This is well-written and has an authentic feel for a Regency romance, but the male lead, Ned, isn't very likable for a significant portion of the book...moreThis is well-written and has an authentic feel for a Regency romance, but the male lead, Ned, isn't very likable for a significant portion of the book, and Phoebe's personality seemed too buried under governess reserve, so I didn't bond as much to either of them. For that reason, I would have to give this one a 3.5/5.0 star rating.
I haven't decided how I feel about this book. One one level, it was a very satisfying read. But there is something I felt didn't quite ring for me. I...moreI haven't decided how I feel about this book. One one level, it was a very satisfying read. But there is something I felt didn't quite ring for me. I pretty much loved Tiffany from page one. She was a real person. She had emotions that were authentic considering what she'd gone through. I liked that while she had valid reasons to run in the other direction from a relationship (especially the one he was offering) with Ryzard, she was also brave enough to come out of her half-life she'd lived since her terrible accident on her wedding day. Also the cocoon her family kept her in. I like that Tiffany is a modern woman but her values aren't too out there where I can't sympathize. I'm not here to judge, but I don't like promiscuous heroines who don't have any twinges about casual sex. In all fairness, I don't like that in a hero, and I'm not into double standards. But as a woman, I think it bothers me in a different way and more personal when it's the heroine. I was worried at first that the book would go in that direction, considering the way she and Ryzard first got together. But surprisingly, I didn't have any qualms about it.
I am not a fan of affair romance stories. I like to know that the couple will stay together, and they don't have one foot out the door the whole time they are together. I think that was one thing that bothered me about this book. I could understand both characters were deeply wounded emotionally, but I felt a pang every time they would reference that their time together was a short-lived affair. I feel that Tiffany deserved better than a man who couldn't give her love or his heart because he was hung up on a dead woman. Especially with all she'd gone through and the double standards her family forced on her.
Yes, I think that was the issue I had with this book. Ryzard didn't realize until the end how much he was shortchanging and cheating Tiffany out of. While she wasn't a punching bag and she showed a lot of maturity and self-possession, it was clear she fell in love with him, and he was holding that back, while demanding everything he could get from her.
Ryzard wasn't a bad hero, but he's not a great one either. I like a hero who is completely head over heels for the heroine (or at least has strong feelings for her that develop reasonably early), and I didn't feel that from Ryzard until later on. There was something that compelled him about her, and while he kept telling himself to walk away, he couldn't. But I think it felt mainly sexual to me for most of the book. In some ways, Tiffany needed the confidence of having a man who was so attracted to her, but she needed a man who loved her deeply (with the attraction part flowing out of the emotion), considering her past. So he didn't quite live up to my expectations in that regard. I did like that he was a different sort of hero. The survivor of a revolution, who was trying to put his country back together.
I'm kind of confused about the Q Virtus club. The author's descriptions left me in the dark about how the club worked. I think the descriptions could have been clearer. It's an interesting concept to build a book series around. I hope it doesn't end up being too much of a sex/illicit encounters storyline throughout this series, because that doesn't appeal to me. If there is a way to build a story that goes beyond that idea of sybaritic luxury and discretion used for sexual gratification, I think this will turn out to be a fun concept. I would love to see some sort of spy angle involved with this series, considering the high tech nature of the club.
With all my misgivings, I was very drawn into this book and I couldn't put it down. So I would give this one 3.5/5.0 stars. Overall, I think Dani Collins is a new writer with promise. Collins can write a very effective, sexy love scene and she also writes a passionate love story, and I like the way she developed Tiffany. I will read more of her books.(less)
I was so enthralled with this book, I didn't want to put it down. It has the intensity that I crave in a historical romance with excellent writing. Th...moreI was so enthralled with this book, I didn't want to put it down. It has the intensity that I crave in a historical romance with excellent writing. The characters had a complexity that made them real people, and not always in good ways. Our hero lives up to the scoundrel name for sure, but his path of redemption makes for delectable reading.
