Reread Completed for Immortals After Dark 2013 Group Reread (July 5-7, 2013)
This is the one that started it all. It's been great to go and revisit th Reread Completed for Immortals After Dark 2013 Group Reread (July 5-7, 2013)
This is the one that started it all. It's been great to go and revisit the first book of one of my favorite paranormal romance series (and book series) of all time. Even after rereading again it so many years later, it still holds an enormous appeal. I just fell into this story head-first. I have to say that the world that Kresley Cole has built stands distinctive and very strongly in the genre. This book reads more like fantasy with sex/romance than just paranormal romance (while there is nothing wrong with the later, a book that can carry itself in the fantasy world-building as strongly as the romance is even better).
I didn't forget how hot Cole writes love scenes. It's funny that although I don't consider myself a fan of erotica, I connect so strongly with her story in which the sex is frequent and blistering hot. Maybe it's because she writes it so well and there is so much else going on along with it. At any rate, this woman has you reaching for a cold drink indeed!
Still fantastic. Still delicious. While I refuse to choose a favorite IAD hero, Nikolai does retain a soft spot in my heart. He makes a non-vampire lover into a sign me up first convert. He's rough and unpolished, vengeful towards Myst. But his heart is so vulnerable, and he gives it on the platter very early on. I can't resist a hard, tough hero with a soft heart. A girl could not do much better to have Wroth as her devoted husband. Even though he screws up very badly, oh boy does he make up for it! Major sighworthy points! Definitely on my hero to die for shelf for all times.
Myst is a woman of delightful layers. She seems callous and cruel at first, but it doesn't take long to see what a big heart she has, her depths of devotion and caring. Myth's love of Nikolai's warrior-status and hard-earned battle scars was a distinctive part of her personality. At first, I had a problem with how she used her sexuality against her enemies, because I am not big on that, but I can understand the psychology behind it. What was used against her, she took for her own strength, and it was just one tool in her armament. I sympathized with her over her broken heart when she finds out what Nikolai was hiding from her. I didn't like what she did to him initially and so I didn't think his reaction was that bad. I think she met him tit for tat and respected his manner of dealing with her, knowing that he was the man for her because of his strengths and how it felt to be in his embrace.
As a couple, I loved their courtship, warts and all. When they weren't fighting, there was a lot of tenderness between. It wasn't just about sexual attraction. Even before sex was possible, I could see that bond forming between them. For a short read, Kresley Cole beautifully builds a powerful love story that is missing in nothing, although I'd be lying if I didn't admit I would have loved a full-length novel.
I can't say too many good things about this novella. This is stellar reading for this reviewer. The mix of hot romance, oh-so tender love, laugh out loud humor, and familial and friendship bonds really works for me. I can see how Cole got a series deal out of this story. This is one of those novels that has you coming back for more.
*Pauses to think about the hotness of Nikolai Wroth and fans herself* Where was I?
***Original Review Below*** ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I read The Warlord Wants Forever out of the Playing Easy to Get anthology. I actually read this one second in the Immortals After Dark series because I read A Hunger Like No Other first. I remember reading A Hunger and being like, "Who are Myst and Nikolai?" When I realized that there was a prequel short story, I was on the hunt to get it. Finally I found it at a Half Price Books in San Antonio. I bought it and read it when I was in Denver for training. I actually read it about 2 and 1/2 times. I love this story so much. It's short but it's very hot and sweet. So well written, with characters that jump off the page at you. I thought I loved Lochlain, until I met Nikolai. The man is so delicious to me, and like Myst, I can't resist his scars and his warrior essence. It has a captive theme, so that might not work for some. As the saying goes, I would not kick Nikolai out of bed for eating crackers. Yet honestly, Nikolai is not a gentle lover, but Myst doesn't exactly play fair either. In the IAD universe vampires are unable to have sex until they meet their Bride who 'bloods' them. And then, watch out. Well, Myst is Nikolai's bride, despite the fact that as a valkyrie she hates vampires and kills their kind. She actually exploits the fact that she can 'blood' vampires and has killed them by almost seducing them. Well she feels an attraction to Nikolai despite her hatred of vamps. When she 'bloods' him, she leaves him hanging, in desperate need that only she can assuage for five years. Talk about frustration. This story has excellent chemistry, and the skill of Cole's writing shines in this short story. She is so good at combining humor, action, and writing characters that burn for each other.
Apparently this story does not have universal appeal, but I loved it. I really want to thank Kresley Cole for writing these fantastic stories that combine a unique look at Norse mythology, sexy alpha heroes who fall hard in love; stubborn, intelligent heroines who can take care of themselves, blisteringly hot love scenes, and laugh out loud moments, to make for an all-around enjoyable reading experience. ...more
This is my second read of this story, and I gave it four stars this time. It's a very well-written story. Ms. Gilmore crafted this tale in such a wayThis is my second read of this story, and I gave it four stars this time. It's a very well-written story. Ms. Gilmore crafted this tale in such a way that you feel as twisted as the narrator does. It's clear that mental illness plays a major role in the mindset of the narrator. But, there is a little shred of doubt (at least in my mind) that there might be some otherworldly component. It's hard to tell, because we are seeing things through her perceptions, which are clearly not rational.
I think there is a powerful message here. Husbands often had way too much control over their wives. Probably still the case. The husband in this story treated his wife like she was a child. He dismissed her thoughts and needs, and constantly told her what was best for her. He didn't treat her like a partner. I think that his treatment of her played a role in her deterioration.
I read about the author, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, on Wikipedia. She was a feminist who crusaded to help women in the time period in which she lived. I could see how she masterfully threaded some real-life themes into this story. It would give any reader something to think about, and I imagine it made a few people, particularly men, angry at the time in which it was published.
This is considered a feminist work. I don't think that you have to be a feminist to appreciate this message. As an egalitarian, I definitely felt this message. I felt sympathy for this woman. I think that she felt caged in and didn't have her needs met, and something inside of her twisted until she left sanity behind. It's quite a sad thing that the people who loved her contributed by their gentle neglect. If she had been listened to, and really heard, maybe things would have gone differently.
This is just my perception of this story. No doubt, a different reader will glean a dissimilar meaning from this work. In my opinion, The Yellow Wallpaper is a story that should be read more than one time. I feel I encountered more subtext and layers upon the second read. I'll keep it on my Kindle, because it's one I would like to revisit....more
Dark Gods is a collection of novellas that bring to mind something that I could imagine HP Lovecraft writing if he was a baby boomer. Or maybe that isDark Gods is a collection of novellas that bring to mind something that I could imagine HP Lovecraft writing if he was a baby boomer. Or maybe that isn't quite right. Because I think T.E.D. Klein has a subtle, grounded approach that distances him from Lovecraft's style in a crucial way for this reader. Klein seems to eschew melodrama, and Lovecraft embodies it in his writing. The similiarities to Lovecraft lie more in his overall fatalistic viewpoint and his character choices. I had to say I wasn't quite comfortable with the way race is handled in these stories. Characters are labeled far too quickly by race and ethnicity, also by social status. That definitely made me think of how Lovecraft would view the melting pot of NYC in the modern age. I want to say that this was done on purpose. That these characters in the stories are people who don't see the world in a rosy way. They don't look past skin color, ethnicity, or social status. They are way too disenchanted, too immersed in the world's darkness to see things in a higher way. The worldview also brings to mind Lovecraft. His fatalistic view of the world, in which doom is certain, in which goodness cannot prevail, and mankind is merely going through the motions. And then there are the references to those in the know when it comes to the occult and the arcane, those who have pierced the veil. The doomed fate of those who seek to know more than they should. That's here as well.
