Monday, August 8, 2011

TLS Fics of the Week 8/2 - 8/8/2011: The Fab Four Reviews

What If by twihart21
Edward is a successful defense attorney living in LA. He lives a lonely, predictable life. But one day, he wakes up in an unfamiliar house, in an unfamiliar room with Bella laying next to him. Will he ever want to wake up from this dream? AH EPOV Twilight - Rated: M
Reviewed by: OneBraveLamb

I’m pretty sure we all have had moments at some point in our lives where we’ve asked ourselves,  “What if…?”

In twihart21’s fic, we explore exactly that.

This is a story entirely in Edward’s point of view.  He’s a successful young lawyer living in L.A. He has a lovely apartment, designer clothes, an assistant and a driver, and still has more money than most people would know what to do with. What more could anyone ask for?

As many people know, however, money can’t buy happiness.

Edward is lonely, even if he tries not to acknowledge it. He’s estranged from his family, has no romantic life, no life at all, actually. He wakes up, goes to work, goes to court, come home and goes to bed. It’s pretty sad. After some internal musing, he receives a call from his brother Emmett. Emmett explains that he and their other brother, Jasper, are in town with their fiancĂ©e’s and want to have dinner with him. Of course, Edward tries to get out of it. The usual excuses are thrown, he’s busy, he has so much work, there’s nothing he can do. However, he does miss his brother’s so he compromises and agrees to a late night drink.

He has no idea that this will be the last night he’ll ever spend in his mundane reality.

He meets his brothers, and their significant others. He ponders on how much he misses them and how happy they all seem. He comes to the conclusion that he is most definitely not happy. Enter a blue-eyed Bella, who makes him laugh and actually feel something. They spend the night talking, joking and getting to know each other before realizing that they’ve been lost in their own world for hours. Real life rears its ugly head, it’s late. Responsibilities are calling.  Edward offers to share a cab with Bella, they share a hug and life goes on…..right?

Beep. Beep. Beep.
A soft groan escaped from my lips as I picked up my cell phone. "Cullen," I answered.
Annoyed, I glanced at my phone.
This isn't my phone.
I looked at the screen, noticing it was an alarm set to go off. It wasn't actually ringing. And the alarm was set for 10:00 a.m. I was always up at least four hours earlier than that even on the weekends.
But whose phone is this? This is not my Blackberry.
I pressed "dismiss" on the phone's alarm. The alarm screen went away, and the background of the phone was in view. It was a picture of me and….
Confused still, I set the phone back on the nightstand next to the bed. It was at that moment that I knew something was wrong. Extremely wrong.
The nightstand was not my nightstand. This nightstand was a dark cherry wood and had a framed 8 by 10 picture of me and….

Anyone would be confused, I can’t blame Edward there. One morning you wake up in a penthouse to the sound of your assistant calling you, the next you’re in a strange room, surrounded by pictures of you and the woman you only met the night before.

Edward is on a journey of self-discovery, he’s going to learn exactly what would have happened if he hadn’t shut his family out all those years before. He’ll experience life in the best ways, with love, friendship and family at every turn.

But how can you truly live, when you know it isn’t real? How can you love when you aren’t promised forever? How can you hope for the dreams you never thought to ask for? And how can you trust yourself when you’re someone completely different than who you’ve always been?

"Don't walk away from me please." I was certain that I would never be too proud to beg her.
She blinked rapidly over and over, and I released her arm, praying she wouldn't run away from me again.
She didn't.
"Please…" I said, definitely not opposed to begging.
"Tell me you love me, and I'll stay." Oh, god. "I'll stay right by your side the entire night if you just say the three words that you've said to me everyday for years but haven't told me in over a week."
God, I wanted to. I wanted to so badly that I almost did. My heart and head were screaming it to her, telling her that all I wanted was her...forever not just for a week or a month or a year until I woke up from this dream. But forever. I wanted her by my side, touching me, kissing me, whispering how muchshe loves me because God knows how addicted I've become to hearing her say it.
And it was in that moment that I realized the love might have been there.
But the words weren't.
And they didn't come.
"That's what I thought."
She turned and left. Again.
And this time I didn't go after her.”

