A MelanieM Review: A Minor Inconvenience by Sarah Granger

Standard

Rating: 4.75 (rounded up to 5) stars out of 5

Duty, honor, propriety…all fall in the face of love. 

A Minor Inconvenience coverAs Lord Wellington wages war against Napoleon, Captain Hugh Fanshawe, third son of Lord Fanshawe, returns from the Peninsular War permanently injured.  His leg torn apart by a French musket ball, Hugh is reduced to quiet, lonely days compiling paperwork at Horse Guards headquarters, the one place he can still make a difference.

From the battlefields to his office, now Hugh’s life is only interrupted by his mother and sister’s social schedule as he accompanies them to functions and galas.  Hugh’s only solace is that his mother no longer tries to fix his up with “suitable girls” with large dowries, thanks to his injuries.  Then Hugh’s restricted, lonely life is upended with the arrival of Colonel Theo Lindsay.

Theo is everything Hugh is not—a man of physical perfection and easy yet distinguished address. Surprisingly to Hugh, Theo appears to be interested in befriending him. Theo turns out to be a pivotal person in Hugh’s life.  An embarrassing turn of events reveals their fondness for the company of men, and soon, a friendship forms that quickly turns into something sexual and deep.

But there’s a mighty war still being fought, and a suspicion of a French spy at work in the Horse Guards.  The search for the spy’s identity and the subsequent revelations will have drastic consequences on all involved, not the least of which is Hugh’s heart!

What an amazing story!  I am so fond of M/M historical romances but accompanying that love of historical fiction is a critical eye towards the locations, settings, and cultural references of the times.  Too often that’s where a novelist goes astray, with dates, people and events not thoroughly researched.  But not here!  No, Sarah Granger has done a fabulous job of bringing the tumultuous times of the Peninsula War (1807 to 1814) to life in every way.  Through the eyes of Hugh (our narrator) we overhear the correspondence to and from Wellington as the war wages overseas and the incompetence and politics interfering with Wellington’s progress (or lack of) at home.  There are recounted clashes and tortured remembrances of bloody campaigns in Spain, and every scene, every bit of dialog feels believable and authentic.

But Granger doesn’t stop there with pulling us into the life of the English ton and upper society.  Hugh’s young sister, Sophie is fond of milliners, mantua-makers and such and is often found regaling Hugh with the descriptions of her latest gowns even as Hugh’s eyes glaze over.  I adored Sophie and her relationship with Hugh is telling, tender and happily contributes to our portrait of the man.

There are the uniforms of the 52nd Foot, the 95th Rifles and Horse Guards, the dress of the men in formal and informal occasions, the barouches, curricles, and phaeton’s and other horse drawn carriages of the times.  There’s the mention that Hugh’s valet wishes his master would have his coats made at Weston instead of patronizing Scott, an inferior tailor. And when Hugh’s not paying attention, the valet manages to tie Hugh’s neckcloth in the Mathematical style.  I could go on and go, the references accurately framing out the author’s time period for her story and giving A Minor Inconvenience a solid historical  foundation and universe upon which her characters and plot stand quite easily.

However, wonderful an author’s world building translates, it still needs great characters to breathe life into the story.  Hugh and Theo are marvelous characters believable in their ages, experiences and background.  But no matter how much I adored Theo, its Hugh that’s this story’s emotional center.  Hugh sees himself as a stolid, good sort of fellow. Not up to the gloriousness of his brothers and sister.  The oldest George is now Lord Fanshawe, intelligent, responsible and grave in his duties.  The second brother is James, a god in appearance, brave without fault, charismatic and an officer close to Wellington. Then there is Sophie, gorgeous, huge hearted, Sophie who looks like their mother, who made a brilliant marriage because she was and still is a well-known beauty.  And then there’s Hugh, whose eyes and hair color are not a match for his mother or siblings.  He’s serious, hurting over the loss of his career and disability and hiding his “unnatural” love of men. Hugh loves to fade into the background where he thinks he belongs. Trust me, Hugh will grab at your heart with all his awkwardness and serious demeanor.  I adored Hugh, even more so when fitted into his family’s framework ( I love his family as well).  Every character here is a marvel and necessary component to this story.

There is a mystery, well not so much of a mystery as I had the spy’s identity figured out.  This part of the story is the only place that I felt needs a little more construction and layers to it.  We build up to a reveal that never quite comes off as explosive or as dramatic as it could have been.  That said, this part also caused me to bawl like a baby over the pain it causes a a main character and the events that follow.  And yes, I love, loved the ending.  It was funny, believable and a HFN as it had to be while the war was still being waged.

