Anna Bobs Her Hair - Silent Reader, Talking Books

 

 If you like reading books at midnight in a chair out of shape

Then you're the friend that I've looked for, read with me and escape. ;o)

 

 

 

Kate rides again!

Magic Shifts  - Ilona Andrews
”Your father will kill you, . . . . Perhaps not today, but certainly soon. If he doesn’t kill you in the near future, then whatever power tries to overrun the city next will. When this happens, everyone who ever supported you will become a victim of a purge. You are a leper. Everyone you touch is tainted.”

“Being your ally is a death warrant. I gain nothing by supporting you. I run the risk of angering you by refusing service, but you left the Pack, so you are no longer in a position to wield it against me, and you won’t take any actions to punish me directly, because you are shackled by your own morals.”



It’s a bumpy ride for Kate. It seems she and Curran never get the peace and quiet they long for. I know Kate still hasn’t reached her happily ever after, ride into the sunset moment yet in this series. The question each time I begin reading the newest release is: How will Ilona Andrews maintain the energy in the Kate Daniels series? The answer is simple. The same way they always do, by crafting personal high-stakes and meaningful character growth as the story arc progresses. And from the hints in Magic Shifts it looks like it’ll be a doozy of a ending for Kate and Curran!

Just about everything fit in this book. At the end of “Magic Breaks” I tried to picture Curran new direction. How would team Andrews make it work? Curran as Kate’s sidekick wasn’t working for me. What they did with his character now makes total sense and is in total keeping with his character. I really look forward to how Curran will shake things up and make them better. He is a born leader no longer burdened by the BS Pack politics he loathed.

As Kate and Curran endeavor to rescue Eduardo, a werebuffalo, we learn more about Kate’s power and see a vision of what may come at the end of the series. The interactions with Roland are revealing. The mystery in this novel is fresh. (I loved Islamic and Arabian mythology!) There’s humor, action, and a heart-wrenching moment that reminded me so much of a scene in J.R. Ward’s Lover Mine. It was all so, so good. I did have a couple of issues. First, the info-dumping was distracting. For example, restating as Raphael’s good looks seemed unnecessary. There are other examples of info-dumping in this novel, but I didn’t mark them. My second and last problem was the lack of sacrifice at the end. It was too pat, almost as if a sadness quota was met in the last book. I’m thinking this might be my problem. There’s only two books remaining and I want them, but not the hardback prices; although, I may break and pay for the last book rather than wait for a library loan.

[Note: not edited; only basic speck/grammar check]

The Night Before the Book Hangover

 

For Yodamom...lol

A Heady Sensory Experience

A Wish Upon Jasmine (La Vie en Roses) (Volume 2) - Laura Florand
” He’s that star in the sky that you wish for but you know you can never catch.”



Top Notes

Jasmin ‘Jess’ Bianchi learned from her father how cutthroat the perfume industry could be. During a somber time in her life she attempted to pave the path to her dream but she suffered loss. At one point, Jess experienced a radiant moment of happiness to have it wink out.

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Middle Notes

Fear makes Jess protect her heart. Loss challenges her to reconnect with a reputedly ruthless man who seems so far beyond her reach. Feeling hurt creates a different challenge of overcoming one’s pain to make oneself vulnerable.

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Base Notes

Family, Love, Courage, History, and Cultural Pride… These assets provide the foundations for two perfectly matched people to find the love they’ve always wished for.

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He checked a tiny second. Not too long, he didn’t think. He just had to stop his heart beating, had to put that damn organ back away, buried under some great tree in an ancient forest, where she couldn’t get at it. It hurt, putting it back. The hole for it felt dark and damp.

A child being stuffed into a closet when all the other kids were opening their presents.



Head, heart, and foundation…A Wish for Jasmine book has it all! After reading Once Upon a Rose I immediately dove into Ms. Florand’s Amour de Chocolat series, and while I enjoyed the books they just didn’t have quite the same magic for me as the Rosier family in La Vie en Roses. There’s something special within this series - this family, the heroines, and French setting – that emotionally resonates with me. The entire reading process is a sensual experience.

The writing overflows with texture, flavor, and color. Every aspect is living, breathing, and affective. Grasse, the world’s perfume capital, is a relevant component to Jess and Damien. Its industry, history, and traditions are significant. The setting is powerful!

