Review: You Belong to My Heart by Nan Ryan

you belong to my heartReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

The setting is Civil War-era Tennessee.

Mary Ellen Preble goes down to the river but gets a surprise when she gets there. Clayton Knight grew up alongside Mary Ellen. As you read this story, you will find that it is linked with actual historical figures. It shows the amount of research or love for the time period that went in to developing this story.

If you like setting your ambience as you get into the mood for reading, I can almost picture reading while sitting on a swing under a huge tree. There would be a gentle breeze and the dress would have to be one from that time period – and don’t forget the bonnet. Or maybe you’re even sitting on a blanket under said tree waiting to enjoy a picnic with your true love.

Maybe you like to travel. Why not take this book and travel around the state of Tennessee and learn about some of the state’s history. It may sound a little morbid but why not go to an old cemetery and find a comfortable spot to sit, read, and try to think if some of those people around you were friends with our couple.

I had no trouble picturing everything in my mind because this author’s descriptions are that good. Nan shows the reader how two people can go from first love, to summer love, and then to a forever love. But with any first love, life and parents can get in the way.

We also see the sad parts – one being a female during that time period. Women had few choices back then and it seemed as if it was always the wife’s fault if the husband didn’t get the things he wanted – just a big bully. It’s also a reminder of how far we have come with a lot of things. But pain doesn’t change no matter if it’s the 1800’s or now.

It also must have been a hard book to write since we know how some of it ends. But you can still feel the emotions that come alive with Nan’s words. If you love(d) the film “Gone With The Wind”, this would make a great follow up. It helps to fill in some of the more romantic scenes that they couldn’t shoot back in the 1930’s.

As you get toward the end, just like the family members of the military, this author has the reader holding their breath until they find out for sure if the main characters got their happily ever after. But you have to keep reading because you want to know if you’re going to be right or wrong. I’ve been reading all types of romance novels for a long time and it’s sad to say that this is the first Nan Ryan book I have ever read. Now that I have, I know it won’t be that long before I read another one. And I hope you won’t wait as long as I did. And if you love a good historical romance, you will get your money’s worth with this book.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: You Belong to My Heart

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Review: Destiny by Victoria Gray

by Carla F., guest review

In Destiny, set during the American Civil War, Emma Davenport has slipped away from the home of her father (a U.S. senator) to travel to St. Louis and marry her fiancé. Along the way she gets out of the train to get some fresh air and notices a manacled prisoner with Union soldiers on either side of him.  The man gives her a suggestive look. Emma is shaken by the thoughts this look causes and hurriedly returns to her seat. Later on, the train is held up by two masked men, but Emma recognizes one of them as the same prisoner she had seen earlier. The men don’t want anyone’s valuables. The prisoner heads straight for Emma and calls her by name. The men are on the train to kidnap her and hold her for ransom!

The Good:

1. Since Emma was raised in very proper home by two strict aunts, I was pleasantly surprised at some of the skills she had and the ones that she didn’t have.

2.  I enjoyed that this was set in the midst of the Civil War, but that no part of the story was set on any battlefield.

3. The way that Emma and Jack get to know each other was fun to “watch”.

The Bad:

1. The bad guy came back one too many times.

2. Would ya please just shoot the gun!

The Ugly:

No Ugly in this one.

Overall: A different sort of Civil War story that has a hero that you will be trying to figure out and a somewhat surprising heroine. It has plenty of suspense, shooting, sexual tension, and lovin’.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Destiny (Paperback), Destiny (ebook)

Reader Highlight with Mailani

Keira: What are your top 5 favorite romance books and what would you name them if you could retitle them?

Mailani:

a) The Wedding by Julie Garwood… aka Peaking up Kilts
b) Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie… aka Stuck Between a Man and Open Toed
Butterfly Heels
c) Rebel by Heather Graham… aka Swamp Thingy’s Bride
d) What She Wants by Lynsay Sands… aka Please Cover your Crotch Before She…
e) Short Straw Bride by Dallas Schulze… aka Small Woman, Big Hoes

Keira: You’re ship is sinking and you’re only chance for survival is to reach an iceberg in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. Which romantic hero would you pick to help you get there?

Mailani: Uncus from The Last of the Mohicans! His hotness will heat the water alone.

