#SaturdaysAreBookish Book Review [during #FraterfestRAT] | “An Abiding Fire” (Book One: Thomazine and Major Russell #Thrillers) by M.J. Logue [#SatBookChat feat. guest, 12 October!]

Posted Saturday, 12 October, 2019 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

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After launching this lovely new feature of mine during [Autumn, 2018] it is a pleasure of joy to continue to bring #SaturdaysAreBookish as a compliment focus of my Twitter chat @SatBookChat. If you see the chat icon at the top of my blog (header bar) you can click over to visit with us. The complimentary showcases on my blog will reflect the diversity of stories, authors and publishers I would be featuring on the chat itself. As at the root and heart of the chat are the stories I am reading which compliment the conversations.

#SaturdaysAreBookish throughout [2019] will be featuring the Romance & Women’s Fiction authors I am discovering to read across genre and point of interest. Every Saturday will feature a different author who writes either Romance or Women’s Fiction – the stories I am reading might simply inspire the topics in the forthcoming chats or they might be directly connected to the current guest author.

I am excited about where new guests and new stories will lay down the foundation of inspiring the topics, the conversations and the bookish recommendations towards promoting Romance & Women’s Fiction. Here’s a lovely New Year full of new authors and their stories to celebrate!

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Borrowed Book By: I borrowed a print copy of “An Abiding Fire” via my local library. Full disclosure: this was a purchase request of mine after I hosted the author for a delightful interview in conjuction with a blog promotional tour her publisher Sapere Books assembled. I am choosing to share my reflections and takeaways on behalf of this novel without obligation to post my ruminative thoughts about the story. The Press Materials shown on this post were provided by either the publisher Sapere Books and/or the author M.J. Logue and are used with permission; as I had left the door open to review this novel if my library purchased the copy I had requested post-interview. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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What drew me into wanting to read “An Abiding Fire”:

For starters, it was the curious premise behind the novel itself – secondly, it was shortly after I received the responses back from the interview I hosted with Ms Logue where I realised between her wicked sense of humour & her love for the setting in which this series is set – it felt like quite a wicked good fit! I will admit, it also felt a bit more daunting to read – as we had such an insta-connection as writer to reader (as you can clearly oversee in the convo we shared) – I was hoping I could become attached into this world & pull out the vision she had for it as it is the first of a series.

The Restoration period of London isn’t one I usually read about either – I tend to dance round specific eras and historical ‘markers’ in History; I think I know more about Revolutionary War France & America than I do about the Restorative generation of England! Laughs. Even then, I am still in need of stories – as who can ever have their fill once they find a period of time they enjoy time travelling through an author’s story? Not, I, surely. Thus the timescape in of itself was quite the allure as I do like uncovering new chapters of the historical past within the stories I am reading moreso at times than even a new hidden niche of a genre I already know to love by the stories I’ve previously read.

When you get to travel back into a timescape you’ve either only heard about loosely, never heard of previously or only have a farthering of an idea of what it could involve; you get quite a bit giddy over the prospects of how your experience within this new ‘era’ will overtake you. I think more than anything that fuelled my curiosity but as said, on the interview itself – I was also smitten by the concept of the series, the characters & the overall sense of how this series stands out from others within the sphere of Historical Mysteries & Suspense if not outright Historical Thrillers.

This is labelled more Thriller than Mystery/Suspense – per the conversation I had with Ms Logue I could understand why that distinction was made – as it parlays into the kind of decriptive narrative you are about to experience inasmuch as certain inclusionary elements which take it outside the Mysteries & Suspense threads straight into the Thriller section(s).

Even before I began reading this novel, I knew I wanted to have Ms Logue as a guest during @SatBookChat as I had a feeling – the two of us together would make a wicked good team at discussing not just her series but whichever topic which organically elects to knit itself into our conversation! Mostly though – as I was looking through the Sapere Books catalogue and also reading through their emails – not just for blog tours to host but their bookish newsletters as well for pending & current releases, this is one series I felt I could go the distance to enjoy reading.

