Joint Review & Giveaway: NIGHT OF A THOUSAND STARS by Deanna Raybourn

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I am really enjoying doing joint reviews; it’s so much fun to read the same book at the same time as someone else and then discuss it, virtually! It’s sort of like a two-person book club, except we let everyone in on our conversation. :)  This time, my blogmate Liz is joining me for a second viewpoint on Deanna Raybourn’s new book, Night of a Thousand Stars. Read on to see where we agree and where we disagree…

Night of a Thousand Stars cover

Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Length: 368 pages
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Source & Format: Review copy courtesy of publisher via NetGalley; digital
 
Official Summary
On the verge of a stilted life as an aristocrat’s wife, Poppy Hammond does the only sensible thing—she flees the chapel in her wedding gown. Assisted by the handsome curate who calls himself Sebastian Cantrip, she spirits away to her estranged father’s quiet country village, pursued by the family she left in uproar. But when the dust of her broken engagement settles and Sebastian disappears under mysterious circumstances, Poppy discovers there is more to her hero than it seems.
 
With only her feisty lady’s maid for company, Poppy secures employment and travels incognita—east across the seas, chasing a hunch and the whisper of clues. Danger abounds beneath the canopies of the silken city, and Poppy finds herself in the perilous sights of those who will stop at nothing to recover a fabled ancient treasure. Torn between allegiance to her kindly employer and a dashing, shadowy figure, Poppy will risk it all as she attempts to unravel a much larger plan—one that stretches to the very heart of the British government, and one that could endanger everything, and everyone, that she holds dear.
 
 

Heather’s & Liz‘s Joint Review

Heather: Liz, I’m thrilled that you’re doing not just one but two new things in this review. It’s your first joint review (right?) and your first Deanna Raybourn book. How exciting!

Liz: Hi, Heather! Yeah, this is my first joint review, but I’ve wanted to try it since I saw the first one you did. Another first for me is that this is my first historical romance set during the 1920s. It was so weird to have cars mentioned in the story, LOL!

Heather: Yes, it definitely is more modern than the Victorians you’re probably used to reading. So, let’s start at the beginning. I loved that the book started with a runaway bride. I thoroughly enjoyed Poppy’s escape from her own wedding, impulsive as it was. That really didn’t seem to be something she had planned on, but I loved how it introduced the mysterious Sebastian, who generously gave her a ride to her dad’s place in the English countryside. I was amused, through and through, and loved the early fast pace of the story. What were your early impressions of Poppy?

Liz: I thought Poppy was pretty awesome. She was VERY talkative; I wrote in my notes that she “prattled on and on.” But somehow, that didn’t make me like her less. I also think she was indefatigable and always optimistic, no matter how dire things got. And those last two traits were essential after taking a job that brings her to the Middle East, where she thinks her wedding rescuer has gone. I really liked how her personality was a mixture of polite, normal society miss and brazen, ballsy adventurer. I mean, she has her employer, but he’s a much, much older man, and she has her lady’s maid, but essentially, she’s a woman traveling alone in the ’20s. I thought her bravery level was off the charts!

While Poppy was a pretty great heroine, I never really warmed up to Sebastian, the hero. Although I have to admit, it’s entirely possible that I didn’t warm up to him because he was MIA for a good chunk of the book. What did you think about Sebastian?

Heather: Oh, Sebastian. Yeah, it was a little odd that he was the hero, but after he was introduced, it seemed like he wasn’t in the story again for a long time. I actually liked Sebastian once he and Poppy started interacting again. I sort of struggled with the setting where they were reunited, though. I really stink at relating to affairs of the Middle East. This is a personal shortcoming on my part, but it definitely flowed over into the story resonating (or not) with me. :(  When they talked about the politics of the time, I swear, my eyes glazed over!

Liz: Ugh, the political stuff. I really didn’t love the political aspect of the story either. Like you, my eyes glazed over when it was being discussed. I know that might sound like I’m ignorant or something, but I read books as an escape. Sure, it’s great to be sort of educated by accident, but overall, I’m not interested in mixing politics and entertainment, past or present!