How is this different from Lovecraft? Well, I touched on that in the writing style. Mr. Klein has a smooth writing style, a modern (well at that time, which is like the late 70s/early 80s or so?) feel to his work. His ideas might bring to mind some of the pulp notions, but they are entirely his own. I'm not much for the dark, sure doom approach when it comes to horror, but for that type of story, he writes it well. Mr. Klein has a way of building atmosphere in a very subtle manner. Before I know it, I feel my stomach tighten with unease, just by a mere sentence. Things seemed normal and 'okay', and suddenly there is that suggestion of dread where I didn't see it before. And before I knew it, the point of no return had passed for the character in the story. Maybe he didn't intend for some aspects to be funny, but they were. I guess it's my weirdo sense of humor at work, because I laughed out loud at some parts, and then I almost shuddered at some other part.
What I thought about each story
"Children of the Kingdom"
This story was just kind of twisted. Some aspects were pretty sick, but kind of absurd, in that way that has you wanting to laugh until the idea that this is not played for laughs hits you. It's not so funny if you're actually in this story, and this utter weirdness is playing out around you and involves you in ways you really don't want to be involved. This story makes me think that Klein writes in a subversive way to bring race relations to the reader's mind and to make one consider how absurd racism (largely due to unfounded fears behind it) is. In this case, the main characters fear the blacks and what they seem to represent (seen as the arbiters and cause of social decay) in the neighborhood. What they should fear is lurking in the sewers, and they aren't black, and hardly even human. They are a primitive version of humanity that could care less about race, other than furthering their own once great civilization. This was an eerie and disturbing, like a stomach ache, story.
"Petey" seems to be a look at the Yuppie drive to 'have' and to 'flaunt' what one has. In this case, George and Phyllis have gotten a huge mansion way out in the boondocks for a song, and they throw a party to show it off. Actually they got the mansion for a 'steal', and they will find it's going to cost a lot more than they bargained for. Klein shows just how different his writing is from Lovecraft, even with a story that could have come out of the master of horror's imagination. In this case, this story is so subtle, it takes some careful reading to look for the threads of threat and horror. (My personal opinion is that Lovecraft is not a subtle writer) They are there, but the social commentary seems to be more of a focus in this story. However, careful reading assures the reader that they are not mistaken about the wrongness of it all. This is definitely a horror story. I felt the ending was too abrupt, and that disappointed me. But it was a good story overall.
"Black Man with a Horn"
Definitely a story that could have come out of the pulps with the fears of the Yellow invasion and the antiquated views towards black people (bestial, subhuman, you name it), also that fear of native/tribal cultures. This story felt the most like Lovecraft to me, and probably in the ways that make his stories hardest to read as far as racist elements. What I liked about this story is that the narrator is a contemporary of Lovecraft, who was seen as a protege of Lovecraft instead of a respected colleague. That smarts, and you find out more than once as you read the story. He views the world through an aging lens. One gets the impression that his views on race are expected for a man of his age, even if they made me uncomfortable. This one is a double-edged sword for me, as I liked the pulpy feel, although not the undesirable aspects (see above sentences) of pulp literature. You have an idea of what's going on here, but there's still an ambiguity to the threat. And when the story ends, that is a huge component of the unease that is left behind. It's as though you can only see what you have seen, and no more, without losing your grip on sanity. That's very Lovecraft right there.
This story was the most interesting, and the most disturbing one in the collection. Heavy shades of black magic here. It makes one afraid of what lurks in your imagination. Could I create something with this malevolent force behind it? On one level, I could wonder if it's Nadelman's very lack of positive belief and optimism that created the spark that brought this creature to life. If religion is seen as an opiate, could it not also serve as a protective force against something much darker, much more detrimental to mankind? Instead of belief hurting, maybe belief could protect. And its absence opens a doorway to a dark force that hates all good in the world. When this story concluded, I felt that fear like a weight on my back that it left behind.
Dark Gods is a good book to read around Halloween. It will have you reaching for lighter fare afterwards, though....more
A good tertiary addition to the Baltimore graphic novel series. Readers who love classic horror fiction can't help but enjoy this series, and this oneA good tertiary addition to the Baltimore graphic novel series. Readers who love classic horror fiction can't help but enjoy this series, and this one just cements the classic horror sensibility of the work by Mignola and Golden. Forgive the pun, but they are a bit of a Golden Team for me. I think their writing is seamless where I can't figure out which part Mignola wrote and what was written by Golden. The artwork is sober and dark in color, matching the unrelenting darkness of the literary tone of the stories. Baltimore is a lone hunter who travels with one goal in mind: finding Haigus, the vampire who turned him and destroyed his family. Along the way, he will destroy evil he encounters. His relationship with God is complicated. He still calls him Lord, but he has a palpable anger towards Him. Baltimore seethes with it. He shakes his fists at God, but doesn't curse him. He only asks that he be left alone to seek his vengeance. To my mind, God manages for him to be in the right place at the right time, a fierce warrior against darkness and evil creatures of all kinds. I am not saying I like an invincible hero all the time, but I appreciate how Baltimore always ends up in tight spots where I would expect him to be a goner, but he manages to survive, even if he adds a few more scars to the landscape of his body and face.
It's hard to rate this as a good book, in the sense that it's not at all feel-good. It's very depressing in a lot of ways. The vampire plague has left destruction in every place, and all manner of foul creatures prey on the humans who manage to survive the plague and aren't turned into vampires. So, no, it's not an uplifting read. However, the writing and the artwork are beautiful and has a penetrating effect on me as I read. An excellent example of how successful the graphic novel medium can be for storytelling. And since I don't get to read much Gothic/classic horror, lately, it satisfies my palate for the stories in a quick reading format, and the art-lover/artist in me.
I'm ever so grateful that I am able to get this from my library. These volumes would cost a pretty penny to buy new.
So, yes, I do recommend it to readers who aren't averse to a dark read. It's violent and at times visceral, but not at all over the top or graphic. As I said earlier in the review, it has the Gothic and Classic horror sensibility that any fans of 18th-early 20th century horror will appreciate.
Spending Christmas with three generations of the same family written by Carla Kelly was an enriching experience. Ms. Kelly explored the way that war aSpending Christmas with three generations of the same family written by Carla Kelly was an enriching experience. Ms. Kelly explored the way that war affects families during wartimes. In the case of the Wilkie-Warton family, all three generations of the family have met during a war and married. I liked how Ms. Kelly took the very depressing concept of war and loss and used it as a backdrop to romances in development, and in a way that felt realistic and involved me emotionally. I especially appreciated how each story read differently, but was no less enthralling.