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#SaturdaysAreBookish Book Review [during #FraterfestRAT] | “An Abiding Fire” (Book One: Thomazine and Major Russell #Thrillers) by M.J. Logue [#SatBookChat feat. guest, 12 October!]An Abiding Fire
Subtitle: Murder and Mystery in Restoration London
by M.J. Logue
Source: Purchase REQ | local library

How do you solve a murder when you are one of the suspects?

1664, London

Life should be good for Major Thankful Russell and his new bride, Thomazine. Russell, middle-aged and battle-scarred, isn’t everyone’s idea of the perfect husband for an eligible young woman but the moment Thomazine set eyes on her childhood hero, she knew they were destined for one another.

But Russell, a former Roundhead, now working for the King’s intelligence service, was never going to have a simple life in Restoration London.

Unable to shake suspicions of his Parliamentarian past, someone seems hell-bent on ruining his reputation — and his life.

Whispers about his sister’s violent murder follow him and accusations of treason abound.

When more deaths occur Russell finds himself under suspicion.

He is ready to escape from the capital, but Thomazine is determined to find the truth and clear the name of the man she loves.

But who is the real killer and why are they so keen to frame Russell?
More importantly, will they succeed?
And has Thomazine’s quest put them all in mortal danger?

Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1912786817

Also by this author: An Abiding Fire (Interview)

Published by Sapere Books

on 2nd January, 2019

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 285

Published by: Sapere Books (@SapereBooks)

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comThe Thomazine and Major Russell Thrillers series:

An Abiding Fire by M.J. Logue

An Abiding Fire (book one)

A Deceitful Subtlety (book two)

1666, London Thomazine and Major Thankful Russell should be enjoying married life. With one teething baby and another on the way, life at the newly-rebuilt house at Four Ashes in the Chilterns is never dull, and they’re hoping to put the debauchery of Restoration London behind them. But then the indomitable poetess Mistress Aphra Behn arrives at their door… Aphra claims to have promised to marry respectable merchant William Scot, who she met on a previous spying mission in Belgium. But he never turned up for the wedding. She’s determined to discover his fate – and she wants Thankful to help her search Bruges. Which may be how married couples behave in sophisticated London society, but there’s no way Thomazine is letting her husband loose on his own with the lovely, flirtatious Mistress Behn. It looks like the couple will once again have to put domestic bliss aside to unravel this intriguing mystery…

→ A third novel is currently the author’s WIP!

Formats available: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Converse on Twitter via: #HistFic or #HistNov + #Thriller

+ #AnAbidingFire & #MJLogue as well as #ThomazineAndMajorRussell

About M.J. Logue

M.J. Logue

M. J. Logue (as in cataLOGUE and epiLOGUE and not, ever, loge, which is apparently a kind of private box in a theatre) wrote her first short novel on a manual typewriter aged seven. It wasn’t very good, being about talking horses, but she made her parents sit through endless readings of it anyway.

Thirty-something years later she is still writing, although horses only come into it occasionally these days. Born and brought up in Lancashire, she moved to Cornwall at the turn of the century (and has always wanted to write that) and now lives in a granite cottage with her husband, and son, five cats, and various itinerant wildlife.

After periods of employment as a tarot reader, complaints call handler, executive PA, copywriter and civil servant, she decided to start writing historical fiction about the period of British history that fascinates her – the 17th century.

Her first series, covering the less than stellar career of a disreputable troop of Parliamentarian cavalry during the civil wars, was acclaimed by reviewers as “historical fiction written with elegance, wit and black humour” – but so many readers wanted to know whether fierce young lieutenant Thankful Russell ever did get his Happy Ever After, that the upcoming series of romantic thrillers for Sapere Books began.

