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Archive for the ‘B’ Category

Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!

Posted by Wanderer on August 16, 2009

Short version review of Tessa Dare’s Goddess of the Hunt can be summed up in the lyrics to Vanessa Williams’ “Save the Best for Last”:

All of the nights you came to me
When some silly [boy] had set you free
You wondered how you’d make it through
I wondered what was wrong with you

Cause how could you give your love to someone else
And share your dreams with me
Sometimes the very thing you’re looking for
Is the one thing you can’t see

And now we’re standing face to face
Isn’t this world a crazy place
Just when I thought our chance had passed
You go and save the best for last

Read on for the special extended edition 😉

Ever the bold adventuress, Lucy Waltham has decided to go hunting for a husband. But first she needs some target practice. So she turns to her brother’s best friend, Jeremy Trescott, the Earl of Kendall, to hone her seductive wiles on him before setting her sights on another man. But her practice kisses spark a smoldering passion—one that could send all her plans up in smoke.

Jeremy has an influential title, a vast fortune, and a painful past, full of long-buried secrets. He keeps a safe distance from his own emotions, but to distract Lucy from her reckless scheming, he must give his passions free rein. Their sensual battle of wills is as maddening as it is delicious, but the longer he succeeds in managing the headstrong temptress, the closer Jeremy comes to losing control. When scandal breaks, can he bring himself to abandon Lucy to her ruin? Or will he risk his heart, and claim her for his own?

Where or where should I begin? I guess I should start with the first thing that really caught my attention. Yes, the opening scene is a good one. It drops you right in the middle of something life-changing but the first moment that really hooked me was in chapter two. It occurs when Lucy (a tomboy) comes to breakfast all dolled up to impress Toby, one of her older brother’s best friends, and something happens to one of the heavy opal earrings she’s wearing. I was not expecting that and it got an audible response from me – sort of a combination laugh-gasp-oh response. I’ve had that response in the past, after reading the “the one eating the shrubs” line from Julie Garwood’s The Lion’s Lady. Considering I’m practically a JG fangurl, I knew it was a good sign for this book.

Lucy is convinced she’s in love with Toby and does her best to attract his attention after finding out about his upcoming engagement to another woman. She plots and schemes to come up with a way for him to notice her as a woman and no longer Henry’s little sister, however, her schemes fail every time. In the beginning, I could see past Lucy’s scheming as I saw her more through Jeremy’s eyes and thoughts. She is a young girl with no experience in dating or even friendship for that matter. Her parents died leaving her to the care of her brother who is pretty much clueless to the kind of guidance a girl Lucy’s age needs so with no exposure to any other company, it’s no surprise that her first major crush is on one of Henry’s best friends. Someone who has come to the manor every summer for the past 8 years and the only one who has shown her the slightest bit of kind attention (btw, I loved the idea of where the title of the book comes from). With all that in mind I began to see Lucy’s behavior more as emotional growing pains. We all go through them and we all are different in our reactions to them. However, later in the book there were moments were she seemed to take 1 step towards maturity but then Toby came within hearing distance and she took 2 steps back. Very aggravating considering how much progress she and Jeremy had made, not just in the physical sense, but I thought he was finally reaching her emotionally. Particularly after Lucy witnessed Toby giving Sophia, his future betrothed, a crown of ivory. I felt since that was what started Lucy’s crush in the first place, seeing Toby give the same gift to someone else would surely snap her out of her daze. Unfortunately, it did not.

As for Jeremy, I really liked him from the start. First, because of the way he handled the situation with Lucy coming to his room in the middle of the night for a ridiculous practice session. Secondly, because he was upfront in telling her how foolish her behavior was yet every time her plans went awry, he was there to pick her back up. I liked that he tried to warn Henry and Toby about Lucy but for all his good intentions they only gave him more reasons to be closer to Lucy. As his fondness for Lucy grows, even as she continues her pursuit of Toby, you can’t help but feel for him. Especially when his efforts are thwarted in the name of Toby….literally in the name of Toby (end of wardrobe scene anyone?). Speaking of the wardrobe scene….yes, it is hot and sensual (it is up there with the scene in front of the mirror from Stephanie Laurens’ Devil’s Bride) but for me the part that gave it that extra oomph, what made it more powerful, was Jeremy’s internal dialogue. His desperate need for Lucy to acknowledge it was him and no other that was with her in that precise moment.

Who was he to her, here in the dark? Was he himself, or some stranger, or – most terrible to contemplate and altogether probable – someone else known to them both?

That extra oomph factor can be found throughout the book. It’s hard to explain exactly but there is so much given to us not only in the dialogue between the characters but also in the internal struggles they’re experiencing. I felt all that internal insight made the emotions that much stronger and Ms. Dare’s writing…I found it to be a bit lyrical and poetic. The way she describes things sort of paints an emotional picture for the reader.

