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Posted by Elyse

Duke of Desire
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 When people come to me for historical recommendations I always tell them about the Maiden Lane series by Elizabeth Hoyt. Honestly, it’s my favorite historical series out there, and while the books are connected, they can easily be read as stand-alones, which makes it perfect for binge reading. Hold that thought because we’ve got a chance for one lucky winner to do just that.

I love this series because it’s got a breathless pace. I would categorize it as historical action/ adventure. It’s also got some of the best anti-heroes (Lazarus Huntington, anyone?) and tough-as-nails heroines I’ve ever read. Add masked vigilantes, some light bondage, a Beauty and the Beast novel, set to low for 8 hours, stir before serving, and you have a recipe for all of Elyse’s catnip.

After twelve books, the series is wrapping up, which is giving me all the bittersweet feels. Author Elizabeth Hoyt agreed to answer a few of my questions about the Maiden Lane world.

Elyse: First of all, thanks for being super cool at RT in Dallas when I showed up in the lobby in my pajamas to meet you. I’m pretty sure my PJs had cats in astronaut gear on them, I was holding a glass of champagne, and you didn’t bat an eyelash.

Elizabeth Hoyt: Ha! I think that was after another looong RITAs program…. PJs sounded like a good idea.

Elyse: One of the things I love so much about the Maiden Lane series is that it has such a strong action/ adventure element to it. We have masked vigilantes, river pirates, and dukes working to bring down cults. The characters are always moving, always doing, and often in danger. How do you incorporate all these different elements into your world? As a writer, is it difficult to maintain that kind of pace?

Wicked Intentions
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Elizabeth Hoyt: You know, I didn’t consciously set out to write action-y romances when I first started writing. But a lot of what I like in romances — swordfights! Concealed identities! People being saved from death and maiming! — are a byproduct of action. Also, it turns out that I’m easily bored, which may be part of the reason there’s always new, exciting things going on in my books. What sometimes becomes problematic is keeping the level of intensity consistent from book to book in a series.

Elyse: This series has a very distinct sense of time and place. You write in the Georgian era around the 1730’s and 1740’s, well before the Regency. What made you want to write about this specific period in English history?

Elizabeth Hoyt: I think it’s more interesting. The time is slightly more earthy, the dresses are (in my opinion) more elegant, and the guys are wearing wigs and swords. Lots of things are happening socially and economically. London’s population is exploding, the Enlightenment is blooming, the agricultural revolution is beginning, and people are discovering real science. All the great action adventure romances in movies and books were set in this time period — Scaramouche, Captain Blood, The Scarlet Pimpernel—and my favorite as a very impressionable twelve year old—Poldark.

Elyse: My favorite Maiden Lane heroes are always the anti-heroes. When I recommend Wicked Intentions I tell people the hero was like Lucius Malfoy if he was a romance hero who was also into bondage. The Duke of Montgomery reminds me of Patrick Jane, one of my favorite TV characters. And then there’s Mickey O’Connor, an actual pirate. All of these heroes do some really dubious things, are clearly flawed, yet somehow totally work as heroes. How do you balance the anti-hero and hero out so they don’t alienate the reader? Are your heroes inspired by any historical or pop culture figures?

Elizabeth Hoyt: I think the writer has to reveal the anti-hero’s humanity to the reader to make them work. The reader has to sympathize with the character if not his actions. But I don’t worry about alienating the reader too much. I think a lot of romance writers don’t take enough risks with their villainy heroes—they’re too worried that readers won’t like the character. If a few readers don’t loathe a character, others won’t love him.

I don’t really base my characters on real or fictional figures, though I’ve certainly been inspired by them. Case in point, Lazarus’s look in Wicked Intentions was a direct result of seeing Jason Isaacs in a long, white-blond wig in the Harry Potter films, OMG.

Duke of Sin
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I started thinking about a true villainous hero while watching 3:10 to Yuma with Russell Crowe. I was fascinated by his character in that movie—he’s the villain and he’s obviously either a sociopath or close to it, but he’s also the most enthralling character in the movie, with a weird sort of masculine ethos that’s almost heroic. That line of thought eventually (several years later) ended in Val in Duke of Sin. Val also owes quite a bit to Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of Loki. 😉

Elyse: You also write really tough, resilient heroines. Lady Phoebe Batten from Dearest Rogue is blind, and determined to prove to her protector that it doesn’t hold her back at all. Temperance and her sister Silence are both faced with some really dire circumstances that they approach with remarkable grit. And Alf from Duke of Pleasure is basically Batman. Who is your favorite heroine? Who was the most fun to write?

Elizabeth Hoyt: I think Phoebe is my favorite heroine — she’s just so strong and cheerful — and it was a fun challenge to write her POV scenes without any visual descriptions. I really enjoyed writing Alf, not only because she’s a smartass but because swordfights! In a dress!

Elyse: As sad as I am to see this series end, I’m excited for what’s to come. Can you tell us what you’re working on next?

Elizabeth Hoyt: I’ve been dodging this question for the last several months—not because I didn’t have something I’ve been working on, but because I wasn’t ready to reveal anything about my new series.

But I think I’ve got enough of the first book to give you a tiny—exclusive!—peek:

Lady Freya de Moray has never had a season, never been courted. Due to the terrible scandal involving her brother, the Duke of Ayr, she’s been shunned. Now eight-and-twenty, she’s changed her name and found employment in London as a governess-cum-chaperone for two young girls. It’s unappreciated work, but she’s grown fond of her charges and made peace with her life.

Until, that is, she runs into Christopher “Kester” Renshaw, the Earl of Harlow, the man who helped ruin her brother and destroyed her life. Not only does the scoundrel not recognize Freya, he’s wearing the Ayr ring—a family heirloom taken off the finger of her brother the night he was disfigured. On the spot Freya decides to take back a little of what was snatched from her family…and steal that ring.

Elyse: Oh, like that’s going to be an easy book to wait for!

So if you’re thinking you’d like to try the Maiden Lane series, and you’re not sure where to start, Forever Publishing is making it very easy with a giveaway!

We have a complete set of all the paperback Maiden Lane novels, with signed bookplates, and a Forever romance tote bag for one lucky winner! 

YES. The ENTIRE paperback series, including:

That’s a lot of books – and it’s perfect for binge reading. To enter, just leave a comment and tell us what essentials you’ll have with you for this binge-reading extravaganza! 

Standard disclaimers apply: Open to US and Canadian readers. Fighting over your favorite Hoyt hero in the comments is definitely encouraged. Please acquire a chaperone for any Maiden Lane outings, and if you plan to binge read the series, make sure you have a significant amount of PTO or sick time at work! Comments will close Friday 27 October and a winner announced shortly afterward.

Good luck, and thank you to Elizabeth Hoyt and Grand Central/Forever!

Poldark 3.03

Oct. 21st, 2017 09:00 am
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Posted by Redheadedgirl

Poldark Season 3 posterNote: the recaps this season are written from the British airings, which often have 6-10 minutes that the US airings do not. If you’re reading this and going “Hey, I don’t remember that!” that’s probably why.

Previously: Enys is alive! And imprisoned! George is social climbing like whoa. Elizabeth is using opiates to manage her anxiety.

This episode uses a lot of short scenes and quick cuts, which makes great visuals but is hell to recap.  I did my best, but this sucker is LONG.

The waves crash angrily on the cliffs, and people shiver while holding their hands over fires. A man yells that the grain ship is in, and people grab pans and buckets and start running.

At Wheal Grace, Henshawe tells Ross the the Princess Charlotte, a ship, was ambushed when pulling into port. Ross is like yeah, it’s a grain ship. Of course it was ambushed.

George proclaims a group of people guilty of rioting and theft, “Crimes for which there can be no justification.”

Ross and Henshawe provide some justifications: failed harvest, and the worst winter in 30 years. People are starving.

George continues to lecture.

Sam, who is with Ross and Henshawe, asks how else people are to get food in their bellies? Ross: “No doubt they pay dearly for it.”

They pay with musket balls in their backs. There’s a scene of soldiers shooting and killing people clutching bowls of grain. Henshawe says the 20 died in riot, some shot, some trampled. Ross asks if the Princess Charlotte was a Warleggan ship. It was, so that means any survivors of the ambush will also pay.

George sends the survivors to trial at the assizes with a recommendation for 15 years transportation. Bodies lie in the street.

At Nampara, D is digging in the garden, when a contraction takes her. She calls for Purdie and asks her to make sure everything is ready. Prudie doesn’t like the current birth plan, and thinks D should “take wise.” D: “It isn’t wise to endure the ramblings of Doctor Choake.” She’s right. Ross wouldn’t want her birthing alone, but “What he don’t know can’t hurt him.”

Henshawe asks if George Warleggan can’t see the link between riots over grain and his decision to hoard grain. “I can assure you he does not.” They both look at Wheal Leisure, still chugging along, “Once a Poldark mine on Poldark land” which could provide decent work and decent wage, and now it’s held by an asshole who thinks workers are chaff and profits are God.

(I’m refraining from making a bunch of editorial comments about the shame and abuses of capitalism and how employers want capitalism for themselves and feudalism for their workers, and making parallels between current events and this show, but hey.)

A group of men pulling a cart with a body on it pass them, and Ross asks what he died of. “Starvation?” George happens to ride by and announces, “Pneumonia! I’m told he’d been fading for weeks, but he refused to stay home and rest.” Ross: “So he has only himself to blame.” “It would appear so.”

Look, asshole, there have been some many times when I’ve worked low-paying contract positions that had no sick time, so I would have to come in INCREDIBLY sick, because I couldn’t afford to take a day off to get well. Thank the voters of Massachusetts that earned sick time is now a thing, even for contract employees, and I guess I’m going to be editorializing a bunch anyway because I want to punch George in the THROAT. A LOT.