I have to give this one 4.5 stars, because it's just that good. I am adding Juliana Gray to my must read HR author list.
What if a powerful supervillain ended up in witness protection, working a regular office job like the average Joe?
That is the scenario that Ed Brubake...moreWhat if a powerful supervillain ended up in witness protection, working a regular office job like the average Joe?
That is the scenario that Ed Brubaker presents his readers in the series "Incognito."
Zack Overkill was 'a very villainous fellow,' it was all he knew. And then his world changed. His brother was killed and he woke up in a secret government hospital and he was given drugs to deactivate his supernatural abilities and he was under the oversight of SOS, who had once been his greatest adversaries.
Zack hates his new life. He feels empty and useless, until he begins going out at night as a masked avenger, saving people, not out of altruism, but because it staves off his sense of boredom. But his past is catching up with him.
This is noir meets comic book superheroes and villains, and it's very well done. The tone is unapologetically 'adult', with plenty of foul language, violence, and some sexual content. However, there is something quite fascinating about this book. Maybe it's the whole concept. Or maybe it's the fact that Zack's situation is compelling. Readers can feel his pain, especially if your workday has ever felt like the movie "Office Space." And imagine going from being a supervillain to a working stiff who has the strength of the average sedentary young male. Brubaker allows the readers to walk in the shoes of a supervillain and watch his view of the world change. Zack comes to realize that why kill, steal and rampage for no reason, when once's powers can be strategically employed for something of more value? Can there be a better worldview than nihilism? Can people you once viewed as your enemies become your allies for a greater purpose?
There are some disturbing scenes in this book, but then we are dealing with plenty of amoral villains and psychopaths, and even some of the office joes and janes are not exactly admirable in their choices. I didn't care for that, but I did like that Zack's view on things is evolving, and he realizes he doesn't have to be enslaved to his past identity or even who others see him as.
I was nervous about this book, because I love this time period, but I don't care much for estranged married couple romance. However, Ms. Raybourn tack...moreI was nervous about this book, because I love this time period, but I don't care much for estranged married couple romance. However, Ms. Raybourn tackles both with beautiful grace. This book has wonderful atmosphere and Evie and Gabriel are both very endearing characters. The adventure was a much appreciated bonus.
I was not a fan of Tate. He was arrogant and narcissistic and clueless about how much he hurt Malene. Pretty much my least favorite kind of man and he...moreI was not a fan of Tate. He was arrogant and narcissistic and clueless about how much he hurt Malene. Pretty much my least favorite kind of man and hero. But I loved Malene, and the spy action and romance was well-done. Not my favorite in the series, but still pretty good.
Sherry Thomas has proven herself as an author who uses the written word with a palpable love and respect for its power. I haven't had much luck with Y...moreSherry Thomas has proven herself as an author who uses the written word with a palpable love and respect for its power. I haven't had much luck with Young Adult books lately (with a few exceptions). They don't delve as deep as I would like, and rely on conventions and mechanisms that I find irritating. With "The Burning Sky", Thomas has encouraged my long held belief that young adult books can be vibrant, intelligent, thought-provoking, engaging, and have the substance I long for in a book.
The world-building in this book is careful and thorough without being too dogmatic or dragging down the narrative pace. I appreciated the manner in which Thomas layers her storytelling so that it feels as though I can delve deeper into this world, if I so choose, without the foundations falling apart or revealing nothing but wooden planks or steel girders. Instead, I felt as though this story is barely scratching the surface. At the same time, she doesn't resort to the most hated of all YA devices, the cliffhanger. Yet, this is obviously a story that promises to continue into at least a few volumes, but she concludes it in a satisfying manner that allows the reader to choose to read the next book, instead of being blackmailed into continuing the series.
