Hart is a good writer, with an evocative style. It's great that this is full of multicultural characters. But I gave this 3.5/5.0 stars, because it'sHart is a good writer, with an evocative style. It's great that this is full of multicultural characters. But I gave this 3.5/5.0 stars, because it's not really to my personal taste. I find I like straight contemporary romance less and less, and the romances are more HFN than HEA (which is not my personal preference). Overall, I think readers who enjoy the current small town romance series trend would like this very much.
This is definitely a pleasant and serviceable Christmas romance. I didn't find it that impactful otherwise. I did think it was adorable how close ElliThis is definitely a pleasant and serviceable Christmas romance. I didn't find it that impactful otherwise. I did think it was adorable how close Ellie was to her brother. I liked that it was fairly evident that Patrick was into her. I wasn't that impressed by the plot about Ellie's ex-boyfriend, although he was definitely a sleazeball. I think this book lacked intensity that I crave in my HP books, so that was probably my major issue with this book.
I can't think of much more to say than that....more
This was a cute book. Mortimer kept us guessing on the hero and the heroine until near the end. The reveal on the truth about Lilli's parents' marriagThis was a cute book. Mortimer kept us guessing on the hero and the heroine until near the end. The reveal on the truth about Lilli's parents' marriage and the true nature of his new love, was surprising.
I was a bit surprised at the beginning and I'm glad that things turned out more innocent than it seemed. Patrick was a nice mix of alpha and beta. He would come on as tough, but he had a marshmallow heart. I liked that about him.
I kept thinking about Lizzy Bennet from Pride and Prejudice because the heroine's name is also Elizabeth Bennet. I don't know if that was on purpose or not.
Not my favorite book by Mortimer, but a pleasant read and nice for a Christmastime read, with its focus on family and how complicated and rich they can make one's life.
This was a pretty good historical romance, a story of reunited lovers, with plenty of steamy romance. However, I never felt that zing, that sense of cThis was a pretty good historical romance, a story of reunited lovers, with plenty of steamy romance. However, I never felt that zing, that sense of connection with the characters and that compulsion to keep reading. I felt like it was fine to pick this book up when I had a free moment, and to put it down when I had more important things to do.
I'm not a big fan of lovers reunited stories, but I liked that Heath and Julia are older and wiser, and have lived their lives, and know very well that what they have together is very good and it's worth committing to this time around.
There were some fun moments, especially with the salacious sketch of Heath that falls into the wrong hands. I really liked when Heath realized that he wasn't going to let Julia get away from him this time, no matter what. I love a hero in pursuit! I wasn't that into the whole "Boscastle Antics" aspect of the story. It reminds me unfavorably of how there is a tendency to wink and nod at a family in a series, and to draw readership for the later stories by reminding the reader of how crazy the family is. Of course, I love series books. No question. I just think that the author's job is to make a storyline so compelling that we can't help but race for the next book. I'm not that intrigued with the other Boscastle rogues at this point. I'll keep reading because I like this author a lot. But it's not an urgency for me right now.
This is a solid B read for me. A nice past-time with plenty of sexual tension between Julia and Heath that I'm sure many readers will really enjoy.
I picked this up mainly for Domino, one of my girl crushes. I like the previous incarnation of X-Force (Yost and Kyle), and I didn't have high expectaI picked this up mainly for Domino, one of my girl crushes. I like the previous incarnation of X-Force (Yost and Kyle), and I didn't have high expectations for this (just grabbed it because this is available at my library). However, it was pretty good. My biggest complaint is I had trouble following the storyline. Don't know if it was me or the layout. I have a head cold, so it might be a problem with focusing for me right now. I actually liked this team-up more than I expected. I like Doctor Nemesis. His look is iconic, and I like his mad scientist vibe. Cable is such a dynamic, powerful figure. Hope felt underused in this, so that's a detractor for me. The storyline was kind of crazy, about an anti-mutant fast food entrepreneur engineering a viral plague/food-born illness to start a war between mutants and non-mutants. I like a little crazy, so I was cool with this. I just had trouble following the story. Now that I think about it, maybe the art could be more distinctive in contrasts. The colors were all similar to me. It looked blurry to me, and the lettering was kind of small and blocky for my tastes.
