Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: Ghost Hunter

Ghost Hunter
Ghost Hunter by Jayne Castle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Action Packed Harmony Futuristic Paranomal Story

GHOST HUNTER is the third book in the Harmony series. Harmony is a earth colony where the colonists were cut off from earth and have developed psychic powers that allow them to adapt to their environment. This is the story of Elly St. Clair who was engaged to Cooper Boone until she began to believe that Cooper only wanted to marry her because of her family connections to the ghost hunter guild in Aurora Springs. She walks out on Cooper and moves to the city of Cadence and opens a herbal remedies shop. Six months later, Cooper comes to Cadence to reclaim Elly. Cooper has a lot of secrets. Both Cooper and Elly have secrets about their psychic abilities as Harmony apparently has more psychic abilities than were recognized in prior books. Elly asks Cooper to help her find a friend and that immerses them and those around them into serious danger.

I loved Cooper in this book. He is a complex guy: librarian, guild boss and a type of troubleshooter to the guilds. I liked how all those parts of him merged into one guy. He is also sweetly clueless about how to deal with Elly even though he is clearly in love with her. As to Elly, it was good to see her find some satisfaction in her own psychic power which she thinks is pretty useless at the beginning of the book. The interaction between Cooper and Elly is really funny because of his upbringing and her breaking out of her shell in Cadence.

Although this book is third in the series, it is not really necessary to have read the first two books. An introduction to Harmony is included at the beginning of this book that gives all the background information about the colony. Those who have read those two books will get to see Lydia and Emmett again since the book takes place on their turf.

Finally, for fans of the dust bunny companions, this one features a cute one known as Rose who is a glamour girl.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review: Second Sight

Second Sight
Second Sight by Amanda Quick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Unique Paranormal Historical

SECOND SIGHT is the first book in the Arcane series about people who possess psychic abilities. The books cross genres and Jayne Ann Krentz had written books in the series under JAK, Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle.

SECOND SIGHT is the story of Venetia Milton who is a photographer who also has the psychic ability of seeing auras. She is hired by the Arcane Society to photograph various relics in a remote house. There she meets Gabriel Jones and decides to seduce him. After one night, danger comes to the house and Gabriel sends Venetia away. She learns of his death in the newspaper that Mr. Jones was found dead. She decides to adopt his name in her pretense of being a widow for her business. She is surprised when several months later her dead "husband" returns.

I loved this book because I was entranced by Venetia and Gabriel. The characters are strong, well drawn and interesting. The characters are on the same page almost immediately and their sexual chemistry exudes from the pages.

The entire world created better is fascinating. This book is the beginning of a great series. I especially like how the mysteries are spread out amongst the various books and yet each book is complete unto itself.

I've read this book a half dozen times and could read it a dozen more.

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Review: After Glow

After Glow
After Glow by Jayne Castle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sequel That Answers Questions

Sequel That Answers Questions

AFTER GLOW is the second novel in the Harmony series. It features the same couple as AFTER DARK, Lydia Smith and Emmett London. In the first book, readers were introduced to the earth colony of Harmony where humans have developed paranormal abilities. Lydia last her job when she had a lost weekend where she has 48 hours of memory loss. Lydia and Emmett began arelationship in the first book.

In this book, the relationship is finally resolved. This book feels more personal because the two are moving forward with their relationship. The questions that were raised in the first book about what happened to Lydia are also answered.

This book really needs to be read in conjunction with the first book because knowledge of that book is assumed. This book also gives readers more information about Harmony and the rules that apply in this world. The real conflict in the story is the external ones about the mystery of Lydia's experience and whether or not someone is trying to kill Emmett. The characters themselves have already resolved most of their personal conflict and while there is a little angst over marriage, from the beginning it is clear Lydia and Emmett are a team. I appreciated that the characters did not move back from the process they made in AFTER DARK.

Fuzz, the dust bunny, has an important role here.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Review: Breathing Room

Breathing Room
Breathing Room by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Falling in Love with a Hero Who Sees Himself as a Villain

BREATHING ROOM is a standalone contemporary romance novel.

