Title: Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart
Author: Beth Pattillo
Number of Pages: 272
Summary: Claire Prescott is an unemployed office manager from Kansas City who leaves behind her nice, if somewhat neglectful, boyfriend to attend a Jane Austen seminar in Oxford, England. There, she discovers the original manuscript for Pride and Prejudice titled First Impressions. Rumored to have been destroyed centuries ago, it reveals Austen’s secret struggle to find the right leading man for Elizabeth Bennet. Was she really supposed to end up with Mr. Darcy after all?As Claire pieces together Austen’s original story, she crosses paths with a dashing stranger—her own Mr. Darcy—who causes her to question the direction of her current relationship. But Neil’s unexpected arrival in Oxford complicates Claire’s quest to find her leading man, and she realizes that a true hero can appear in the most unexpected places. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart is a lively mixture of humor, romance and intrigue perfect for the Jane Austen fanatic to the hopeless romantic.
Author Bio: Beth Pattillo currently resides in Nashville, Tenn., with her husband and two children. Her passion for all-things Jane Austen began when she studied abroad for a semester at the University of London, Westfield College. She has made regular trips across the pond for the past 20 years, the most recent of which took her on a pilgrimage through Hampshire, where she visited many of the sites featured in her popular book, Jane Austen Ruined My Life. Pattillo is also the author of The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society (WaterBrook Press, 2008), Earth to Betsy (WaterBrook, 2006) and Heavens to Betsy (WaterBrook, 2005), for which she was awarded the RWA RITA (Romance Writer’s Association) award for Best Inspirational Romance. Visit www.bethpattillo.com for more information.
Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart isn’t your typical paperback romance, and for this reason alone I loved it. First of all, the heroine, Claire Prescott, isn’t perfect. Through the course of the novel she realizes her own frailties and flaws and by the end of the book she has made steps towards becoming a better person. She doesn’t blame everyone else for her problems. She learns that having a dashing “Mr. Darcy” sweep her off her feet doesn’t heal all hurts, nor does it rescue her from the realities of life. Her character’s motives and actions rang true for me, and it was refreshing to read a romance that didn’t espouse the notion that all a woman needs is a rich, handsome guy to magically wave away her neurosis by marrying her.
The secondary storyline, that of Claire meeting a slightly daft elderly woman, Harriet Dalrymple, whose greatest secret is ownership of the original First Impressions manuscript (which was destroyed after Jane Austen reworked it into Pride and Prejudice), was a delightful twist in the story. Pattillo imagines how the original plot may have differed from the story we all know, and treats us to her version. I was just as interested as Claire in reading the scraps of manuscript pages doled out to her over the course of a week’s time. For me it was a fun diversion from the main story; for laire it helped provide insight into how her life got off track and the motivation to correct it.
Amidst Claire trying to help Harriet with the secret manuscript and becoming ever more attracted to the dashing James Beaufort, her boyfriend unexpectedly shows up, threatening to ruin the little house of cards she’s built for herself during her week-long excursion in Oxford. Claire has to figure out what to do with an angry boyfriend when she’s got a chance to snag a Mr. Darcy of her own. I was completely satisfied at her solution—and the conclusion of the novel itself.
Overall, Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart is a fun and breezy read. I loved the humor and the light-hearted tone. The only thing I didn’t like is that due to my schedule I could read it only in bits and pieces over the course of a month. I hated having to put it down to attend to more pressing matters–I felt like Claire having to wait for the forgetful Harriet to find another section of the First Impressions manuscript! I recommend this book, especially if you’re tired of reading the same old retread romances.
Archive for the ‘Romance’ Category
Title: No Date for Gomez!
Author: Graham Parke
Format: Ebook: Epub, Kindle, PDF, Custom PDF
Number of Pages: 38 (PDF)
Summary: Gomez’ attempts to secure a date with the new girl in his building are nothing if not unorthodox and alarmingly awkward. But, as fortune would have it, this is not your typical girl next door. This strange creature hides a dark secret, one in which Gomez may well find himself caught up.
No Date for Gomez! is a prequel novella to the No Hope for Gomez! series. It is a complete and stand-alone story. No Hope for Gomez! is now available from Amazon.
No Hope for Gomez! is Graham’s fiction debut. You can visit his website at www.grahamparke.com.
When Graham Parke sent me an email requesting a review of No Date for Gomez!, my initial inclination was to turn him down. The description of his novella didn’t quite appeal to me, and neither did the cover. (I know, I know, don’t judge a digital book by its cover*.) But since I like to give authors a chance to win me over, I looked to see if by chance there was a preview of the first chapter to read. (I like to read a snippet of any book before I pass final judgment.) To my surprise, the entire ebook was a freebie! I downloaded the PDF version, figuring I’d read the first few paragraphs, hate them, and thus feel no guilt in sending a kindly rejection email.
But the first sentence got me interested, so I read more, then a little more, and by the time I finished the first chapter–a mere 2½ pages later–I was hopelessly hooked. I had planned to do some productive work on the computer (paying bills, working on taxes, etc.), but instead I spent the next hour or so reading the entire story, smiling and laughing practically the entire time. No Date for Gomez!is absolutely hilarious.
