Review of “The Butterfly Room” by Lucinda Riley

Riley, Lucinda. The Butterfly Room. [United States]: Blue Box Press, 2020.

ISBN-13: 978-1952457074 | $6.99 USD | 402 pages | Historical Fiction/Women’s Fiction

Blurb

Full of her trademark mix of unforgettable characters and heart-breaking secrets, The Butterfly Room is a spellbinding, second-chance-at-love story from #1 International bestseller Lucinda Riley.

Posy Montague is approaching her seventieth birthday. Still living in her beautiful family home, Admiral House, set in the glorious Suffolk countryside where she spent her own idyllic childhood catching butterflies with her beloved father, and raised her own children, Posy knows she must make an agonizing decision. Despite the memories the house holds, and the exquisite garden she has spent twenty-five years creating, the house is crumbling around her, and Posy knows the time has come to sell it.

Then a face appears from the past – Freddie, her first love, who abandoned her and left her heartbroken fifty years ago. Already struggling to cope with her son Sam’s inept business dealings, and the sudden reappearance of her younger son Nick after ten years in Australia, Posy is reluctant to trust in Freddie’s renewed affection. And unbeknown to Posy, Freddie – and Admiral House – have a devastating secret to reveal…

Review 

3 stars

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A new Lucinda Riley release is always exciting for me, and while The Butterfly Room seemed a little different from the other books I’ve read from her, I was still intrigued. 

And while I’m used to the slow-burn nature of Riley’s books, I feel like this one in particular was a bit too slow and all over the place, with multiple plot threads and many characters who I struggled to sort out, and the result being I was only invested in what I assumed was the main plot, based on the blurb.

The main plot with Posy and Freddie, and the secret that tore them apart is compelling. I was invested in their relationship, as well as Posy’s look back at her life growing up, and felt for her as her initially idyllic life was turned upside down, and later when Freddie’s revelation as to why he left the first time also impacted her perception of her life back then. 

And I did enjoy one of the subplots, with Sam and Amy and the way his poor decisions have impacted their marriage, even though it was rather toxic. However, the other subplot between Nick and Tammy, and aside from being marred by pointless secrets as well, I can’t think of much about it that’s particularly remarkable.

Unfortunately, this book was just ok. However, I already was fairly sure it wouldn’t be as epic or engrossing as, say, Riley’s Seven Sisters books. I do think the central plotline makes it worth giving it a try, as it is the most reminiscent of Riley’s style. 

Author Bio

Lucinda Riley was born in Ireland, and after an early career as an actress in film, theatre and television, wrote her first book aged twenty-four. Her books have been translated into thirty-seven languages and sold twenty-five million copies worldwide. She is a No.1 Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller.

Lucinda is currently writing The Seven Sisters series, which tells the story of adopted sisters and is inspired by the mythology of the famous star cluster. It has become a global phenomenon, with each book in the series being a No.1 bestseller across the world. The series is currently in development with a major Hollywood production company.

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Review of “The Sun Sister” (The Seven Sisters #6) by Lucinda Riley

Riley, Lucinda. The Sun Sister. 2019. New York: Atria Books, 2020.

ISBN-13: 978-1982110642 | $28.00 USD | 656 pages | Historical Fiction 

Blurb

“Seven Sisters books just keep getting better and better” (Tracy Rees, author of Amy Snow) with this epic novel that vividly transports you from the dazzling streets of modern-day New York City to the breathtaking plains of 1940s colonial Kenya.

Electra d’Aplièse is a woman who seems to have it all: as a top model, she has beauty, fame, and wealth. But beneath the glittery veneer, she’s cracking under the pressure of it all. The last straw comes when she finds out her father has died and she turns to alcohol and drugs to ease the pain. As friends and colleagues fear for her health, Electra receives a shocking letter from a complete stranger who claims to be her grandmother.

In 1939, Cecily Huntley-Morgan arrives fresh from New York to Lake Naivasha in Kenya for the exciting chance to stay with her godmother, the famous socialite Kiki Preston. But after a sheltered upbringing, she’s completely astounded by the hedonistic antics of the other ex-pats in the infamous Happy Valley set. Cecily soon grows to love her stunning but complicated new home, and she even accepts a proposal of marriage from Bill Forsythe, an enigmatic older cattle farmer. After a shocking discovery and with war looming, Cecily feels isolated and alone. Until she meets a young woman in the woods and makes her a promise that will change the course of her life forever.

Featuring Lucinda Riley’s “engaging and mesmerizing” (Library Journal, starred review) storytelling and filled with unforgettable and moving characters, The Sun Sister explores how love can cross seemingly impossible boundaries.