My thoughts on each story:
1812: A Christmas in Paradise: This story resonated personally with me because I lived in San Diego for six years, and it did feel a bit like being in paradise, although there were also some less desirable aspects about it. No, I wasn't shipwrecked there, a Scot in a strange land of perpetual warm weather, fish galore, and lots of Spanish/Mexican culture. But I think that I can identify with most of those things I listed. What I loved the most about this story was the earnest good-heartedness of the hero, Thomas. He is a Navy surgeon who genuinely cares about people. While human, that caring part of him motivated him to do the right thing and offer marriage to Laura Ortiz, who was truly in desperate straits. That marriage works out very well for them both, as they find true love. I admit one part made me cry like a baby. I'm sappy like that.
1855: O Christmas Tree : I don't have the pleasure of reading too many books set during the Crimean War, but this is one of them. That alone was one more advantage of this story. Added to this was the beautiful friends-to-lovers story between widowed Lilian, the daughter of Laura and Thomas from the first story, and an American Army Corps of Engineers officer, Trey Wharton. I loved how shy Trey was. He was constantly blushing, although he had a good sense of humor and a warm way about him. I wanted to give him a hug. I was glad that these two people found each other in a war-torn landscape where they saw too many bad things that weighed on their souls. I also like the unique way that they were able to bring and celebrate Christmas with the wounded soldiers and the Sisters who worked in the hospital. It had a bit of the "Gift of the Magi" by O Henry vibe to it. This one made me tear up as well. Yes, sap here!
1877: No Crib for a Bed: Ms. Kelly takes the reader and Captain Wilkie Wharton, Lilian's son to the Old West, where this Army surgeon sees the aftermath of the Indian Wars in a very personal way. He's asked to escort a regained Indian captive white woman back to her people in Iowa. Only Nora doesn't want to go, because she has to leave her children behind, since their father was Indian. His heart hurts for her, but he doesn't have a choice otherwise. Along with Wilkie is Frannie Coughlin, a cheerful teacher in Fort Laramie, who is also traveling back East. They find a companionship together that is problematic, considering that Wilkie has a fiancee' waiting for him back home. When Wilkie delivers a baby from a dying mother with Frannie's assistance, both realize there is no going back when that strong a bond forms between two people. Yes, again this one made me cry. I felt so bad for Nora. To think that they were forcibly separating her from her own children because they were half-Indian and she wasn't. I couldn't imagine the pain she was in. Also the newborn baby was so cute. Yes, my sap quotient goes up even more. The romance part was good too.
Overall Thoughts: Carla Kelly successfully writes a trio of books that are interconnected in an ingenious way, all around the theme of wartime, medicine and Christmas away from home. Each one touched me in different ways, and I just plain like and respect her characters. They are all grounded and realistic people in the best of ways. While I didn't finish this one before or during Christmas, but in fact, three days afterwards, I still love immersing myself in the Christmas spirit, and this book provides that feeling in spades, along with a great romance.
This is a book I would have loved as a girl growing up. I have this feeling I would have eagerly read every book by this author I could have gotten myThis is a book I would have loved as a girl growing up. I have this feeling I would have eagerly read every book by this author I could have gotten my hands on. As an adult, my feelings aren't that different. She understands the magic and awe inherent in fantasy. I'll definitely be reading more by Tamora Pierce.
What a nice combination, Christmas theme and western historical stories. I would consider myself fans of all three writers in this volume, but my favoWhat a nice combination, Christmas theme and western historical stories. I would consider myself fans of all three writers in this volume, but my favorite story was by Carol Finch, one of the three I've read the least books by. I admit that I enjoyed the contrast between the proper wealthy woman from back East and the mixed-heritage rough and tumble ex-Texas Ranger. I also liked the fact that they were able to see past apparently superficial divides between them to the good-hearted people beneath disparate exteriors. I felt the ending was a bit too abrupt, but I would give this one four stars for its feel good vibe and readability, and also having a great lead pair. Also brownie points for the hero's awesome dog named Dog!
The Jillian Hart story was good and I enjoyed it. It took me a while to get into it, and when I did, what the heroine does nearly killed the book for me. I really dislike when you have a character who supposedly falls in love with someone and then completely disses them because of what someone has said or what their bad reputation indicated. It didn't read true to me. I hurt for the hero in that case, and I found him a lot more sympathetic than the heroine. Hart writes very good heroes. Generally I like her heroines, but I didn't understand the heroine's reactions and motivations, so that spoiled the story for me with this one. I can only give it story three stars.
Cheryl St. John writes a compelling and heartwarming story for this volume. The main couple are stranded together in the heroine's father's well-equipped Pullman during a snow storm, along with two orphaned kids. To complicate matters, armed bandits are after a payload that the US Marshal hero is trying to protect. For a short story, this has a nice dose of western action that make this reader happy. Readers who enjoy survival stories will appreciate this. I also liked the 'don't judge a book by the cover' theme of this novel. The heroine comes from a rich family and she seems like she might be spoiled and unlikable, but she shows a generous, some resourcefulness that definitely helps in their situation, a good heart and a strong spirit from the beginning. I liked seeing her bond with the children, and I liked the way their romance unfolded. This one was also four stars, although I liked the Carol Finch story more.
Overall, a good Christmas short story historical romance collection with good western stories and good writing. It was actually a quick read once I was able to focus my attention on the stories.
I did the math and this comes out to be about a 3.8/5.0 star rating but it's Christmas, so I will round it up to four stars....more
I've written this review in journal style, as I made my way through this collection of tales.
March 16: This my second time reading a Murphy's Lore voluI've written this review in journal style, as I made my way through this collection of tales.
March 16: This my second time reading a Murphy's Lore volume, and it's going well.
The first story was kind of sad. Murphy's down on his luck, mourning his recently-departed wife, and trying to pay off a debt to a loanshark (taken to pay for his wife's last round of chemotherapy) by finding a leprechaun's pot of gold. That search leads him to Bulfinche's Pub, a magical bar where gods and creatures of myth and lore hang out. Paddy, the leprechaun who invested his pot of gold in Bulfinche, helps Murphy settle his debt, and to find purpose after his wife's death. This is how Murphy became a bartender at Bulfinche's. That helped me to come to the realization that my first read in this series, Murphy's Lore: Through the Drinking Glass, was not the first book. Oh, well. Familar faces from Greek mythology include Hercules, Hermes (God of healing, messages, thieves), Dionysis (God of fornication, wine, partying), and Demeter (Goddess of nature and the seasons). Hercules is the bouncer at Bulfinche's, mind you. Great timing for St. Patty's Day, which is tomorrow. Loved this story! 4.5 stars.
It took me a few tries to read this story. I kept getting distracted, but it's hard to read at work. Despite growing up on Bozo The Clown, I am not a clown fan. Maybe that's part of my lessened interest in this story. The parts with the abandoned kids watched over by the denizens of the bar were touching, and I admit that the ex-clown who became paralyzed in his last trapeze stunt and lost his mojo (only to regain it with the magic of friends and Bulfinche's Pub) did appeal to my admittedly sappy nature. The seltzer water and whipped cream fight was cute. 3.5 stars.
