<i>The Love Song of Sawyer Bell</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Love Song of Sawyer Bell: Exclusive Excerpt Avon Gale "A tough decision about her future—and what it means to follow her heart." <i>The Rogue's Conquest</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Rogue's Conquest: Exclusive Excerpt Lily Maxton "There's too much at stake for James to give in to his growing attraction." <i>Jaw Dropping</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Jaw Dropping: Exclusive Excerpt L.P. Maxa "It’s the reality she was sure she never wanted but now craves." <i>Sugar Pine Trail</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Sugar Pine Trail: Exclusive Excerpt RaeAnne Thayne "She wonders if things could be this merry and bright forever…"
From The Blog
September 23, 2017
ICYMI: Bittersweet Book Club, Nalini Singh Excerpt, Indie Romances, and more!
Team H & H
September 22, 2017
Happy Endings for Susan Mallery's You Say It First
Janet Webb
September 21, 2017
3 Books That Put the Romance Back in Fiction
Keira Soleore
September 21, 2017
Victorian Women & the Periodical Press
Sandra Schwab
September 21, 2017
4 Moments That Prove 10 Things I Hate About You Is The Best
Cerestheories
Showing posts by: LouMoran click to see LouMoran's profile
Mon
Sep 18 2017 11:35am

The Royals Are (Not) Alright: Victoria 2x04 Vicbert Heart-to-Heart

Victoria, 2x04, "The Sins of the Father"

Show/EpisodeVictoria, Season 2, Episode 4, “The Sins of the Father”
Couple(s): Vicbert

Following the birth of a healthy baby boy after quite a dramatic labour, Victoria finds herself feeling even more out of step with herself than she did after her first child. Matters are compounded when Albert receives sad news from Germany and is forced to return to his homeland.

Royal Blues

To the modern eye, Victoria is suffering from postnatal (or postpartum) depression, but as was the case during those times, it goes undiagnosed, although Albert is alert to the fact all is not well with his wife. As he’s called to Cobourg following the death of his father, he refuses Victoria’s pleas to accompany him, believing it would be better for her to be around the children.    

When Sir Robert Peel discusses the opening of Brunel’s new tunnel running under the river Thames, Victoria flatly declines, despite being fascinated by the concept. As Victoria’s inner torment worsens, her mother doesn’t help when she not so subtly points out how babies bring joy to their mothers. Feeling unsettled by the Duchess’ words, she visits the nursery but can’t bring herself to go in.

After an explosion at The Tower of London, Peel returns to the palace, imploring Victoria to visit the wounded. Overcoming her initial reluctance, the Queen goes, but she is overwhelmed at meeting the injured men. As she leaves, Peel assures she still made a difference to those she saw.

[Won't someone help Victoria?...]

Mon
Sep 11 2017 2:30pm

It’s Not So Good to Be Queen: Victoria 2x03 Vicbert Heart-to-Heart

Victoria 2x03 "Warp and Weft"

Show/Episode: Victoria, Season 2, Episode 3, “Warp and Weft”
Couple(s): Vicbert

With Victoria and Albert back to being love’s young dream, and embracing the prospect of another baby, the third installment of this season sees a shift of focus for our favourite pair. The country is in a state of unrest, old friends are in ill health, and as with every trying situation, the answer to everything is to throw a party. What could possibly go wrong?

Let Them Eat Cake

Following a visit from the man who wove the silk for her wedding dress, Victoria is made aware of the hardships her people are facing.  After a failed appeal to her Prime Minister for a way to protect the livelihoods of her subjects from imported goods, she takes matters into her own hands, announcing they will throw a themed ball where attendees will wear costumes made from Spitalfields silk. Despite concerns from Peel over how it might be perceived by the people (drawing comparison to Marie Antoinette), she forges ahead with her lavish plans. 

Even as a spectator, you know it’s going to backfire on her spectacularly, which of course it does. 

The ball does signal the return of some familiar old faces who as always, leave a lasting impression on others. Lord Melbourne ventures back to London, against his physician’s wishes, while Harriett is attends, which ruffles Prince Ernest’s feathers (appropriate seeing as he’s dressed as Robin Hood).

As the evening progresses, an angry mob gathers outside the palace, causing Victoria to realise the folly of her arrogant belief in her celebration providing the solution.  In the cold light of day, the leftover food is sent to the poor, but it’s a case of too little too late, given how the press and parliament are filled with nothing but criticism for their monarch.

