I loved this book from beginning to the end. I was so excited to get this as a review ARC, even though I haven't had a chance to read the first two bo...moreI loved this book from beginning to the end. I was so excited to get this as a review ARC, even though I haven't had a chance to read the first two books in this series yet. Alexander is a scoundrel, but you definitely want him to catch Sophie. Great chemistry, and wonderful romance. A five star read!
Ms. Archer has written another lushly sensual historical romance that entertained me, but also made me think. It was more suspense than action-oriente...moreMs. Archer has written another lushly sensual historical romance that entertained me, but also made me think. It was more suspense than action-oriented outside of the romance, but readers who like espionage fiction will probably enjoy that. I liked the depth she gives her characters with quirks like Marco cursing beautifully in Italian and teaching Bronwyn rude Italian hand gestures, as well as Bronwyn's incredible violin-playing skill. It's worth a read.
I was so enthralled with this book, I didn't want to put it down. It has the intensity that I crave in a historical romance with excellent writing. Th...moreI was so enthralled with this book, I didn't want to put it down. It has the intensity that I crave in a historical romance with excellent writing. The characters had a complexity that made them real people, and not always in good ways. Our hero lives up to the scoundrel name for sure, but his path of redemption makes for delectable reading.
I have to give this one 4.5 stars, because it's just that good. I am adding Juliana Gray to my must read HR author list.
A pleasant read, but not much conflict other than 'Will they, won't they?" A lighter historical romance with plenty of dialogue and conversations. Abo...moreA pleasant read, but not much conflict other than 'Will they, won't they?" A lighter historical romance with plenty of dialogue and conversations. About a couple who knows they aren't right for each other, although they feel so right together. Samuel is a really sweet guy, the kind of hero you can't help but love.
A historical mystery that seems tailor made for fans of Sherlock Holmes, but are looking for a more edgy character and different angle on the relation...moreA historical mystery that seems tailor made for fans of Sherlock Holmes, but are looking for a more edgy character and different angle on the relationship between the detective and his sidekick. The mystery was pretty well developed and the story has some nice twists.
Ruse is a graphic novel series that is perfect for readers who love the Victorian-set adventure vibe. There is a paranormal element that felt very lig...moreRuse is a graphic novel series that is perfect for readers who love the Victorian-set adventure vibe. There is a paranormal element that felt very light in this volume, but it's there for readers who like a bit of the weird (admittedly myself). For readers who can't get enough of the sometimes obnoxious Sherlock Holmesian character, Simon is going to appeal. At the same time, with this edition, we see more vulnerability and the less confident person beneath the know-it-all exterior. Emma's loyalty to the often maddening Simon is much like Watson. It serves to make you like Simon more because you feel that if Emma likes him, then there must be something to like/love about him. Emma is definitely long-suffering. Simon gets her into many a dangerous situation, and he isn't very nice to her. Much like Watson is treated by Sherlock. The arch-nemesis adds a twist that reminds the reader of Moriarty, but takes the character in a much more interesting direction, although I admit I am rather tired of that character. At the end of this volume, the author teases at a game-changer, so we'll see what happens next.
The chapters in this volume have some interesting story-arcs, especially the small village that our two leads end up staying in. That was really kind of cool. Not what I expected at all. The other stories tie closer together to the overarching theme of this volume, and they bring to mind the high adventure classics of Victorian literature in a very pleasing fashion.
The art is well-done, but as I said for the previous volume, I find the panel progression confusing. Instead of moving left to right down the page, they often go willy-nilly from page to page and often across the page. I find myself having to backtrack and catch the flow of the story, especially last night, when my brain was fried. That is the major detractor for this series.
Ruse is a graphic novel series that I count as a major find, as such a huge fan of Victorian genre literature, and know-it-all sleuths and their long-suffering companions. The action is really good and it keeps me guessing what will happen next. I'm excited to keep reading this series. (less)
I've really been into Sherlock Holmes lately. Well, at least more than usual. Yes, you can rightly blame that on the BBC series Sherlock. So when I sa...moreI've really been into Sherlock Holmes lately. Well, at least more than usual. Yes, you can rightly blame that on the BBC series Sherlock. So when I saw this graphic novel series at my library, based on a super-sleuth along the lines of Mr. Holmes, and his trusty sidekick (in this case, a woman), I couldn't resist. After finishing this book last night, I would definitely recommend it to Holmes fans.