A little bit on the horrific side. What if socks are cannibalistic to each other, and that's why you always come up missing one of a pair after you wash and dry them? That was one of numerous theories suggested. Perhaps it's true. The mysterious customer who comes in on a winter night without socks insists he's on the run from said cannibalistic socks. When the employees at Bulfinche's don't believe him, it has drastic consequences. Well, it certainly was a unique story. 4 stars.
2 VS. Love
Poor Hermes takes an epic journey with a busybody woman who's determined to make her daughter fall in love with her platonic friend, by means of a plea to Cupid for his assistance. Guess where Cupid can be found? Niagra Falls. Where else. This one was a bit dry, but it had some funny moments. I haven't read too much fiction with Cupid, so that was cool. Poor Cupid must take the form of a baby, diaper included, on February 14th to harness the power of belief to its fullest potential. Imagine that for an ancient god? 3.5 stars.
Faery-crazy lass that I am, of course I enjoyed this story about a Hunter sent to retrieve a Shapeling who refuses to return to Faerie. The Hunter runs into an old girfriend who happens to be the mother of the shapeling. What happens from there is something I will let you guess, until you read this one. 4.5 stars.
The gang at Bulfinche's take on the Stormers, a street gang, who roughed up the children that they watch over. Paddy won't stand for it, so they deal with the gang in a way that's very apropos. I thought it was hilarious how Hermes used his super-speed to bring a recogning on the thuggish bullies. There is a god of an extinct Native American tribe that comes to Bulfinche to get some manna (magic) to prevent himself from fading from existence (since no one believes in him anymore), and who turns out to be involved with the street game. I didn't expect to like this story as much as I did. 4.5 stars
This story was both creepy and sad. A vampire comes to Bulfinche, nearly fainting with hunger for blood. Murphy actually cuts his arm and gives him some of his own blood in a bizarre version of a Bloody Mary. Boy does Lucas have a sad story to tell. This tale actually gets kind of scary near the end. The end is heartbreaking, leading into then next story. This was riveting, with powerful lessons about tolerance. 5 stars.
I was fighting tears as I read this story. A beloved member of the Bulfinche family is laid to rest. The kids ask Paddy to adopt them, so they can be his official children. Short but very moving. 4.5 stars.
Jinn & Tonic
Okay, apparently I'm a huge sap. This story gave me that squinty, I'm about to cry feeling. Edgar is a businessman who lost everything he worked for, and is wandering the streets. He finds a friend, one who lives in a bottle and has the power to grant three wishes. The manner in which Edgar used one of his wishes is what sent me over the border into full-on Sapville. But it's a good feeling. 4.5 stars.
Hello I Must Be Going
This is where we first meet Joseph, the Wandering Jew. He's been cursed to walk the earth for over 2000 years, until Jesus returns, because he mocked Jesus on the way to the Cross. I personally do not see Jesus as being vengeful or lacking in self-control enough to curse someone this way. But it was an interesting story, and the compromise found for Joseph didn't show Jesus as the bad guy. 4.25 stars
The most powerful psychic in the world is a man who has been a drunk since he was about seven years old. Drinking is the only way he can be at peace and still be able to benefit from the magical respite of Bulfinche's. It will take some strong suspension of disbelief to feel okay with inducing a seven year old to be a continual drunk, in order for this story to be enjoyed. If you can get past the wrongness of that, it's pretty good. He is able to help the Bulfinche squad to make plans to save most of New York's citizenry from a tidal wave sent by vengeful god Neptune in the future. 3 stars.
Oh my goodness. This story ripped my heart out. Passover has come to Bulfinche's Pub, and the horrors of the Holocaust are relived by its survivors who come to the pub for the night. Two of which are being preyed on by Aryans, who have murdered Jews in their apartment complex already. We learn why Rebecca, a regular who lives on the streets, has chosen her life. Her past will make you want to bawl. The golem myth is showcased here in a beautiful way. This story was utterly heart-breaking, but managed to have a good ending. 5 stars.
Love and Judgement
Now this was an interesting story. What if the Antichrist and the Savior of the world (female and named Grace) fell in love. What if the Bulfinche's Pub gang was able to stop the Apocalyse through their actions and intervention in the standoff between the forces of Good and Evil? That's what this story is about. I liked this one, because I looked at it as pure fiction, although the underlying message of "Make Love, Not War," wasn't too shabby. 5 stars.
This is the epilogue to Love and Judgement, about a seraphim named Mathew, and a succubus named Rythe, who fall in love. It was delicious. The ultimate opposites attract, star-crossed lovers story. Mathew is a sweet virgin (he's an angel), and Rythe was, well, she wasn't. Ms. Thomas has quite a way with romance. Boy was I rooting for this couple. And the Bulfinche gang is there to help this couple escape from their respective bosses and find a happy ending together. 5 stars.
A Wing and a Prayer
Mathew sees a woman praying for a sign from God. He goes to her house and finds out that her son is dying from a brain tumor. He enlists the help of the Greek god of healing, Hermes, to heal the boy. This was a very nice story. I like to believe that the answers to prayers come in unconventional ways, so it found favor with me. 4 stars.
A downtrodden young woman is brought to Bulfinche's for medical assistance. Her story is very sad, but the rainbow leads her right where she need to go to find a way out of her terrible situation. There is also a spy amongst the ranks. A member of the secret watchgroup of the Catholic church out to bring Father Ryann in for consorting with godless pagans and demons, and such. Well, it turns out Paddy is good friends with the Pope, so fear not. 4.25 stars (liked the part with the girl more than the part with the watchdog).
I wasn't fond of this story. One of the regulars, who is a psychiatrist, helps a man get over his fear of heights, with some less than desirable results. It ends very abruptly. I think it was supposed to be wryly ironic. Not my cup of tea, really. 2 stars.
This story won't appeal to everyone. A werewolf falls in love with a plain old garden variety wolf, and she gives birth to his pups. But, those pups are likely to change to human form during the fool moon. So the Bulfinche's gang team up to spring his wolf family out of the Bronx Zoo. I really liked it. 5 stars.
Of Red Tape and Roses
A buttoned up, by-the-book lady from Social Services comes to investigate Bulfinche's Pub as a suitable home environment for the kids that Paddy is trying to adopt. As you can imagine, Bulfinche's is quite the crazy place, and she's about to put a wrench in the adoption. Until Dionysus, Greek god of fertility, is able to see into her heart, and what has been denied to her and made her bitter. This was a fun, and rather sexy story. 5 stars.
A demon wreaks havoc on the Bulfinche's Pub gang. All the forces of good are marshalled to help to protect Toni's (Toni was the woman in Evening's Lady) baby from being claimed by the demon as the next Antichrist. This was a scary at times, delightfully adventurous, and creepy fun tale. 5 stars.
Be Not Proud
Murphy is determined to seek out his wife in whatever afterlife she has gone to since she died. Murphy's friends team up to help him on his Dante-esque quest to find his lost love. This was a very interesting view of the afterlives of various legends and lore. 5 stars.
What a great ending to this volume of stories. Everyone and anyone from myths and legends show up on The Day (what we call Halloween) to party. This is one party I would definitely attend. Loved it. 5 stars.