Trying to appease her conscience, Victoria visits the silk maker who triggered it all.  Her faith in her actions is restored a little when she sees he’s now got more work than he can cope with because of her publicity.  She leaves feeling somewhat vilified.

[Read more...]

Mon
Sep 4 2017 11:30am

Jealousy Is Unbecoming: Victoria 2x02 Vicbert Heart-to-Heart

Victoria, Series 2, Episode 2

Long live the Queen! Queen Victoria is one of Great Britain's most well-known monarchs, and she's well known in the romance community for the great love she shared with her husband Prince Albert. The episodes are now airing in the U.S. on PBS Masterpiece, so we're sharing the recaps from the U.K. run in Fall 2017. If you want to get spoiled for what's next, you can click over to the next episode, or check out all of the H&H coverage for the entire season of Victoria on PBS. 

Show/Episode: Season 2, Episode 2, “The Green Eyed Monster”
Ship(s): Victoria/Albert (Vicbert) 

After such a triumphant return last week, we were all left eagerly anticipating the return of the enigmatic Lord M, and wondering what impact his appearance might have for our freshly reconciled VicBert.  Well, I can promise he certainly creates waves, but there’s more pressing things to cover before I get to that part.

Pride Comes Before a Fall

Freshly reconciled after last week’s drama, our favourite couple are back to business once more, with Albert doing his best to step back completely from interfering in Victoria’s duties.  As he returns to his own interests, Victoria finds herself struggling to understand some of the more technical language on the papers she’s reviewing. Our stubborn Monarch refuses to ask her husband for help.

[Read more...]

Mon
Aug 28 2017 11:00am

A Mother and a Queen: Victoria 2x01 Vicbert Heart-to-Heart

Victoria Series 2, Episode 1

Long live the Queen! Queen Victoria is one of Great Britain's most well-known monarchs, and she's well known in the romance community for the great love she shared with her husband Prince Albert. The episodes are now airing in the U.S. on PBS Masterpiece, so we're sharing the recaps from the U.K. run in Fall 2017. If you want to get spoiled for what's next, you can click over to the next episode, or check out all of the H&H coverage for the entire season of Victoria on PBS. 

Victoria is back with a bang! The first series ended with Victoria & Albert happy in their little love bubble after welcoming their baby to the world. We pick up only a matter of weeks later, with the couple struggling to adjust to being a family with very different obligations compared to others in their situation.

Constant Interference

Following the birth of her daughter, Victoria is struggling with the expectation placed on her as a mother, and is experiencing a loss of identity as those around her are attempting delay her return to her constitutional position.  Feeling isolated and alienated by her experience, while her beloved Albert is simply trying to give his wife time to adjust to motherhood, she unfortunately perceives his attempts to shield her (particularly from the military situation unfolding in Afghanistan) as stifling interference.  This puts massive pressure on their relationship, as he sees his actions as being for her benefit, while she views them as nothing but undermining her position.

[Read more...]

Wed
Aug 23 2017 2:00pm

Prepping for Victoria Season 2: What Happened in Season 1, and What Should Happen Now?

Victoria on ITV

The Queen Is Back, Long Live the Queen!

The August Bank Holiday in the U.K. (federal holiday to my North American buddies), is an extremely popular date with those of us residing here.  It’s a cheeky day off work in the Summer, allowing us to revel in the fact we get a three-day weekend.  Admittedly, given our temperamental climate, it nearly always rains; we spend our time trying to barbecue under an umbrella whilst not letting our sausages get soggy.  For me however, it’s a moment of high anticipation, as it signals the triumphant return of Victoria to our television screens.  This wonderfully crafted British period drama, skilfully plugged the aching chasm left by the departure of the Crawley family, when Downton Abbey ended.

As the credits rolled on the final episode last year, Victoria had just given birth to her first child.  Her journey to this point had been an emotional rollercoaster for the viewer.  Seeing her develop an attachment to her closest advisor, Lord Melbourne, and then witness her heart breaking as she ultimately put duty before desire.  The young Queen was also faced with the mounting campaign to undermine her reign from her government and people even closer to home, and it was a joy to witness her triumph with the support of her beloved Lord M.  Her growth across the 8 episodes from a sheltered little Princess into a strong-minded Head of State determined to rule her way, had the audience enraptured.  Even the ‘arranged’ marriage to Albert, was very much a relationship established on her own terms, rather than dutifully doing as she was told.

