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.
**spoiler alert** This was a slow-starter that threw me a curve ball, as I ended up getting fairly engrossed in the story. I started this as a quick i...more**spoiler alert** This was a slow-starter that threw me a curve ball, as I ended up getting fairly engrossed in the story. I started this as a quick in-between book as I knocked out my review books, and the next thing I knew, I was fully engaged.
Characters: I really liked Eleanor’s spunk and her unbeatable, strong nature. She’d faced so much in her young life, despite its idyllic start. Her mother married a depraved, abusive man who drove her into an early grave, after her father lost his head when he was implicated in a plot to usurp Queen Mary’s (Mary I, known as Bloody Mary, Elizabeth I’s older sister, a devout Catholic who persecuted and had many Protestant English subjects killed) reign. Now she was facing molestation at the hands of her stepfather if she didn’t flee from his house. She was strong enough to take care of herself and make decisions on her own future, even if it caused her to dress as a man and seek safe passage with her enemy. Even though Eleanor could have come off as bratty, she never did. I could understand her dislike for William, considering that she believed he turned in her father in the plot against Queen Mary to save his skin. I could also understand her reasons for resisting her feelings for William and later marrying another man. She wasn’t one to go off on a tangent with little information. She processed the situation to the best of her understanding, and made rational decisions. I ended up liking Eleanor a lot, and admired her early on in this story.
William started out as a hero who seemed a bit on the harsh, arrogant, bracing side. As the book progresses, I saw that he had a caring, loving heart. He didn’t want to fall for Eleanor, but she found a way into his heart, and he remained steadfast to her. I admit I liked his determined, possessive feelings for her. He took her sudden marriage in stride, and didn’t let that stand in his way for long.
For the brevity of the focus spent on the secondary characters, I did find them interesting, and their motives captured the period well, illustrating the intrigues and the dangers of the English Monarchs' courtlife. I especially liked Godfrey, William's close friend. He was captivating enough to be the hero in his own book!
Plot: I saw Eleanor’s marriage to another man coming and I was really worried. I really dislike adultery in romance novels. I have to admit that the handling of it wasn’t as obnoxious as I feared. Eleanor’s marriage to Martin was a beard relationship (It turns out Martin is 100% gay and most people know it, and she actually got tricked and pressured into it). I liked that she took it seriously though, and didn’t lightly enter into an adulterous relationship with William. And I was glad that it didn’t stay adulterous for long.
I feel that the adventure/intrigue plot could have been more strongly developed . The culprit behind William’s being transported/shanghaied, who had betrayed Eleanor’s father was revealed in a way that was a bit anticlimactic, and so was the final confrontation scene. And sadly, he was an interesting character. I think it would have made for a very intense climax if executed differently. But the romance aspect of the relationship made up for that short-coming. I found Eleanor and William’s romance captivating, and you could see that their love was strong, not just based on outward attractiveness and lust, but a true respect and kinship. They were both survivors with strong instincts of family and honor, and saw that in each other.
Setting: This book was a bit odd for an Elizabethan. I thought some of the descriptions was a bit on the generic side, and the dialogue didn’t always ring true for me. Overall, the author captured the period well, but I felt that she could have made the novel more authentic in that regard. Queen Elizabeth shows up in the background, but the book doesn’t show Eleanor interacting with her at all. In one scene, William greets and pays court to the Queen, but that’s as much as we actually see Elizabeth in the story. The focus is more of the other aspects of court life. I find Elizabeth an interesting historical figure. Although I’m not much of an historical fiction reader, I do enjoy reading romance books where she plays a role. I was disappointed that she wasn’t in this book more. It seemed like a wasted opportunity for me.
Overall Thoughts: I didn’t have high expectations for this one initially, but it turned out to be an entertaining read. I liked the characters, and I enjoyed the Elizabethan setting, although I think it could have been more fleshed out. I think some readers would enjoy this one, especially for the romance aspects. It was pretty good, but not a book that would give four stars to. Thus, the 3.75/5.0 star rating. (less)
I was hoping for a good, older Harlequin goodie when I picked this up, but I didn't get my fix that I wanted. Reading this was like swimming through m...moreI was hoping for a good, older Harlequin goodie when I picked this up, but I didn't get my fix that I wanted. Reading this was like swimming through molasses. I don't know if it was my mood or if the story just didn't do it for me. I suspect it was a bit of both. Now I am not the girl who thinks every book she reads needs to have descriptive sex, so that wasn't my problem with this book. It was that I didn't feel the love between David and Eve. Eve was fighting tooth and nail not to feel anything, I do get. She was recovering from a damaging relationship with a man who turned out to be married, which I can respect. However, the execution on that was poor. I never felt that Eve had an ethical dilemma with the adultery so much as that he was thinking of leaving his wife for her, and specifically his kids. Yes, taking a man away from his children is bad, but it's also bad to participate in an adulterous relationship and contributing to a man betraying his wife is equally bad. I didn't expect Eve to wear a scarlet letter 'A', but she didn't seem to have any angst about the actual act of cheating. The author threw in a casual 'he said he was separated', which means nothing to me. He's still married. So, yes, that was an issue with this book.
The other issue is just that it felt mediocre. No passions were stirred in the slightest. I didn't care about the love story. David was mildly appealing. He was a nice guy, he was attractive, but he was bland to me. I liked him, and that was as deep as it got. Eve was bland as well, when she wasn't abrasive. I didn't care about her that much. I normally like when the heroine is slow to fall for the hero and he has to work to woo her, when it's done well, but in the case of this book, it didn't work for me. As far as Eve, I didn't feel any sympathy for her and I don't think David did that much wooing.
