I will be blatantly honest. If I was rating this book by part I, it would be getting three stars and nothing more. However, the book in whole gets fouI will be blatantly honest. If I was rating this book by part I, it would be getting three stars and nothing more. However, the book in whole gets four. The beginning of this book is probably one of the most unromantic starts to a romance I've ever read. A hero who has a serial history of paying for mistresses for six months for the better part of ten years but is so tied up and proper, they can't even call him by his first name? The heroine interviewing for him naked? No thanks! She's not allowed to touch him or be seen with him and has to call him, Mr. Nakamura. She does all the work in bed?
No is really unsympathetic and actually rather robotic at the beginning. I don't even understand why he would hire mistresses. He seems like he shouldn't even have a sex drive. He is so tied up and controlled, it's hard to believe that he could fall in love with a woman. Much less have sex with so many women. Perhaps that's his only outlet, but I would have found this more believable if he had actually been more reactive in bed. I get where the author was going with this. She wanted us to see how being with Ana changes No, and how she was different from other women. She wanted Ana to stand out from the crowd, but it was too gradual for my tastes.
Lili/Ana I liked from the beginning. I have to say she really loves her brother and niece. I don't know if I could interview naked to be some rich guy's mistress for my family. Thank God I haven't had to do that! She does have a sense of innocence, but at the same time, she is remarkably blase' about the paid sex thing. I think without her internal monologue, I would have been very confused.
Japan seems very real in this book. I felt as though the author is very well acquainted with it and rather in love with the country. I've read books set in Tokyo, but not in Osaka. It was lovely to get introduced to that city. It's always good when you read a book and it makes you feel like you're visiting the place.
Now, I am the biggest Harlequin Presents fan on the planet, and the mistress scenario is a big plot in that line. I can't say I've ever been a huge fan of mistress stories, but I'm not averse to a preposterous plotline that works well. It was certainly something different. Overall, despite it's start and some parts that I didn't gel with, I walked away from this book satisfied. I wasn't sure I wanted to read it, but I was intrigued, so I read a sample on my Kindle. I ended up borrowing it from Amazon and finishing it in less than 24 hours. That says a lot right there.
As to the sex. I think that the initial sex scenes are way clinical to me, and I didn't like the thing that No would do to make Lili climax. All I can say is 'ouch!' I didn't care much for the blunt sexual language. I'm not a big fan of that. It's not that romantic to me. I'm fine with descriptive sexual scenes, but not with some of the descriptors. Lust is easy to find, but where's the love and romance?
I really love Asian guys. It's a huge surprise to me how much No didn't appeal to me for the first part of the book. He did start to appeal to me when he gets mad and decides he wants revenge. He actually starts acting like a human being and not a robot at that point. I like pissed off No much more than Billionaire, Proper Japanese Businessman with an Erection But No Other Emotions No. I liked how he changes and thaws and starts reacting normally. I know that his family is seriously screwed up. I realize that Japanese culture is very rigid in expressing emotions and requires strict public etiquette. I liked him much better after he comes to the US to start a company with his friend and to get revenge on Lili/Ana and his father. Angry No is Hot No. At the beginning, I didn't find him attractive because he seemed so emotionless. I did kind of like how proper and buttoned up he was, but I would have preferred if he turned into a wild man in bed instead the way he has sex with Ana for their six months together. I also liked how he nursed her when she was sick and how he seemed to want to spend more time with Ana, despite his intentions. While I normally like a coldly ruthless hero, I think No didn't work for me at the beginning because he wasn't cold in the still waters run deep, but too robotic acting.
One thing that made this book stand out, but in some ways had a problematic execution was the thread of suspense/thriller that ran through it. I had no idea how cutthroat the Japanese businessworld is, at least based on this book. I don't know how much of that's true, but the fact that No's family is samurai on both sides gives their behavior an authentic feel. When you find out how truly heinous the behavior of a certain person is, it's chilling. This makes for a much darker than book that one would expect. I think it was problematic in that some of the action aspects weren't well described. I'm picky about action scenes, because it's a huge love of mine. And when you throw in katana-wielding ninja and samurai, my expectations go up very high. But, despite that, I found it charming.
I like over the top when it's done well. The OTP in this book was done charmingly. I could have been a little better executed, if I'm honest. But despite that, I did have a smile on my face when I finished the book.
