Author Spotlight: Barbara Cartland

bio-sketchOne 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most prolific writers, Barbara Cartland is listed in the Guinness World Record for writing 723 novels and leaving 160 unpublished manuscripts upon her death in 2000.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).

article-1022081-03AC33CE0000044D-697_468x613I 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.

BarbaraCartland.com

[amazon-product]0553028057[/amazon-product]

Common Grounds by Michelle Levigne

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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.

Rating: 1

Available at Desert Breeze Publishing.

Santa in a Stetson by Janet Dailey

Chains

Santa in a Stetson by Janet Dailey. Having read some of Janet Dailey’s previous work, and enjoyed it, I thought I would read her latest release.  I have to admit that I struggled to get through this book.  It was well written and I liked the beginning story where the characters met and fell in love but then I struggled to relate to the main character for the rest of the book.  Most of the book takes place in the desert of New Mexico and the main character, Diana, struggles to adjust to her new surroundings.  Having grown up in the Southwest Desert, I find the desert beautiful and don’t understand when others cannot see the beauty that I see.

I was able to relate to the Diana’s struggles to find purpose and happiness in a secluded ranch after living in a big city.  I do, however, have problems understanding women who don’t figure out that they are unhappy and then try to do something about it.  When Diana first started to dislike living there, I thought she should have found some kind of hobby but that is because I am a doer. In addition, I grew up around horses and cattle so I struggle to understand individuals fears of the animals.

The book was well written and the character development was great it just was not a good fit for me.  I debated about posting about the book since I didn’t love it and I decided to review it in the interest of showing that not every book is a perfect fit for every reader.

Rating 2

[amazon-product]1420106643[/amazon-product]

Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart

photo_7357_20090716Having recently moved, some old favorite authors came to my attention while moving boxes.  My husband kept getting irritated with me when I would get distracted by the books, pulling them out and making stacks of  “to be read” books instead of putting the books away.  Unfortunately, my desire to read is always greater than my free time so the stacks will quickly get out of control unless I am reminded that I own the books and just have to pull them out when I want to read them. I decided to read Mary Stewart’s Rose Cottage.  Mary Stewart has been a favorite for years because I love her Arthurian series but I don’t remember reading anything else by her.

The novel is set in England in 1947 (I debated about tagging it as historical but to me historical feels at least 100 years old so I didn’t), right after the end of World War II.  I have read numerous books, both fiction and nonfiction, that take place during WWII but this is the first that takes place in post WWII England.

The story is a great one about family, community and the mistakes that can greatly impact our lives.  I really like the main character, Kathy’s attitude.  Instead of whining about the sad events in her life, she just quietly moves forward making the best of things.  It reminds me that no matter how tough things are, you can always be happy.

The story was a little slower moving than most other books but I actually enjoyed the pace as a change to the normal.  It is a quick read and most of the plot revolves around the main characters search for answers about her past but there is some romance woven within the story.

I enjoyed this book immensly and give it a rating of 1, some light kissing.[amazon-product]0449000613[/amazon-product]