Ross tells George that Leisure used to be a good mine, and George is like, bro, it was a vaguely adequate mine. “Oh, the famous red copper… that made her such a rarity? That’s gone.” George draws some comparisons between a played out mine and Ross, and they aren’t flattering, but it’s super over-rehearsed. Ross thinks he rushed it a bit. George sniffs that now no doubt Ross wants to tell him to get off his land, but the land belongs to the mine, and the mine belongs to George! See how that works!

“How do you sleep at night, George?” “Perhaps you should ask Elizabeth.” Henshawe hauls Ross away.

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Ross, saying How do you sleep at night, George?

George, responding Perhaps you should ask Elizabeth

Ross comes home, calling for D, and she’s not in the kitchen. Prudie runs behind hi and out the door, saying “Miss Demelza says you should go upstairs and bring her a plate of soup!” Ross is like, “Isn’t that your job?” but the door slams behind her before he can say it. He shrugs and brings the soup up to D, who is in the bed and looking VERY satisfied with herself.

“Thank ye kindly, my man.” He asks if she’s unwell, and she’s like no, never better. “Can I do anything else for your ladyship?” “Well, you could say good day to your daughter.” She moves the blanket, and there’s a tiny pick cheeked burrito baby, named Clowance. Ross looks completely poleaxed. “Where was Doctor Chaoke?” “It was all over before we could send for him!” Ross picks up tiny Clowance while D grins.

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Ross, holding tiny baby Clowance, and grinning. It's adorable how happy he is.

Baby Val is fussy. George would like to know why Val is fussy. Elizabeth says that Doctor Choake says that “some babies are willful” and that they should “put their foot down.” She sends the baby off with a maid to be kept warm and quiet.

These fucking people. HE’S A BABY.

Elizabeth has plans for tea and for dinner and cards, but they have not received any invitations from the Godolphins, despite George letting their son get away with rape. But Christmas is coming, they’ll have a ball, and the Godolphins will be invited, of course. “But will they accept?” Elizabeth looks at him challengingly. George puts down his teacup with some force and looks petulant. I mean, more than usual. He leaves, because he’s got a Wheal Leisure shareholders meeting, which will be sad without one Ross Vennor Poldark. “How I miss the days when I had him at my mercy.” This obsession with Ross is not becoming, George.

Drake knocks on the door at Trenwith, and Geoffy-Chuck answers! Drake brought toads for Aggie. “You did say your aunt do love a toad.” That seems fake, but okay. Morwenna comes to the door, and he presents her with a posy of primroses. “If you ever wish for more, I’ll comb the earth in search of them.” D’awwwwww.

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Morwenna takes a posy of primroses from Drake

In front of the fire, Geoffy-Chuck is holding a toad, while Aggie grins in delight. I guess she really do love a toad! Geoffy-Chuck says that George hates toads and had them cleared from the pond. Morwenna isn’t sure the George would approve of their…guest. Geoffy-Chuck: Aunt won’t tell him. “Did you know that Geoffy-Chuck’s friend is related to my nephew?” Morwenna doesn’t answer, and Aggie’s like, yeah you do, because this FRIEND tells you a great deal. “Tell my nephew that his aunt is MUCH AGGRIEVED by his neglect.”

Said nephew and said nephew’s wife are entertaining Caroline Penvenen, who has a note from one Member of Parliament Unwin Trevaunance (“who you JILTED” “I may have led him to believe he’s got another chance”) who has gotten news of a certain naval officer. Unwin has brought all his influence down on the Admiralty, and our people are talking to their people and soon all of the officers will be brought home. “In time for Christmas?” D asks. “Or shortly thereafter.” Ross looks faintly dubious, but Caro is glowing. “Unwin has his uses after all!”

In the prison, things are dire. Enys is cauterizing a wound, and there’s a line of men to see him. He’s exhausted.

At Trenwith, Morwenna gets a note when she comes in with G-C and Drake trailing behind her. She and G-C are to go to Truro for Christmas and the carriage is coming for them on Saturday. Drake asks how long they’ll be gone. A few weeks, maybe more. Drake would come to see them off, but Clowance’s christening is that day. “Your cousin, Master Geoffrey.” G-C says that if they won’t see him again before Christmas, then Drake must have his present now. “There’s no need!” “OH THERE IS.” Morwenna and Drake are left alone, and Drake is ashamed he has nothing to give Morwenna.

“Oh, but you gave me this!” she says, touching the bracelet. Drake asks if she ever takes it off, and she does not. “And I never will.” Drake kisses her hand, letting it go as Geoffy-Chuck runs back with some paper and envelopes. “So you can write to us while we’re away.” Geoffy-Chuck notes that Morwenna’s cheeks are flushed. “Do you have a fever?” Morwenna ducks her head and smiles at Drake.

Drake saunters home, and passes Sam, who’s washing in a barrel. “Be that the light of God in your eyes?” No, but it’s sacred to Drake anyway. “But is she worth the risk to your mortal soul?” Lighten up, dude. Get laid. “Reckon so!” says Drake cheerfully.

Ross writes to Aggie, inviting her to the christening. D asks if this is wise, and Ross is like, fuck wise. She’s a Poldark, and my aunt, and George has brought Leisure to it’s knees, and I will be damned if he does the same to my aunt. Why shouldn’t she come to my daughter’s christening?

Prudie knocks on the door at Trenwith, and it’s answered by Constable Goon, who takes the letter, and he and Prudie have a stand-off for a moment. As soon as Prudie’s back is turned, he crumples the letter.

Ross, D, Jeremy, and Prudie (and baby Clowance) walk to the church.

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From left to right: Prudie, Demelza holding Clowance, Jeremey holding Ross's hand, walking to the church for Clowance's baptism.

At the Warleggan townhouse, footmen unload baskets of holly and oranges and other decorations, under George’s watchful eye. He tells Elizabeth that he’s sent the carriage to fetch Morwenna and G-C, as she requested.

At Trenwith, G-C has some other plans for his day. Clowance is his cousin, and there’s no good reason to not go to her christening. He tells Morwenna she doesn’t need to come. “I don’t think either of us should!” “I’m GOING, ‘Wenna! No one needs to know!”

At the church, Clowance is baptised, and Caro assures Ross and that Enys is there in spirit. “As godfather in absentia.” Ross agrees. The door opens, and G-C and Morwenna enter. D notes that Morwenna and Drake are smiling at each other.

After the service, Morwenna apologizes for bursting in, and Ross assures her that no, it’s totally fine, and invites them to Nampara for the reception. G-C, of course, wants to go, and Drake wants them to, but she knows that time is short. There’s some back and forth and Drake says, “only a half hour?” which never goes well, and Ross and D exchange a look, and Ross nods slightly. Without missing a beat, D hands Ross the baby, and he leads G-C away. D gently guides Morwenna off to the side.

“My brother is a gentle soul… and were he of your station, I would wish nothing more. But he’s far beneath your station, and cannot aspire so high. You know it.” Morwenna had a wide-eyed innocent “whatever do you mean” thing going on, but lets that fall. “I know it.” D says it’s good that they’re going away for a bit. “T’will break the bond.” “That’s what I tell myself.” They curtsy, and Morwenna collects G-C. “We’re very late.” He forgot his hat, though, and he pops into the church to get it, and Drake follows. “I’ll come visit?” She does not think that’s a good idea. “This must stop.” Drake asks if she can stop. “Yes.” He kisses her, and she kisses him back for a half second before running out.

At the reception, Caro is cuddling the baby and saying that Unwin has assured her that it’s only a matter of time before Enys is released, and in the meantime, he’s receiving the best possible treatment

He is not, though. Enys is performing surgery and doing the best he can, but conditions are terrible. Lt. Armitage comes by, and Enys says he ordered Armitage to rest. Armitage asks who orders Enys to rest, but Enys will not, because there’s no one else. Armitage offers to watch and learn from Enys so he can have some help.

D opines to Ross that this is good news about Enys, and Ross is as cynical as I am: “If it’s true. I’ve been a prisoner of war, myself.” D asks if Enys wouldn’t get special privileges. Ross sighs, and looks over at Caro, who is telling Henshawe that she will open her house to all emigre nobles fleeing the Reign of Terror. D also sighs. “She hates to feel useless.” Ross: “I know the feeling.”

At the Warleggan townhouse, Elizabeth is getting ready for their ball, and puts more of her tranquilizers in her port and chugs. George watches, judgily (I don’t know if he knows what that stuff is, but he’s judgey), and Elizabeth is like what? You don’t like my gown? It’s a red and dark red striped gown, and yes, it’s very pretty. George says “I cannot permit you to dance tonight…with anyone but I.”

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Elizabeth, in her red striped gown, gazing at herself in her mirror, considering her life and her choices.

At Nampara, Ross is chuckling over G-C’s spiritedness, and then suddenly remembers that Aggie never replied. “Perhaps she never received the note,” says D the Realist. Ross: fuck this, let’s go get her. D: THEY’LL SHOOT YOU. Caro, using her privilege for good, notes they wouldn’t dare if she’s with him, and off they go.

G-C and Morwenna arrive in Truro, and Elizabeth hugs her son, and then shoos him upstairs to change before the guests arrive. “Guests?” asks Morwenna. Yes, for the ball, and there’s a new dress waiting for her upstairs. “Oh.” Morwenna is perplexed.

Ross and Caro ride to Trenwith, and the footman opening the door is bowled over by Ross and Caro smiles politely. “Captain Poldark is here to visit his aunt. A glass of canary and a blazing fire, if you please!”

Aggie is in her room, swathed in blankets and sitting before her cold fireplace. “Of course I never received your invitation! Do you think I’d pass up an opportunity to drink port and eat heavy cake?” Aggie has her priorities in order. Ross notes that the room is freezing, and Aggie tells him that the maids don’t light her a fire. Ross: George’s plan is to kill you with cold and infection. (Aggie: Pluttthhththt.) Ross asks her to come live at Nampara, at least. Aggie, still with reasonable priorities: “And lose the chance to torment him? I was born in the house and I will die in this house. If it costs me cake and a few hot coals….”