[Read more...]

Sat
Feb 11 2017 2:00pm

Shipping Victoria with Melbourne and Albert!?: Oh, The Agony and the Ecstasy

Vicbourne or Vicbert?

Spoiler note: This post contains minor spoilers for all aired episodes of Victoria, which has finished its run in the U.K. and focuses on the push-pull of loving Victoria with Lord Melbourne... and also Prince Albert! 

When I first saw the trailers for Victoria, I was instantly hooked, because I’m a sucker for a period drama, especially when it’s steeped in historical truth.  Little did I know that it would leave me swooning over not one, but two leading men, not to mention torn and at one point bereft by their very different relationships with the diminutive monarch.  In fact, it’s fair to say that between Lord Melbourne and Prince Albert, I experienced pretty much every emotion I ever thought possible, and some I’d never even considered. 

How is it even possible to ‘ship’ two men with the same woman, and not at the same time?

[Read more...]

Wed
Feb 8 2017 4:00pm

3 Things We Learned About the Brontës from To Walk Invisible

To Walk Invisible

Note: This post may contain spoilers for the BBC TV film, To Walk Invisible, which follows the story of the Brontë sisters through their journey to publication. 

Literary legacies are much fabled through the annals of time, something many an author dreams of leaving behind. Once in a blue moon, a writer’s body of work is held in such high esteem that those who aspire to replicate such success; falling short of a benchmark that was so unprecedented at the time it was created, that it is simply not possible to draw comparison with those who follow in their wake.  Such a legacy is even more unique when you’re talking about an entire generation of one family, who left behind a body of work that shaped the landscape of literature and paved the way for female authors to be recognised for their talent rather than having to publish under male pseudonyms to get their words taken seriously. To Walk Invisible explores the Brontë sister’s publishing journey, one which was far from easy and almost didn’t happen, delving into their home life and the challenges they faced both personally and professionally.

Given the romantic worlds they created, you’d be forgiven for thinking that their story would be given the same treatment.  Thankfully the BBC saw fit to tackle the subject with the same kind of gritty realism that the sisters built into their books, meaning that what we get is a bleak portrayal of a family living a largely ordinary life in the depths of Yorkshire, whilst harbouring such extraordinary talents. 

The abiding theme woven carefully through the production is that of ‘family’…its formidable strength, unrelenting loyalty, and glass like fragility.  All these elements fused together to make the Brontë sisters not only a tour de force in their writing, but as women trying to forge their way in the world.

[Read more...]

Mon
Oct 10 2016 11:00am

First Born: Victoria Season 1 (Series 1), Episode 8 Vicbert Heart-to-Heart

Long live the Queen! Queen Victoria is one of Great Britain's most well-known monarchs, and she's well known in the romance community for the great love she shared with her husband Prince Albert. The episodes are now airing in the U.S. on PBS Masterpiece, so we're sharing the recaps from the U.K. run in Fall 2016. If you want to get spoiled for what's next, you can click over to the next episode, or check out all of the H&H cover for the entire season of Victoria on PBS. 

Note: This episode originally aired as episode 8 in the U.K. It is episode 7 of Victoria on Masterpiece PBS, and the season finale.

Recap: Victoria, Season 1, Episode 7 | See all our Victoria coverage here

Hankies at the ready folks, because this is the last episode in the first series of Victoria.  Things are set to reach a heady climax as our young Queen battles with the pressures of carrying the heir to the throne and her fears about the impending birth. While the history books have already charted how things played out, this dramatization has had the viewers on the edge of their seats wondering what outrageous acts are still to be rolled out before our favourite monarch pops out her first born. 

[Read more...]

Mon
Oct 3 2016 11:15am

The Family Way: Victoria Season 1 (Series 1), Episode 7 Vicbert Heart-to-Heart

Long live the Queen! Queen Victoria is one of Great Britain's most well-known monarchs, and she's well known in the romance community for the great love she shared with her husband Prince Albert. The episodes are now airing in the U.S. on PBS Masterpiece, so we're sharing the recaps from the U.K. run in Fall 2016. If you want to get spoiled for what's next, you can click over to the next episode, or check out all of the H&H cover for the entire season of Victoria on PBS. 

Note: This episode originally aired as episode 7 in the U.K. It is episode 6 of Victoria on Masterpiece PBS.

