inadequacies as a father, Dr. Gordon Kincaid, a hardened war veteran and widower from the South, is determined to find a mother for his son, Gordy, and his recently discovered illegitimate daughter, Clara. Gordon has his sights set on a frivolous, high society miss, but when he meets Maggie Quinn, Clara's Irish schoolteacher at St. Columba's orphanage, he begins to believe in second chances. Maggie soon finds herself torn between the safety of a future in a convent and the terrifying exhilaration of her attraction to Gordon. At the same time, Maggie's socially unacceptable Irish-Catholic heritage and Gordon's hardheaded search for an instant mother threaten to tear the two apart. Brimming with tangible historical details, sensitive prose and a wealth of poignant scenes, Eschenburg's love story easily escapes the sometimes confining predictability of the romance genre and breathes a fuller life into it.

For the life of me I have no memory of buying this book or why I did. I must have bought it new when it first came out because I found it in a box of books downstairs. At that time I wasn’t as into trying new authors as I am now. But am I ever so glad I picked this one out of the box and decided to read it. The blurb says it better than I can. This is a rich and very well written story of the redeeming power of love. At the risk of gushing, this book is awesome! It’s warm and tender and heartbreakingly good. I see she wrote a prequel four years after this one. I’m certainly going to track it down!
Grade: 5 out of 5

It was so refreshing to read to such wonderful historical books that had a different setting.

'til later

After reading Wendy's comment, I checked her review at The Romance Reader for Nightengale's Song. When I said I didn't remember when or why I got it, the light dawned. It was after reading her review I got it. That's a long time to be in a TBR pile. Here is her review said so much better than I did.


Suisan said...

I just found a book by Kathleen Eschenburg in my trading box. Had never heard of her, but I remember the blurb looked interesting. I'm thinking I'll track it down in the morning and check out what the title/back-blurb is.

ReneeW said...

I have never heard of either of these authors but you have peaked my interest. I'm going to see if I can find them.

Kristie (J) said...

Suisan - You'll have to let me know which one it is. Sadly it will be either one of two, because I think she's only written the two.

Renee - I was really impressed with both of them. And I have more good ones to come. I've been on a real tear lately with good books.

Wendy said...

TNS is one of my all-time favorites. I reviewed it for TRR when it first came out and to this day I gush endlessly about it to anyone who will listen. The prequel is still buried in my TBR somewhere. Eschenburg has children, and is a breast cancer survivor, which is why I think she hasn't been more prolific.....

Kristie (J) said...

Wendy: You know something? I just went back and read your review of The Nightingale’s Song at TRR and I think it's your excellent review that prompted me to get it five years ago!!!!!
What a small world. A much belated thank you for recommending this one :)

Wendy said...

I gave it the glowing review, and the reviewer at AAR was apparently on crack at the time because it got like a C over there! Hello?!?! A C!!!!!!! So I'm glad you read my review :-)