Tag Archives: marriage

Woman of God by James Patterson with Maxine Paetro

IN 2002 I bought my first ever brand new car. During that initial year of ownership, I was stopped at a red light on Sheridan and was rear-ended – twice. Over the life span of that car it was in so many accidents I was on a first name basis with the owner of the collision shop. Even though the majority of these incidents were not my fault, my insurance went up because I (or perhaps that particular car) was considered “jinxed”.

In James Patterson’s novel, Woman of God, the main character, Brigid Fitzgerald, is jinxed. Not only does she find herself in difficult situations, but those around her are also endangered with many unable to survive the ordeal. Brigid herself is not left unscathed, experiencing a multitude of near death experiences.

How does this girl, an on again, off again Catholic, end up being considered for the role as the “first” female pope?

It starts with a stint in South Sudan as a member of the staff for Helping Hands (a sort of Doctors Without Borders). Brigid, a young doctor just out of medical school, is thrilled to be at this remote location – think “MASH on Steroids” – right in the middle of the action. When the protective forces move on, the unit is left to the mercies of an adversary who refuses to distinguish between neutral volunteers or the enemy in their quest for genocide. Instead of evacuating, Brigid tries to save one more victim, becoming a target herself. When her vitals indicate death she has an out-of-body experience resulting in an ethereal connection to God after the medics on the rescue chopper bring her back to life. Despite this divine linkage, her continued exposures to traumatic events make her question the existence of a deity, yet God relentlessly reaches out, wordlessly urging her forward. Brigid’s bad luck isn’t helped by her insistence on placing herself in dangerous situations, tempting fate. Even when trying to eke out a somewhat normal life, trouble follows her and those she loves.

After various encounters with the assorted men who are drawn into her circle, she eventually settles down and marries a Priest. Becoming disenfranchised with the Roman Catholic Church, he starts the JMJ (Jesus Mary Joseph) Movement for forward thinking Catholics and other believers. Within a few years, the movement leads to a chain of churches across the United States and into Europe. Brigid is ordained a Priest and her popularity draws huge crowds plus all manner of enemies who disdain what they consider her blasphemy. After her five year old daughter nonchalantly mentions that her mother talks to God to one of the stalking media, Brigid suddenly finds herself on Sixty Minutes admitting her connection with The Lord to the world. This leads to an audience with the Pope and the speculation that she is next in line for the papacy.

What goes around comes around. While my Saturn celebrated its last day of service by spewing its subframe onto the road at the very same intersection as its first accident, Brigid finds herself at a crossroads, not knowing what comes next, but leaning towards the same activities which brought her a sense of fulfillment when she was in her early twenties, back in South Sudan. Whether she survives her further anticipated adventures is up to the reader to decide.

A great book for the light reader who wants some quick entertainment. Cowritten by Maxine Paetro, this is one of a myriad of publications by the Patterson machine, whose popularity endures no matter how many books a year he cranks out.

However, if you want something more from your reading material, keep searching. Trying to create an anology between Brigid and Job, the authors throw one catastrophe after another into her path. While there is a lot of action, everything is superficial, and all too often the reader has to suspend all sense of reality. The writing lacks depth, the characters are one dimensional, the plot moves too quickly and at times is confusing or even senseless due to a lack of detail. I won’t even mention the two to three page snippets called chapters. I personally feel this is an outline for a movie, with its faced paced “drama and trauma”. Brigid travels throughout the world with stops in the Sudan, Italy, Germany, and the United States, flitting from one locale to another meeting a myriad of characters who may or may not be significant in her life. I certainly hope Carrot finds her way home, but we never do discover what happens to the majority of Brigid’s chance encounters unless they die while driving her somewhere. Not my cup of tea, but obviously beloved by others. A generous three stars.