Ross: what must Geoffy-Chuck think, seeing that asshole strut about his home? Aggie: And the baby? Ross: I feel sorry for any kid with THAT as a father.

In Truro, the turnout is…light. No Godolphins, nor any of the other ancient families that the Warleggans are desperate to cultivate.

(Seriously, the parallels between the Warleggans and Certain Other Families are so thick.)

Cary looks at Elizabeth and Morwenna and intones, “Very eye-catching.” George takes this to mean Elizabeth, but Cary means Morwenna. G-C wanders over to Morwenna and declares that he’s bored and he wishes they were at Uncle Ross’ party. Morwenna says that they shouldn’t have gone, and G-C says that he wants to get to know his cousin Clowance better. “I wager that she’s less dull than Valentine.” George overhears this and gets that look on his face that means he’s going to use this blow to his delicate masculinity to fuck with everyone some more. “First thing tomorrow, I’ll write to Harrow. I want that brat out of my house.”

Ross comes down stairs and sees Caro standing with a maid. Ross reminds the maid that it’s her job to look after his aunt, and he’ll be making regular visits, and if she fucks up, he’ll have her dismissed. How? Unclear. But the maid looks suitably terrified.

Back at the ball of sadness, George asks Elizabeth if Morwenna enjoyed the christening. Elizabeth: what now? George: Oh, I thought she told you, they trotted down to the church to see the latest Poldark brat get baptized. Elizabeth chews on the fact that Ross and D have a daughter. “Let’s hope they are less careless with this one.” FUCK YOU. Elizabeth states that G-C can’t be blamed for going to the christening. It’s Morwenna, she needs to be punished! George: “Oh, she will be.”

A rotund, officious looking man enters the party- one Reverend Whitworth, who is recently widowed. Elizabeth expresses her condolences and asks after his two little girls. “As well as could be expected. It’s only been a week. Only your kind invitation could have forced me to leave the house today.” George nods that life must go on. “My very thought when I chose this waistcoat!” Welp.

Ross and Caro ride back to Nampara, and happen on Constable Goon marching some unfortunates through the woods. They were caught robbing another Warleggan grain ship. Ross and Caro look disgusted, but Ross shrugs: George is within his rights to protect his property. Caro asks if George is aware the harvest failed, and Ross says yeah, he’s super aware. “That’s why he’s importing and selling to the highest bidder.” Caro ponders what would be the best way to help people.

George advises Elizabeth to say nothing to Morwenna about her “misdemeanor.” (God, George, you’re worse than first year law students in in their first week of Criminal Law.) No, they need to think about ‘Wenna’s future, like when G-C goes to school, what will happen to her then? George is sure Elizabeth would want to see her well-matched. He eyes Wentworth, who is a “highly respected young man, and his mother is a Godolphin!” Gross. George introduces Morwenna to Whitworth, who makes the SLIMMEST bow, and asks her to dance the gavotte. She is not fond of dancing. “It can only be because your partners thus far have lacked the expertise. Allow a master to induct you into the pleasures.” He holds out a hand, Morwenna looks at Elizabeth in alarm. I throw up. Elizabeth merely raises an eyebrow and Morwenna takes his hand.

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A Poldark Christmas, with Drake, Jeremy, Ross, D, Clowance, and Caroline, standing around the table Jeremy is standing on his chair and looks SO PROUD of himself singing.

At Nampara, everyone is singing “here we come a wassailing” and tiny Jeremy is SO CUTE AND SO PROUD. Sam is pouty because it’s too cheerful for his methodist heart. Caro wonders how Enys will keep Christmas, and the answer is with roasted rat.

In the village, the Nampara crew passes out bread to the hungry as soldiers drag someone else off. D says she’s never seen it this bad, and Samuel Carne loftily says that sinners must pay the price. Ugh. D demands to know what sin? “They should all examine their consciences to see if they be without blame.” Drake says that his conscience is fine.

Ross gathers his chosen family- D, Caro, the Brothers Carne, Prudie, Henshawe, Tholly, and outlines a plan. It’s a plan that can’t feed all of Cornwall, but it’ll help some, but they need to keep it secret. Ross clearly has a speech planned, but Henshawe’s like dude. We’re all in. Shut up. Ross says cool, I gotta go check with an old friend and see what he thinks.

It’s Trencrom, the leader of last season’s smuggling ring, who tells him that he’s out of his goddamn mind. Ross: “That’s promising.” Trencrom lists out the problems- getting “it” in war time is hard, getting it across the channel is hard, not having an actual delivery date is hard, and the cost is prohibitive. Ross: We’re on that part, don’t worry.

In France, Enys is dozing next to a patient, who wakes him up begging for water.

At Wheal Leisure, where even the sign is in bad repair, Ross looks out over the above ground workers, who look tired and downtrodden. His face gets determined, and he rides over to Sam’s meetinghouse. Ross says it’ll be perfect for his devices, and Sam snits that he doesn’t like the idea of a House of God being used as a cache. “Nevertheless, it will be so used.” Sam doesn’t like it, and Ross is like, fucking get used to it.

D and Caro are arming themselves for battle. D is wearing one of Caro’s reddingcotes, the silver one, and one of Caro’s fancy hats. Caro wonder’s what Enys would think of them, and D grins that they look the part of highwaymen, since it’s their goal to part as many men from their money as possible.

And here’s another set of scenes quick cut together, so: here we go. Each new paragraph represents a cut.

Wentworth simpers into George’s office, saying it’s a fine day to address the topic of matrimony (ew). George barely covers his disdain of Wentworth, but Wentworth is so enamoured of himself that he doesn’t notice.

Drake sits on a cliff, thinking sad thoughts and holding a shell. Morwenna sits in the parlor of the Truro townhouse and touches her shell bracelet and also looks sad.

George offers a settlement of 2,000 pounds as a settlement for Morwenna. Whitworth says “Ah” and explains very earnestly that a man in his position must look the part and carry himself in such a way as to inspire awe. “Must he?” Besides, Whitworth has debts of over 1,000 pounds, so he can’t possibly accept a penny less than 6,000. George does not laugh in his face.

D, sitting next to Caro, explains to a Sir John that their goal is the help the poor survive the worst winter in living memory. They both have wide eyes.

Whitworth: MY MOTHER IS A GODOLPHIN. George: MORWENNA IS A CHYNOWETH. “Devout, healthy, fond of motherless children” but hey, if you can find another girl of similar pedigree and virtue to yoke yourself to, by all means, go find her.

Caro to an unseen rich person: We pledged 50 guineas each, and a large donation in my late uncle’s name, so you might be able to kick in….? D: You wouldn’t want to be lacking in your own generosity, would you?

The music turns jaunty, and Whitworth stalks out of George’s office. Drake looks at an envelope with the direction to the Warleggan townhouse in Truro and starts walking.

D: We wouldn’t want to tell you, Sir Phillip, how much to pledge, BUT Sir John kicked in 20 guineas!

Whitworth comes back with a counter offer.

Caro: “My dear, you do him wrong. I believe he offered 25.”

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Caro and D, side by side, in fancy clothes and wearing shit-eating grins as they charm men out of their money.

Whitworth: How about 4,000? George: Economic times being what they are, go fuck yourself.

D: I was just telling Caroline that there isn’t a kindlier man than Sir Hugh!

Whitworth: I cannot exist on so paltry a sum! George: Find an heiress, then. Wentworth leaves.

Caro: 30 guineas, then? Excellent.

Whitworth comes BACK. I can accept 3,500? George: “GOOD GOD MAN, DO YOU IMAGINE I HAVE MONEY TO BURN.” I mean, yes?

Drake has made it Truro and to the townhouse, where Morwenna is looking dreamily out the window, but not toward the street.

Inside, George is crowing to Elizabeth that they finally have a deal. He was willing to go higher for a connection to the Godolphins, but “the idiot settled for 3,000 pounds!” So Elizabeth can inform the bride now. Elizabeth: uh, you came up with this plan so you do it. “I would not, for the world, deprive you of this happy task!”

Drake approaches the front door, and a footman is like CAN I HELP YOU. Inside, Elizabeth calls for Morwenna, and Drake skitters away.

Morwenna: “Marry? Mr. Whitworth?” Elizabeth is like, girl, you’d be making the jump from governess to lady of the town, it would be a help your POOR STARVING MOTHER and your UNMARRIED SISTERS and also George was VERY NICE to give you settlement so be grateful we’re whoring you out to someone in society! “Does Mr. Whitworth’s love mean nothing at all?” Morwenna: we haven’t talked barely at all! Elizabeth: I mean, you’ve talked enough that he’s willing to marry you, so what are you on about? Also your mother is very happy with the idea. Morwenna: My mom is okay with this? Elizabeth: Why wouldn’t she be? Morwenna thinks her mother would be all over it if she thought that Morwenna loved Mr. Whitworth, “But I do not!”

Elizabeth: I think your mother would be dismayed if you found fault in a good match because of this idea you have about love and shit. Morwenna: “Is it wrong to hope for love in a marriage?” Elizabeth takes a second, because there are a bunch of thoughts crowding her head – Francis, Ross, and George and her reasons for picking (or not) each one. “When you wed Francis, did you not marry for love?” Elizabeth hardens her voice: “I married for what I thought was love….it lasted barely a year. My marriage to Mr. Warleggan is not founded on love, yet it is altogether more successful.”

Elizabeth goes into George’s study, where’s he got a letter from Caro, asking for 30 guineas to “help the poor.” Elizabeth snaps that he spent 3,000 on a dowry, so will another 30 bankrupt him? “No doubt she expects your refusal.” “Then I shall disappoint her!” George crows. God. He’s dumb and mean.