End verdict: This was disappointing for a book of my favorite theme: marriage of convenience. I guess my needs for a good and quick romance were too great for this book to satisfy. I give it three stars because it wasn't a bad book, but it was just okay. Lukewarm is a good word for it. One thing I did like was the fact that David was a jewelry designer, and his creations sounded beautiful! Oh, and it was set in Chicago, a much beloved city to me. There was even a scene where David had ordered pizza. Chicago style pizza---sigh!(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 stayed up until 5:30am listening to this audiobook, because it was due back at the library today. I can't say that it was wasted time. It was a pret...moreI stayed up until 5:30am listening to this audiobook, because it was due back at the library today. I can't say that it was wasted time. It was a pretty good book and the narrator, Davina Porter does a satisfying job. However, I didn't love this book. I think the major issue I had was that I found most of the characters unlikable.
Charlotte did grow on me. She had some notions and beliefs that weren't ideal (she tended to be very naive about things and was somewhat snobbish and judgmental towards others), but at heart, she was a decent person. She matured a lot over the course of this book, and I liked how her feelings evolved for Thomas Pitt and how they changed from where they were initially. My favorite character, Inspector Thomas Pitt, doesn't have a point of view. We only see him though the eyes of the Ellison family, including Dominic, who is married to the oldest daughter, Sarah. It's a shame, because he's the only character I truly liked and respected without reservation. I guess I can say that I didn't have anything against Carolyn, the mother, but she lacked depth to me. She seemed to be a cipher for a 'good Victorian wife' and did not seem to know how to be true to herself. I am not being judgmental. I completely understand the pressures that were on her.
After all, this book focuses a sharp lens on the Victorian woman and the tremendous societal forces on her. In some ways, this book is more of a social commentary than a suspense novel. Yes the mystery is prominent, because someone is murdering young women (and the police are hunting for the killer) and this affects the lives of the Ellison family on a deeply personal level. But I feel that this series of murders is really more of a catalyst for the exploration of characters in this family and an examination of their individual roles in this microcosmic society of their family and the people they interact with in their periphery.
Anne Perry seems to know Victorian society. While she does not info-dump facts about the time period, the narrative doesn't bypass any opportunities to give the reader insight on the time period. I think that this was well-done. Perry uses characters, situations and conversations to convey the social mores of the times. It was pretty evident that Victorian women did not have it easy, whether they were upper class, titled society women or lower class women. It was just a question of whether they had the dubious security of marriage or the uncertain and likely demoralizing life of a single woman with few prospects as far as earning a living. Through the eyes of Carolyn and Sarah, we learn what it's like to be married to a man who we must spend our lives with and take care of, be the perfect wives to, and hope that they take their marriage vows as seriously as we do. And if they do not, we don't really have the agency to leave him or hold him accountable for his failings as a husband. Through Emily, we learn about the society girl's quest for an advantageous marriage to a man who clearly has shortcomings, but we have to make the most of the man and the opportunity. Martha Prebble's character is the vicar's wife, and she has spent many years subjugated to an unfeeling moralist, which has done her great emotional and mental damage. Charlotte is the next oldest daughter who has always felt alienated from society and who has been in love with her sister's husband for several years, but is unable and unwilling to act upon those feelings.
As you can see, there is a built-in complexity to this novel, despite the subtle presentation. It gave me something to think about, but as I said earlier, it was hard to get as invested as I wanted, since the characters were largely unsympathetic in their point of views. I don't know if that was a failing of the narrator in how she conveyed their POVs, or just the things they said and did. The characters seemed to be in a state of arrested development, although I did see growth in Charlotte's character, and Sarah as well. I especially disliked Dominic. I felt little sympathy for him, but then I have a huge issue with marital infidelity. Not to mention his inherent sexism. He treated his wife and other women like they were intellectually inferior to him. He was also a self-absorbed snob. Emily was a brat, and I didn't care for her manipulative nature. Thomas, on the other hand, had a maturity, a depth of character, and a firm, steady personality that allowed him to navigate the stormy seas of both high society and the rookeries to get his man. His love and admiration for Charlotte made me like her more as a person. I felt that Thomas Pitt showed great insight into the other characters that helped Charlotte to get past her emotional involvement with her family and societal counterparts and at the same time to trust her instincts about human nature as well.
After much rambling, I have come to the point of concluding this review. This was a good book. It had some insights to offer this reader, but it lacked characters that I could feel for, with the exception of Thomas and Charlotte, and to a lesser degree, Carolyn and Sarah. I felt terrible for those girls who were murdered, and I wish that more of the characters in this book were able to feel the wrongness and the waste of young life for reasons that were quite disturbing with the final reveal in this novel. The whole structure of this novel points to the issues of Victorian society in which hypocrisy is a facade for dark decay and the deep dysfunction that was integral to its institution.
I'd give this book 3.5/5.0 stars. Fortunately, my library has more of these on audio, so I will continue this series.(less)
A young wife convinces her friend to have a baby with her husband, but then hightails it off with her lover, leaving pregnant friend to deal with angr...moreA young wife convinces her friend to have a baby with her husband, but then hightails it off with her lover, leaving pregnant friend to deal with angry husband, who thinks the friend had something to do with the wife leaving. She dies soon after in a fiery car crash, leaving a friend pregnant with the baby of her husband. What a tangled web!
