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Historical fiction and Biblical fiction, reviewing since 2008

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Nov 23, 2011

Review: Heiress (Daughter of Fortune Book One) by Susan May Warren


Heiress (Daughter of Fortune Book One) by Susan May Warren
380 pages Paperback, Summerside Press, August 1, 2011
Review copy provided by the publisher via HNR, thank you!
A shortened review was originally created for Historical Novels Review
Burton Book Review Rating:Four glittering stars!

They can buy anything they want—
fame, power, beauty, even loyalty.
But they can’t buy love.
The beautiful and wealthy heiress daughters of August Price can buy everything their hearts desire.
But what if their desire is to be loved, without an enormous price tag attached? When one sister
betrays another for the sake of love, will she find happiness? And what happens when the other sets
out across the still untamed frontier to find it—will she discover she’s left it behind in the glamorous
world of the New York gilded society?
What price will each woman pay for being an heiress?
Set in the opulent world of the Gilded Age, two women discover that being an heiress just might cost
them everything they love.

Set in the famously extravagant Gilded Age of New England, Heiress tells the story of Price sisters Esme and Jinx who could not be more different. Esme wishes that society protocol would allow her to work alongside her father, the publisher of the Chronicle newspaper, and Jinx wishes to be at the forefront of society's opulent stage. Just as Esme is betrothed to Foster Worth, a man she loathes, she realizes it is Oliver who really has her heart. Yet Oliver grew up with Esme as a servant of her household, Esme's parents forbid the lowly match and Esme's world is turned upside down, especially since little sister Jinx believes it is herself who should wed Foster Worth.

The storyline that follows eventually shows the bonds of a family lost and found again as the narrative follows each sister's path in separate sections. Esme is forced out of New York City and begins a new life amidst the rough ways of Montana, while Jinx becomes that pinnacle of society's finest that she so coveted. Yet, trials and tribulations threaten both of the sister's happiness as each realizes that being a daughter of fortune does not buy love, and that perhaps being true to oneself is the most important thing to accomplish.

Esme and Jinx's story are embellished with a wide cast of characters who each have their own story to tell, from Oliver Stewart who manages to haunt Esme forever, to Jinx's brother-in-law Bennett who may not be as bad as the gossip columns report. The dual story of the sisters is set in New York City's finest mansions, and then in the dust and danger of mining country Montana as Esme pursues her dreams of being a newspaper publisher.

Heiress has a little bit of everything, from romance to mystery set in intriguing times of the past with the spiritual undertones as the sisters questioned their faith. I was surprised by some of the twists presented and found the narrative hypnotic, as I was eager to learn the fate of these two families twisting with the deceit of society. Established author Susan May Warren has another hit on her hands with this series, and I cannot wait to continue the saga of the Worth and Price families with her upcoming Daughters of Fortune novels.

Nov 6, 2011

In the Event of Tumbleweeds......

Ripped from wikipedia: "A tumbleweed is the above-ground part of a plant that, once mature and dry, disengages from the root and tumbles away in the wind".

Mature and dry. Heh. Quite possibly a description of me. But the part I am getting at is the disengagement + tumbling away = Marie's brain of late.

I wanted to account for my apparent absence, in case anyone notices. I don't expect many to, especially with the holiday season approaching and your own busy lives, but I'd feel better knowing that I had this explanation in place for when the wind blows you in this blog's direction and if you begin to question whether I'll ever post again.

The short answer is: YES, I will still be posting reviews. (Sporadically).


It seems that there is a life-cycle of many book blogs. A few years under your belt and you're good to go. Which means many do go.. on permanent hiatus. Hobbies come and go, priorities change, families are born.. etc...I am coming up on the three year mark, which usually is my limit for current phases. (Such as stitchery, scrapbooking, gardening.. all attempted but never fully completed). Even though I won't be posting like a happy little blogger that I used to be three years ago, I will be posting my reviews when I get that elusive "round tuit."

While maintaining this blog, I have always worked full-time and managed to juggle the family plus the job plus the blog without much of an issue. My typical timeframe consisted of being able to have a review post weekly. The reason for this blog was the actual reading and reviewing part (& keeping up with my reads), but I haven't had much time to read and review because I have recently taken on a second job in retail. Before I took this drastic step, I considered many options such as selling all my things, attempting to do product reviews to get free stuff! (Ha ha)..babysitting (but my kids would wonder why I watch other kids and not them) and wound up with the most reliable option and where I am most comfortable: Retail work. (Insert your favorite variations of crazy woman screams or tortured, lamenting weeping). Time is limited, sleep is limited, sanity is limited, therefore reading is limited. (Again, insert horror repertoire here).

All theatrics aside, retail is kind of second nature to me and the job can be a lot of fun if I keep a good attitude about it. Retail was my very first job in 1989, and I didn't stop retail work until 2005.  It was the hectic schedule that made me leave retail in the first place (very difficult with young ones and retail shifts!), and the economy that has now made me add it back in to my schedule. So, now I have the best of both worlds: an office job during the day, and a fast-paced job with fun products during the evening (and weekends, boo!).