This review also appears on Goodreads.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Celie’s life has been full of abuse since she was a small child. When her mother becomes too ill to satisfy her husband’s needs he turns to his preteen daughter, fathering then getting rid of her two newborns, and eventually farming her out to be the wife of another man so she can take care of HIS house and children. Once again, Celie becomes a receptacle, this time for her husband. Despite the verbal, emotional, and physical abuse, she works hard and quietly accepts her fate, obediently doing what she is told. Her one moment of rebellion involves her sister Nettie whom she harbors from the leacherous attentions of their father. Nettie is sent on her way when she refuses the advances of Mister, Celie’s husband, but vows to write (unless she is dead). When after years of waiting and no letter is received, Celine assumes the worst, another blow in her lackluster life. Yet there are women who refuse to be dominated by men. Shug Avery, Mister’s mistress, becomes an ally of Celie, teaching her the joys of intimacy. Then there is Sophia, step son Harpo’s wife, who refuses to be bullied by any man, physically reciprocating the violence. This, of course, gets ugly when Sophia accosts the mayor after “sassing” his wife for assuming she would jump at the chance to be a maid for a white family.

As we follow the life of Celie we slowly watch as she finds her voice with the help of Shug, Sophia, and even Squeak (Harpo’s mistress). With her newfound independence many truths are revealed, changing her outlook on life. The story is told in “letters” at first beginning Dear God, then switching to Dear Nettie when Celie looses her faith in the Almighty.

Now what I’ve neglected to mention about the book The Color Purple by Alice Walker is that Celie is black, living in rural Georgia during the depression, so not only does this story deal with misogyny, but also the racism still prevalent in the south sixty to seventy years after the Enancipation Proclamation.

There are so many facets to this story, I can see why it won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for Fiction. It’s raw language and unabashed references to sexuality has also earned it a consistent place on the banned book list.

While the depressing aspects of Celie’s life should leave us in a morbid funk, this is a story about the strength of family and friends, full of the promise that people’s attitudes and behaviors can change in a positive manner providing hope for a brighter future. It helps that I listened to the tape narrated by Alice Walker who brilliantly brought the characters to life. Little wonder The Color Purple provided a plot perfect for the stage and screen.

A must read. Five stars.

Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel

“Even things that seemed ordinary or ugly at first could be beautiful,” thinks Rachel, the daughter of a paleontologist, accurately depicting the dilemma of this strikingly intelligent, talented, but plain young woman who wants to go to university and study in the same field as her father. Despite her unusual upbringing as an assistant to her exacting dad, Professor Cartland, a women in the 1880s was not expected to be a scholar, let alone have a profession. She is destined to be a wife and mother even though Rachel spurns all the social events created for matchmaking. Without a mother to guide her, Rachel lacks the finesse of a socialite befitting her father’s prestigious station. Samuel Bolt, also motherless, has been trained to assist his Quaker father, “Professor” Michael Bolt, in similar pursuits. Father and son are both good looking and used to charming the women they meet, but it is different with Rachel who intrigues Sam with her mesmerizing blue eyes.

To make matters more complicated, their fathers are bitter rivals out to best one another, even if their methods lack a sense of honor. With the prevailing theme mirroring the Hatfields vs the McCoys, the young couple are destined to fall in love despite their fathers’ enmity. Add in an archeological dig at a bone bed out in the Badlands of Nebraska where the Lakota Sioux threaten their very lives as the two competing professors hunt for the perfect dinosaur fossil, and you have the plot of the book, Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel.

Not everyone acts honorably and there is enough disgusting violence to please the lovers of rowdiness in their western novels. It is difficult to feel connected to any of the characters whose egotistical pursuits in the name of science seem underhanded and self serving. The young lovers, despite their flaws, try to do the right thing in most situations, but both have difficulty looking beyond their own needs. After they finally tie the knot, the reader is exposed to the stumbling awkwardness of their first sexual encounters, but one can’t help but root for a successful outcome for the two youngsters after they survive the numerous adversities which keep getting thrown their way. The book alternates between Sam and Rachel’s narration as the story unfolds.

