Review: Cinderella and the Sheikh by Teresa Morgan

cinderella sheikHero: Sheikh Rasyn (Ra-sin) Al Jabar has no interest in becoming the next ruler of his homeland, Abbas in North Africa. He decides a Western wife will surely raise the country’s hackles and get him out of the line for succession. When he spies Libby, he thinks he can fulfill his desire to leave the throne and get pleasure out of the arrangement too. He puts on his most charming face and goes in for the kill.

Heroine: Libby Fay is working as a waitress at Hotel Scheherazade in very posh upscale Manhattan. She earns big tips from the wealthy clientele. Waitressing for Libby allows her to wait on people who need a little tender loving care (TLC). She feels that she makes people’s days easier. Growing up, she and her mom would play restaurant, and that’s when she found her calling. This job is the best job she’s ever had and she’s not about to mess it up for a playboy sheikh… even if he’s devilishly handsome and charming to boot.

Review: Libby is no fool. She doesn’t feel Rasyn’s attentions are genuine. He’s only just met her – how can he be in love with her? When he proposes marriage on the first “date” she’s floored. She doesn’t love him, why would she marry him? She says “yes” to help him save face, but an inch given is a mile taken with Rasyn. Twice in the novel, Libby’s mom provides the push to allow Libby to open up to Rasyn. First, he looks at Libby like her father looked at her mother… and then later when her mom asks if she ever gave her heart a chance to love Rasyn. I liked Rasyn’s line about not marrying a man you love, but marrying a man who loves you. I thought that was great! I also like how his plan to bring in an uncultured Western woman backfires. She’s genuine and kind which draws people to her. So while she makes social gaffs like he expected, their results are anything but catastrophic. Poor Rasyn.

[Rating:4]

Buy: Cinderella and the Sheikh (Hot Contemporary Romance)

Story Tropes: Rags to Riches

in-her-dreamsGuest blog by Katherine Givens, author of In Her Dreams

One of my favorite romance tropes is the rags to riches story. I’m not talking about the traditional Cinderella story with talking mice and a pumpkin turned carriage. I’m talking about a hero who went from a street urchin dwelling in the streets of St. Giles to a self-made man who is now a decorated war hero or a successful factory owner. And all this while, as he’s risen through the ranks, his heart has only belonged to one woman. The sheltered daughter of a duke.

Or how about the destitute woman who works as a governess for meager wages? She teaches the ward of her bachelor employer and wears plain clothes, but beneath her exterior is an intelligent, vibrant woman. It is these qualities that capture the heart of her employer.

There are several examples of these rags to riches tales that do not include the talking mice. Look at Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff, the antagonistic hero, is a poor gypsy boy when the father of Catherine Earnshaw brings him to Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff is orphaned when he is found in the streets of Liverpool. With gypsy blood in his veins, he is an outsider to kinder society, but that does not prevent him from losing his heart to Catherine. The two do love one another. Catherine even remarks that their souls are one and the same, but she marries another. Edgar Linton. Distraught, Heathcliff leaves Wuthering Heights for two years. When he returns, he is smartly dressed, wealthy, and educated. He is self-made, and he did it all for Catherine. Even if he isn’t with his love until the hereafter.

Another example is Jane Austen’s Persuasion. The heroine, Anne Elliot, had been engaged to Captain Frederick Wentworth at a young age. However, her family encouraged her to break off the engagement due to Wentworth’s poor and dire living conditions. He was, after all, only a mere commander in the army. Anne gives in and does as her family seeks, but she never stops loving him. Eight years pass until Wentworth reenters Anne’s life. When he does, he is wealthier due to his service during the Napoleonic Wars. His hard work during the wars earned him 25,000 pounds. On top of that, he is dashing, determined, and successful. A man of consequence all through his own willpower. And, of course, he makes for the perfect hero throughout the course of Persuasion.

These characters rise from their poor conditions, only to gain all the riches in the world. Hard work and backbreaking labor are their friends. They know what poverty is like and appreciate wealth when it is finally achieved. On top of improving their lot in life, they often manage to find love. Heathcliff and Catherine reach their love in the afterlife, when their souls become one. Anne and Wentworth are lucky enough to find love in life, and they do not abuse one bit of it.

My debut novella, In Her Dreams, with Harlequin Australia’s Escape Publishing lacks the rags to riches trope. However, it remains my favorite storyline. The novel I am nearly done writing has the rags to riches trope, and I can’t wait to be able to share it. For now, I am excited to share my novella In Her Dreams, which was just released today! In Her Dreams doesn’t have the rags to riches storyline, but it has my second favorite story trope. Entangled love affairs between two sisters and their suitors.

In Her Dreams

A flirty, fun, mix-and-match romance about two sisters who are betrothed to the wrong men…

Evangeline Vernon is a woman on the verge of spinsterhood — until the prim and proper Duke of Manchester steps in. Her family is pleased with the match, but the duke is not the passionate man Evangeline craves. Her heart belongs to an alluring, golden-haired gentleman, perfect in every way…except one: he doesn’t exist.

Angela Vernon is everything a proper, well-brought-up woman should be. She knows her place and understands society’s expectations — which include not being jealous of her sister and not coveting her sister’s suitor. But how can she bear the heartache of watching the only man she loves marry not only her sister, but a woman who doesn’t see past his exterior to the man he is beneath?

