Shameless by Anne Stuart

Title: Shameless
Author: Anne Stuart
Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Mira; Original edition (June 21, 2011)
Genre: Historical romance
Source: Review copy
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

My Thoughts:
Shameless is the 4th book in the House of Rohan series and honestly I wouldn’t have picked it up if I had known it was a series book. I prefer to read them in order. But I was traveling and I needed something light to read and this was the only book that caught my attention. Recently my luck has not been very good when it comes to Romance novels. I thought it’s probably because I’m tired of this genre but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It was probably not finding any author to “click” with. I’m trying to read new authors lately and find that none have been to my liking, but this book I liked. I can’t say I loved it but I liked it enough to try other books written by Anne Stuart.

Shameless is a historical romance. After the death of both his wives in child-birth, Benedick just wants to find a docile wife to give him an heir and leave him alone to pursue his own thing. He is almost on the verge of finalizing a certain Miss Pennington when he meets Melisande. Melisande is on a crusade to save all the prostitutes in the city by giving them shelter and a means to begin a new life. When she meets Benedick he is everything that she doesn’t need in a man. He has been “serviced” by many of the girls under her care and is quite famous for his love-making skills. Melisande doesn’t need a guy like him when she has sworn off marriage and “the pleasures of the flesh” because of her experience with her very old husband and later a dispassionate young man. Both Benedick and Melisande are obviously unsuited for each other (talk about clashing interests) but they have to work together to save Benedick’s younger brother and Melisande’s girls. Their attraction to each other is obviously undeniable and they end up falling for each other.

Although the story line is pretty predictable, the heavenly host angle is very interesting. I wouldn’t say the book was outstanding but it kept me engrossed and at no point was I bored with the book. Benedick and Melisande, are both very interesting characters. Obviously a rake like Benedick will be a hero only in romance novels. But that’s the beauty of it in my opinion. I tend to believe most of the crap when it comes to romance novels. I can believe that a rake like Benedick will leave his bad ways and settle down and be a one woman man when he finds the right one. Both the central characters struggle with their attraction to each other not wanting to accept it nor wanting to let it go. It’s a nicely developed romance for sure.

I believe I will track down the other books in this series after some time. After all good historical romance authors are hard to find.

Have you read anything by Anne Stuart before? What book or series would you recommend?

Advertisements

Giveaway: Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran and a pair of Marie Antoinette cupcake earrings

If you haven’t read a single book by Michelle Moran and you love accessible, fun and entertaining historical novels, you don’t know what you are missing. Now that I’ve said that, lets take a look at her latest offering.

About the Book:
The world knows Madame Tussaud as a wax artist extraordinaire . . . but who was this woman who became one of the most famous sculptresses of all time? In these pages, her tumultuous and amazing story comes to life as only Michelle Moran can tell it. The year is 1788, and a revolution is about to begin.

Marie Tussaud has learned the secrets of wax sculpting by working alongside her uncle in their celebrated wax museum, the Salon de Cire. From her popular model of the American Ambassador, Thomas Jefferson, to her tableau of the royal family at dinner, Marie’s museum provides Parisians with the very latest news on fashion, gossip, even politics. Her customers hail from every walk of life, and when word arrives that the royals themselves are coming to see their likenesses, Marie never dreams that the king’s sister will request her presence at Versailles as a royal tutor in wax sculpting. Yet when a letter with a gold seal is delivered to her home, Marie knows she cannot refuse—even if it means time away from her beloved Salon and her increasingly dear friend, Henri Charles.

As Marie becomes acquainted with her pupil, Princess Élisabeth, she is taken to meet both Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI, who introduce her to the glamorous life at court. From lavish parties with more delicacies than she’s ever seen, to rooms filled with candles lit only once before being discarded, Marie steps into to a world entirely different from her home on the Boulevard du Temple, where people are selling their teeth in order to put food on the table.

Meanwhile, many resent the vast separation between rich and poor. In salons and cafés across Paris, people like Camille Desmoulins, Jean-Paul Marat, and Maximilien Robespierre are lashing out against the monarchy. Soon, there’s whispered talk of revolution…Will Marie be able to hold on to both the love of her life and her friendship with the royal family as France approaches civil war? And more importantly, will she be able to fulfill the demands of powerful revolutionaries who ask that she make the death masks of beheaded aristocrats, some of whom she knows?