I'll keep reading this series, since my library has them. It doesn't live up to my other X-Force team (and I really miss Wolverine and X-23), because they are a very hard act to follow....more
If I used one word to describe this book, it would be 'dated.' The other word I'd use was 'cheesy'. I don't think these stories have aged well at all.If I used one word to describe this book, it would be 'dated.' The other word I'd use was 'cheesy'. I don't think these stories have aged well at all. I checked this out because I am a huge fan of the character Zatanna, and I was curious to see her search for her father Zatara played out. Now I know what happened back then, and I'm ready to move forward and explore the newer Zatanna stories.
I think there is definitely a sensibility of the earlier age, including the sexism that was evident in the early to mid 20th Century. I cringed when Zatanna is referred to as the "Maid of Magic." I was happy that in later stories, she receives her current moniker of "Mistress of Magic." It sounds better, less chauvinistic.
As far as other aspects of the story, I felt like the science and magic explanations are simplistic and the ways in which Zatanna and the other Leaguers defeat their foes are too basic for me to feel they are credible. I guess it's due to the fact that I didn't read a lot of the older comics. I don't know if that is typical for the older ones.
The artwork is okay. It's just dated and sometimes corny.
After going back in the day with the stories in this collection, I'm glad that the new comic writing is more sophisticated.
If someone asked me if this is worth reading, I'd have to say, sadly no.
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 boI 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!
I am seriously in love with the Prakenskiis, and I have to say that Maxim is my favorite now. He's a mad, bad, dangerous man but heI loved this book!
I am seriously in love with the Prakenskiis, and I have to say that Maxim is my favorite now. He's a mad, bad, dangerous man but he loves so good! I had no clue that this tough, lethal man that we met at the beginning of this book could be such a sweet, gentle, loving guy to Airiana. I think that is Feehan magic, how she creates this guys who are lethal and ruthless, but then they are so deeply in love with their heroines, that I end up sighing as I read the book. Now this won't work for some readers, but I am such a sucker for the mix of action and suspense and romance, and Feehan has delivered both in such a delicious combination in this book.
I will confess that she's autobuy for me and I didn't even read the synopsis. I was there because I knew it was a Prakenskii hero. I didn't read the blurb until I opened the book to read it, and I was like, 'cool.' So I didn't have much preconceived notions, but I was just in it for the ride, and what a fun, wonderful ride it was.
Most of the book takes place away from Airiana's sisters, but I didn't mind that. I think that the situation was crafted very well to the lead characters. While somethings will always be the same about Feehan's books (but those things are why I read her), the situation felt different in an appealing way. Maxim is in no way a carbon copy of his brothers. And Airiana is also distinctive from her 'sisters'. Despite her air element, she's actually quite cerebral and far from flighty and hippie-chick, like I was suspecting. I liked the backstory of her life and how it ties into Maxim's story. Airiana is a tough young woman. For such a small, delicate person, she can hold her own and she was quite the action heroine in this book. She's really a very cool, down to earth, mature for her age woman. She gets my seal of approval.
I feel that Feehan does a good job of plotting and tying her stories together. and this fits very cohesively into the series. She makes the idea of the 'Sisters of the Heart' all ending up with Prakenskiis a lot more plausible than one would expect. I'll admit that I am fine with it because I can't get enough of these guys.
I liked that the love scenes come later in the book. Considering how dangerous Airiana and Maxim's situation was, it made a lot more sense. I can't stand when they take an inappropriate 'sex break' in romantic suspense novels. When the the love scenes come, they are blisteringly sexy but also very romantic. Although both are wounded, the 'getting busy' part isn't implausible. the love scenes say so much about the love journey of these two characters. You can see how much Maxim cherishes Airiana and you can also see that Airiana truly trusts Max and gives her heart unreservedly. That makes me sigh happily.
There is a really cool twist in this book that I really liked, and it adds to the believability of Maxim settling into a normal life, which he never had because of his family and their tie to the Russian government. There was some horrible tragedy and wrongness in this book, but I think that Max and Airiana were in exactly the right place at the right time and they will make things right.
