Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, August 07, 2015

Taking an unexpected trip with some literary friends

They say that books are a journey of the mind, turning you into an armchair traveler which is not as bad as that sounds. For one thing, you avoid  having to deal with the hassles of planning a trip as well as the hazards that come with an unexpected one which can throw some daunting challenges in your way.

 For example, I just finished reading Lady Maybe by Julie Klassen, where a sudden journey leads to a roadside accident that causes a major role reversal.

Lady Marianna Mayfield is most annoyed at her husband Sir John for deciding to relocate them once again, this time in the Devonshire countryside, with no hint of where exactly they'll be living or any of their regular servants to accompany them. She knows full well that this is Sir John's attempt to keep her away from her lover Anthony Fontaine, who she vastly prefers.

 Marianna has no choice but to go, yet the reappearance of her former paid companion Hannah Rogers gives her the chance to have a familiar face to join them. During the long carriage ride, a slippery road causes an overturn, leaving Sir John and one of the women beside him gravely injured.

When that lady manages to regain her senses, she realizes that her identity has been mistaken yet is not quick to clarify things right away. For one thing, she has a bit of a secret that affects more than one person and only wants time to recover fully.

I don't want to give away any more than that but I will say that there is more than one love triangle and the decision to stay or go is not easily made. Klassen has a flair for Regency set tales, such as The Secret of Pembrooke Park that I had the pleasure of reading earlier this year, and Lady Maybe is a fine follow-up in the spirit of that story.

The plot does get a tad melodramatic towards the end but the characters are so engaging that you become more than willing to overlook such minor stumbles. There is a element of moral ambiguity here that enhances the book but is not too far from more conservative style that the author is known for to truly estrange her from fans of her previous work,in my opinion.

Lady Maybe is a solid entertainment that should delight historical fiction fans, especially those who like a little tormented romance added into the mix:

At the moment, I'm reading about another unexpected trip, Nina George's The Little Paris Bookshop, the store in question actually being a boat on the river Seine. Jean Perdu is known as the "Literary Apothecary", a man who can match a book to each customer's mood and whose recommendations are meant to heal their spirits.

Perdu has a secret sorrow of his own, a wound of the heart that promises to never close. Yet, the discovery of a long lost letter spurs him to action. He pulls up anchor and sets forth to the town of Avignon, to see if that long ago love is truly gone for good.

Accompanied by a young and reluctantly famous writer named Max, Perdu takes a truly sentimental journey that may open up a real future for him and more than one new friend. This book is just oozing with charm, even in such small scenes as a dinner preparation or simply taking the stairs up into an apartment building where several neighbors are encountered before reaching your front door.

Even if you're not a Francophile, which I'm not, the flavor of France is warmly appealing  and practically wafts off the pages. Thanks to the folks at Blogging for Books, I get the chance to explore the bookish streets of Paris from my own small corner of the world:

Right now, I'm eagerly watching my mailbox for my new book rentals from Booksfree to arrive, one of those titles being Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown.  And yes, there's a really unexpected trip included in the plot.

The story is set in 1819, where chef Owen Wedgewood is given the culinary challenge of his life. Captured by pirate queen Mad Hannah Mabbot, she commands him to make her a fine meal every Sunday at sea or else, he'll be serving up supper at Davy Jones' locker.

Owen does the best he can with the meager supplies the ship has to offer and some of their stops do provide him with interesting ingredients. However, Mad Hannah's quest for vengeance threatens to make all on board wonder if each dinner will be their last. From what I have heard about this book, there is a strong amount of old school cookery that flavors the story line nicely and I'm really looking forward to tasting the words of this culinary Scheherazade :

While expecting the unexpected is a bit of a contradiction in terms, it does make for a more interesting story there. It also makes your stay-cation plans much more enticing, even if those involve camping out at your favorite book store which is not as glamorous as it seems. Then again, books do have an allure that the best holiday spots just can't duplicate:

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