Recap: Victoria, Season 1, Episode 6 | Victoria, Season 1, Episode 8See all our Victoria coverage here

This week sees our favourite royal couple entering a period of huge change, not just personally, but professionally.  Victoria’s health is at the forefront of proceedings, and the ripple effect of the diagnosis is soon felt not just by her, but those around her and outside the palace walls too.

[Read more...]

Mon
Sep 26 2016 11:30am

Royal Duties: Victoria Season 1 (Series 1), Episode 6 Vicbert Heart-to-Heart

Victoria, Season 1, Episode 6

Long live the Queen! Queen Victoria is one of Great Britain's most well-known monarchs, and she's well known in the romance community for the great love she shared with her husband Prince Albert. The episodes are now airing in the U.S. on PBS Masterpiece, so we're sharing the recaps from the U.K. run in Fall 2016. If you want to get spoiled for what's next, you can click over to the next episode, or check out all of the H&H cover for the entire season of Victoria on PBS. 

Note: This episode originally aired as episode 6 in the U.K. It is episode 5 of Victoria on Masterpiece PBS.

Recap: Victoria, Season 1, Episode 5 | Victoria, Season 1, Episode 7  | See all our Victoria coverage here

After the pageantry of Victoria & Albert’s nuptials last week, it’s right down to the serious business of being married.  Unfortunately, it’s not all hearts & flowers as the pair battle to establish Albert’s position by her side, and for him to find his own role outside of being just a husband. Elsewhere there are hints of romance for others residing at Buckingham Palace, but will they get a happy ever after or are they heading for rough waters?

[Read more...]

Mon
Sep 19 2016 11:00am

Holy Matrimony: Victoria Season 1 (Series 1), Episode 5 Victoria/Albert Heart-to-Heart

Long live the Queen! Queen Victoria is one of Great Britain's most well-known monarchs, and she's well known in the romance community for the great love she shared with her husband Prince Albert. The episodes are now airing in the U.S. on PBS Masterpiece, so we're sharing the recaps from the U.K. run in Fall 2016. If you want to get spoiled for what's next, you can click over to the next episode, or check out all of the H&H cover for the entire season of Victoria on PBS. 
 
Note: This episode originally aired as episode 5 in the U.K. It is episode 4 of Victoria on Masterpiece PBS.
 
Recap: Victoria, Season 1, Episode 4 | Victoria, Season 1, Episode 6 See all our Victoria coverage here

After the emotional rollercoaster of last week’s episode, I was hoping for a bit of respite with this latest instalment.  Sadly, that was not to be, as Albert’s own personal torture at being unequal going into his marriage to Victoria threatens to derail their happiness.

[Read more...]

Mon
Sep 12 2016 11:00am

Shall We Dance? Victoria Season 1 (Series 1), Episode 4 Heart-to-Heart

Long live the Queen! Queen Victoria is one of Great Britain's most well-known monarchs, and she's well known in the romance community for the great love she shared with her husband Prince Albert. The episodes are now airing in the U.S. on PBS Masterpiece, so we're sharing the recaps from the U.K. run in Fall 2016. If you want to get spoiled for what's next, you can click over to the next episode, or check out all of the H&H cover for the entire season of Victoria on PBS. 

Note: This episode originally aired as episode 4 in the U.K. It is episode 3 of Victoria on Masterpiece PBS.

Recap: Victoria, Season 1, Episode 3 | Victoria, Season 1, Episode 5 | See all our Victoria coverage here

In the wake of Prince Albert’s dramatic entrance at the end of the last episode, his presence triggers a ripple effect for both Victoria and Lord M as the Duchess and King Leopold try to push the pair together at every opportunity.  What unfolds is an angst filled episode of sultry glances, heaving chests (Victoria’s not Alberts!) and breathy responses punctuated by abject reticence and sniping whenever the couple are together.

[Read more...]

Mon
Sep 5 2016 4:00pm

The Queen Stands Alone: Victoria Season 1 (Series 1), Episode 3 Heart-to-Heart

Queen Victoria in episode 3 of Victoria

Long live the Queen! Queen Victoria is one of Great Britain's most well-known monarchs, and she's well known in the romance community for the great love she shared with her husband Prince Albert. The episodes are now airing in the U.S. on PBS Masterpiece, so we're sharing the recaps from the U.K. run in Fall 2016. If you want to get spoiled for what's next, you can click over to the next episode, or check out all of the H&H cover for the entire season of Victoria on PBS. 