Although I didn't love all the stories in this collection, the preponderance of the tales were so good that I'd give this book a five star rating. As other reviews noted, there are quite a few errors in punctuation, and a few spelling errors. It didn't diminish my enjoyment of the book, so I can't downgrade for those. I highly recommend this to fans of folklore and mythology. Leave those preconceived notions at the door, because no belief system (except Scientology) has escaped the eye of this writer. But it's all in good fun, and delivered with respect. Watch out for the liberally thrown bad puns....more
A thoughtful and eloquent collection of short stories of varied themes. Most fit into the speculative fiction genres, but some are mainstream fiction.A thoughtful and eloquent collection of short stories of varied themes. Most fit into the speculative fiction genres, but some are mainstream fiction. I think Richard Freeland is very comfortable with and shows a love for the written word.
I'd love to give this 5 stars for the droolicious cover. But the actual book is more like 3.5 stars. Entertaining stories that I think most fans of HI'd love to give this 5 stars for the droolicious cover. But the actual book is more like 3.5 stars. Entertaining stories that I think most fans of Hot Scots who happen to be vampires would enjoy. (Danielle pauses mini-review to stare longingly at the beautiful cover.) Where was I???? (Pulls attention back to review.) Oh. This was reviewed for the September issue of Affaire de Coeur magazine. http://affairedecoeur.com....more
The Jo Beverley story, "The Demon's Mistress" is one of my favorites. It's loosely connected to the Company of Rogues. The demon, Lord Vandenmeiden, oThe Jo Beverley story, "The Demon's Mistress" is one of my favorites. It's loosely connected to the Company of Rogues. The demon, Lord Vandenmeiden, or Van, is one of the three Georges in this series. Ruined by the memories of what he did and saw in the war and by his family's loss of fortunes, he is about to kill himself when he is saved by Maria. Maria is wrong for him in many ways, but absolutely right for him. He finds he won't give her up for anything. The love scenes are sizzling. The other stories were more of an afterthought....more
This nifty collection of stories by Daniel McGachey is just what a fan of old school horror stories deeply in the vein of Montague Rhodes James (who hThis nifty collection of stories by Daniel McGachey is just what a fan of old school horror stories deeply in the vein of Montague Rhodes James (who has rightfully been called the master of the ghost story) would clamor for once they have exhausted all the MR James out there on offer, or just as an adjunct to their classic horror reading. My tastes in horror are definitely in the old school vein, and I love when I am able to find newly written stories and novels that showcase the old school styles. My friend was kind enough to lend me her copy of this book, and I have spent the better part of this week and last reading and enjoying the stories on offer.
It goes without saying that this wouldn't appeal to readers who don't like the old school way of telling a story, and a reader who gets bogged down with antiquated description and language. However, if you are a big reader of classic horror, as I am, I think that you will find it enjoyable.
Admittedly, there were a couple of stories that were a bit on the dry side, and I found my attention wandering. But the truly scary, atmospheric, and just downright disturbing stories made up for it. I didn't try to read this one at night, except for when I read it one night on the elliptical at the gym. Yeah, that gave me a few creepy moments on the way home. Honestly, I would avoid reading this one at bedtime, because McGachey manages to get you where you live. For instance, he gave me that squirmy feeling of guilt at my penchant for loving tales of the macabre. Some might think it unsuitable reading for a 'good Christian'. I don't really think that intellectually, but there is a story that makes you wonder if you really should spend so much time looking into the dark, unless you want the dark to pay you a visit. Yeah, that's a disturbing thought. Not enough to put me off these types of stories, though. Just enough to raise some goosebumps.
I definitely have to give Mr. McGachey an A for his ability to write in the classic horror vein very authentically. I have read many stories from the Victorian and Edwardian periods with exactly the same language and style. He also develops atmosphere flawlessly. And I love his deft skill with a frame story, and how his stories seem to tie together in this volume. I liked Dr. Lawrence as his intrepid occult detective character, who reminded me of a more scholarly Kolchak. With the only negative being that some stories were a bit dry, I can't help but give this one a solid four stars. I will be looking for more of his stories to read in the future....more
I enjoyed all the stories in this volume. The Casey Claybourne story was 4 stars, but the rest were 5 star stories. This collection reminded me that II enjoyed all the stories in this volume. The Casey Claybourne story was 4 stars, but the rest were 5 star stories. This collection reminded me that I've been negligent in reading two of my favorite authors, Connie Brockway and Catherine Anderson.
I'm feeling a little lazy, so this won't be a long review. This is what I thought of each story:
The concept of this story collection was nice, a lovestruck Highland Scottish seamstress (who had been disrupted from her lands by the Highland Clearances) forced to make the bridal dress for her beloved's wedding to an Englishwoman, who decides to use her hereditary sorcery to help women in the future have a happy wedding and marriage, since it's clear she'll be denied that future. This is the prologue written by Catherine Anderson. It's very short, but I liked that she got her happy ending with her true love.
Barbara Metzger story was a traditional regency, with a marriage-shy Viscount (his first wife cheated on him after giving birth to their son, dying in the arms of her lover) tasked with investigating the family of his nephew's intended. He ends up meeting the mother of the bride and falling in love with her. Poor Katie was betrayed many years ago, and never got a wedding, although she did have a child to raise. She's made lemonade out of lemons and raised her daughter very well. Now, she wants to see her daughter happily wed in a lovely wedding gown--the one she would have worn to her own wedding, had her fiance not been killed running off from the wedding. The gown chose her and wouldn't settle with being worn by the daughter. I enjoyed the humor in this story. The hero, Viscount Forde is a pompous lordly character, who is about to find true love for the first time in his life, and in an unlikely place, with a country-dwelling 'widow.' This was a fun story with good humor.
Connie Brockway's writing is like enjoying a decadent dessert, full of rich flavor that engages the senses. She is wonderfully descriptive, and has a deft, refined ease to her storytelling. I fell in love with her couple, rooting for Alex and Lucy to get back together after their mutual pride and fears drove them apart two years ago, when Alex went off to war. I was sent into an advanced state of drooling adoration by the deliciousness of Alex, battle-scarred, yet resolute to reclaim Lucy's heart, even to the point of parading around the street of Pall Mall in the wedding dress, which magically fit his 6'4" tall, muscular, broad body. I asked myself why have I stayed away so long from this lovely woman's writing. I am so glad I have several of her books in my collection to indulge myself in. Definitely my favorite in this volume.
Casey Claybourne's story was good. I didn't get emotionally engaged though. That's crucial for me, and it's the dividing line between a 4 star and a 5 star read. It was a nice read, and I did like the fact that the daughter of the hero brought this couple together, and the wedding dress was there for this heroine to aid her in getting her wedding to the man of her dreams.
Catherine Anderson struck gold again with her story. It's about Joseph, who is the brother of Kaitlin, from Keegan's Lady. He's simply irresistible, as most of Catherine Anderson's heroes are. He takes in Faith and her daughter Caitlin, who are on the run from Faith's nasty father, who's trying to barter her into yet another marriage, when Faith gets the wedding dress from a peddler, and sees an announcement in a window for a housekeeper. Joseph is actually a better housekeeper than Faith (she was trained in being a lady, but little else), but he's not about to let her end up working in a bawdy house, because there aren't many other options in No Name. Instead, he gives her some on the job training, and they both take lessons in love together. Ms. Anderson managed to pack quite a punch with this short story, and it reminded me to get back into her books, since I'm way behind on her.