In the series

#1 The Seven Sisters 

#2 The Storm Sister 

#3 The Shadow Sister

#4 The Pearl Sister

#5 The Moon Sister 

Review 

4.5 stars

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Lucinda Riley does it again…The Sun Sister is another epic installment for her Seven Sisters series, and with only one more to go, I’m torn between wanting it now so all can be revealed (the cliffhanger at the end!) and already feeling prematurely sad to see it end. 

I never really liked Electra, but I never doubted Riley could pull her story together in a satisfying way. And the revelation of her issues stunned me and made me feel for her, even when she was being difficult, because in some ways, she reminds me of someone I know and love dearly, who thankfully is also doing better. 

I do think her arc does suffer a bit from Riley’s lack of firsthand experience with drug use and addiction, as the  descriptions of Electra using tend to feel mechanical (e.g. “I did a line of coke”) without going into the feelings of being under the influence of the substance, which would have made her story feel much more believable. And while I did also feel like the description of the rehabilitation process felt a little sugar coated, I commend her for trying to tackle such a tough subject. 

As for the historical arc, it’s typical Riley in that it’s a slow burn to get to the connection to the present day (something Electra even comments on), but it’s never boring. While there are some elements of the “white savior” narrative, with Cecily taking in an African orphan, I did enjoy how that part of the narrative explored the evolution of race relations in the mid-twentieth century with the rise of the civil rights movement, as well as a look at the Happy Valley set in Kenya, a topic I’ve read a bit about in a couple other books. 

I adored this book, and it sent me on a roller coaster of emotions, especially towards the end. If you’ve loved the series up till now, this is another winner. 

Author Bio

Lucinda Riley was born in Ireland, and after an early career as an actress in film, theatre and television, wrote her first book aged twenty-four. Her books have been translated into over thirty five languages and sold twenty million copies worldwide. She is a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller.

Lucinda is currently writing The Seven Sisters series, which tells the story of adopted sisters and is based allegorically on the mythology of the famous star constellation. The first five books, have all been No.1 bestsellers across the world, and the rights to a multi-season TV series have already been optioned by a Hollywood production company.

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Review of “The Moon Sister” (The Seven Sisters #5) by Lucinda Riley

Riley, Lucinda. The Moon Sister. 2018.  New York: Atria Books, 2019. 

Hardcover | $27.00 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1982110611 | 531 pages  | Historical Fiction

5 stars

I received an ARC through a Goodreads Giveaway. All opinions are my own.

The Moon Sister is yet another wonderful installment in the the Seven Sisters series, leaving me once again spellbound. And I was pleased that while the setup was very much in the vein of some of Riley’s other work, it also stands apart in some key ways.

For one, while family is integral to this series as a whole, I really enjoyed how the past story arc focused very much on the different members of a single family in a space of time and their complex relationships with one another, rather than being focused on one person as the central foremother, and deviating to other people in the family tree on occasion. And while it is often the case for Riley’s historical heroines to be almost martyrs with few flaws, I like that Lucia is different in being somewhat self-concerned when it comes to her career, while also having an understanding of the importance of family.

Tiggy is one of the most interesting of the sisters, as her spiritual connection has been hinted at previously, so it’s great to get some insight into her genealogy and where it came from through the connection to Lucia and her family.

Another thing I absolutely love that Riley does extremely well is establishing sense of place. Whether it be Spain or Scotland, which are the two main settings for the book, I loved getting a sense of the flavor of both places.

And as the series goes on, I’m more and more invested in the modern storyline too, especially as more and more about the sisters and Pa Salt gets revealed. One of the things that threw me off guard (in a good way) was the introduction of Zed Eszu, who I had almost forgotten about from his past with Maia, and given the fact that he’s definitely a shady character and still up to no good in Electra’s life by the end, I am anxious to know how it all turns out.

I would recommend this to fans of beautiful, atmospheric historical fiction.

Review of “The Pearl Sister” (The Seven Sisters #4) by Lucinda Riley

Riley, Lucinda. The Pearl Sister. New York: Atria Books, 2018. ISBN-13: 978-1-5011-8003-3. $27.00. 

4.5 stars

Lucinda Riley once again provides a wonderful read with the fourth installment in her Seven Sisters series. As always, there are familiar tropes in the historical time period, with some of the same ones carrying over from the previous book, like forbidden love with a sibling-in-law, among others, but each familiar trope is presented in its own way in both stories, and given the environment of the time, there was a lot in the way of forbidden (and sometimes tragic or ill-fated) love.

Part of what makes this book unique from other works by Riley is that it deals with the Aboriginal culture of Australia, and the history of Western exploitation of them, a thread that plays out in various ways through both the past and present. A frequent theme that comes up is the Western concept of corporate greed, and how it can conflict with truly being a good person. For example, the past arc follows Kitty, who has lost a lot of things, but remains constant in her goodness toward those in need who are ostracized by privileged society that surrounds her. However, it is also touching to see Aborigine people be self-sufficient and concerned about doing what is right in the eyes of society, showing that they do not fit the negative stereotypes that many of the people in Western society associate with them.