Lorenzo “Ren” Gage is a well-known American actor who has made a career of starring as a psychotic villains who attacked and kill some of the most famous heroes and heroines in the movies. Ren has been dogged by rumors that he caused the suicide of his former girlfriend.

In Italy, Ren pretends be a non-English speaking Italian and meets a woman in a café and ends up having a failure of a one night stand. What he doesn’t know is that his “French” woman is actually the Dr. Isabel Favor a self-help author and personality who is also pretending to be someone else. Isabel is a self-made woman who has lost her reputation, money, career and fiancé in quick succession.

When Isabel runs from the encounter, Ren and Isabel never expect to see one another again but, of course, they end up meeting up together when Ren goes to his Italian home and Isabel is renting a small house on the property. They are soon wrapped up in locals who are doing something strange on Ren’s property, an ex-wife and her family and in their continuing attraction to one another.
I ended up loving this book even though I didn’t initially believe I would. Isabel is uptight and seems cold and judgmental when the book begins. Soon it is clear that she has hidden her insecurities from her chaotic childhood in order and structure. Isabel’s structured life has been decimated by betrayals of people around her. Her accountant stole her money and left her with an enormous IRS debt that required her to sell everything. Her fiancé has fallen in love with a woman who is Isabel’s opposite. Her fired assistant has sold a negative story about Isabel to the tabloids.

Ren has been deeply hurt by his past. He is a good guy who doesn’t see himself that way. Ren was a trust fund baby with an absent father and a drugged out mother. He drank, did drugs and had sex through his teens. After marrying and divorcing young, Ren has not had serious relationships. He takes roles as villains because in some sense, he sees himself as the villain. It is easier for him to seek out within himself the feelings and emotions of the villain than to see himself as the hero.

Through the relationship between Ren and Isabel and as a result of all the chaos happening around them, Ren and Isabel begin to see themselves more realistically. I really liked how the good side of Ren is slowly revealed, but even so, he is not by any means perfect. He has a creative and mischievous side that causes him create discord.

The romance is unexpectedly funny and sweet. Ren dresses up in various disguises in order to avoid fans and paparazzi and I laughed out loud at some of his getups. Phillips uses the fact that Ren is an actor to her advantage by allowing him to use that ability to create comic moments between Ren and Isabel. Their playacting allows Isabel to be herself and that translates into their bedroom play as well. This book does not shy away from light bondage and playacting between the characters, but it is always kept in a light tone.

The characters have a real chemistry and the storyline often moved in ways that I did not expect. Several times the action is built up to a point where a certain outcome is expected. It is at that point that the action turns and that makes the story feel more real, more grounded. This is not a book where difficulties can be resolved by characters talking. Just when it appears that the plot with turn that way, the characters actually talk and the plot moves off in a different direction.
The dialogue is clever and I was compelled to turn page after page. The book takes a risk by making the first sexual encounter between these characters to be an unmitigated disaster. I was surprised that this isn’t a story about redemption. Both these characters have made themselves. They only need to recognize who they are apart from their image of themselves. One of the things I love about this book is how Ren and Isabel serve as mirrors for each other allowing them to grow beyond their stunted image of themselves.

Secondary romance often feels forced in books. Here it helps define the main couple much better. By bringing in a married couple with a bunch of kids, it allows both Ren and Isabel to see themselves as different than their usual roles.

The Italian location is romantic and the local color makes this a captivating choice. The language makes the setting feel lush, welcoming and it is clear how the characters can find the place healing.

I highly recommend this book. It is sweet and funny and ends in a wholly satisfying place.

