The Firebird

By Susanna Kearsley

“Hiding the person you are,’ he said, ‘won’t make you happy. I never hide who I am. What I am.”

Having read The Winter Sea, I was looking forward to The Firebird because I was very interested in knowing what became of Anna, the daughter of the protagonists in Slains #1, and hoped for a glimpse or two of them. I was also excited that the character of young Rob from the first book I read by this author, The Shadowy Horses, was a player in this one. It does deliver in that regard, but I wish she had incorporated some of the contemporary players in The Winter Sea and more than just Rob of Shadowy Horses as well. Although the book kept me interested as far as the historical part of the dual timeline, It was ultimately a bit of a letdown. Kearsley is so meticulous about her historical research and so careful to be faithful to her real but little-known actors on history’s stage, that her plot and character development took a distant second in this one. Every single person in this book actually existed except Anna herself, and a few stray innkeepers and such. Wikipedia got a good workout by me, and her historical notes at the end actually expose what contributed to the weakness of this book. Having to be faithful to all that she discovered in original source materials put too many constraints on what SK could actually do with the character and plot.

The contemporary part of the story did not rescue it. It was dull, except for a brief little unexpected discovery at the end, and very repetitive. Unlike The Winter Sea, it did not join past and present together in a big emotional wallop. There were a lot of loose ends. Nicola’s fascination with a certain painting at the Hermitage which was set up like it was going to be responsible for some kind of revelation was just dropped cold. It felt rushed, and left some pretty gaping plot holes. The heroine was irritating and nonsensical, and our Rob, from The Shadowy Horses, was nice, and grew up to be a fine young man, but there was no suspense or conflict in the relationship.

There were flashes of excellence in this book, and I can’t give it less than a 3 because I have so much respect for Kearsley’s writing and her hard work. 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

February 11, 2016

American Royals

by Katharine McGee

I guess this must have been a YA novel and it was too juvenile for me. I thought it might be like The Royal We. It was an intriguing concept which kept me interested for a little over a hundred pages but then I just got bored with the characters, the very jejune romances and conflicts, and the sheer predictability of it. Then, when I realized the author was going to spread this over more than one book when it was barely filling up one, I skipped through to the end. This one ended with a real cliffhanger. Nothing was resolved at all. And I predict the villain is going to be rehabilitated and find happiness in one of the follow-ups. I think this series would probably be fine for romance-minded teens, but I will not be reading anymore in the series.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

September 16, 2019

Christmas at the Palace

One Royal Romance too Many (I Wish)

Could this movie be anymore Hallmark cookie cutter? No, it could not. All of the characters came out of the Hallmark hero and heroine, best friend, child playbook without a bit of alteration. There was not an original second in the whole movie. What gave it a 4? The Prince was very handsome. The princess was a beautiful child. Merritt Paterson was not annoying and was age appropriate for her character, though she was too heavily made up. The setting was pretty. Also, it did not feature a mean royal fiancé or mother. That’s all. Hallmark needs to find a new gimmick. I’m sick and tired of the commoner and the royal fall in love trope.**4 out of 10 stars**

December 8, 2018

Royal Hearts

Charming Heroine makes this One Barely Bearable

Cute and likable Cindy Busby accounts for almost all of my stars with one star reserved for the male lead. Royal Hearts is an extremely hackneyed plot which presents no surprises, twists, or suspense. It strictly follows the template set forth in innumerable Royal themed romances. Fish out of water heroine and, in this case, her Dad, shake up the royal protocol, is briefly seduced by a royal handsome bad guy, but ends up with the “poor” commoner she had a meet cute with at the beginning after rubbing each other the wrong way throughout most of the movie. Oh. And the kingdom gains its independence thanks to the Americans. What would they do without us? I started out looking forward to seeing James Brolin, but he quickly out-wore his welcome with his over the top impression of Sam Elliot.

It was kinda funny that the first scene in the movie is Cindy teaching Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which intentionally or unintentionally hearkens back to her breakthrough role as Elizabeth in Unleashing Mr. Darcy. This was released around 3 months before the sequel to that movie. Coincidence?

March 3, 2018

A Christmas Prince

Meh.

This might as well be a Hallmark Movie of no particular note. I almost suspect it is kind of a gentle spoof of all the Hallmark Christmas move clichés. Snowball fight, hero falling on heroine in the snow, Reserved serious mother/queen unbending, child in the house who starts out as a spoiled brat but turns into an ally of our heroine. I liked the two main leads all right and did enjoy seeing Alice Krige. Maybe I am giving Netflix too much credit and it’s just another in a long line of mediocre Christmas romances. It has no reason to exist. **7 our of 10 stars**

December 19, 2017