This was a very enjoyable reading experience! I especially appreciate how much they just talked to each other and got to know each other at the beginn...moreThis was a very enjoyable reading experience! I especially appreciate how much they just talked to each other and got to know each other at the beginning. I miss that in romances. Constant is a wonderful heroine, and it was great for Kameron to realize how much he didn't deserve her, despite the fact she loved him dearly. The story is quite interesting, but a twisty-turny path to happy ever after. I recommend it.
This was quite good. I loved the historical details, and the mystery was very interesting, with some distinct elements I haven't encountered in anothe...moreThis was quite good. I loved the historical details, and the mystery was very interesting, with some distinct elements I haven't encountered in another mystery book thus far. Mrs. Westerman and Mr. Crowther are a good combination. Also liked Jocasta, Sam, and Boyo. Recommended to fans of historical fiction and mystery.
Devil's Kiss is the first in the Hellraisers historical paranormal romance series by Zoe Archer, and she has created an interesting world and an intri...moreDevil's Kiss is the first in the Hellraisers historical paranormal romance series by Zoe Archer, and she has created an interesting world and an intriguing storyline that will keep me coming back to this series.
I loved how immersive this story was. I felt like I was in the Georgian period, where anything goes, if you have the money, power and status to make your own rules. With this background, the character have validity and their choices and motivations make sense. Whit is a hero that really sucked me in. He is not a good man, but he is a man that you want to be good, to make the right decisions in the end. I have to say that force of his personality pulled me right into this story. I found Whit very magnetic. Ms. Archer does an excellent joy of portraying the tug of war that Whit has between his good nature and his darker one. I don't think gambling was his vice in itself, but the desire to control fate and have power to manipulate fate and circumstances. Losing his family so young and becoming an Earl so early in his life gave him this vacuum inside, this feeling that he is being buffeted by fate, so that living on the knife's edge became the only valid lifestyle for himself. It's probable that he might have been a thrill-seeker, explorer or adventurer if he hadn't inherited his title. I found him quite fascinating as a character. I could see why Zora found him so irresistible and fell in love with him even though he's not a good man by any stretch. This aspect of the story, as well as the manner in which Archer establishes her story in the Georgian period reminds me of Anne Stuart, and that's always a good thing.
Zora was a great character. I loved her strong personality, her determination, her independent spirit, and that she doesn't give up on what is important to her. She always felt strange and disjointed in her Romani family and life, although she does value it. When the giorgo men show up in her camp, her eyes are drawn to Whit, and she can't look away. He compels her in a way no other man has. His obsession with her isn't one-sided at all. And she becomes the only means through which he can regain his soul back from the devil. Zora is a good woman, but she's also a vital, primal woman, not a plaster saint. It means that much more when she stands up for what is right when it is so easy to choose self and do what is wrong in the process.
When I read romance, I want the bond and the relationship between the characters to be meaningful, real, and deeply emotional. I felt all that with Whit and Zora. Although they share a very primal sexual attraction, there is also an intellectual connection, and an emotional bond. Zora could have walked away and left Whit to his fate, but she cared for him and wanted to help him get free from his devil's bargain; or she could have destroyed him when she realized that his actions might bring on the end of the world. But love kept her with him. As for Whit, although his actions towards Zora weren't honorable initially, he shows that she is very important to him, her love and her light keeps him grounded and gives him the strength to fight for his soul and to do the right thing. The love scenes are very sensual and well-written, and they fit very well into this intense story about dark passions and desires.
This series has gotten me hooked, probably from the first page. Ms. Archer promises to deliver forthcoming books that avoid being predictable, and where the main character could perhaps be the worst villain of all, if he chooses wrongly. I like that kind of risk-taking when I read a story, especially when it's well-written as Devil's Kiss is.
For this very enjoyable, well-written book, I have to give a rating of 4.5/5.0.