Caro is counting money. George sent 50 guineas. D snarks that he’s not interested in “concern for the poor” he just wants to make sure everyone knows he sent the most. Caro: we have his money, so he can think whatever he wants. D grins that they should become footpads, they’re pretty good at it. “Now all we need is the goods.”

Elizabeth doses her port and stares off into the middle distance as Val cries. This poor kid.

At the meetinghouse, Ross and Zacky worry a bit about if the goods will be safe. Ross says they’ll be safe enough for one night. Tomorrow, they’ll be done, and Zacky’s like yeah, landing a cargo of extreme value in utmost secrecy.

At sunset, Ross and the boys are at the cove, and D, Caro, and Prudie are waiting in the kitchen at Nampara. D says the girls should be away, and Prudie’s like, uh, Ross said to stay put? D: “He did. He also said that I’m the mother of two small children and ought to start behaving as one. Daniel’s upstairs with Clowance and Jeremy, and we’re away to the meetinghouse.”

At the cove, the boys see the ship, and Zacky signals with a light.

At the meeting house, the girls sing and sing with a handful of the congregation.

On the beach, the goods are loaded into carts, and everyone hustles off. The girls continue to sing. In the woods, the goods are being moved, and Constable Goon sights them.

The girls finish the song, and D calls for the congregation to put out the candles and be quiet. “If anyone be watching, let’s hope we throw them off the scent.”

Constable Goon rides off.

Zacky peeks into the meeting house and tells the girls the boys are on the way “With no one the wiser.”

Constable Goon reports to George what he saw, and that Ross is definitely the ringleader, and that “there’s no mistaking the goods.”

At the meeting house, where many hands are stacking the goods, Ross eyes D. “Did I not bid you to stay at home?” “Yes, Ross, as often I bid you, and see how well that works.” BURN. Prudie and Caro explain that they’ve been decoys and singing at their top of their lungs.

George decides that he’s going to get some sleep, and that as resident magistrate he must have his wits about him when he busts Ross’ smuggling ring.

In the morning, Ross rides off, and George gets his morning report from Constable Goon: the soldiers will be at the meeting house soon, and George intends to meet them there. Why miss all the fun? Morwenna comes down the stairs, and George also informs her that Wentworth will be calling that day, so she can see for herself what an amiable man he is. He leaves, and she sighs heavily.

At Nampara, D checks with her brothers that they know what to do, and also that the villagers are to keep quiet. Drake’s like yeah, of course they will, or all hell with break loose. Sam snits that it isn’t fit for the the Lord’s House to be used for such a purpose, and D and I make identical sounds of disgust. “Get ye gone!”

Whitworth arrives while Morwenna is reading, and he’s SUPER officious, posing in the doorway and generally being a turd on the doorstep.

On the road to the meetinghouse, George finds himself preceded by poor people running holding plates and pans, urging each other to hurry. The thought of dragging Ross away in chains is giving George such a boner, I’m surprised he can ride at all.

Whitworth is prattling on about a game of cards he played once, while Morwenna looks down at her hands.

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Morwenna, sitting on the red and gold couch, staring down at her hands as Whitworth prattles on.

He then says that he detects the Hand of God in leading him to the Warleggan ball, and to wear the lemon silk “So you could not help but to notice me” (and Morwenna looks like she might actually throw up on his shoes, which she has every right to do, I AM JUST SAYING ’WENNA) and that she could comfort him as only a wife could. “And now that I know my sentiments are returned!” Morwenna says that she is not sure they ARE returned, and he’s like no, it is only your delicate sensibilities, all women approach matrimony with a hint of shyness. “As a man of feeling, and a man of God, I assure you, my love will be returned.”

Whitworth and Mr. Collins read the same books, I see. God, I hope he dies soon. Horribly.

He slimes a kiss on her hand, and Morwenna’s finally like NOPE ‘WENNA OUT, and runs out of the room, only barely not hip-checking Elizabeth.

Elizabeth asks Whitworth if Morwenna refused him, and he’s like, I am not discouraged. She’ll come around. “Proceed with arrangements as planned.”

At the meetinghouse, George and Constable Goon ride up to see the soldiers leaving, and Ross shaking hands with the captain, saying he’s sorry the captain was sent on a fool’s errand. What Ross and his people are handing out is grain, not riches. D and Caro smile brightly at George. “See the fruits of your generosity? Have you come to make further donation?” George: Donation? Yes, see, they bought a load of rain and are now selling it at half the market price. Caro: shall we put you down for 70 guineas next time?

George snits that there won’t BE a next time, because HE is not in the habit of pandering to wastrels and lazyasses who can’t earn their own bread. Ross: what are you doing trespassing on Nampara land? You’re a magistrate, go away, or I’ll call back the soldiers and have you both arrested. George and Constable Goon turn and leave, while Zacky cheerfully shouts, “BYE!” which is my favorite part of this scene, even more than D and Caro’s shit-eating grins.

Back in Truro, George snaps and snits and throws a tantrum about how this whole scheme was a deliberate attempt to humiliate him. Elizabeth, reasonably, offers that it might also have been an attempt to avoid a riot? Bah, George doesn’t care about riots. “He made me think he was breaking the law, and then made me look a fool when I attempted to bring him to heel! Well, he’s overplayed his hand this time.”

Caro stares out over the water, and Enys dozes. Armitage comes over and tries to send Enys to bed, and Enys is like, I said I’d keep watch over this patient. Armitage says the reason he offered to help Enys was so that Enys could get “one hour’s sleep in twenty” and be able to keep doctoring. Enys: “with no fresh water? No medicine? No supplies?” The French guards blather, and Armitage says they’re taking bets on which prisoner will be the next to die.

At the meeting house, Zacky brings news that George has decided to close Wheal Leisure. Immediately, ending 70 jobs. D asks why, and Ross is like, because he CAN, and the profits are small. And it used to belong to Ross. “So to spite Ross, George would put 70 families into direst poverty?” Yes, yes, he would.

Morwenna gets told by Elizabeth that she’s being sent back to Trenwith, and when told to start packing, she begins to cry as she goes up the stairs. Upon being told this, George is like, yeah, she’s being sent back to the tedium of Trenwith after the “happy bustle of Truro.” Elizabeth is unconvinced by this logic. “She’ll soon see the error of her ways and be begging us for the date of her wedding.”

At Nampara, D feels like they’ve done what they set out to do: five villages will survive. Ross is still poleaxed at the cost. This was set into motion by their grain venture and George’s fragile masculinity.


Ross and D begin thinking about what they could do for the 70 families that just lost their income, when Caro runs into to tell them that she’s off for London. D asks if she’s had word about Enys, and Caro has gotten word from Unwin saying that she has no cause for concern, but she’s going to the Admiralty and start negotiating for a ransom. Ross and D wish her luck, but after she’s left, Ross’s face turns grim. “The Admiralty doesn’t deal in ransoms.”

Enys has managed to get some water to another prisoner, but the French have decided that the prisoners Enys has been trying to keep alive will be the next to go, so they shoot him, right in front of Enys and Armitage. Enys begins to weep and crumples to the ground.

At Wheal Grace, Ross walks up to Henshawe and Zacky, and says he’s got an idea. They’re already over-manned as it is, and if they get more miners, and get more ore, they might flood the market and bring prices down. But there’s a few parts of the mine that have made indications of new lodes (“Which may not come to anything” Zacky says) so, maybe, with 30 extra men they could pay for if Ross doesn’t take his profit dividend… Henshawe and Zacky worry that D might actually kill him for this, and Ross, for once, talked to D and she’s on board.

A driver pushes on a carriage stuck in the mud (and, I note, had made no effort to make the load lighter or have the other driver get off to lead the horses or even make them pull at ALL), and Drake, Sam, and D walk along the road (with Drake and D singing together and it’s ADORABLE). Sam smacks his brother and goes to help, and yes, in the carriage is G-C and Morwenna. Morwenna’s face shines like the moon when she sees Drake.

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Morwenna seeing Drake outside of the carriage

D is a little dismayed, and Sam does all the pushing. The carriage gets unstuck (“Thanks for all the help, brother.”) and the kids go on their way, while Drake grins to himself.

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Sam, efficiently pushing the carriage

The carriage leaves and Sam, Drake, and D standing in the road. Sam: Thanks for the help, brother.

George demands of Elizabeth to know how long Morwenna will need, and she’s like a few weeks, but “I’m not overly enamored of him…there’s something about him that makes my skin crawl.” THIS IS THE MOST ACCURATE STATEMENT ELIZABETH HAS EVER MADE. George is like yeah, he’s a reptile and prig, but he’s also a Godolphin. Morwenna will realize how lucky she is.

How lucky she is, is a suitor telling his tailor to make a waistcoat of gold brocade and trousers tight enough to inspire in his bride “awe and anticipation.” The tailor is a TOUCH rough in measuring the inseam, but honestly, could have been rougher and perhaps careless with his scissors?

D tells Ross that she likes Morwenna, she seems to be kind and sweet, but she worries about what this return will mean for Drake. Ross: It’ll piss the holy hell out of George, and that’s good enough for me. D is more concerned with class divisions (reasonable, given the amount of work she put in so that she could fit in with Ross’s class), and that George would lose his shit over a miner’s son aspiring to his wife’s cousin. Ross: How about a lowly mine owner aspiring to a great lady? He kisses her hand, and she grins at him. “That’s different.” She hopes Morwenna takes care to stay out of Drake’s way.

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Ross, looking at D and thinking I cannot live without this woman and D, looking at Ross and D thinking That's right, you can't and they kiss

GUESS WHAT: she does not. Drake and Morwenna run to each other on the beach, and hug, and they kiss.

Click for gifs!

Morwenna and Drake, making out on the beach. You go, kids.