What pushes this book up a notch is that the premise is loosely based on The Bone Wars (also known as the Great Dinosaur Rush), an intense rivalry between Dinosaur Hunters Edward Cope and Othniel Marsh. Who knew that a true story about two scientists hunting for prehistoric fossils could be so entertaining?

Four stars for a quick and eventful read perfect for the YA crowd and a thank you to Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A Most Inconvenient Wish by Eileen Richards (A Lady’s Wish, #3)

It’s been five years and two kids since elder sister Anne married Nathaniel Matthews (An Unexpected Wish, A Lady’s Wish Book One) and three years since younger sister Juliet married Nathaniel’s little brother Tony, (An Honorable Wish, A Lady’s Wish Book Two), now the beauty of the family, Sophia Townsend, decides to climb to the top of the Fairy Steps and make her marriage wish. Unfortunately, the pesky Scott, Ian McDonald, who a partnered with her brothers-in-law, follows her up to the top, and in exasperation at his interference she makes the wrong wish in A Most Inconvenient Wish (A Lady’s Wish Book Three) by Eileen Richards.

While her siblings married for love, Sophia just wants the comfort of a title and the excitement of the whirlwind of London society, but Nathaniel vows there will be no more seasons. He’s ready to permanently settle down at The Lodge with his wife and children. Sophia has turned down all her suitors, none which have fit her ideal. Yet she has one last chance, inviting Lord Geoffrey Bateman and his sister Lady Catherine for a house visit. The Earl was especially attentive this last season, with The Ton abuzz about the expected proposal. Unfortunately, Geoffrey arrives with his new bride to be (along with her generous dowry) in toe. While he enjoyed his time with Sophia, Bateman needs to marry for money. Love was never a part of the picture. He’s so desperate that he even tries to broker a marriage between the wealthy sheep farmer Ian and his sister to get the cash he needs to maintain his dignified lifestyle. McDonald, whose father was the steward for the Bateman estate, wants nothing to do with the deal, but is willing to purchase the land neighboring their two properties at a fair price.

Complications ensue as the house guests don’t always display the best manners, and Sophie rues the day she impulsively invited them into their midst. The antagonistic relationship between Sophia and Ian fluctuates between harmony and discord as the two try to decide if their vastly different goals matter in the grand scheme of things.

While Richards always comes up with an interesting plot with a compelling beginning and ending, she has trouble somewhere in the middle, meandering about with too much repetition amongst the action. She definitely needs a reminder to show and not tell and tell and tell again. Better a tight 250 page Regency Romance than a rambling one of 300 pages. I was often confused, especially regarding the inconsistent actions of the characters, and the vague generalizations alluded to in the text. Was Geoffrey a decent, but proud man caught in a difficult situation, or was he a raving lunatic? The mantra about desperate men doing desperate things didn’t quite cover some of his (or his sister’s) evil behaviors.

This story, however, has a little more meat to it than book one. Three stars.

This ARC was provided by Netgalley and Lyrical Press in exchange for an honest review. The same review appears on Goodreads.

An Unexpected Wish by Eileen Richards (A Lady’s Wish,#1)

An Unexpected Wish by Eileen Richards starts out as a sweet little Regency Romance where a poverty stricken girl, Miss Anne Townsend, makes a magical wish for a handsome man to fall in love with her, then turns around and literally bumps into the good looking gentleman from the neighboring property. Nathaniel Matthews has been in London for the past five years making his fortune in investments, but has returned after a summons from his beloved grandmother, Lady Danford.

Anne and her sisters, abandoned by their ne’er do well brother, are a baronet’s orphaned daughters who are leasing the old gamekeepers cottage on the Matthew’s estate. Sisters Sophia and Juliet are undeniably the beauties in the family, but Anne’s inwardly perceived plainness is misplaced causing her to blame the attentions of both Cecil Worth, the local vicar, and Nathaniel on her secret wish on the Fairy Steps. While the vicar is abhorrent, she can’t ignore the passion which Nathaniel evokes and finds herself in one too many compromising situations which threaten to ruin her reputation. It doesn’t help that she is constantly meandering about, often unescorted.