Keira: If you’re stuck on that iceberg for a year and could only read one type of romance which subgenre would you pick and why? Your choices are: civil war romance, regency romance, or romantic suspense.

Mailani: Romantic Suspense. Who doesn’t want to slide on ice beatboxing Mario’s Castle music while role-playing your current romantic suspense novel?

Keira: Who are your top 3 favorite romance heroes and why do you love them?

Mailani: I’m a side character lover, there is something about the mystery of the untold characters that just enlighten my imagination. Antonio from The Scarletti Curse by Christine Feehan. Tall, dark, handsome… what else can I say? lol He’s charming, dark and his political affiliations make him powerful, yet he’s gentle and in touch with nature. He’s the epitome of perfect. Uncus from The Last of the Mohicans: charming, sweet-tempered, one with nature, cultural, practices a great deal of control/patients, and a hot bod! Simon Stein from In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner. Simon isn’t defined physically as a hunk, but his demeanor, funny quirks, nerdisms, and his strong, take charge nature turn him into a very romantic hero, whom breaks the mold.

Keira: What do you look for in a heroine? Do you like her to be similar to you, or do you want someone completely different?

Mailani: Yes, I do like heroines to be similar to me, maybe not physically but personality-wise, yes. It makes it easier for me to lose myself in the story and float out their in la-la land.

Keira Looking at your bookcases – what author dominates the shelves? Would you say this author is your favorite and why?

Mailani: Julie Garwood seems to grow on my shelf. I don’t know if her editor has stayed the same over the years, or if she’s just spanks the dictionary on a regular basis, but her quality of writing soothes the grammar hound in me. Her characters are well-rounded and her plots are simple. Which makes a great trap for my wandering mind, allowing me to alter the circumstances in my head and paint my own stories about the characters on a regular basis.

Keira: What/Who is your go to for a solid comfort read?

Mailani: Julie Garwood. Need I say more?

Keira: How do you define love?

Mailani: I’ve always thought as love as a simple thing. Why makes something more complicated than necessary. Love is commitment, passion and honesty. Though the word passion evokes the erotic feel of red velvet and black silk. Passion can be complex emotion. Passion for a craft or person can be wholesome and sweet, just as easily as it can turn to the wicked.

Keira: Is there anything else you’d like to share or discuss?

Mailani: Yes, I’d like to talk about graphic novels, and no it’s not one of those things you pick up in a black sleeve at 7-11! I’m talking about manga or comics. I recently started reading Naruto, and it’s changed my perception of the craft completely. I originally believed manga to be a quick story fix, with a two-bit plot. Boy was I wrong. This story actually has an intricate plot, strong developed characters, romance, action, sorrow, and all those other complex emotions that cultivate from social interactions. Let’s face it, isn’t that why we read our romance novels: to absorb those social realisms, that allow us to feel happy, healthy and human.

Not Your Mother’s Civil War Romance…

guestblog

by Susan Macatee, guest blogger

Thanks Keira and Love Romance Passion for having me (and the rest of the Victorians) here today! Why did I join this anthology? I guess you could say, since I already write Civil War romance and love the period, I couldn’t resist an invite to be part of a Civil War anthology with my Victorian writer friends. :)

Reenactment plays a big part in your time travel story.

What inspired that?

Susan MacateeSusan Macatee: My love of the Civil War period was inspired by my ten + years spent as a Civil War reenactor for the 28th Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment based in Philadelphia. I use a lot that I learned about history as a reenactor to craft all my stories.

But Angel of My Dreams, in particular, grew from my actual experiences at reenactments. Since I reenact as a civilian, I had to pick my husband’s brain for most of the military reenactor’s details, but I also learned a lot from just watching the men on the field and in camp and listening to their stories.

For instance, I had scene where my reenactor hero steps into a hole in the field and twists his ankle. Well, the idea for this came from when my husband was warning my son that if a man ahead of you yells, “Hole,” watch where you step. It’s a warning that a literal hole in the ground is coming up. An unaware man could not only twist his ankle, but break it. Of course, my hero is a bit distracted and doesn’t heed the warning in time.

Other details in this story came from my actual experiences at reenactments; the atmosphere, dealing with spectators, and other little things that outsiders wouldn’t know.