I have been hard on this book, and i realize that. I do think Ms. Taylor is a gifted author. I have such a deep love for interracial romance, I am hard on the genre. I hate that the romance part seems to be taken for granted. I think Ms. Taylor seems believe in romance, but with a bit of a more jaundiced eye than I would like. I'm excited to read His Pretend Baby: 50 Loving States, Oregon...more
I was verra much enamored with this book. A great match between the very tortured hero and heroine. I like my Highlanders brawny and intense, and LiamI was verra much enamored with this book. A great match between the very tortured hero and heroine. I like my Highlanders brawny and intense, and Liam definitely fits the bill. I have found another historical romance series to follow!
I have to be honest. I did not like the hero William, much at all. He was a selfish prick, in my opinion. He did come around slowly. He felt betrayedI have to be honest. I did not like the hero William, much at all. He was a selfish prick, in my opinion. He did come around slowly. He felt betrayed by his wife, but for good reason, but then he becomes a bad husband, visiting brothels and getting drunk, and when he decides to focus on his marriage, his wife has fallen into a depraved lifestyle. I know he was young, but he was old enough to know better. Then he goes into hiding in a small town, Loves Bridge. He sees his old flame, Belle, and decides he deserves to start hitting that again, and says something really mean to her when she says no, before they can do the dead. She had every right to stop things with a married man. Also, I didn't like that he was perfectly okay with cheating on his wife with prostitutes, but not with a respectable woman. I think prostitution is reprehensible. I don't think prostitutes deserve any less respect than any woman (even if they're paid sex workers), and I think less of a hero who believes that. While William does apologize for what he said to Belle, it left a bad taste in my mouth. As well as his double standards about his wife's behavior. She was acting out and he couldn't be a man and love her and commit to his marriage, even if she wasn't what he thought she was.
This novella pushed my buttons in the worst way about male and female relations and societal double standards that still exist today. The woman gets into trouble, and is forced to deal with it alone, and the man skips out blissful and free from responsibility. Young William didn't deserve Young Belle, and I'm not 100% sure that Old William does. She gave him her virginity and he goes off and forgets her, and leaves her to deal with a situation he definitely contributed to. Then when he sees her, he assumes she's going accommodate his horniness despite his wife back in town. Ugh. Belle definitely loved more than he did. I like that Belle is a normal woman with normal needs. I'm so glad that her conscience kicked in and she won't go through with sleeping with him, even if he's in a bad marriage. I think it would have been a dealbreaker if she did sleep with him while he was married. Women do have sex drives, and while she was celibate for many years, she still had those feelings. I hated that she was made to be the fallen woman by her awful father (a vicar of all things) while William goes off and sows plenty of wild oats, before and after his marriage (and going to prostitutes doesn't make it better than his wife's more public, less discrete behavior).
I'm really glad this was a free read. I would have been a lot madder if I hadn't read for free. I normally like this author a lot. I couldn't get past William's behavior and the blase' attitude about prostitution, which I know she's not alone about. It's treated as a casual thing but it's a social ill and it's a terrible life for those women (and often men and children). I would like to see more heroes who realize how wrong that it. Like another reader, the high point was the cat, Poppy, who becomes not just a matchmaker but a protector of the spinsters. I'm crazy in love with cats so that worked for me.
Having said that, if a reader wants to get a prequel for this series, it's free on Kindle. I have the Kindle, but I read this as a bonus novella with How to Manage a Marquess.
I really enjoyed this book. I've never read this author, but I'd definitely read more by him. A great book for the Christmas season that sets a good mI really enjoyed this book. I've never read this author, but I'd definitely read more by him. A great book for the Christmas season that sets a good mood without being sappy. Some great insights about the romance publishing world.
I admit I found the characters too jaded for my tastes (twenty-three going on forty-three). I think that there could have been more opportunities to eI admit I found the characters too jaded for my tastes (twenty-three going on forty-three). I think that there could have been more opportunities to establish emotional connection to the characters in lieu of some of the focus on erotic sex. Readers who like New Adult themes may enjoy this more than I did. I'm not fond of the idea that very young people would act with these kinds of attitudes and destructive lifestyles.