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My review for an abiding fire:

Well, that surely is an opener I won’t surely forget reading! This isn’t the first time a story begins by revealling a notation of interest on the villain – per usual given I read quite a bit of dramatic crime narratives; including some of the Kay Hunter stories shifted from the perspective of the villain ahead of moving us back round towards the detectives; sometimes those stories boomeranged back and forth in their focus between the two allowing you to see both perspectives in-line with one another.

This story, however, begins on such an interesting set of circumstances – as you feel for the woman at the door but then, the cruelty of how she’s taken out of this life was chilled further by the apathy of the person who caused it. You definitely want to understand the motive but something told me the motives of this person’s actions might not be as clear to understand as you could hope and there lay the first problem. How to sort through a Thriller where the person behind the suspenseful bits is not someone you wish to know more about but rather to draw a wider breadth round. And, so begins An Abiding Fire!

Shifting forward – we move into the victim’s brother’s life – for he is Thankful Russell (one of the title characters) and he is not entirely without his own quirks! He’s a very understated fellow – scarred from the past wars and living a life which is rather sedate as it is routine. He is pitched forward to make an appearance in public he never felt he’d be pinned to endure and that gives you a firmer impression of his personality. It is in this moment he learns of the fate of his sister – the forementioned deceased and it is there where the story re-aligns with where he has to deal with this news even if it isn’t a sibling he felt close too; news of death is still hard to process.

There is this paragraph I would have quoted but I had forgotten to check the permissions in the copyright notice prior to reading this novel – therefore, as it is not mentioned we can quote in our reviews – suffice it to say, the paragraph wherein Russell is talking about the love he shares with Thomazine is one of my favourite passages of the novel! It brings to centre the heart of the two characters (as quirkily as they were to enter into marriage) whilst giving you a small feel for what we might expect from them as we tarry further into the story-line. By quirkily, it was referencing that instead of showing a drawn out affair where the two became united as one – per a regular relationship you’d find in fiction, Logue took an alternative spin on things. She proved why they ought to be together through a digest version of their history together – meaning, we get the illusion of what connects them but we haven’t yet discovered why they are readily matched (as of yet).

It was quite a curious thing – seeing how Russell’s sister’s death was the catalyst to move his life forward towards marriage and how he took that as a ready sign to change not just his bachelorhood state in life but also his career and his place of residence. He is an interesting bloke from that perspective as he shares quite little on the offset but he thinks through everything ahead of making even the slightest impulsive decision if he could make one at all. Seeing them on their wedding day was quite the treat to feast on as you could see them as they see themselves. I felt for me, the more the story shifted into peering into Russell and Thomazine’s life, the more I would feel more readily enthused to carry on reading the story. There were a few misses for me to catch the flow ahead of their entrance but afterwards, I started to feel I was closer to understanding how Logue wanted us to feel about this series.

Thomazine was such a good match for Russell; he was still evolving into his own being – not yet settled in his skin, nor fully confident of his abilities. She somehow knitted out a rounding of those nerves and lessoned the anxieites Logue hints Russell was consumed by on a regular basis. Like most men, he truly had a strong and self-assured woman behind him – not just to rally his spirits but to be his equal partner in whatever lay ahead of them to pursue. You could see the plausiblity of them being a team in that once curious instant where Thomazine knew Russell’s thoughts and he knew hers; they were two halves of a whole. Logue added a dash of cheekiness to their wedding scene as well – a bit of which reminded me why I love The Thin Man films.

Ooh, that is who Hollie Babbitt is – I had wondered greatly! Methinks I once unearthed that bit of a tidbit of trivia but for the life of me, I hadn’t remembered at all – and then, right without warning, the name appears and all is right again. Aside from this revelation of delight – I liked how Logue penned Thomazine to be her own ‘woman’ so to speak; neither hitched to the hip to Russell nor passively reclusive either. She makes her own mind and keeps her own hours; does what she feels is right and keeps Russell on his toes so to speak otherwise. In essence, Logue has writ an intriguing couple who endeavour to keep you guessing about how they would begin a career in sleuthing whilst portions of the setting itself (the Restoration side of London) is still happily elusive.