I also liked the supporting characters and the relationships they had with the main characters. In fact, I would count Henry as one of my favorites. Yes, he is the fumbling brother that is out of sorts when it comes to what a girl needs but he is still a funny and caring character. From the song he sings in the beginning to some of the comments he makes (something about frozen stones? 😛 ) to the confrontations he has with Jeremy regarding Lucy. The brother/sister relationship between Henry and Lucy felt very real to me. Especially when he cracks on her being considered a ‘lady’ and also in the descriptions of the letters he sends her towards the end. I was glad that Sophia wasn’t made out to be a villain. She isn’t some stuck up, beautiful yet brainless twit, but a sweet and lonely young lady not unlike Lucy. She’s also learning her way in the world and thinks she’s doing the right thing by marrying Toby but still has her doubts throughout the book. I liked that Lucy and Sophia grew to be friends which also helped Lucy to realize what she truly wanted. As for Toby, I thought he was a jerk in the beginning for knowing how Lucy felt about him but being too chicken to let her down easy. But later on when he’s in London talking to Jeremy, he redeemed himself in my eyes. Then we have the ever-wandering Aunt Matilda. She could have become an annoying character but it was actually very sweet to see how they all cared for her and how some of her wandering aided Lucy and Jeremy’s relationship. I loved the part when they’re departing Waltham Manor and Jeremy sees she’s bringing Aunt Matilda with her. That’s actually one of the main things I liked about GotH – the humor. From the Look, to the Book, to the Letter, to their first ‘completed’ love scene, the humor is sprinkled throughout the story and amongst the characters and is definitely one of the reasons I read GotH as fast as I did.

I have to admit, though, that there was an interesting turn in the book for me. For the most part, I was always Team Jeremy. Then after the wedding and they moved to Jeremy’s estate, I found myself gradually going towards Team Lucy. Where before, Jeremy was always upfront with Lucy and told her what’s what, when they got back to his home and all the memories of his past came at him full force, he became the avoidance king. On the other hand, Lucy finally seemed to grow up and care about the well being of others. I even began to feel sorry for her when Jeremy was avoiding her or away on business. I think I truly joined Lucy’s side when he criticized her for not being a ‘lady’. I thought, “Hey dude that’s the Lucy you fell in lust/love with – the one with the adventurous spirit. You can’t expect her to change just because you put a ring on her finger and a title next to her name.” But this time it was seeing Jeremy through Lucy’s eyes and thoughts that reminded me that yes, it’s still the same, caring Jeremy from before but he has some pretty big demons from the past he needs help in defeating. When they finally come together emotionally in the end, it’s a solid and sweet reunion.

So aside from Lucy’s somewhat childish behavior (which I think could have been remedied had the quantity of foolish schemes been cut back a tad) and the over-use of “dusky red lips”, I found GotH to be a fun and fast read. I was also left with one question regarding a minor character, the doctor’s daughter, Henna. When she is first introduced in GotH, I immediately felt she’d have a very interesting tale to tell. I wonder if there are any plans for her book.

Goddess of the Hunt is the first book in Ms. Dare’s trilogy and I eagerly await the next two of the series, Surrender of a Siren coming August 25th and A Lady of Persuasion coming September 29th.

Final Grade:
A very high

Is everything I hoped it would be and not a pinch more. Better than average, it hit the spot like a tall drink on a hot summer’s day. While it didn’t quite dazzle me with unique or transcendent content, in no way is it a stale retelling.

Around The Net:
Monkey Bear Reviews: B
KatieBabs: A-
Dear Author: B+
All About Romance: B
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: C
Mrs. Giggles: 84
Romantic Times: 4 ½ stars
Romance Novel TV: 5 stars


Posted in B, Historical Hook-Ups, Tessa Dare, Trilogy, Wanderer, When Spoilers Attack | 2 Comments »

Barbara Elsborg – Something About Polly

Posted by Wanderer on June 24, 2009

The blurb of the book got my attention,
And surprise, surprise its contents are worth a mention.
Let’s just say this ain’t your momma’s Price is Right,
For the next item up for bids is more naughty than nice!

An offer she should refuse

When Polly reluctantly attends a charity auction she doesn’t expect to win, she bids on a sealed offer made by a devilishly handsome marquis. From the look on the auctioneer’s face as he reads out “three wishes”, Polly’s sure he’s lying. The marquis snatches the envelope before she can read it and invites her to take a risk on the contents or accept three wishes. He’s as shocked as her when she accepts his offer of WILD SEX.

An offer she won’t refuse.

If trouble had a name, it would be Adrian, Marquis of Shoreham. Tall, dark and magnetic, and everything Polly wants except he’s lusting after her best friend. Adrian’s one of the pampered elite Polly despises who uses his privileged position to gain every advantage. Polly knows she should walk away and go about her boring, abstinent life. Instead, she finds herself walking towards Adrian on London Bridge, with nothing but wild sex on her mind. An encounter that will lead to —

The offer she never expected.

The book starts with Polly Smith who is being talked into attending a charity auction by her friend Tara. The auction is comprised of two parts:

“The first involved bidding for “donations” given by businessmen and friends of the Duke and Duchess of Bedlingham, which were listed in a catalogue. The second half of the evening would be the auction of more lighthearted, hopefully cheaper items in the form of numbered envelopes donated by those attending.”

Tara is mainly going because she wants to hook up with this guy named Jonno by winning whatever items he has put up for bid. At the auction we meet Adrian, the Marquis of Shoreham, who is attending the auction because his brother Jake and Jake’s fiancé, Daisy, are the hosts. When Daisy approaches and nags him about getting his auction item in, Adrian hurriedly scribbles something on his sheet of paper and hands her the envelope so she can get off his back. By now, Adrian has seen the beautiful Tara and after getting a glimpse of what he thinks is her envelope number, he decides to win her auction thus getting one step closer to having her in his bed. When he misses bidding on Tara’s auction item due to his mistaken glimpse, he decides to bid on Polly’s envelope thinking that helping Tara’s ‘boring sidekick’ would give him a second chance with Tara. By the end of the night Adrian has won Polly’s envelope and Polly takes a shot and ends up winning his. Jake, the auctioneer, opens the envelope to read what his brother donated but upon seeing Adrian’s x-rated offer, Jake covers up and announces to the crowd that Polly has won 3 wishes from the Marquis. Polly sees the look on Jake’s face when he opens the envelope and knows that the offer of 3 wishes is not what was written. Later, she reaches for the envelope to read its true contents just as Adrian grabs her hand to stop her. When the true offer is revealed as “Wild Sex”, Polly and Adrian have an “I dare you” type exchange and thus, the fun begins.