I really can't say enough good things about this book. I wanted to read it again right after I finished it. Lately, I've felt less sucked into books, and this book certainly breaks that trend for the better. I rejuvenates my romance novel juices and makes me want to go on a reading tear. I have a need for more high octane romance novel action books like this, with a yummy hero and heroine I really like for this long, hot summer I am facing! Please write the next book soon, Ms. Feehan!...more
This was a lot darker than I expected. The portrayal of the dysfunctional and toxic relationship of Xavier with his mother adds a lot of depth to hisThis was a lot darker than I expected. The portrayal of the dysfunctional and toxic relationship of Xavier with his mother adds a lot of depth to his character and makes his rakish nature understandable. I wasn't happy with one huge aspect of the story, but it turned out well in the end. Almost a four star read, but I'd have to go with 3.5/5.0 stars.
This was interesting and unputdownable until the end. This is the drama I was looking for in the last books by this author I read and was disappointedThis was interesting and unputdownable until the end. This is the drama I was looking for in the last books by this author I read and was disappointed with. Add a hero who has a vibe that sets you up to dislike him, and mix him with a heroine who is sweet, but sassy enough to hold her own. Put a dash of "Wow! Did they really meet that way?" and some family drama. And lastly, great sexual tension, and you have an arresting read.
Caleb didn't endear himself to me at first. I admit the butt slapping intro was a black mark. It hit my male chauvinism buttons. Plus, he has the macho air of aggression that normally doesn't work for me when it hits me in the face in a book. However, Cat was so good at facing off with Caleb, and she's no one's pushover, so they were perfectly matched. While the age difference is pretty considerable (15 years), it didn't bother as much, because Cat is fairly mature, independent, and Caleb doesn't feel way too old at 39. He reminded me of the Hollywood sex symbols of the early 80s, and since I was a wee girl and I hadn't developed my palate for actors at that tender age (although I wanted to marry Hutch on the eponymous show for some reason), I can't say I was feeling that vibe. Caleb started winning me over gradually. I think it was seeing his vulnerabilities as much as his obvious strengths. And the fact that even though he was supposed to be this confirmed bachelor hardened against woman after a divorce (except as bedmates) and jaded about women, it's clear he's crazy about Cat. There is plenty of sizzle between Caleb and Cat, but Caleb doesn't win Cat over too easy (I hate that). He has to work to earn her. I liked that he was so jealous of her deceased fiance'/childhood sweetheart.
The fact that Caleb's dad is an elusive Hollywood maven still mourning his wife's death for thirty years adds an intriguing facet to this book. I have a bit of a jaundiced love affair for Hollywood, due to the fact that I am a huge movie buff and TV-watcher, so I am always a bit drawn to a bit of Hollywood thrown into my fiction reading. Lucien's POV was sad and gruff and intriguing, and the perfect touch to help Cat get over her angst over her lost love and to gain some insight on her feelings for Caleb. And his son, Luke's bad behavior (Luke's bad behavior is why Cat and Caleb meet under such infamous circumstances), hides a sad soul that Cat connects with on a deep level because she identifies the desperation within.
Every character in this book adds something to the portrait of its main characters, from Lucien (Caleb's father), Luke (his son), Norm (his assistant/Man Friday), and a bit of Mrs. MacDonald (Caleb's housekeeper) and Vicki, Cat's flatmate. They make a short novel feel incredibly textured.
No Longer a Dream is a vintage Harlequin Presents that I think is worth seeking out. There is a lot of emotional complexity in the short length, and a story that builds on the foundation of a good romance in such a way that you feel like you get a bonus level of storytelling. I think books like this make me keep seeing out vintage Harlequin Presents books.
Thought not a five star read, it's more than a four star. Let's say it's 4.25/5.0 stars....more
Loving Lord Ash does the estranged married couple theme very well. I had some happy surprises reading this book, including two main characters who I fLoving Lord Ash does the estranged married couple theme very well. I had some happy surprises reading this book, including two main characters who I found thoroughly likable. Lighter historical romance, but the tone and the storyline are very engaging.
This was a very good follow up volume in the Saga series. It reads as though it picks up immediately after the first volume ends, which is great. I enThis was a very good follow up volume in the Saga series. It reads as though it picks up immediately after the first volume ends, which is great. I enjoy this series, but at times, I feel as though the writer/artists are deliberately trying to be shockingly gratuitous with their subject matter. The violence is quite graphic and there are at least two borderline pornographic scenes on top of the sexual content that I feel is acceptable in a mature-themed graphic novel. I didn't even understand the point of showing the porny images, honestly. I took a double take, and I felt like I had to look again to make sure I saw what I thought I was. One was so gross I had to show my aunt. I couldn't even see what the point of that was.