The struggles Russell has within his mind track well with a variant of PTSD – he is almost plagued by those memories but with Thomazine at his side, he finds an rudder and anchour to guide him to the present. She is good for him in many regards – she eases his discomforts and she encourages his heart rather than focusing on his weaknesses. She is an incredible woman who owns the fact she has been in love with Russell longer than the years they first realised they had been in love – as it was the typical young girl smitten with the older fellow (of college age). Despite that beginning – as they ease into their marriage, Logue helps you re-see how their lives will be – with the back-histories Russell has to put out of his mind if he can save a bit of peace for his soul and the ways in which Thomazine knows what Russell’s needs are a bit ahead of himself.

I was not suspecting Russell to give Thomazine a bit of a proper shock when it came to the conditions of his estate – yet, it couldn’t be helped as you will well see as it was left in such a state of disrepair that it surely will take a bit more time to become refitted properly. For all her fortitude, this was one of those rare instances where she was caught out of her depths and seen to be more vulnerable and responsive than either Russell nor myself might have felt she could express when she first locked eyes on what will now become her ‘home’. I think she had this distinct impression she was working on as she travelled here – when that reality was squashed and the replacement was less than stellar, surely, her reaction was not just plausible but one you’d expect! Except for Russell of course who hadn’t yet realised how a woman would feel in such an environment.

The ways in which they communicate with each other still has me hankering for a re-visitation with The Thin Man as the best bits were the tongue-in-cheek exchanges between the two characters; such as how Logue has set us to feel a closeness towards Russell and Thomazine. They like to keep the humour alive in their marriage and given what she’s just learnt of his estate – humour is one thing she will hold onto the hardest! It shall see her through quite a bit if she remembers it in haste ahead of her temperament suffering.

This is when I felt (or honestly, a bit before this moment) the title of the novel was in reference to their marriage – how the fire which abides is the one between man and wife. Especially true when adversity comes knocking on your door such as it has for them. There are too many rumours swirling about regarding his sister’s death and many of those roads arrive at his own door. The supposition is unfounded but that didn’t give Thomazine a sense of paused peace either. Before you knew it they were off again – heading into London and left the estate and the ruins of its care behind. I wasn’t entirely sure it would be ready again for occupancy but those scenes owned to the horrors of the destruction and the wrecking truth of how sometimes you have to walk away from certain properties in order to seek out your own (new) beginning.

A good portion of the Thriller within this story is rooted in the conspiracy against Russell – this was an interesting turning of events as initially I thought it might go a different way. We hadn’t seen the villain in such a long expanse of time in the story itself, I oft thought – how is the preliminary scenes going to tie together with the living they’ve experienced as newlyweds? I was still awaiting the segue moment between Russell’s old life and his new life – what would kick this into drive and how would Thomazine react?

My goodness! Logue makes you wait for the worst of reveals because although this is a timeless intrigue about not forgetting to mistrust those you trust as they are the ones who can deceive you the most – there is a particular scene where in the height of certain death – you see Thomazine and Russell at their best. You can see how the fire of their bond is stronger than any danger and the best bit of all is how Logue showed how Thomazine loved Russell well beyond the life she had with him to live. It was not just in this scene, mind, as there are other passages ahead of this finale wherein I was cheering behind Thomazine!! She was refuting all conspiracies against her dear Russell even without much hope of people believing her and for the reasons she knew were true – but how to convince others of that truth? There lies the pickle of the tale.

Everything in the end pulls back to the beginning – in only a way which fittingly is Logue. She wanted you to feel emotionally attached to Thomazine and Russell before you ever learnt of the more sinister aspects of the plot she’s devised for you to read. A smart move because that is what holds you in the context of the novel – trying to uncover the clues and the reasons why someone would wish to haunt Russell and allow him to feel like he was half out of his mind in torment. If Thomazine hadn’t married Russell, I am sure the ending would have gone quite another way.