It took me a while to process my thoughts after reading this. I love Christine Feehan's books. She's got her quirks, for sure, but she is one of my auIt took me a while to process my thoughts after reading this. I love Christine Feehan's books. She's got her quirks, for sure, but she is one of my autobuy authors for a reason. I liked this book, but I disliked some prominent aspects enough that I had to knock my rating down to 3.5 stars. I will try not to get too graphic in describing why, but I hope that no one is offended by any content in this review. I will refer to the hero as "the hero", because if I call him something else, it's a spoiler.
I am not an erotica fan when it comes to romance. This book has definitely crossed the line into erotica. In fact, some love scenes actually felt downright porny to me. There is actually too much sex in this book, and not because sex is not good or wrong, but it doesn't really add to the story after a certain point. Plus, some of the sex scenes were not appealing to my taste. Thankfully, there is no anal sex or content, but there were still some sex aspects I felt were not necessary in a romance novel. A lot of it ties into the hero's dominant proclivities. I know a lot of romance fans really like that D/s stuff, but I don't like it. I think it's counter to what I love about a deep, strong romantic bond. I like a mutual submission and I like that there's give and take and that both parties can be strong and gentle instead of one person always having the reins. I think that if a hero always wants control in the bedroom 100%, that says a lot about his personality as a partner, and that comes across loud and clear with the hero. I'm not for that in a relationship. If the author goes there, it needs to be well done, and so far, I don't think it's been done in a book to my satisfaction, not that I'm looking for that, because I'm not. In this book specifically, it was a big turnoff for me, more than anything else. Frankly, I love when the hero is all tough and lethal and growly, but the heroine has him wrapped around her little finger. That's really sexy to me. Not a hero who's always giving orders and wants control, even in the most intimate and safest of places, the bedroom. The bedroom needs to be a place of trust and absolute security. Not a place where the roles are so locked into place that it's all taking from one party (and I don't mean orgasms).
I have no problem with oral sex, but I don't like the forced/aggressive kind of aspect to it that has a certain name that won't go into on this review. There was another oral sex act that is straight out of a porno that I was like, "Not so much." I also don't like spanking used as punishment for a grown woman included in sex. Even if the heroine likes it, it feels wrong to me. Your mileage may vary.
I love stalkerific heroes like a house on fire. I like when the hero is crazy and even obsessed with the heroine. I find that highly appealing. But there is a limit to it in this way: I don't like when the hero is super-controlling or dominant. Especially in bed. And also in that he wants the heroine to live life according to his rules. I'm not against a hero who wants to protect the heroine and feels like he knows best. Especially if he does know more about keeping the heroine safe than she does. But he shouldn't feel like he has the right to administer corporal punishment if she fails to follow his instructions. I mean, Really???
I don't like that a hero always wants sex to be his way and feels like he has to train his heroine to accommodate his needs. In that sense the hero crosses the line with me. He made a point of saying that he was a rough man and he had certain needs. He had already determined that was his woman, and he would have to train her to his way of doing things. To me, that's not really showing love. Love is when you accept people for who they are essentially. You don't try to change them, making the assumption that they will like changing for you and doing things your way. He knew how Catarina grew up, but he didn't even try to gentle himself for her, considering that she had been in a controlling situation her whole life before him. While the hero did love Catarina, and he cared for her and made sure her needs were met, I felt their relationship was a 60/40 relationship, with the balance his way. Catarina is very young, and I can't help wondering if she's happy with the hero just because he's all she's known other than the life she ran away from. She loves that he focuses on her, compliments her and takes care of him, and is willing to accept his need for control. She loves what he does to her sexually, but how does she know she wouldn't like a more gentle lover? She doesn't. As she grows, I feel that she will eventually find that control to be a stranglehold on her. I could be wrong, but I don't think I am.
I loved Catarina. She was a cool heroine. I liked the aspect of her being a master chef and barista, and that she taught herself to read. I liked that she had found a home at the dojo and working in the cafe shop, her own life, what she deserved.. The hero frankly ruined that for her. I didn't mind that she was complaint and submissive. Truth be told, she was way too good for the hero. I think he needed to work harder to be worthy of her in my eyes. To clarify, I felt like she needed a different hero based on her past. The hero was a bit too much like the man she was running away from, and if that is the case, I think the resolution could have been stronger than how it occurred. There was one aspect I loved, because you could see how deeply the hero cared for the heroine at what happens near the end. I'm sorry that it took this, frankly. I think there needed to be more of a confrontation between the hero and Rafe, the man she was running away from. Instead, there was the big smack down but no words exchanged as humans. I would have loved seeing the hero hand the jerk the beating he deserved. I feel that Feehan always writes awesome heroines and I usually love her heroes, with rare exception. This hero is definitely an exception for me.