This book is hot, sexy and funny. Yes that’s right, I said…er…typed……funny. I’ve read a few erotica books over the years and I don’t remember any having a natural sense of humor to the dialogue like this one does. There are several instances where Polly will crack a joke and I never felt like it was silly or trying too hard. It just flowed in the conversation and felt right for that moment. In one instance after a hot round of sexy lovin’ Adrian notices Polly’s collection of frog figurines:

“We appear to have an audience,” he said.
“What?” Polly tried to move but he tightened his hold.
He leaned up to look at her collection—three shelves of plush toys, windup models and porcelain beauties. Some were tinier than her little finger, the largest as big as her arm.
“You can have a prize from the middle shelf,” she said.
Adrian laughed so hard his cock slid out of her. “Only the middle shelf?”
“Well, I have to give you something to aim for.”

That line about the middle shelf is clever, funny and flows perfectly in that scene.

There are some things that were off for me like how Polly and Tara are BFFs but Polly has no hesitation in admitting (more than once) that her friend is dumb. It just seemed mean and unnecessary to me. Also, early on in the book Polly admits to her expertise as a wallflower yet later on takes Adrian to a pretty spicy dress-up party. How is Ms Wallflower so open and free about dressing up and attending such a party? Then we have Adrian’s super fast transfer of lusty thoughts from Tara to Polly after all his boohooing about how boring she is when he first meets her. Polly also jumps to the wrong conclusion one too many times but in the end, none of these things were major enough to stop me from enjoying the book. The subplot of Polly’s true identity wasn’t a big mystery but the main storyline of Adrian and Polly’s adventure was a good and fun ride.

This book also has something that I’ve never read anywhere else: the heroine using a technique to prolong the hero’s climax during oral sex. I have to say it was nice to read about the hero hanging on the edge for a change. Admittedly, I do not read as much erotica as I do historical or contemporary romances, paranormal or urban fantasy books so while it may not be a breakthrough in literature it is a first for me :). That particular scene in the book shall forever be known as the “Stop ‘n Go BJ”. Go forth and find out the details for yourself :).

Final Grade:

Is everything I hoped it would be and not a pinch more. Better than average, it hit the spot like a tall drink on a hot summer’s day. While it didn’t quite dazzle me with unique or transcendent content, in no way is it a stale retelling.

Buy it Now:

Something About Polly

Around the Net:

Dark Angel reviews : 5 out of 5

Posted in B, Barbara Elsborg, Contemporary Couplings, Ellora's Cave, Erotica, Reviews, Wanderer | 3 Comments »

Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill

Posted by Mistress on May 21, 2009

All vampires except the Head Honchos are allowed only a single name. Which may prove my long held theory, that Prince is a inhumanly sexy beast. Heard a lot of squeeing to this books awesome around the net. “It’s a fresh voice” , “It’s “unputdowanable”, “It’s a brilliant new series”; they said. I highly doubted all of that was possible. But picked it up anyway, cause I loves me some vamps.

They killed me. They healed me. They changed me.

Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it was mine. I was doing fine until Chicago’s vampires announced theirexistence to the world-and then a rogue vampire attacked me. But he only got a sip before he was scared away by another bloodsucker… and this one decided the best way to save my life was to make me the walking undead.

Turns out my savior was the master vampire of Cadogan House. Now I’ve traded sweating over my thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan “Lord o’ the Manor” Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed, four hundred year old vampire, he has centuries’ worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects my gratitude-and servitude. Right…

But my burgeoning powers (all of a sudden, I’m surprisingly handy with some serious weaponry), an inconvenient sunlight allergy, and Ethan’s attitude are the least of my concerns. Someone’s still out to get me. Is it the rogue vampire who bit me? A vamp from a rival House? An angry mob bearing torches?

My initiation into Chicago’s nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war-and there will be blood…

Let’s set the mood, shall we.

Little Red Riding Hood was skipping *tra la la la la* through the forest, on her way to Granny’s house. She was enjoying the warm summer day so much, that she didn’t notice a dark shadow approaching out of the forest behind her. Then the wolf pops out, and well you know the rest: Nana in mah bellay, cross dressing, & the woodsman gets medieval.”

For Our purposes Red is named Merit and she’s a grad student. Walking, with no concern for her safety, through the campus at night. Then all of a sudden she’s grabbed by a vampire, who tears into her neck like a jelly doughnut then runs away. As she’s losing her life and red stuff all over the pavement; 2 men appear commenting on how purdy M is. Next thing you know, one of them is murmuring for her to be still while he laps at her wound like a hungry kitten. Mer wakes up 3 days later of the pale fanged persuasion and is not amused. Instead of cross-dressing etc. , we’ll substitute in stubborn reluctance, sexual tension, and vamp cloak and dagger drama.

In every vamp story the setup is different, here’s what M’s workin’ with. There are 12 vampires houses. Three of which are in Chicago: Navarre, Cadogan, & Grey. Any vampire outside of this house system is a rogue and beneath reproach. Each of these houses has a liege/boss and is only able to “turn” 12 fledglings a year. So it’s a huge deal & a great honor to be chosen. Vamps still eat regular food and blood is more a needed weekly vitamin + tasty treat then meal. With home blood bank delivery just a call away none of the houses feed directly from the source anymore; & biting peeps is frowned upon as savage and uncivilized. Well ‘cept Cadogan house, which happens to be Mer’s lot. Add to that lots of intricate customs, rank, and histories.

