The True Purpose of Vines (The Winemaker’s Series Book One) by Giovanna Siniscalchi is a historical romance story set in Portugal in 1870. Griffin Maxwell is an English port wine trader looking to make a partnership with a gentleman named Croft, but the older man instead suggests marriage to his daughter to merge the businesses. When Griffin travels to Douro to take over the failing vineyard he inherited from his uncle, as a favor to Croft he agrees to check up on one of Croft’s business ventures at a neighboring vineyard. Julia Costa-Ferreira, a widow with a young son, inherited the vineyard from her late husband and does not appreciate Griffin’s interference. Julia and Griffin are both trying to improve the situation for their families, but this parallel goal sets them at cross purposes.
This is an emotionally-resonant historical romance novel that I heartily enjoyed. I liked the setting and time period of the book, with an English man living abroad in Portugal and falling in love with a local woman, it seems tried in the genre but feels so true in this story.
When Griffin and Julia first meet, they are drawn to each other. But as soon as they learn the other’s true identity, their relationship turns antagonistic. I enjoyed reading the interactions between the two of them, both before and after they discovered the truth, as it felt authentic. I liked the way they worked together despite their initial distrust as the authors is able to infuse intrigue into their relationship right from the beginning.
The author provides vivid descriptions of the sights, sounds, and smells of the region, which makes it easy for readers to immerse themselves in the exotic scenes. Portuguese is used throughout the story, ensuring readers never forget where they are. The words don’t seem foreign for long as the author does an excellent job of explaining the meaning of the words so that readers who do not speak the language are able to understand the terms. This, along with the historical and wine making elements, makes this both an educational book as well as an entertaining drama.
While I enjoyed this story, I felt that the first part of the book was a bit slow to start. I would have liked to have seen Julia and Griffin meet a bit sooner in the story, because they feel like the highlight of this story. There are other people that come between them and cause external conflicts for the characters and this kept me glued to the pages because I wanted to see if they would overcome those obstacles. There is a lot of details about wine making in the story as well. If you enjoy making wine, or are interested in the process, this book is filled with all manner of minutiae about the wine making process and wine vintages.
The True Purpose of Vines is an exhilarating love story exploring the clash of culture and personalities in a dramatic time in history. Readers looking for a sophisticated romance story that is colored with insightful details about wine making will find this book hard to put down.
Pages: 438 | ASIN: B09W6CL8RQ
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A Wife for the Devil follows the illegitimate daughter of an English family that gets caught up in a love triangle. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
Victorian and Regency romances are quite beloved to me. They were part of some of my earliest reading experiences. In the small southern Indian town where I grew up, the library was barely stocked, but almost always could lend you Georgette Heyer and Barbara Cartland. As I planned my first novel, a romance seemed like a natural option given how familiar I am with the genre. And if I were to write a historical romance, why not bring in the oft-ignored denizens of the British Empire: children begat by cross-racial encounters? History books tell us they were pretty commonplace, and yet we have seen little of them in mainstream romances. This is being changed these days by many bold and fresh romance writers, and I wished to proceed in their wake by making my heroine someone unlikely.
The triangle came in naturally too. All stories need a few good villains and vamps. And Miranda, with her strong will and strange whims, seemed like a good foil for the two main characters.
Elizabeth starts out as a shy and timid woman in the beginning and grows into a strong independent one throughout the book. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
I am of the belief that your material conditions play a strong role in forming your psyche. I never thought of Elizabeth as shy or timid in the story, but she does behave within the confines of her circumstances. Her assertiveness in the second-half of the book is more the logical result of her falling in love than any designs on my part. Love, if I may be a bit trite, strengthens and vitalises us. In a romance, the author is always saying, whether explicitly or not, “Love is a momentous thing. It changes and enriches us.” I think that was largely my ideal.
Another aspect is the self-actualisation Elizabeth begins to embrace. This too is the result of her changing circumstances; she finally could be the woman she has always been.
Being set in Victorian-era England, what were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Women drive the story. And this was a conscious decision. Readers rightfully do not like romances where the women are resigned to their fates, or are so divorced from their own wishes that they do not know what to do. When they recognise they want something, it is a lightning strike. So, in my novel, both the heroine and her antagonist are clear in their minds about what they want and usually act in their own interests. This I think is the main theme. In this era, women weren’t granted much in the way of an inner life and little in the way of an outer one. I hoped to invert those expectations.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Currently I am working on a fantasy romance. Details of the plot are yet to be nailed down properly, so much of what I could say would be speculation. I am not sure when it will be released, but sometime in 2023 seems like a good guess.
Posted in Interviews
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Harriet: A Jane Austen Variation follows three women that are all just trying to make a life for themselves in the Regency Era, some doing whatever it takes to advance in the ranks of society. What was the idea, or spark, that first set off the need to write Harriet?