I also loved the characterization. Iolanthe is a heroine who feels real. She has strengths and weaknesses. She is sympathetic, without being perfect. "The chosen one" storyline can get a little stale, but it's well handled in Thomas' hands. I root for her to find her way in a crazy reality and to be herself, but also do what is right. Titus is about the most perfect prince I've read. Perfect in the best way. He's got an edge that I love. He's flawed but also incredibly appealing. His inner vulnerabilities have been camouflaged very carefully by an arrogant, bitingly sarcastic mien. I had to remind myself that he was jailbait, because I was seriously crushing on him. He's a man with a mission, and nothing will sway him from it, not even the threat of his future demise. Even though Iolanthe has a valid reason to dislike him, I can identify with her struggles not to fall in love with him. While Titus is using Iolanthe and he knows it, it's clear he wishes he could be with her free of the rigid burden that binds them together, but also drives a wedge between them. But he's willing to do the wrong thing for right reasons. I loved that about him. Watching these two fall in love was very satisfying in a way that I crave from a good romance novel. The great thing is the love story is a viable and intrinsic part of a smart, intelligent epic-style fantasy.
The fantasy elements stand up to close scrutiny. Readers who loved the Narnia and Harry Potter series, along with fans of Howl's Moving Castle will be very happy with this novel. The concept of a mage world that borders on the mundane, human world has always appealed to me. I often wished my closet hid a doorway to a fantasy world. I freely admit it. And there is also an alluring nod to fairy tales in that Prince Titus has a book that allows him and his new protege Iolanthe to train and hone their mage skills. While Titus acts as a mentor to Iolanthe, she doesn't sacrifice any strength or identity in the process. It's clear that Titus can't help but look up to Iolanthe as a gift who can bring restoration to his world, and he is willing to take incredible risks and sacrifices for her to achieve her potential.
The action and fantastic scenes are beautifully described. I felt like I could see them on a big movie screen. The use of legendary creatures made me shriek in joy in a very ladylike fashion inside. I didn't care about being a princess, but I sure did love the Pegasus, unicorns and dragons. I would like to see this series as movies, well done, of course.
I can't say enough good things about this novel. I'm ashamed I put off reading it for so long. But it's one of those great accidents that I read this when I needed to. While I admire Thomas as a historical romance novelist, I hope she continues writing fantasy, Young Adult or otherwise, since that is my second love.
Changes is a wonderful example of what historical romance can accomplish in giving us a spotlight into history. History is alive and vivid, and we can...moreChanges is a wonderful example of what historical romance can accomplish in giving us a spotlight into history. History is alive and vivid, and we can learn so much from it. Why not wrap that history lesson in a human story about two people who are very different, but connect through the love they share, and in the process learn that humans are all the same deep down?
A good 'what if' book about the period when 18-yr-old William Shakespeare comes to London to begin his career as an actor/playwright, and the incredib...moreA good 'what if' book about the period when 18-yr-old William Shakespeare comes to London to begin his career as an actor/playwright, and the incredible young woman who could have been his muse.
The Informationist has one of the most daring and distinctive heroines I've personally read about. Vanessa Michael Monroe is practically a force of na...moreThe Informationist has one of the most daring and distinctive heroines I've personally read about. Vanessa Michael Monroe is practically a force of nature. Her personality is hard to pin down, even if you know her very well, which few people do. And she makes a very bad enemy. While some characters might go to Africa to run away from their past or to define a new life for themselves, Monroe is the opposite. She was born in Africa and raised there. Although she is Caucasian American descent, Africa flows in her veins and helped to make her who she was, and not all in good ways.
Monroe doesn't let fear define her, instead she walks in defiance of it. Being afraid is not her problem. It's the rage and anger she keeps under lock and key. She struggles against demons from her past that simmer in her blood and make her heart beat fast with the tribal beat of war. Control is a way of life when she knows just what she's capable of. Yet, she is unafraid to go into dangerous places when others would shirk such a responsibility. When Emily Burbank's adoptive father contacts her to find out what happened to his daughter in Africa four years ago, she is going to have to go back to the place she was born and face her ugly past.