I always like the parts of this series where the hero and heroine run as big cats. I think that part was too short. I'm a cat fancier, and I always get a kick out of the H/h running free together. I would easily have sacrificed one or more love scene for more of this. It's one of the best aspects of this series. The animal nature is so integral to the characters, and it should be more of a plot element than making the hero require rough sex.
It was great to see Emma and Jake again. It made me want to reread Burning Wild again. I just might!
Despite its issues, this was a very readable book, and I couldn't hardly put it down. Feehan knows how to write paranormal romance and compelling stories. I think I expect a lot from her, so that's part of why I was disappointed with this book. I feel that the hero just didn't work for me, and the sex aspects were unnecessary and unappealing. I still have high hopes for Elijah's book. I have been wanting his story for a long, long time....more
I loved this book. It was delightful, from beginning to end. I was searching for how to classify it, and in the afterward, Ms. Berry mentioned the terI loved this book. It was delightful, from beginning to end. I was searching for how to classify it, and in the afterward, Ms. Berry mentioned the term, British Farce. And that's what this is. I am all for Girl Power, and this book is very much about girl power and the bond between girls/women. Not only is this a sisterhood bonding story, it's also a bit like Oceans Eleven, one of those caper-type stories where you have a disparate group of individuals who are thrown together under a common bond. I'd call these girls the Scandalous Seven. You have Dear Roberta, Dull Martha, Pocked Louise, Dour Elinor, Stout Alice, Disgraceful Mary Jane and their de facto leader, Smooth Kitty. Each girl brings a different characteristic to the book, and I loved each and every one of them. I just wanted to give them all a hug (even Elinor, whose obsession was death was a little bit disturbing at times).
Such a dark subject, a double murder at a quiet ladies school. However, Berry handles it with a deft touch. Instead of spending too much time dwelling on the horror of the girls' predicament, the reader is focused on how these girls react to it and take measures to prevent their sisterhood from ending prematurely. I like the way they work together, and despite the typical occasional squabbles among young women, they look out for each other and validate each other.
I loved the humor. It was mostly subtle, but sometimes laugh out loud. It reminds me very much of British comedy with some British mystery thrown in.
There is a nice dose of romance, because, well they are young women, and romance is often a factor. However, the youngest, Pocked Louise, could give a fig for boys. She's our resident sleuth, and a very smart sleuth she is and she thinks boys are foul. The other ladies, all seem to find guys who prick their fancy. Even Smooth Kitty, who thinks she's got everything all figured out. It thought it was so funny how big a flirt Disgraceful Mary Jane was, and a very unrepentant one at that!
I have been quite stingy with five star ratings lately, but I can't talk myself out of giving one for this book. I am very thankful to Olga Godim for bringing "The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place" to my attention. It was scandalously good!...more
I wasn't feeling this book very much at first, but I really liked the end of the book. It was very sweet, and I'm always a sucker for a hero who's stoI wasn't feeling this book very much at first, but I really liked the end of the book. It was very sweet, and I'm always a sucker for a hero who's stone cold crazy about the heroine. There was a real 'aww' moment at the end. I think the plot was rather convoluted, but that's what makes Harlequin Presents books so addictive.
Jane is a caterer and a chef, and being a foodie, I'm all for that. I could have used more food descriptions. Gabe is a big businessman who makes his money buying up ailing corporations. Jane has something personal against him because of what happened between his wife and her husband. He made her life difficult in the aftermath and contributed to an already painful situation. But that doesn't stop her from being attracted to Gabe and falling in love with her.
One aspect of this Harlequin Presents that was different is that Gabe is actually a nice guy. He only appears ruthless in Jane's mind. He doesn't read that way in the story.
There is no big chemistry and tension in this book. It's more of a slow build and a sweet romance. But that's not a bad thing. I gave it an extra half star because the ending was so lovely.
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!
