22 November 2017

Swift for the Sun by Karen Bovenmyer



 AMAZON UK £5.71 £13.99
AMAZON US $7.59 $14.99  
AMAZON CA $24.93

Nautical / Romance / LGBT
18th Century

In the beginning, the title “Swift for the Sun” conjured up everything from old sailing ships swiftly following the sun - to other flights of fancy involving smugglers and privateers (which it does). At the end of Bovenmyer’s novel, I realized that I was further wrong in assuming it to be a rollicking pirate fable or – as one of its genre is listed as gay romance - a man loving another man; it was so much more (even though I, too, have loved men – but then, I am a woman).

Benjamin Swift (as he introduces himself to us in this first-person account) is young, impetuous and a bit of a bungler who doesn’t listen too well to advice from his more experienced mates. This becomes sadly evident when, as captain of the Sea Swift, he puts his ship squarely on the rocks on cursed Dread Island. Deeming himself the only survivor of the wreck, the young seafarer is understandably spooked when he finds himself face to face with a blond island savage who masters survival a lot better than our handsome Benjamin. After initial life-threatening quarrels and mutual mistrust, the two men (both being predisposed by nature or circumstance) fall deeply in love.

This is when the author’s mastery of human needs and wants shines. Lust and love are aptly intertwined with Benjamin’s secret hope to be rescued. A storm does bring a ship - and with it terrible trouble brews for the two. Sun could easily “take care” by himself of unwanted intruders into their isolated paradise; but during an ensuing fight, Benjamin feels he needs to prove himself.

That’s when I shouted at my Kindle, “For heaven’s sake, he told you to stay put!”
I had become utterly involved in the two protagonists’ fates and desperately wanted them to escape their seemingly inexorable doom clamped on them by their “rescuers.”

Apart from the thrill of exotic seafaring adventure, the novel left me with a much deeper question about loyalty, the bond between two human beings, and the moral choice between killing for freedom or submitting to Man’s laws. “What would any of us have done?”

One minor distraction, for me at least, were the chapter titles. Some took away the faint hope that it might not be so - as for Chapter 13, for instance.

Apart from that, this is an excellent fluid read that easily earns five stars from me as a Discovered Diamond.

© Inge H Borg



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21 November 2017

Britannia’s Gamble by Antoine Vanner

Shortlisted for Book of the Month


AMAZON UK £2.42 £7.49
AMAZON US $3.21 $11.99
AMAZON CA $n/a

Nautical / Fictional Saga / Military
Victorian era
Egypt / Sudan

Britannia’s Gamble is not just a naval thriller or a tale of war and military conflict. For those of us who have read earlier episodes, it’s an additional delight as it continues the story of Nicholas Dawlish, a Royal Navy officer who is more familiar with steam engines, breech-loaders and torpedoes than with sails, carronades and broadsides.

Nicholas, tough, determined yet anxious about his mission, must endure the horrendous desert stretching across Egypt and Sudan, sail up the Nile through hostile and treacherous waters and then make the hardest decision of his life. But at what cost?

This series goes from strength to strength as we uncover Nicholas’s core character and unpeel the layers he has built up to protect it. His sense of duty and his long-term mission to secure a place of comfort and security while serving his country to the utmost of his ability are again in peril in this latest adventure. But Nicholas is mellowing, not least due to his wife, Florence, who has faced dangers of her own as well as with him in the midst of war-torn Europe and beyond.

Antoine Vanner’s strong grasp on sailing, the Victorian navy, military and political events and personalities of the time is evident. his writing style is assured, flowing and engaging. Roll on the next Dawlish adventure!

© Jessica Brown


Join us here during December for a variety of Diamond Tales
with a short story by Antoine Vanner scheduled for 6th December

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20 November 2017

A Discovering Diamonds Review of: Sarah’s Secret by Beverly Scott

A Western Tale of Betrayal and Forgiveness by Beverly Scott


Amazon UK £3.19 £10.44
Amazon US $4.24  $14.95
Amazon CA $n/a

Western / Romance
Early 20th Century
United States

Sarah’s Secret: A Western Tale of Betrayal and Forgiveness is a story of Sarah, a mother who is widowed at the turn of the 20th century, left with five children to raise. Feeling alone and abandoned, she decides to make the journey from the barren New Mexico territory back to her home in Nebraska. After settling back in with her extended family in Nebraska, Sarah soon discovers that her deceased husband, Sam, had lived a different life before their marriage. This secret life not only haunted Sam when he was alive, but it also affected Sarah and her children after his death.

