REVIEW: Genevieve Turner’s SUMMER CHAPARRAL, Once Bitten, Twice Shy

SCmockup5copyGenevieve Turner’s début, Summer Chaparral, Las Morenas Book 1, is Miss Bates’ first shotgun-wedding-themed romance. Judging from the places Turner’s novel lead her to, it won’t be her last. Her impression is that a “good” shot-gun-wedding-troped romance needs a historical context where codes of family honour are paramount. (This is harder to pull off in contemporary romance, but HPs do it with sheikh and Greek billionaire romances and Orientalism be damned.) Turner’s near-turn-of-the-twentieth-century California-set romance is perfectly situated within that description. The diminished Californianos, the Spanish-originned families, are still significant landowners in a California with American statehood. The heroine’s, Catarina Moreno’s, family, is such a one, landed, Californian Hispanic gentry: they speak Spanish in their home, live with Old-World decorum, keep a Spanish kitchen, and expect their daughters, in particular, to maintain a cloistered virtue and marry into one of the equally landed and “aristocratic” long-established Hispanic families. For maximum tension and conflict, Turner places her Morenos, and their oldest and most beautiful daughter, Catarina, into a changing world: statehood and the anglo-Americans who now dominate the state. Her hero, Jace Merrill, with his own family baggage, rides into Cabrillo, looking for land and a home, “The valley had enough space to let a man breathe, while the ranges encircling it were close enough to give the impression of protecting what lay below. Freedom and comfort, all in the same place. Odd, that a landscape could be so reassuring.” The landscape is reassuring, with its green-hued chaparral beauty, but Catarina Moreno is forbidden territory.

The chaparral reaches out to him, as do Catarina’s comely curves and cinnamon eyes. Though Jace carries the secret of his family’s power and hatred of Hispanics, though he doesn’t carry their name Bannister, having run away at fifteen, he yearns for connection and family. A meeting by the town trough and some stolen kisses establish his and Catarina’s attraction. He knows that the Bannisters and Morenos have ancient and nasty history. Animosity, family feud, and blood honour mix with desire, attraction, passion, and yearning for a place in the world: Jace for home and wife; Catarina, now 26, for a husband, home of her own, and freedom from her mother’s austere dominance. Continue reading

REVIEW: Tackling the TBR One Letter At A Time: “A” Is For Archer

Velvet Bond“The best laid plans of mice, men” and Miss Bateses often run astray, ’tis true. Miss Bates, with doubt and trepidation vis-à-vis her resolve, embarks on a quest, sprigged hankie in hand: To Defeat The TBR (insert Rocky theme) … one letter at a time! Miss Bates herein commits to methodically and systematically whittle down her prodigious TBR, which now runs at … blush …  ahem … over 800 titles. Among whatever reviews she may have committed to elsewhere, she’s going to nab at the TBR every once in a while and send some snark 😦 or hark! 🙂 your way. Moreover, she’s exploring the whys and wherefores said volume ended up in the TBR. It’s interesting to her why we choose the books we do; join her in the comments to share the state of your TBR and its whys and wherefores. Miss Bates’s first Great TBR Whittle is brought to you by the letter “A”: Catherine Archer’s 1995 Velvet Bond. Read on to find out what Miss Bates thought of this first title from the tottering TBR