One of the world’s most prolific writers, Barbara Cartland is listed in the Guinness World Record for writing 723 novels and leaving 160 unpublished manuscripts upon her death in 2000. She survived two World Wars and was awarded the Bishop Wright Air Industry Award at Kennedy Airport USA for her help in devising and creating the first aeroplane-towed glider. Barbara gathered thousands of white wedding dresses available for rent by women getting married to service men during WWII so they could have a wedding dress to wear to the ceremony. Barbara was made a Dame of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honours List by Her Majesty the Queen, for her contribution to literature and for her work for the Community.
Most famous for her romance novels, Barbara also created cookbooks and wrote several biographies. Born in 1901, Brabara was raised in England and published her first book in 1923. She is considered the “Queen of Romance” for her contributions to the romance genre. Barbara Cartland’s books have been made into several movies including The Lady and the Highwayman starring Hugh Grant (which I own and laugh through even if it is slightly cheesy).
I think I read my first Barbara Cartland book when I was about thirteen. My mother would read them first (to make sure it was clean enough for me to read) and then she would give them to me. It wasn’t long before I was reading them faster than she was (I know, having five children and working full time doesn’t excuse her from not reading fast enough). Mom and I both realized that all her books were safe for me to read and I would estimate that I have read at least a hundred of her books. Most of them take place in Victorian England and involve a beautiful naive girl and a jaded rake. I love them all!
In my collection of books (which is vast) I have one bin of books just for her because I have so many. (Someday I will have a real library but for now an organized Rubbermaid storage bin is the closest I come.) Rereading one of her books is like coming home. I spent long hours in the living room of my parent’s chaotic house curled up in the sun reading (or hanging upside down on the couch, I can’t figure out now why I loved to read upside down so much). Anyone who asked my mother what she would recommend to read was handed a Barbara Cartland.
Barbara Cartland’s daughter is in the process of getting her unpublished manuscripts finished and published, they can be purchased through the link below at BarbaraCartland.com. I highly recommend her books and they can be found at any used book store that carries romance novels (see my previous post regarding my experience with used books stores). I hope you pick one up and let me know what you think.
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I have the unique opportunity to review for two websites. In addition to reviewing on this site, I am going to be reviewing for Classic Romance Revival. They are a great site also dedicated to clean romance novels. This is the first review I have done for both sites. Check them out!
Hannah Blake had finally decided to put her unrequited love for her boss, Xander Finley, on the back burner to get on with her life when she finds a dead body at the office. As Hannah and Xander work with the police to investigate the “White Rose” serial killer, Hannah finds herself at the center of the investigation when the killer decides Hannah is his new “true love.”
When Hannah’s life is threatened, Xander is forced to fully look at his life and realize what losing Hannah would do to him. As the killer gets closer, Xander and Hannah get closer but Xander finds it difficult to convince Hannah that his feelings are real and not just a product of the situation.
For the most part I really enjoyed this book. The character development was great, the plot moved along well and I really liked that the main male character was not drop dead gorgeous. (I mean really, how many times do we meet a Brad Pitt?!) I really liked how the characters had a long relationship with each other and that love had grown with that relationship. The White Rose killer story line was believable and had me mentally pointing the finger at several different characters as the novel progressed.
This is not the first book in the series and there were several moments where I felt that I needed to have read the first books to really understand what was going on. I also really struggled with all the minor characters. There are a lot of minor characters and we are given some background history on almost all of them. I really struggled to keep all of them straight in my head and found myself having to stop to reread portions of the book to try and figure who was who.
The book was left wide open for another in the series and there were minor story lines that flowed throughout the main thread that could easily be picked up in other novels. I will definitely read the next book in the series. I love it when the characters I have fallen in love with are in other books. I would recommend reading Common Grounds.
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Sorcery and Celia, or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer is the first book in a trilogy. The book takes place in Victorian England but magic exists. Most of the book is told through letters between two cousins, Celia and Kate. It took me a minute to get used to the writing style since both characters speak in first person because they are personal letters that are written but once I got used to it the story flowed easily. Kate is in London partaking of the London Season while Celia is in the country which is why the women are writing to each other. Right after Kate arrives in London she is mistaken for another character and is almost killed by poisoned chocolate. Kate and Celia spend the rest of the novel trying to figure out why she was almost poisoned and as they get closer to the answer both their lives are threatened numerous times. During the investigation both women meet men who start to play a large part in the mystery and in their own lives.
I love the friendship the two women share and the bond that exists between them that is evident in their letters. It is nice to see such a friendship between two strong women. I also love the women’s attitude toward their family members. It reminded me of my own crazy family, where an aunt drives everyone nuts but you love them anyway. The story brings to light the foibles and weaknesses the two women have in addition to their strengths and I couldn’t help but think of the saying that we admire people for their strengths but love them for their weaknesses. It is the way the women handle their weaknesses, while acknowledging them, that make the characters so endearing (in addition to their great wit).
This is one of my favorite series and I have read it several times. I highly recommend it the entire series.
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