Whatcha Reading? October 2017 Edition

Oct. 21st, 2017 07:00 am
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Posted by Amanda

old book on the bench in autumn parkIt’s Whatcha Reading time, where we discuss all the highs and lows of our month’s reading. We all hope you’ve had some good book noises this month, but we know sometimes that doesn’t happen. Feel free to rage and gripe as much as you want. However, we can’t be held responsible if your TBR pile doubles in size from the book recommendations you’ll most likely get.

Sarah: I am reading a nonfiction and a romance, because my brain is tired and stressed. The nonfiction is Deep Work by Cal Newport (insert all jokes here) (insert jokes about inserting jokes here) (fin). On one hand, the reframing of what is deeply focused work and what is shallow, distracting work is interesting and very helpful to my own feelings of productivity and accomplishment, especially when paired with a recent podcast interview with Basecamp CEO Jason Fried.

Deep Work
A | BN | K | iB
I’m constantly questioning what I do, and why I do it, and whether I can do less, do things more efficiently, or not do them at all. So the idea of focusing intently on my creative projects and goals is something I’m very curious about. But the book itself, while it contains several helpful concepts, grates on me with the sexism and the ignoring of other work that women typically do (e.g. emotional labor and caretaking). Most of the examples are men, with two exceptions, one of them negative, and most of these examples portray work as a singular monolith or field of study. So I take frequent breaks between chapters so I don’t get too angry to keep reading and cheat myself out of valuable ideas.

Carrie: I am reading Chasing Power, a YA by Sarah Beth Durst ( A | BN | K | G | iB ), and also What She Ate, a nonfiction about six historical women and their relationship to food. The former is entertaining but uneven and the latter is excellent.

Sarah: I’m also currently reading The Offer by Sara Portman ( A | BN | K | G | iB ), which is coming out on 10/24. The heroine is a penniless vicar’s daughter who opens the story in the strange position of deeply envying her best friend, now a duchess, who is in the midst of horrible morning sickness. The hero is also in debt, and not in a position to offer for anyone unless that person comes with several wagonloads of money, so OF COURSE they are going to be drawn to each other. I just started it, and am very curious, so ahoy, more reading time for me.

What She Ate
A | BN | K | iB
Elyse: I just started The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan. It’s an epic fantasy about a group of women with magical abilities working to overthrow a patriarchal, repressive society. Their magic is tied to the ability to read and use words of power, so it’s pretty solidly my catnip

Sarah: I read the first chapter of that book and so wanted to continue, but it was giving me the “your brain is going to wake you up with nightmares” feeling with some of the violence. But the women in that first chapter are SO INCREDIBLE.

Elyse: One of the things that I found really fascinating and relevant is that the authoritarian regime bans reading as a means of controlling its populace

Sarah: YES. This is a perfect example of a book that I wanted to read but knew would give my brain middle-of-the-night freakouts.

Amanda: Can I just say that I love these little conversations we have about books? What we like, what we don’t like, what aspects work of us as readers. It gives me the warm and fuzzies.

The Bloodprint
A | BN | K | iB
Sarah: I know, me too.

In the past year I have learned so much about how to work with my brain and my brain chemistry. it’s life-changing on a very basic level.

But knowing when something violent is going to exacerbate my anxiety to the point of losing sleep is a big help, much as I want to read this book.


Redheadedgirl: So…I maaaaaaaaay be at “one book bought per day of trip” so that’s a lot?

Elyse: Nah.

Amanda: I just finished an exhausting week in South Florida, cleaning out my late grandparents home where they lived for over 40 years. On the cool side, I found my great grandmother’s bible from 1917. On the bad side, who knew just looking at belongings could sap so much energy. Because of this, I’m waffling between two different types of reads – dark and gritty to channel some of my negative feelings. And reading an autobuy author for some comfort.

A | BN | K | iB
For the former, I have An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard from my library ( A | BN | K | G | iB ). It has a magical NYC and a heroine who wants to destroy the current magical system.

For the latter, I have Roomies by Christina Lauren. They write such great modern romances that make me laugh and cry. It’s like a hug in book form and something that I totally need right now.

What have you been reading this month? Something spooky? A comfort read? Let us know in the comments!

By request, since we can’t link to every book you mention in the comments, here are bookstore links that help support the site with your purchases. If you use them, thank you so much, and if you’d prefer not to, no worries. Thanks for being a part of SBTB and hopefully, you’ve found some great books to read!

Buy from Amazon.com

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October Book Club Announcement

Oct. 20th, 2017 07:24 pm
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Posted by Amanda

We’ve selected With This Curse by Amanda DeWees for our October read for the SBTB book club. Our official selection post has some more information on the book, including Elyse’s thoughts on why it’s a great Gothic pick for the month of October.

Our chat will occur on Wednesday, October 25 from 8:00pm – 9:30pm EDT. That afternoon, we’ll post the chat link on the site and it will go live around 8:00pm. Sarah will lead a discussion of the book for around an hour, and then author Amanda DeWees will pop in for a Q&A!

We hope to see you there!

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Posted by Theresa Christine Johnson


Even when consumers have recyclable materials, that doesn’t always mean it’s headed to the recycling plant. But James Cropper 3D Products has revolutionized sustainable packaging with COLOURFORM, a renewable, recyclable and colored molded fiber packaging product that won’t stick around on Planet Earth for 400+ years.

The product is made from 100% renewable, natural wood fibers that come from well-managed forests and high-quality recycled materials from Cropper’s own recycling plant. Instead of plastic and other packaging materials, brands can use COLOURFORM to reduce their carbon footprint.

The way it works is simple: obviously, it can be recycled, and precision embossing gives consumers clear information on how to do so properly. But if it ends up in the landfill, it will naturally biodegrade without a trace. And there’s no need for brands to compromise on the look and feel of their packaging—each item is design for customer requirements and match any color, complete with a quality, tactile finish.

Matthew Miller, business director at James Cropper 3D Products, said, “Sustainability is higher on the agenda of businesses than ever before, with consumer brands in particular looking to tackle the landfill crisis by sourcing more environmentally responsible ways to package their products. With COLOURFORM, we’re allowing such companies to boost their ‘green’ credentials, while helping end consumers to recycle easily – a huge milestone for packaging.”

“James Cropper 3D Products works with world class brands who are leading the way to a sustainable future with COLOURFORM. Typical applications include box inserts to support, display and protect products, outer packaging and packaging components.”


Matthew added, “Historically, moulded fibre packaging has been rather prosaic and only available in a limited number of colours and textures. However, with our bespoke, design-engineered approach and exact colour matching capabilities, we can offer brands unrivalled quality, appeal and design, which enables them to enhance their brand identity while reducing their environmental impact.

“Brands really do now have all the creative freedom they need to stand out sustainably.”



Unwanted Girl by MK Schiller

Oct. 20th, 2017 08:00 am
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Posted by Carrie S


Unwanted Girl

by M.K. Schiller
January 19, 2016 · Lyrical Shine

Unwanted Girl deals with serious topics and yet manages to be a sweet, satisfying romance. It’s quite a balancing act in terms of tone.

The hero of Unwanted Girl is Nick Dorsey, the writer of a series of bestselling spy novels of the James Bond type. Nick is also a recovering meth addict. When the book starts, he’s been meth-free for eighteen months, although he still drinks alcohol in moderation (N.B.: most recovery programs do not recommend continuing to drink alcohol after quitting other drugs, although it appears that some people are able to do it). Nick goes to Narcotics Anonymous, has been healing his relationships with family, and is struggling with writer’s block. He lives in New York City.

Nick likes to order sandwiches from a deli that delivers. The same woman always delivers his sandwiches. Eventually she introduces herself and invites herself in. Her name is Shyla, and she is from a small village in India. Shyla is studying education with plans to return to India to be a teacher. Shyla asks Nick to help her write a book of her own and as they work on it they fall in love.

Shyla promises Nick that her book has a happy ending. Nick finds this hard to believe, since her story is about the practice of female gendercide as well as spousal abuse and rape (obviously, HUGE trigger warnings for rape, spousal abuse, child abuse, and sexism). As they work together on her book, they also watch movies and she reads both his spy thrillers and his much more personal first novel. This leads to talk about culture, the meaning and purpose of fiction, and gender and race representation.

Shyla’s story forms a book within the book. It’s about a baby in rural India who is abandoned by her biological parents due to her gender and adopted by a woman who has recently lost her only child. This woman, Nalini, names the baby Asha and raises her with the support of a local nun and teacher named Sarah. Sarah insists on Asha continuing her education well into adulthood. However, Asha is frustrated when she marries an abusive man whose mother is also abusive to Asha. Asha wonders the point of all this education is if she never gets to use it.

Even though the book Shyla is writing is full of trauma, and Nick is dealing with the consequences of his addiction, Shyla and Nick are very playful together. Their playfulness lightens the tone, rounds out their characters, and is just generally a kick to read. It also establishes that despite Nick’s original assumption about Shyla, she is comfortable and confident in her sexuality and not opposed to pre-marital sex. Nick makes many assumptions about Shyla and it’s satisfying to see her overthrow them one after another.

Shyla is an interesting character and I would have enjoyed learning more about the family and friends she works with and lives with in New York. She has a strong sense of self that I admired, and she also has the ability to be flexible in her understanding of the world around her without losing the core sense of who she is. For example, she explains that earlier in her life she would have been shocked at the idea that two women could be in a committed relationship and raise a child, but after living for some time in New York she accepts the idea that there are many configurations of family (Nick’s sister and sister-in-law have an adopted daughter). She has a wicked sense of humor that endeared her to me entirely. On the other hand, towards the end of the book she makes a couple of comments that drove me up the wall, including one about women needing to be ladylike. If she had made that comment at the beginning of the book instead of near the end I doubt I would have stuck with it.