Not a fan of adultery theme in romance, but this one was so well done. I couldn't help thinking, why didn't they do artificial insemination? Did the husband really have to sleep with her friend to get her pregnant? I guess it's best not to ask that question, but to enjoy the story. It sets things up for future interactions (as the hero realizes that his obsessed with the heroine, and she was in love with him for years prior to the baby-making encounter).
The hero is very possessive of the heroine, despite the fact that he was married and the heroine is merely the surrogate. However I imagine sleeping together would forge such bonds (and since he was her first lover and the father of the baby, it probably engendered possessive feelings). The hero walks a tightrope of being a cruel hero versus a caring hero. He demands that the heroine live under his roof and allow him to take care of her. He pokes his head in often to see how her baby bump is growing. And he is livid when she insinuates that he might not be the baby's father after all, even though that is basically giving him a Get Out of Jail Free card. Yes, he's a very alpha hero, and happens to be a high profile lawyer (or barrister as they call trial lawyers in England).
Strangely, this was a book I couldn't put down (although I freely admit I love the pregnancy theme). I pondered the convoluted relationship between the hero and the heroine, and the wife, who actually didn't even really want a baby, but felt like she should want one because she thought that's what the hero wanted. He wanted a baby because he felt like his wife was heartbroken about being barren. Poor heroine is in the middle. Her mom needs surgery for her health, and by having the baby, she is able to afford the surgery. Of course, this makes her look like a gold digger to the hero who sees her faults with a magnifying glass, yet is able to overlook his wife's faults (including an ongoing affair) pretty easily. He has decided that she saved her virginity to trade for a higher paycheck (That makes no sense except to a HP hero). I have decided that the hero fell madly in love with the heroine and was tormented by the fact that he loved her instead of his wife. That is why he is so possessive and borderline domineering of her.
Ah, Life According to Harlequin Presents. I have a list of things I won't be doing after twenty plus years of reading these books. But we won't get into that.
Although this is probably a book that most people wouldn't want to read, I really enjoyed it. Thus it has a spot on my keeper shelf.
Mild spoiler: They named the baby Justine, since the hero was a barrister. I thought that was very cute. :)(less)
**spoiler alert** This one was way over the top for me. Too much in one book. Let's list off the eye-raising events:
1)Hero is marrying a lesbian (in t...more**spoiler alert** This one was way over the top for me. Too much in one book. Let's list off the eye-raising events:
1)Hero is marrying a lesbian (in the closet but is doing a very poor job of hiding her sexual orientation) who is clearly having an affair with her physical therapist, but he is clueless about it.
2)So he marries the in the closet lesbian (even though he clearly has feelings for his wedding planner the heroine), who runs off with her lover on their wedding day.
3)He then sleeps with the heroine on his wedding night while he is still married to the closet lesbian who ran off on him with her lover who was her physical therapist
4)They decide to wait until their oldest child is five years old to finally get married.
Maybe I'm too conservative for a storyline like this. I'm not here to judge anyone's lifestyles, but this is not really what I'm looking for in a category romance. I could have handled one or two of these aspects in the plot, but not all of them on top of each other. Miranda Lee loves to push the envelope in the Harlequin Presentsland. I think she pushed it a little too much in this one for me. (less)
I am sitting here trying to deal with the fact that this book ends on a cliffhanger from deepest pit of Hades. Why??? I cry in agony! And why would th...moreI am sitting here trying to deal with the fact that this book ends on a cliffhanger from deepest pit of Hades. Why??? I cry in agony! And why would the publisher end Sara Reinke's contract and leave the third book unpublished? It's evil!
Dark Hunger picks up after Dark Thirst ends. This book is about Brandon's (the hero from Dark Thirst) sister, Tessa. Tessa has ran away from her husband, pregnant with her husband's baby. She wants a better life for her baby than she knows it will have with a mother who is the sixth, and lowest wife of a cruel man, living in a house ran by his evil first wife. Brandon, his love Lina, Lina's ex-partner Rene, and Tessa go on the road to find their way to California, and to escape the Elders, the killing machines that the Brethren send after rogue vampires. Tessa and Rene aren't exactly friends when their trip starts. In fact, they flagrantly dislike each other. Rene sees spoiled princess when he looks at Tessa, and Tessa sees lazy playboy when she looks at Rene. Not exactly what you would expect to turn into a love match. But it does.
This might be a romance, but it's also very dark and gritty. In fact, Reinke's vampires are probably the darkest I've seen yet in vampire romance. They are monsters in human form. I thought I would hate Tessa for the rest of the book after she rips a poor, helpless vagrant man's throat out to feed on his blood. At the time, her bloodlust got the best of her. The Brethen think of humans as lower than cattle. They feel that humans are only useful to do the menial tasks on their Kentucky farm, and for feeding on in their horrible acts of Bloodlust. So in all fairness, Tessa doesn't really know any better. Although I was horrified at first, it didn't take long to begin to see Tessa as a sympathetic character. As for Rene, well I liked him from the first time we met in Dark Thirst. He is a good person. He has done some less than admirable things, and he commits an act in this book that really made me unhappy with him, but he does it for the reasons he believes are right. Sigh.
I loved Rene's tenderness towards Tessa. He's a real gentlemen, even though Tessa has a hard facade that would make her a very annoying person to travel with. Thankfully, he soon comes to realize that Tessa hides her fear and vulnerability behind that facade. As Brandon learned to withdraw into himself to escape from the cruelty of the Brethren, Tessa forms a hard shell around herself for her own survival. Rene breaks through that shell to the sweet girl inside, causing her to fall in love with him. He does this by showing her tender concern (even taking a bullet to protect her) when all she's gotten from people around her was cruelty for years. I really loved their tender moments together, how they seemed to connect physically and emotionally. They were two lost souls who found each other. I guess the fact that Tessa is married when she and Rene get together should bother me. It didn't. Probably because the frame of reference is so different from real life, it's hard to put my moral beliefs into this story. Also Tessa's husband is a low-life creep who treated her like dirt, and he's got five other wives, as well. Still, I feel it fair to post this warning for any reader who doesn't like adultery in her/his romance books. To be honest, there so much other dark stuff going on, you really don't have the time or energy to fixate on that aspect.