NOTE: I received a free copy of this book William Morrow from in order to provide a review of the book. I would like to note that although I was provided a free paperback, I purchased my own copy of the book on Kindle in order to read the book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Review: Loving Rose: The Redemption of Malcolm Sinclair

Loving Rose: The Redemption of Malcolm Sinclair
Loving Rose: The Redemption of Malcolm Sinclair by Stephanie Laurens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ties Up Many Story Threads

LOVING ROSE: THE REDEMPTION OF MALCOLM SINCLAIR is the third book in the Barnaby Adair series which deals with the investigations of Barnaby Adair and his wife Penelope. They have been joined by several friends who now investigate as a team. While placed in this series, this book is actually a sequel to the Cynster series book, THE TASTE OF INNOCENCE. In that book, the villain Malcolm Sinclair falls to his apparent death at the end of the book. In LOVING ROSE Sinclair has barely survived and comes through the five years of recuperation a changed man. He has taken up his alter ego Thomas Glendower and goes out to discover what penance he must satisfy for his prior misdeeds.

When Thomas arrives at his home, he discovers that a widow and her two children. Rose is his new housekeeper but Thomas soon realizes that she has some dark secret that she is hiding. That secret brings the two together, brings them to London and to the attention of Adair and his investigative group and ultimately requires Thomas to confront his past.

I loved this story of Malcolm Sinclair's redemption. The story does not rush the transformation of Malcolm into Thomas. It also clearly demonstrates that Thomas feels remorse for his past. I believe this book works better after reading THE TASTE OF INNOCENCE because in truth the transformation begins in that book. In this book Thomas is really the star. While Rose has a plant character, she is really more of a catalyst for Thomas and I felt the real drama of the book was Thomas's journey.

Rose's secret provides the mystery that Adair and his cohorts investigate. While it was nice to see these characters again, once again, they seemed to really serve to demonstrate the transformation of Thomas. I was much more interested in that then the mystery.

For fans of Laurens this book is a great treat. Malcolm Sinclair had been present in several novels and it was satisfying to have the loose ends of Malcolm Sinclair's life so well resolved.

I'd rate this one a 4.25 on the strength of the redemption story.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: After Dark

After Dark
After Dark by Jayne Castle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Funny, Engaging Futuristic Romantic Suspense

AFTER DARK is the first book in the Harmony series of futuristic stories that take place on the earth colony of Harmony. The nice thing about this book is that A reader is never overwhelmed with the details of the world. A reader of the series will learn how detailed this imagined world is but a reader is never taken away from the story in order to provide endless details about this world. Harmony was founded when a Curtain opened between Earth and Harmony. Once colonists went to Harmony, the Curtain unexpectedly closed standing the colonists. Two hundred years later, humans have evolved into using various psychic talents.

This book is the story of Lydia Smith, a tangler who can manage psychic energy traps. She is at a low point in her life because she had a lost weekend where she was trapped underground and has no memory of what happened to her. She last her career and is now working at a low budget "museum"and trying to start get own consulting business. Her first client is Emmett London who is with her when she discovers a dead body. The two are soon in danger and are intensely attracted to one another.

I like this book. The book is funny as Lydia and Emmett frustrate one another in various ways. They begin by not training one another at all, but by the end of the book have learned to trust one another and work together.

I enjoyed their relationship. It is important to note, however, that they're story is unfinished as there is a sequel to this book, AFTER GLOW. I think alone this book would be vaguely unsatisfying because there is no resolution to the romance or to Lydia's personal story.

The creation of the dust bunnies was a stroke of genius. They are companion creatures that each have their own personalities. We don't see that much of Fuzz here, but the dust bunnies become more predominant in the later books and have their own fans.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Review: Bridal Jitters

Bridal Jitters
Bridal Jitters by Jayne Castle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Prequel Novella to Harmony Series

BRIDAL JITTERS is the prequel novella to the Harmony series of futuristic books. Writing as Jayne Castle, Jayne Ann Krentz, Haas created a complex and nuanced world. This novella provides only a small glimpse into that world and doesn't linger on the rules and boundaries of this world she has created.

Harmony is a human space settlement that was made possible when a curtain between Earth and Harmony opened up. Once humans had settled on Harmony, the curtain unexpectedly closed again the people of Harmony were cut off from Earth. People have developed paranormal talents that allow them to deal with that's on Harmony. The two talents shown here are ghost hunters and tanglers. These two talents deal with energy creatures and traps on Harmony.