Nick is a more bland character. He’s used to telling people what to do. His inability to comprehend things like the racism in Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom frustrated me. I felt that he tended to infantilize Shyla, assuming that she would be naïve and shy when actually she’s seen much more of the world than he has. Their relationship levels out eventually.

This book is basically a billionaire romance, with Shyla as a Cinderella who finds a rich prince. Nick isn’t a billionaire, but he is very wealthy, and he loves and is generous with beautiful things and good food. Meanwhile, Shyla is hardworking and, while not desperately impoverished, limited in her financial resources. The cross-cultural and feminist elements deepen the story and there’s a bit of thriller intrigue at the end involving a twist that frankly I did not entirely buy. There is a happy ending to both Asha’s story and Shyla’s story but readers should be warned that Asha goes through absolute (graphically described) hell before she gets to the happy ending that Shyla promises. The writing can be a bit stilted and the characters aren’t equally balanced, but the sensitive handling of difficult material and the balance of tragedy and humor bring the book up to a B+.

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Posted by SB Sarah

This is something of an all-in-one episode. Ready?

We begin with one last recommendation request for Amanda and me, and then we squee! Amanda and I both read a book we loved, and want to tell all of you about it. We go on at length, too, so be ready. It’s got magic and mystery and a terrific heroine.

But because I know so many of you immediately grab the next book when you begin a new series, I wanted to include a little information about book 2, which I DNFd after a scene that really irritated me.

THEN, I have an email from an anonymous listener who wanted to share some information based on episode 257, where we discussed BDSM and chronic pain. This is some fascinating stuff, so stay tuned for that.

Listen to the podcast →
Read the transcript →

Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:

Our anonymous listener mentioned shibari rope bondage techniques, and you can learn more online.

The episode our anonymous listener was responding to was episode 257: Bitches Assemble: Our Favorite Recommendations and the Expectations of Tentacles. 

If you like the podcast, you can subscribe to our feed, or find us at iTunes. You can also find us on Stitcher, too. We also have a cool page for the podcast on iTunes.

Thanks to our sponsors:

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What did you think of today's episode? Got ideas? Suggestions? You can talk to us on the blog entries for the podcast or talk to us on Facebook if that's where you hang out online. You can email us at sbjpodcast@gmail.com or you can call and leave us a message at our Google voice number: 201-371-3272. Please don't forget to give us a name and where you're calling from so we can work your message into an upcoming podcast.

Thanks for listening!

This Episode's Music

Our music is provided by Sassy Outwater.

This is “Fishing at Orbost,” by the Peatbog Fairies, from their album Dust.

You can find all things Peatbog at their website, or at Amazon or iTunes.

Podcast Sponsor

organization Academy lighthouse logoThis episode is brought to you by Organization Academy.

Organization Academy the home of my online courses on using Google Calendar to declutter your schedule and organize your life. I did a series on SBTB about how I use Google Calendar to automate and manage every aspect of my day, including home, family, business, other business, freelance writing, podcasting, meal planning, and more.

Over the past year, I have developed a step by step instructional program outlining the method I use for meal planning, and I am about to launch my first online course, Menu Planning Mastery. It’s all about saving time, energy, and money by harnessing the power of Google Calendar to manage your meal planning.

If you feel overwhelmed sometimes by the question “What’s for dinner?” when you don’t know the answer, this course is for you. This method can save you time and reduce stress.

And what can you do with all that time? Read more books! While you eat good food! I love this plan.

If you would like more information, you can sign up for my newsletter at OrganizationAcademy.com, and you’ll be the first to know when the course opens. You’ll also receive weekly tips on organizing using Google Calendar every Friday.

Find out more at Organization Academy.com!

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Posted by Natalie Mouradian

Thirst Craft_InariBiru_06

Yeastie Boys have joined forces once again with Thirst Craft to design their latest creation, Inari Bīru, which is Japanese for “Rice Beer.”

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Made using high grade Koshihikari rice, this extra pale golden ale was designed to compliment Japanese food and needed a strong design to match this strong proposition.

Inspired by minimalist Japanese design and a classic red, white and black colour palette, Thirst Craft created a strikingly simple pack.

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Thirst Craft_InariBiru_10

To add balance and energy, paintbrushes were picked up in a hasty homage to shodō, traditional Japanese calligraphy. A lot of experimenting with very viscous ink led to loose, textured characters disrupting the pristine lay out with their vertical placement.

The result? A modern take on Japanese design for a modern take on Japanese rice beer. Oishī.

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Agency: Thirst Craft
Client: Yeastie Boys
Location: Glasgow, Scotland

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Posted by Natalie Mouradian


Stranger & Stranger designed the elegant packaging for Shackleton Blended Malt Scotch Whisky. The overall design comes with an old-school nautical feel, which is sure to have you feeling like you’re ready to take on the seven seas.

“The Shackleton Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, worthy of a great exploration!”

Shackleton_angled_bottle_on_black.jpg Shackleton_box_angled_on_black.jpg Shackleton_Bottle_straight_on_on_black.jpg Shackleton_box_straight_on_on_black.jpg  

Designed By: Stranger & Stranger
Client: Whyte & Mackay

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Posted by Natalie Mouradian


Stranger & Stranger designed the packaging for Compass Box’s Double Single Blended Scotch Whisky. The packaging features beautiful typography along with whimsical illustrations. Gold foil details add a touch of luxury to the overall spirit.

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“Greater than the sum of its parts...THE DOUBLE SINGLE.

A blend of single malt and single grain. Simple.”

Compass_Box-Double_Single_Box_only_on_black.jpg Compass_Box-Double_Single_angled_on_black.jpg  

Designed By: Stranger & Stranger
Client: Compass Box

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Posted by Theresa Christine Johnson


As an entrepreneur, you’re in for a lot learning by doing. Turning to other business owners and learning about their experiences, though, can help you on your own journey. In this final part of a 4-part series, Dan and Dave Buck, owners of Art of Play, reflect on the challenges they’ve encountered, mistakes they’ve made, and what’s in store for the future of Art of Play.

Read part 1, part 2, and part 3.

What was your biggest challenge in founding Art of Play?

Art of Play: The first year was very slow. We didn’t understand how we could sell so many playing cards on dananddave.com and then only see a few orders here and there trickle in to Art of Play. If it wasn’t a side project, we’re sure it would have tested our patience.

After the first year, sales began to pick up. Customer experiences were being shared on Instagram and Facebook, and word of mouth influenced new customers. We continued to add new cards to the site all the time, and eventually, it just caught on. We remember sales going from a few orders a day to hundreds a month in a very short period. And it's been growing ever since. Looking back, it was our persistence, and dedication to customer service that really made the difference. We gave our customers something to share about.

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If you could go back and do anything differently in this process, what would you want to change?

Art of Play: Starting a business today, we would begin with intent. Knowing the purpose of your business is fundamental to grow. Five years ago, we pursued an idea. We had this vision for an online shop to buy playing cards, and that's pretty much it. It was like we built a rocket, and had no idea where it could take people, or that it could even take people places.

It was customer feedback that inspired us to think about our purpose and unleash Art of Play's potential. Now, it's not at all about selling playing cards. Our mission is to inspire moments of epiphany and connect people through a state of playfulness. This is what excites us, and it's something we can always work towards.

Did you make any big mistakes during the first few years you were in business?

Art of Play: Of course we did. The first mistake was having an “if you build it, they will come” mentality. Vision is important, and more important is purpose. Another mistake was unmindful advertising on Facebook. We would set up campaigns and forget about them. The lesson hit us hard when our jaws dropped at the year-end ad spend. We’re always making mistakes. If we’re not making mistakes, we’re not learning.

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Looking back, what was one of the best or most beneficial things that you did while getting Art of Play started?

Art of Play: We kept it very simple, which allowed it to evolve on its own.

What is your main advice to other entrepreneurs who would like to start their own company?

Art of Play: Every company begins by starting, so just start your company. It’s the only way. Begin with intent and focus on what is essential. Have an open mind and allow your company to evolve. Be fearless and never give up.

What’s in store for the future of Art of Play?

Art of Play: We are creating our own puzzles and games and will debut a few of them later this year. One we are particularly excited about is ¿Cuantos Puros?, a mind-bending puzzle concept designed by Adam Rubin. We have several new decks of playing cards in production. Each very different from the other. Next year we are planning to open our first retail location in Los Angeles, with others to follow in New York and Tokyo.

One dream is to have our own products accepted into the MoMA permanent collection.

What do you think has contributed to the success of your business?

Art of Play: Love. We love what we do and the people we work with.

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Posted by Natalie Mouradian

TDA_2018 Launch.png

The Dieline Awards 2018 formally recognizes the absolute best in consumer product packaging design worldwide and brings awareness to the immense value that lies in well-designed brand packaging. As the largest worldwide package design competition now in its 9th year, The Dieline Awards exists as a way to celebrate innovation and honor excellence in packaging design around the globe. 

The design industry constantly evolves, so we've evolved The Dieline Awards 2018 to act as a true reflection of the challenges designers and brands face daily. This year brings new categories, new guidelines, and new opportunities to win a coveted trophy. 

Learn More
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Posted by Natalie Mouradian


Get your caffeine fix on the go with Hillside Donut & Coffee’s convenient cans. Eme Design Studio designed the elegant yet striking packaging for the brand.

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“When branding Hillside Donut & Coffee, there’s always room to grow. Hillside’s cold brew cans and coffee bags have given a fresh, new spin to the elements that distinguish Hillside from the rest. With these new brand elements, you can take Hillside’s royal treatment with you anytime, anyplace.”