I would love to see a return to this couple and England after the war.  What  happens to Lindsay and Hugh?  Does Sophie ever marry her rose-growing lord?  I need to know and hope there’s a sequel to follow.

A Minor Inconvenience is what is said when referring to the damage done to Hugh’s leg.  It’s just a “minor incovenience” , to all but Hugh who has to live with it.  How I love this story and I highly recommend it to all, not just the lovers of m/m historical romance but romance period.  I am going to search out more stories by Sarah Granger.  I’ll let you know what I find!

Cover Artist ?  I’m not sure who the cover artist is but they did a terrific job with the different uniforms and backdrop.

Sales Links:  Samhain Publishing   All Romance (ARe)   Amazon   Buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 264 pages
Published January 14th 2014 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
ISBN 161921766X (ISBN13: 9781619217669)

A MelanieM Review: The Red Heart by Isabelle Rowan

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The Red HeartDaniel Evans is a man in search of himself, a better, drug free self and heads into the outback to see if he can find him.  Pierced, and goth, complete with black eyeliner and nail polish, Daniel also has a trunk-load of demons to vanquish or at least come to grips with.  He’s on the road to Uluru with his twin brother’s car and no real plans.  Until he runs into Sam Collins, ex-Army vet still dealing with the repercussions of the wars he has fought.

Sam needs the isolation and quiet that the red dirt of the Northern Territory affords him and he lives by the odd jobs he hires out for from station to station.  When ex soldier meets goth on the run, the expected explosion never happens.  Instead two damaged men find the other half of their heart in the red desert and rocks of Uluru.

The Red Heart is perfect Isabelle Rowan.  A quiet story full of magic, strength and endurance, it surrounds itself in the elemental power of the Northern Territory desert and the ancient stones of Uluru, previously known as Ayer’s Rock.  With this setting as a foundation, Rowan brings into emotional clarity two damaged men in search of peace and an end to their anguish.  One, Sam suffers from PTSD and the memories or flashbacks that haunt both his days and nights.  Daniel is a drug addict just out of rehab and looking at the mess he’s made of his life.  He also happens to have a mirror image that underlines the poor choices he has made.  Daniel has a twin brother whose live took a happier, drug free path and the pain of that knowledge only adds on to Daniel’s guilt and confusion.

Rowan’s characterizations come across as completely believable poignant human beings, as does all the people in this short story.  Whether it’s the tourists Sam and Daniel find at  Uluru or the workers at the Station that accept Daniel, although not without a good amount of kidding that never falls into bullying or spite.  The station felt alive, busy and dusty from the red dirt all around them.  But it’s the desert and the ancient formations that Daniel and Sam hike through that give this story its magical power and elemental sense of timelessness.  Through Rowan’s vivid descriptions you can feel the pull of the rocks, the vibrations that flutter through the soul that forever changes Sam and Daniel.

What final part of this story grabbed at me?  The fact that nothing was magically solved or that each man’s problems were eradicated.  No, Daniel and Sam still had issues to deal with,  including once an addict always an addict for Daniel.  But they would be dealing with their realities together.  That made this story and this couple real, and wonderful, and meaningful.

I love this story and highly recommend both the author and The Red Heart!

Cover Artist Anne Cain does a great job with the landscape.  I just wish that the model was a little leaner, someone who looks as though they had hit the end of the road.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press      All Romance (ARe)    Amazon   Buy it Here

Book Details:

ebook, 114 pages
Published March 13th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 12th 2013)
ISBN139781623805500
edition languageEnglish
seriesUnder the Southern Cross

Down Under Author: Isabelle Rowan

Standard

DownUnder_January Is Banner

Izzy

Meet Isabelle Rowan!

Isabelle Rowan is the author of A Note in the Margin, Twelve Days, and many other books listed below.

To get to know Isabelle Rowan a little better, the author agreed to an interview. Look for the interview below and the Down Under Scavenger Hunt word found somewhere within.

✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍

Author Bio 1

By day I teach English and Media in a suburban High School, but whenever I manage to find I spare minute I fill it with writing.

Although I wrote a lot as a teenager academia ate my brain and stifled my urge to write fiction. The odd poem here or a very short story there until a midlife crisis made me pick up my pencil again. Several years of blogging encouraged me to try my hand at longer fiction and my vampire short was picked up by Dreamspinner Press for their Desire Beyond Death anthology.

Although I write mainly mm romance I am also a member of the Australian Writers of Horror Association.

