A mind-bending new novel inspired by the twisted and wondrous works of Lewis Carroll...
In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo the screams of the poor souls inside.
In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood…
Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago.
Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful.
And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.
Judging A Book By Its Cover:
First of all, this cover is g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s. The colours bring to mind the classic tale that inspired this one, and the blot of ink over the Rabbit's eye is a beautiful bit of foreshadowing of a horrific something that quickly becomes apparent in the story itself.
All About That Blurb: "Mind-bending", Alice, in an asylum, in a world where the Rabbit is oh-so-real, and a terrible darkness that has escaped along with her? Oh yes, please!
Getting To The Meat And Potatoes:
As a huge fan of the original Lewis Carroll tale, I saw this book advertised on Facebook, and knew that I had to have it (A+ marketing btw -- I bought this immediately upon seeing the advert.). Whether you're a fan of Lewis Carroll, or of the Disney Classic, or of Johnny Depp Tim Burton, this book is an excellent take on the original mythos that we've all come to know as Alice In Wonderland.
Of course, as a fan of All Things Romance, I immediately honed in on the potential romance between Alice and Hatcher, and even though this was a far cry from the explicit love stories that I normally read, I have to admit that their chaste love was quite satisfying. Don't get me wrong -- this is probably the most dysfunctional romance that I've read since 50 Shades of Grey. Hatcher is much closer to Dexter than he is to any traditional romance hero, and yet, he's far more fascinating. Sexy, protective, and certainly dangerous, one of the most romantic things he does is to promise Alice a swift death should they be overcome by their enemies. Never before has a threat of murder been quite so attractive.
But I digress. Beyond the somewhat dysfunctional potential romance between Hatcher and Alice, lies the real heart of this story; one that is never really addressed properly -- is Alice really mad, or is she truly far more than a girl who has been driven insane by the terrible events that have befallen her?
You see, even setting aside the gory violence, the unconventional romance, and the horrors that Alice faces both in her past and in her present, lies the most intriguing puzzle of all: Is what you're reading actually occurring, or are you simply being taken along for the ride on Alice's completely hallucinogenic fever-dreams? Do Magicians really exist? Is the Jabberwocky real, and walking the streets of the Old City, ready to consume anyone in his wake? Or are the Rabbit, the Caterpillar, and the Walrus simply ways that the damaged mind of a traumatized young girl has learned to cope with the horrors that life has dealt to her?
That, my friends, is what's really so wonderful about this story. We never truly learn if the world that Alice lives in is organized into such a social hierarchy, with Magicians outlawed, and evil such as the Jabberwocky able to run free.
You, as the reader, can choose to believe that Alice was unfairly labeled as mad, and thrown into the Asylum as a result of the fear and misunderstanding that she inspired in those around her after a bloody escape from the Street Boss who raped her. Alternately, you can read this from the perspective that an unfortunate girl has been sold into sexual slavery by a girl she thought to be her best friend, abused horribly, and then upon her escape, was so traumatized by those events that she ended up in an asylum where her fractured mind struggled to make sense of all that had happened to her.
This is not a whimsical tale. Alice's story is not a happy one. Very Bad Things have happened to her, and will happen to her again in the future if she is not very careful, and her response to them is certainly not to turn the other cheek. There is violence. There is gore. There is betrayal, and terror, and rape. This is not a Disney Classic where a young girl falls asleep under a tree and has the most amazing dream. Instead, we are treated to a very intense roller-coaster ride of abuse and love and betrayal and redemption, all wrapped up in the mystery of just what really happened to this unfortunate girl.
In The End:
Just as in the original tale by Lewis Carroll, I find myself quite unconcerned with the question of whether or not Alice's fractured mind is creating the entire escapade. The narrative is beautifully written, with just enough references to the original tale to be familiar to fans, yet original enough to keep the reader entranced through the entire experience.
Of course, as a fan of romance, I do wish that the relationship between Alice and Hatcher had been allowed to mature a little more -- yet this is a very minor point of contention for me, since Alice's background in this story lends credence to a much more cautious approach to any new relationship.
I adored Hatcher, who is truly murderous and not even close to sane, and his protectiveness of Alice was completely swoon-worthy.