The epilogue is also written by Catherine Anderson, and it's very sweet. There's hope for a poor mother who has the weight of the world on her shoulders. The wedding dress is there, yet again, to bring luck and love into her life.
The True Love Wedding Dress turned out to be a pleasant read, full of hope and the magic of true love coming to fruition, with the help of an enchanted wedding dress. It's nice to read books that make smile, and this book did that for me....more
Fungus of the Heart is a short story collection that is rather aptly named. The stories do probe into the mysteries of the human heart, although theirFungus of the Heart is a short story collection that is rather aptly named. The stories do probe into the mysteries of the human heart, although their subjects are not necessarily human. However, they show emotions that humans would be intensely familiar with. The fungus part of the title represents the weird, strange, perhaps even unpalatable edge hinted at in many of these stories. I like that Mr. Shipp was able to capture that dichotomy between being a monster--so alien on close examination--and inside, so identifiable, nearly ubiquitous, like fungus is in our world.
Not exactly stream of consciousness storytelling, but quite free-flowing and non-linear story structure, often leaving me scratching my head mentally, trying to figure out exactly was going on in the stories. They begin and end at seemingly random moments, but there is a feeling of closure in most, at least for the moment. Not a full resolution, but enough conveyed to give the reader the feeling that whatever Mr. Shipp wanted told about that particular story ends up on the written page. Beauty might not be what Mr. Shipp was going for, but I did see beauty in these offerings. The open, honest emotions flowing through them, and the highly visual and sensory imagery appealed to me, although he does go to some dark places here. These offerings ponder the highs and lows of life: love, loss, war, rage, alienation, fear, identity, all those things, and more.
The imagination exhibited here was impressive. I would love to sit down with Jeremy Shipp and ask him what his source of inspiration is. How he is able to fearlessly put down on paper what must wander through his mind, and do it in such a way as to avoid pretentiousness. There was never that sort of feeling as I read. Merely honesty, a sharing of himself with the reader. That’s pretty brave and fearless, because people aren’t kind to each other when a person opens himself up to others for examination. I definitely admire him for doing this here.
Although I didn’t always ‘get’ the stories, I got them on an emotional level, and that’s what spoke to me as I read Fungus of the Heart. Mr. Shipp has a way with short stories that will lead me back to him, probably in the near future. I think fans of Caitlin R. Kiernan would like this collection.
Laird Barron clearly knows how to unsettle his readers. If there was a universal theme of the various stories in this book, it would be that every sinLaird Barron clearly knows how to unsettle his readers. If there was a universal theme of the various stories in this book, it would be that every single story was unsettling, albeit in different ways.
Mr. Barron evokes memories of reading Caitlín R. Kiernan, HP Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, and even Algernon Blackwood in his tales in this volume. He finds the fearsome in such diverse subjects as the entities from beyond, the power of guilt, the overwhelming and uncomprehensible enormity of the natural world, and lets not forget, the darkness of the human heart. He even has shades of black magic and the diabolical in his stories. I would hesitate to compare him to the comparatively gentle horror stylings of M.R. James, other than the subtle nod to MR James in the antiquarian/bookish leanings of some of his characters. He's a bit more overt in his horror methodology than Mr. James. For all that, he never steps over the line into 'gruesome' and 'debauched.' Indeed, there are moments when sex and violence intertwine closely until they are hard to separate. Fortunately, this is done adeptly and with a subtlety that one such as I (who is admittedly quite squeamish of the combination of the two) didn't feel that she'd stepped into a no-woman's land where she felt she could no longer keep her feet traversing on the path into the dark world of horror that he creates in his stories.
This is a volume best not attempted at night. Even in the cloudless, startlingly bright, azure-skied and sun-washed landscape in which I read, I still felt those stirrings of unease that a good horror work should birth in its reader. This book is equally successful as weird fiction. I had that feeling that I didn't quite get what was going on--that there were questions unanswered, and the 'fearful unknown' was hinted at, and maybe I didn't want to go through that door that Barron leaves barely cracked.
Occultation and Other Stories exists in that gray area between modern-styled horror and the old-fashioned gothic horror that I prefer. And this was successful. I was not alienated in that I found the subject matter too extreme, too shocking, too overtly unpalatable for my tastes. Instead, this caused that shuddery feeling that I can appreciate, although some of the stories made me feel like I needed a sponge bath to remove the miasma of the dark, unfriendly organic, and somewhat visceral arena I had ventured into. But that is horror, my friends. Admittedly, I prefer my horror with an emphasis on the atmosphere, the shivers, and less on the repellent. But horror does have to take us out of our comfort zones, to make us feel unsafe, and Mr. Barron knows how to do that.
Recommended to readers who want to go to that dark, uncertain place for a few hours. ...more
A Christmas Carol was wonderful. It was just like seeing the movie, but better, because prose on paper really stimulates the imagination much more. ScA Christmas Carol was wonderful. It was just like seeing the movie, but better, because prose on paper really stimulates the imagination much more. Scrooge is a man who had lost his hope, and it showed in how his heart seemed to shrink, and his world with it. He got a second chance when he was visited by the three ghosts on a cold Christmas Eve. Just like the movie, this story made me cry. I guess some would call me sentimental. I don't know if that's the right word. But I love to see a person go from the dark to the light emotionally. This is the evolution we see with Scrooge.
5 Stars. If you love the movies, you really should read this story. I don't think you'd regret it. It is very readable and keeps your interest.
I can't really say that for The Chimes. This story moved pretty slowly, and it took a while to figure out where Dickens was going. At first, it read like a satire against the upper class and the government in its treatment of the poor and the working class. Then it seemed as though it was a story about being grateful for what one has and appreciating the time that you have with your family. It was an ambitious story, and I liked the elements of the ghosts of regret (I think) that manifested themselves as the chiming of bells that Totty, our protagonist, makes his daily routine around. Some parts were really tedious, and some parts were beautiful and poignant. At the end, I could only give this one 3.5 stars because it was a difficult and somewhat unrewarding read for this reader. If you have read The Chimes, I would love some feedback on what you believe was the point of this story.
I have started The Cricket on the Hearth, and it's really hard to focus my attention on the writing. I haven't given up yet! Soldier on!
Update: I've come to the conclusion that life is too short to keep trying to read The Cricket on the Hearth. It's dreadfully boring. I can feel my hair growing as I try to read it. I feel that I did my best with it, and I'm calling this one a day. I will have to give this one a rating of 1 star because it was too boring to finish reading.
