Beyond the Wild River (Sarah Maine)

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For fans of Kate Morton and Beatriz Williams, a highly atmospheric and suspenseful historical novel, set in the 1890s about a Scottish heiress who unexpectedly encounters her childhood friend in North America, five years after he disappeared from her family’s estate the night of a double murder.

Nineteen-year-old Evelyn Ballantyre has rarely strayed from her family’s estate in the Scottish Borderlands, save for the occasional trip to Edinburgh, where her father, a respected magistrate, conducts his business—and affairs of another kind. Evelyn has always done her duty as a daughter, hiding her boredom and resentment behind good manners—so when an innocent friendship with a servant is misinterpreted by her father as an illicit union, Evelyn is appalled.

Yet the consequence is a welcome one: she is to accompany her father on a trip to North America, where they’ll visit New York City, the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, and conclude with a fishing expedition on the Nipigon River in Canada. Now is her chance to escape her cloistered life, see the world, and reconnect with her father.

Once they’re on the Nipigon, however, Evelyn is shocked to discover that their guide is James Douglas, the former stable hand and her one-time friend who disappeared from the estate after the shootings of a poacher and a gamekeeper. Many had assumed that James had been responsible, but Evelyn never could believe it. Now, in the wilds of a new world, far from the constraints of polite society, the truth about that day, James, and her father will be revealed…to stunning consequences.

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Last year I read and reviewed Maine’s debut novel, The House Between Tides, which turned out to be one of my favourite books in 2017. So I was eager to read this new book, Beyond the Wild River, which is set in the late 1800s in Canada.

Unfortunately this book set a much slower pace and I had a very difficult time getting through it. It seemed to take forever for the hunting party to reach Canada and come across James. There was a lot of build up to this point, and I just lost interest in the story.

For avid fans of historical fiction, this book would probably be an amazing new story. I do believe that the author is a great writer. This book just didn’t do it for me.

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Mine – Books by Nikita Slater

I recently read Mine to Keep and Because You’re Mine by Nikita Slater, a new to me author. These books are listed as being part of a series, but they definitely are s

Mine To Keep: Veronica has always been a good girl.

She’s always listened and done what men wanted. It was easier that way. Less pain, easier to get what she needed to survive. Then a boy rescued her. Now her protector, the boy who saved her, is giving her away. Handing her over to another man. To him. Robert of Senator Security.

She wants to run away from the man who keeps touching her, the man who brings back the pain and the memories. He follows her, protects and hunts her with possession in his eyes. He demands she belong to him and him alone. But Veronica doesn’t want to be an obedient girl anymore.

She wants to be the bad girl she was born to be… and set the woman free.

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Because You’re Mine: Her knight in shining armour or her kidnapper?

Allie has loved Jay forever. But he sent her away when she was eighteen and forced her to live her own life, away from the street and the gangs. Away from him. It had hurt, but she’d done it. For ten years she’d built a career and a life separate from him. Now he’s back and he wants what belongs to him.

Furious that Allie was hurt while out of his protection, Jay decides it’s time to bring the woman he loves home where she belongs. Whether she wants to come or not. He whisks her off to his mountain fortress where she’ll be safe and sets about arranging a new life for her. A life with him. He’s done lurking in the shadows, watching but never touching. She was always his. The difference is, now she knows it.

Will Allie quietly accept her new life and let her old one go? Or will she fight the man she’s loved her entire life because she can’t risk losing herself again…

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Both of these books are novella-length stories of about 120 pages. Mine To Keep is a prequel set seven years before the second book and was my favourite of the two.

Slater’s work features angry, overly protective anti-heroes with dark pasts … shady presents to be honest. They are an insta-love type of romance, which you really have to expect in a novella, and the stories are super easy to read. One sitting for sure.

I wish that the author would take the next step and write “real” books that are full length. She has a decent writing style and interesting stories to tell. She definitely hit the right “he-man anti-hero alpha” mix I devour.

Unfortunately, there is a distinct lack of character development, mostly due to the short word count, and her heroines tend to do an about face in personality overnight with little internal agonizing or signs of working through their issues/reticence. Any plot points that should be obstacles for the hero are wrapped up too easily as well.

At the end of the day these books are entertaining enough that I will keep an ear out for information on this author in the future, but not enough that I am going to hunt down and read her other novellas. However, Because You’re Mine hints at a possible third book with an interesting male anti-hero introduced, I will probably read it, especially if my wish comes true and it is full length!

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The Grand Seduction film review

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The Grand Seduction is a 2013 Canadian film set in the small harbour of Tickle Head, Newfoundland. Like many communities on the East Coast, Tickle Head’s economy collapsed with the fish stocks their livelihoods were based on, and now the once proud town is disintegrating. Buildings have fallen into disrepair, long-time residents increasingly leave for cities and those few who stubbornly remain in the harbour scrape by on welfare and the feelings of shame that it comes with.

Enter Murray French. He is one of these welfare-dependent Tickle Heads who was born and raised in the Harbour; he misses his fed-up wife who left for a job in the City. An oil company is considering building a petro-chemical recycling plant that will provide enough jobs for everyone, if the town can meet a set of conditions, including procuring a full-time doctor. So Murray spearheads a campaign to seduce a visiting doctor (Paul Lewis) over the course of a month, convincing him that Tickle Head is the perfect place to settle down and sign a long-term contract.

Enter the comedy.

From pretending that the entire community is in love with cricket to pre-catching fish and planting them on the good doctor’s hook, the entire town is in on the charade to charm Dr. Lewis.

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I love the charm and character of this film. It is very Canadian and many things in the film seemed familiar to me. It was filmed in New Foundland and the music and scenery are absolutely beautiful. I’ve thought about moving out that way for a long time and this film just increases that longing in me.

download The Grand Seduction isn’t a film that relies on flashy special effects or scantily-clad, movie-perfect Hollywood youth. The majority of actors are middle-aged or older. And while the scenery is gorgeous, it is the writing that keeps pushing the plot along, and charming the audience. No crudeness required.

Gordon Pinsent, then age 83, won the award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role at the 2014 Canadian Screen Awards. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival where Monica Bartyzel of The Week wrote of the film: “The Grand Seduction is a super-sweet community tale sparked by the inclusion of McKellar’s wry humor [sic]. It’s a film overflowing with charm from end to end.”The-Grand-Seduction-Movie

NFL is the only eastern province that I have yet to visit and this film has me cruising the travel websites and packing a bag!

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