Another point I must touch on is the ending; I think that a lot of people are going to either love it, or loathe it -- as I don't think anyone could have quite predicted what would happen during the final showdown. However, I truly believe that any other ending would have been wholly unjust, both for Alice and the reader. As unconventional as it may have been, it fit beautifully in with the story as it had unfolded up to that point.
In the end, though, I have found myself already telling everyone I know that they must read this book. And for that, it receives my highest, and rarest, rating.
Billed as a gender-swapped retelling of Snow White, this fun historicalThis is a Quickie Review. For the full review, please visit The Romanceaholic.
Billed as a gender-swapped retelling of Snow White, this fun historical fantasy debut novel from Elizabeth Vail was entertaining and romantic. I loved the blend of historical and fantasy elements, and I've always been a sucker for characters with a secret identity. I enjoyed Frederick's belief that his magic was deadly, and that he had to keep a tight control over his emotions in order to protect everyone around him, and more than that, I loved how Charlotte continually pushed his limits without always meaning to.
Though I prefer my romances to be steamy, I did enjoy the chemistry between Charlotte and Frederick, especially the reminder that while he may be a footman, he was still a man, which is something Charlotte had a tendency to forget at times.
There were a few pacing issues that stood out to me, where the story would hit a lull that made me think that it was winding down to a conclusion before revving back up to more action, but even with these issues, I still found it a very enjoyable read, and a great deal at the current price....more
Would've been a 3, but I decided that I couldn't really punish the book for my having not read the previous two installments, so I'm settling on 3.5/5Would've been a 3, but I decided that I couldn't really punish the book for my having not read the previous two installments, so I'm settling on 3.5/5.
Great idea, but I didn't really love the execution, and it was pretty obvious I'd missed a LOT by not having read the first two in the series.
This novella was so much fun. Stubborn heroine, a hero based on the Sheriff of Nottingham from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (guh), arranged marriage,This novella was so much fun. Stubborn heroine, a hero based on the Sheriff of Nottingham from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (guh), arranged marriage, a meddlesome mother-in-law...
I loved it.
I wasn't thrilled that the hero was such a manslut, but hey, it fit the character (and honestly, wasn't as bad as it first seemed).
I finished the last page with a smile on my face, which was enough to earn it a 4.5/5 ...more
I'm EXTREMELY wary of retellings of classic tales, and I admit that at first, the obvious similarities to Jane Eyre had me very hesitant.
That said, tI'm EXTREMELY wary of retellings of classic tales, and I admit that at first, the obvious similarities to Jane Eyre had me very hesitant.
That said, there was more than enough originality to the story to keep me on my toes, and with several unexpected plot twists as well as just enough of a cliffhanger to have me dying for the next installment (without making me want to scream in frustration), I stayed up all night reading this because I couldn't stand the thought of putting it down.
A very solid 4.5/5, with a full review to follow. ...more
I wanted, so badly, to love it. In fact, up until a certain part, I was certain I'd be rating it 4.5-This book broke my heart, in more ways than one.
I wanted, so badly, to love it. In fact, up until a certain part, I was certain I'd be rating it 4.5-5 stars!
Unfortunately, there's so much infidelity that I just couldn't get past it. Yes, he had pretty excuses, but... *queasy*
I LOVED Daisy/Theo. Loved her. And in some ways, I loved James as well. The betrayal early on was absolutely delicious, and up until the point where he dipped his wick in some foreign widow, I was hooked! But the very blatant infidelity, AND the fact he didn't seem to be ashamed about it when recounting it to his wife made me want to vomit, especially when combined with a seven year estrangement.
To be fair, it's very well-written, with well-rounded characters and an intense amount of emotion, but I personally couldn't get past the cheating, even though I easily admit that James did grovel rather prettily there in the end.
Fans of cheating heroes and fairly long estrangements will eat this one up with a spoon, but for me, 3/5. :-/...more
Expected Release Date: May 2, 2012 Publisher: Romantic Geek Publishing ImpThis is a Quickie Review. For the full review, please visit The Romanceaholic.