I’m also co-director (with Matthew Lang) of the Queermance Festival. Please have a look at our website and maybe join us! http://www.queermance.com.au

Author Contacts

Contacts/Follow at :

Twitter: @Aussie_Izzy
Goodreads: Isabelle Rowan
Website & blog: http://www.isabellerowan.com
Facebook: Isabelle Rowan
********************

Author Books Stories Down Under1 copy

Isabelle Rowan Books:

InkThe Red HeartThe Road to ByronTwelves Days

 

 

 

 

A Note in the Margin:   Rainbow Awards (Elisa Rolle) – Runner up, Best Contemporary Romance (2009) – Best debut novel (2009)

Blurb: margins

John McCann, a man who judges life by the tally of an accounts ledger, has a supreme goal in life: To achieve, live, and enjoy the rarified executive lifestyle. But he’s encountered one problem: The migraines are going to continue to get worse unless you make some major changes in your lifestyle. What you need is a ‘sea change’… Perhaps buy a nice little business in the country, settle down, something easier to occupy your time…

While John knows the doctor is right, he just can’t resign from the job he’s fought so hard for. He decides the sacrifice of taking a year’s leave of absence won’t interfere too much with his plans, and so he finds himself running Margins, a cozy little bookstore, with the help of the former owner’s son, Jamie. John expects to put in his year, get his stress under control, and then get back to business.

What John doesn’t expect is how Margins and its denizens draw him in, particularly the quiet, disheveled man who takes refuge in the old leather chair in the second-hand book section. John’s plans for an unattached year of simple business crumble when he meets David and is forced to reevaluate life, love and what he really wants from both. John and David are forced to come to terms with their pasts as they struggle to determine what possible future they might build together.

Book Details:

ebook, 276 pages
Published March 2009 by Dreamspinner Press
original titleA Note in the Margin
ISBN139781935192664
edition languageEnglish
seriesA Note in the Margin #1
charactersJohn McCann, David Robinson
settingAustralia

Ink :  Rainbow Awards (Elisa Rolle) – Honorable Mention, Paranormal Romance. (2012)
Snowman  – released mid year (2015)
Novellas:
Twelve Days (A Note in the Margins Story)
The Road to Byron
The Red Heart – our review follows today.
Anthologies:
Under the Southern Cross

Genre(s): Contemporary, paranormal

********************************************

Contests and Giveaways:

1. Today’s Giveaway (thank you, Isabelle Rowan) is an ebook of A Note in the Margin. Enter using this Rafflecopter link here. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2. Down Under Scavenger Hunt – find the Hunt “word or phrase” in bold green . Collect all the words from each author and submit the list in writing no later than midnight on February 1st. Make sure you include an email address where you can be reached. Prizes will be given to 5 people selected, from 1st place to 5th! Happy Hunting.

**********************

Author Qand A

 

A Chat with Isabelle Rowan

What books as a child has the most impact on you?

Stories have always been part of my life. My parents either read to me at night or made up stories. The Wind in the Willows was always my favourite and I honestly believe it still resonates with me in so many ways – I think I was a mole personality (shy and not very brave) wanting to be Toad (adventurous and fearless). By primary school it was The Hobbit and then The Lord of the Rings. Similar themes that I’ve carried over into my own writing – step up, take the risk to be brave and it might just work out. Ha ha, see, I’m still saying might instead of will, but I’m getting there.

Actually The Wind in the Willows plays a role in Twelve Days (Book 2 in the A Note in the Margins series) and this continues into the book I’m writing now – WIP title – Jamie’s Notes.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Wow, there is no one answer to this question, unless it’s everywhere – sights, sounds and smells! Ink came from my favourite tattoo parlor on Chapel Street. While I was being inked it struck me that the small purple room would be exquisite torture for a vampire. The heady smells of blood and adrenaline. Whereas, A Note in the Margin came from an indulgent night spent in a posh hotel in Melbourne and seeing a homeless man bed down on cardboard in a doorway. I didn’t sleep that night. The Red Heart’s genesis was a conversation with my high school students about the concept of home and country. Many of them are refugees and come from backgrounds I can’t even begin to imagine, so it was amazing to hear them talk country and belonging. Hopefully I captured a little of that essence in the central Australian landscape.

Favorite book/story you have read as an adult?

Poppy Z Brite wrote a vampire novel called ‘Lost Souls’ that I’ve reread so many times that I’ve had to buy at least four copies of the paperback (I still have them all). Her character Ghost stays with me. He is an ethereal character who, although human, seems to exist between worlds. He is a true innocent and for some reason that struck a chord for me.

