Casting Spells by Barbara Bretton
Honestly, I read this book because I'm STILL going through Tradd Street withdrawals and I wanted something to fill that void. So, paranormal element? Check. Light romance? Check. Cozy town? Check. Mystery? Check. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
Unfortunately, Casting Spells was no Tradd Street.
Nothing about it was BAD, but it really didn't stand out in any way. Thin characters, a barely there mystery, and while there were literal romantic sparks in the book, I felt none of them myself.
The worst really was the poor character development. I could deal with the lackluster mystery if there were good characters, but none of these people had any depth or made me care about them. They were all nice enough, but that's about it.
On the positive side, I liked the setting of the small, wintery Vermont town and the knit shop. I would love to have one of those never-empty yarn baskets.
Bottom line: Good enough to read to the end, but I don't think I'll be picking up the sequel.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
I had high hopes for this book, and boy did it meet every one of them! I'm reduced to letting out swoony sighs, clutching my chest, and gasping about how achingly romantic every bit of Blackmoore turned out to be.
Kate is a heroine I can get behind. Her desire to break free of the constraints placed upon her, her noble sacrifice, her floundering to find her place, her hearbreakingly beautiful love, her independent spirit, her fortitude in the face of her shameful family...I adore every bit of her and cheered her on desperately hoping she would find happiness.
The plot is not fast and does not have a central mystery to propel events forward. This is more like a Jane Austeny type of plot where all the focus is on character interactions. And the building slow burn romance, of course.
That said, I never felt bored or impatient. I sped through the (short!) chapters and often pushed my bedtime later and later so I could squeeze in just one more chapter. I was utterly engrossed in the characters, the setting (SO palpable!), and the progress of their story.
This is definitely the type of book I'll return to again and again, both in whole and flipping to my favorite parts (the tower scenes! *sigh*). Highly, highly recommended to fans of Jane Austen (particularly Northanger Abbey and Persuasion), Keeping the Castle, and Georgette Heyer (if my one foray is any indication of her body of work).
Rating: 5 out of 5