The central arc of the novel is rooted more in the curious background of what is erupting in the political sphere of the Restoration era. There is quite a heap of political upheaval in the background of this story – so much so, you’ll be thankful Logue included an introduction to it all in the Appendixes! Like most political narratives, it takes a bit of time to unravel it to where you understand the motives and actions of everyone involved. Despite that aspect of the story, what I hugged closer towards was the interactions and the relationship between Russell and Thomazine. She was truly the healing angel he needed to resolve his past – a past which any man would have struggled to lie to rest and in that, the story had a greater purpose of establishing us within this chapter of their lives. Because you see – despite being a Historical Thriller, An Abiding Fire is most surely and resolutely a Historical Romance!

on the historical thrilling writing styling of m.j. logue:

The most chilling opener I’ve read recently – equal only to the book I had to set down by Ms Belle (ie. The Last Breath) last weekend. This one was a passage of sequence I could read through and still feel compelled to read the next chapter whereas the other one instantly became a DNF for me as I couldn’t move past the Prologue. When it comes to getting a feel for the styling of writers who write Thrillers – part of what I am seeking out is what I have read previously in David Morrell’s novels wherein you get the chill factor but you don’t get the nausea (such a I had issues with in the styling of Bradley Harper’s series). On this auspicious opening sequence, Logue intrigued me to pursue reading about her characters rather than turnt me off from needing to distance myself; for me, I took that as a positive sign. Although in truth – the more I read the following genres which interest me most: Mystery, Suspense & Thriller, I am finding I almost appreciate not meeting the villain until after I’ve met the heroes!

Logue has a unique writing style – it hard to pin it down because it is quite an original spin on how to write a Historical narrative – a lot of it comes across as being introspective and of a moving litany of thoughts her characters are contemplating within themselves. It leads you to get inside their heads quite a bit faster even if it lengthens the time you need to understand where the plot is directing you to walk, it builds on the omnious vibes of not knowing when the aspects of the Thriller will start to move in and out of the current timeline.

She also is a wordsmith – a lot of her turns of phrase are not commonly used (which I celebrated) nor are her choices in words. It gives you a bit more measure of depth to align into her train of thought for how this novel is to be read. She also intersperses the narrative with fleeing visuals which are bold as well as they are blunt meaning, she writes openly about the honesty of a scene and what is meant to be observed or felt. She has perfected that balance too to where you can understand why she wrote those passages in the way she had vs attempting to understand them.

I was quite thankful as a reader to find the scenes wherein Logue could have turnt them more brutal and visual were kept more at a distance. She gave you just what was needed to be seen but didn’t overstep into the horror she could have taken it. She has added in such delightful turns of phrases – attributes of a person’s character or their personality by cleverly piecing together words which give their own adjectives to suggest a behaviour or a character trait outright. I loved those bits of wordplay as it made reading An Abiding Fire rather enjoyable.

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I am blessed to have hosted for: Sapere Books
otherwise I might not have discovered this author & series!

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Reading this novel counted towards some of my 2019 readerly goals:

2019 HistFic Reading Challenge banner created by Jorie in Canva.

2019 New Release Challenge created by mylimabeandesigns.com for unconventionalbookworms.com and is used with permission.

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whilst read in conjunction with my participation for this readathon:

#FraterFestRAT banner created by Jorie via Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Marko Blažević

Read my Reading List for #FraterfestRat 2019!

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “An Abiding Fire”, author photograph of M.J. Logue, author biography and the blog tour banner were provided by Sapere Books and are being used with permission. The book synopsis for “A Deceitful Subtlety” and the cover art for this sequel were provided by the author M.J. Logue and are used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. 2019 New Release Challenge created by mylimabeandesigns.com for unconventionalbookworms.com and is used with permission. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #SaturdaysAreBookish banner, 2019 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 12 October, 2019 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, British Literature, Crime Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense, Modern British Author, Modern British Literature, Sapere Books

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