I loved this story. Yes it was short, but it was also sweet and very well done. I'm a sucker for the plain, aging spinster meets the rake storyline, a...moreI loved this story. Yes it was short, but it was also sweet and very well done. I'm a sucker for the plain, aging spinster meets the rake storyline, and I think Ms. Stuart always does great with it. I don't know...Not too many writers do rakes as well as I like. But, Ms. Stuart, she definitely does. A rake is mad, bad, and dangerous to know. But the best part about a rakish hero is seeing him fall in love with the one woman who makes him want to give up his debauched, profligate ways. Hard to do in such a short format, but she managed here, in my opinion. I love her use of language, and how she built the tension so well for a short story. I'm not sure what to expect about the Heavenly Host, except they are far from heavenly. I can't say too much without spoiling the story, but it met any expectations I have for Anne Stuart's writing. I'm glad to see her writing more historicals, although I love her contemporaries too. What can I say? I love her writing, period. She writes a killer short story, says Danielle, with a happy smile on her face.(less)
**spoiler alert** First of all, I want to thank Emery Lee for the opportunity to read her book. This was not a typical read for me, since I don't tend...more**spoiler alert** First of all, I want to thank Emery Lee for the opportunity to read her book. This was not a typical read for me, since I don't tend to read a lot of historical fiction that is not romance. The Highest Stakes was a good stepping stone for me into the historical fiction genre, with a good, strong love story for my romance-loving palate.
I have to confess I did not grow up with horses. I actually never really had contact with them until I was in college. So, I became a equine aficionado later in my life. Without a doubt, The Highest Stakes is a book for horse-lovers. It is very clear that Ms. Lee loves, understands, and respects horses; and is very much an equestrienne. I appreciate the detail that she put into describing people firmly immersed in horse culture, and in giving this horse-racing novice a crash course into the horse-racing industry. Now, don't expect me to be down at the horse tracks every weekend. That's not going to happen. But I must say, I have a lot more respect for what goes into horse-racing. I am just as much a horse-lover as I ever was, maybe a little more after this book. In fact, I loved reading about the details of equine husbandry. I can certainly see how it becomes an obsession that can drive people in many ways, like it did with the three main characters in this story: Robert, Charlotte, and Philip.
On top of the foundation of horse-racing, this is a story about human nature: the dark sides, and the fundamental urges within people that drive them to achieve what they want most in life. For Robert and Charlotte, they just wanted each other. A mutual love of horses was their intial connection, and a great love blossomed between them from that starting point. Their road to happiness was a very crooked, even heartbreaking path. Many times, I felt like I was being twisted into painful knots as I read about all the troubles that this couple faced. I wanted to keep reading, crossing my fingers that things would work out; and at times, I was afraid to read one more page, for fear that their love would be driven past the point of survival. Fate seemed against them at many turns, although there was also a providential guiding hand that kept them working and striving towards their future together. I came to love and respect them both very deeply. I respect Ms. Lee that she was not afraid to put this couple through so much over the course of this book, even if it didn't always make for comfortable reading for me.
Philip was by far the most complex character. I must confess I still don't quite have him figured out. He manages to be a very self-serving person, but at the same time, he has a core of honor. Towards the end of the book, I really wanted to hate him, but I found I could not, because he was such a fascinating person, and truly did want to be a good man. He made some wrong decisions that really hurt two people that he cared about. At the same time, he played an important role in their destinies, and in some ways, helped to drive them to achieve the successes they obtained in the horsebreeding fields. One thing was for certain, he came very close to stealing the show, despite the fact that I really loved Robert and Charlotte's characters.
The writing was very good. Ms. Lee firmly establishes the Georgian period, and she doesn't have to spend a lot of detail describing what the characters wore, or what their houses looked like. Instead, she weaves in a time table of important events that occur in the background of this story, and which involve Robert and Phillip to no small extent. It felt very authentic, yet she always kept this book readable. To be honest, I am not sure that this book would appeal to readers who have no interest in horses. But that's okay. I am glad that Ms. Lee wrote a book about a subject that she clearly has a lot of passion for, and did it well; for her passion for horses is quite infectious to those who have the slightest inclination in that direction.
Quite frankly, this book came very close to being a five star book. I think that for readers who don't mind some very complicated obstacles between the hero and heroine, it probably would be a five star book. Unfortunately, I just don't like when the hero and heroine are together while they are married to other people. I really regretted that Robert and Charlotte's first time together occurs after she is forced to marry Philip. I can see that this was a realistic choice for Ms. Lee to make in plotting her story, but it just left a bad taste in my mouth. I would have preferred for Robert and Charlotte's happy ending to be unmarred by this. I freely admit that adultery is my huge pet peeve and it's hard to get past that when I am reading a romantic story. Despite that fact, I cheered on the couple for being able to get their happy ending. My other issue was that I found the ending to be a little abrupt. I was very glad to see Robert and Charlotte to achieve many of their life goals, but I would have preferred to see a little more page time spent on their reunion and how they dealt with Phillip. I did like the letter. It was a nice, and very fitting way for some of the denouement to be incorporated into the story.