After all my ranting, I guess I have to explain what appeals to me about this graphic novel. What wins me over with this series is the fact that at its heart, this is a story about the purest forms of love. It's a story about a family that is committed to stay together and fight for a life for their young daughter. Even the cold, amoral bounty hunter turns out to have an altruistic side for a child who is in a very bad situation. I am a sappy, diehard romantic, and I can't help but love a story where enemies fall in love and are willing to face any obstacle for their family, where people sacrifice and fight for love. I enjoyed meeting Marko's parents, and I can see why Marko fell so hard for Alana. She reminds me of his mother in the best ways. Similarly, Marko reminds me of his father, the more gentle, but steady as a rock member of the partnership.
As before, I loved the narrative of Hazel, the young daughter of Marko and Alana. I have a feeling she will be the best of both of her parents, and she will be tough as nails for all she has gone through in her short life. The way this story is written, they are in almost constant danger, and you know that it's only going to get worse, considering that they have the rulers of both planets on their tails, and a very determined bounty hunter.
I just plain love the setting and the out there science fiction/adventure tone. If they toned down some of the violence and sexual content, I could see this is a fun series for basic cable. Of course, they could go in the direction of the HBO/Cinemax and Showtime series and keep the over the top stuff as well. I'd probably end up watching it, but I admit I would cringe or cover my eyes on some parts. That's how I roll.
Anyway, despite the porny parts, I really enjoyed this second book. I'm looking forward to the next installment....more
Readers who like their contemporary cowboy romance on the spicier side might enjoy this. For me, the book seemed to have an identity crisis as far asReaders who like their contemporary cowboy romance on the spicier side might enjoy this. For me, the book seemed to have an identity crisis as far as its romance genre status. The characters are emotionally all over the place and that was wearing. Overall, pretty good.
Games for Sophisticates is a good name for this book, because it is about playing love like it's a game. Of course we know someone always gets hurt inGames for Sophisticates is a good name for this book, because it is about playing love like it's a game. Of course we know someone always gets hurt in that particular game. Quilla is put in the difficult situation of being asked by her brother to attract the attention of powerful businessman and ladies man Fraser McGill so that he will end his affair with her brother's wife. Quilla loves her brother and would do just about anything for him, but she knows she's out of her league making a play for Fraser. It turns out Fraser falls for the bait. His eye is on Quilla and he spends the rest of the book pursuing her, in various ways.
Quilla doesn't like Fraser at all. She has contempt for his love 'them and leave them ways' and she has to balance that dislike with the need to keep him on the hook so that her brother can repair his troubled marriage. Yet the more time she spends with Fraser, it grows harder to resist his seductive allure, and her feelings of dislike are conflicted by growing feelings of attraction to him. Occasionally, glimpses of the gentle, good man show through and gain her affection. However, she soon reminds herself that everyone knows (and he says it himself) he's incapable of staying with a woman and loving her. Quilla is a love and marriage (eventually) girl. She has no time or inclinations for an affair, even with a sexy man like Fraser. So, she makes it clear that all she feels for him is contempt as soon as she can. But Fraser is not a man to be played with. He gives her an ultimatum that ups the ante, and she has to show her hand or fold. But no one walks away from Fraser McGill.
This book is quite full of emotional/sexual tension. I liked that about the book. Set in the 80s, you can see the change in social mores and dynamics. While Quilla isn't sexually active, she doesn't come off as anachronistic in her personal morals. Instead, she's shown as a careful, somewhat introverted woman who has been focused on career and family, not playing the dating game. In that sense, it is not unbelievable that she would be susceptible to Fraser. However, she uses strength of will and cruel words to keep herself from becoming sexually involved with Fraser for most of this book. I didn't blame her for not wanting to get her heart broken by him. However, I did feel she was very mean and cruel in a lot of things she said and did to him. Usually, I feel that the hero is the one who is being mean to the heroine. In this case, Quilla takes that role. Fraser actually is quite nice to her. Of course, he's trying to get her to sleep with him, but he's not given the opportunity to truly know Quilla and her value system because she's stringing him along. He thinks she's up for the usual sort of relationship dynamic. When he finds out she won't be easily brought to heel, he resorts to some manipulations that aren't fair play, but considering the way she shuts him down continually, I didn't hold it against him. I felt that compared to how mean Quilla was to him, it was fair play.