I love to read about heroines who are tough and resourceful. Who can kick butt just like the action heroes. Monroe is definitely one of those kinds of heroines. I like that she is very adaptable and clever about thinking through situations. While she has other weapons, she uses the one between her ears very well. Her personality is really abrasive and she's not what I would consider a typical "likable" heroine. And yet, there is something about her that resonates with me. I like that she is such a survivor. I mean, who could go through what she did and still be 100% sane and free of scars? She actually is quite sane, although I think deep down, she fears what lurks in the abyss she keeps locked away inside. She's sort of the opposite of Kurtz in The Heart of Darkness. She's been there and she walked away. It holds no appeal for her.
I liked the complex relationship that Monroe has with Francisco. I didn't expect it, yet when it happened, I thought, "Of course." I knew that Monroe would have to come full circle and get closure about Africa in order to heal. That process was ugly and painful, but necessary. I also liked her relationship with Miles. Each encounter helped to shape her in different ways, as relationship with others should do.
While I didn't like everything about the narrative, I did like how the author builds tension and unfolds the story, and keeps me guessing what's going to happen next. While one could easily draw conclusions about what happened in Equatorial Guinea, it's different from what I thought, and complicated. I think this is a book that lends itself well to audio, because some of the written facts about Emily's disappearance and the various places she went/the stonewalling she encounters, and Monroe's search in those places might be a bit dry on paper. I also think that some of the action scenes could have been more suspenseful and intensely written. There was a sense of risk, but it was a bit muted at times. As far as the narrator, I liked her voice a lot. She captures who Michael aka Monroe very well.
This is one of those books that doesn't build up one's faith in humanity. Corruption runs so deep and twisted in this world, and some places are built on this foundation. And while some of us who are lucky to live in a more lawful country, those same individuals go to other places in the world and make things worse in their conquest for power and money because they can get away with that in some places in the world, where life is cheap. Like some of my other thriller/suspense/action hero favorites, Monroe is there to teach them a lesson, but in her case, that lesson is a costly one for her as well.
I couldn't imagine living the life that Vanessa Michael Monroe has lived. One of the things I love about fiction is that I can go on a journey with a distinctive heroine like Monroe and see life through her lenses. I can feel her pain and her anger and experience the victories and defeats she has, and it helps me to understand that life is a complicated thing, but we can make it through things we never imagined possible.
This book might not work for everyone, but I found it interesting and thought-provoking. It felt unique and Monroe is an unforgettable heroine. She's kind of lawless in some ways, but deep down, she has a code that she won't stray from. She's a complicated women. Readers who enjoy this kind of heroine or a reader looking for something different might enjoy The Informationist.(less)
Emma, daughter of Lord Grey, and Richard, Lord Hamilton are kindred souls, with the same robust appreciation for life and wicked sense of humo...moreSynopsis
Emma, daughter of Lord Grey, and Richard, Lord Hamilton are kindred souls, with the same robust appreciation for life and wicked sense of humor. They fall in love and are engaged to marry, but they have to convince Emma's uncle, the powerful Duke of Arden that they shouldn't have to wait a year to marry. When the Duke orders Emma to spend time at his country estate, Richard hatches a plan to masquerade as the new head gardener for the Duke of Arden so he can be near Emma. He also intends to romance Emma as the gardener so that the Duke will look more favorably on him as Lord Hamilton and Emma's true suitor. His plan turns out to be more complicated than he thinks when he has to take on all the head gardener's work for real, deal with the teasing of the other servants, spend time with Emma, and avoid Lady Babbage, the Duke's controlling sister's machinations. He calls in his friend, Lord Raikes to pretend to be him when the Duke invites Lord Hamilton (his true identity) to visit. The plot thickens when Lord Raikes, who is pretending to be him, develops a reciprocated strong attraction to Lady Catherine, the Duke's daughter and Emma's cousin. Lady Babbage turns out to be a blackmailer with lots of enemies among the house party attendees, which will have its own consequences. Richard's little wager with Emma to see if he could get her uncle to agree to a quicker marriage within a month's time, and the ensuing complications, makes for a caper of a read.