Do you have a certain regimen that you follow as a writer?

Write whenever I can steal some time. I teach high school so that can be hard. Those who know me or my tweets will know that I usually escape to cafes to write – not with wifi. I have the attention span of an insect so don’t need distractions! Somehow, the steady hum of voices, music and coffee machines soothes me to write. I have a release in June, Snowman, that involves cafes and baristas as well as mountains, dogs and horses!

How do you think books written from authors in Australia or New Zealand differ in style, language, and culture?

Hmm, ask some of my poor frustrated editors! I didn’t realise that there were that many differences until I was told I have very Australian sentence structure. Seriously, I didn’t know there was such a thing! But I do know that we have what a good friend from the US calls Aussie-isms. Other than that I think you’d have to ask a non-Aussie because I can’t necessarily spot the difference – too close to it I guess.

If you were a tour guide, what would you like a visitor to see and what impression would you want them to take away with them when they leave?

I was toying with the beautiful Dandenong Ranges (1 & 2), or my local beaches, but I think the sights and sounds of Melbourne would have to win out. Tourists often head to Sydney and Uluru leaving Melbourne for ‘next time’, but it is an amazing city. So, I would base my tour around Art and coffee culture! We have galleries galore as well as wonderful street art. We could take a tram ride around the city or perhaps up to Lygon Street(3) or down to St Kilda(4). Many café stops would be needed as well as sampling delicious cakes and chocolate. So kick back with an espresso and try to decide how to fit in all the theatre, music, and history Melbourne has to offer.

Dandenong RAngesDandenong 2Lygon StreetOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

What are your current projects?

Snowman is just about to start its editing cycle and that should be released in June.
I’m almost half-way through Jamie’s Note (working title only).
I have a zombie YA novel in the works.
I’ve also started musing on a steampunk novel.

Down Under Day 21: Welcome, Isabelle Rowan, and our AUS/NZ Facts of the Day

Standard

DownUnder_badge

Welcome, Isabelle Rowan!

Isabelle Rowan’s book, A Note in the Margin, was my first introduction to Australia by way of a M/M author.  This novel is Australian with every bit of its heart and mind.   From the Australian Christmas to the venues in and around Melbourne, I learned as I read, wept and cried tears of joy.  It’s still one of my all time favorite stories to rec.  So please stop by Isabelle Rowan’s page, learn about all her stories, and about the author herself!  And guess what Isabelle Rowan is giving away for her contest! Yep, A Note in the Margin.    

And because she is from Melbourne, that’s where our Australia fact of the day looks in on:

Australia Fact of the Day – City of Melbourne!

Interesting & Fun Facts About Melbourne:Melbourne City

  • Melbourne is the capital city of Victoria, Australia.
    Melbourne is located in south-east Australia.
    A person from Melbourne is called a Melburnian.
    ‘The Story of the Ned Kelly Gang’, made in Melbourne in 1906, recognized as the first feature film of the world, running to five reels.
    About 90 tons of dog poo is left on the streets of Melbourne every day.
    According to the RSPCA, Melbourne is the “Fox Capital” of the western world, with 6-23 foxes every square kilometer in the metropolitan area.
    melbourneBefore Melbourne came to be known as the ‘City of Melbourn’e, it was called Batmania, Bearbrass, Bearport, Bareheap and Bearbury.  (I personally love Bearbrass or Bareheap!)
    Melbourne’s famous beer, Foster’s Lager, was actually produced by two Americans. – See more at:
    Luna Park, in Melbourne’s bayside suburb of St Kilda, is the oldest amusement park in the world under private management.Melbourne-Skyline
    Melbourne had the first gay and lesbian radio station in the world.
    The expression ‘call girl’ that is used for a prostitute, was invented in Melbourne. – See more at Melbourne Lifestyles

New Zealand Fact of the Day

New Zealand is made up of two primary isles, North Isle and South Isle, with further outlying isles known as the Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands, Bounty Islands, Campbell Isle, Chatham Islands, and Kermadec Islands.  The largest city in New Zealand is Auckland. auckland

Original Maori name for New Zealand: Aotearoa
Original Maori name for Auckland: Tamaki Makaurau

New Zealand has over 4.5 million inhabitants, of which 1/3 lives in Auckland. Auckland is the largest Polynesian city in the world and is also known as “the city of sails”. It has Auckland-new-zealandmore boats per capita than anywhere else in the world.

 

auckland spire