I didn't rate this one higher because of the mind games and mean things Quilla said and did to Fraser. I understood why, but I winced at poor Fraser when he gives her something very beautiful and from the heart and she rejects it cruelly. I also didn't like how her brother was using his fairly sheltered sister against a known rake instead of manning up and saving his marriage the right way instead of manipulating his wife and her so-called lover. I felt that part was pretty immature and silly.
Overall, this is a good book. I liked Quilla's friend and business partner Nico. I couldn't quite figure out how he felt towards Quilla and wondered what his intentions were. I'm assuming he was respecting the friend barrier, but he would have taken things further if he had any indication Quilla was willing. That was one part I didn't mind, Fraser's jealousy about Nico, although it was mean on Quilla's part at the same time (she told Fraser a lie about their relationship). As I've said before, I like a jealous hero. I think that despite a lack of an on-the-page consummation, this was sensual and full of sexual tension. The end is very good, and I liked that for once, Quilla had to do the work in their relationship. Poor Fraser deserved as much.
A pretty good HP for readers who like their 80s output.
Riding her horse one day, Laurel Smith meets a man who makes her want to open her closed world after many years living in the gray background. Synopsis
Riding her horse one day, Laurel Smith meets a man who makes her want to open her closed world after many years living in the gray background. Tredway Lorent is not exactly a seasoned cowboy. Instead, he is a town-bred fellow with an eye for detail and organization, but he's interested in exploring his possible career options, including working on a horse ranch. She brings him back to Wells Double Bar, her brother and sister-in-law's ranch, and convinces her brother to give him a job, because she feels drawn to him and doesn't want him to walk out of her life just like he walked into it.
Tredway brings Laurel out of her shell, encouraging her art, and supporting her efforts to help others. In return, Laurel sparks this too-serious, too-thoughtful young man to enjoy life and accept that everything doesn't have to be so meticulously controlled, as well as going after his dreams. She finds her way into this heart, but fears of past failure still haunt him. Laurel knows that Tredway is the only man in her heart, but will she and her Perfect Tenderfoot ever make the move towards happily ever after as man and wife?
Perfect Tenderfoot is a sweet love story with two leads that are admirable and kind-hearted. Their interactions speak of deep friendship and admiration, with love growing slowly but surely. Beggs evokes images that take the reader back to life in in late 19th Century New Mexico. A strong sense of community is a highlight of this novel, as Laurel and Tredway continually help others in need, and expand their growing circle of friends and acquaintances.
I appreciated their good-heartedness, and their desire to live meaningful lives, as well as Laurel and Tredway's determination to conquer past fears and insecurities. However, the story was slow-moving at times, lacking sufficient romantic tension. While I could see that the love developing between Laurel and Tredway was genuine, I felt like it seemed to take a backseat to their continual efforts to help others and their personal emotional turmoil. Because of that lack of prominent romantic development, I didn't enjoy this novel quite as much as the first two in the series. However, the likable characters, the sense of community and the historical feel still make it more than an average read.
Perfect Tenderfoot is a novel for aficionados of sweet historical westerns who don't mind a lack of strong romantic tension. Laurel and Tredway are distinctive characters rendered with heartfelt sincerity by Beggs. That and the sense of strong community ties and a motivation to help others do make this book a worthwhile read, although not as successful on the romantic front.
I pulled this out of my HP pile because I needed an O for a challenge. It was a good read. The hero is a jerk to the heroine for a significant part ofI pulled this out of my HP pile because I needed an O for a challenge. It was a good read. The hero is a jerk to the heroine for a significant part of the book. However, I could tell he had feelings for her. It's one of those scenarios where the 'boy' pulls the 'girl's' hair and teases her because he likes her and he doesn't want to deal with this feelings. Miles is determined to think the worst of Darcy because she wasn't in love with his brother, who was her college friend and who continually asked her to get married. He think she's just scheming for Evan to marry her out of greed. Little does he know that for Darcy getting married is almost literally a matter of life and death.