I did not know what to think of CeCe, due to the codependent relationship she had with Star in the prior book. But her journey sees her become her own person and someone that you can root for. It was great to see her find her inspiration to paint again along with discovering her past, as well as open up to some new friends, as well as maybe something more.

 

Review of “The Shadow Sister” (The Seven Sisters #3) by Lucinda Riley

Riley, Lucinda. The Shadow Sister. New York: Atria Books, 2017. ISSBN-13: 978-1476759944. Print List Price: $26.00.

5 stars

While I definitely enjoyed the first two books in the series, this is the one I absolutely loved. And part of it has to do with the way Star is written, and the evolution she goes through. I did relate to Maia and Ally and their journeys, but Star’s is the one that has felt most personal, especially as she is the one of the sisters who is most like me in terms of both her challenges and her strengths.

And once again, we are introduced to both present and past characters who are equally compelling, with a mix of illustrious historical figures appearing among the latter group. I was astonished at the way Riley manages to bring together the worlds of both Beatrix Potter and the Keppel family, as in my mind, they couldn’t be farther apart. But through the lens of a very unique historical heroine, Riley makes the connection feel believable.

And while family and the equal importance of one’s heritage and who one was raised by has been equally prevalent up to this point, I was shocked by how much this factored into the plot of this book, with both illegitmate child and and adoption curveballs constantly appearing, throughout both the historical and present arcs. With this much family drama, I don’t know how it can get more intense in CeCe’s book, but given CeCe’s state as we left her in this one, I do look forward to seeing where her journey takes her.

 

Review of “The Storm Sister” (The Seven Sisters #2) by Lucinda Riley

Riley, Lucinda. The Storm Sister. New York: Atria Books, 2016. ISBN-13: 987-1-4767-5992-0. Hardcover List Price: $24.99. Paperback List Price: $16.00.

5 stars

The Storm Sister is a wonderful book, both as a stand-alone novel and a second installment in the Seven Sisters series. Riley again transplants the reader to a new location, this time weaving her fictional characters into the historical world of the music scene in 1870s Norway and Germany.

This book does deviate from Riley’s other books as neither the contemporary nor the historical arcs have a romance in the traditional HEA sense, and in fact, the modern arc, which is typically the more romantic, is the one where we see Ally grappling with the grief of losing someone she loves, and it is much too soon to tell if she will meet someone else, especially as she has other things to think about. But we do see love in the more familial sense, as she discovers her roots, beginning with an instant bond she feels soon after arriving in Norway.

The historical arc and the way Riley constructed the plot twists where those characters were concerned was very well done. She concludes that arc with the inexplicable reunion between Jens and Anna, after he effectively abandoned her, and readers will already know (based on the family tree at the beginning) that they seem to have had a living child after seven years after their first child, and the reveal as to how all of that came to pass was jaw-dropping, especially considering the involvement of Edvard Grieg in their lives.

Review of “The Seven Sisters” (The Seven Sisters #1) by Lucinda Riley

Riley, Lucinda. The Seven Sisters. New York: Atria Books, 2015. ISBN-13: 978-1-5990-6. Hardcover List Price: $24.99. Paperback List Price: $16.99.

4 stars

I adored Lucinda Riley’s first four books, but I didn’t keep up with her once she started the Seven Sisters series. And despite something of a slow start, this one proves to be just as good as her previous work.  Riley does have a sort of “formula” with a double love story: a past one that ends sadly, and a present one connected to and learning from the past. But while her books are somewhat predictable, they are no less heart-wrenching in their portrayal of human emotions.

Maia is a great modern heroine. Even though I haven’t gone through the same experiences, I can relate to her and the journey she goes on. I find it fascinating how her story had parallels with those of the women in her birth family, but also noted where it diverged, in terms of the decisions they made. And despite her arc being told entirely through her perspective, I truly felt that Floriano was a great romantic interest and an ideal match for her.

The historical arc felt a bit lacking, particularly in the romance department. I was fascinated by how Riley situated it within the construction of Christ the Redeemer. But when it came to the romance between Bel and Laurent, I just did not get it. I mean, he’s a nice guy, and I get that artists are romantic. But if she actually left her privileged life to be with him, would she find the lifestyle romantic in the long run?

And at one point she says she is beginning to detest her husband, Gustavo. While at first he seems awful, Riley does make a point of humanizing him, instead of making him an antagonist, so it’s not another Cal Hockley situation. I honestly felt sadder when I heard about what happened to him than what happened to her in the end.