So my overall rating is four stars, because of my love for A Christmas Carol, and my half-hearted enjoyment of The Chimes. I pray that Dickens' longer fiction isn't dry like this. I'd really like to read some of it....more
I don't have much to say about the first two stories, except that they were good. Both the Balogh story and the Cornick stories are reformed rake storI don't have much to say about the first two stories, except that they were good. Both the Balogh story and the Cornick stories are reformed rake stories (it's fairly clear if you read my reviews that rakes are not my favorite types of heroes by far). I felt that the metamorphosis of Ms. Balogh's rake was a little more convincing. When I read a story about a rake, I really have to be convinced that he has depth, or he's just another one of far too many in historical romance. He's really got to stand out to get my regard. I felt that both rakes did have depth, but the brevity of the Cornick story didn't really allow me to buy into his redemption quite so well. On the other hand, the rake in The Season for Suitors had more reason for why he acted as he did, and he had a tortured past, but I think this story would have been better executed as a longer novella, despite the obvious excellence of Ms. Cornick's writing. Ms. Balogh's story was a reread for me. I liked it the first time, and the second time was just as good. However, I am a bit jaded with the theme, so I can't say I was blown away. I did like Verity quite a bit, and loved the aspects of Christmas, and the effect it had on the participants in this story. For A Handful of Gold by Ms. Balogh, I would give the rating of 4 stars. The Season for Suitors is a 3.5 star story.
The best story in this collection was by newcomer, Courtney Milan, This Wicked Gift. This story was like a refreshing drink on a hot day. I loved everything about this story. Ms. Milan's writing has an intensity and a depth that really enthralled me. It brought to mind some of my favorite historical romance writers who have a facility with the written word, and the beauty with which they employ it, such as Laura Kinsale and Judith Ivory. I believe that Ms. Milan has quite a career ahead of her. There is also the fact that William Q. White utterly seduced me. His intensity, his focus, his obvious feeling for Lavinia. I love that kind of hero. And then there's the fact that he's a working man. There's nothing I love more than a hero who works hard for his money, who pulls himself up by his own bootstraps. Out of all three of the stories, this is the hero that got my attention. I could care less about lazy heroes who have nothing better to do than spend their family's money. What's endearing about that. I'd take a man who made himself from nothing over a man who was born rich and is about nothing, any day of the week. That is not to say that I don't have favored heroes who were born in wealth, but they have to a drive, an inner intensity, to gain my appreciation. William is a man who has made my favorite hero list. His urgent need for Lavinia almost made me cry. He would have done something awful to keep her, but his integrity won out in the end. He made a very wicked proposition to have her for one night, but his reasons for doing it endeared him to me. And his remorse was very obvious and poignant. Lavinia also makes this story stand out. She is a very good person, and an extremely intelligent woman. She is easily as captivated and as in love with William as he is with her. She sees right through his wicked proposal, and takes him up on it for her own reasons. She's a heroine that goes after what she wants (him), and won't give up on it despite the odds against her. As I said above, this story was distinct and refreshing. It showed characters that we don't often get to see have a happy ending in historical romance. They aren't rich or titled. They are working class people, albeit extremely educated. I rooted for them to have their happy ending, hoping that their lives would not be dimmed by the blight of extreme poverty, despite their obvious devotion to each other. Thankfully, Christmas has some blessings in store for this wonderful couple. If you are a fan of historical romance, do yourself a favor and read Courtney Milan. I think you will find a wonderful reading experience when you do. This Wicked Gift earned five stars from this reader.
This was my last Christmas read for 2009, and the last book I read this year. I have to tell you, reading Courtney Milan's story in the last few minutes of 2009 was a great pleasure, and I look forward to spending more time with her (and hopefully more captivating heroes like William) in the new year and years to come.
Overall rating for this collection is 4 stars ....more
My favorites in this collection were the Jillian Hunter and the Linda Howard stories. The Jillian Hunter story, which I remember is called "Ruined", iMy favorites in this collection were the Jillian Hunter and the Linda Howard stories. The Jillian Hunter story, which I remember is called "Ruined", is a somewhat gothic Victorian about a young engaged lady (not necessarily happily) and her small group of friends and fiance', who get shipwrecked on a small island owned by a reclusive horror novelist. Ms. Hunter has some very hunky, yummy heroes, and this hero is one of my favorites out of her stories. He sees the young woman and decides he wants to keep his gift from the sea. It was short and sweet, making me wish it was a longer book. The Linda Howard story has a cop who ends up getting injured out in the bayou and nursed back to help by a sheltered young woman who's lived most of her life in the bayou, and has a family with a reputation for witchcraft. You can guess that they have a powerful attraction and end up falling in love. It was a very good short story. I don't remember the other stories, but these two made this book a keeper for me.
Christmas Ball was an enjoyable read, but not particularly amazing. I had trouble keeping my interest in the stories. I'm not sure if it was the timeChristmas Ball was an enjoyable read, but not particularly amazing. I had trouble keeping my interest in the stories. I'm not sure if it was the time of year, being so busy, or that I just didn't find them overwhelmingly interesting.
The Emily Bryan story was unique in that the couple were of the working class. Jane is the illegitimate daughter of a noble, consigned to work as a maid in the very house of her father. She has grown up with her spoiled legitimate sister and an indifferent father who never really acknowledged her presence. Since she's the spitting image of her sister, she is blackmailed into pretending to be her sister to accept a marriage proposal from a nobleman, since her sister has run off with an impoverished Italian artist. Jane would have said no, but her father's steward threatened to let go of her sweetheart, Ian, a stablehand, without a reference. She can't let that happen, so reluctantly agrees to impersonate her sister. This story definitely had some good points. I liked Jane and Ian, and I thought that the writing was good and rich. However, it had a bit of a modern feel that I found distracting. I really didn't think it was appropriate when Jane and Ian made love on the bed of the Marquess of Hartwell, a complete stranger. That had an ick factor to me. I certainly wouldn't want some strange couple having sex on my bed. The point of view of various characters involved in the intrigues, such as the legitimate sister, Sibyl, her Italian lover, the future husband, and the steward, was interesting, giving a fuller view of the story. Overall, I would give this story as 3 stars.
Jennifer Ashley returns to the Nvengarian series in this story about Valentin, a half Logosh bodyguard and agent for Prince Damien, and Mary, who is the sister of Egan MacDonald, from Highlander Ever After. I haven't read that book yet, so some of what occurred prior to this story was new to me. It didn't affect my ablity to enjoy this story. I have to say that this story didn't enthrall me like some of Ms. Ashley's other work. It was well-written, and it has the power and flavor of her characteristic style. I don't know if I just wasn't too captured by the story of a widow well into her thirties with a grown son, and her illicit relationship with a fallen aristocrat working as a bodyguard/assassin, or what. I'm not a big fan of the secret/forbidden lovers theme, so maybe that was the problem. At one point, I thought Mary was being a bit judgmental and intractable. She seemed to be very snobbish towards English and a bit towards the Nvengarians. She definitely seems to believe that the Scottish world is the center of the universe. I admit that attitude did not endear her to me. I can certainly understand the Scottish dislike of the English, but at the same time, I think it behooves a person to think outside of her own culture to gain understanding of the decisions and behavior of others. I didn't like the way she dismissed Valentin's need for revenge, and his need to serve the Nvengarian Prince and Duke Alexander. Yes, he needed to move on and find purpose for his life, but the way she communicated this to Valentin, was abrasive and somewhat annoying to me. She didn't seem to be considering why he felt the way he did very much, in my opinion. In the end, she did come around, but I can't say that she's a favorite heroine of mine. Overall, this was a good story. 3.5 stars.