Expected Release Date: May 2, 2012 Publisher: Romantic Geek Publishing Imprint: N/A Author’s Website: http://www.daniellemonsch.com My Source for This Book: Gift from the author Part of a Series: No Series Best Read In Order: N/A Steam Level: Steamy Pet Peeves: Exhibitionism (Minor) Favorite Tropes: Unexpected Hero, Enemies To Lovers, Classics Retold
Overall, this was a fun, flirty take on an old classic, and I really enjoyed it. There was a hot, hunky, chivalrous knight who has far more to him than meets the eye, a stubborn Fairy Godmother wary of being hurt again, and an imperative quest for the elusive Happily Ever After, not to mention some sneaky plotting on the author’s part.
The only thing that I really didn’t particularly care for was the minor bits of exhibitionism, but anyone familiar with my reviews knows that this isn’t something that I’m a fan of in general, so that should come as little surprise.
Recommended for fans of chivalrous knights, stubborn fairies, and old adversaries finally getting that elusive Happily Ever After.
Right now I'm torn between 3.5/5 and 4/5. I do love Ms. Drake's cyberpunk retakes of classic fairy tales, and this one was definitely a creative re-imRight now I'm torn between 3.5/5 and 4/5. I do love Ms. Drake's cyberpunk retakes of classic fairy tales, and this one was definitely a creative re-imagining.
I think what bothered me mostly (outside of the rate of hair growth lol) was that because of the civil rights issues in the story, I couldn't feel that the ending was a true Happily Ever After. Which, I admit, isn't really fair of me, because if everything had been all perfect and wonderful, I would probably be complaining that everything was too neat and tidy :P
Hence, being torn on the rating.
Full review to (eventually) follow. Hopefully....more
Expected Release Date: December 27, 2011 (Available Now) Publisher: HarpeThis is a Quickie Review. For the full review, please visit The Romanceaholic.
Expected Release Date: December 27, 2011 (Available Now) Publisher: HarperCollins Imprint: Avon Author’s Website: http://www.eloisajames.com/ My Source for This Book: Wal-Mart Part of a Series: Yes, Book 3, Fairy Tales Series Best Read In Order: Worked well as a standalone Steam Level: Steamy
Cute and sweet and funny and exciting and sexy and occasionally heartbreaking, I loved Quin, and of course was all about Oliva, with her overweight figure and bawdy sense of humor. For the most part, the story was quite lighthearted, even when things looked to be quite serious, and there were only a few spots that I didn’t really care for.
I loved the dynamic between Olivia and her sister, and the angst caused by the forbidden romance between her and Quin, as well as the excitement that happened later in the book.
Overall, I would recommend this to fans of realistically sized heroines, forbidden romance, and unconventional heroes.
Expected Release Date: August 2, 2011 (Available Now!) Publisher: Penguin Group Imprint: Berkley Trade Author’s Website: http://www.liladipasqua.com/ My SExpected Release Date: August 2, 2011 (Available Now!) Publisher: Penguin Group Imprint: Berkley Trade Author’s Website: http://www.liladipasqua.com/ My Source for This Book: Gift from the author Part of a Series: Yes, Book 3, Fiery Tales Series Best Read In Order: N/A Steam Level: Scorching
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful maiden by the name of Sabine, daughter of the most famous and celebrated playwright in Paris. Young, and beautiful, the girl anxiously anticipated the time when she and her lovely twin sister would make their debut into Parisian society, attending balls and soirees, and of course, making an advantageous marriage. But there was one man above all that Sabine had within her sights -- her very own Dark Prince, Jules de Moutier. While they had never had a chance to truly meet, she pinned all of her hopes, dreams, and of course, heady fantasies, on the handsome and sensual aristocrat.
But all of these dreams crumbled into ashes when Sabine's life was cast into the cinders -- her father dead, her beloved sister cold in the ground, and the horrible Moutier family the very cause of their fall from grace. With the family's land gone, and exorbitant taxes levied against her family by aristocrats and the monarchy alike, she knew that it was only a matter of time before she and what was left of her family were thrown into debtor's prison, where a fate awaited her that was worse than death.
Determined to be the master of her own fate, she devised a plan to steal a fortune from a band of rogues -- a fortune that would not only ensure her family's safety, but would allow her to search for the truth behind her dear twin's disappearance. Posing as a skilled strumpet, she and her two male cousins intend to infiltrate the privateer camp, distract the leader, and feed the rest of them men wine tainted with a sleeping draught.
