Friday 8 January 2010

Review: Susan Wiggs 2x -The Charm School, The Horsemaster's Daughter

The Charm School by Susan Wiggs
The Calhoun Chronicles, book 1

Genre: Historical Romance
Pages: 416
First Published: 1999

 Isadora Peabody is the brilliant but socially inept sibling in an otherwise perfect family. And although she struggles to fit into Boston society, her awkwardness dooms her to repeated failure. Fate intervenes when she learns that a sea captain, Ryan Calhoun, is in need of an interpreter for his next voyage to Rio. And despite Ryan's adamant opposition to hiring a female interpreter, Isadora gains a berth on his ship, thanks to a little blackmail.

Life aboard ship and away from the strict confines of Boston society finds Isadora losing weight, gaining confidence, and blooming like a rose. She befriends the motley crew of rough sailors, and in turn, they become a charm school of sorts, tutoring her in gracefulness--which comes in handy when climbing the rope rigging--dancing, and friendship. Isadora's transformation fascinates Ryan, but he is determined to stay away from her for he has secretive, dangerous plans. Unaware of Ryan's interest, Isadora struggles with her growing attraction to the reckless sea captain. But before they can resolve their feelings, prior commitments surface and endanger their chance of finding a happy future together.

The Horsemaster's Daughter
Calhoun  Chronicles 2

Genre: Historical romance
Pages: 332
First published: 1999

Southern plantation owner Hunter Calhoun gambles the success of his Virginia horse farm on an Irish stallion; unfortunately, the animal arrives crazed and unridable after the stormy sea crossing. Desperate, Hunter turns to Eliza Flyte, the horsemaster's daughter, who has inherited her father's gift for gentling horses. Her ability to heal wounded spirits with her compassion and wisdom is amazing, and when Hunter convinces her to leave her isolated island and return home with him, she soon applies that gift to the bitter man and his grieving, motherless children. But what future can a woman raised alone by her father with only the sea, animals, and a few books for companions have with a man who grew up as a rich, upper-class son of the South? It seems unlikely that Eliza could ever fit into Hunter's world and just as unlikely that he would give up his privileged life for her world. It just may take a miracle for these two mismatched lovers to find a way to live happily ever after.

I am writing both reviews at once since I finished the books so close to each other.

The first one is a classic ugly duckling story, she does not feel at home, and she is not as popular and praised as her sisters. Not to mention that Isadora loves books. But she sees a way to get out and she manages to convince the owner of captain Ryan's ship to let her travel with them as a translator/companion to Ryan's mother. The captain is not pleased but she gets her will and steps aboard the ship.

Here she blossoms, and I was a bit taken aback at first, cos I do not like stories where the guy suddenly falls for the woman cos she turned pretty. Here we see at once that there was something, but just something since he spends the rest of the trip trying to make her miserable, but she shines and befriends the crew. I liked her then, because she finally seems happy. The transformation may not be that big, throw  away glasses she does not need, wear better clothes and just look happier.

Ryan Calhoun, well him I do like too, he has a good heart even if he is a bit stubborn, but I just wait for things to heat up, and they finally do when they get to South America. That is they learn to speak as two civilized people.

A cute enough story with a likable cast. As for the charm school, well there was not really anything of that in it. She just flourished, he did help but just to make her feel comfortable.

When it comes to the other book, The Horsemaster's Daughter, well then I prefer the first somewhat more. They are both ok, but I guess I just go for sea stories sometime, even if he was not a pirate. She wants him, he wants her, but he is rich, and she is nothing. But she goes with him to take care of his horses.

There was a twist in this one, well dunno if it was a twist when it was so obvious. But I liked it. This story is much about healing, not just the horse, but his children too, and also him. They must all learn to be happy again, and she has a gift for that.

Dunno if I liked Eliza, she was ok, but I don't know, Hunter was, ok too, even if both books had one thing that made me roll my eyes. Shall not say more.

Nice story, strong woman, and a nice setting.

Blodeuedd's Cover Corner: These are reprints and I do like them
Reason for Reading: Library books
Final thoughts: Charm school was the better one.


  1. I've never read her historical novels but I enjoy her contemporary romances.

  2. It sounds like nice "in-between-books" Blodeuedd. I really like the reprint covers too and they match so well LOL

  3. Mary,
    Oh she write those too..wait I think the library had one but I dissed it, must go back ;)

    They sure were, and I do like books like that. I know, great reprints and they sure match.

  4. I read her Tudor Rose series, I really liked them. I will have to check this series out, I have not seen it before. Thanks for the tip!

  5. Hi Muse
    Thanks for the visit, I must go and check out your blog tomorrow :) well it is tomorrow here, so in the morning.
    While checking her website I did read about those Tudor books, and they sounded interesting

  6. I liked reading your thoughts on both of these especially because you read them back to back which makes for a great comparison.

  7. While I don't read historical romance (unless there is a paranormal twist), I like how you reviewed both of these books together. Gives one a good idea on an author's different books. A good comparison.

  8. I'm reading Jilly Cooper's romances now and have a mad to be read pile but I think I'll have to make room for at least one of Ms. Wiggs novels if only to keep up with the competition.
    You have a lovely weekend.

  9. Staci,
    I actually read book 2 first, so suddenly I got a bit of a spoiler, but that was silly really cos we all know they always end in a HEA ;)

    No paranormal twists here ;) But then I have always liked historical books.
    And this was fun cos I got too see if she was just good in one book or if she actually was good.

    I love Cooper, well love and love but those were sure racy when I was younger

  10. Wonderful review hon! I like the comparison. But why do you keep teasing us with your funny little remarks like 'both books had one thing that made me roll my eyes. Shall not say more.'?! LOL! Everytime you wake up the curious cat in me :)

  11. Sounds like good books. I love the first one, ugly ducky story..:)
    I love those kind of stories.

  12. Janna
    Haha well you know I aim to please, but mostly to tease ;) But don't worry, it is nothing nasty and worth knowing.

    It is a nice story, and I loved this cos here they even had chapters from HC Andersons story and it fitted so well with what happened

  13. I've got a Susan Wiggs book on my Kindle, it's the first one in the Tudor series that she did.

  14. Alaine,
    I have heard about that Tudor series, could be something for me

  15. I really liked both of these, but I liked The Horsemaster's Daughter better. Of all the romances I read last year, I thought that one was the best. I'm now finishing her Tudor Rose trilogy. They're good, she's a good writer, but I like the Calhoun Chronicles better.

  16. Lady Quinlan,
    And I who liked Charm better :)
    Everyone mentions the Tudor one,but if you say the Calhouns are better. Hm, there are more to read so

    Thanks for visiting :D



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