The Wicked Wager is a light historical romance with a dash of mystery that makes for an entertaining read. I appreciated the humor, light and sly, with some hilarious, laugh-out-loud moments. While I liked Emma and Richard, I connected more with Lord Raikes and Catherine. They had great chemistry, and while they fought a lot, you could see the tension sizzle between them, as they realize that they weren't supposed to like each other that way. The mystery plays a bigger role towards the end, which made me feel that it should have been more evenly integrated into the story.
The Wicked Wager was a fast-paced, enjoyable novel with some funny comedy of errors moments and engaging characters. Its strength lies in the humorous interactions between the characters, and the romantic tension between Lord Raikes and Catherine. Unfortunately, I didn't feel quite as much chemistry between Emma and Richard, compared to the secondary couple. Additionally, the mystery aspect felt uneven in its execution. It could have been stronger and more consistently integrated throughout the entire novel. Overall, The Wicked Wager is a story that readers who enjoy the Regency period would probably appreciate.
I liked this book and I couldn't put it down. But I honestly have to say I was almost repelled by Spencer initially. I mean ugh! Even if you are stron...moreI liked this book and I couldn't put it down. But I honestly have to say I was almost repelled by Spencer initially. I mean ugh! Even if you are strongly attracted to your best friend's fiancee', that doesn't mean you have a right to pursue that and wreck his engagement because you feel like you have a stronger bond with the woman than your friend. He didn't respect boundaries at all. Keep your octopus hands to yourself dude! I think his insistence on honesty came out of a sense of self-indulgence, arrogance and not true honor. If he was the better man he would have walked away. I wasn't sure I wanted him to be the hero of this book until well into the story. I thought Allison was much too good for him. He gave me this skeevy vibe that I couldn't get past. Towards the end of the book I felt better towards him, but I can't say I love him as a hero. He is merely okay to me. When I finished this book, I shrugged and thought, "If that's what she wants, okay." If I had a choice, I would have gone for a different hero with a lot more class than Spencer (and I'm not talking money and polish).
I really liked Allison. Despite her insecurities, she was twice the woman her sister was. Her sister had the same level of intelligence, but seemed kind of shallow, and I feel that her guilting her sister into pretending to be her with her fiance' was selfish and immature. Why would you do that to your sister? Put her in that situation, just so you could get a (view spoiler)[ surprise boob job (hide spoiler)] for your fiance' and not be sensitive to the distress you were causing her? I loved when Allison finally got fed up with both guys and came clean on the switch. That was the best part of the book. If I am going to be honest, I might as well lay it out here. My sister would never want me to go off to have a fling with a sleazy guy who was hitting on his best friend's fiancee'! I'd want him to stay far away from my sister, not helping her buy sexy clothes and unpacking her bras when she went off for her fling. Honestly, I don't find her sister's fiance' to be a deep man either. I hope they will be happy together in their shallowness. Your mileage may vary.
This book was pretty darn steamy. For a book written in 1985, I was like, wow. Very sensual. Sandra Brown knows how to write some sexy romance! I liked the voyage of discovery for Allison, and I liked that she realized that her life was a lot more open to possibilities than she could imagine. But I also liked that she did fall in love with Spencer instead of just being hot for him. That would have made the whole situation a lot more tawdry in my view than it had the potential to be. It was also a saving grace that Spencer clearly did fall in love Allison as well, instead of just being on the make. If not, I think I might have used this book as a hockey puck based on how he was acting at the beginning.
I think the fact that I enjoyed this book despite having very little respect for most of the characters is a sign of good writing by the author. If I just go with the flow, I can think of this as a fun, grown up version of The Parent Trap with a little bit of Love Potion No. 9 thrown in. A good oldie by this very popular and talented author.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I want to thank Shawna for recommending this book to me. In all honesty, I am not a huge fan of Nora Roberts' romance novels, although I do like her J...moreI want to thank Shawna for recommending this book to me. In all honesty, I am not a huge fan of Nora Roberts' romance novels, although I do like her JD Robb In Death series. While this book didn't change my opinion of her on convert her to a must-read author for me, I enjoyed this book, and I can see she is a very good writer. Having said that, I don't find her romance style very moving personally. As far as suspense, she definitely works better for me.