But this was not just any band of privateers. No, the leader proved to be none other than Sabine's own Dark Prince, the man she both lusts after and despises with all of her being. Suddenly, her simple plan is no longer simple at all, and within Jules' arms, she discovers a passion and a freedom unlike any other. But can Sabine allow herself to succumb, knowing that his family is the one that ruined hers?
This book was so wonderfully, deliciously hot. No, really, if you wear glasses, you may want to keep a soft cloth handy, because they're probably going to steam up when you read this book. Not only are the love scenes beautifully lush and erotic, but there's also a delightful level of passion and emotion flaring between Sabine and Jules.
Perfect for heating up these cold winter nights, highly recommended for fans of luscious sensuality, heartbreak and betrayal, and one of the sweetest happy endings I could've imagined.
Expected Release Date: October 3, 2011 Publisher: Harlequin Imprint: CarinThis is a Quickie Review. For the full review, please visit The Romanceaholic.
Expected Release Date: October 3, 2011 Publisher: Harlequin Imprint: Carina Press Author’s Website: http://fan-fatale.com My Source for This Book: Netgalley Part of a Series: No Series Best Read In Order: N/A Steam Level: Warm
Ari Golde is a returner — her job is to retrieve stolen items and return them to their rightful owners. When her latest mission to retrieve a statue goes wrong and she’s caught by three notoriously scary bear-shifters, she knows her night is headed for the dumps. Escaping with only the use of her wits and a touch of chaos magic, Ari flees, but it will not be the last time she comes face to face with one of the bears.
Maks is furious at the vixen who broke in his house and stole the statue that belonged to his parents. Determined to force Ari to hand over the statue, he’s stunned to learn that her returner magic proves that he is no longer the rightful owner of the statue.
Driven by the a strong attraction he’s determined to ignore, and the desire to get his family heirloom back, Maks accompanies Ari for a night that ends up being chock full of chaos, havoc, and magic
While I think the overall premise had a whole lot of promise, in the end, this book lived up to it’s name: there was an overabundance of chaos, and I think the overall story suffered greatly from it.
While the chemistry between Ari and Maks was crackling (and how sexy is it that Bear kept wanting to take her as a mate even when Maks was being stubborn?!), there was simply far too much going on far too quickly to actually make sense half the time.
Very fast paced, with a plethora of characters, it was a fast, energetic read full of fight scenes, trickery, chemistry, and fun, but in the end, it was simply too chaotic for me to keep up with.
Expected Release Date: October 18, 2011 (Available Now!) Publisher: HarleThis is a Quickie Review. For the full review, please visit The Romanceaholic.
Expected Release Date: October 18, 2011 (Available Now!) Publisher: Harlequin Imprint: Harlequin Nocturne Author’s Website: http://www.jessicaandersen.com/ My Source for This Book: Netgalley Part of a Series: Yes, Book 3 of Royal House of Shadows Continuation Series Best Read In Order: Works well as a standalone Steam Level: Steamy
To be perfectly honest, this one was a disappointment to me. I adore Jessica Andersen’s Nightkeepers series, so I was excited when I heard she would be a part of the Royal House of Shadows. Unfortunately, it got of to an incredibly slow start for me. I didn’t like Dayn when I first met him, and while the premise was intriguing as it involved a heroine from “our” realm, I just couldn’t get back from the vampire prince-dressed-as-a-lumberjack hiding amongst the wolfyn. Plus, the whole time limit thing of four days seemed ridiculously short, especially when two of those days were glossed over and not actually detailed.
That said, about halfway in, the action started to pick up, as did the relationship between Reda and Dayn. While there was quite a bit of superfluous angst (wait, did I say that??), the relationship was much more satisfying, and the final showdown between our main couple and the evil witch went out with a bang.
While I do think this story worked well as a standalone, readers must be aware that it is a part of a four-installment continuity, and as such, the ending is very much a cliff-hanger (since the final Big Showdown will presumably be in the final book, Lord of the Abyss by Nalini Singh). Despite this fact, I thought that Dayn and Reda’s personal story arc felt complete enough to count as a HEA.
In the end, though, I don’t think this book ever fully recovered for me after the slow start. If I could split my rating, the first half would be 2 stars, and the second half would probably be 4. Because of this, I’m going with an overall rating of 3/5 Stars....more
Expected Release Date: August 30, 2011 (Available Now!) Publisher: HarleThis is a Quickie Review. For the full review, please visit, The Romanceaholic.