Ms. Florand’s descriptive way of writing makes me feel transported, as if the perfume shop’s iron key has been pressed into my hand and dusty rows of brown perfume bottles are waiting for me to discover their scents. When Jess leans down to Damien’s neck to breathe his scent I feel as if I'm close enough to take a bite. This book came to life in my hands! And this gushing is coming from a reader who usually dives into fantasy, paranormal, and/or science-fiction romance!

I had thought La Vie en Rose book 2 was slated for Tristan Rosier. Even Tante Colette thought Jess was a good match for Tristan, but I am glad Damien found her first! They counterbalanced one another. She has the softness that Damien needs. Even though he seemed hard there’s something sweet he doesn’t want anyone to see, except it’s essential to him that Jess see his core and distinguish all his ‘notes.’

A few readers may want to know that the steam level is turned way up in A Wish for Jasmine. Damien has a ‘dirty’ side that was mesmerizing as he reveals a touch of sexual dominance. It may be jarring to readers unused to erotic situations. (It’s only one scene; Jess is a willing and very happy participant.)

The Rosier family has won my heart again! Jess made mistakes usually made by romance novel heroes. The reversal was a nice change, although I'm curious how romance readers will react because it sometimes seems as though heroines are held to different standard. I appreciated how Jess’ and Damien’s main conflict was revealed and resolved. Their challenges had me crying a few times, but Tante Colette and the Rosier family were in attendance to lighten the mood without gratuitously appearing. The elder Rosier family members enriched the romance with their stories of courage along with their meddling. The writing was tighter than Once Upon a Rose. Assigned identities in the Rosier family were mentioned more than was required but never enough to impede my desperate need to devour this book.

There's a pressure when reading a book for review. Having purchased book one, loving it, and writing a glowing review was easy. Receiving a personal email from the author stating I won an advanced copy was exciting and a little nerve-wracking. I'm glad to say this contemporary romance exceeded my expectations. I'm eagerly anticipating the next book!



I won this arc from the author in exchange for an honest review. Please note that the quotes above may have changed or been deleted at final release.

And I stayed awake until the wee hours of the morning reading this! (view spoiler)

Grade: B+

Roar and Liv - Veronica Rossi
I don’t know what’s wrong with me. She’s hurting. Why am I trying to hurt her more? I make myself shut up and press my finger against the cut on my thumb until it stings. It’s such a small amount. So bearable.



Strong, flawed, passionate characters hooked me into trying the full-length novel/series. Roar, the protagonist was believable and wonderful – especially when it came to his intense feelings for Liv. His heart was a breathing, seething, devoted entity. His fears and dreams are made felt by the reader.

There's not a strong sense of the world in which Roar lives. He could be living in another planet or alt universe. The world doesn’t show structure (rules, power, resources, and setting) until Under the Never Sky.

This novella is as a terrific sampler for those considering reading Veronica Rossi's work. I really enjoyed Roar and Liv, so I purchased Under the Never Sky, which is very inexpensive atm. (I was too impatient for the library loan.)


A Court of Thorns and Roses - Sarah J. Maas

This book had me crying like a wee baby! I was in the mood for a fantasy and my library loan finally arrived, so I dove into A Court of Thorn and Roses based on glowing reviews. Freyre (Fay-ruh) was an extraordinary main character struggling to survive poverty in a world where humans and fey are separated by borders, as per a treaty. Feyre's hatred of the fae has life-changing consequences for her.

I think the plot needed more conflict. At a certain point, the romance feels like any ordinary YA coupling. The love interest, for some unexplained reason, becomes tongue-tied and growly when he's near the heroine, much like hero in Beauty in the Beast. If there would have been a a Mrs. Potts and Chip I probably would have DNF'd. Luckily, the plots more complicated and makes everything interesting again. The romance does become credible (even though I found Tamlin a little flat for his role).

Freire is how I like my heroines: strong, flawed, and smart. There were two TSTL moments that pushed this novel into cheesy YA romance territory and was unnecessary to the plot, in my opinion. Luckily, there aren't major consequence to Freyre's actions to diminish her. I will say they a minor peeves in the scope of her story. Freyre grows from a hardened 19 year old into a better person and I found her growth compelling. I was emotionally engaged and look forward to the second book in this series. I'm not sure if the ending introduced a potential love triangle (with a shady character I like and find very interesting) or there's a another layer to the story, but I'm hooked. I may tryThrone of Glass.