This novella is the story of Virginia Burch (a tangled) and Sam Gage (a ghost hunter) who are engaged to be married. Their marriage will be what is known on a marriage of convenience, which on Harmony is a marriage that only lasts for a specific time period. Their marriage is intended to be a business arrangement whole the two create a business partnership. When a consult goes wrong, the two find our that neither wants such a temporary arrangement.

This novella is a nice introduction to Harmony. The story is surprisingly well formed and interesting. Of course, the novella length limits the ability to create depth to the story but this novella is fun and funny with some suspense thrown in.

The series gets better from here.

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Review: Shield's Lady

Shield's Lady
Shield's Lady by Amanda Glass

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of My Favorites

SHIELD'S LADY was first published in the 1980s under the pseudonym of Amanda Glass. I first read it then and the unique setting, story and characters appealed to me then and I found the book unforgettable. SHIELD'S LADY is a sci-fi futuristic romance set on the planet of Windarra. The planet inhabitants are settlers from earth who were stranded. The settlers were unintentionally divided during the landing between the east and the west where their societies developed separately. The east contained the business and intellectuals Alf the west consisted of the artists and craftsmen. It had been intended that the two groups would form a complete society. The two groups have found one another again and have just begin to interact.

Sariana Dayne has come to the west in order to prove herself a competent businesswoman in order to return successfully to her family in the east. When she needs help she drugs and abducts Gryph Chassyn, a member of the mercenary class known as one of the Shields. The Shields are protectors in the west and have been genetically alerted to have some telepathic abilities that allow them to focus through prisms.

While Sariana is all business, Gryph recognizes her as one of the few women that Shields can marry and have children with. This story has the two protagonists nor understanding one another and working at cross purposes at first, but the two get to know one another, trust one another, work together and eventually love one another. In the process, the two discover they have a unique relationship.

Graph trends top be autocratic and at first dismissive of Sariana's strength. One of the things I like about this book is how he comes to appreciate her strength and unique abilities. I find the witty dialogue between the two makes me smile and I really feel in love with the two main characters.

This book Haas many of the harbingers of JAK's Harmony books written as Jayne Castle. There is also a measure of overlap with her Arcane books. Readers of those series may be interested in seeing how JAK was working on the concepts for those books here.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Review: Crystal Flame

Crystal Flame
Crystal Flame by Jayne Ann Krentz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sci-fi Romance

CRYSTAL FLAME is a 1980s sci-fi romance. It is the story of Kalena who is one of the last of her House and has been raised to seek revenge against the man who killed her brother and father. She has been sent to be married to the murderer's right hand man Ridge. When her plan goes awry, Kalena and Ridge travel to discover the secrets of fire and ice, light and darkness, make and female.

As is true with many 1980s romances, the hero here is an alpha male, but Kalena is strong and independent herself. I liked the complexity of their romance and the interesting plot. When I read this book in the 1980s, I had never seen another book like it. With paranormal and sci-fi books more common now, this book is not as remarkable, but I still like the characters and the world created here quite a bit. JAK has gone on to write her Harmony series of books under her Jayne Castle pseudonym and some of this books origins can be found here.

Although this is listed as being part of a Lost Colony series, there is no connection between the actual books, instead they are related only in the fact that they deal with human colonies in space.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Review: Sweet Starfire

Sweet Starfire
Sweet Starfire by Jayne Ann Krentz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Early Sci-fi Romance from JAK

SWEET STARFIRE is a science fiction romance written in the 1980s. It is the story of Cidra Rainforest who was born and raised by Harmonic parents but isn't one herself. Harmonics are telepathic and tend to have the intellectual dispassionate qualities of humans (think Spock). Cidra lacks telepathic abilities and is on a quest to obtain a facsimile of those abilities do that she can take her place amongst her family. She seeks to join the crew of one of the mail haulers (similar to courier services). She approaches Teague Severance with her offer. Severance is a Wolf, who exhibit the earthy, physical human qualities. The two end up traveling together and Cidra and Severance fight of those who are attempting to disrupt the shipment.