If you’re anything like me, this story will twist you up, hurt your heart, and make you smile.

Nothing is easy, but life never is. And Edward has to figure out is what he’s living for, because if he doesn’t he’ll always be asking himself, what if?

From the Cup of Duty by LadyExcalibur2010
Edward is a ruler in need of an heir. Isabella Swan comes from fruitful stock. A marriage made in heaven, right? Well...not quite yet. Sometimes duty brings an unexpected gift. Rated M for future lemons.Twilight - Rated: M
Reviewed by: Udo Blick

I first came across LadyExcalibur2010 when I was fic diving one evening. I was looking for a story which could hold my interest. I was not asking much. All I needed was an Edward and Bella tale, told differently. I was fortunate. I stumbled across LadyExcalibur2010’s ‘Bad Blood’. Needless to say, I was hooked from the first chapter.

From the Cup of Duty’, her other story, is unlike ‘Bad Blood’. ‘Bad Blood’ is about... Well, without giving away too many spoilers, let’s just say that it’s about the sins of the father (a father who just happens to be a serial killer) and the consequences of his actions on both Edward’s and Bella’s lives.

Unlike ‘Bad Blood’, ‘From the Cup of Duty’ is utterly different in terms of setting. It’s a period fic, for starters. The cast of characters include Edward, who ascended the Lion Throne, after his father, the former Lion King passed away from a long illness. Crowned King, Edward is flanked by his loyal Chief Advisor Carlisle and his mother, Esme, the formidable Queen Mother who is astute, intuitive and highly intelligent.

On one fateful morning, Edward receives exasperating news from Esme and Carlisle. He is informed that it is expected of him to marry. Not for love, mind you. No, the expectation is that he is to marry someone of good stock so as to produce healthy, sturdy and legitimate heirs to the Lion Throne. This is his duty, he is told, his obligation and his responsibility. He is to drink from the cup of duty. No mention is made of any expectation that he is to marry for love.

And as you can imagine, Edward who has seen enough simpering ‘whey faced noblewomen’ women paraded before him is not best pleased upon hearing these news. In fact, he is highly unwilling and feels that is about to be ‘bred out like a stallion to a mare’:

They all simpered and giggled and talked about fashion. Some of them hadn't even known how to read. I accepted that women reading might be a modern notion, but I demanded that my wife at least be literate.


"I've met all the appropriate royal and noble ladies," I mumbled like a petulant child. "And none of them suited." I grunted and settled lower in my seat as if I could escape my mother's eagle eye. "Besides, we're a small country, and though we have a strong economy, it isn't as if I can look too high for my bride. And thus far, no one who is suitable has much appealed."
My mother shot an amused glance at Carlisle. "That is true."

In short, Edward finds the whole prospect distasteful and highly unattractive. When he is informed by his Queen Mother and Chief Advisor that they have in mind a specific family – a Baron from the Northern borders – whose, for want of a better of phrasing, genetic lineage appears particularly healthy, Edward starts feeling nervous. His trepidation increases when they mention that they are planning introductions between him and Baron Charles Swan’s daughter. Edward baulks at the proposition. Why?

"This baron has three sons," Mother continued. "And a daughter."
It took a moment for me to comprehend what they were proposing. "Oh no, I won't marry some landless little nobody who is likely to resemble an Amazon warrior, Mother. And I most definitely will not be bred out like a stallion to a mare. I would do almost anything for my people, but not that. Please don't ask that of me."
"You have no idea what she will look like," Carlisle pointed out.
"I can only imagine," I muttered. "With three brothers who are reputed to be such warriors?" I shuddered. She would tower over me and pat me on my head while she talked about the latest court gossip. Imagining a lifetime tied to such a woman was painful and terrifying to say the least.

What transpires is a highly enjoyable and frolicsome tale where the reader is led on a merry dance of misapprehensions, masque balls, constricting codpieces and bumbling courtship. And all this occurs because Edward, despite his initial apprehension, becomes enchanted with a petite, dark haired woman who is unlike any woman he has met:

Something warm and soft unfurled inside of me at the same time something hot and hard pressed against my belly and filled my codpiece. This Isabella Swan was proving to be most intriguing.