The last story by Alissa Johnson was definitely my favorite, although there wasn't a lot going on. This is definitely a regency romance, in which the whole plot deals with an earl, at the point of realization that he must marry and soon, who starts to court one young lady, but ends up being captivated by her plainer friend. You would have enjoy these kinds of stories to like this one. For this reader, it was interesting to see this couple get to know each other, and watch their love grow as they spent time together. I never felt like I was reading a modern novel disguised as a historical, which is a plus for this reader. I enjoyed the back and forth between the couple, and their banter. I liked how the connection between them was very deep and real, with good chemistry. It was nice to see that the hero was able to see the hidden depths in this young lady, and quickly realized that she was the perfect bride for him. There was a serious element with the heroine's dealing with her father, who was showing signs of what we would call Alzheimer's disease nowadays. Back then, he was just considered 'mad'. The poor heroine didn't really have much of a life, trying to keep a roof over her head, dealing with a father who cared more about his experiments than his daughter, and finally dealing with a father who was sinking deeper and deeper into his disease process. And she felt like she would have to walk away from this man she had loved for some time, because he would be very unlikely to want to marry a poor nobody with a crazy father. It was gratifying that the hero didn't even think twice about the fact that the heroine's father had mental illness. He loved her, and was more than willing to take on the burden of her father. I found the couple to be very likeable, and I rooted for things to work out between them. Although this was my favorite story, I did have trouble concentrating on the storyline at times. Again, I don't know if it's the time of year and having so much on my plate, and feeling pressure to get this read. All the same, I'm glad I read this story. 4 stars.
Overall, a good Christmas anthology. Certainly not one of my favorites, and not the most involving read, at times. But, in all fairness, with so much going on, it's pretty hard to concentrate on a book right now. All in all, Christmas Ball was a good way to spend a few hours around the Christmas holiday.
This was such an exciting free book deal on Amazon Kindle. I am an admitted huge fan of Anna Campbell, so I ran to get it when she said it was free inThis was such an exciting free book deal on Amazon Kindle. I am an admitted huge fan of Anna Campbell, so I ran to get it when she said it was free in her newsletter. What a pleasant surprise that I enjoyed all the stories more or less equally. One caveat, if you don't care for very short romance stories at all, give this one a miss.
The premise was quite pleasing. This collection of stories revolve around the concept of a ball held by a particular doyenne of the ton known for throwing a Christmas ball where a particular couple finds their true love match. You would think the stories would be samey with this idea. In fact, quite the contrary. Each story had a different feel. In fact, you could go down the list and suggest themes for historical romance and this short collection more or less covers the gamut.
I liked the fact that an older heroine finds a second chance at love in Shana Galen's story. The inclusion of a Scarlet Pimpernel-type hero who rescued her and her son from the bloodthirsty French revolution and the fact that that same man has been in love with her for many years made this a delightfully romantic story. I didn't think I would enjoy having a heroine with grown sons as the main character, but it didn't bother me at all. I liked it, in fact.
Anna Campbell's story was the most passionate. I am not much of a fan of forbidden lovers, but she makes the desperate, illicit passion work in this story. Plus the hero is delightfully Scottish. The heroine is of the Cinderella variety, so you have to be in the mood for a downtrodden heroine. However, the romantic in me loves how the hero makes her long-cherished wish come true at the end.
Vanessa Kelly has a nice guy hero who is sorely lacking in historical romance. Thanks to her for that. While I love bad boy, dangerous heroes, I also love sweet, kind heroes and I like the idea that the hero can be that really adorable guy that always has a kind word for a wallflower and is a really good friend. This story hit my 'aww' button.
Readers who like friends to lovers stories will enjoy Kate Noble's offering. Our hero realizes that he took his next door neighbor and boon companion for granted when he returns to find her a diamond of the first water who has no time for him, despite her tomboy past. I liked the turnabout is fair play aspect of this story. It also reminded me of movies like Sabrina, where the hero realizes that his heroine has been there waiting for him all the time when he is about to lose her.
All in all, a very enjoyable, and quick read that this reader enjoyed when she collapsed exhausted on her bed on Christmas evening. I am so grateful that this was a free Christmas present on Amazon. Thumbs up!...more
I read the MaryJanice Davidson story and maybe the Alice Gaines story. Neither had anal in it, so I was okay. I loved the MaryJanice Davidson story, "I read the MaryJanice Davidson story and maybe the Alice Gaines story. Neither had anal in it, so I was okay. I loved the MaryJanice Davidson story, "Love's Prisoner." It has forced seduction in it, so it's not everyone's cup of tea. The hero is the alpha of the Wyndham pack, Michael. He gets trapped in an elevator with a woman who is ovulating, and it's near a full moon. He cannot resist the urge to mate with her. It was the first story I read with this theme and I was blown away. He felt bad about what he did, but biological urges took over. A month or so later, he tracks down this woman who is his mate, and she's pregnant, so he kidnaps her to go live with the pack. From there it gets even less PC as he makes her go naked until she submits. There's another forced encounter because as alpha, Michael has to show dominance or lose the respect of the pack. He felt awful and she felt awful, and she stops eating. Michael comes to realize that he has to make sure his mate's emotional needs are met. Even with the questionable events, I still enjoyed this story. It was very well done, and it showed the animal nature of werewolves, which often overrides human feelings, although Michael comes to realize that his very human mate needs tenderness and understanding. I'd like to get a copy of this one, one day....more
This book reminds me of how much I love westerns. All of the authors in this volume are dependable writers of good romance, and they don't fail you. CThis book reminds me of how much I love westerns. All of the authors in this volume are dependable writers of good romance, and they don't fail you. Cheryl has the wonderful beta hero in Seth that she is so good at writing. You will fall for him, just as Marvel does. I also like the Marvel is not immune to issues of vanity or insecurity. She fears aging poorly because of having much older parents she had to take care of in their ill health. She is also about seven years older than Seth. But they are the perfect couple in many ways. Seth is such a sweetie and he deserves to have a woman he loves and truly wants to be with.
Jenna also writes a powerful romance. Ford is a bounty hunter who specializes in bring back violent killers dead (not alive) after his family was savagely killed by a criminal. He accidentally shoots single mother Abby and takes personal responsiblity for nursing her back to health and caring for her son in the meantime. He falls deeply in love with them both, and has to choose between opening his heart to love and possible loss or living on the edge and waiting for his death.
And lastly, Pam's story involves Sonja, who has a bad reputation in the small town because people don't understand why she keeps pigeons and often meets with the army. She is a good woman who is doing a dangerous job, but has been unjustly judged. She helps Beau by nursing a found fox kit back to health, and thus gets intertwined into the lives of Beau and his father Chet, whom she is deeply in love with. This story reminds me that the unsung heroes will be rewarded, even if the world doesn't recognize the sacrifices they make for the welfare of others. Poor, misunderstood, lonely Sonja is justly rewarded with a real family who love her as much as she loves them. I am very glad I read this, because it's a nice, warm book to read for the holidays. It has a winning combination of family and children, the warmth of Christmas, but also the uncertainties and dangers of western life with a promise of a happy future. This is a great book to read at Christmastime for a genuine lover of western romance....more