In SWEET STARFIRE readers can see a precursor to JAK's Harmony books (written under Jayne Castle). This early book does not create as elaborate a world, but does contain the action, the humor and the alien pet similar top her current books.

Severance and Cidra are two opposites and this leads to amusing events. They are also passionate and brave. Their romance is engaging and the result of two equal personalities working together. Cidra is strong and doesn't shrink from what must be done. I especially liked how she discovered herself during the course of this book. Severance Is a bad tempered surly loner with a soft spot for Cidra (he reminds me of Han Solo).

This book is especially good for fans of the Harmony series of books even though it is not directly connected.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: The Lady Risks All

The Lady Risks All
The Lady Risks All by Stephanie Laurens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Story of a Heroic Black sheep

THE LADY RISKS ALL is the story of Neville Roscoe the mysterious owner of clubs and gaming hells in London. Readers of Laurens' other books will recall Roscoe from THE EDGE OF DESIRE and THE RECKLESS BRIDE. Roscoe lives outside society. We quickly learn that Roscoe was born into an aristocratic family but made the decision to live on the outside. One night a woman, Miranda Clifford barges into his house in order to rescue her younger brother from Roscoe's clutches. Miranda is twenty-nine and has spent her life living beyond reproach in order to make up for her family that made its money in trade and also for women in her family that have acted scandalously. Roscoe and Miranda have soon joined forces to save her brother and family.

Briscoe is a complicated character because while he does good, he has put himself outside of the society that most historical romances focus upon. He is direct and at times brutal while he is also a man who had given up his future and cares for others. Perhaps because Laurens cannot rely on stereotypes of tonnish gentleman, she has created a multidimensional hero.

Miranda is a woman who grows in this book. She has to change in order to be the wool man for Roscoe. I especially liked that Miranda ultimately decides that she must reach our and take what she wants from life and not merely allow things to happen to her. She and Roscoe are similar in fundamental ways which allow them to more closer together and ultimately have a happy ending.

I've read a lot of Stephanie Laurens and this book felt fresher even though it follows a similar plot of there being a mystery that bring the couple together to resolve.

Finally, for fans of the Bastion Club and the Black Cobra Quartet, there are some cameos by Rafe Carstairs, Christian Allardyce and Wolverstone. These appearances are brief and there is nothing missing for those who have not read the previous books.

I absolutely loved this book. I especially liked the fact that there are no magic solutions for the characters in this book. I had expected that the romance would be resolved in a more conventional fashion than it was. Instead, the resolution was true to the characters and was deeply satisfying because of it.

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Review: The Reckless Bride

The Reckless Bride
The Reckless Bride by Stephanie Laurens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Favorite of the Series

THE RECKLESS BRIDE is the fourth and final book in the Black Cobra Quartet. The series tells the story of four men who have discovered the identity of the English leader of a murderous cult in India. The four men are coming back to England with proof of the leaders identity. This book is about the fourth man, Rafe Carstairs, aka "Reckless" who has the original letter. While on his way back to England, Rafe ends up meeting Loretta Michelmarsh who is traveling with her great-aunt. Of course, the two end up working together to defeat the Black Cobra.

This was my favorite book in the series. I liked the action better. The book flowed more cohesively between the travels and the English action. In addition, the numerous characters that appeared from the Cynster and Bastion Club series were better used here and did not feel as disruptive to the story. I also loved the characters of Rafe and Loretta. Reckless Rage must learn in this book to be careful and protective and Loretta must shed her proper facade in order to take control of her strong, independent and powerful side.

I sped through this book because the story was tight and engaging. There was some good suspense action and while I figured out the twist before the reveal, I was satisfied with the resolution of the ongoing story.

Rafe was adorable and I truly felt that the characters built a serious relationship. At times, Laurens substitutes sex for relationship building. Here, Rafe and Loretta had a relationship outside of sex.

I think that readers could skip the other three boss in the series and not miss much. This is the gem.