The books that I am reading now are primarily going to be for Historical Novels Review magazine, and the reviews I do write cannot be published here till they are published there.. which for some we are talking three months in the future. (I already have three reviews ready to go for February!) So things may be a bit quiet till the blog catches up with the HNR schedule.

I have updated my review policy to state that I am not accepting any review requests. For those queries that are still coming in, I am referring them to the HF-Connection blog that I also co-own. You can find some great guest posts and giveaways that are scheduled throughout November on that site.

I do have some non-HNR reviews to do at some point, but I won't hazard a guess as to when that will happen. I have some goodies such as the new Sharon Kay Penman and the new Alison Weir to read and review, but those will have to wait patiently. In the meantime, I shall be working, and spending time with family when I am not. When the kiddos go to sleep, I try and read a few pages before my slumber, but those few pages don't get me very far. And I can't forget the much-needed cuddle time with the furball! She starts attacking my hair if I don't show her enough attention.





I hope y'all are getting to read great books, I'll catch up with you sometime! And Happy Holidays to you, in advance!

Nov 3, 2011

GIVEAWAY & GRAND TOUR! JANE AUSTEN MADE ME DO IT Guest Post by Laurel Ann Nattress

Please welcome to the Burton Book Review author of Jane Austen Made Me Do It, Laurel Ann Nattress! I read and reviewed it last month and really enjoyed these Austenesque stories. See below for how to enter for your chance to win this book.

Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
Ballantine October 11, 2011


Hi Marie, it is such a pleasure to be here at The Burton Book Review during my Grand Tour of the blogosphere in celebration of the release of my new Austen-inspired anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It. I know that you are very fond of Austenesque fiction, so I thought I would talk today about how Jane Austen has influenced authors over the centuries and has inspired a whole new book genre.

When Jane Austen was writing her novels in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, they were written at contemporary pieces. It is amazing to look back at them two hundred years later. They seem timeless. Her themes of financial struggles, social mobility, and romance are still fresh and relevant today, and her characters are so finely drawn and realistic that it makes us realize that human nature has not much changed either. Who among us can deny meeting some of her most famous archetypical personality in our lives? Perhaps an odious Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice was that blind date from hell, or a self-serving Fanny Dashwood type from Sense and Sensibility has permeated your work place, or, some of life’s first lessons made you feel a bit impressionable like young Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey? Some of us are even lucky enough to claim to have met a Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, and others even luckier to have married one!

Being lost in a Jane Austen’s world is such a pleasure. Unfortunately she only completed six full novels and one novella in her short lifetime. It is just not enough to satisfy her readers. In the 1830’s Jane Austen’s niece, Anna Austen Lefroy, was the first family member to take up the banner and write a completion of Sanditon, Jane’s last and unfinished novel. She could not complete it either. Next was another niece, Catherine-Anne Hubback, who wrote The Younger Sister in the 1850’s. Borrowing heavily from her aunt’s other unfinished fragment, The Watsons, it is the first completion of a Jane Austen novel. Over fifty years later in 1913, the novel Old Friends and New Fancies, by Sybil G. Brinton would be the first Austen sequel in print. A clever amalgamation of characters from each of Austen’s novels worked into Brinton’s own unique plot, one could say that it was the first Austen “mash-up,” published close to a century before Pride and Prejudice and Zombies would make the bestseller lists in 2009.

Now there are hundreds of novels in the Austenesque genre continuing, retelling, and inspired by Jane Austen’s original stories, characters and philosophies on life and love. Twenty-four authors have contributed stories to the genre in my new anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It. The depth of their experience ranges from veteran bestselling literary fiction author to debut new voice. The list contains many recognizable in the Austenesque genre and a few surprises too:

Pamela Aidan • Elizabeth Aston • Brenna Aubrey • Stephanie Barron • Carrie Bebris • Jo Beverley • Diana Birchall • Frank Delaney & Diane Meier • Monica Fairview • Amanda Grange • Syrie James • Janet Mullany • Jane Odiwe • Beth Pattillo • Alexandra Potter • Myretta Robens •   Jane Rubino & Caitlen Rubino Bradway • Maya Slater • Margaret Sullivan • Adriana Trigiani • Laurie Viera Rigler • Lauren Willig

From Regency to contemporary to romantic to fantastical, each of the stories in Jane Austen Made Me Do It draws from the authors unique and personal influence that Austen had on their writing in a new and exciting way. I hope readers will enjoy reading it as much as I had editing it.

Cheers, Laurel Ann

Editor bio: A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of Austenprose.com a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington. Visit Laurel Ann at her blogs Austenprose.com and JaneAustenMadeMeDoIt.com, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.

Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress. (Ballantine Books • ISBN: 978-0345524966)
Giveaway of Jane Austen Made Me Do It:
Enter a chance to win one copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It by leaving a comment by 11/12/11, stating what intrigues you about reading an Austen-inspired short story anthology. Winners to be drawn at random and open to followers with US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck to all!