Spanning five years from the budding revolution to the Reign of Terror, Madame Tussaud brings us into the world of an incredible heroine whose talent for wax modeling saved her life and preserved the faces of a vanished kingdom. (Madame Tussaud releases on February 15th 2011.)

Having read and loved her previous 3 releases, I couldn’t be more excited. So to celebrate the release of this book, Michelle Moran is offering a signed Hardcover copy of Madame Tussaud along with these gorgeous pair of Marie Antoinette cupcake earrings,


all you have to do this
1. Comment on this post with your email id until February 22nd 2011
2. Subscribe (via google reader or any other medium) to my blog for an extra entry (Not necessary)

Oh and it’s INTERNATIONAL.

Uncategorized 65

Rani by Jaishree Misra

As a review for a book, this might contain spoilers but since Rani Lakshmibai is a historic figure, the time line and major events in her life are well known.

Title: Rani (meaning Queen)
Author: Jaishree Misra
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Penguin Global (November 26, 2008)
Genre: Historical fiction
Set in: Jhansi, India
Source: Library
Rating: 4 out of 5

My thoughts:
As an Indian I know that Rani Lakshmibai is known as one of the greatest warriors in India and the fact that she was a woman gives her an entirely different status altogether. It is sad to know that not many people outside India know who she was.

Rani Lakshmibai was born in 1828 with the name Manikarnika and grew up under her fathers love and care. He taught her different languages and horsemanship and everything that was accessible only to a man in those days. She married at the tender age of 14 to the Raja Gangadhar Rao Nevalkar of Jhansi who was almost her fathers age. Manikarna became the Rani of Jhansi and her name was changed to Lakshmibai. See the Jhansi Fort below.

She gave birth to a son 8 years into the marriage but unfortunately he died when he was 4 months old. Her husband died soon after because of poor health. Barely in her 20’s, Rani Lakshmibai had to take over the reign’s of Jhansi. She adopted a boy whom she named Damodar as she had no son of her own. But the British, who had taken control over many provinces in India in the same pretext, refused to acknowledge Damodar as an heir.

As Rani Lakshmibai was trying to find a way out of her predicament, discontent was brewing among the natives in the British army. The discontent reached its peak when British wanted the sepoys to open the new Enfield rifles that were coated with beef and pork fat by biting them. As cows are sacred to the Hindu’s and pork not eaten by Muslims, it was the last straw along with the other problems the native army was facing. This led to the famous mutiny also known as India’s first war of Independence which started in May 1857 in Meerut after which it spread to various parts of India. Many English men and their families were slaughtered and a few of the territories taken back from the British.

Rani Lakshmibai was one of the leaders of the revolt and marched along with an army with her childhood friends Nanasahib and Tantia Tope to Gwalior. Rani Lakshmibai died in battle on June 17th 1958.

The author Jaishree Misra has not only managed to capture the warrior spirit that the Rani was reknown for but has also effectively managed to captured the woman in her. Ms. Misra shows us the child that Manikarnika would have been, the apprehension of a young girl that was married and made a Queen and the fear and helplessness that the woman and ruler of Jhansi felt. Along with this she also captured the loneliness caused by her husband’s and son’s early death and the kind of mother she would have been to her adopted son Damodar.

Equestrian statue of Jhansi Maharani Laxmi Bai...

Statue of Rani Lakshmibai

Rani is not just about Rani Lakshmibai’s life and rule as a Queen. It is, as every good historical novel should be, a story that is intermingled with the circumstances of that time-the British occupation of India and neighboring countries and the 1857 uprising. So the reader does get to know a lot about that time period. I was enraged by the British who conveniently changed policies to suit themselves. Although we were taught all this in school, the details in the book made me feel like I was learning everything all over again.

The only thing I didn’t like about the book is that Rani Lakshmi and Robert Ellis (the British political agent of Jhansi) were shown to have romantic inclinations towards each other, which not only seems absurd but could also hurt the sentiments of a few people (considering Ellis was British and hence enemy). I get what the author was trying to project but she should have taken into account how sensitive some Indians can be about their heroes. But I really do wish that the real Rani found some love with Robert Ellis in reality too. Other than that this book could be a little tedious for someone not interested in the Indian Freedom struggle or someone who is not aware of India and it’s freedom struggle at all.

This book deserves to be read just because it is one of the very few novels on Rani Lakshmibai. The fact that it is beautifully and sensitively written is a major plus point. Highly Recommended.

This book counts for the South Asian Challenge.