Heather: So we definitely saw eye to eye on the political aspects of the story. What I liked about the location is something I’m guessing you didn’t notice. Apparently, this is a second book in a loosely connected series. Raybourn‘s book City of Jasmine not only takes place in the same city, but there are also a few characters from that book that were in this one. Since I’d previously read CoJ, it was fun to see some of them again.

What did you think about the setting? Could you tell that some of the characters might have been pulled in from another book, or was that a surprise?

Liz: The setting was pretty glamorous and the author made it sound so sensual. Can a place be sensual? I don’t know, but it sounded like a cool city! I especially liked the baroness’s house. I could actually picture it in my head with all of the period architecture. In fact, I think the romance of the city enhanced the whole book.

I don’t think it was obvious that a couple of the characters were from another book. I could tell that Evie and Gabriel had a history and I was a little curious about them. I haven’t read City of Jasmine, but I didn’t feel lost or anything since they had such a minor role in this story.

Now let me get to the nitty-gritty…What did you think about the amount of romance in this book? I was disappointed there wasn’t more romance to it, but I am an admitted dirty girl! LOL! I know that what I like as far as Sexy Time goes is probably not what most readers are looking for. What about you?

Heather: First off, I totally agree with you about the descriptions of the baroness’s house. I wanted to visit and stay with her, along with Poppy!

Regarding the sexy time…having read two previous books by the author, I knew what to expect (i.e., less sexy time!). For me, this is the kind of romance I prefer to read, but I love that we have different perspectives on that (probably just like our readers). :)  I would say this book is definitely not for someone who’s looking for some heavy sexy time, ’cause they won’t find it here!

So, overall, what did you think of your first foray into Deanna Raybourn? This was my third read of hers and I’d say it was my second favorite (A Spear of Summer Grass is my favorite and was utterly amazing!). I’m not sure whether I’d read another one that takes place in this location – it’s just not my cup of tea – but I’d definitely read another book by this author.

Heather’s Rating: B- (with the caveat that if you love things having to do with the Middle East, then you’d likely rate this higher)

Liz: I was pretty pleased with my first Deanna Raybourn novel! Sure, there wasn’t enough Sexy Time for me, but the adventure aspect almost made up for what I missed. I think I’d give her another shot now that I know what to expect going into it. Actually, I think I’d like to read City of Jasmine to get Evie and Gabriel’s full story, even though I didn’t love the Middle East setting.

This was a lot of fun! We need to read a book that one of us loves and one of us hates so we can ARGUE about something! LOL!

Liz’s Rating: B- (like you, I also think readers who love Middle East settings would probably rate this even higher)

Wine/Beverage Pairing: Mint tea, which is what Poppy drank during her travels.

Buy Digital:  Kindle  |  Nook
 
Buy Print:  Amazon  |  B&N
  
 

 

Other Titles by Deanna Raybourn

City of JasmineCity of Jasmine mini cover

Goodreads
 
Buy:  Amazon  |  Kindle  |  B&N  |  Nook
 
 

 

A Spear of Summer GrassA Spear of Summer Grass mini cover

Heather’s Review  |  Goodreads
 
Buy:  Amazon  |  Kindle  |  B&N  |  Nook
 
 
 

 

Night of a Thousand Stars Giveaway

The lovely folks at Harlequin have generously offered to give away a print copy of Night of a Thousand Stars to FIVE lucky Kindles & Wine readers (U.S. and Canadian residents only).

To enter for your chance to win, you must:

  1. Be a follower of our blog (click HERE to subscribe), AND…
  2. Hit the comments and tell us about the setting in a book that you didn’t really fall in love with. What was the location, what was the book, and why didn’t you like it?

Please note: All entrants must review and adhere to our official giveaway policy. This contest will close on Sunday, October 19, 2014 at 11:59 PM (CDT) and the five winners will be notified via email on Monday, October 20.