Monday, July 27, 2015

Tempesta's Dream by Vincent B. Lococo

"Everyone doubted that he would ever return to her. After all, he was an American sailor and it was a well-known fact that those sailors always had a different girl in every port. It was thought by others that she was just another young girl abandoned by her American sailor." Opening Paragraph



Synopsis: Tempesta's Dream is the inspirational story of an aspiring opera singer coming of age in Milan; a tender and moving love story; a testament to the bonds of friendship; and, at its core, a tribute to the beauty, majesty and miracle of opera.  Giovanni Tempesta always dreamed of singing at Milan's La Scala Opera House. There's just one small problem -- he's never had formal training or the money to pursue his dream. When he meets the seductive and wealthy Isabella Monterone, he becomes even more determined to become a singer. With the assistance of Alfredo del Monte, a blind, retired opera singer with a secretive past, who resides at the Casa di Riposo in Milan, Giovanni sets out on a quest to hopefully attain his dream. Will his luck turn around? Could Alfredo be the one person who could assist him in finding the break he needs? Or is Giovanni destined to be on the cusp of reaching his life long dream, only to find failure? Find out in this poignant love story; a story of both "amicizia e amore" (friendship and love.) 

Review by Mirella Patzer
Also visit History and Women for bios on some of the world's most notorious women!

What this novel does well is that it combines the history of opera in Italy, specifically at La Scala di Milano, with a poignant friendship and love story. It covers all the famous opera singers and composers, as well as some Italian history. It is evident the author did a great deal of research and is passionate about opera and Italian life. At times, there were many sections that read more technically instead of prose-like, and this made the story flow more like a creative non-fiction book than a novel. But the bones are great. Beneath all the information, there is a beautiful tale of friendship and love. This is a wonderful book, accurately written, that will give readers an indepth knowledge about opera with its many performances, singers, and composers. It is a wonderful introduction to the world of opera! 
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Friday, July 24, 2015

Newport by Jill Morrow

"The lighthouse on the shore flashed its beacon in time with each rolling heave of Jim Reid's stomach. His knuckles whitened around the metal railing of the boat as he leaned forward, willing the wicked water to swallow him up whole and end his misery now. "Holy Mother of God," he groaned." Opening Paragraph


In a glamorous Newport mansion filled with secrets, a debonair lawyer must separate truth from deception. . . .

Spring 1921. The Great War is over, Prohibition is in full swing, the Great Depression is still years away. Wealthy families flock to the glittering "summer cottages" they built in Newport, Rhode Island.

Having sheltered in Newport during his misspent youth, attorney Adrian de la Noye is no stranger to the city. Though he'd prefer to forget the place, he returns to revise the will of a well-heeled client. Bennett Chapman's offspring have the usual concerns about their father's much-younger fiancée. But when they learn of the old widower's firm belief that his late first wife, who "communicates" via séance, has chosen the stunning Catharine Walsh for him, they're shocked. And for Adrian, encountering Catharine in the last place he saw her decades ago proves to be a far greater surprise.

Adrian is here to handle a will, and he intends to do so—just as soon as he unearths every last secret about the Chapmans, Catharine Walsh . . . and his own very fraught history.

Vividly bringing to life the glitzy era of the 1920s, Newport is a skillful alchemy of social satire, dark humor, and finely drawn characters.

Review by Mirella Patzer
Also visit History and Women for books and bios of some of the world's most fascinating women!

There is lots to love in this exciting new novel set in America's gilded age. A very wealthy, aged widower has decided to marry a very young woman and leave the bulk of his estate to her, and he has summoned his lawyer to officially change the will. Of course, this stirs the ire of the man's adult children who are both plagued with severe personal problems. And why is the patriarch marrying such a young woman? Because his dead wife insists upon it. Of great suspicion is the fact that the dead wife is being channeled by the young fiance's sister. 

Slowly, suspicions arise as secrets are unravelled in this suspenseful story. Nicely written with plenty of plot twists, there is much here to hold your interest from start to finish. A great book to cozy up to!
Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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The Pretender's Lady by Alan Gold

From the author of The Last Testament comes the true love of Bonnie Prince Charlie, her adventures in America and her lasting legacy.

In the page-turning popular genre trail-blazed by Antonia Fraser and Phillippa Gregory, The Pretender’s Lady, Alan Gold’s meticulously researched novel, accurately opens history’s pages on a peerless woman who helped change the course of history and whose legend lives on in Scotland today—Flora MacDonald.