Short, Grim, and Creative

Tress - Larissa Brown

Tess lives in a seemingly fragile world. The Viking Reenactment camp Tess's sister brings her to morphs fantasy into reality. The woodsman of her dreams and drawings appear. Is he cursed or is she becoming increasing frail of mind?

An imaginative and vivid fairy tale that I became immediately immersed in the fluid storytelling. It's a fine example of the creativitity that can be found in independent publishing. I anticipate more of Larissa Brown's work! "Tress" shows Ms. Brown has honed her skill since "Beautiful Wreck." Now, I'm ready for Brosa's story (the widowed brother in "Beautiful Wreck").

Also, please read Jill's wonderfully-written review about this story. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

4 Stars - Wolves in SWAT Clothing

Hungry Like the Wolf (SWAT) - Paige Tyler

With a strong code of ethics, journalist Mackenzie Stone attacks a story like a dog with a bone. Mac’s nose for stories often leads her into dangerous situations, but the public deserves the truth. This time, she catches a scent that may reveal Dallas’ SWAT time isn’t as squeaky-clean as it should be. After seeing the team in action, there’s a sequence of events that doesn’t add up. As Mac digs deeper and gets closer to the team she experiences a conflict of interest. Their smoldering commander makes her feel things she’s never felt with any man. His men seem like good people. When do the people you’re trying to expose become more important than the story?

The last eight years, Gage Dixon has brought in the best men from around the country to be part of his elite team. The Dallas SWAT team has very unique traits in common, one of them being they are all werewolves. Gage is not about to let a hardnosed investigative journalist expose their secrets. He hopes bringing Mackenzie Stone into his compound and showing her there isn’t anything to see or write about will not blow up in his face. His men question whether he’s thinking with the right part of his anatomy, but he can’t deny his attraction to Mackenzie is too intense to be normal. Is she ‘The One’ described in werewolf lore or will she be the one to betray their secret?

Hungry Like the Wolf was a thrilling ride! It combines some of my favorite elements: the paranormal and the action you find in romantic suspense. It doesn’t hurt that the story is littered with passionate and protective alpha men! (Not that I don’t enjoy the well-written beta male, which are few-and-far between in Romancelandia.) The ‘fated-mate’ trope felt a little unnecessary but served a purpose, as in the plausibility of certain characters’ actions.

There was never a dull moment in this story, but maybe a very high-crime rate with very well-armed criminals in Dallas. The baddies kept coming and coming! Ms. Tyler also gave her werewolves unique traits, so when I questions whether a team of all alpha werewolves could work together I had to remind myself that 1) this is fiction and 2) these are Tyler’s werewolves. (So, get out of Mercyverse!)


The steam level was high and I appreciated that sex didn’t litter this novel. I also appreciated that the hero and heroine weren’t declaring their love within three days; they had other strong feelings before building up to their declaration. Hungry Like the Wolf delivered entertainment and served as a sizzling introduction to a promising paranormal-romantic-suspense series! I am looking forward to book 2 in this series, which will feature Xander and possibly an alpha female werewolf. I’m eager to their dynamics!

Grade: B - Hot chef, take me away!

The Chocolate Heart - Laura Florand
"Welcome to my kingdom, Summer Corey."



Luc Leroi, the most coveted chef in Paris, used to panhandle on the Metro with his father. His days of dancing and doing tricks are in the past. Now people clamor for a taste of him, but not Summer. She refuses his exquisite confections.

Like some sweet little beauty had stroked her hand down his body, curled it around his dick, and then slapped the fucking hell out of him.



Summer Corey, the only child of jet-setting parents, found some self-worth on a remote island far from the taint of father's wealth and condemnation. It's her refuge and source of happiness until her father emotionally blackmails her into 'managing' a luxurious Paris hotel. Her first mistake is insulting the hotel's chef by mistaking him for a bellboy. Her second mistake is propositioning him and all he sees is a 'spoiled little rich girl.'

There's more to Luc and Summer than meets the eye. Their pasts have shaped them and hardened their hearts. Will his confections melt her heart? Will she share a 'real' smile just for him? It'll be a battle of the heart, mind and soul.