Merit’s biggest point of contention is she was changed without consent and makes her in my mind rather bratty. She’s oh so very angry with Ethan for sweeping her into a life she didn’t want, though it’s not like the other option “dead” has any appeal. I empathize that it’s hard for her to give up her dream of teaching literature. Since it’s illegal for vamps to teach or even attend college (they’ve recently come out of the closet and the human world is still at ill ease). Still I spent the first half of the novel wishing she’d woman up and get with it already. Ethan ( her: savior, sire, and head of her House) expects instantaneous loyalty, gratitude, and is more than a little willing to grace her with some luvin’. Instead he’s met with, subtle disobedience with a side of pouting at every turn and a firm refusal to be his slutty chew toy; despite the serious lust going between them. The book centers on, Merit haphazardly navigating vamp society, ineffectively fending off her newly found suitors, and of course a rather transparent mystery threat.

Truth time. Did it live up to the all the hype? Not exactly. It’ll definitely appeal to the younger generation testing the water beyond the Twilight Ya-ish stuff or Para Romance readers looking to bridge gently into hardcore “kick ass heroine” UF. But to me it was just decent Urban Fantasy-lite, nothing to inspire tingles and gasps. At times: the tongue in cheek retorts were a bit much, the side characters were too chick lit kitschy, there was lagging in the beginning and middle of the novel; & TBH Ethan was a pretty 2 dimensional. On the other hand the world building was well done and surprisingly Neill makes the first person narrative work. So if the blurb strikes your fancy give it a look it’s pretty good, but that’s all the push you’ll get from me.

Final Grade:

Was a Fun ride but nothing that screamed, “Same time, same place tomorrow”. Has all the right elements but lacks a little somethin’ somethin’ to rise above the pack. Enjoyable but not memorable filler, great for when you’re between dynamic reads

Around The Net:

Wendy’s Minding Spot
– ” SOME GIRLS BITE is fang-tabulous! You won’t want to miss this one.”
Romantic Times Book Reviews – 4 1/2 stars
Darque Reviews – “engaging, well-executed and populated with characters you can’t help but love.”
Monsters and Critics – ” Packed with complex subplots, embittered family members and politics, this is an excellent first installment to what should be an outstanding series in a crowded field.

Posted in B, I Heart Monsters, Mistress, Reviews, Urban Fantasy | 4 Comments »

Red-headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells

Posted by Mistress on April 30, 2009

Saw this book for the first time, strewn on a table at Barnes & Noble. Above loomed a “If You liked Twilight” sign. The tweens must have went apeshit, cause everything was awry. So while fixing the books into neat little piles (yes, I’m one of those, lmao) this book caught my eye.

I ooohed as expected at the eye catching cover; then spun it around like a cheap date to check out the goods. The Blurb was impressive, lots of interesting conflict potential, not frilly, and brief. So like any bookslut worth her salt, I brought it home to join my harem.

In a world where being of mixed-blood is a major liability, Sabina doesn’t really fit in. And being an assassin – the only profession fit for an outcast – doesn’t help matters. But she’s never brought her work home. Until now.

Her latest mission is uncomfortably complex, and threatens the fragile peace between the vampire and mage races. As Sabina scrambles to figure out which side she’s on, she uncovers a tangled political web, some nasty facts about her family and some unexpected new talents. Any of these things could be worryingly life-changing, but together, they could be fatal…

Vampires are the living decedents of Lilith and Cain (as oppose to being the evil undead), and as a result all vampires are gingers. Sabina is a mixblood assassin for the Dominae, the counsel her Grandmother heads which rules the Vamps with an iron fist. You’re thinking sweet deal right? Mixed abilities, Nana looking out for you & getting to kill things. Well that ain’t the case.

Sabina has a complete disconnect from her mage heritage and is just as racist as the average vampire. Why? Well, Vamps and Mages loathe each other, like the opposing street dance crews. While her Grandmother did raise her after the death of her parents, she did so in the apathetic commanding way she does everything; so no warm fuzzies. On the up side she does get to kill things, but any hesitation, refusal, or questioning their choice will render her equally dead.

So despite her prolific vamp bloodline and her pest control contribution; she’s never fully been accepted among the Vampire community and will continue to suffer for the sins of her parents. All that leaves us, a Bad Ass killer with epic little girl issues; determined to prove herself worthy, no matter the cost. Which drives her to accept a dangerous mission infiltrating a cult that is threatning the Dominae’s power base. It’s all very Anita Blake meets alias. Nothing is as it seems and everyone has ulterior motives; survival will require rexamining: who she is? Who she’s fighting with? and what she’s fighting for?

Sabina’s a funny, lethal, and flawed heroine; just how I like em. The world building was decent, but there were occasional gaps.
For Example Sabina sleeps in the day and wakes at night, but no mention is made of how vamps react to sunlight. Are her sleeping habits just cultural or would she sizzle like bacon at noon? Though I realize even if there are sleep patterns/sunlight rules that it probably wont to apply to her; I still would have appreciated the clarity.( Readers: if I missed where this revalation, please shed some light, I promise not to bitch.)

