The Merest Loss by Steven Neil @stevenneil12 @rararesources #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my review today for The Merest Loss by Steven Neil as part of the Blog Tour with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. My huge thanks to Rachel for the invite and also to Steven for a copy of his book.

Synopsis:

The Merest Loss

A story of love and political intrigue, set against the backdrop of the English
hunting shires and the streets of Victorian London and post-revolutionary Paris.

When Harriet Howard becomes Louis Napoleon’s mistress and financial backer and appears at his side in Paris in 1848, it is as if she has emerged from nowhere. How did the English daughter of a Norfolk boot-maker meet the future Emperor? Who is the mysterious Nicholas Sly and what is his hold over Harriet?

Can Harriet meet her obligations and return to her former life and the man she left behind? What is her involvement with British Government secret services? Can Harriet’s friend, jockey Tom Olliver, help her son Martin solve his own mystery: the identity of his father?

The central character is Harriet Howard and the action takes place between 1836 and 1873. The plot centers on Harriet’s relationships with Louis Napoleon and famous Grand National winning jockey, Jem Mason. The backdrop to the action includes significant characters from the age, including Lord Palmerston, Queen Victoria and the Duke of Grafton, as well as Emperor Napoleon III. The worlds of horse racing, hunting and government provide the scope for rural settings to contrast with the city scenes of London and Paris and for racing skulduggery to vie with political chicanery.

The Merest Loss is historical fiction with a twist. It’s pacy and exciting with captivating characters and a distinctive narrative voice.

Purchase Links Amazon UKAmazon USIndependent Author Network

My Thoughts:

This is a historical fiction set in the mid-1800’s. Harriet Howard was a bit of a handful growing up, something that definitely continued into adulthood, to say the least. A woman who finds herself in an impossible situation working for the British Government.

This for me came across as a very well researched story that mixes backroom deals that have implications both in Britain and France, with the corruption and “Gentlemen’s Agreements” of those in a position of authority and power. Harriet finds herself in the midst of this and is suitably positioned to set the wheels in motion for the benefit of politicians.

Into this story is one of the racing world, courtesy of Harriet’s friend Tom and her lover Jem. Here again, the author either has an interest/knowledge of or has researched excellently the details. So many little facts and snippets have been intertwined within the story, and this for me was only interesting and informative, as well as great reading.

The historical content of the story was really well done and I found it engaging, though on the odd occasion I did think that some of the details were given a little quick and just fell off the pacing and feel of the story.

The author has done a wonderful job with this story and it left me wanting to know more, and a trip around the internet for further reading was in order. This book introduced me to a lady I had previously know nothing about and I came away wanting to know more. For me, this is a big bonus, and it shows that the author has definitely engaged my attention for me to spend time on further reading.

The story of Harriet and also the people she met shows a woman who played her part, made the best she could out of an impossible situation. It showed that she was the leading lady she always wanted to be, but not in the way she imagined, a lady that was very much misunderstood and maligned by many, and one I now have a lot of respect for.

This is a really good read and one that would definitely appeal to readers of Historical Fiction, Historical Romance in the mid-1800’s, set in Britain and France. A book that would interest many and one I would definitely recommend.

About the Author:

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Author Bio – Steven Neil has a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics, a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the Open University and an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University. In his working life, he has been a bookmaker’s clerk, management tutor, management consultant, bloodstock agent, and racehorse breeder. He is married and lives in rural Northamptonshire.

Social Media Links – Facebook and Twitter

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What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean @CarrieKablean @RedDoorBooks #LoveBooksGroupTours #BookReview

 

9781910453612I am sharing my thoughts on “What Kitty Did Next” by Carrie Kablean, this is available to purchase from Amazon UK in paperback or ebook format. My thanks to Red Door Books and Kelly at Love Books Group Tours for my ebook and also my spot on the tour.

Synopsis:

England, 1813 – Nineteen-year-old Catherine Bennet lives in the shadow of her two eldest sisters, Elizabeth and Jane, who have both made excellent marriages. No one expects Kitty to amount to anything. Left at home in rural Hertfordshire with her neurotic and nagging mother, and a father who derides her as ‘silly and ignorant’, Kitty is lonely, diffident and at a loss as to how to improve her situation. When her world unexpectedly expands to London and the Darcy’s magnificent country estate in Derbyshire, she is overjoyed. Keen to impress this new society, and to change her family’s prejudice, Kitty does everything she can to improve her mind and manners – and for the first time feels liked and respected. However, one fateful night at Pemberley, a series of events and misunderstandings conspire to ruin Kitty’s reputation. Accused of theft – a crime worse almost worse than murder among the Georgian aristocracy – she is sent back home in disgrace. But Kitty has learnt from her new experiences and what she does next does next will not only surprise herself, but everyone else too.
Based on Jane Austen’s much-loved characters, this is the story of one young woman’s struggle to overcome the obstacles of her time and place and truly find herself.

My Thoughts:

As is the norm for me, I tucked into this book without reading the synopsis and I couldn’t help thinking I had heard of these characters somewhere before, I also had a voice of some of them in my head, it was strange so I read the synopsis and realised that this was a book about Kitty Bennett, one of the Bennett sisters from Pride and Prejudice. I love Jane Austen’s classic book and love the film.

So a new to me author writes a book about characters I am already familiar with, this is quite bazaar. I remember Kitty and Lydia being the really silly annoying girls, who were fixated with “Officers”, getting noticed and married. The author has taken over the story of Kitty and I really loved the way she has done this. The often left out one, ignored one or in the way and stupid one, my heart really did go out to her. It was great to see a change in this character grow and develop. Once out of the shadow of Lydia, Kitty comes to the realisation that she is indeed very childish and in order to be more readily listened to she must learn to grow up.

As the story progresses the author has not made it easy for Kitty, there are some obstacles that have been added and it is interesting to see how Kitty approaches these and acts to them. I really found myself warming to her as the story continued and it wasn’t long before I was willing her onward to find what she wanted in her life.

The whole feeling of the story from start to finish oozed the sense of fashion, social gatherings, etiquette as along with the setting I felt as if I had been transported back into the early 1800’s and a great continuation to a story I adore.

I would absolutely recommend this to readers of historical fiction, romance and general fiction. It is a story that continues on from a classic and reads well as a stand alone. If you are not a reader of classics then do not be put off, this is a fabulous and well paced book that will appeal to many readers.

About the Author:

Carrie Kablean began her career in London, where she was born, and now lives in Australia. Arriving in Sydney in 1990 (via eight years in Papua New Guinea, during which time she edited the local newspaper on Bougainville), she was with The Australian newspaper for more than 20 years, and was, concurrently, a theatre critic for the Sunday Telegraph.

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