I liked seeing Brandon and Tessa reconnect. They are twins who were very close growing up, but grew apart when Tessa was married to Martin Davenant, part of a family who hates and resists the dominant Noble house. The schism that forms between them is due to the heavy emotional burdens that they both carry and try to hide from each other. I was glad that they were able to rekindle their familial connection and closeness in this story.
Dark Hunger is one of those books that simply sucks you in, and you don't want to put it down. The characters are very real and you feel for them. Rene is a man who is tortured by his past and what he lost. He dearly wants to have a future full of hope, and sees that Tessa and her baby could be his future. Tessa feels a longing to love and be loved by a good man like Rene, and to make a home for her beloved baby. How could you not feel for them? Of course, Brandon is as adorable and as sweet as ever. I just want to hug him. I despised Brandon and Tessa's whole family, and most of the Brethen. I think they are soulless monsters, for the most part, even though Reinke's concept of vampires is more realistic than most. You wonder how they could breed such a gentle, loving person like Brandon. Tessa has some of the darker traits of the Brethren, but her love for her unborn child, her devotion to Brandon, and her desire for Rene to think well of her endows her with a humanity that most of the other Brethren lack. As before, I felt like Lina's character doesn't really come to life as well as Rene, Brandon, and Tessa, but I do like her, and I am happy to see that she and Brandon are still together and in love.
I would say this was a really great follow up to Dark Thirst. I fell head over heels for Rene, finding him a hero that stands out in my mind, for and despite his flaws and his good heart. Tessa was a heroine you could grow to like as you realized she did have a good heart, but had to get away from the Brethren to become the woman she was meant to be. But even before that, she had a strength and a fortitude that was admirable when considering the circumstances she faced. I think this book is a very good dark urban fantasy, emphasis on dark. There are some fairly gritty moments and some brutal scenes of violence, but any vampire fan could more than handle the violence, in my opinion. As I said, these vampires are really nasty. It's hard to feel much sympathy for them (other than Brandon, Tessa, and Rene, a half-vampire).
I am pretty upset that this book ended the way it did. It wouldn't bother me if the publishers hadn't pulled the third installment. Just evil! I hope that I can get an electronic copy of the third book, because I have to know how things end from this point. Update: Ms. Reinke contacted me to let me know that this book is available in electronic and print form from Double Dragon Publishing. The link should be in blurb description for this book on Goodreads. I know I'll picking Dark Passion up next to see where Ms. Reinke takes this fascinating series.(less)
**spoiler alert** This was a fairly angsty book. The hero did something that angered me, but I was able to keep reading it. The heroine didn't always...more**spoiler alert** This was a fairly angsty book. The hero did something that angered me, but I was able to keep reading it. The heroine didn't always act very mature herself. But there are circumstances that made me want to keep reading and see them for flawed human beings.
It started when Marisa and Lorenzo's mothers were friends in boarding school. They promised that their children would marry each other. Years later, both Marisa and Lorenzo have this promise hanging over each other's heads. Not to mention that Marisa feels indebted to Lorenzo's family for taking care of her when she is orphaned. She doesn't find this out until her nasty cousin and guardian tells her after she has gone on a date with another man.
I could understand Marisa's resentment towards Lorenzo. Who wants to marry a guy who clearly doesn't want her but is doing so because of a promise made between their mothers? Lorenzo tries to woo her in a distant fashion, but he doesn't really show the warmth and reassurance a young, awkward girl would need. Things just get worse when they get married. Pretty soon, they are living apart.
That's when Lorenzo does the stupid thing that made me want to slap him. He sleeps with a married lady out of hurt pride because Marisa won't take his calls or answer his letters. I tried to be fair and put myself in his place, but I felt it was wrong to cheat on his wife. He should have just went to England to find her and work things out. Finally he does this when his father has a health scare and he gets a report that Marisa might be seeing her boss.
So he convinces Marisa to come back home as his wife. Things really don't get better from here. They are both stubborn and emotional, and don't know how to communicate. It was quite frustrating to read. Then we find out that Marisa might not be able to fulfill her obligations in the first place. That was really painful.
I felt this was a good book, and it really did get me involved. The ending is bittersweet but hopeful as they make a commitment to love each other for the rest of their lives.
I'd actually give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.(less)
I deliberately took a long hiatus on this series. Not because I didn’t love it, or that I was bored. No! Quite the contrary. I did it because it was d...moreI deliberately took a long hiatus on this series. Not because I didn’t love it, or that I was bored. No! Quite the contrary. I did it because it was doggone heartbreaking to run out of books after Kiss of a Demon King. Now, I have accumulated a nicely sizable stock of IAD stories, and I am good to go, if having to avoid spoilers like the plague doesn’t put a bit of a crimp in my style.
The Story: It was quite fun to see besotted Lykae, Garreth MacRieve chasing after his reluctant (for the most part) Valkyrie mate, Lucia. You see, Lucia totally has the hots for Garreth, but she has some really good reasons to give him the cold shoulder. For the most part, this didn’t bother me. I like to see the hero doing the chasing. And Lucia did show that she had feelings for Garreth. There were a couple of things she did to discourage Garreth that I wasn’t fond of. And I didn’t like the way she treated them the day after the night in the temple. (view spoiler)[ Thankfully, she saved his life from the anaconda and apologized nicely, so I forgave her (hide spoiler)].