Note: This episode originally aired as episode 3 in the U.K. It is episode 2 of Victoria on Masterpiece PBS.

Recap: Victoria, Season 1, Episode 2 | Victoria, Season 1, Episode 4 | See all our Victoria coverage here

The series continues with Episode Three, which finds Victoria struggling with her feelings for Lord Melbourne, whilst fending off multiple would-be paramours who all appear to be related to her in some form or another. Whilst all this is going on there’s more political turbulence, as the Chartist campaign for more democratic voting rights, and a fairer political playing field gathers pace, leading to an uprising taking place in Newport, Wales. Victoria must navigate the hazards her heart is facing, whilst remaining steadfast in her quest to be an understanding and compassionate ruler for her people during these unsettling times. A quick word of warning on this episode for you hopeless romantics: If you weren’t already swooning over Lord Melbourne after the first two episodes, you certainly will be, because Rufus Sewell will break your heart in this one!

[Brace for impact!...]

Tue
Aug 30 2016 10:30am

Anyone Else Feeling the Love Between Lord Melbourne and Queen Victoria? Victoria Season 1 (Series 1), Episode 2 Heart-to-Heart

Long live the Queen! Victoria is one of Great Britain's most well-known monarchs, and she's well known in the romance community for the great love she shared with her husband Prince Albert. The episodes are now airing in the U.S. on PBS Masterpiece, so we're re-posting our recaps from the U.K. run in Fall 2016. If you're eager to see what's next, you can read future recaps—just beware of spoilers!

Note: This episode originally aired as episode 2 in the U.K. It is the second hour of the two-hour premiere of Victoria on Masterpiece PBS.

Recap: Victoria, Season 1, Episode 1 | Victoria, Season 1, Episode 3 | See all our Victoria coverage here

The second episode of Victoria continues with the same dramatic, angst-filled vibe that the first one set up so beautifully.  This time, we are treated to some delicious ‘will they’ or ‘won’t they’ moments between the innocent Queen and her dashing Lord Melbourne as they struggle with the emotional conflict of what they want versus what is right.  There’s more underhand plotting from the dastardly trio of Conroy, the Duchess and the Duke of Cumberland.  There are even more treats from below stairs as Lehzen continues to face opposition from the other members of staff.  All of which has me gripped, just as I was after the first episode of Downton, itching for what the latest turn of events will be, and in a heap of muddled feelings by the time the credits roll.

[Read more...]

Mon
Aug 29 2016 11:45am

Long Live the Queen! Victoria Season 1 (Series 1), Episode 1 Heart-to-Heart

Long live the Queen! Victoria is one of Great Britain's most well-known monarchs, and she's well known in the romance community for the great love she shared with her husband Prince Albert. The episodes are now airing in the U.S. on PBS Masterpiece, so we're re-posting our recaps from the U.K. run in Fall 2016.

Note: Tonight, PBS aired the first TWO episodes of the series, so make sure you click over to the second episode's recap once you've finished reading this one!

Next Recap: Victoria, Season 1, Episode 2 | See all our Victoria coverage here

So why should you watch?

For anyone with a love for a particular style of period drama that has been left bereft after the end of Downton Abbey, fear not because the savior has arrived.  Or to be more precise, the Queen has arrived, in the form of the gloriously written & magnificently styled Victoria (broadcasting on ITV in the UK).  The 8-part series charts her early life as she ascends the throne at the tender age of 18, navigating her role as Head of State during what was a turbulent time for Britain, and equally importantly, her introduction to the man who would go on to be her greatest passion in life.

Penned by novelist Daisy Goodwin, her first foray into the world of screenwriting comes from encountering the young Victoria’s diaries as part of her university studies, something which she admits made the task of telling the story that much easier. 

Production is bolstered by a stellar cast led by Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who, Death Comes to Pemberley) as the woman predominantly portrayed throughout history as a notoriously stoic monarch clad in ‘widow’s weeds’.  Her flawless performance is beautifully supported by the enigmatic BAFTA nominated Rufus Sewell (The Man in the High Castle, Parade’s End... A Knight's Tale) as Lord Melbourne, Victoria’s first prime minister and long-time confidant. But don't start shipping them yet, as Episode 3 will introduce the historic trifecta with the arrival of the dashing Tom Hughes (The Game, Dancing on the Edge, Silk) as the love of Queen Victoria’s life, Prince Albert.

[Read more...]