The Highest Stakes was an excellent book. I was emotionally and intellectually involved with this story. It is very clear that Ms. Lee put a lot of heart and soul into this book, making for a great reading experience. Highly recommended to horse-lovers, fans of historical fiction, and those who love a good star-crossed romance.
I don't even know what to say! I loved this book so much. I savored it, stretching it out, not wanting it to...moreDo What Thou Wilt, But Don't Fall in Love!
I don't even know what to say! I loved this book so much. I savored it, stretching it out, not wanting it to end. I was completely immersed in this book. I was no longer in Texas, modern day. I was in France in the 1700s.
I don't know how Ms. Anne Stuart does it. She can take the most objectionable type of hero, and make me fall in love with him. Let me say, I am a devout Christian. I can't even imagine even pretending to worship the devil, or to hold orgies in which one does things that are unspeakable, just because you can. That should have turned me off of Lord Rohan. But, with Ms. Stuart's incredible writing skill, it wasn't even an issue for me. I am very glad that she didn't dwell on those aspects, although they were there in the background. This is a book about a rakehell who was the leader of festivities along the lines of the real Hellfire Club, so that aspect had to be present. But, I didn't have to see him doing any of that. I was fine that I didn't. Now, he definitely did some fornication (even after he met Elinor). I was okay with that, because that was who he was, before he fell in love. Once, he had Elinor in his heart, that was over for him, even if he didn't want to admit it to himself for her. And I was gratified that he didn't allow anything to go on there that wasn't between consensual adults.
No question about it, Elinor and Rohan are one of my favorite couples now. Anne Stuart-wise, and period. There was something so delectable about their interactions, the by-play between them. Even though Francis was sixteen years older than Elinor (old enough to be her father, and he was quite active at that age, in his own words), Elinor was able to hold her own with him. Elinor had some serious pluck. I love a heroine who is strong, and no question about Elinor's strength. She is no Xena, and she didn't have to be, in order to captivate Rohan, and to make me love her. She is true to herself, forthright, and brave (in ways I can't even fathom). Francis was a very bad boy, but he had a core of him that was good and decent. He did things for Elinor that he really had no reason to do. He showed her love even before he knew what the word meant. How could I not love him for that? The sexual tension in this story was off the charts, and the love scenes aren't even until near the end. That's talent to me. I felt the sizzle through every conversation, the exchange of glances, the way Rohan pursued and Elinor fled. It was magic on the page.
Yes, I know. It's clear that I love Anne Stuart so much, that some may doubt my objectivity. But, I will say it if I don't think a book by a favorite author is my favorite. But, with Ruthless, there is no question that this one is a stellar read. I wish that Ms. Stuart released books every year. When she doesn't have books out, I mourn the dearth, and I pine for her books. I have especially longed for her historicals, because she writes them so well, with the dark aspects, the multi-faceted characters, the writing subtlety that conveys so much, the intensity that I crave in a romance story. I am happy to say that this book truly makes me happy. I am still replaying the scenes in my head. The skillfully nuanced courtship of Rohan and Elinor, and the powerful love story here. The sad, heartbreaking things in their pasts. I got choked up a few times. I was touched on such a deep level, I feel it right now as I write this review. I think that readers who enjoy meaty, intense, darker historicals with strong, vibrant characters will be very happy with Ruthless. I foresee myself rereading this book soon and often. Bravo, Ms. Stuart.(less)
This veteran historical romance novel-reader asks this question: Do we really need any more rake heroes? No! They make me yawn and roll my eyes. But w...moreThis veteran historical romance novel-reader asks this question: Do we really need any more rake heroes? No! They make me yawn and roll my eyes. But wait! What about Adrian, Viscount Rohan? Okay, maybe we can have a few rake heroes, as long as they are masterfully brought to life as Ms. Anne Stuart did with Adrian.
Yes, yes, yes! I know you will wave a hand at me and say, "You like all her books, so your opinion isn't really valid." I guess if you feel that way, you should probably stop reading this review. But, if you want to hear me out, then keep reading.
Once again, I was in raptures. Adrian is a man who doesn't deserve a woman like Charlotte. He knows it, she knows it, we know it when we're reading this story. Heck, Ms. Stuart knew it. But, I wanted him to have Charlotte so bad. Usually when the hero is an arrogant dog, I want the heroine to take his heart and stomp on it into a mushy consistency that resembles a tomato dropped from the second story of a building. Yes, I am vindictive like that. With Reckless, I was reading feverishly, anxious to see how this predator would get his prey. Adrian was so bad, in a very good way. I loved the cat and mouse game he played, how he stalked Charlotte into the garden of no return (at least if you wanted to stay celibate). I love bad boys, but I usually love the bad boys who are physically dangerous, not the skirt-chasers. But this is one bad rake that I really loved.