Lady Ayla is threatened with either marriage to the powerful, conquering lord Margrave von Falkenstein or for her lands to be confiscated and Synopsis
Lady Ayla is threatened with either marriage to the powerful, conquering lord Margrave von Falkenstein or for her lands to be confiscated and her people killed in war. With her father ailing from a long-term degenerative condition, she has assumed command of his lands in his stead. She refuses the Margrave's offer of marriage, knowing that it will mean war, because she realizes giving into him is the wrong decision to make for herself and her people. On a trip through a nearby forest to notify her vassals of her need for men to protect Luntberg Castle and its villagers, she is robbed by the fearsome, dreaded, red-armor-wearing Robber Knight, who dares to take her money, property and her beloved horse, although he spares her life and doesn't harm a hair on her head. Lady Ayla vows to see him caught and hanged.
When Ayla and her steward find a sole-surviving, wounded man in a field of bloody, mutilated bodies, they bring him back to the castle. His name is Reuben, and he claims to be a merchant, but he is really the same Red Knight. If he reveals his identity, he will be hanged as a thief. And he is too weak to flee for his life from his wounds and a subsequent fever and infection. As he is nursed back to health by the beautiful Lady Ayla, his cynicism and overpowering self-interest gives way to love. Can Ayla keep her people safe from a deadly siege, and avoid falling for a man below her station who she believes is not telling her the whole truth about his identity?
The Robber Knight is an entertaining trip back in time to the medieval era. The narrative voice is lively, with subtle humor and vivid characterizations. Reuben is the perfect rogue character, a man who hasn't decided if he wants to take the trouble to be a better man again, until Lady Ayla shows him he is capable of it. Ayla is sweet and determined, a woman of her times. Beneath her ladylike exterior, she has the heart of a lion and a backbone of steel. The secondary characters, such as the old vassal but still capable knight and fighter, Sir Isenbard, are well-developed.
Mr. Thier clearly has a background in medieval history, and a talent for writing a story that is enlightening about the period, but in a very entertaining, readable fashion. The depiction of medieval castle warfare is lifelike and realistic without being overly graphic. The reader learns the ins and outs of protecting a castle against invaders alongside Lady Ayla, and her people, most of whom have lived in a time of peace and whose war skills are limited to non-existent. I cheered along with them as they survived numerous assaults due to the advice of the injured Reuben.
Readers who enjoy romance stories will appreciate the slow build of attraction and feelings between Ayla and Reuben. The author makes the most of their every moment together to show romantic tension and growing love between the characters.
The Robber Knight is a story that will appeal to readers who have interest in the medieval period. It's an edifying read, flows and keeps the reader's interest with engaging characters and a well-paced narrative. This reader recommends it, despite the fact that the cliffhanger ending pricks at one of the biggest pet peeves of mine.
This is well-written and has an authentic feel for a Regency romance, but the male lead, Ned, isn't very likable for a significant portion of the bookThis is well-written and has an authentic feel for a Regency romance, but the male lead, Ned, isn't very likable for a significant portion of the book, and Phoebe's personality seemed too buried under governess reserve, so I didn't bond as much to either of them. For that reason, I would have to give this one a 3.5/5.0 star rating.
I haven't decided how I feel about this book. One one level, it was a very satisfying read. But there is something I felt didn't quite ring for me. II haven't decided how I feel about this book. One one level, it was a very satisfying read. But there is something I felt didn't quite ring for me. I pretty much loved Tiffany from page one. She was a real person. She had emotions that were authentic considering what she'd gone through. I liked that while she had valid reasons to run in the other direction from a relationship (especially the one he was offering) with Ryzard, she was also brave enough to come out of her half-life she'd lived since her terrible accident on her wedding day. Also the cocoon her family kept her in. I like that Tiffany is a modern woman but her values aren't too out there where I can't sympathize. I'm not here to judge, but I don't like promiscuous heroines who don't have any twinges about casual sex. In all fairness, I don't like that in a hero, and I'm not into double standards. But as a woman, I think it bothers me in a different way and more personal when it's the heroine. I was worried at first that the book would go in that direction, considering the way she and Ryzard first got together. But surprisingly, I didn't have any qualms about it.
I am not a fan of affair romance stories. I like to know that the couple will stay together, and they don't have one foot out the door the whole time they are together. I think that was one thing that bothered me about this book. I could understand both characters were deeply wounded emotionally, but I felt a pang every time they would reference that their time together was a short-lived affair. I feel that Tiffany deserved better than a man who couldn't give her love or his heart because he was hung up on a dead woman. Especially with all she'd gone through and the double standards her family forced on her.