In short, when Edward stumbles across Isabella Swan, the only daughter of Baron Charles Swan, little does he realise that both his future and his misbegotten notions of marriage would change irrevocably.

Now complete, ‘From the Cup of Duty’ is a highly enjoyable read. A period fic interspersed with comedic turns, it is a wonderful portrait of a man who also happens to be powerful King. As King, Edward is undoubtedly a wise and fair ruler. As a man who is attempting to win the hand and heart of Isabella Swan, much is left to be desired. Much comedy ensues from his bumbling efforts to woo and court her, much to the delight of his courtiers and Isabella’s family:

Three days later, Emmett Swan rode up beside me on a fine piece of horseflesh. I noted that the beast was well taken care of, no whip marks or signs of cruelty. The horse, of course, was huge, as would be necessary for a man of his stature.
He grinned at me. "What did you do to make my sister so angry?"
I grunted, which was not at all regal and I found I did not care. "I talked to her."
"A great sin indeed, Sire," Emmett agreed with a snort of laughter.
I sighed, wondering if she had already told him and he just wanted to see if our stories aligned. "I informed her of all the reasons she should marry me." And I had. Simple enough. Except that nothing was simple when it came to Isabella Swan.


And what did you list as the reasons my headstrong sister should consider you for a husband?" he asked with a smirk.
There it was again – that maddening streak of Swan independence. It was no wonder that Isabella was more stubborn and recalcitrant than any other woman it had been my misfortune to meet. It had been bred into her.
I sniffed regally. "I merely explained to her that I was both rich and powerful, not to mention handsome and young and able-bodied." Emmett's laughter boomed out, making my horse shy momentarily. "Well, I am," I defended myself hotly after I had gotten my mount under control.
Emmett shook his head and gave me a pitying look. I was a king; I wasn't accustomed to getting such looks. I found it rather discomfiting. "Well, I think that this is going to take longer than we anticipated."
With that he wheeled his horse around and made his way back toward his father. A few moments later I heard more booming laughter coming from both of the Swan men.

This is the other gem of ‘From the Cup of Duty’. While the story is undoubtedly about Edward and Bella, the other cast of characters aren’t relegated to the sidelines. For instance, both Charles Swan and Emmett Swan are well-drawn characters – while their conversations with Edward are witty and wonderfully written, these dialogues not only reveal their characters, they also serve to move the action along.

If you’re looking for an entertaining Edward and Bella period fic that is light on angst but is replete with witty banter, well-drawn characters, comedic moments, with a story arc which has a surprising but rather pleasing ending, then you should check out ‘From the Cup of Duty’. This is a story of a wise King who understands duty and responsibility but when it comes to the mysterious ways of the heart, he is an adorable, bumbling and somewhat clueless man.

If I was asked to summarise ‘From the Cup of Duty’, I’d say that it is a touching tale of a man who, while attempting to honour his obligations to the Lion Throne, stumbles across love, affection and joy. This is the story of a man who realises that there is more to marriage then drinking from the cold cup of duty. This is a romantic tale of a man who falls head over heels in love with Isabella, his Queen and the love of his life, who teaches him the meaning of love. This is a story of a man and a woman who cherish each other for the rest of their days.

Volition by Rochelle Allison
It's Belfast, N.Ireland and the year is 1972. Bella's worried about her brother and his best friend, Edward, and their dangerous involvement in the Irish Republican Army. Is it really wise to fall in love with a rebel? Rated M.
Reviewed by: xrxdanixrx