In truth, Angel of My Dreams, was one of the easiest stories I’ve ever written. I felt like I’d been given a gift. And surprisingly, it required no revision and minimal editing, unlike my other stories. LOL.

The writer’s advice to ‘write what you know’ surely did apply with this story.

NorthernRosesAndSouthernBellesExcerpt from Angel of My Dreams:

“Where am I?”

“Shh.” She placed a finger on his lips. The scent of lavender invaded his senses.

He frowned when he realized he was lying on a cot wearing his reenactor clothing. Had he dreamed he’d come home?

“The doctor says you’ll be fine. He dug out the bullet and stitched up your leg.”

“My leg?” Kyle reached down. His pant’s leg had been cut apart at the seam. Heavy bandages wrapped around his thigh.

“This doesn’t make any sense. I twisted my ankle. It’s fine now.”

She took his hand and stroked his forehead. Her touch sent warmth and desire through his body.

“I have to know…” He swallowed. “…your name.”

She smiled. “You haven’t forgotten me already?”

“I…you never told me.”

“Of course I did.”

She leaned away.

He held tightly to her hand, fearing she’d leave again.

“Don’t go.” Her hand dissolved. He couldn’t hold her.

Buy: Northern Roses and Southern Belles

Susan Macatee’s fascination with the Civil War period began when her husband decided to become a reenactor and pulled the whole family into the hobby. We became members of the 28th Pennsylvania Regiment, based in Philadelphia. She’s been writing ever since she can remember and started writing for publication after her youngest started kindergarten. You can find her at: www.susanmacatee.com

Caroline Clemmons: There are many reenactment groups in our area. In Hillsboro, TX the college has an outstanding Civil War Museum as part of the library. In Fort Worth, there is also a Civil War Museum. One funny thing is that when my daughter taught a fourth grader whose father was a reenactor, the kid thought the South won the Civil War because his dad took part in one of the battles the South did win.

Mary Ann Webber: Susan Macatee is our resident reenactor. She and her husband have done this for years. Some of their sons occasionally join them. Susan is a fount of knowledge for the rest of us. She sews her costumes, including corsets and underpinnings. Her complaints about the uncomfortable – even tortuous attire – have opened our eyes to what life for women was really like.

And, of course, her experiences give her own writing real depth.

Jennifer Ross I have a question, Susan Macatee.  Here in Canada, we were going to have a reenactment of the battle of the Plains of Abraham (the English vs. French thing) but the very idea caused such controversy it was eventually scrapped.  The French (they knew they lost that battle, that wasn’t the problem) were concerned it would either be a love-in, where our forefathers shot and killed each other, in between clasping hands and singing songs together, or it would be an “English version” where the only ‘good guys’ were the English.  They distrusted the organizers of the event in telling the whole story, in other words.  So my question is, how do you guys get around that problem?

Isabel Roman: I’ve been to Gettysburg a few times, and marvel at the accuracy of the reenactors! They really get into it. Makes me wonder how the Civil War caught the imagination of so many. I mean you never hear about those crazy Spanish-American War reenactors. Or the crazy folks from the Barbary Wars or Mexican War, or um…the War of 1812 even!

Jeanmarie Hamilton: I’ve never heard of a reenactment group in New Mexico, but I imagine reenacting the Civil War Battle of Glorieta Pass near Santa Fe, New Mexico, would be amazing.

Susan will give away to 1 lucky commenter: A reproduction Victorian brooch, a scented hand fan and lavender bath bead. Remember, everyone who leaves a comment on the day of the post for each of the six days will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Northern Roses and Southern Belles signed by all six authors.

Calendar:

Buy: Northern Roses and Southern Belles

Best of August 2009

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August blew July out of the water! Special recognition must go to Susan S. who wrote 2 reviews and 4 guest posts one of which was a terrific contest (and a challenge!) I got to meet Susan and her sister Isabel on a trip down to Miami which was a blast. After Susan, I want to thank Katiebabs (with Mho Fho & D.D.) and Heather Massey for visiting Love Romance Passion to share their expertise on peaches and sci-fi romance. Then the authors who’ve taken time out of their busy writing schedules to spend a day with us. Last, but not least, to you guys, my readers, whose comments have made all the difference in the world between an okay time and an awesome time. Thank you!

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