While Anne hoped to marry Sophia off to Tony in order to stave off starvation, Nathaniel feels his little brother is not mature enough for marriage and threatens to cut off his allowance if he weds. Anne wonders how she can survive another winter without taking charity from the kindly Lady Danforth who pays her to be a companion. The situation becomes even more convoluted as her relationship with Nate escalates beyond her control and Anne finds it impossible to keep her distance despite her continued assumption that his romantic inclinations are based on fey instead of real feelings. Complications crop up when her wayward brother, Sir John, turns up desperate to find her mother’s jewels in order to stave off the creditors who threaten his well being. These said jewels are nowhere to be found, yet that fact fails to keep the debt collectors from their door.

This tale showed so much promise, but there just wasn’t enough plot to sustain a full length novel, necessitating repetitious dialogue, thought, and actions about why Anne can’t marry the man she loves which could have been overcome by expanding the character development of the siblings and townspeople. Even the climax was anticlimactic, despite the numerous plot twists, although the couple did finally consummate their relationship, instead of continuing to tease the reader with everything but the actual act.

There were so many holes in a story which showed so much potential, that I was disappointed instead of entertained. What started as a four dissolved into a three and then morphed into a two and a half.

This ARC was provided by and Lyrical Press in exchange for an honest review. This review also appears on Goodreads.

Longbourn by Jo Baker

In the Regency Era, just like today, there were the haves and the have nots. Those who had, even modestly, owned at least one servant to do the menial tasks of cooking, cleaning, washing, and any other chore which required rugged labor. The have nots really had little choice as poor families tended to be large and had to kick out the older children to fend for themselves. Illness and death due to childbirth left many young ones homeless living on the streets or trying to survive in the workhouses. Female servants needed to guard their reputations since dismissal could push them into a life of prostitution.

A gentleman with an annual allowance, such as Mr Bennett from Pride and Prejudice, could afford more than one servant. Jo Baker, using clues from Jane Austin’s novel, began to construct a backstory, rewriting the tale from the viewpoint of the employees who ran the household while Mrs Bennett tried to marry off her daughters. While the main characters make various appearances, it’s the life of the cook, Mrs Hill, her elderly butler husband, and the two young servant girls, Sarah and Polly, who become the focal point of the novel Longbourn. Add in a young wanderer, James Smith, who is hired to do
odd jobs including driving the family about and serving the meals, and you have the cast of characters.

The story opens with Sarah trying to get the girls’ clothes clean on washday (Elizabeth’s petticoats always seemed to be especially muddy) when she sees James wander by and starts to wonder. She continues wondering after James becomes the family’s footman since he is especially quiet and doesn’t seem to pay any attention to her, although he teases the younger Polly. Yet she can’t help but be grateful when he picks up some of the more strenuous chores such as carting in the water and cleaning up the muck laden boots.

Life gets interesting when Bingley comes to stay at nearby Netherfield. The handsome mulatto groomsman, Ptlomey, who hand delivers the various missives back and forth between his master and Jane, provides a diversion for Sarah with his colorful descriptions of the long imagined London. Sarah must act as lady’s maid when the five girls attend the ensuing social events, aggravating the chilblains on her hands as she irons and arranges their hair and clothing.

While the story follows along with the basic plot of the original novel, Baker creates this parallel story of the servants lives providing a different view of the inhabitants of Longbourn where Mrs Bennett is treated as a more sympathetic character while Mr Bennett is portrayed as a louse and a fool. The reader gets a closer look at what life was really like at the beginning of the 19th century without automobiles, electricity, washing machines, central heating, and plumbing (someone had to empty those chamber pots and wash those filthy nappies when babies were around). The Bennett sisters, while kindly towards the housemaids (even giving Sarah and Polly a choice of one of their old dresses after their father agreed to finance some new frocks), were also self centered, thinking only of their own comforts while others did the actual work. Reflecting the mores of the era, Baker does an excellent job of opening our eyes to how the other half lived.

