Sunday, 20 July 2014

Sunday Wrap Up: Week ending July 20, 2014

Please see below for the four giveaways this week!

Stuart S. Laing Reviews: The Hanging of Margaret Dickson 

I approached this story thinking I knew the rough background to the legend of Half Hangit Maggie; indeed I have enjoyed a pint in the pub named in her honour on Edinburgh's Grassmarket, but Alison Butler has done a simply wonderful job of adding flesh, blood and bones to the story. Her writing breathes life into a fantastic array of characters who bring real colour and drama to the book, and it is easy to lose yourself in the rich reek of the harbour at Musselburgh as fishwives clean their catch amid the jumble of creels and nets, or the heady stink of Edinburgh where thousands live cheek by jowl in a city with little or no sanitation. 

I found myself being drawn deeper and deeper into the story by the skilful use of fact and fiction to create a satisfying whole. Butler's research and deep love of the story shines through and adds real depth to the book along with a plethora of details which just adds to the overall picture. Wonder no more why women go out on hen nights before their weddings! Or why sailors don't wish to be between the devil and the deep blue sea!

From Maggie's childhood, teenage years and her marriage, at the age of 17 which brings more disappointment than pleasure for the headstrong Maggie, we follow her life through its ups and downs. 

Please note this review comes with a giveaway! To read the rest of the review and comment to get your name in the hat for a gift copy of The Hanging of Margaret Dickson, click here


Beggars Can't be Choosier by D.W Wilkin - A Review by Linda Root

It has been less than five minutes since I finished the first Regency romance I have read since I was in college, and my smile has yet to fade. I am still not certain whether I am in my desert lair or in a drawing room in London waiting for the sweetcakes and

champagne promised to the guests assembled there. It seems that I have been away too long. What a miracle that a gentleman who lives in nearby Hemet by the the name of David William Wilkin could so magically transport a colleague on the far side of Mount San Jacinto all the way to London and into a society where elegance and grace were the talismans, but title and wealth were everything.

It would be dishonest to say I was captured in the first paragraph, or even in the first few pages. But I did get the message that a main character in the story was an earl whose pedigree was more impressive than his bank balance, and who was striving to live within a very limited income while still fulfilling the social obligations of a peer. He is living in what we would call a rooming house and having his shoes resoled, but he still dines with a group of men appropriate to his station. And each and every one of them is hunting for an heiress. That revelation was not especially provocative or new. 

I can site a long list of famous men who were fortune hunters from France’s Henri II who married Catherine de Medici for her fortune, not her looks, and Scotland’s famous rouĂ©, James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, who seemed to handfast or actually wed women he did not love whenever he was faced with mounting debt. At least in our group of drawing room bachelors, our protagonist Brian, Earl of Alfleck, is the least inspired of his friends when it comes to grabbing the first heiress who crosses his path. In fact, he is rather waiting in the wings for his childhood best friend Lady Sally to grow mature enough to appreciate him in a less platonic light than that of confidante and soul mate.
Enter Katherine.

Enter Katherine, indeed! What will happen next? You may get a bit of a clue at the review, where you can also make a comment to enter the draw for a free copy!


Bad Boy: The Loving Husband and the Faithful Wife by Kit Power: A review by Anna Belfrage

This little book is too short to qualify as a novel, and given that it contains two stories, it doesn’t quite qualify as a novella either – instead, Mr. Power presents us with two very different long short stories (yes, I know; a contradiction in terms). 
Both stories are told in first person. Both have male protagonists – and that is where the similarity between them ends.

In the first story, we are introduced to a most loving husband. His wife’s every wish he tries to fulfil – preferably even before she has expressed it. He studies her facial expression, registers her tone and analyses absolutely everything she says and does so as to ensure himself he has understood her correctly before deciding on the appropriate action. He knows when she needs tea, when he has to buy her flowers. One gets the impression of a man living very much under his wife’s thumb, eager to please, always attentive.
The man is quietly successful as an accountant. He is promoted and receives a bonus. After some consideration, the man and his wife decide to use the money to build a conservatory. In retrospect, this was a most fateful decision. It will turn our accountant’s life totally upside down, but to say more would be to reveal too much of the plot. Suffice it to say that our accountant definitely has a ruthless streak in him when needed. Very ruthless.

The second story, "The Debt", is much darker. Our protagonist is a working man who has handled unwelcome pay-cuts by maxing out on his credit cards. Months of creative shuffling between one card and the next have resulted in a staggering amount of debt. Poor Del has no idea what to do, so he turns to Tel, childhood buddy, and asks for help. Only problem is, Tel deals on the wrong side of the law, and in Tel’s world there is no such thing as a free lunch. You want money, you deliver…something.

What that might be depends upon. . .something. Go see! Besides--there are TWO free copies of Bad Boy to be had, so comment at the review for your chance to win one of them!


Last week's Wrap Up can be viewed here.

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