In this situation, the wicked step-parent is a father. George is really quite evil. He has malicious feelings towards Darcy and his intentions towards Darcy's nubile sister are far from fatherly. Darcy has past experience with her father's lechery and is determined to protect her sister, even if it means marrying a friend who she doesn't love in that passionate way you should love your spouse. One huge obstacle in the way is Miles, Evan's older brother. He's cynical and sardonic, and continually hurts Darcy's feelings. So why is she attracted to him in a way that she never was to Evan?
While Miles wasn't very nice to Darcy, the chemistry between them is very palpable. I do feel that the author conveyed his feelings for Darcy as the story progressed, and so I wasn't too unbelieving when he declares he fell for her at first sight but didn't recognize it. Although this book is not graphic sexually, I think it has some very sensuous love scenes that work very well for the story.
I also liked how the author uses the ocean and the hurricane that happens near the end as a metaphor for the growing and powerful feelings between Darcy and Miles. Those feelings and the conflict that occurs with George (who Miles has his own reasons to hate) come to a head like the hurricane, and the calm aftermath shows the resolution of the acknowledged love that Darcy and Miles share.
Bargain with the Wind was a good read. Quick and enjoyable. I got involved with the story and the characters. I felt Darcy's pain and Miles' confusion over his uncontrollable feelings for her. I liked the manner in which O'Brien uses the familial bonds that Miles and Darcy share with their siblings as an active backdrop to this story. I recommend this to fans of short contemporary romance if you can get a copy of Bargain with the Wind....more
I am not overstating to say that the release of the new Black Dagger Brotherhood series book is a highlight of my spring, and I view it as JR Ward's pI am not overstating to say that the release of the new Black Dagger Brotherhood series book is a highlight of my spring, and I view it as JR Ward's present to me for my birthday! That said, let's get to my review:
**Disclaimer: This review is as spoiler-free as I could make it!
Wrath, Son of Wrath and Beth Randall have come a long way since Dark Lover, and it's been my pleasure to accompany them on the ride!
When I first read Dark Lover (about eight years ago), I will be honest in saying that my biggest draw was not Wrath or Beth, but the world and the storyline of the Black Dagger Brotherhood and the strange world within a world of Caldwell, New York. While I enjoyed their relationship, it didn’t blow me away, and neither character is my favorite in this series. However, I knew I was going to keep reading the series, and boy am I glad.
With The King, I feel that an immensely important chapter has been closed in the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and it makes me happy because I feel that all the Brothers and their Shellans have found peace and the close bond of family, drawing close friends into their net. I also feel a sense of excitement in knowing that the storyline can continue and branch off in different ways and directions, and the waters seem uncharted. While there are tendrils that Ms. Ward has planted in this novel, I honestly don't feel I can predict too much about what is coming next. It's going to be fun to see where the story leads, and I am in no way ready for this series to end.
I feel we got to see some added depth to Wrath that was very good for expanding my view and appreciation of the King. He came to terms with some major hurts and issues he was facing, and I felt the flashbacks were a crucial aspect of the storyline. Wrath always regretted that he could not save his parents and he divorced himself from the concept of family and his legacy so long out of a sense of fear and guilt. In this book, he came to terms with his past and how his future did not have to be governed or hemmed in by fear. I loved his evolution as a King and what that responsibility came to mean for him. It was joyous for him to get everything he needed, but didn't even realize he wanted. Even though I know things didn't end well for his parents, their powerful love for each other and their son was still inspiring to me.
Beth's storyline was thought-provoking. She was all over the place emotionally, and I understand why. I feel that she was at some of her deepest lows and her highest highs both in this book. While the story is about her, as Wrath's shellen, I think that more of the story was about Wrath. Her role seems more peripheral, but in a pivotal way. I still enjoyed reading about her character journey in this book. Beth is the best Queen for the race, and I can think of no other shellan to stand at Wrath's side.
Beth and John Matthew
I think this book explored their relationship in a more satisfactory fashion than any of the proceeding books. They know they have each other's backs, and the readers as well. Also, it shows that although you may have your desired life partner, you also need the connection of family (blood and found). I almost thought the thing Ward said would never happen was going to happen, but it turns out that it wasn't necessary. I like the way the story unfolds instead. That John Matthew remains his own person, and his relationships with others aren’t hinged on his secret heritage.