The author did well weaving historical facts into the three story sections that unfold the tale of Sarah’s and Sam’s lives. From the descriptions of the barren New Mexico desert to the wild streets of Dodge City, Kansas, Scott paints pictures of the past that bring life to the story’s characters and their frontier adventures.

Growing up west of the Mississippi, and being fortunate to have heard the stories of the late 19th century and early 20th century women in my own family, helped me to appreciate the struggles faced by this young mother who was left to raise five children. Each chapter was a reminder of how women helped to define the true essence of the pioneer spirit.

Although in the end, the story came together, the transition from the first section, that describes Sarah’s journey home, to the second section that provides back-story about Sam, was initially puzzling since the second section opens by describing Sam’s first life under a different name. It was toward the end of this second section that the puzzle pieces of Sarah’s life are realized. After reading the second section I went back to reread the first section with more appreciation and understanding.

In general, however, the story was an insightful tale of one woman’s journey and the experiences she had that defined her strength. It was easy to feel compassion for Sarah as she overcame obstacles and found ways to succeed throughout her life. 

© Cathy Smith 


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17 November 2017

The Butcher's Block by Lucienne Boyce

Shortlisted for Book of the Month

Amazon UK £3.99
Amazon US $5.17

Crime 
1790s
England

Dan Foster Mystery Series #2

Murder most foul, treason and spies are the main ingredients of this, the third in Lucienne Boyce's series featuring Bow Street Runner, Dan Foster.

The grisly murder of a colleague leads Foster into the murky world of The Resurrection Men – grave robbers – secret societies, respectable businessmen not being quite so respectable, street urchins and much, much more.

I liked Dan Foster. He is a dedicated and dogged Runner, but he is flawed; his marriage is not a happy one. He knows some 'dodgy' characters and, because of his own past, is what we would call today 'streetwise.' He also is willing to exercise the spirit of the law rather than the letter.

Ms Boyce makes her characters three dimensional, even those who will have appeared in previous volumes, the plot is tight and there are no loose ends left at the end. Although part of a series, the novel can easily be read as a stand-alone. It will appeal to those who love this period when 'policing' was done mostly on observation and contacts. It is also a mild social comment about 'fat magistrates' and young children who face the rope for stealing in order to stay alive.

I cannot recommend this highly enough, a superb read.

© Richard Tearle



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16 November 2017

A Discovered Diamond review of: Duty and Dishonor by Shaun Ivory



Amazon UK £2.39 £6.99
Amazon US $3.09 $11.99
Amazon CA $15.99

Military / Espionage / Fictional Saga

US Civil War 1800s

Born on the voyage to America from Ireland, Conor O’Farrell is the protagonist in this first part of a series entitled America Made Me. At the age of sixteen - not being truthful about his age - Conor volunteers for the Union army and after some rudimentary training, soon finds himself seeing action. He becomes a hero, but wounded, he is to recuperate at a hospital where he meets President Abraham Lincoln. Things initially go well for Conor, but he is accused of spying by the sadistic Allan Pinkerton. Conor, now in his late teens, finds himself a fugitive…

This is a well told tale, with excellent characters and precise dialogue, I had one minor problem, however: usually, when one reads what are effectively memoirs of a totally fictional character, we are aware that the character will probably die eventually (although not necessarily, as this is pure fiction) but we do not normally know if, how or when. The author gives us these details in his prologue at the very start of Conor's adventures and I personally found this to be a  'spoiler'. I would much rather follow his adventures in this volume and the, quote, “several”, to follow without this prior knowledge, but apart from that small, personal niggle, a good novel and a thoroughly enjoyable read.

© Richard Tearle


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