She was the most famous Scotswoman of her day, single handedly saving Bonnie Prince Charlie. This is her fictionalized life story—her relations with the Prince, her flight to America, Ben Franklin’s influence, and her return to Britain to lobby for peace

But what’s hidden from history, revealed now for the first time in Gold’s dazzling new work of fiction, is the result of Flora’s and Charlie’s love: a beautiful and talented boy raised on an American farm. But only she knows his true heritage and his claim to the world’s greatest throne. And only the genius of Ben Franklin understands how to use this naïve boy to change the history of America.

Review by Mirella Patzer
Also visit History and Women for interesting biographies on fascinating women! 

Flora MacDonald

(1722 - 1790)

"A woman of soft features, gentle manners, 
kind soul, and elegant presence...
..a name that will be mentioned in history,
and if courage and fidelity be virtues, 
mentioned with honour."
Dr. Johnson

In Scotland's rich history, Flora MacDonald is revered and remembered to this day as a Jacobite heroine. When Flora was a child, her father died. Back then, bride kidnapping was common, and her mother was soon abducted and married by a man named Hugh MacDonald from Armadaleon the Isle of Skye. In 1746, Flora was 24 years old and the Jacobite Risings was in full swing. After the Battle of Culloden, Bonnie Prince Charlie took refuge on the island of Benbecula where Flora was residing at the time. 

Charles Edward Stuart
(Bonnie Prince Charlie)
Known as the Young Pretender
Captain Conn O'Neill of The Feeva, County Antrim, Prince Charlie's closest friend and confidant asked for her assistance to help the young royal evade capture when he learned her clan was sympathetic to the Jacobite cause. Legend has it that Flora and the Prince fell deeply in love with each other. She was beautiful and he was a dashing lovable rogue. With the help of her stepfather, Hugh MacDonald, who was the commander of the local militia, the charitable Flora agreed to help the handsome prince escape. Her stepfather provided her with a pass to the mainland for her and her entourage which consisted of a manservant, a maid named Betty Burke, and a boat crew that consisted of 6 men. And who was Betty Burke? None other than Bonnie Prince Charlie himself in disguise. 
Soon, they ended up in a town called Kilbride on the Isle of Skye. The prince hid in rocks while Flora went for help. She arranged for him to be taken to Glam on the island of Raasay. However, while she managed the prince's escape, her boatment's loose tongues brought attention. She was arrested for aiding the prince's escape and transported to London where she was under constant supervision by guards. Her part in the escaped gained Flora great fame and popularity. While she languished in jail, Bonnie Prince Charlie fled to France, eventually moving to Rome. Plagued by alcoholism, he suffered through numerous failed relationships until he died in 1788. Fortunately for Flora, the government passed a new law called the Act of Indemnity, so she was released. 
Three years later, she married an army captain called Allan MacDonald of Kingsburgh. They settled down on the Isle of Sky where Flora presented her husband with seven children. When her husband;'s father died, the family moved to the family estate at Kingsburgh. 

Her husband took the family to North Carolina where he served in the 84th Regiment of Foot for the British Government during the American War of Independence. She encourage and urged the regiment as they headed off to the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge, only to learn they had faced defeat and her husband had been captured. That's when poor Flora faced numerous hardships. Although she kept a low profile and hid the best she could, American Patriots ravaged her family plantation and stripped them of all their possessions. Meanwhile, her husband had been held prisoner for two years before a prisoner exchange happened and he was sent to Fort Edward in Windsor, Nova Scotia. He sent for Flora and the family was reunited. 
In 1779 Flora booked passage on a merchant ship in order to go back home to Scotland. During the crossing, a privateer attacked the ship. While the melee was occuring, in order to protect her, she was told to go below deck where she would be safer. She refused and did her part, but suffered a wound in her arm. Upon her return, she visited and stayed with relatives. 
Several years later, her husband returned and they moved back into the family estate at Kingsburgh. She died at Kingsburgh on the Isle of Skye in 1790, at the age of 68 and was buried in the Kilmuir Cemetery on the Isle of Skye. It is greatly rumored that she asked to be buried wraped in Bonnie Prince Charlie's bed sheet. 
Author Alan Gold has meticulously researched Flora's life. The story is accurate, lush, and highly compelling. A definite recommendation! Awesome!

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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