Rating 4.5.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review: Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Classic for a Reason

JANE EYRE is the story of a woman whose early life is filed with pain and misfortune but nevertheless bulls an admirable life for herself. Of course, it is most famous for the romance between Jane and Edward Rochester, but reading this now I was struck by how Jane is a self made, strong and independent woman in a time where such a life was difficult to build.

The story begins as the orphan Jane is being reluctantly "cared" for by relatives. She is belligerent and unwilling to accept the abuse heaped upon her in the name of Christian charity. She is soon turned away and sent to a school that also has a perverted idea of following Christ. Yet Jane also encounters people who epitomize the idea of Christ's presence in the world. Jane eventually becomes a teacher and then goes or into the world to make her own way as a governess. She moves to Thornfield and meets and falls in love with Mr. Rochester. At Thornfield, however, there are secrets that threaten.

I was impressed by how much I enjoyed reading this book again. The language is evocative and beautiful in its description of the places and events in Jane's life. I had only remembered the romance, but I had not seen before the deep commentary about Christian charity and hypocrites and about morality and staying true to one's beliefs. Things work or for Jane but not in the way that she expects, but by staying true to herself, she is rewarded. This book says more than I had expected.

As to the romance between Jane and Mr. Rochester, this is one of my most favorite in literature. It is a great example of how the love of a good woman can redeem a"bad" man. I could read this book again and again.

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Review: The Brazen Bride

The Brazen Bride
The Brazen Bride by Stephanie Laurens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very Strong Woman Heroine

THE BRAZEN BRIDE is the third book in the Black Cobra Quartet. The series is about four men who have discovered the identity of the English leader of a dangerous cult in India and are returning to England with proof. This book is about Logan Monteith who is almost killed by cultists and ends up washed up on the shores of Linnet Trevission's home. The two quickly -- very, very quickly -- end up in a sexual relationship while Logan has memory loss fire to his injuries. When he regains his memories, he is off to complete his mission.

This book was divided for me between the section before Logan regains his memory and after. The book did not work perfectly for me because of the differences in the tone and action. I liked both parts but they did not work in a cohesive manner. I did really like Linnet who is a unique, strong and independent woman. I wish we could have learned more about her and seen Linnet and Logan working through the issues there. On the positive side, I did love the opening of this book wick is one of my favorites because the reader is immediately put into the action of the story.

I think this book needs to be read by fans of Laurens who have read the Cynster and Bastion Club series because there are many appearances by characters from those books and I think that without that background the numerous character appearances will be bewildering.

I'd rate this one a 3.5.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: The Elusive Bride

The Elusive Bride
The Elusive Bride by Stephanie Laurens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Adventure Story

THE ELUSIVE BRIDE is the second book in the Black Cobra Quartet. It is the story of four men who are traveling from India with proof of the identity of a murderous cult leader. THE ELUSIVE BRIDE is the story of Gareth Hamilton who ends up traveling with Emily Ensworth who is the niece of the Governor of Bombay. Readers of the quartet will recall that our was Emily that brought the evidence to the men. This book follows Gareth and Emily in their extensive travels back to England. The two end up falling in love.

I liked this story better than the first book in the series. For me, however, it worked better as a historical "romantic suspense" in that the focus in this story ends up being the adventures in the travel because there isn't much tension in the romance because they end up together quickly. I like the book but found it not particularly memorable. My favorite parts are Emily's diary entries because that is where I felt I got to know the characters best.

This book really needs to be read as part of the series. There is top much past information needed to enjoy this book on its own. I did really love that characters from the Cynster and Bastion Club series make their appearances here.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: The Untamed Bride

The Untamed Bride
The Untamed Bride by Stephanie Laurens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For Fans of the Cynster and Bastion Club Series

THE UNNAMED BRIDE is the first book in the Black Cobra Quartet. It is the story of four English men who lived in India and have discovered evidence of an Englishman who is the leader of a cult. The four are traveling back to England to rendezvous with the Duke of Wolverstone (from the Bastion Club series). This book is the story of Derek "Del" Delborough who is the first to arrive back. When he arrives, he discovers that he has been asked to escort Deliah Duncannon back home. The two are soon engaged in an adventure to bring the cultists out into the open.