Another reason that I wanted Adrian and Charlotte to get together so much was because Charlotte was so in love with him. I thought she should have this man she pined for so badly (but always in a dignified way). I didn't want her heart broken, or for her to be used and abandoned, but I wanted her to have a little happiness in her life. In the scenes where Charlotte's loneliness and feelings were so poignantly displayed by Ms. Stuart’s writing, I felt my heart clench. Charlotte didn’t wear her heart on her sleeve, but Adrian knew and so did her cousin Lina. She was the consummate wallflower, awash in her isolation, in a world of perfect budding beauties; her on the wrong side of thirty, six-foot tall, and freckled, and penniless to boot. Normally I want to give the heroines who chase after the rake a good slap on the back of their head to bring them to their senses. But, in this case, I wanted them to end up together. Even so, I liked the fact that in this book, Adrian pretty much did all the pursuing; it was just up to Charlotte to surrender, and boy did Adrian make that an easy thing to do.
Their scenes of intimacy were so sexy, and so beautiful. It’s hard to describe. You could think of it as sex scenes, but there was another level there. A connection that was forming between them that I oftentimes find missing with other books with this theme. Those stolen interludes were gratifying to me, even if I knew that their time together was illicit and might end badly.
I loved that this was just the beginning of their courtship. Adrian had to go through a sea change. It’s easy to say that the right sex partner will change a rake’s heart. I don’t believe that, and I never will. But, I could totally believe that Adrian’s time with Charlotte had changed him. Something clicked inside of him when it came to Charlotte. I wonder if she was there in his mind the whole time, but she was marked ‘off-limits’ for whatever reason; and when he saw her at the Heavenly Host Revel, he decided he was going to take what he truly wanted, and damn the consequences. Even though it was so wrong of him to seduce Charlotte, I ain’t mad at him.
Being a stubborn knucklehead, Adrian does some stupid things in his relationship with Charlotte, and they both know it. I loved how Charlotte wasn’t afraid to stand up to Adrian and tell him he was being stupid. She wasn’t like putty in his hands, well at least not all the time. That powerful attraction between them held sway, but not to the point of idiocy; and, as I always demand in a good romance, it was mutual. If Charlotte was a fool for love, so was Adrian.
The secondary romance was so good. I loved Lina and Simon together. I wanted to cry for Lina and for what she’d gone through in her marriage, and how it had sent her into a very disagreeable (at least for me) lifestyle. I can’t decide if I would have liked it better if she enjoyed it or not. If I don’t like promiscuous heroes (and I don’t), I definitely don’t like lascivious heroines. With any topic that is not to my taste, it has to be done well, and it was here. I loved and respected Lina, even if I didn’t like the choices she made. This character was in Anne Stuart’s hands, and I was sighing and hoping that she would get her HEA. I loved Simon too. I liked that he called Lina on her nonsense, and she did the same for him. She opened his heart to love, and he did the same for her. They had a powerful attraction that opened the door for something more. I could totally see this couple having a happy life together, because they had a connection that surpassed the superficiality of their disparate roles in society.
I can’t say there is anything I didn’t love about this story. I mean, the suspense part wasn’t that necessary to the romance (in my mind), although it tied into the story. I don’t read romance of this sort for suspense, so I was more fixated on the progression of Charlotte/Adrian and Lina/Simon’s romances than that aspect. I loved seeing Francis, now Marquess of Haverstoke, and Elinor, his Marchioness, again, who are Adrian’s parents. I like how Francis is now a stern father, and Elinor a loving, indulgent mother. It was kind of interesting seeing Adrian getting called on the hot seat in front of his father. Made me laugh!
Gosh, I adored this book. It was a rapturous romance, and with a theme I usually don’t like. I am just not into rakes. But, some authors can deliver a story of a rake and the good woman who turns him around so well, that I am in, hook, line and sinker. Anne Stuart is my favorite author of all time for a reason. I think I’d better shut up now. I may end just babbling incoherently about how happy I feel when I read one of Ms. Stuart’s books. She only gets better (which is quite a feat), in my humble opinion. This one definitely goes on my best of 2010 list. (less)