Buy: In Her Dreams

katherine givensIn Her Dreams is Katherine’s debut novella, which is published with Harlequin Australia’s imprint Escape Publishing. She is working on a number of other projects and always has ideas flooding her head. In her spare time, Katherine loves to read about history, craft jewellery, and play with her ornery kitten named Bucky. To learn more about Katherine and her writing, please visit the following sites. She loves to hear from readers.

Buy: In Her Dreams (novella)

Movie Review: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella Starring Brandy Norwood and Paolo Montalban

I love Cinderella. I don’t really know anybody who doesn’t adore this type of character. Her story is one of rags to riches; poor in money but rich in love. Take her story, a timeless classic, and add Rodgers and Hammerstein to the mix and you have a hit musical. I love all versions of this musical but my all time favorite stars quite a cast of famous names including: Brandy Norwood, Bernadette Peters, Veanne Cox, Whoopi Goldberg, Jason Alexander, Whitney Houston, and Natalie Desselle.

In this version three new songs are added to the mix. They’re fun, uplifting, and just exciting to watch on screen. The first to appear is ‘The Deepest Love in all the World,’ sung by Brandy Norwood and Paolo Montalban. This song occurs just before they first meet in the market and it’s completely wonderful. It is probably my favorite song in the whole production. The next addition is ‘Falling in Love with Love,’ sung by the unparalleled Bernadette Peters. You really get to know the Stepmother in this sequence. The last is probably my least favorite, but it occurs at the very end of the movie in all the wrap-up so you can easily ignore it and that is ‘The Music in You’ sung by Whitney Houston.

I love the multi-ethnic casting! An Asian prince, a Caucasian king, a Black queen, and so on. Jason Alexander as the prince’s valet is spectacularly funny. Whoopi plays a wonderfully concerned queenly mother who just happens to always want her own way. Wink. Brandy is charming as Cinderella. She really makes you feel that she is Cinderella; her eyes are very expressive. Everyone was wonderful, so even as you recognize them on screen or try to figure out who they are the acting pulls you back into the movie before you can say Bibbity Bobbity Boo.

The choreography, costumes, singing, dialogue is colorful, spirited, enchanting, and just wow. Honestly, if you’re looking for a gift for your daughter, sister, or friend you can’t go wrong picking this movie out. It’s a feel good, put a spring in your step happy movie that gets you singing and dancing around the room just so you can join in the festivities.

[rating:5]

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Review: The Dressmaker by Posie Graeme-Evans

by Zarabeth, guest reviewer

I loved this book!

The End.

Seriously, though, I really really enjoyed this novel. I could not put it down. Not because it was edge of your seat thriller or even hot and heavy it was simply a masterfully-told story. I connected so much with our heroine, Ellen, that I didn’t want to leave her.

There are quite a few ups and downs in Ellen’s life, but I was literally rooting for her out loud. (I think I must have been a bit of a conundrum at bedtime for my poor boyfriend).

Through every trial we get see how Ellen manages to pick herself up when I’m pretty sure I would not be able to do so. Her disasters are tragic and her conquests are miraculous. If you enjoy period romance with light sprinkles of intimacy then this is the book for you!

[rating:5]

Buy: The Dressmaker

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Review: These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer

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These Old Shades is a mashup of several of my favorite romance plots all rolled into one story. It’s a May/December where the hero is significantly older than the heroine. It’s also a Guardian/Ward pairing as well as Employer/Employee. The heroine even goes half the novel cross-dressing, though the hero is aware of this fact. She’s also a bit of a Cinderella figure going from rags to riches. There’s revenge, kidnapping, and a little cat/mouse too. In short, it’s got it all.

The hero is one of the reasons why I love this story so much. He’s portrayed as a dandy with scented handkerchiefs and heeled shoes. He’s keenly aware of fashion and how he appears to others. But underneath his dandyish appearance, Justin Alastair, the Duke of Avon, is an alpha male hero to the core. He’s got an agenda with an old foe, Compte de Saint Vire, and with our heroine Léonie. The only thing he isn’t prepared for is love to knock him right off his dainty yet manly heels.

The heroine is a bit of a spitfire. To some she might appear as simply a fawning submissive under Alastair with her constant “Yes, Monseigneur” and “No, Monseigneur” but in actuality she’s very aware of what she’s doing. Léonie is described as a Nonpareil in the book which means there isn’t anyone (i.e. a woman who is) her equal. For the time period, which is pre-revolutionary France, this is definitely true. She cross-dresses, swordfights, becomes the hero’s personal page, wins over a prince, goes the way of Eliza Doolittle and learns to become a lady, and still manages to mangle the English language.

Georgette Heyer really utilized the side characters in These Old Shades in my opinion. One of my favorite passages doesn’t even contain the hero and heroine though it is entirely focused on them. It’s a section of dialogue between two side characters examining what’s going on between the leads.

These Old Shades is my absolute favorite Georgette Heyer romance. I haven’t read them all yet, but I have a pretty good feeling this statement would remain the same even if I had.

I give it a perfect score.

[rating:5]

Buy: These Old Shades

Find and buy more Georgette Heyer novels.

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