The colorful cast of side characters were amusing, as was the dialogue. Sabina’s issues give credibility to some of her actions, more than it detracts in a whiny sense. I even like the sidekick she acquires, but the jump from foes to friends was too instantaneous for my tastes. My other grumble is, Sabina was agreeable to illogical degrees when dealing with the enemy. I get that she needed to infiltrate the rival organization, but c’mon. Any assassin that you approach with a vague job offer, that agrees to be led somewhere unknown to meet, by your henchmen… blindfolded and disarmed…is either retarded and isn’t worth hiring or ding ding ding is a enemy mole, lol. what about accepting a job without any discussion of payment or whats expected of you? I assume hunting vampires would take umpteenth cognitive reasoning and awareness skills, so why is Sabina in many aspects so naive?

“Digging graves is hell on a manicure, but I was taught good vampires clean up after every meal.” With a darkly amusing opening line like that, I anticipated a thrilling ride. Did the positives outweigh the flaws? Do I look forward to the next novel? Will I pimp it to the legion Urban Fantasy fans? Yes, yes, and yes. Despite the hiccups, Red-headed Stepchild is a fun fast paced read & a damn fine addition to the genre. Congrats Mz. Wells, you’ve done good.

Final Grade:

Is everything I hoped it would be but not a pinch more. Better than average, hit the spot like a tall drink on a hot summer’s day and is in no way a stale retelling. But didn’t dazzle me with shiny unique or transcendent content. A smidgen formulaic but doesn’t detract from maximum entertainment value.

Around The Net:

Love Vampires
4.5/5 Stars

Reading with Monie 5/5 Stars

Darque Reviews – “Well-written with easy to visualize detail, Read-Headed Stepchild is a fantastic opening to this trilogy and should be at the top of every urban fantasy reader’s wish list.”

Trollitc – “The novel’s not groundbreaking or high literature (but then, that’s probably a good thing as so much high literature tends to be unfathomable and unentertaining) and people who aren’t fans of the genre are not likely to enjoy it especially, but it is a good solid example of urban fantasy/horror, a pleasant read with promises of better stories to follow”

SFF World – “In summary, this is not a bad debut novel. I get the impression the author had a lot of fun writing it. It reads fairly smoothly. It’s not deep, nor particularly significant, but then it doesn’t try to be. Unlike some, it’s not explicit vampire porn (though there are insinuations to sex), nor is it pretentiously ponderous either”

Fantasy Book Critic – “Even though Jaye Wells’ “Red-Headed Stepchild” doesn’t really distinguish itself from other urban fantasy/paranormal romance novels—aside from the vampires—the book is fast-paced, charming and fun. Add it all up and “Red-Headed Stepchild” is a book that I expect will do quite well…”

Persephone Reads – “If you enjoy urban fantasy that feels fully realized – even if it’s not laid out at your feet in the first outing – you’ll definitely enjoy this book. And if you like swift action, serious sexual tension, and a solid dose of intrigue you’ll like it even more.”

Fantasy Literature 3.5 /5 “I will read the sequel to Red-Headed Stepchild. Not because there’s anything really original about this book or its characters, but because Wells makes the well-worn exciting and sometimes that’s enough to make a book worth reading. Wells knows how to take you for a ride.”

Posted in B, I Heart Monsters, Mistress, Reviews | 2 Comments »

What A Gentleman Wants by Caroline Linden

Posted by Mistress on February 10, 2009

What A Gentleman Wants is the 2nd book I’ve read by Caroline Linden and I admit I didn’t get into it with high expctations. I’ve even put off reading it for a while based on my reaction to the one I read before it. I’m not saying the other one was bad, only that it was something I wasn’t inspried to write home or the internet about. Who knows though, maybe I can get a review of it up sometime within this lifetime. Now, back to the topic at hand.

The Blurb

Marcus Reese, Duke of Exeter, has spent most of his life pulling his twin brother out of trouble. An occasional thank you would suffice; instead, his resentful sibling forges his name to a marriage license and presents him with an unwanted wife. She’s a vicar’s window with a mind of her own who may be the first person in Marcus’s well-ordered life to make him feel…completely out of control. Hannah can’t help but curse her own idiocy. Dire straits have led her to the altar with a gentleman she hardly knows. Played for a fool, she’s embarrassed, furious, and worse, married to an equally outraged stranger – an exasperating man who unleashes all manner of emotions in Hannah, not to mention unwanted desire. Reluctantly, she agrees to play the wife until he can sort out the mess. But the nearness of the undeniably attractive Duke and the passion in his black eyes unsettles her well-guarded heart – making her want to do so much more than “act” the role of blissful bride…

My two cents:

The H/H

Hannah Preston is an intelligent, competent, and pragmatic heroine. She is a widow who sincerely loved her deceased husband (a good man – a rarity in itself) and was not sexually awakened (both literally and figuratively) by the Hero. A refreshing change in these widow type of stories. She isn’t a self-sacrificing martyr either, thank Norris. I wasn’t immediately empathetic to her plight or character but it didn’t take very long for that to change.

Marcus is a very Darcy’esque hero. Not necessarily in an “ooh it’s Darcy *swoons*” type of way but there certainly is some of that going on. He is high in the instep, extremely haughty, and his snobbery is genuine. Hannah is not exempted from his elitist verbal barbs and if anything suffers from it more than any other character in this novel. She is, however, no shrinking violet. She refuses to be intimidated and takes him head on. I do so love a cold cold (brr) man as a hero. When done right, it makes the romance even sweeter. And that’s what this story is, sweet, without being overly saccharine.