(view spoiler)[I do have to say that I was dismayed that Lucia was married. I hate cheating. I just do. I convinced myself that emotionally she was divorced or annulled from her horrid, disgusting, awful husband, and he didn’t deserve her. But I just wish authors didn’t go there. Yes, this is a series about pagan immortals and my set of values clearly don’t apply, but I feel much better when I read a romance with a pair who is not married to someone else. Having said that, it was an interesting idea, Lucia being married to a being of legend, a horrible thing who made her wedding night unspeakable. I also liked that Lucia saved herself and Garreth. And I loved that Garreth’s love for Lucia kept him from killing her, able to fight off her husband’s magic just long enough to keep him from hurting Lucia. (hide spoiler)]
As usual, Kresley Cole writes a blisteringly hot romance story. Here I am reading this book at the gym on the elliptical, with my eyes glued to the pages, which were singeing my fingers. Oh, my! Ms. Cole writes so many good foreplay scenes, you are eagerly awaiting the big moment, and of course, you are not disappointed.
I loved the adventure aspects. The trek into the Amazon, and the natural, strange but natural creatures, and of course, the Loreans that Garreth and Lucia encountered made for an exciting read. She didn’t let the tension wane in any way, sexual or storyline-wise. And there are so crazy, over the top action scenes that I loved. I didn’t know what to expect, and I wasn’t bored for one second. Lucia holds her own against enormous caimans, crazed assassins, shapeshifters, vile, cannibalistic gods, and crazy humans. Garreth ain’t shabby either. My werewolf fixation was very much appeased with him! A girl could do no better than to have a devoted Lykae mate out to protect her and to meet her every need! Hot and sultry, this book was, in many ways. The treasure hunt was a nice addition, giving this book that Indiana Jones vibe that I love. I have a feeling that some of the happenings in this book will have repercussions in the next, and I am eagerly awaiting to see how those chips fall.
The Characters: Ms. Cole was able to distinguish Lucia from her Valkyrie sisters by giving Lucia a more serious bent than her other sisters. She had a lot of emotions simmering underneath that she had to keep leashed. While most of her Valkyrie sisters are party animals, she has to stay in control and honor her vows. Her situation was a tough one, with her obligations that kept her from living a full life. She was punishing herself for childish choice she made when she was a very young girl. That’s one thousand years of guilt. Way too many! I liked her rationality, and I loved her archery skills. She was freaking awesome! I liked that she had a soft spot for Garreth, and it wasn’t just lust. She really liked the guy and cared for him. And she really, truly showed how much he meant to her, going after him in his time of need. If I didn’t like her before, she definitely won me over at this point.
Like pretty much all of KC’s heroes, I adored Garreth. Sexy, sweet, tough, funny, intelligent, and devoted, very devoted. It’s safe to say that when he makes a commitment, he keeps it. And when he loves, he loves, to the bottom of his soul. He just about broke my heart near the end of this story. But this story has a happy ending, so fear not.
The secondary characters are always entertaining and well-drawn. Ms. Cole has a great imagination, creating characters that populate her ever-expanding Lore, and making me even more of a devoted reader. I love the romance, but the world-building was an equally powerful factor in making me a fan of this series. It’s very distinct and fascinating, full of legend and myth that makes this paranormal romance into fantasy adventure, and keeps me coming back for more. When I meet new characters, I hope that Ms. Cole will bring them back so I can see what their story is, and where this series will lead them. I have to say that Lothaire is one character that I have my eye on. What is his deal??? Inquiring minds! And the epilogue….Evil. She’s evil! I am so glad that I have the next book waiting in the queue.
Some Questions to Finish This Review: Did I love this story? Yes‼‼ Sexy romance, humor, adventure, fascinating storylines. They are all there for the intrepid reader. Was I satisfied? Oh, yes‼! Am I excited for the next book? Absolutely‼! Would I recommend this series? You aren’t reading it? Do you like paranormal romance? If the answer is yes, hop to it! ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Well, I must say I was very pleasantly surprised with Ashes of Midnight. Because I have had a crush on Andreas for a while, I've been looking forward...moreWell, I must say I was very pleasantly surprised with Ashes of Midnight. Because I have had a crush on Andreas for a while, I've been looking forward to this book, although this seems to be a least favorite of a lot of fans of this series. Veil of Midnight ended with things in an abysmal place for Andreas. His whole family was wiped out through an act of his enemy, Wilhelm Roth, who is highly placed in the Enforcement Agency. This book begins in medias res of Andreas' brutal quest for vengeance. Andreas has the gift of summoning fire, and he uses it to devastating effect against his enemies. It's only a matter of time when his former love, Claire, ends up in his path. She's the breedmate (term for a wife/life-partner in the vampire world) to his enemy, and has been for thirty years. He left her because of his problem with the uncontrollable fire that wells from deep within him, and when he returned, she was married to Roth. Since then, he's stayed away, and lived the life of a playboy and leader of his Darkhaven in Berlin. But all that was taken away from him by Roth.
