Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The 10 best love letters chosen by The Guardian


Love letters by The Guardian. Shining Desk

The 10 best love letters
 
Celebrate Valentine's Day with this rundown of passionate outpourings across the centuries, as chosen by Andrea Clarke, author and British Library curato.



Thursday, 9 February 2012

What to read on Valentine's Day. Stories by Lara Adrian, Kate Alcott and Richard Mason


Darker After Midnight by Lara Adrian. Shining Desk
Title: Darker After Midnight
Author: Lara Adrian
Synopsis: The climactic novel in Lara Adrian’s New York Times bestselling Midnight Breed series—and her hardcover debut—Darker After Midnight invites readers to enter a thrillingly sensual world where danger meets desire.

In the dark of night, a blood war escalates within the hidden world of the Breed. After existing in secret for many long centuries, maintaining a fragile peace with the humans who walk beside them unaware, a single act of retaliation has put the entire vampire nation at risk of discovery. It falls to the Order—a cadre of Breed warriors pledged to protect their own and humankind alike—to stop Dragos, the power-mad vampire at the center of the conflict, before his push for domination can explode into catastrophe.

At the center of the Order’s quest is Sterling Chase, once a morally rigid enforcer of Breed law, now a warrior fallen from grace, whose biggest battle is the one he wages against his own savage nature. With addiction beckoning him toward eternal darkness, Chase’s path to redemption has never seemed more out of reach. But when his eyes meet those of Tavia Fairchild, a beautiful witness who identifies him at the scene of a mission gone terribly wrong, Chase finds himself drawn to the woman—and convinced she is something much more than she seems.

Pulled into a vortex of intrigue and danger she can neither resist nor understand, Tavia is uncertain whom to trust. And while everything sane and logical warns her against getting close to Chase, she cannot deny that the handsome, deeply haunted male stirs something primal and ravenous within her. But even as she surrenders to her cravings, nothing can prepare her for the shattering truth of who—and what—she truly is.

As the Order’s enemy mobilizes for the battle of the ages, Dragos and his Minions unleashing a hell on Earth like nothing ever seen before, Chase and Tavia are thrust into the heart of the violence. With time running out and the streets running red with the blood of innocent lives, both Breed and human, together Chase and Tavia must find a way to defeat Dragos once and for all—or die trying.




The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott. Shining Desk
Title: The Dressmaker
Author: Kate Alcott
Synopsis: Just in time for the centennial anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic comes a vivid, romantic, and relentlessly compelling historical novel about a spirited young woman who survives the disaster only to find herself embroiled in the media frenzy left in the wake of the tragedy.

Tess, an aspiring seamstress, thinks she's had an incredibly lucky break when she is hired by famous designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon to be a personal maid on the Titanic's doomed voyage. Once on board, Tess catches the eye of two men, one a roughly-hewn but kind sailor and the other an enigmatic Chicago millionaire. But on the fourth night, disaster strikes.

Amidst the chaos and desperate urging of two very different suitors, Tess is one of the last people allowed on a lifeboat. Tess’s sailor also manages to survive unharmed, witness to Lady Duff Gordon’s questionable actions during the tragedy. Others—including the gallant Midwestern tycoon—are not so lucky.

On dry land, rumors about the survivors begin to circulate, and Lady Duff Gordon quickly becomes the subject of media scorn and later, the hearings on the Titanic. Set against a historical tragedy but told from a completely fresh angle, The Dressmaker is an atmospheric delight filled with all the period's glitz and glamour, all the raw feelings of a national tragedy and all the contradictory emotions of young love.





History of a Pleasure Seeker by Richard Mason. Shining Desk
Title: History of a Pleasure Seeker
Author: Richard Mason
Synopsis: From the acclaimed author of The Drowning People (“A literary sensation” —The New York Times Book Review) and Natural Elements (“A magnum opus” —The New Yorker), an opulent, romantic coming-of-age drama set at the height of Europe’s belle époque, written in the grand tradition with a lightness of touch that is wholly modern and original.

The novel opens in Amsterdam at the turn of the last century. It moves to New York at the time of the 1907 financial crisis and proceeds onboard a luxury liner headed for Cape Town.

It is about a young man—Piet Barol—with an instinctive appreciation for pleasure and a gift for finding it. Piet’s father is an austere administrator at Holland’s oldest university. His mother, a singing teacher, has died—but not before giving him a thorough grounding in the arts of charm.

Piet applies for a job as tutor to the troubled son of Europe’s leading hotelier: a child who refuses to leave his family’s mansion on Amsterdam’s grandest canal. As the young man enters this glittering world, he learns its secrets—and soon, quietly, steadily, finds his life transformed as he in turn transforms the lives of those around him.

History of a Pleasure Seeker is a brilliantly written portrait of the senses, a novel about pleasure and those who are in search of it; those who embrace it, luxuriate in it, need it; and those who deprive themselves of it as they do those they love. It is a book that will beguile and transport you—to another world, another time, another state of being.


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