The Chocolate Heart may now be my favorite in the series...or it may be a tie with The Chocolate Touch. Spoiled little rich girls are not easy to pull off, but Summer has a viciousness that's balanced by her vulnerability. Her character is perfectly constructed. I understand her. Luc is another delectable Florand hero - passionate, artistic, and unable to hold up his defenses against his heroine. There's also a touch of fate involved in this romance, and there's something that I wish would have been in the book, but maybe the author thought it would have been too sentimental to include. Either way, the ending came too quick and the epilogue tied-up everything with too perfect a bow. Still, Ms. Florand makes me want to fly to France, troll restaurants and pâtisseries for sexy chefs, and gorge my American-self.

Not to be missed!

Vision in Silver - Anne Bishop

”Remember this, Meg Corbyn. We’re the ones you can see, but we’re not the only ones who are here.”

 

These are words Bishop fans should note from Written in Red. Meg Corbyn, a cassandra sangue, is a ‘trailblazer’ for the blood prophets, the Others, and invasive humans. She’s established a trusting relationship with Thaisia’s native residents. She’s also found a special niche in some of the terra indigenes’ hearts (slowly, yet surely) residing within Lakeside’s Courtyard. Despite her extraordinary actions - proving not all humans are bad-natured (nor prey) - tensions are rising throughout the region.

From across the Atlantik, the Cel-Romano Alliance has chanted ‘Humans First and Last’ and the movement has gained a foothold within Thaisia. The rising furor portends a past about to repeat itself. How easily the humans forget that ‘all roads travel through the woods.”

There is a silent presence watching and waiting. Humans have risen against the earth natives many times in the past. At this time, they’ve perpetrated heinous crimes against the most innocent of their people and now they think to plunder the terra indigene’s land. The clever meat never seems to learn, and the Others have never been the kind to waste perfectly good meat.

” The Others looked at humans and did not see conquerors. They saw a new kind of meat.
There is still sharp-tooth tolerance on one side and fear of what walks in the dark on the other. But if they are careful, the humans survive.”
Most of the time, they survive.”

- Written in Red


“Vision in Silver” is subtle, nuanced, and rewarding to fans of Anne Bishop’s “The Others” series. It packs an emotional punch. In “Written in Red” readers are introduced to blood prophet Meg Corbyn, the Others, and the happenings in Thaisia, specifically Lakeside. Then, “Murder of Crows” exposes the atrocities ‘both wondrous and terrible’ blood prophets endured, plus resolving an issue critical to Meg. Let’s not forget the rise of the Humans First and Last movement sweeping Thaisia. In this third novel in The Others, the scope broadens and develops in an engaging way.

The issues on Namid (their world) creatively echo the rise and fall of our nations, but with a bite! The doom of people to repeat history as a theme for life on Namid resonates for me. It lacks the gloom and doom of our reality thanks to the trail Meg has blazed. She’s the light at the end of the tunnel, although Ms. Bishop barely gives us a glimpse of what that particular end may resemble or how Meg (and Simon) will fare. There’s still some mystery to Meg and her long-term happiness.

Humor, violence, and suffering are perfectly balanced, but some readers may find the action lacking in “Vision in Silver.” I found the pacing steady, sure, and engaging despite the lack of high-stakes tension. This novel answers a few questions readers probably never pondered and it’s done in such a moving way. A slowing evolving relationship leads to entertaining conversations. New characters are added and will hopefully have bigger roles in the next novel. There are also loose story threads thathave a resolution. “Vision in Silver” should not be missed! This world keeps getting bigger and better leaving me eager for what Ms. Bishop has next in store.



ARC compliments of Penguin via Edelweiss, in exchange for a honest review.

Grade: C-

Worth The Wait - Jamie Beck

Vivi LeBrun not only lost her brother and mother in a car crash. She lost her father too. His alcoholism adds a new responsibility and burden for young Vivi. She finds shelter within her best friend’s family. The St. James family is wealthy and down-to-earth. They are a loving family, and accept Vivi as one of their own. Yet there is one family member that she has long adored. Vivi is all grown up and ready for more than friendship with David St. James.

A promise is tormenting David. His mother made a dying wish. He fled overseas in his effort to honor it. Now there is a rift in his family. No one understands him anymore, especially Vivi, his staunchest devotee.

