Wednesday, September 30, 2009

God Is an Englishman by RF Delderfield

I was not sure what to expect of this book, but when I received it and saw how large it was, I was certainly surprised. I was further surprised by how engrossing a book it actually was. Giving a plot outline really doesn't convey how good of a book this is, but I'll go ahead and try anyway.
God Is an Englishman tells the story of Adam Swann and his rise to prominence in London in the 1860's. His story begins when he makes the decision to end his career as a soldier and begin his life as a businessman, at the age of thirty-one. His chosen field of commerce is transportation, where he decides to fill the gap that the great trains of that era cannot. At the same time that he is establishing his business, he meets Henrietta, and from their first meeting he is captivated by her. Although she is much younger than him, she is a strong-willed woman, and circumstances conspire to create a situation in which he marries her after only knowing her for a few months. Thus begins the story of not only their life together, but the story of the newly formed Swann-on-Wheels transportation company.
The historical detail in this book is truly fascinating. Even when Delderfield is going through details that should be tedious - train schedules, shipping and transportation issues - he makes it interesting. Adam Swann is a fantastic character, one that you love to root for. And I loved following his marriage and family life, as he and Henrietta grow to know and truly love each other throughout the years. This is the first book in a trilogy, one I am going to have to follow through the rest of the series.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Treasures of Venice by Loucinda McGary

Samantha Lewis is in Venice, taking a tour by herself that was supposed to have been her honeymoon. When she is approached by a handsome stranger who pretends to be meeting her at a cafe, she decides to play along. His name is Kiernan Fitzgerald, and he is definitely more than he seems. Sam is instantly drawn to him, but she feels crazy for getting so attached after just an hour or two. When he reappears in her hotel room later that night, injured and needing her help, she is immediately drawn into his troubles.
Kiernan is looking for the Jewels of the Madonna. His sister was also searching for the Jewels, until she was kidnapped. Now the only way for Kiernan to save her is to find them himself and turn them over to the kidnappers. He doesn't want to get anyone else involved, but he can't seem to stay away from Sam. They are drawn to each other in a way neither can explain, and so they stop trying to fight it, and start trying to save Kiernan's sister, before it's too late.
Besides being a story told in the present time, The Treasures of Venice is also told in flashbacks to fifteenth century Venice, where the reader learns the story behind the Jewels that Kiernan seeks. The lovers in that story have some striking similarities to Kiernan and Sam - coincidence? As Sam and Kiernan get closer to the Jewels, and to each other, they both begin to wonder if they have some sort of deeper connection that goes beyond the present time. This element of past lives adds another dimension to the story and the mystery, making for a more interesting read. I liked the parallels between the two stories. This is an exciting, romantic adventure book that any readers of romance will enjoy.