Andreas is a man driven by vengeance. The only thing that penetrates this thirst is the love he felt for Claire, which never faded. It puts him in an impossible position, because he won't give up his determination to kill Roth, even if Claire begs him to. Although I didn't always agree with the choices that Andreas made, I could see why he made them. That gave me a level of understanding for his actions. He was truly in a bad place. His gift of firestarting had unwittingly caused him to do something that haunted him with guilt, and he knew that every time he summoned fire, his ability to control this devastating force lessened, and his bloodlust got stronger. Even though he was murdering his enemies in a very brutal fashion, at heart, I could see that he was a good man. He'd just been driven over the edge by his enemy's actions. And he harbored no illusions that his own choices would lead to his own demise. His goal was to destroy Roth, even at the cost of his own life.
I actually ended up liking Claire quite a bit. Marrying Roth was a bad decision on her part, but with Andreas gone and her all alone in the world, she clung to Roth as her only security. She paid dearly for that, trapped in an loveless marriage for thirty years. When Andreas turns up again, she is faced with the horrible conflict of being between the man she loves and the man she owes her loyalty to. Although I thought she was a bit too trusting of Roth initially, I could see why. Claire was a very honorable, loyal person. She made vows and she wanted to keep them. Too bad she made them to the wrong man. That was clear, because she felt the same intense love for Andreas she had felt so many years before, even though he comes back into her life as a violent, enraged, and dangerous man. She's a gentle, but strong person. Her loyalty and steadfast love is the only thing that has the power to save Andreas.
The adventure in this story was really good. I loved the concept of Andreas having the gift of fire. It was very cool and cinematic. And kind of intimidating. He was literally so hot, he could incinerate anything that came near him. He could summon fireballs and make things explode. Very cool. I also liked that his gift had a cost to him. It was getting out of control, and it summoned an insatiable lust for blood. The conflict built to a very good climax, and I was very satisfied with the resolution (which has not been the case with most of the other books).
I thought the love between Andreas and Claire was very apparent. This book was also pretty steamy. Although I don't like adultery in books (to me Claire was married in every sense of the word, even though vampire marriage is different), I felt that they were in a tough situation, and Roth had manipulated both of them, giving them little choices in the matter. I didn't like the idea of Claire being blood-bonded to another man when I heard about this book, but I think Ms. Adrian handled it pretty well. It was clear that Andreas and Claire belonged together, and their bond was a much more powerful one than the bond with Roth.
Ashes of Midnight turned out to be my favorite in this series so far. I think that everything was pretty well done, and Ms. Adrian took one of my least favorite concepts (reunited lovers) and made a very good read with it. She has a good feel for mood and tone. Her writing is clear and strong, telling a fast-moving, interesting story in this book. I felt the urgency of the situation that the Order faces. The threat of the crooked politicians in the Enforcement Agency and the nefarious plans of Dragos. Things are culminating to a very dangerous confrontation with each book. I realized that I don't like all the foul language in this series, but I try to overlook it. I think that it ties into the dark, gritty vibe that Ms. Adrian is going for (even if it causes me more than a few winces when I read). This series just gets better and better in its execution. She tied everything together from the past books very well. It was good to see all the Breed warriors and their mates. I love how Renata fights with the men. She rocks! I think Ms. Adrian does a good job of integrating and involving the breedmates into the work of the Order, making them more than just chess pieces after their book is over. I respect her for that. I am excited to see where things go with the storyline. I look forward to reading Kade, Brock, Chase, and Hunter's stories.
Okay, there are tons of reviews on this book, and I can't add too much to the review ether that hasn't already been said. But, I promised to write a r...moreOkay, there are tons of reviews on this book, and I can't add too much to the review ether that hasn't already been said. But, I promised to write a review for every book I read, so I'll do this in an different kind of way. How about a Q&A session about this book?
Question and Answer Session With Danielle Regarding Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
1. So, you finally read it. How does it feel to read this 850 page magnum opus?
I feel a profound sense of accomplishment. I'm glad that I 'womaned-up' and faced this super-duper long book. This is the longest book I've ever read (other than the Bible, which I've read in parts, although I haven't made it through all the way yet). I'm verra, verra glad I chose this book for a challenge, thus had to read it in a certain time period. I might have put it off longer, and missed the marvelous book that it was.
2.What do you think of Jamie Fraser?
Are there words to describe him? He is just fantastic. I can't imagine how D. Gabaldon created such a wonderful, wonderful character. I have standards for my "heroes to die for", and he meets all those standards. What a beautiful, wonderful man! Claire is a lucky woman.
3. Was this a difficult read?
I have to say that it wasn't. I did have to apply myself. This was more because I don't care for long books. I like to read shorter books so I can move onto the next book faster. This book felt like it could be 2 1/2 books. However, it wasn't boring. It was interesting seeing life back then, and how Claire, who is from the 20th century, reacted to it. I love books about Scotland and Scottish people. Their way of life sort of resonates with me. And the characters were very vivid and fascinating. And the romance was to die for. And Jamie is just awesome!!!
4. What was your favorite aspect of this book?
Jamie Fraser! My second favorite aspect for the powerful love story between Claire and Jamie. They are definitely a couple that was meant to be together. I thought that the fact that she was married in the future would bother me, but it didn't. I thought of Frank as being her past life, and although she truly loved Frank, he wasn't her soulmate like Jamie was (can I write a review without using that 'S' word? Apparently not). I so wanted her to stay with Jamie. There was no contest. And Claire was used to rustic living, since she'd grown up on digs with her uncle. I also liked seeing Claire do her medical treatments (I love medicine). I also liked the adventure and the fighting.
5. What didn't you like about this book?
Well, I hated Randall, but I was supposed to! He was one sick puppy! I can't imagine how Claire felt to meet her husband's ancestor, and to know what a truly awful man he was. I hated some of the situations that Jamie and Claire faced and what they had to do. It made me sad that one evil man had caused this.
