Tag Archives: J Mary Masters

4 Star Review: Julia’s Story

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I wanted to share this 4 star review of the first of my Belleville books, Julia’s StoryThe review was written by  ElizaBeth Adams » 30 May 2019, 21:31

4 out of 4 stars ****  BUYING OPTIONS CLICK HERE:

All I have to say is, “Nooooooo!” Not, “No, don’t read this book,” or, “No, it isn’t any good.” “Nooooooo,” because the book ended. It ended and so many plot lines are achingly unresolved. You just can’t do this to me J Mary Masters. I have to know what happens next! Forgive me for a second while I throw an unattractive grown-up fit. I want the next book and I want it now. Phew! At least there is a next book, two actually, and they are already released. Okay. I believe I can calm down now. Breathe, breathe, breathe. Let’s see, where was I? That’s right. I was getting ready to tell you all about the engaging book I just finished reading, Julia’s Story, Book 1 in the Belleville Family Series, by J Mary Masters.

So, here’s the scoop. The high-society Belleville family resides in Australia, and we are introduced to them during WWII. The culture described had many parallels to the antebellum period in the American South; fancy dresses for the well-to-do ladies, cattle farms instead of cotton plantations, house servants instead of slaves, and was complete with societal expectations shaping accepted public behaviour. These expectations played a large role in fuelling the conflict in this story.

Within the walls of Prior Park we meet Francis and Elizabeth Belleville’s family. Elizabeth is a strong-minded woman who is in charge, especially in regard to her children’s marriage prospects. Francis on the other hand is painted as a lazy, pampered man who drinks too much and never lives up to his full potential.

They have three mostly-grown children; Richard, William, and Julia. Richard, the oldest and favourite son unexpectedly joins the air force. He departs for training immediately after he drops the bomb that he plans to marry someone of lower-station who, of course, doesn’t meet with his mother’s approval, leaving a severe rift between himself and his parents. Will Richard’s love outlast the war? Meanwhile, with Richard away, William finds himself in the lime-light and uses this time to power-play his way up within the family ladder. When Richard returns, will William be willing to relinquish his new-found control? Julia, not long after her eighteenth birthday, falls in love with the American soldier, Dr. Philippe Duval. Knowing that her family would never approve, they keep their relationship a secret. Soon the American gets posted in Hawaii, and Julia finds her virtue in precarious standing. Will Julia and Philippe ever be reunited? As the tale unfolds and scandal ensues the Belleville family members must make decisions with consequences that could ruin their treasured reputation in society or tear their family apart.

I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this novel. It’s difficult for me to say what I loved the most, because multiple strengths synergistically worked together to make this an enjoyable read. The characters were well-developed and showed vulnerabilities. Elizabeth’s domineering ways could be easily imagined. Her actions were frustrating and yet at times a softer side of her character was shown and she was endearing.

Julia experiences heartbreak, and this wasn’t overdramatized or underplayed. I really appreciated the way the author meted out information and used foreshadowing to build suspense. We know in advance that Julia and Dr. Philippe Duval face heartache, but we don’t know of what nature. Also, we find subtle clues to Francis’ on-going affair well before it is concretely revealed. Then, there was the cliffhanger ending. When I swiped left and found no more story, the plummet into panic I experienced told me that the author had done her job. I wanted more. And isn’t that a sign of good storytelling?

Due to the depth of characters, an intricately complex plot, and suspenseful writing, I happily give this book a 4 out of 4 rating. If you enjoy family dramas set in historical time periods with romance elements woven throughout, this one’s for you. If plot lines centred on character relationships don’t sound appealing, steer clear. This book was an amazing ride. Just be prepared for the sudden stop. Better yet, go ahead and snag a copy of the next one in the series. You’ll be happy you did.

[An official OnlineBookClub.org review of “Julia’s Story” by J Mary Masters.]

BOOK DETAILS:

Julia’s Story
BOOK 1 OF THE BELLEVILLE FAMILY SERIES
By J Mary Masters
Published by PMA Books  www.pmabooks.com
ISBN 9780994327642 $24.95 in paperback

 

My Belleville family: Love affairs, seduction, temptation …. this story took on a life of its own

The story of the Belleville family had been in my head for so long I feel as if they are old friends. Yet I could not have imagined how book 3 would turn out.

Something amazing happened as I wrote it. My characters’ lives really took over the writing. I cannot describe just how satisfying that was.

As I wrote the story, it took so many surprising turns. 

New people inserted themselves into the story. New ideas and new directions for their lives took over the storytelling.

There is no one main protagonist. It is, instead, the story of a family and a story of their lives as they cope with tragedy, disappointment, failed marriages and love affairs that threaten to derail their lives.

Who will you fall in love with as you read about the Belleville family?