Gomez is a nerdy, nice guy (sort of like Peter Parker at the beginning of Spider-Man, before he gets his spidey superpowers) who is completely clueless when it comes to people of the female persuasion. He falls for the beautiful new girl in his building, Gretchen, and immediately tries to come up with schemes to get her to go out with him. His priority is to show her how cool he is, so that when he gets around to asking her out, she’ll say yes. Unfortunately, he becomes tongue-tied whenever he runs into her, so their conversations typically go something like this:
Gomez soon becomes convinced Gretchen is annoyed with him, which turns out to be true, but not for the reasons he imagines. My only confusion after finishing the novella was that the dark secret Gretchen is hiding isn’t revealed or even hinted at. When I asked Parke about that, he said that there is more to come. I can’t wait!
No Date for Gomez! is the most fun read I’ve had in a long time. Do yourself a favor; turn off the depressing news, skip the latest episode of Lost, and read this instead. It’ll put you in a better mood.
*Update: Parke provided a new cover that I like better; that’s the one posted here.Disclaimer: “No Date for Gomez!” is a free download. My reviews are not influenced by receiving free review copies, nor am I compensated any other way for reviewing books. I may provide affiliate links where books can be purchased, but I do this on my own.
Title: The Christmas Secret
Author: Donna VanLiere
Number of Pages: 304
Summary: When a struggling young single mother saves the life of an elderly woman, she sets into motion a series of events that will test her strength, loyalty, and determination, all the while setting her on the path to finding true love.Christine Eisley is the mother of seven-year-old Zach and five-year-old Haley. Her ex-husband provides little, if any, child support and makes life difficult for Christine by using the children as pawns. She works long hours as a waitress to make ends meet, but her job is in jeopardy because she’s often late to work due to the unreliable teenaged sitters she’s forced to use.When Christine saves the life of a woman who works in Wilson’s department store, the owner of Wilson’s wants to find her, to thank her, but Christine has disappeared, losing another job once again. He sets his grandson, Jason, to the task of finding the mysterious “Christy.” Jason, an accountant by trade who has lost his job to downsizing, thinks he is “above” working at Wilson’s. Soon, he discovers that this new task gives him more than he bargains for.The Christmas Secret is a novel for anyone who wants to see how love is a gift that keeps giving back; that hope is a treasure that never runs dry, and that faith is a miracle that is reborn with each new day.
Author Bio: Donna VanLiere is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Christmas Hope series and Angels of Morgan Hill. She lives in Franklin, Tennessee with her husband and three children.
I loved Donna VanLiere’s autobiography Finding Grace and so I was excited when I got the opportunity to read and review The Christmas Secret. I hadn’t read any of VanLiere’s Christmas series, though I did see the movie version of The Christmas Shoes (and of course, heard the song.) Since Finding Grace was an almost perfectly
The book begins with a prologue in which the protagonist, Christine, recalls a particular
Later in the same chapter, Christine has a flashback of a conversation with her mother. Again, this transition was a bit confusing. I think the section should have been broken with an extra line of space to better delineate that it’s a flashback instead of mashing
But by far the most irksome thing of the novel to me was the choice to switch from Christine’s first-person point of view to other characters’ third-person point of view. I suppose I’ve read novels before that do this, but I found it quite jarring. I would have preferred Christine’s POV to be in third-person to match with the rest of the characters.
VanLiere choses not to name the town in which the story takes place (or at least, I never saw a name), so when Christine tells us, “When Brad found a job here my mother seemed angry,” my first thought was where’s “here”? The restaurant Christine is working in when she relates this to us? The town? The state? My confusion could have been avoided by simply replacing “here” with “in this town” or by simply giving the town a name.
Some of the writing gave me a chuckle, such as this sentence: “‘Everyone clocks in here,’ she said, pushing open the door to an empty room filled with vending machines and three small round tables with chairs.” (An “empty” room shouldn’t be “filled” with anything but air.) I’m not saying the writing was bad, it just needed a little more polishing/editing.
And one last complaint. One thing about Christine’s character that bothered me no end was the fact that she refuses to allow her ex-husband visitation with their children because he hasn’t paid child support. This is the only reason she continually refuses contact. I find this vindictive and petty. Of course he should be paying child support and is a deadbeat not to. Yes, he’s a jerk to her and pulls nasty stunts of his own to get even. However, he is not abusive or dangerous to her or the children, so there’s no reason she should cut off contact between them. And since she’s desperate for a babysitter, refusing to allow him to care for the children is plain silly. She doesn’t even allow the children to know he stops by to see them. Severing their relationship with him over money is selfish. He is their father and a continuing relationship with them should be encouraged, not used as a weapon. (Besides, he’s more likely to pay up if he actually gets to see his kids.) None of the characters point this out to her; in fact they aid her in keeping the ex away from the children. Disgusting. (Okay, enough of my soapbox.)
So each of these annoyances kept me from really enjoying the book at first. However, after 80 or 90 pages (and a day or so break from reading it) I really started getting into the story. I liked the characters, enjoyed the multiple storylines and how they interconnected, found the romance appealing, guessed most of the twists beforehand (which didn’t diminish their reveals) and didn’t get tripped up with any more of the writing. Most of the mysteries are resolved at the end, and I felt satisfied after the book was finished. It’s possible I’d read the book again, and I am still definitely interested in reading VanLiere’s previous Christmas books. And I plan to watch the movie versions of the books on LMN. Overall, I’d give the book a solid “B” grade. Well done, with plenty room for improvement.
For more information about Donna VanLiere and her books, visit http://www.donnavanliere.com.