6. Would you recommend this book to other readers?
Absolutely, providing that one was committed to reading a book that is nearly 900 pages, and one enjoys historical books. No book is for all tastes, but I think those who might be interested in a story with a fantastic hero like Jamie, and an outstanding heroine like Claire, and those who are crazy about Scottish subject matter, should read it.
7.Has the bar been raised for Scottish Highlander romance?
Most definitely. I try not to compare books, because, well it isn't fair. But, now that I've read Outlander, I know in the back of my mind, an image of Jamie will crop up when I read future Highlander books.
8. Were parts of this book hard to read?
Oh, there was a couple of parts that made me wince. One part nearly broke my heart, but Claire really came through for Jamie, and it made me almost cry. It was beautifully done. I tend to read romance books for the hero moreso than the heroine, but I love a great heroine, and Claire is definitely that.
9.Okay, what if I don't like romance, and I think it's sappy nonsense. Can I still enjoy this book?
Well, I think this might convert you, if you don't enjoy romance. Barring that, I still think you'd enjoy this book. Not only is it a great romance, it's great historical fiction. And the time travel element, although not a huge part, is very intriguing. So, give it a try.
10.Danielle, what are you going to do, now that you've read Outlander?
Go to Disney World???? Just kidding! Honestly, I'm going to continue my reading adventures in my massive, ever-growing tbr pile, and I know eventually I will be drawn back to this series. But, I think I'll read some shorter books for a wee bit. I might take a break from Scottish Highlander romance for a while. I don't want to be disappointed because the book isn't Outlander.
11.It's about time to wrap this up. Anything you want to add?
Just a few things: The praise for Jamie Fraser is well-deserved. Ms. Gabaldon wrote a fantastic book, and I'm very glad I read it. I can now pat myself on the back, since I read this book. I'll consider it my War and Peace, in fact. I hope that those who are hesistant to read this book take the plunge. It was worth the time spent on it.(less)
I did give this two stars, but then I realized I really didn't like this book. So I downgraded it to one star. I submit this guy as a nominee for "Jac...moreI did give this two stars, but then I realized I really didn't like this book. So I downgraded it to one star. I submit this guy as a nominee for "Jackass Hero Award." Complete and utter pig of a man. One of those books you wish would end with the heroine telling the hero to get lost.(less)
**spoiler alert** This started out to be a pretty decent book, that I thought I'd enjoy. I did enjoy it for the most part. But towards the end, it kin...more**spoiler alert** This started out to be a pretty decent book, that I thought I'd enjoy. I did enjoy it for the most part. But towards the end, it kind of went downhill.
It's a personal thing. I couldn't get past the fact that Emily's father's blithe explanation for his committing adultery on his dying wife. He claimed he wanted to 'feel alive.' And how Emily accepts that after being estranged from him for almost two years. I don't like how that seemed to make everything okay. How about his wife dying and suffering from cancer? Did she get to feel alive when her husband couldn't even be faithful to her while she was sick? Why didn't focus on taking care of her instead of his own selfish needs? Frankly, I was disgusted by this. I realize that he felt bad about it, later. But, to dismiss what he did this lightly in words negated that he felt guilt about his actions. I mean, who cheats on their dying wife? Really!
Then it was the fact that Emily leaves Sebastian when his ex-girlfriend comes back and brags about him having sex with her on her wedding day. She goes crying back to her father, and he explains that men can be unfaithful because they don't equate sex and love together, and it was just something she had to accept about men. Letting men off the hook for their natures, allowing them not to be faithful and to sleep around, while woman aren't allowed, that is a big pet peeve of mine. I can't imagine a man giving his brokenhearted daughter that advice. To be honest, I can't imagine a daughter being that open with her father about her sex life at all!
Of course, I was pretty sickened by Sebastian having sex with a married woman on her wedding day, even if he only did it for a few seconds. I know he was disgusted, but he should have been disgusted enough not to do it in the first place. He knew he didn't love Lana. His pride was just hurt that she left him. He didn't even like or respect her. He just wanted her. Bleh.
This is why Miranda Lee just doesn't work for me, most of the time. She has to put these objectionable things in her books, that make it hard for me to feel positive towards the characters. Emily having had a full sexual past wasn't even the issue for me. I was okay with that. But the sexually callous attitudes shown by these characters towards the end of this story were a deal-breaker for me. I have a bad taste in my mouth just writing this review. Too bad. It started out a pretty good read. I think this one's going on the trade pile.(less)
Leon was quite the forceful, demanding, jealous type hero. His behavior was a little intimidating at times. It was like he decided he'd let his bride...moreLeon was quite the forceful, demanding, jealous type hero. His behavior was a little intimidating at times. It was like he decided he'd let his bride grow up, and then she was all his. He wasn't faithful to her while he was waiting, either. Sometimes I was a little disturbed by his actions, and Emily wasn't mature enough to handle a husband like him. She did a lot of antics that just made things worse, IMHO. I don't believe in a wife being under her husband's thumb, but she seemed to do things that would aggravate his jealous nature. Not very smart. He was the type would slit a guy's throat for looking at his wife. (Not that he did in this book. Just gave me that vibe). Mainly, he would do the whole "I'm going to punish you by making passionate love to you" type thing. It was a very good book, all the same. Not for the tastes of a reader who doesn't like an uber-alpha, macho, possessive type hero much.(less)
I do have to say that Nikolas is a very unique hero. He's dark and conflicted. He wants Emma but doesn't know what to do with her when he gets her. He...moreI do have to say that Nikolas is a very unique hero. He's dark and conflicted. He wants Emma but doesn't know what to do with her when he gets her. He does everything he can to destroy her love for him. But at the same time, he yearns for her love with all his heart. A romance novel, for certain. But I felt it was also a character study. Nikolas is a character that makes you want to keep reading to see if he'll get a clue and turn his life around. He almost waits too late, but a magical twist of fate sends him on the path to redemption. This is definitely one of Kleypas' more darker books, but it's worth the read. Just be prepared to meet a character who will make you look very closely at your concept of what a romance novel hero is.(less)
It's kind of hard to rate this book because I like some things about it, but at the same time a few things annoyed me. I don't know why I let a fictio...moreIt's kind of hard to rate this book because I like some things about it, but at the same time a few things annoyed me. I don't know why I let a fiction book get to me, but sometimes they do.