Yes, I think that was the issue I had with this book. Ryzard didn't realize until the end how much he was shortchanging and cheating Tiffany out of. While she wasn't a punching bag and she showed a lot of maturity and self-possession, it was clear she fell in love with him, and he was holding that back, while demanding everything he could get from her.
Ryzard wasn't a bad hero, but he's not a great one either. I like a hero who is completely head over heels for the heroine (or at least has strong feelings for her that develop reasonably early), and I didn't feel that from Ryzard until later on. There was something that compelled him about her, and while he kept telling himself to walk away, he couldn't. But I think it felt mainly sexual to me for most of the book. In some ways, Tiffany needed the confidence of having a man who was so attracted to her, but she needed a man who loved her deeply (with the attraction part flowing out of the emotion), considering her past. So he didn't quite live up to my expectations in that regard. I did like that he was a different sort of hero. The survivor of a revolution, who was trying to put his country back together.
I'm kind of confused about the Q Virtus club. The author's descriptions left me in the dark about how the club worked. I think the descriptions could have been clearer. It's an interesting concept to build a book series around. I hope it doesn't end up being too much of a sex/illicit encounters storyline throughout this series, because that doesn't appeal to me. If there is a way to build a story that goes beyond that idea of sybaritic luxury and discretion used for sexual gratification, I think this will turn out to be a fun concept. I would love to see some sort of spy angle involved with this series, considering the high tech nature of the club.
With all my misgivings, I was very drawn into this book and I couldn't put it down. So I would give this one 3.5/5.0 stars. Overall, I think Dani Collins is a new writer with promise. Collins can write a very effective, sexy love scene and she also writes a passionate love story, and I like the way she developed Tiffany. I will read more of her books....more
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. ThI 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.
As much as I enjoyed the first book in the series, The Unexpected Duchess, I loved this one even more. The author's take on Shakespeare's "Twelfth NigAs much as I enjoyed the first book in the series, The Unexpected Duchess, I loved this one even more. The author's take on Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" and the engaging comedy of manners humor, along with a sighworthy romance, really won me over. I'm looking forward to Jane and Garrett's story next. They really strike sparks off each other. Definitely recommend this series!
What if a powerful supervillain ended up in witness protection, working a regular office job like the average Joe?
That is the scenario that Ed BrubakeWhat if a powerful supervillain ended up in witness protection, working a regular office job like the average Joe?
That is the scenario that Ed Brubaker presents his readers in the series "Incognito."
Zack Overkill was 'a very villainous fellow,' it was all he knew. And then his world changed. His brother was killed and he woke up in a secret government hospital and he was given drugs to deactivate his supernatural abilities and he was under the oversight of SOS, who had once been his greatest adversaries.
Zack hates his new life. He feels empty and useless, until he begins going out at night as a masked avenger, saving people, not out of altruism, but because it staves off his sense of boredom. But his past is catching up with him.
This is noir meets comic book superheroes and villains, and it's very well done. The tone is unapologetically 'adult', with plenty of foul language, violence, and some sexual content. However, there is something quite fascinating about this book. Maybe it's the whole concept. Or maybe it's the fact that Zack's situation is compelling. Readers can feel his pain, especially if your workday has ever felt like the movie "Office Space." And imagine going from being a supervillain to a working stiff who has the strength of the average sedentary young male. Brubaker allows the readers to walk in the shoes of a supervillain and watch his view of the world change. Zack comes to realize that why kill, steal and rampage for no reason, when once's powers can be strategically employed for something of more value? Can there be a better worldview than nihilism? Can people you once viewed as your enemies become your allies for a greater purpose?
There are some disturbing scenes in this book, but then we are dealing with plenty of amoral villains and psychopaths, and even some of the office joes and janes are not exactly admirable in their choices. I didn't care for that, but I did like that Zack's view on things is evolving, and he realizes he doesn't have to be enslaved to his past identity or even who others see him as.
I was nervous about this book, because I love this time period, but I don't care much for estranged married couple romance. However, Ms. Raybourn tackI was nervous about this book, because I love this time period, but I don't care much for estranged married couple romance. However, Ms. Raybourn tackles both with beautiful grace. This book has wonderful atmosphere and Evie and Gabriel are both very endearing characters. The adventure was a much appreciated bonus.