I have long had Austen’s EMMA memorised. I can’t remember when it first occurred to me to wonder, “What if the pretty-but-dim Harriet was just pretending to be stupid, in order to better flatter Emma?” However, once I’d thought about it I couldn’t get the idea out of my head! So I dared to take sweet-but-slow Harriet and turn her into a very different kind of character… So far, people seem to like it, but I’m still waiting for someone to be utterly outraged!
There were many great scenes in this novel. What was your favorite scene in this story?
I like the plot twist with Mr Knightley, which was of course NOT in Austen’s masterpiece.
With the novel focusing on Harriet, Emma, and Jane how did you decide on the title of this novel?
Actually, Emma – ironically enough – is very downplayed here. But everyone wants to know why it’s not called JANE AND HARRIET… And, believe me, I thought about it. Two narrators. Two stories. BUT:
- I couldn’t find a portrait of the two that worked for the cover!
- My trademark is originality. I am NOT one of the Jane Austenesque writers writing PRIDE AND PREJUDICE over and over! My first book in the genre was an imaginative construction of what Austen’s LADY SUSAN (aged 35) might have been like, at just sixteen. NO one had ever thought to do that before – or to alter Harriet’s character, either. On the other hand, Jane Fairfax has been written about VERY often – even 100 years ago, writers were scribbling books about Jane Fairfax!!!… So, to be different, I chose HARRIET.
- The title would have been too long. HARRIET: A JANE AUSTEN VARIATION is long enough, without Jane!
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Having cheerfully observed that I’m NOT into churning out seven P&P variations a month, I must admit that the next one really is based on Darcy! It should be published in November.
Posted in Interviews
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Harriet: A Jane Austen Variation, is a slow-burn, historical romance, written by author Alice McVeigh. She takes us on a journey with two radically different women, Harriet Smith, and Jane Fairfax. Unaware of her parentage, shrewd and determined Harriet befriends Emma with a motive to establish herself in society. Will she forsake friendship and love for what she believes will bring her happiness? Meanwhile, reserved and musical, Jane enraptures everyone she encounters, even receiving unsolicited attention. But, when she gets secretly engaged to the man she loves, she is burdened with more than her health can handle. Harriet plays the game to her advantage, while Jane feels helpless with troubles she can’t share even with her loved ones.
Following the points of view of two characters, Alice McVeigh marvelously explores the patriarchal Regency Era. Harriet believes she can make something of her life solely based on whom she gets married to, and Jane believes, irrespective of the circumstances, no one will listen to a woman’s voice over a man’s. The author manages to exquisitely capture their distinct voices in her writing and through their interactions in this entertaining novel. We receive witty insights from Harriet’s chapters and innocently confusing feelings from Jane’s. Harriet is a wholesome, light-hearted romance. I, however, felt that there was one part of the storyline that was left unresolved, leaving me wanting something more. This was somewhat surprising because a crucial part of the story is unaddressed, and what about justice?
Alice McVeigh does not include elaborate character descriptions or partake in world-building; you get acquainted with Harriet and Jane as well as their worlds through their interactions, experiences, and thoughts. This, to me, was an interesting writing style.
Harriet: A Jane Austen Variation is an enjoyable romantic page-turner novel that will delight readers who enjoy Regency period pieces. This satirical spin on a classic piece of British literature will entertain readers who can appreciate the author’s humor.
Pages: 320 | ASIN : B09R4XMRX6
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The Elusive Smuggler (Behind The Shadow, #1), by Antoinette George, tells the story of a handsome rake, known as The Shadow. The Shadow is a successful smuggler and the only hope Marie-Catherine and Edouard de Mornay, sister and brother, have of rescuing their parents and restoring the family. But first, they’ll have to track him down and convince him to help them. This search takes the siblings to meet Carlotta, a dancer who sometimes lives and travels with the Romani, but has her own story and her own dreams.
This riveting historical novel is set in the late 1700’s, mostly in France near the coast, but with connections across the channel in England, too. The French Revolution is brewing, with dangerous implications for everyone, from the titled upper-class down to poor workers caught up in the wrong place, and Antoinette George is able to capture it all with fine details that transports readers to the era.
The author’s research shows in the descriptions without slowing down the action. Since most people at this time would be conscious of social class and birth, our characters are constantly aware when someone they meet has well-educated speech or a cultured accent. Of course, that doesn’t mean that all the ladies in The Elusive Smuggler are ladylike, or that all the travelers are of low birth…
These four characters are well developed, complete with their own flaws, making them feel authentic and grounded. The dialogue is always lively, with constant cheerful banter between the friends, and constant arguing between a certain couple. Our protagonists will need to apply fast actions, clever thinking and cooperation to accomplish their goals. But with political unrest and corruption around them, it’s very hard to know who is trustworthy, and this instills a consistently high level of intrigue throughout the novel.
Fans of thrilling historical romance and stories of enemies-to-lovers will just eat this one up. The end of the novel makes it clear that the story of The Shadow, as well as Cat, Eddie, and Carlotta, is far from over, and there are three more novels planned in Antoinette George’s dramatic historical romance series Behind the Shadow.
Pages: 348 | ASIN: B08P81PZ7H
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