The St. James siblings attempt to reconnect during a vacation. Vivi is also invited. Maybe this is her chance to finally get David to see they belong together.

“Worth the Wait” has a good story at its heart. A nice girl with a long-time crush on her best friend’s brother has appealing qualities. A friends-to-lovers romance versus falling- fast romance – well, friends-to-lovers stories are usually highly enjoyable reads for this reader. The narrative is just a bit too heavy. Plus, elements of the plot and characters are reminiscent of a teen holiday romance.

The hero and heroine seem much younger than their age. Vivi, the heroine, is very much like a young girl crushing on a college boy. There is too much time where adoring Vivi and moody David are on unequal ground. Eventually, she develops a backbone. Also, David is a hard hero to embrace. Teen David revealed a very promising hero; he was so sweet and kind. He does improve near the end. Vivi’s road to happiness is very rocky, but she does find David worth the wait.

Grade: C-


ARC courtesy of Montlake via Netgalley

Simply Romantic!

Once Upon a Rose (La Vie en Roses Book 1) - Laura Florand

Life sang from the old stones, and he couldn't remember the last time it had done that for him. The last time those thousand-year-old walls had played a thousand years of hope to him and not a thousand years of expectations.

 

Perhaps, this is an emotional rating, but as I was trying to decide on rating this 4 stars or 5 I had a thought. I wondered does a romance have to be complicated. Once Upon a Rose is incredibly romantic and scenic too! It makes one want to book a flight to the south of France, absorb the culture, admire the architecture, and imagine falling in love. Le sigh.

Two people are brought together - one an indie singer and the other a proud man with a huge legacy attached to his broad shoulders. There's almost a magical fated quality to their union, as if their paths, whether fixed or unsteady, are meant to cross. I swallowed their magic as if it was heavenly chocolate; inhaled the rose-scented pages as if I could never get enough. Mmmm.

Once Upon a Rose feels real. One of the hardest and unnerving parts of starting a relationship is making oneself vulnerable. The hero, Matthieu, is a big growly bear who was once burned by a selfish woman. The closer one gets to his heart the more he growls...or blushes! Layla, the heroine, is an insightful woman. She understands Matt from the get-go. She treasures his roses. Matt inspires her!

This story is so gently and gratifyingly nuanced any romantic heart would love it! This is my first Laura Florand book. It won't be my last. I've already read "A Rose in Winter," which can be found in the anthology No Place Like Home. It's Raoul & Allegra's story, who are also secondary characters in Once Upon a Rose. If you read the novella you'll see Tante Collette's role in her nephews' lives and hear her poignant WWII stories about the Résistance.

Other readers have told me that Florand's Chocolate series is even better. Really?!!! This author's love of France is obvious and her other series is set in Paris. Hmm. I can smell the roses and feel the characters hearts beat, so I guess I'll have to try her chocolate too! Oh, and next up is Tristan in the La Vie en Roses. Watching him fall in love will be such a treat! (You can see one of his quotes in a status update. Do it! He's funny!)

Grade: A

4.25 Stars – Love, Loss, & Promise

Dead Heat (Alpha & Omega Book 4) - Patricia Briggs
I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

- Alfred Lord Tennyson


Tennyson's poem comes to mind after completing Dead Heat. Bran, the dominant werewolf of North America and recurring secondary character in the Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series, and his son Samuel have reacted to love and loss their own way. As with many werewolves, there are some that anchor their humanity with relationships to short-lived humans and there are others, like Bran, who cannot bear the pain of loss, which is what Charles faces in Dead Heat.

"Ah. Of course," I noted as I was reading. The previous Alpha and Omega books involved high-stakes situations. Charles and Anna fought to live. They battled their inner-demons to endure as a strong mated couple. This time the conflict isn't a threat directed specifically at them or their relationship. Instead, there is a dangerous Fae. An old character returns. New aspects of Charles and Anna are revealed.

Anna and Charles defied great odds to achieve happiness. Their relationship is stable in this book. They are happy. Their inner struggles are mostly about what they are and, surprisingly, a pang for something they cannot bear as werewolves.

Anna deeply wants something. To get it she tries to pinpoint the source of Charles’s fears. Through characters’ observations we learn more about Anna (she has a dark side she’s hiding), Charles (who understands why Bran has given up human friendships), and werewolf dynamics and laws. There’s also insight into Native American culture.