While I would not say that the author has the same word smithing talent as Jane Austin, Baker does a credible job creating an enjoyable read. This is one of many published “adaptations” of the Bennett saga and is definitely worth a look. Between three and a half and four stars.

Angel in Scarlet by Lavinia Kent (Bound and Determined Series, #4)

Lavinia Kent has a true talent of finding the right balance of sexual titillation in order to keep the reader wanting more. In the Regency Romance, Angel in Scarlet, Lady Angela Ripon is a woman scorned out for not just revenge, but vengeance. It seems that, after a promising courtship with Matthew Harkness, the Earl of Colton, she’s been summarily dumped and told they will not suit. At first Colton thought she was the one, but somehow her demeanor changed and she became just one of the mindless sheep often seen in the debutante circuit. Angela doesn’t see it that way, although she finds it difficult to feign normalcy after catching a glimpse of her suitor cavorting with a naked actress. In any case, she plans to get even by driving Colton mad with desire and then refusing his proposal.

There is only one person who can assist Angela in achieving her goal and that is Ruby, owner of the bawdy House for Gentlemen of Taste. Ruby, or Madame Rouge, is reluctant to take on any new clients, especially since she is planning on selling the business, but Angela’s story intrigues her. Colton likes a bit of BDSM, so Ruby advises Angela to let Colton dictate the action. By letting him be the master, Angela will gain the upper hand. The trick is to simply think herself beautiful, and then her seductive nature will reveal itself.

At first Colton is cold towards his former love interest, and taunts her offer to “do whatever he asks” by suggesting she bare her breasts in the garden at the ball they are attending. He can’t help but be aroused when she surprises him by obeying, even agreeing to erotically touch herself while he watches. Suddenly Colton bolts and Angela wonders what she’s done wrong. The confused Colton arranges to meet Angela at Ruby’s establishment, bringing a guest along in the hopes of scaring Angela into calling it quits. Ruby questions his motives, thinking them out of bounds, but allows the game to continue, curious about its outcome. Angela reluctantly agrees to allow Granderson play with her breasts while Colton watches, but the action is quickly stopped when Colton sees Angela is uncomfortable and an unexpected jealousy consumes him. The game continues as long as Angela, agrees to complete honesty. Despite her denials, he still thinks she is out to trick him into an unwanted marriage. Colton’s Angel agrees to follow his commands, at least in the bedroom, but draws the line at losing her virginity.

Each has their own secrets, Angela can’t reveal her true plan and Colton thinks it’s inappropriate to share his love of bondage and sexual “torture”, but that doesn’t keep them from enjoying their erotic play, often where they can easily be discovered forcing Angela to keep still so as not to give herself away. The sensuality is all consuming to the two erstwhile lovers as well as the reader.

This fifth book in the Bound and Determined series includes many of the characters we have met in the previous books. Some disturbing information is revealed about the bothersome and compulsively proper Thorton who wants to purchase the brothel. The recently wedded Duldon opens Colton’s eyes to the joys of marriage, while the pregnant Bliss, Angela’s best friend, provides support for her childhood companion. Then there is the matchmaker Lady Perse who originally introduced the two and seems to have a hand in all of The Ton’s relationships. Reading this series is like running into old friends and acquaintances.

While I did enjoy this book, my main complaint is there is quite a bit of repetition of the thoughts and conversation between Colton and Angel. The story moves back and forth between their points of view which overlaps a tad too much and slows the plot down in spite of the sexual tension. The dialogue is also mundane, distracting from the allure of the numerous lustful activities. For this reason I’m giving it three and a half stars instead of four.

A thank you to Netgalley and Loveswept Books for providing this ARC in exchange for a honest review.