Xcor remains a complicated male, not quite likable in many moments, and captivating and deeply sympathetic in others. Since I like my characters complex, he definitely has my interest, and he may turn out to be a new favorite of mine in this series. He remains a wild card in this new series arc, his behavior not the slightest bit predictable. To his great surprise, his feelings for a certain Chosen have opened closed off parts of his psyche, and this cannot be a bad thing at all. I think he will have a potential enemy in his own nest, but he’s not unaware of that.
Layla is on shaky ground, but she is making her own choices and defining herself as a female. In her own way, she may have helped to avert a war that wasn’t going to end well, and that’s a good thing. I’m happy about that. I’m very excited to see where the story leads her next.
Assail and Sola
Assail is probably the most amoral of the lead characters in this series to date. His behavior chilled me at times, but he was also very sweet in others to Sola and her grandmother. It’s hard to know what to make of him. I hope we see more of his viewpoint. I can’t believe their road ends here. Sola’s in a place where she has to deny the desires of the heart. How long will she be able to tune out the siren call of her unwise feelings for Assail, who logically seems like a ‘very bad man?'
The Shadows: Trez and iAm
I am jubilant at the expansion of their storyline. These two promise to be a gamechanger in the series. We will finally explore the world of the s’Hisbe, and what a fascinating world it is. Trez has been running from his past for a long, long time, dragging his brother iAm along for the bumpy ride, as iAm has ever been his self-appointed guardian. iAm will soon step out of his brother’s shadow and find his own destiny, since Trez must soon face the music. Trez’s character is both repellant and alluring. He breaks my heart in many ways, but I feel hope for his future. I am drawn into this exploration of the dark path he has walked. The Shadows, once merely loyal allies of the Sympath King, have their own grand tale to be told.
I didn’t expect her secret struggle at all. Another case of ‘keep reading’ to see how she will get her happy ending. And she had better!
The Usual Suspects
It's always a pleasure to see the various characters who have had their books, and at the same time, I want more of them. I don't think the WARDen could ever sate my desire for enough of each character, honestly.
JR Ward, like every other author, has her own distinctive voice. There are aspects to her storytelling that turn off some readers. While I can see where she can overdo some of her affectations (like the brand name dropping and the copious use of slang), I love reading her writing. I feel that her depiction of the ancient culture of the vampires and their various subspecies is very poetic and dramatic, like an epic in its own way. Her romantic exposition lushly romantic and deeply sensual. It wraps around me like the dark spices her bonded males exude for their mates. Her tendency to adapt an urban vibe doesn’t bother me, because I think it’s an interesting juxtaposition to the very antiquated rituals of the vampires. While I can’t deny that the Black Dagger Brotherhood is at its heart a soap opera (not a bad thing in itself), it’s an enthralling one that draws me in and doesn’t let go of me until I read the last page (although the stories and characters continue to linger deep in the recesses of my imagination long after I finish the books). I feel like the Brothers, their shellans, and their friends/associations are part of my family, and each book release is like a yearly family reunion that I don’t dare miss. If only I was as excited to go to my real life family reunions!
I’m sure that I could nitpick about the things I felt could have been better written, but I don’t want to. It won’t make me feel I wrote a better review, and I’m not sure it would change my rating at all. I just want to bask in the glow of a new release of one of my top three series. I don’t drink JR Ward Kool-Aid, but I certainly enjoy her fine literary comestibles.
**The countdown has begun until next year’s release.**
I picked this up because it was recommended to readers who enjoyed A Tale Dark & Grimm on Amazon. I loved the humor and the quirky twist on the faI picked this up because it was recommended to readers who enjoyed A Tale Dark & Grimm on Amazon. I loved the humor and the quirky twist on the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel in A Tale Dark and Grimm, and I just plain love fairy tales, so I am looking for innovative, interesting retellings of these classic stories. I'm glad my library had this on audio. It was a fun and quick read, about 3 hours (It took me longer because I listened in spurts).