*Simon Archard is arrogant, has poor people skills, and extremely well-developed deductive reasoning skills like Holmes. His flaws nearly balance out his strengths, and he manages to be endearing because his sidekick clearly thinks so much of him. That sympathy brings you along for the ride. *His assistant, Emma Bishop, is long suffering and often mal-treated by her friend, although her skills do come in handy in solving their little cases. Bishop is also the narrator. *And yes, there is a Moriarty-like arch-nemesis in the making.
*Emma is far from ordinary. She has some very special powers that she must hide or suffer dire consequences. It provides for hairy moments because she has to resort to her instincts and intellect to get Archard and herself out of tight situations instead of using her powers. *Unless you're a Johnlock (Sherlock and John Watson shipper), there is a subtle undercurrent of romantic tension between Simon and Emma that the story plays on. Of course, this isn't a romance, but I think that there's a 'will they or won't they' question hanging around. *In this situation, the world is a created Londonesque city that has a potential for supernatural happenings.
I enjoyed this graphic novel. Good adventure and good mystery stories. The illustrations are gorgeous. The detail of the characters' features kept my eyes drawn to the page. Each story had some good plot twists. On the negative side was the fact that it was hard to read. Normally, the graphic novel panels go from left to right and down the page. In this book, their progression varied, even from page to page. I got confused a few times and had to retrace my steps. Also, the lettering for the character thoughts was too small, hard to read. That's the main reason I didn't like this more, was the confusion I felt in its organization and setup. Overall, it's good for fans of action-adventure comics, and of course Sherlock Holmes fans. I liked the fact that in this case, Mr. Watson's role is taken by a woman, who has something yet to pull out of the rabbit hat. Like Watson, her narrative voice kept me pulled into this story and inspires more sympathy for the arrogant Archard that I probably wouldn't have felt otherwise. I will continue this series.(less)
George Mann and thirteen other writers provide new mystery-solving fodder for the famous duo of Holmes and Watson. I say well done over all. A couple...moreGeorge Mann and thirteen other writers provide new mystery-solving fodder for the famous duo of Holmes and Watson. I say well done over all. A couple of the stories were a bit dry (and I fell asleep reading those), but I enjoyed most of the stories. I liked how unique each one read, yet Holmes and Watson are true to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's creations. You wouldn't think an author could combine them with Martian aliens and Lovecraftian monsters, but you'd be wrong.
I'd recommend this overall to Sherlock Holmes/Watson fans.
Crystal Gardens is for readers who enjoy their historical romance with strong paranormal elements. In this case, a huge part of the story is the conce...moreCrystal Gardens is for readers who enjoy their historical romance with strong paranormal elements. In this case, a huge part of the story is the concept of 'psychical energies.' Both Evangeline and Lucas have paranormal abilities, and they are drawn to Crystal Gardens, Lucas' deceased uncle's estate by no accident. In the case of Lucas, he comes to investigate his uncle's murder. Evangeline comes to soak up the atmosphere and work on her series of serial novels, and also to investigate the place that her father (a man who studied psychical energies and invented machines that ran on these energies) was obsessed with. Evangeline is also fleeing a murderer and ends up running right into Lucas' arms, which is a very good thing! Lucas is just the knight in tarnished armor to keep her safe.
I enjoyed listening to this book on audio but it did fall short overall. The narrator has a very dramatic way of reading it. Sometimes, her voice sounded a little odd (especially when she narrated the male characters), but I loved her British accent, and that each character sounded distinctive. I think that Quick's books lend themselves very well to audiobooks. Her style is very focused on the mystery components, and the romance seems to take a bit of a back seat at times. This would probably bother me more if I was reading than when I listen to books. That is not to say that the romance wasn't good. It was. I just could have used more than I got. I do feel that she emphasized the paranormal elements too much. She used the term 'psychical' excessively. I think that the reader gets the point about the paranormal energies and she could have spent time on building up the story in other ways. I do think Quick excelled in her descriptions of the Gardens and its otherworldly atmosphere. I felt like I was there in the Gardens, which might be a very strange experience indeed.