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Designed By: Eme Design Studio
Designers: Edgar Bonilla & Joel Martínez
Creative Director: Joel Martínez
Client: Hillside Coffee and Donut Co
Printer: Packplus
Location: El Paso, TX, USA

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Posted by Amanda

An Untamed State

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay is $1.99! This is a highly recommended piece of contemporary fiction. It’s harrowing and emotional as it chronicles a woman’s kidnapping, rescue, and recovery. This is Gay’s debut novel and there are definitely some trigger warnings for this book. For those who have read it, what did you think?

Roxane Gay is a powerful new literary voice whose short stories and essays have already earned her an enthusiastic audience. In An Untamed State, she delivers an assured debut about a woman kidnapped for ransom, her captivity as her father refuses to pay and her husband fights for her release over thirteen days, and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath.

Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.

An Untamed State is a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a willful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed Stateestablishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

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A Rogue to Avoid

A Rogue to Avoid by Bianca Blythe is 99c at Amazon! This is a historical romance where a misunderstanding leads to marriage. Talk about awkward. Readers really seemed to enjoy the interaction between the hero and heroine. However, others found some things to be a bit unbelievable or inconsistent. It has a 3.8-star rating on Goodreads. This is the second book in a series and the first one is also on sale!

A Scottish scoundrel…
Gerard Highgate, Marquess of Rockport and the ton’s most aloof rake, knows better than to wed an Englishwoman, especially one as prickly as Lady Cordelia. But when his mother dies and he finds himself saddled with her debts, he needs a wife and he needs one fast.

An exacting Englishwoman…
Lady Cordelia knows that hastiness in husband hunting leads to mistakes. But when she visits an aristocrat to warn that his life might be in danger, he misinterprets her suggestion to flee to Scotland.

An unexpected elopement…
Most elopements are born of love, not misunderstanding. Cordelia and Gerard have already broken that rule, but perhaps they can still make their marriage one of love.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:






Stud by Jamie K. Schmidt is 99c! This sounds like a pretty fun contemporary and I already have it on my Kindle. Some readers found the writing a bit choppy at times, while others really loved the heroine’s strong personality. This is also a standalone romance.

Large. Hot. With a pump of sexual tension. 

When the barista next door teams up with a slick ad executive in this sweet standalone novel from USA Today bestselling author Jamie K. Schmidt, they both get a taste of unexpected love.

Terri Cooke wishes she could give Mick Wentworth a piece of her mind. The infuriating stud muffin walks into her coffee shop every morning expecting his regular order at 8:57 on the dot, without ever acknowledging Terri’s presence—except for staring at her cleavage. And yet she can’t deny that Mick Wentworth has an animal magnetism that’s stronger and richer than any espresso . . . which explains why Terri says yes when he suddenly, inexplicably asks her out.

After the morning coffee run, Mick’s day is all downhill from there. His family’s marketing firm is dysfunctional in more ways than one, so to save the business, Mick desperately needs to impress their newest client. When he learns that Terri’s a fan of their trendy product, he tries to get inside her head. It doesn’t hurt that she’s the barista he’s been lusting after for the past five months. But as things heat up with Terri, Mick finds that a little steam is just the jolt he needs to turn his whole life around.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

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One Bite Per Night

One Bite Per Night by Brooklyn Ann is 99c! This is a historical paranormal romance with a vampire hero who takes the heroine on as his ward. Readers seemed divided on the main characters. Many liked the hero, but found the heroine to be rather exhausting at times.

He wanted her off his hands…
Vincent Tremayne, the reclusive “Devil Earl,” has been manipulated into taking rambunctious Lydia Price as his ward. As Lord Vampire of Cornwall, Vincent has better things to do than bring out an unruly debutante.

Now he’ll do anything to hold on forever
American-born Lydia Price doesn’t care for the stuffy strictures of the ton, and is unimpressed with her foppish suitors. She dreams of studying with the talented but scandalous British portrait painter, Sir Thomas Lawrence. But just when it seems her dreams will come true, Lydia is plunged into Vincent’s dark world and finds herself caught between the life she’s known and a future she never could have imagined.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

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Posted by Natalie Mouradian


Stranger & Stranger designed the packaging for Woolf Sung, a Scotch Whisky brand. The design is intriguing if not a little creepy, but the mysterious feel is sure to draw consumers in.

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“With sharp instincts and a deep desire to hunt down the very best single casks this brand is no wolf in sheep’s clothing!”




Designed By: Stranger & Stranger

Client: Woolf Sung

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Posted by Natalie Mouradian


This unique soap comes with modern packaging. BON is a new type of soap from Vella Cosmetics, a Korean company. What makes this soap special is that it provides a massaging quality to help with swelling.


“BON is a brand specialized in making handmade soaps with Gwalsa which is a beauty technique used by the imperial house of China for 5,000 years. 

It is a new type of soap that cleanses the skin and is also helpful in improving facial swelling by massaging and stimulating blood points in face and neck.”


“BON is a compound word of 'Bon 本', indicating the foundation based on the harmony between tradition and present and the English word 'Bone' which is a tool for Gwalsa and it is designed to offer luxurious beauty products where modern and handmade elements are combined.”

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Location: Seoul, South Korea

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Posted by Natalie Mouradian

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According to HowStuffWorks: "All of those milk jugs, pizza boxes and egg cartons really pile up — food wrapping and containers contribute to a significant chunk of the 23 percent of packaging-related landfill additions each year. Fortunately, although overall waste has continued to rise about 20 percent, packaging waste has actually decreased, in large part because manufacturers have learned how to more smartly encase their products. Now, forward-thinking scientists are being even more proactive about the issue by steering away from traditional packaging in favor of edible alternatives."

In the past on The Dieline we've followed the emerging trend of the anti-packaging movement which has led us to continually wonder, is the future of packaging no packaging at all? We've rounded up 11 examples of edible packaging ideas that are helping shape the future of the industry.

1. Loliware Biodegr(edible) Cups


2. Stonyfield Package-Less Froyo


3. KFC's Edible Coffee Cup


4. MonoSol's Edible Pouches


5. Bob's Burger Edible Wrapper




6. Tomatoes Transformed Into Edible Food Containers


7. KFC Edible Bowls


8. Edible Milk Packaging


9. What is Tomorrow Machine Up To


10. Volkswagen Eat The Road




11. Ooho! Water You Can Eat


The Rec League: Mary Stewart

Oct. 19th, 2017 08:00 am
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Posted by Amanda

The Rec League - heart shaped chocolate resting on the edge of a very old bookOur community at the Bitchery is full of warm & fuzzy moments and as the person who puts together the Books on Sale posts, sometimes we get some kickass, budget-endangering comment threads. For example, KateB alerted us to a mega Mary Stewart sale!

You can view Mary Stewart’s ebook editions, sorted from low to high prices, all of which are $3.99 or lower, at this Amazon link.

Here are some Stewart recs from that particular comment thread.

No, the Other Anne:

Airs Above the Ground and The Ivy Tree are particular favorites. I also love Touch Not the Cat. Really you can’t go wrong with anything Mary Stewart, though!


I think my favorite might be The Ivy Tree. Currently re-reading MoonSpinners, the book is better than the movie. Gosh, I read all of these between eight and 13 years old, did not get all the sub-text and still loved them. Love them all now, too.


Personally, I favor This Rough Magic and back in the day, when I first read Mary Stewart, I loved Wildfire at Midnight. Her later romantic suspense–post Touch Not the Cat–seemed a little bland to me, but the rest of it was golden.

Do read the rest of the comments for more recommendations, and please let us know which books the Bitchery should be during this awesome Mary Stewart sale!

A Spoonful of Magic by Irene Radford

Oct. 19th, 2017 07:00 am
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Posted by SB Sarah


A Spoonful of Magic

by Irene Radford
November 7, 2017 · DAW
RomanceContemporary Romance

Trigger warnings for rape, gaslighting, infidelity, and discussions of Joss Whedon.

I  DNF’d this book so hard I’m a little surprised my Kindle isn’t embedded in the drywall.

First, a few points.

  1. I am aware (and was aware when I started this book) that this is Not a Romance. I am not carrying into this review my romance-reader expectations on happy or optimistic endings.
  2. I started this book while the coverage of Kai Cole’s essay on Joss Whedon’s infidelity and gaslighting was everywhere, which was a weird parallel that accentuated my revulsion.
  3. This book does not come out until November 7, which is a good ways off. Usually I don’t post reviews so far in advance, but I’ll probably complain about this book more than once before pub date.

I picked up this book because the NetGalley description sounded really intriguing:

A delightful new urban fantasy about a kitchen witch and her magical family

Daphne “Daffy” Rose Wallace Deschants has an ideal suburban life—three wonderful and talented children; a coffee shop and bakery, owned and run with her best friend; a nearly perfect husband, Gabriel, or “G” to his friends and family. Life could hardly be better.

But G’s perfection hides dangerous secrets. When Daffy uncovers evidence of his infidelity, her perfect life seems to be in ruins. On their wedding anniversary, Daffy prepares to confront him, only to be stopped in her tracks when he foils a mugging attempt using wizard-level magic. 

Suddenly, Daphne is part of a world she never imagined–where her husband is not a traveling troubleshooter for a software company, but the sheriff of the International Guild of Wizards, and her brilliant children are also budding magicians. Even she herself is not just a great baker and barista—she’s actually a kitchen witch. And her discovery of her powers is only just beginnning [sic]. 

But even the midst of her chaotic new life, another problem is brewing. G’s ex-wife, a dangerous witch, has escaped from her magical prison. Revenge-bent and blind, she needs the eyes of her son to restore her sight—the son Daffy has raised as her own since he was a year old. Now Daphne must find a way to harness her new powers and protect her family—or risk losing everything she holds dear.

As I said, I didn’t go into this book expecting a romance at all, but what I got made me SO angry.

The book opens with Daffy at a 13th anniversary dinner with her husband, and she’s pissed. Someone has emailed her pictures of him having wild sex with another woman, just after the people of their small (and of course sort of weird) town saw him around when he said he was overseas. When she confronts him with the pictures and then leaves the restaurant, three dudes attempt to mug her, but he stops them with his wooden fountain pen which is actually his magic wand.

