Genre: Adult

Falling in Love with Books: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

Falling in Love with Books: The Secret Keeper by Kate MortonThe Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
Published by Pan on January 1st 1970
Genres: Adult, Historical
Pages: 602
Goodreads

During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy—her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother.
Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress living in London. The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this may be her last chance, Laurel searches for answers to the questions that still haunt her from that long-ago day, answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past.
Dorothy’s story takes the reader from pre–WWII England through the blitz, to the ’60s and beyond. It is the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined. The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams and the unexpected consequences they sometimes bring. It is an unforgettable story of lovers and friends, deception and passion that is told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world.

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Welcome to Callie from Of Life and Literature, who is joining us for Falling in Love with Books today. She has a very special choice for her book today–ENJOY!

Let me start by asking you a question.

When someone says the words historical fiction to you, what do you imagine?

Give it some thought.

The historical fiction genre, for me, conjures up a plethora of images in my head.

From sword wielding soldiers, medieval castles, tales of war to an insight into the domestic times of days gone by. Historical fiction encompasses so many different types of stories that it can be difficult to pick a book out of the swathes on offer, feeling confident that it will be the read you are searching for.

Step into any bookshop and you could spend hours searching the shelves, baffled by the options before you.

Three years ago I was in that very situation.

Having spent a good few months ploughing my way through the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series by George. R. R. Martin I was more than ready for a break from the bleak world the Stark’s and the Lannister’s. I needed something that would offer me a different kind of escape to that of the fantasy realms of King’s Landing, Winterfell and the danger of the Wall.

So I visited my local Waterstones and spent a few hours wandering its many floors. One book caught my eye and I kept going back to it. It had a dazzling green front cover, the promise of escape entwined within its depiction of a young lady hiding herself from view in a picturesque garden and the title ‘The Secret Keeper’ gave the novel an air of mystery that I just couldn’t resist. The author was Kate Morton; a writer I was familiar with. I had enjoyed her book ‘The Forgotten Garden’ so I was sure that ‘The Secret Keeper’ was going to be a good choice.

I took it home and I read the book in three days. I adored it. I thrust it into my Mum’s hands straight away and recommended it to every person I could.

‘The Secret Keeper’ follows the journey of Laurel Nicolson as she tries to unravel her elderly mothers past. It is sparked by a catalyst in Laurel’s young life, an event that she had managed to hide away in her mind until she realises that, with her mother’s health deteriorating, she may never get the answers she needs. What follows is a mesmerizing journey through the life of Dorothy Nicolson, with so many twists and turns that I can promise you just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, you won’t have.

Kate Morton is an exceptionally talented writer. She has a knack of drawing you in and making you fall completely in love with her characters. Her books are typically set in different eras, with each section flitting back and forth in time. She brings each time period to life in such a beautiful and nostalgic way that you cannot help but feel a connection.

And that is why ‘The Secret Keeper’ is the perfect book to make any reader fall in love with historical fiction. It strikes the perfect balance between historical, mystery, romance and family saga. It encompasses all of these different genres with the historical aspect lying at its heart.

This book is for anyone who wants to escape to a different time but doesn’t want the heavy, fact laden tombs that are normally attributed to the genre. Morton paints the 30s and 40s in ‘The Secret Keeper’ in a way that belies the in-depth research she puts in to every single one of her books. Whilst you are reading it, it almost feels as if you are staring through a window, watching the events unfold. The past doesn’t feel as though it is held at arms-length as it can with some historical novels. You feel as though you are surrounded by history, transported to the time period, with the characters as real to you as the people you know in real life.

What’s even better is that Morton’s novels are full of twists and turns. The jaunts back to the past inform what is happening in the present. She showcases just how important the past can be whether it is on a large or more personal scale. You cannot help but keep turning the pages, urging the story on as there are twists and turns in every section. Morton keeps you hooked until the very end.