At the beginning of this book I felt unconvinced by Hannah’s reasoning to stay, if she truly wanted to leave she could go, guns blazing if necessary, but it didn’t take me long to understand that her decision was based more on her and her daughter’s future rather than plain ol’ helplessness. That and the fact that there wouldn’t be an actual story had she gone. Heh. There were parts where I was uncertain if Marcus and Hannah could find a convincing (to me, at least) way together. After the two establish which way is up and where they stand there are no silly misunderstandings that serve as ridiculous plot devices.

The Secondary Characters
Let me start with David aka The Sequel Bait. David acted just as I had come to expect sequel baits to act. He’s not a bad guy, just flakey and reactionary. He doesn’t use the old noggin quite as often as he should and you know he’s simply begging to be redeemed. I think he got off from his transgressions very lightly but I’m fine with that because, once gone, I really didn’t want to see him around all that much. It’s not even that I dislike David. I’m more on apathetic.

Then we have Rosalind, the stepmother. Not quite evil but certainly scheming. She falls into the category of indomitable matchmaker. I’ve seen it in one for every two romance novels I read but I suppose it could have been worse. She could have been a cartoony cruel stepmama who refuse to be pushed out into dowagership. She is charming and likable for the most part but there were moments where I didn’t buy the whole accepting of a provincial nobody into the Duchy without any complaint, qualm, or concern. It’s just not consistent with how an aristocratic matron of a grand noble family would react but that’s just a minor quibble.

Celia, the irrepressible romantic half-sister, on the other hand is not quite as charming as her mother. She is annoying at parts; largely due to her behavior which is better suited to a pre-pubescent girl rather than a young woman on the verge of her season. She did serve her purpose well to distract young Molly (Hannah’s daughter) from interfering with the story for the most part so this is something I can easily overlook.

The Villain. I don’t want to spoil the identity but it’s pretty easy to guess who it is. Let’s just say that the villain turns out to be the typical entity prevalent in these books. There are only 3 kinds so it’s pretty easy to deduct. There is no characterization whatsoever. Simply put, the antagonist is nothing but a caricature of evil.

The Plot
What A Gentleman Wants begins with a BOO!-I-Married-The-Wrong-Man but quickly moves on to a story where two adults try to make logical and practical decisions in a situation they didn’t want or expect. Before you know it, it’s a full blown romance. Complete with the genuine restraint one does NOT come to expect in Historical Romances of late. The two doesn’t even share a single kiss until more than halfway the story. I didn’t care for the suspense/mystery aspect (yes, there is one of those) of What A Gentleman Wants but fortunately it does not interfere much with the story.

Grade: Higher than a B, but not quite an A-, so a B+ (if our rating system allowed it)

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When The Duke Returns by Eloisa James

Posted by Mistress on December 3, 2008

Every once in a while one of my favorite authors writes a perfect book. Although this one is not it, it’s pretty close. I’ve been following Eloisa James novels religiously and she’s pretty hit or miss with me (disclaimer: more hits than misses) and this is the first one I found, well, kinda meh. It wasn’t bland per se but I couldn’t help but feel indifference towards the hero and heroine. It’s not that they lacked chemistry, they actually had it in spades, which I really liked, but it wasn’t the kind of chemistry that makes for an explosive romance. To be fair, it is possible that it would have been stand out if it were a stand-alone novel, however, it succeeds one of my top three Eloisa James novel, Duchess By Night, which raised the bar unreasonably high. All that said, lots of people really love this book and even prefer it over the book before it so don’t just take my word for it.

The Blurb:

The Duchess of Cosway yearns for a man she has never met . . . her husband.

Married by proxy as a child, Lady Isidore has spent years fending off lecherous men in every European court while waiting to meet her husband. She’s determined to to accept him, no matter how unattractive the duke turns out to be. When she finally lures Simeon Jermyn back to London, his dark handsomeness puts Isidore’s worst fears to rest – until disaster strikes.

The duke demands and annulment.

Forsaking his adventuresome past, Simeon has returned to London ready to embrace the life of a proper duke, only to find that his supposed wife is too ravishing, too headstrong, and too sensual to be the docile duchess he has in mind. But Isidore will not giv eup her claim to the title – or him – without a fight.

She will do whatever it takes to capture Simeon’s heart, even if it means sacrificing her virtue. After all, a consummated marriage cannot be annulled.

Yet in forcing Simeon into a delicious surrender, will Isidore risk not only her dignity – but her heart?

My Thoughts :

Spoilers Ahoy!

What I Liked:

The Heroine: I liked that Isidore, a virgin in historical romance, thrived on male attention but waited for her husband to come back. She was no wilting flower either. I like that. A Heroine with a backbone but, then again, I usually can rely on James for that. She’s flirtations but is oddly conservative. A strange mix but it works. She also talked herself into accepting her unseen husband for what he was, whatever that may be [which could possibly include the lack of limbs] and that is.just.awesome.

The Hero: I also enjoyed the fact that Simeon was a virgin [and wasn’t shy about it!]. Not the first time I encountered a virgin hero but refreshing nonetheless. I enjoy a dissolute rake or two as much as the next romance reader but sometimes a girl needs a break.

The friendship between the two was great also. They made a great team and it was a source of frustration for me when Simeon just couldn’t see it.

The Backdrop: The strong storytelling about how the duke’s estate has fallen into complete and utter chaos during his absence which makes for great imagery. The way that Isidore comes in and takes charge of restoring the estate is highly enjoyable. This is my favorite part of the book.

The Sub-Plot: The Jemma, Elijah, and Villiers side-story grows even more interesting. So Poignant! Oh, the things I would do for an ARC! How Eloisa James teases me so!!