I gobbled up Dead Heat and look forward to more Alpha & Omega series. There is still plenty to experience with this werewolf couple leading the way through new mysteries, horrors, and human frailties. Overall, I highly recommend this series to readers searching for romance, urban fantasy, mystery, and psychologically-complex characters.


ARC courtesy of Penguin Group via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

I'm hooked!

Radiance (Wraith Kings) (Volume 1) - Grace Draven, Lora Gasway, Mel Sanders, Isis Sousa



Ildiko brushed a feathery strand of his hair away from his eyes. "He pleases me greatly. This handsomest of eels." His cheekbones angled sharply under his palms. "So says this hag."

"Who is most beautiful in the darkness." Brishen kissed her then....



It's so hard for me to find good fantasy romances that I can enjoy. What I loved about "Radiance" is Draven's natural voice. She packs so much into this short novel while constructing an interesting world without it being complicated. The hero and heroine also do something unusual. They begin as friends, displaying a mutual respect for one another. Their relationship steadily evolves into something more. They play the game of court politics; out-maneuvering their opponents. And I must say Ildiko's monster-in-law was a formidable player. The tension crackled when she was on the pages!

My favororite parts are the scenes showing their physical and cultural difference. Both Brishen and Ildika are very attractive people...within their own race. No matter that each considers the other ugly this is becomes a moot issue. I loved how their perceptions altered! And I loved how Draven made eyes a humorous issue.

After dabating on whether to round up or down, I've come to the conclusion that this story packs so much I had to go up. "Radiance" left me wanting more of this world. I continue to go back and re-read certain scenes. I see how this novel could have ended with a happy ending (mother-in-laws not included), yet I'm glad Draven left it open.

3 Stars – Reunited…But It Wasn’t All So Good

Rough Rider (Hot Cowboy Nights) - Victoria Vane

Beaten down by having lived with a self-centered unfaithful husband, Janice Combes is finally free to make a decent life for herself and her son. She returns to Twin Bridges, Montana to scrape together the means to support her family. Life sure didn’t turn out how she’d once dreamed. Once considered a nice girl with hopes of taking over her father’s ranch - she lives paycheck-to-paycheck - using her body for maximum effect to garner betters tips as a waitress. Janice isn’t the only one with shattered dreams.

Dirk Knowlton returns to his hometown carrying mental and physical scars. Once, he sought the thrill of riding bulls. His brief fling with Janice was enough for him to know he wasn’t ready to settle down. Feeling the call to join the military, Dirk served his country, but he does not leave the service unscathed. His family and friends don’t recognize the bitter man he’s become. Dirk may be different, but he’s trying to build upon a new dream.

Janice and Dirk took different paths ten years ago. There paths cross again. They’ll have a second chance to rebuild a new dream together.

Reunited and it feels so good
Reunited 'cause we understood
There's one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited 'cause we're reunited, hey, hey


- Peaches and Herb, “Reunited”



“Rough Rider” is a steamy second-chance romance with two survivors. The hero, Dirk, survives war and its horrors. The heroine, Janice, survives a heartbreaking marriage. There were times when this contemporary romance felt oh-so-good, but it wasn’t ‘one perfect fit.’

Half the book is spent in the past. We meet the people Janice and Dirk once used to be and see their chemistry. We learn a lotabout professional bull riding. They make their choices and we see their reasons. Then, they come back for the second half different people. Dirk may appear the most affected, but it’s Janice that seems the most changed. Their relationship moves fast, but the shift from the first half to the second half of the book felt too abrupt. Janice and Dirk’s characters changed so much, but the people and events that changed them are merely implied, as the focus of the first half is about his restlessness and her crush. Their choices changed them and it would have been nice to spend more time getting reacquainted with their new selves rather than a past that could have been wrapped up in a few chapters.

Many readers have loved this book. “Slow Hand,” the first book in the series, was fabulous! Attribute this rating and review to reader preference. The third book looks very promising, so while this story didn’t amaze this particular reader it does not discourage.