‘The Secret Keeper’ by Kate Morton is a perfect representative for the historical fiction genre.

Once you pick it up you won’t be able to put it down.

Thank you, Callie! As many of you know, I adore Kate Morton and all her books, and I was very excited when I discovered that Callie chose to highlight THE SECRET KEEPER for her guest post! What a wonderful glimpse into the delight of THE SECRET KEEPER. If you enjoy historical fiction and you haven’t encountered Kate Morton’s books, you simply must sit down with one of her stories ASAP!

What Katie Read

Falling in Love with Books: The Sherwood Ring

Falling in Love with Books: The Sherwood RingThe Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope, Evaline Ness
Published by Houghton Mifflin on January 1st 1970
Genres: Adult, Historical, Mystery
Pages: 272
Goodreads

Newly orphaned Peggy Grahame is caught off-guard when she first arrives at her family's ancestral estate. Her eccentric uncle Enos drives away her only new acquaintance, Pat, a handsome British scholar, then leaves Peggy to fend for herself. But she is not alone. The house is full of mysteries and ghosts. Soon Peggy becomes involved with the spirits of her own Colonial ancestors and witnesses the unfolding of a centuries-old romance against a backdrop of spies and intrigue and of battles plotted and foiled.

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Welcome to Lory, one of my favorite bloggers, who blogs at The Emerald City Book Review! You may remember that she participated in Falling in Love with Books last year, and I’m so happy she’s back with another book she loves and wants us all to fall in love with as well! Enjoy!

Are you allergic to historical fiction?

Maybe the mere mention of the American Revolution brings on yawns induced by your school days, and you can’t see how any book that includes George Washington as a character could possibly be interesting. Or perhaps you just prefer romance, or fantasy, or mystery, and find enough to satisfy you in those genres without having to dig into the dusty past.

Well, in that case I hope you’ll consider trying a romance/fantasy/mystery that also happens to be partly set during the American Revolution, because if you do I’m quite sure you’ll find it a charming and delightful experience that might even change your mind about George Washington. The Sherwood Ring opens with a young woman of the present day (more or less – the book was first published in 1958) coming to an old house in upstate New York after the death of her father has left her an orphan. While her eccentric uncle tries to defend the estate against the scholarly advances of an attractive neighboring Englishman, Peggy tries to unravel the mysteries of some of her ghostly ancestors, who relieve her loneliness by sharing their stories.

There are no supernatural horrors here, as all the ghosts are benign, but there is suspense and human drama and, yes, a certain amount of history.

Although really it just serves as an atmospheric backdrop for some marvelous characters, most notably a romantic couple that will steal your heart: the dashing British rogue who’s causing trouble for the American rebels, and the clever young lady who is more than a match for him. There are two other couples to be paired up in the course of the novel, but this is the one that makes it memorable.

So please, do try The Sherwood Ring, and see how much fun historical fiction can be. And I hope you’ll move on to Pope’s other book, The Perilous Gard, a Tudor-era historical novel which is even better. You might even find you’ve fallen in love with a new genre, and that would be a wonderful thing.

I don’t know about your, but I had never heard of The Sherwood Ring before Lory mentioned it. I’m definitely going to check this title out as I am an avid reader of historical fiction. Thank you, Lory, for sharing this book with us, and I sincerely hope we have some readers who begin to fall in love with historical fiction after encountering The Sherwood Ring!

What Katie Read

Falling in Love with Books: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake

Genres: Adult, Historical

Welcome to Day 2 of Falling in Love with Books 2016! I am so pleased to host Isalys on the blog who is an expert on all things Historical Romance related. At least that’s what I think…So enjoy today’s romantic post from her today!

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Title: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake
Author: Sarah MacLean
Genre: Adult Historical Romance
Release Date: Published March 30th 2010 by Avon
ISBN: 0061852058
(ISBN13: 9780061852053)

A lady does not smoke cheroot. She does not ride astride. She does not fence or attend duels. She does not fire a pistol, and she never gambles at a gentlemen’s club.

Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has always followed the rules, rules that have left her unmarried—and more than a little unsatisfied. And so she’s vowed to break the rules and live the life of pleasure she’s been missing. But to dance every dance, to steal a midnight kiss—to do those things, Callie will need a willing partner. Someone who knows everything about rule-breaking. Someone like Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston—charming and devastatingly handsome, his wicked reputation matched only by his sinful smile. If she’s not careful, she’ll break the most important rule of all—the one that says that pleasure-seekers should never fall hopelessly, desperately in love.

Historical romance is my comfort food!  I get so excited every time someone asks me for a recommendation or better yet, tells me they’re new to the genre.  If you do ask me for a recommendation, my first choice will always be Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake by Sarah MacLean. In all the books I’ve read, it’s still one of my absolute favorites!  I also think it’s the ideal book to start with if you are new to historical romance.

Calpurnia – aka Callie – is not your typical heroine.  She’s not a perfect specimen of femininity, in physical appearance or temperament. Do not doubt that she is a proper lady, but even proper ladies need to have fun, right? In her quest for fun, she makes a list of nine unacceptable things she’d like to do; things ladies do not do.  After all, if she’s going to be a spinster, she may as well get her kicks while she can.  In pursuit of these nine things, Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston gets sucked in and hilarity & romance ensues. 

Gah, I loved these two!  Callie was committed to completing her list and Gabriel, honorable rake that he is committed himself to keeping her out of trouble! Together they were fun and sexy and romantic and everything I look for in a romantic couple.  I loved that she had real insecurities but didn’t let them slow her down and I loved that he was able to see past those insecurities to the strong, playful, sexy and beautiful woman that she was.

“I’m not a wife, or a mother, or a pillar of the ton,” she waved her
unharmed arm as though the life she was describing was just beyond the
room. “I’m invisible. So, why not stop being such a craven wallflower
and start trying all the things that I’ve always dreamed of doing? Why
not go to taverns and drink scotch and fence? I confess, those things
have been much more interesting than all the loathsome teas and balls
and needlepoint with which I have traditionally occupied my time.” She
met his gaze again. “Does this make sense?”
He nodded seriously. “It does. You’re trying to find Callie

I loved that he understood her and ultimately, isn’t that what we all want from a great romance, to be loved & understood?

Now we are quite a few years into the future from the time this story is set in so the things that are off limits and therefore considered rebellious for Callie to do are probably every day occurrences to us. However, wouldn’t we all love to go on a few adventures and try different things.  If we could make our own list of nine things, what would our lists include?

Below is mine and as a fun little twist, I created it based on some of the adventures a few of my other favorite heroines have been on. (Below each item, I included the title and GR link the the book I referenced to you can add it to your historical romance TBR).

Like Nicholaa in The Prize by Julie Garwood
 
 
Like Susana in The Rogue You Know by Shana Galen

Like Eloise in To Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn 

 Like Beth in The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie
 Like Lydia in Bound by Your Touch by Meredith Duran 

 

I love that you can find such empowered heroines in this genre, especially when set in times of such class and gender-based adversity. As my awesome friend Ang at @Ang_Writes puts it “strong females facing social challenges during interesting parts of history. What’s not to love?”

So if YOU are new to the genre, or maybe you’re not but just haven’t gotten around to reading Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake, I really hope that you do!  And if you do, I hope you love Callie & Gabriel as much as I do.  Tweet me @IsaBookSoulmate if you wanna tell me all about it.

But before you go, what’s on YOUR list???

What a delightful post from Isalys! I love the suggestions she makes at the end of her post and all the books you can add to your Goodreads. So fun! Feel free to tweet Isalys or leave a comment here, and let her know if you have read or plan to read any of these books. See you tomorrow for the next post in Falling in Love with Books!

What Katie Read
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