I was not a fan of Tate. He was arrogant and narcissistic and clueless about how much he hurt Malene. Pretty much my least favorite kind of man and heI was not a fan of Tate. He was arrogant and narcissistic and clueless about how much he hurt Malene. Pretty much my least favorite kind of man and hero. But I loved Malene, and the spy action and romance was well-done. Not my favorite in the series, but still pretty good.
Sherry Thomas has proven herself as an author who uses the written word with a palpable love and respect for its power. I haven't had much luck with YSherry Thomas has proven herself as an author who uses the written word with a palpable love and respect for its power. I haven't had much luck with Young Adult books lately (with a few exceptions). They don't delve as deep as I would like, and rely on conventions and mechanisms that I find irritating. With "The Burning Sky", Thomas has encouraged my long held belief that young adult books can be vibrant, intelligent, thought-provoking, engaging, and have the substance I long for in a book.
The world-building in this book is careful and thorough without being too dogmatic or dragging down the narrative pace. I appreciated the manner in which Thomas layers her storytelling so that it feels as though I can delve deeper into this world, if I so choose, without the foundations falling apart or revealing nothing but wooden planks or steel girders. Instead, I felt as though this story is barely scratching the surface. At the same time, she doesn't resort to the most hated of all YA devices, the cliffhanger. Yet, this is obviously a story that promises to continue into at least a few volumes, but she concludes it in a satisfying manner that allows the reader to choose to read the next book, instead of being blackmailed into continuing the series.
I also loved the characterization. Iolanthe is a heroine who feels real. She has strengths and weaknesses. She is sympathetic, without being perfect. "The chosen one" storyline can get a little stale, but it's well handled in Thomas' hands. I root for her to find her way in a crazy reality and to be herself, but also do what is right. Titus is about the most perfect prince I've read. Perfect in the best way. He's got an edge that I love. He's flawed but also incredibly appealing. His inner vulnerabilities have been camouflaged very carefully by an arrogant, bitingly sarcastic mien. I had to remind myself that he was jailbait, because I was seriously crushing on him. He's a man with a mission, and nothing will sway him from it, not even the threat of his future demise. Even though Iolanthe has a valid reason to dislike him, I can identify with her struggles not to fall in love with him. While Titus is using Iolanthe and he knows it, it's clear he wishes he could be with her free of the rigid burden that binds them together, but also drives a wedge between them. But he's willing to do the wrong thing for right reasons. I loved that about him. Watching these two fall in love was very satisfying in a way that I crave from a good romance novel. The great thing is the love story is a viable and intrinsic part of a smart, intelligent epic-style fantasy.
The fantasy elements stand up to close scrutiny. Readers who loved the Narnia and Harry Potter series, along with fans of Howl's Moving Castle will be very happy with this novel. The concept of a mage world that borders on the mundane, human world has always appealed to me. I often wished my closet hid a doorway to a fantasy world. I freely admit it. And there is also an alluring nod to fairy tales in that Prince Titus has a book that allows him and his new protege Iolanthe to train and hone their mage skills. While Titus acts as a mentor to Iolanthe, she doesn't sacrifice any strength or identity in the process. It's clear that Titus can't help but look up to Iolanthe as a gift who can bring restoration to his world, and he is willing to take incredible risks and sacrifices for her to achieve her potential.
The action and fantastic scenes are beautifully described. I felt like I could see them on a big movie screen. The use of legendary creatures made me shriek in joy in a very ladylike fashion inside. I didn't care about being a princess, but I sure did love the Pegasus, unicorns and dragons. I would like to see this series as movies, well done, of course.
I can't say enough good things about this novel. I'm ashamed I put off reading it for so long. But it's one of those great accidents that I read this when I needed to. While I admire Thomas as a historical romance novelist, I hope she continues writing fantasy, Young Adult or otherwise, since that is my second love.
Changes is a wonderful example of what historical romance can accomplish in giving us a spotlight into history. History is alive and vivid, and we canChanges is a wonderful example of what historical romance can accomplish in giving us a spotlight into history. History is alive and vivid, and we can learn so much from it. Why not wrap that history lesson in a human story about two people who are very different, but connect through the love they share, and in the process learn that humans are all the same deep down?
A good 'what if' book about the period when 18-yr-old William Shakespeare comes to London to begin his career as an actor/playwright, and the incredibA good 'what if' book about the period when 18-yr-old William Shakespeare comes to London to begin his career as an actor/playwright, and the incredible young woman who could have been his muse.