Unfortunately, the characters didn't feel as well-developed as I would have liked. I found Evangeline and Lucas likable and intriguing, but I don't feel that I knew them as well as I wanted. I feel that Quick did more telling about them than showing. Maybe she could have caused their characterization come to light more organically if she had spent more time on revealing who they were than explaining about the paranormal elements of the Crystal Gardens. At the end of the story, I could feel their attraction and feelings for each other, but I didn't get to explore this powerful love that supposedly had developed between them. Since this is a romance, that is crucial. I found the love scenes well written and passionate, and I really liked this about the book. I did feel the attraction between Evangeline and Lucas, although Quick sort of stole its impact by implying it was related to the psychical energies. Lucas is the kind of hero I love, strong, intelligent, compelling, and dangerous in an appealing way, but something was missing from his portrayal. Evangeline was a good person, a sweet woman who is independent and intelligent, and I wanted things to work out for her, but she wasn't distinctive as a character. The secondary character were barely fleshed out. I did like Evangeline's friends Clarissa and Beatrice, as well as Lucas' siblings, Beth and Tony. I also like Molly, Evangeline's maid, and Stone, Lucas' manservant, but they weren't as vivid as I would have liked. Judith, Lucas' stepmother seemed more lively in her characterization, especially with her feelings of antipathy towards Lucas and the reasons for them. The way Lucas treated Judith endeared me to him. He was respectful and he took his responsibilities for her very seriously even though she had never treated him well. The villain was quite cardboard, and his motivations were shallow. He shows up just in time for a thrilling climax, but he spends very little time in this book overall.
I guess it's clear I wanted to like this book more than I did. I liked it, but I think that this author is capable of writing a better book than this. I say that with all respect for her. I hope that the next books in the Ladies of Mystery have the spark that this book was lacking, because I think this series really has potential. And I am a sucker for the Victorian Gothic romance! (less)
I listened to this book on audio, and it was definitely a distinctive read. I have to say that while I enjoyed it, it was challenging to listen to. I...moreI listened to this book on audio, and it was definitely a distinctive read. I have to say that while I enjoyed it, it was challenging to listen to. I found it hard to visualize some concepts. I honestly have no brain for mechanical concepts, so listening to descriptions of the mecha devices was difficult for me. I decided to stop analyzing and go with it. Not worry about trying to get a crystal clear image of those parts of the story, but just enjoy what I could understand. The ideas were interesting, but I was a bit clueless about what exactly made Clare what he was, and the exact interplay between his physiology and his abilities. At the end, I determined that he was heavily depending on the continual processing of information for his well-being, but he could think too much and end up in trouble. Perhaps he also has some enhanced sensory abilities which also make him susceptible to different environments.
While the magic system was very intriguing, it took me a long time to understand it or get a handle on it. I absolutely loved some parts. They were darkly beautiful. They inspired a deep sense of unease with the arcane natures of the magical acts and the beings perpetuating them, but also a sense of awe. While I have no real life interest in magic whatsoever, I do love reading about magic in this kind of fictional setting. And I thoroughly enjoyed the fact magic is so intrinsic to the fabric of Great Britain in this novel. It was very cool that the present monarch is a host for the spirit of Britannia. I haven't encountered that concept before.
