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MY SWEET VIDALIA: A Novel ~Deborah Mantella

Monday, February 1st, 2016

With a character name like Vidalia, I knew I was reading a Southern novel and so I prepared for some fairly scary scenes and painful moments.   MY SWEET VIDALIA was the retelling of a classic Southern scenario of poverty; racism and ignorance with a few bright and optimistic characters that kept the book moving forward and offered some relief from the negative environment of the 1950s.

The writing was very good and the dialect was well captured.  I was glad that the book did not drag out into epic dimensions and Vidalia did find a redemptive quality in the end of the story to express and to prove herself to be compassionate and not so “dumb” as her background would lead you to believe.  Her capacity to grow and develop kept me reading all the way through.  Whew!  That was a relief.

I liked the story and felt the discomfort of being outside the events and not being able to cajole or persuade Vidalia to move on and let go of her trials.  How does one move someone out of such ignorance when they do not know any better?  In the beginning of the story, young Vidalia falls in love with a slimy fellow who plays on her naiveté, then marries her when she becomes pregnant and beats her growing baby out of her womb too early for survival.   Vidalia finds a way to keep her baby with her through the whole story and this “spirit child” becomes her support system.

On the cover of the book Susan Crawford, author of The Pocket Wife says
“ From its beautiful first words to its satisfying ending, MY SWEET VIDALIA is a unique, enchanting read.     Exquisite language, a cast of robust characters, and a solid and compelling plot keep readers captivated as Mantella straddles the thin line between poetry and prose, reality and either, fragility and strength.  With a deft and gentle hand, she navigates us through the travails of an impoverished young mother guided by her intrepid spirit child.”

I would place this story high up on the scale of good reads and a great weekend of escape reading, which took me back to my school days in the Deep South.  It was still a relief to leave these characters back in the 1950s and early 60s and find comfort in my more progressive environment of home.   I worked as a social worker in the South in the 70s and 80s and I am hard pressed to even think about returning for a visit.  I am sure my experiences prejudiced my reading of this story.

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this well-written story for review.

From the cover:
“A transplant to the South, Deborah Mantella has lived and taught in various cities in the Northeast and the Midwest.  Now a resident of Georgia she lives outside Atlanta with her husband.  Mantella is a member of the Atlanta Writers Club, the Author’s Guild, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and illustrators.  This is her first novel.”

Deborah Mantella Website
Deborah Mantella Facebook

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MIREILLE: New Steamy Summer Romance ~Molly Cochran

Monday, June 8th, 2015

“Near the end of World War II, seventeen-year-old Mireille de Jouarre flees the home of her stepfather, a Nazi collaborator and abusive drunk.  She finds shelter with her childhood friend Stefan, and the two fall deeply in love.  But as the fighting escalates, Mireille must escape alone to Paris, where she discovers she’s pregnant and lacking a way to provide for her child.”  (from cover)

The e-book of MIREILLE is free right now on Amazon and the paperback is extremely reasonable for a 638 page romance.   TLC Book Tours  sent me an uncorrected paperback copy for review and though hefty to get through it was an interesting read.

Though the story begins during the WWII days and all the problems of that time period and the Nazi invasion, we seem to quickly move into the world of high-class prostitution and survival needs.   MIREILLE become known as the The Angel and becomes one of the top escorts in Paris.   She and her friend Barbara are able to hire nanny service for the baby and keep it a secret.  The Life takes her to parties of the wealthy men from all over the world and the world of fashion and jewelry fuels the glamour.

At a weekend party in England MIREILLE meets an American Oliver Jordan, who is married to a very wealthy woman and is himself an incredible womanizer and film producer.   With some pathway distractions, MIREILLE signs a contract with Jordan and by 1962 is winning an Academy Award for her movie acting.  She is treated brutally by Jordan.

There is a great deal of blackmail in the story and sexual violence begins to be the overriding theme as MIREILLE tries to hide her prostitution from her daughter and others.

Her daughter is now in a Swiss school and her story becomes even more complicated by her older friend Nora.   An incredible sub story of mental illness and child abuse by more wealthy men

There was a redundancy to the writing, which made me so happy to finally reach the happier ending and the revealing of the hidden story.  I thought this book could have been made better 150 pages edited out.   I give a warning that if one is not into ugly sex and abuse, this book might not be the one for the beach this summer for you.  I do know that some of my readers really enjoy this kind of romance so I will not be too negative here.

About the author:

Molly Cochran is the author of more than twenty novels and nonfiction books, including the New York Times bestseller Grandmaster, The Forever King, The Broken Sword, and The Temple Dogs, all co-written with Warren Murphy. She is also the author of The Third Magic, and she co-wrote the nonfiction bestseller Dressing Thin with Dale Goday. Cochran has received numerous awards, including the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, the Romance Writers of America’s “Best Thriller” award, and an “Outstanding” classification by the New York Public Library. Recently she published a series of young adult novels, Legacy, Poison, and Seduction, and two novellas, Wishes and Revels. Legacy won a 2013 Westchester Fiction Award.

Visit Molly at her website, mollycochran.com.

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