What I Didn’t Like:

Simeon came off kinda immature. He took his control issues a sliver too far for me.

The character development was awesome but the romance part [which IS the point of a romance novel] seemed a smidgen rushed to me. It just lacked a certain je nais sais quois.

The strong storytelling story about how the duke’s estate has fallen into complete and utter chaos during his absence which makes for great imagery unfortunately that includes more attention paid to water closets than I cared for.

In Conclusion:

What I really like about James’s characters are the characterization. They certainly aren’t cookie cutter. In this case; the Dowager Duchess is a bitch. And not just any bitch, she’s holy shit! A BITCH! but that’s not what defines her. There are so many layers as to what makes her what she is and not just because she’s evil. Strong but vulnerable. A rather sympathetic mix. The author also promises the next book to be Jemma’s story [This Duchess Of Mine] which means I’ll definitely be reading on with the rest of the series. I’m curious and a little scared to see what it turns out to be, based on events in this book. Plus the awesome set-up from book one in the series just sets the bar unreasonably high that I’m afraid it’s not gonna live up to it. I can hardly wait for Villiers’ book too [A Duke Of My Own], he’s come a mighty long way from Desperate Duchesses, I’ve gone from loathing to loving him. All in all: A Solid B

Posted in B, Historical Harlots, Reader, Reviews | 3 Comments »

Swallowing Darkness by Laurell K Hamilton

Posted by Mistress on November 17, 2008

This book is full action,creatures,magic,and enough dramatic soap opera dialogue to make Erica Kane proud. All jokes aside; I just know our descendants are going to find this series thousands of years after 2012 and use this as the for dummies guide to starting their polygamist cult. Be afraid… be very afraid.

Preggers with 2 children by 6 baby daddies Merry is fighting for all she holds dear in a balls out fairy guns blazing Rambo style battle; with surprisingly very little sex on the side.

On the gossip front, this tome is garnering mixed reviews. And not the usual non idiots vs you’re a prude because continue to demand logical plot, grammar, and detective/Necromancer work instead of worshiping Anita Blake for All powerful Slut Goddess she’s become flame wars. This time around there are folks who have come to accept/love that this series revolves around kinky magical sex and feel cheated or overall didn’t like the pacing of the book and feel that too many characters were behaving atypical. And then there are the folks who enjoyed the book; but more importantly feel that lack of sex and focus on action gives them hope that LKH is beginning to listen to the fans who’ve left in search of greener pastures.

So what do I think? I agree with most of it to a point. Yes, though I can happily live with less sex in her novels in general… I do wish that in this instance the sex scenes would’ve been more intense. But I enjoyed the pacing of the book, it was a exciting ride ( I finished it in a about 2 hrs) and don’t regret the trip. I also like that repetitive angsty mushy dialogue was kept to a minimum. I did feel a bit of “who the eff are you?” with some characters. Some blended with the wallpaper uncharacteristically… while others got their shine on in a serious way. I never paid much attention to Sholto… but he was larger than life this book and central to the story and mama likes, lol. The juries out on whether this is a sign of a better LKH tomorrow. But I definitely think is may serve as a feeler.. if only because Swallowing Darkness ends in such a way where it could be the last book in the series or beginning of a new frontier.

I’m in somewhat of a daze after finishing it. I get this way after really trashy reality TV like “flavor of love’ or “Charm School”. Where something’s so freakishly entertaining.. but for the wrong reasons and I wonder about my morality after I peak.
All that said “Swallowing Darkness” is utterly ridiculous and classless Urban Fantasy fluff. A delicious guilty pleasure, but definitely a acquired taste.

Posted in B, I Heart Monsters, Mistress, Reviews, Urban Fantasy | 1 Comment »

Nightwalker by Jocelyn Drake

Posted by Wanderer on August 19, 2008

Nightwalker is the first book in the Dark Days series and it’s definitely off to a great start! The book begins with a familiar formula: super vampire leader vs. big bad vampire hunter. However, we quickly learn that this isn’t your run-of-the-mill Vampire and Hunter duo. Oh no……they both have some very unique qualities.

The lead character is Mira, a 603 year old Nightwalker (aka Vampire) who is the Keeper of her domain (Savannah, GA). She moved to the New World a century ago to have a bit of freedom from the Elders who live in the Old World. Mira is known as “The Fire-Starter” because of her ability to control fire. Yes, quite the contradiction we have here – fire is supposed to be deadly to vampires yet here is one that is immune. Apparently, it’s an ability that Mira had before she was turned and is actually one part I wished would have been explained further. Where did she come from, who is her family and was she the only one to have this ability? Hopefully it will be further explored in the next book.

Ok, back to the matter at hand 🙂

Enter the new hunter in town, Danaus, also known as “The Butcher” because he has killed numerous Nightwalkers in his search for Mira. But their first meeting doesn’t turn out as expected – he isn’t there to kill her but to gain information about The Naturi.

The Naturi is the stuff of nightmares for Mira. She was captured by them 500 years ago and tortured because she refused to join them and use her unique ability to destroy all other Nightwalkers. She was rescued by three vampire Elders known as the Triad who defeated those Naturi and sent them to another world, closing the door with a sort of magical seal. There were still some Naturi left on the Earth and some who sought to re-open the door to free the rest of the Naturi. Knowing this would mean the end of mankind and all other races on the earth, Mira and Danaus decide to work together to stop this from happening. They know their only option is to reform the Triad but there’s a slight problem, one of the three Elders is dead.
So with time running out, will they find another to complete the Triad and defeat the Naturi?