As far as characters, Emma really came to life for me. She's such a complex person. She's a mix of good and bad, and her manner of interacting with others can inspire winces as often as wows. I loved how vigilant and fierce she was. She took her role as a Prime sorcerer very seriously, and her vow to protect Britain. And it often cost her personally. The scene near the end brought shivers down my spine. I also loved Mikhail. He was luscious. The way the moderator spoke his parts was utterly appealing. Especially the way he spoke to Emma and called her Prima. It sounded like a verbal caress. I was surprised at the direction that the author took with Emma's relationship with Mikhail. It added to the complexity of her character. I wish I had more answers about what Mikhail is. I have to be honest that he is a big draw for me right now, although I also find Emma very appealing as a heroine, although not always laudable in the way she acted towards some characters. Clare was interesting. I enjoyed his deductive reasoning and analysis of the very strange situations he encountered after being recruited by Emma as the sole surviving unregistered mentath. As I mentioned earlier, I didn't always 'get' what he was doing and how it affected him. I hope that will change with later books. I also liked Valetinelli. I have a fondness for roguish characters who are insanely good at being lethal. That's definitely him. The moderator made his voice very fun. He spoke with a blatant Italian accent that was lyrical and appealing.
I think the major reason why I didn't give this a higher rating was that I had a hard time getting a grasp on the story to the extent that I desired. I had a lot of questions. As far as the writing having an appeal and impact on me, that was very well done. Saintcrow has a way of bringing magical and arcane elements to vibrant life that stays with me. That imagery was very well depicted. As a visual reader, I could feel and experience the powerful magics that the characters employed, although some parts were just plain weird and my brain didn't know what to make of those. I also give this book points on having such a distinctive heroine. Not always pure in her motives, but underneath, driven to do what is right. That's a hard thing to conceptualize in a novel without polarizing your audience.
I have to give this 3.5 stars because it was flawed in some ways, but in others a very good book. I will continue this series with the hopes I will be enlightened on some of the world-building particulars and to explore more of Emma, Clare, and Mikhail, and not to mention, Supernatural Victorian Great Britain.
Time travelers, Alice and Edmund Windsor of the British Royal Family from the Present of 2011, and Alice's fiancé Grayson, from the Victorian...moreSynopsis
Time travelers, Alice and Edmund Windsor of the British Royal Family from the Present of 2011, and Alice's fiancé Grayson, from the Victorian age, travel back to 1855 to make right changes that have occurred in the future due to their interference in the past. They are followed by Edmund's brother, Richard, who is the Guardian of the Time Machine, and who is determined to keep them from messing things up in the past. Jonas Byron, the son of the time machine's inventor, beat them to the past, and he is working with an inventor of the time to develop a windmill machine, which will alter the future if the trio cannot prevent him from helping Sir John Russell to win a contest for alternative energy sources put on by Queen Victoria.
His daughter, Lady Keira, has not faded from Edmund's memory of his last trip to the past. He hopes that he can renew their bond, and perhaps convince Keira that they belong together. Since her invention of a natural gas compressor is actually the progenitor of the energy sources used by the United Kingdom in the future, the trio will work hard to make sure that Keira wins the competition, even if they have to resort to some dirty tricks. Richard is determined to stay removed from the past, but he has to go incognito as the assistant to Jocelyn Dunkirk, an unusual woman who helps her father in his inventions. His determination to stay unmoved is tested when he begins to fall in love with Jocelyn. A lot is at stake on the Windsors' return journey to the past, both the future and their hearts.
A Gentleman and a Rogue actually took a while to get going for me. I didn't get fully engaged in this story. The writing is technically well-executed, although it's not as engaging as I would have liked. The story itself was a good idea, but I questioned why the focus was placed on the technicality of building the inventions instead of something more exciting and interesting, considering the subject matter of time travel, which is ripe with possibilities. It slowed down the story for me, because I didn't find it all that interesting. The romance was a strong point of the story, and there was technically three for the price of one. I did feel that some of the interactions between the modern time travelers and their historical counterparts didn't ring true fully, as far as the mores of the time. I could understand the future travelers making social faux pas, but I expected something more in keeping with the Victorian sensibilities for the characters of this time period in their interactions with the time travelers. As far as moments that stood out, I definitely appreciated the cameos of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
Overall, A Gentleman and a Rogue is technically well-written, but I didn't find the story that engrossing. The romance makes up for the lack of an exciting storyline, and the time travel concept is interesting. End verdict, this series might appeal to readers who like time travel romance, but I wouldn't call this book a stimulating must read.