Initially, I was very drawn in. The characters of Sol and Connie are captivating, their story was somewhat poignant. I definitely felt for these kids. If you're familiar with Hansel and Gretel, you can get a head start on the storyline, although McGowan throws in some novel touches that were fun. I won't say which, because that's the fun of reading it. Sol is a young genius and inventor who gets a huge blow to his confidence that he has to work through. His mischievous, free-sprited, and intuitive sister Connie carries a burden of guilt related to Sol's greatest failure. This is a pivotal element of this story, and the author does carry it through successfully to the end. The story shows what the child-eating witch is up to in the modern age, and she's definitely streamlined her operation.
The child-eating witch is truly heinous. What makes it even more harrowing is that people actually volunteer their kids to be eaten because of the manifold failings of those kids! Definitely folks who shouldn't have reproduced! It's humorous, but on one level it's really kind of disturbing that parents would set their children up to be eaten by a witch just because they misbehave or fail to live up to certain standards. I think that they are even worse than the witch, honestly.
This is one of those books that won't appeal if you don't like a dark and kind of twisted sense of humor. Let me just say that here and now. But I think readers who like the Hansel and Gretel story won't find anything here that countermands the original story. Instead, this is just a modern update with more humor.
If there was anything I was underwhelmed with, it was the use of the secondary character who happened to be a witch as well, but she's a good witch. I understand why she couldn't help the kids very much, but I still feel she was underutilized in the story. I also wished there was some sort of confrontation between her and the evil witch. Also, I feel the ending was too abrupt. I know this is supposed to be a short book, but I wasn't fully satisfied with the ending. I definitely wanted more story and more closure.
Overall, this was pretty good. It's hard to rate it higher or to perform a very intensive analysis, because it's very short. I am glad this was recommended to me because I liked A Tale Dark and Grimm. However, it doesn't live up to the excellence of that book, and that's one caveat I would give any reader who is investigating humorous, middle grade/juvenile fairy tale retellings.
As far as suitability for young readers, I think it's fine for kids who are 8-12 (or older readers who like J/MG fiction). However, this would be too scary for a younger reader. Not that much is described, but the idea of a witch eating bad kids or even worse, their parents giving them away to the witch, is pretty disturbing, even for a much older reader like myself.
If you are able to get this on audiobook, I recommend it. I liked the narrator.
Tennyson Wells learns the hard way that Jasper Greon is not to be trusted when he abandons her when they run off together to get married. CaleSynopsis
Tennyson Wells learns the hard way that Jasper Greon is not to be trusted when he abandons her when they run off together to get married. Caleb Cameron is there to pick up the pieces, rescuing her and taking her back home. He also encourages her to change her life, to put behind her past thoughtless behavior and to pursue her dream of helping others. He encourages her to mend bridges with her sister Mauranie, and facilitates her mission to help Theron Barnes, who ends up with a crippling injury after he comes to her aid the night Jasper abandons her. Slowly, Tennyson's feelings for Caleb grow into something more than friendship, but will Caleb be patient enough to wait for Tennyson to notice how much he has loved her from afar?
Substitute Lover is the follow up to the previous book in the Place in the Heart series about Tennyson's sister Mauranie, Breaking Point. In this book, the reader is able to see Tennyson's evolution from a self-absorbed, immature person to a woman in charge of her own destiny. Tennyson is very sympathetic, which was not evident in the previous story. I learned more about her, that while her actions seemed frivolous, she was actually a deeper person with more honest motivations than she seemed. Tennyson is a sensitive and caring young woman who feels compelled to help others, which gets her into trouble at times because she can also be gullible. I came to like her very much. I could see why Caleb fell in love with her, despite the fact that he almost makes a career out of keeping her out of trouble, due to her association with no-good Jasper Greon.
I enjoyed this story for its heartfelt exploration of relationships and realistic people with troubles they are working through. As a shortcoming, the relationship between Caleb and Tennyson could have used more romantic tension, but I did enjoy their friendship and how they genuinely seemed to like each other. Caleb is a real sweetheart, very chivalrous and caring towards Tennyson, even when he doesn't always support or understand her actions.
I feel that this story could have benefited from being longer, giving more room to develop the romance and also the suspense storyline. Additionally, I would have liked to see more interaction between Tennyson and her sister, considering how acrimonious their relationship was in Breaking Point. Despite its shortcomings, Substitute Lover was a very readable and involving book. It touched my heart and made me happy to see Tennyson come into herself and for her to find a good man to call her own in Caleb.
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 conceCrystal 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! ...more