Is it the handsome war hero Richard Belleville? Or the charismatic James Fitzroy with his roving eye? Or will you be seduced by the suave charm of American surgeon Dr Philippe Duval? Or the polite and sophisticated Englishman Sir Edward Cavendish? Or does your heart belong to the steady and faithful William Belleville?

And of the women? Who would my women readers most like to be?

The controlling matriarch Elizabeth Belleville? Or her daughter Julia Belleville whose life is changed irrevocably in Book 1 by the actions of her mother?

Of is it the aristocratic beauty Catherine Cavendish who tries hard to love the Australian way of life but cannot settle?

Or Alice Fitzroy whose ambitions are simply for a good marriage and a happy family?

And then, in Book 3, we meet the new friends.

Kate Lester, a wife and mother who had settled for a loveless marriage until … (no, sorry, no spoilers here).

AND finally

Karen Clarke … glamorous, provocative, a temptress ….. a woman not used to be denied. 

Through all this there are two great family secrets. One ends in …… (no, no spoilers) … and the other ….. you must read the books. You must know the outcome of these Belleville family secrets. 

You must read the books, cover to cover. Only that will do.

And who am I secretly in love with? That will remain my secret …..

Criterion Hotel – this is where all the trouble started for Julia Belleville

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It isn’t fiction – the Criterion Hotel, Rockhampton – owners: Megan and Ryan Turnbull (Image courtesy The Rockhampton Morning Bulletin)

Readers of my two books The House of Secrets: Julia’s Story and To Love, Honour & Betray – will know this hotel – The Criterion Hotel in Rockhampton – because it featured prominently in both books.

Yes, that’s right. It wasn’t a figment of my imagination although it’s internal layout might have been fictionalised.

READ THE FULL STORY OF THE HOTEL HERE

American troops did commandeer the hotel as an officer billet in WWII and it was the location for many social events – my elder sister Deidre Hofmann​’s engagement party was held here (probably late 1962).

If you’re ever visiting Rockhampton, you should check it out. It’s well located overlooking the Fitzroy River – and there’s another name from my books.

Other local landmarks that were mentioned include the Rockhampton General Hospital (up on the hill). The city name was fictionalised.

While all the characters are purely fictional, I chose to set my books in a setting I knew well – even though I left the area as a teenager.

Check out the book details at this link – http://www.jmarymasters.com

 

To Love, Honour & Betray …. talking about it at EACH

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There is so much in my first two novels that can generate discussion among women of a certain age. A couple of weeks ago I gave a talk at the local EACH group.

The local Wynnum EACH office is located in the same building as my office so it was an easy presentation to make.

It’s only through my office location so close by that I became aware of EACH’s activities – and this is direct from their website – http://www.each.com.au

EACH provides an integrated range of health, disability, counselling and community mental health services across Australia.

I’ve donated my books to their small library. Part of their charter is to provide social interaction for the lonely and that’s a fine ambition.

With my first book beginning in 1942, I was able to talk with women who lived the experience of war, lived the experience of a more restricted moral code and remembered not only the threat of war but the fashions at a time when they were young women and the world that they inhabited.

It brought out their own stories and I was delighted to listen to them.

 

 

Talking about ‘To Love, Honour & Betray’

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I always find there is a slight problem in talking about a new book that no one has yet read …. because I don’t want to give away the key dramatic moments in the book, so I am left talking about the characters (those who share some characteristics with some of my late family members) and the things I’ve learned along the way that have influenced some of the small details in the book.

Small intimate groups are best. Here is a group I met with a week or so ago. All these women are very keen readers and appreciated the opportunity to ask me some questions about writing and how I go about it.

For every writer, writing is such an individual activity that no two people will ever do it quite the same way or plan their books in quite the same manner.

My trick is to really place myself in the scene, to imagine it as if it was a TV show. I imagine the characters, their discussions and their body language.

Now the next decision is about book 3. How far further along do I take the Belleville family? Stay tuned.

The new book is ‘To Love, Honour & Betray’, ISBN 9780994327611 (paperback) on Amazon or via local book stores or online and available in ebook format from the usual sources.

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Download a FREE KINDLE SAMPLE of my new book

“To Love, Honour & Betray: Book 2 of the Belleville Family trilogy (Belleville family saga)” by J Mary Masters

If you search this on the Kindle store, you can download a sampler for FREE or buy now for A$3.99.

First feedback from a reader: she really enjoyed it but wants to know when book 3 will be published? Back to the keyboard, it seems …..

To Love, Honour & Betray: now on Amazon

It’s a great relief to have got to this point – having first been over optimistic about the timeframe for the release of book 2 of the Belleville family saga. I expect to have the real thing in my hands by the end of next week. First print run is in production.

For those who buy via Amazon, To Love, Honour & Betray is now available at this link:
CLICK HERE

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There is an Amazon preview screen to read the first chapter and a half here:
CLICK HERE

The next anxious period is waiting for reader feedback. Who can say how readers will respond to the way the characters’ lives have developed …….