The story here was decent and the romance was okay if not spectacular or memorable. What I liked best was seeing the characters from Lauren's Cynster and Bastion Club series in action again. It is the kind of book that I was happy to read but once I put it down, I doubt I will be compelled to re-read.

This was a book where the action was the predominant story and there was not much conflict between the main characters. That leads to less memorable characters than in other books.

I'd rate this one a 3.5.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Review: A Matter of Sin

A Matter of Sin
A Matter of Sin by Jess Michaels

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good Start to New Series

A MATTER OF SIN is the first book in The Ladies' Book of Pleasures series. It is the story of Lady Isabel Avenbury who has decided that once her younger sister has married that she will take a lover. At a house party, Isabel meets Seth Rowland, the Marquis Lyndham. While the two share a strong attraction, Seth is the last male in his family and must marry and beget an heir. Isabel sadly knows that she cannot be Seth's bride because she is already failed to produce an heir for her deceased husband.

The romance between these two is sweet and easy. Seth and Isabel are clearly well matched. There is little drama keeping these two apart. Most of the book is centered upon their developing relationship. I found myself anticipating the books to follow because I was very much interested in the story of Isabel's friends. There is also an intriguing story about the book that plays a pastry in the sexual escapades of the characters.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review: The Suffragette Scandal

The Suffragette Scandal
The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

THE SUFFRAGETTE SCANDAL is the fourth novel in the Brothers Sinister Series. It can be read independent of all the others, but the others are so good that a reader should start with the prequel novella THE GOVERNESS AFFAIR. THE SUFFRAGETTE SCANDAL is the story of Frederica "Free" Marshall, the younger sister of Oliver from THE HEIRESS EFFECT. Free is a modern, strong, independent woman. She is a supporter of women's rights and runs her own newspaper. Edward Clark is a self proclaimed scoundrel. Having been abandoned by his aristocratic family, Edward has spent years making himself. He returns to England to help an old friend and ends up involved with Free.

I loved this book. Free and Edward are characters that I haven't seen before. Free is strong and independent without being strident and yet has brought pain to herself. Edward is damaged and believes himself unworthy of a happy ending. These two are haunted by their pasts but Edward has a very poor self image. I liked how adult and reasonable these two are. This book is also funny. From the beginning Free and Edward have a repartee that had me lagging, smirking and giggling. For me the pages flew in this book.

The romance ended up being sweeter than I expected, but I was completely happy with how the book turned out. Milan has a wonderful way of subverting expectations and tropes. The language, characters and resolutions always end up being fresh and vibrant. The previous heroes and heroines appear but not in ways that works befuddle new readers.

There is one additional novella that follows that will finish off this series. Huzzah!

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Review: Where the Sidewalk Ends

Where the Sidewalk Ends
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS is a book of poems and illustrations by the amazing Shel Silverstein. I have read this book several times since childhood, have read it to my own child, and had my own child read it himself. This is the type of book that a reader can pick up flip to any page and then look up an hour later wondering where the time went.

Silverstein's work is very subversive in that he uses humor to mask serious themes. There is both innocence and complexity in each of the poetry vignettes.

Each time I read this book, I find something new in the poems.

This is an especially good book to read out loud to children because you can read as much or as little as your child can absorb. Eventually, your children can read the poems to you.

My current favorites are: It's Dark in Here (about being eaten by a lion), Listen to the Mustn'ts (about going beyond the negatives), Jimmy Jet and His TV Set (what happens to those who watch too much screen), Early Bird (advice for the bird and the worm), Hector the Collector (about beauty being in the eye of the beholder), Sarah Cynthia Slyvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out (what happens to those who ignore the trash), Pirate Captain Jim (proving the adage that the least competent rise to the top), Hungry Mungry (what happens when someone doesn't stop eating).

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Starting Anew

In the last year, I have spent much of my free time reading and reviewing books.  I have decided to remake this blog to focus primarily on those reviews.  I may add other information as I find interesting.  You can see my previous reviews posted on Goodreads on the right.