I had Volition on my To-Be-Read list since around the time I first entered the fandom, so when I finally took the time to read it, I was absolutely gobsmacked why I hadn’t read it before. After all, I’ve enjoyed all of Rochelle Allison’s other work. Volition is completely different to any of her other stories. It’s a story not only about love, but the hardships during a time in history not too long ago.
Set in Belfast, Northern Ireland, during the early 70s, Rochelle’s plot centers around the aftermath of Bloody Friday. Edward is our Irish rebel, determined to inflict change, while Bella is a strong-willed but innocent girl who is thrown into this chaotic and unjust world.
In the first chapter, Edward makes a move on his best friend’s younger sister, Bella—very blatantly—that throws you for a loop, because it’s just so bold!
"You like me," he mused.
"Of course I do," I replied carefully, smiling a little.
"No. You love me." He clarified.
I was shocked and so…caught. Sitting up stiffly, I splayed my palms across my knees, so wracked by nerves that I was nauseated. I did love him, it was true - and I sincerely wished I didn't. Besides a couple of less than stellar high school kisses, I had very little experience with the opposite sex. I also didn't feel like weathering months of torment once my family found out I was hot for the Cullen boy. I felt a tug at my braid.
"Why exactly are you here?" I huffed, yanking my hair away.
Edward sat up and maneuvered so that his body aligned with mine, closing the space between us. I felt his fingers, no longer cold, tickle at my chin and when I looked at him he kissed me right away, a brief brush of lips.
It may seem like it’s out of the blue, but you also get the impression there was some unseen build up to it that the reader isn’t aware of. As the story evolves, we find out that was the case.
Throughout the romantic development, there’s violence everywhere. Edward struggles keeping two parts of himself separate—the one involved in the rebellion, and the other that has his girl in it. He doesn’t want them to cross over, going to extra lengths to keep her away from it all, but it becomes much harder than he realizes.

If you enjoy historical fics, this is a precious gem. If you just like a story about love and devotion, you’ll get that in spades. There’s no heartbreaking angst that ties your stomach in knots, nor is the smut out of control. It’s all tastefully done and keeps you interested right to the very end.  Plus, who doesn’t lust after a hunky Irish man? Seriously. Rochelle makes you wish you could travel back in time, buy a plane ticket, and steal him.

Nightingale by Lady Gwynedd
Intrepid Isabella Swan leaves England to seek her destiny in the New World as an indentured servant. Little does she know her physical but temporary servitude would soon lead to another kind of servitude altogether. Not a BDSM fic, or even close to it. Twilight - Rated: M
Reviewed by: LaMomo

Imagine a girl of humble, obscure birth.
Imagine her unassuming beauty, deep brown eyes and chestnut hair that falls demurely to her shoulders.
Imagine her determination, her iron will and reckless bravery to find a new life for herself when everything she's ever know shatters before her eyes.
Imagine a perilous journey by sea, when a common cold and lack of vitamins we take for granted could snap a life like a twig.
Imagine that her journey harbours dangers, ill-will, but also an unexpected and loyal friend that watches out for her.
Imagine that, once she touches her foot on dry land again, nothing is what she expected it to be. Not in a good way.
Imagine that her shy but firm gaze meets piercing green eyes through a mop of dishevelled bronze hair and a heap of clothes that have seen better and cleaner days.
Imagine that her will doesn't desert her now, but that she soldiers on, against everything and everyone, determined again to reshape her life and find a niche where she can finally prosper.

This is the vibrant canvass that Lady Gwynedd is painting in Nightingale, her newest tale. This is the 18th century, and Bella's journey starts in England. She is a skilled seamstress and, when her mistress is imprisoned for debt, her world takes a tumble for the worse. Recklessly, she signs on as an indentured servant due for the New World.
She sails to New England, where rumours of riot are already bubbling under the surface. Her plans to join the Cullen household as a seamstress fall through when she learns that her prospective mistress is dead, and her house is now inhabited by her good-for-nothing nephew, Edward, who is enjoying what's left of his aunt's inheritance before the greedy creditors come barging in. Edward has little or no use for his aunt's latest acquisition, aka Bella, but the girl's stubborn dedication to her tasks, and the fact that her indenture and passage have been paid in full, sort of convince him to keep her.
What else convinces him to keep her, besides the fact that, after one short day, the ramshackle of a house that he lived in now shines up like a new penny?
Is it the peculiar shade of brown that shines in her hair? Is it her perfect porcelain skin, that is in no way akin to that of a lowly servant? Is it her luscious figure, that he spies upon while she's having a bath?
Both feel this inexplicable pull, but tiptoe around each other, just as their respective station in life and shaky situation would dictate.

This is all pinpointed and drawn to perfection against a careful, historically accurate, skillfully researched and beautifully written backdrop - that paints a colourful, layered tale transporting the reader into a whirlwind adventure that leaves you yearning for more.

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