She thought he was a low-level “parlor trick” magician, similar to some of the semi-magical people around their town. Turns out he has serious magical abilities, but he only tells her that much because she saw them. He won’t answer her questions about his having sex with someone else, and keeps insisting that she not kick him out because he has to keep her and their three children safe.

I was thinking maybe at some point she’d realize her kitchen witch powers and set him on fire, but that didn’t happen. Instead, the story follows Daffy ( she’s a magical baker in a magical coffee shop in a magical small town) and her children, who are beginning to manifest their powers.

I liked that not everything is explained up front. There’s no infodumpy reverie from the protagonists – not even when G should have been explaining things because clearly Daffy is devastated and betrayed by his infidelity –  and there isn’t much random “As you know,” from ancillary characters. The world is built in small doses, and while some of it is cliched (magical small town coffeeshop bakery because of course magical small town coffeeshop bakery), it made me curious enough to keep going.

I was confused by the fact that there are dual points of view, with Daffy’s narration in first person, and G’s perspective in third person, but I figured that was a choice that would make sense later.

Unfortunately, I have no interest in getting to later. I stopped and I will not be moved.

Let me back up and explain some of the setup here. G doesn’t acknowledge how those pictures happened, except to say (of course) that it’s not what she thinks. He says that cameras can’t capture illusions, and that someone had to have hacked his email account because he didn’t send the pictures.

So he did have sex with someone but he didn’t mean to send his wife evidence?


This is 2% in to the story so I was willing to keep going.

Then G explains that the world is really dangerous and she and their children need him around to protect them.

But he won’t say from what, and he won’t talk about whether he did cheat on her, despite visible evidence.

Then he says they’ve had “thirteen wonderful years together” and that he needs her “now more than ever.”

Daffy calls him on his bullshit:

“You need me to babysit your children. Thirteen years when I’ve raised your son as my own. I adopted him on our wedding day, so he’d never need to ask about the mother who died giving birth to him. I’ve given you two wonderful daughters, kept house, cooked, and picked up after you.”

And here is G’s sensitive, thoughtful reply:

“And I love you for that. I do truly love you despite the temptations I face every day. I built you a wrought iron-and-glass greenhouse that fills a quarter of the backyard where the stables used to be. That should prove something of my devotion to you.”

You. Have Got. To be. Fucking. Kidding. Me.

He built a greenhouse where the stables used to be so obviously she’s not focusing on the right details.

And while I’m looking at this paragraph, “The temptations I face every day?

Are you SERIOUS?!

His argument reminded me with a sick feeling of the coverage of Kai Cole’s account of her marriage wherein Whedon was cheating on her for 15+ years. That whole “temptation” whine sounded nauseatingly familiar. It was kind of eerie that this was the book I picked up immediately after I read her essay.

I mean, gosh, it’s so difficult to not stick your dick in other people.

Such a burden to be basically decent when you’re a successful, powerful dude.

I just strained every one of my ocular muscles.

Anyway, Daffy kicks his ass out of their home, and the story continues as their divorce gets closer to being finalized. The kids, it turns out, know about the cheating because one of them is drawn to locks, puzzles, and things she shouldn’t be looking at. She clicked her way into her mother’s hard drive and saw the images, which she promptly shared with her siblings.


(And as an aside: Daffy blames herself for not doing a better job of protecting her files, since she knew her daughter was drawn to all puzzles, locks, and passwords. Do people with magical abilities have a free pass to be completely crappy humans in this world?? I cannot with that part.)

Daffy is determined that she be able to at least cordially co-parent with G, and tries to work out ways for him to be part of their lives. This becomes more complicated when each child begins manifesting signs of their own magical ability, some far earlier than normal, and all with considerable amounts of power.

Plus, G’s narration reveals that Daffy was raised in a fundamentalist household, and that her grandmother had been a magical practitioner. To get his daughter away from the “evil influence,” Daffy’s father had his mother committed and subjected to electric shock treatments. Daffy never saw her again. As a result of her own parents’ indoctrination and the absence of her grandmother, Daffy’s own magic is severely suppressed. But no doubt her own talents combined with G’s mean that their children are like a Semi-Nuclear Pre-Teen Magical Titan Fantastic Squad.

The Kids are All Magical was a really tempting element to this story for me. Each one is compelled to find their personal wand, which can take the shape of a mundane item, usually an antique that “calls” to them. One has two sticks that she wears in her hair with ornaments on them which transform her from awkward teen to beautiful siren, and another, the lock-breaking boundary-obliterating one, is later drawn to an item that’s connected with her talents.

G’s son, Daffy’s adopted son, is a talented ballet dancer, and they figure out pretty early in the story what his “wand” is, and how it accentuates and focuses his power. And his dedication to dance and to practice and training make it pretty clear he’ll be very powerful the more time he spends dancing. He was one of my favorite characters in the parts that I read. I’d read a whole book about him.

For the next few chapters, Daffy and G are separated, and she slowly learns more about who he really is (very little of that information is provided by G himself) while trying to set up new boundaries for his involvement in her life, and trying to understand what her powers are or might be.

Then there are two major revelations, one of which I will hide behind spoiler tags:

Spoiler and Trigger Warning: Rape

It seems that G’s ex is not dead, but is in magic prison for killing a bunch of people, including his parents. Except she’s escaped from magic prison, and has been killing people all over the world.

AND she used her magic to make herself look like Daffy, so that when G was having sex with her, he thought he was with his wife. Evil Ex-Wife took the pictures, hacked his email, and sent them to Daffy, knowing she’d kick her husband out, leaving her and her children – specifically her son – vulnerable.

So effectively, she raped her ex-husband and framed him for cheating on his wife.

I read that part, and said, “WHOA.” Out loud. But quietly because people were sleeping.

And I was waiting for G to sit Daffy down and explain the whole thing, about the danger to the children, about the circumstances for the pictures, all of it.

But he doesn’t.

He doesn’t seem upset about what happened to him except that his ex-wife is dangerous (and also not dead but everyone thinks that she is). He doesn’t explain what’s happening, he doesn’t reveal how he’s lied and concealed information about Daffy, about their kids, about anything. He knows best – for himself.

And I grew increasingly angry at him for it. He’s wrapped up in some willful deceit and manipluation to not tell Daffy the truth about her own life, about the children she’s raising, about her own marriage, and their collective vulnerability.

He’s supposed to be able to protect them? From what, his own dickbaggery?

Then I completely lost my shit.

G. brings pizza and wine to the bakery, where Daffy is setting up the dough on a Sunday night for the Monday morning baking. He mentions that he’ll be heading out of the country on some big case, and she reacts with some asperity (completely justified, to my thinking):

“Have fun,” I said with more than a bit of contempt.

G didn’t need to read my mind to know where my thoughts led me. He reached over and rested his big hand atop mine. I looked small and frail in comparison to his strength.

“It’s not always like that, Daffy.”

“Like what?” I fixed him with a determined glare.

“Look, I have, upon occasion, found release with another woman when I was far away from you and the amount of magic I had to case in order to close a case was too much to contain. Not often. Not habitually. There is always a woman of age I can pick up in a bar who is very willing to share a one-night stand. And I always use a condom.”

He paused long enough to chew a bit of pizza and swallow it. “Normally I hop the first flight home and return to you, my love.”

Aaaand that would be where I stopped reading.

Because are you KIDDING ME? 


At the foundation level of this story, I believe I am supposed to witness G redeeming himself or something. Maybe Daffy needs to show him how not to be a terrible person (which he should have figured out on his own) or maybe he is going to wake his own sorry ass up and realize what a shit he’s been, but I am not here for any of it.

G is the gatekeeper of information Daffy needs and should have, and lies to her every time they talk. And based on the direction of the plot so far, eventually they will probably go fight evil together or something.

I don’t know, and I don’t care.

I can’t invest myself in wanting any part of his involvement in her life, or in this book. I won’t be convinced, ever, that he is a person Daffy should have in her life. I won’t be convinced to read about him, either.

His inability to acknowledge his actions, and the way in which the world of the book seems to condone the fact that he lies to Daffy, misleads her, and banged people behind her back without telling her made me feel ill, similar to how I felt when I read Kai Cole’s essay. “I did something wrong over and over but it wasn’t my fault because magic/patriarchy/both” is not heroic, not in real life, and not in a book.

(And how exactly does using a condom makes it ok, you magical dipshit? Come on.)

The longer he deceives Daffy and hides the truth from her about her life, her marriage, his past, her children, her latent powers, and her future, the more he strips her of any agency in a story that is ostensibly about her. Life is way too short to spend my reading time with a character like that, and, as Amanda pointed out to me as we discussed this book, it’s very easy for me to put down the book and walk away – far easier than it may be for a person in a marriage as damaging as this one.

Daffy can’t get away from G, and he’s orchestrated everything so that she won’t be able to extricate herself from any involvement with him. He hasn’t told her anything resembling the truth, and the ethical systems and morality of the magical world seem to condone his decisions and the harm he does to Daffy and their family.

To hell with him, and people like him. I’m out.

ETA: Out of morbid curiosity, I flipped to the last chapter to read how it ends. So while I did not finish the book, I did read the end.

Show Spoiler

Daffy, G, and the kids defeat the Evil Ex Wife, and G and Daffy have outstanding sex, but then she tells him to leave. She’s going to date other people, and he can as well, but they should start over. She married him too young, and needs a chance to know herself before she commits to him again. So I’m guessing there will be another book at some point.

Good going, Daffy. Way to toss him out.

But the door is still open for him to come back in, and so I’m not interested in reading the rest.


pennyroyal: Pink-haired girl smoking a pink cigarette (Default)
Hardison dies in Plan M

June 2009


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