This novel feels like an odyssey. It starts with a very young, innocent teenage girl whose rigidly structured, emotionally vacant life is completely destroyed by one bad decision she makes out of rebellion. Nora Roberts invests us in the emotional and intellectual journey of this young woman, and I completely felt for and loved young Elizabeth. This was highly crucial to go back to when things went pear-shaped so that we could relate to the older version of this character, who is now living as Abigail Lowery.
What didn't work quite as well as the diversion that the storyline takes with the Blake family and their out-of-control son. While this was more germane to Brooks Gleason's (Abigail's love interest) narrative, I don't think it really tied very well into the main plot of Abigail, what and who she was running from, and I'm not sure it was that important to Brooks' characterization. Even at the end, I wasn't convinced that it was necessary to the story. More than anything, it was just added local color.
The romance part mostly worked for me, but it didn't set the page on fire. Roberts idea of romance just isn't dramatic enough for me. Even the sensual scenes didn't have much spark for me. I could see the love between Abigail and Brooks, and I really liked how Brooks was willing to be there for her and to be whatever she needed him to be. Although at the same time, Brooks could be quite obstinate and set in his ways kind of guy and forceful (in an aww-shucks, disarming but I'm a brickwall manner) about getting his way in situations. He was like a immovable mountain about some things, and Abigail had to be the one who changed her viewpoint in those areas. It was funny and kind of cute how he pushed Abigail out of her unemotional/controlled, Fortress of Solitude mien and left her completely discombobulated. I can see their marriage being very interesting, considering the way their personalities are so different. Where Abigail is the analytical, rule-oriented person, Brooks is very instinctive, and emotional. At the same time, he's a very steady guy who you know you can trust. That's highly appealing. I do feel like they were able to meet each other halfway and didn't steamroll each other, which was good. So I could believe they were a perfect match.
Ultimately, what I loved most of all is how Brooks was perfectly fine with earning his way in Abigail's insular life by letting his actions show he was trustworthy and that deserved her love. He also didn't try to take away Abigail's need to make decisions and autonomy in her life, because he knew how important that was. Sometimes, I imagine it was hard for him not to take it personally, but he looked past his own feelings to the whys and was willing to give her that and support her on things she really needed.
As for Abigail, I think loving Brooks helped her to grow in crucial ways. For her to know it was okay not to understand the rules for everything, and to just go with the flow emotionally in relationships that were based on mutual trust. I think the O'Hara/Gleason clan will be good for Abigail, but I think I would find them overwhelming at times. They are quite pushy! I can't imagine Abigail not feeling that way based on her previous familial frame of reference.
The Volkov storyline was very intriguing, but I was left feeling a little disappointed at the conclusion. The resolution made sense, but I was hoping for a more face to face confrontation. I guess that's the action/drama hound in me. I guess that was the best way to handle it, but man I would have loved some buttkicking and a show off. Abigail was kind of a bad@$$, but she never got to show it. Oh well.
Overall, this was a good read.
Things I loved:
*Such a brilliant, analytical, heroine *Brooks' laid back, but Bulldoggedly stubborn personality and his southern charm. *The descriptions and imagery built by Roberts writing. *Russian mafia storyline and how Abigail continually gets one over on them *Crazy O'Hara/Gleason family dynamics--like watching reality tv *Abigail's dog Bert *Small town slice of life
Ms. Brooke, I think we have a psychic connection. You picked up on what annoys me about too many of the Regency historicals coming out nowadays (thus...moreMs. Brooke, I think we have a psychic connection. You picked up on what annoys me about too many of the Regency historicals coming out nowadays (thus causing me to avoid them). You took every element that annoys me and turned those conventions around and wrote a book that I enjoyed very much. Thank you!