ARC compliments of Sourcebooks via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review

3.5 Stars – A Hero Falls Hard

Catch a Falling Heiress: An American Heiress in London - Laura Lee Guhrke

Jack Featherstone is on a mission. A matter of honor sends the Earl to infiltrate the American Knickerbocker set. He sets the trap, destroys a villain, and finds the woman he wants to marry. Unfortunately, he’s a penniless noble and the heiress views him as another fortune-hunter. Never having had a bean to his name he thought marriage and family out of his reach, but that one kiss incinerated those hopeless thoughts! Jack will pursue her. She will see he is the best man, penniless or not!

Linnet Holland wants a love match. Not finding one in London brings her back to the States to a childhood friend that wants to secretly meet to ask her an important question. The Earl of Featherstone's interference alters the course for all parties involved and ruins Linnet. Since she can’t have marry for love she’ll outrun the gossip and return to London for a second round of matchmaking. If only Jack wouldn’t interfere with her efforts and arouse her senses.

The heroine is compromised. It’s a classic historical romance trope. The emotions inciting the rakish hero into such a situation require flair and credibility. When Jack beholds Linnet across the crowded room he’s awed. This rake is drawn to her like a moth to a flame. But I didn’t feel the chemistry down to my toes. In the aftermath of Linnet’s ruin, Jack’s actions are practical and the romance fizzled a little bit. There’s also a plot device brought into play that I do not like. It may have tarnished this historical romance for me.

The bachelor want to marry. It’s a charming twist whenever the hero pursues his heroine. Jack's definitely in hot pursuit! Once Jack and Linnet re-encounter one another in England the plot takes a turn for the better. Jack isn’t shy. He wants Linnet to be his wife and family. He demonstrates how she matters to him. At this point, Catch a Falling Heiress the story is laced with witty dialogue, breathless anticipation, and heartfelt romance. Jack is funny and romantic. Jack woos Linnet. Linnet is the one whose heart and mind war with one another. This is the most riveting part of the story and why I love Ms. Guhrke’s writing.

The ending felt abrupt for all the work that went into this couple's happily ever after. As the third book in the American Heiress in London, Catch a Falling Heiress can stand alone. The mitigating circumstances causing Jack to travel to the United States - which are linked to events in How to Lose an Duke in Ten Days - are explained in the opening chapter. Previous characters are present, but don’t distract by remaining in the background or interacting as part of this book’s storyline. While this is an enjoyable historical romance the slow beginning, predictable nature, and abrupt ending deprive this book of a four star rating, making this third installment the weak link in a wonderful series. I do anticipate the fourth book, which will feature Denys and Lola, the Moulin Rouge performer he can’t forget.

Digital RC compliments of Avon via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 Stars - Sweet, Grim, and Unique Fantasy

The Hollow Kingdom - Clare B. Dunkle
"If you know I hate being teased, she asked, "why do you always do it?"

"Because that's one of the things abut your new life that I love," he chuckled. That made her smile. "And I write about the milestones that the Kings look for their wives to pass. The first time you spoke to me--that was when you met me. The first time you called me by name--that was the day after you came here. The first time you smiled at me--that was a week after you came here, but the first time you smiled because you were really glad to see me--that was only a month ago. The first time you were happy when you woke up in the morning, full of plans you wanted to accomplish..." He fell silent.

"When was that? Kate wanted to know.

"That one hasn't happened yet," he admitted. "Maybe tomorrow."



The characters - especially Kate, the heroine - are a departure from archetypes some readers may assume "The Hollow Kingdom" holds. We are told Kate has been educated by her father and she behaves intelligently, displaying an agile mind. Marak, the Goblin King - who must capture his bride, as is the tradition - starts as an irreverent character then becomes a a genuinely sympathetic character.

Although this book is the first in a trilogy, I am thoroughly satisfied with the resolution in this story. (And with only 230 pages it was a very fast read that had me biting my nails!) Also, "The Hollow Kingdom" is appropriate for older adolescents, although there are grim aspects and elements of horror in this story. It's a YA in the same sense the Harry Potter series is sometimes listed. (No 'snogging' (kissing) though it is mentioned. Also, no sex or sexual situations.) Yet it can also be enjoyed by adults.

I'd recommend this series to readers who enjoyed:
Clay Griffith's Vampire Empire series (e.g. The Greyfriar), Anne Bishop's fantasy novels, or the Wicked as They Come, as one reader friend likened King Marak to Criminy Stain.