We also find out some history regarding Mira’s turning and who exactly is her Maker – this information led me to one conclusion regarding the Triad but in the end I was very much mistaken (I was very glad because I just hate when things get predictable). We also learn Danaus has some unique abilities of his own. Who, or rather WHAT is this guy? I also liked the play between Mira and Danaus – not too much, not too little…just the right amount of tension for two people who should be enemies but are starting to realize just how alike they truly are. I’m looking forward to seeing how their interaction plays out in future books.

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Ransom by Julie Garwood

Posted by Wanderer on August 9, 2008

RANSOM is the story of Brodick Buchanan and Ramsey Sinclair who we first met in The Secret. Ramsey’s is the secondary story but for me, his is too unbelievable. I know, I know this is a romance book where all kinds of things take place but even I couldn’t fall for this one. Basically, he becomes a laird and there’s this girl in his clan, Brigid, that all the highlanders want to marry yet she rejects them all because she loves some mystery man. So on and on it goes with her refusing proposals and refusing to tell Ramsey who she’s holding out for. Only at the end does Ramsey realize he’s the mystery man and all of a sudden it’s all “Yes, I love you too Brigid let’s get married”. No explanation of why all the boys got their kilts in a bunch over her or why she loved Ramsey in the first place or any kind of build up to his realization of his own feelings for her.

So back to Brodick’s story…….we find out that he was named protector of his best friend’s son, Alec. This is basically the equivalent of a godfather or guardian. Alec and Ramsey’s younger brother Michael are playing near a waterfall when they decide to play a prank and switch their plaids. While Michael runs off to find something, Alec is mistakenly kidnapped to be held for ransom against Ramsey. Since no one witnessed the kidnapping, everyone believes Alec fell and drowned in the waterfall. This leads us to Gillian, the book’s heroine. She is held captive in England by the same people that kidnapped Alec because she may know the location of a secret box that holds the key to a murder from the past. Anyway…Gillian escapes with Alec and during their journey he tells her of his protector, the brave and fierce warrior Brodick. To comfort the scared little boy, she says she will be his protector until he returns home. When they finally cross the border into highland territory, they hide out in an old church and Gillian decides to send a message claiming to be Laird Buchanan’s bride and counts on that lie being a big enough draw for Brodick to come meet her. She’s right on all counts! Brodick arrives (in all his fine-ness) where he greets her with a scowl and an intimidating stance yet once Gillian lets the boy come out of hiding and he lays eyes on Alec, he is nearly brought to his knees in shock and unbelief.

The reason I like this story so much is that Brodick is not the typical dominant male character when with Gillian. He’s not all “Do this because I’m the man and I said so”. Also I think Julie Garwood has her humorous moments in most of her books. There’s a part when they’re riding back to the holding and they cross paths with one of the Highland’s priests. This priest knows of Brodick’s rep and will not allow the lady to travel alone with such a heathen. So after being told a slightly altered version of Gillian’s claim to be his bride and some miscommunication between the priest and Gillian regarding her consent to marriage, the priest performs their wedding ceremony. Being English and the ceremony occurring in Gaelic, Gillian has no idea she was just wed. When she finally discovers the truth she can’t help but ask Brodick how she can face telling their children she was wed on the back of a horse. But then all protests are forgotten as he carries her off for their long awaited wedding night.

So yes, you can say this has the romance novel formula down to a tee but the difference is the hero is strong and brave yet vulnerable and open when it counts without being cheesy. The heroine is also very likeable without being annoyingly perfect. I thought the plot was good as well but you’ll have to read the book to get the rest!

Posted in B, Historical Hook-Ups, Reviews, Wanderer, When Spoilers Attack | Leave a Comment »

Storm Born by Richelle Mead

Posted by Mistress on August 8, 2008

Eugenie Markham known as Odile (The Dark Swan) has the shamanic ability to send other-worlders (fairies and a whole host of other creatures) back from whence they came (they just go home no dying) or to hell (express train straight to dying;don’t pass go don’t collect $200) based on her mood. She’s a magical mercenary with kick butt attitude and a impressive body count. What does she do with her Bad Ass powers? Well really kool stuff, Duh!!

Like stopping creepy spirits from haunting sneakers.The shit hits the fan when all of a sudden all the bad guys know her real name and *eeep* are after her goodies. That’s right her milkshake is bringing all the non human boys to the yard, despite the amount of fairy blood staining her hands. And she’s gonna kick their ass and find out what’s up.What’s a girl with trust issues to do when while trying to solve the mystery she’s faced with a Hawt were fox and Hawt fairy king both desperate for her luvin? Well since she’s more of a lady than me, not what I would do.
which would involve a quick happy dance and yelling “ test drive!!” at the top of my lungs.• A woman’s work is never done; cause next thing you know she’s diving into the fray jumping worlds to save a human teenage girl whose been kidnapped by the gentry. * cues eye of the tiger* If she’s to succeed in any of her goals rescuing the girl, finding out why all these icky dudes are after her panties, and stay alive she’s have to question everything she knows about herself and learn to master a power she doesn’t want. The result is an entertaining blend of paranormal dynasty (the soap) meets the chronicles of Narnia . What could be better than torrid family secrets, water throwing, bitch slappin’ outrage, and epic fantasy? Umm very little, that’s what. This is obviously the beginning of a series and I’m sold. So yes I may poke fun.. but hurry up and read it!.

Posted in B, I Heart Monsters, Mistress, Reviews, Urban Fantasy | Leave a Comment »