I think Brenda Jackson is a great writer. She really has a way of bringing a story to life. She writes some amazing chemistry between her characters, and also inspires poignancy in the reader. She doesn't rely on stereotypes, but makes her character realistic, human beings that anyone could relate to regardless of color.
But some reason, she just will not write a hero who is not a playboy. The closest she came was Spencer's Forbidden Passion, but in a way, he had a ladies' man vibe too. I guess it's just me who gets tired of all the romance novel heroes being players and womanizers. They always fight so hard not to fall in love and want their freedom. Personally I don't want a guy who's that afraid of commitment and marriage. For once I'd like to read one where the hero falls stone cold in love and is totally chasing after the reluctant heroine, wanting to spend his life with her. I am so over the playa playa hero (rolls eyes).
The other thing that bothered me is that this couple, Alyssa and Clint were married for five years due to a mix-up where they got married for a case, but the annulment never went through. I find it kind of hard to believe. If it were me and I did not want to be married to someone, I'd want my paperwork so legal that it was almost written in blood. This brings me to my pet peeve. They have basically been cheating on each other for five years. Yes, I know that technically they didn't know they were cheating because they didn't know they were married, but in my mind that's still cheating. And to make matters worse, Alyssa goes as far as making it to her wedding day and no one told her that she couldn't legally marry because she was already married (she was still in the same state). Another implausibility. And there's a line where Clint confronts Alyssa because he sees the announcement in the paper about her being married. Well she couldn't be married to the other guy legally because she was married to you. I was a little baffled by his logic.
The third thing that got under my skin is the fact they were playing around with each other sexually but knew they didn't want to stay married. That seemed pretty dangerous to me. Clint was coming onto Alyssa really hard. She was still a little bit sweet on him since they worked together five years ago. And hadn't been involved with anyone since she discovered her fiance had cheated with her conniving, nasty cousin Kim. I think it was a little unfair on Clint's part, turning on the Westmoreland Bachelor Seducer Who Doesn't Want to Get Married charm. In his mind he had registered that she was fairly inexperienced. I felt a little better about when Alyssa came to the conclusion that she did want a physical relationship although she knew they would part at the end of it.
One thing I liked was how both Clint and Alyssa had somewhat atypical jobs. Clint tamed and saved wild mustangs. Go, Clint. Alyssa was a website designer. Nice. I thought that Alyssa's angst because of her evil Poison Ivy cousin Kim was a nice element building up the characterization of Alyssa. She was sick of being afraid to have anything that might end up destroyed or sabotaged by her jealous cousin. I like how Clint supported her when Kim tried to start something at the function where Kim shows up with Alyssa's ex, Kevin. Oh the other thing that bothered me is why did Alyssa have to have bad sex with her fiance? Couldn't she have had good sex with him, but better sex with Clint ('Cause you know the hero has to be the best sex the heroine ever had. That's an unwritten rule.)?
So with the above issues, that apparently I am the only one in the world who has, I have to take off one star. Having said that, Taming Clint Westmoreland was a good read and it was a very pleasant way to spend a few hours. And it was nice to reunite with the large and growing Westmoreland clan.
**spoiler alert** I didn't like that while they were apart, he slept with other women, but she was still faithful. Plus I think that she did more of t...more**spoiler alert** I didn't like that while they were apart, he slept with other women, but she was still faithful. Plus I think that she did more of the conceding and apologizing, while he had some apologizing and compromise to do himself. I really like this author's writing, but this is my least favorite of hers that I've read. I think she did the separated and reunited couple much better the second time around with Public Wife, Private Mistress. At least in that book, I can pretend the hero didn't sleep with other women, although I am fairly certain he did not. At any rate, in my fantasy wishes he didn't because he was still in love with his wife. This guy, didn't act like a man who was still in love. He acted as though he was out to punish his wife. Not real romantic to me.(less)
**spoiler alert** I ended up rebuying this book after I gave it away because the hero was married while he started a relationship with the heroine. Ad...more**spoiler alert** I ended up rebuying this book after I gave it away because the hero was married while he started a relationship with the heroine. Adultery is one of my pet peeves. However, I regretted it, because this was a very good book. The heroine has scarred vocal chords, and is very self-conscious about the way she talks. She bonds with the hero's son, who also has a disability (I believe he is deaf). This was a very intense, emotional book. I wish that the hero had fessed up that he was still married, but otherwise, I really enjoyed it. So I had to rebuy it. That is a lesson to me. That's why I don't get rid of books that I love or like very much. In the long run, it ends up costing more because a lot of my old favorites become hard to find, such as, Desire Has No Mercy, which I finally got another copy of. This is vintage Susan Napier, and she's always good.(less)