Expected Release Date: August 30, 2011 (Available Now!) Publisher: Harlequin Imprint: Nocturne Author’s Website: http://genashowalter.com My Source for This Book: Netgalley Part of a Series: Yes, Book 1, Royal House of Shadows Series Best Read In Order: N/A Steam Level: Hot
Official Blurb: Once upon a time…the Blood Sorcerer vanquished the kingdom of Elden. To save their children, the queen scattered them to safety and the king filled them with a need for vengeance. Only a magical timepiece connects the four royal heirs…and time is running out. Nicolai the Vampire is renowned for his virility, but in a cruel twist of fate “The Dark Seducer” has become a sex slave in the kingdom of Delfina—stripped of his precious timepiece and his memory. All that remains is a primal need for freedom, revenge—and the only woman who can help him. When the wanton vampire summons Jane Parker, she is helpless to obey. She's drawn to his dark sexuality and into his magical realm. But for this human, all is not a fairy tale. For saving Nicolai could mean losing the only man she's ever craved...
Overall, this was a decent read for me. The action sequences and the love scenes (oh my heck, the love scenes! *fans self*) all worked together to make an incredibly exciting, deliciously hot read. However, I think the book got off on the wrong foot for me. The first chapter felt as though I was missing a lot of information, as though I was picking up a series in the third or fourth book.
Now, to be fair, I've never read anything by Gena Showalter, so for all I know, there are books that came before this one, or it's set slightly in a previously established world. If someone knows for certain, please let me know and I will come back and edit my review to include the information.
As it was, however, I couldn't love it as much as I think I might have otherwise, because I was thrown for such a loop by the first chapter and Nicolai and Jane's instant lust and affection.
That said, it was a solid start into the Royal House of Shadows, and I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series, written by Jill Monroe, Jessica Andersen, and Nalini Singh. 3/5 Stars...more
Expected Release Date: November 15, 2011 (Paperback) Publisher: HarleqThis is a Quickie Review. For the full review, please visit The Romanceaholic.com
Expected Release Date: November 15, 2011 (Paperback) Publisher: Harlequin Imprint: Harlequin Nocturne Author’s Website: http://www.nalinisingh.com/ My Source for This Book: Netgalley Part of a Series: Yes, Book 4, Royal House of Shadows Continuity Series Best Read In Order: Probably, but works well as a standalone Steam Level: Steamy
Twenty years ago, the evil Blood Sorcerer attacked the Kingdom of Elden. Before their death, the King and the Queen used their magic on their four children — the Queen to send them each to the far reaches of the world to protect them, and the King to bury within them each the deep desire to avenge them.
But the Blood Sorcerer corrupted the magic, and Micah, the youngest of the Elden heirs, was cast to the edge of the Abyss, with no memory of his previous life. Awaking in the basement of the Guardian’s castle, he took over the mantle of Guardian, becoming the last bastion between the world and the evil creatures spending their afterlife in the torture and agony of the Abyss.
Lilliana is the hated daughter of the Blood Sorcerer. Abused and tortured since her birth, she refuses to be broken. In a final rebellion against her father, she uses her own blood magic to transport herself to Micah’s location — only a miscalculation on her end results in her landing, not safely at the edge of the village near the castle, but smack in the middle of the Guardian’s throne room.
Daring to meet his eye — something no one else would dare to do — Liliana immediately captures the Guardian’s interest. Bemused, intrigued, and annoyed at this homely little woman who dares to stand up to him, Micah cannot help but be drawn to Liliana.
Her mission is to help Micah to remember his past and his family, because she knows that he is the only one who will be able to save teh Kingdom of Elden once and for all — and time is very quickly running out.
While it wasn’t as apparent in this novel as it was in some of the others of the series as to which fairy tale the story was influenced by, I think Ms. Singh did a beautiful job of weaving in moments and hints of the Beauty and the Beast legend into her own story. The fact that she was able to do so without being obvious that this was a classical story re-imagined was even more impressive.
While I wasn’t at all happy with the ending, regardless of how exciting and satisfying the HEA may have been, and I had a hard time believing Liliana wouldn’t be a whimpering pile of mush rocking back and forth in the corner after the childhood she’d had, I still feel that this was by far the strongest entry into the series. Micah and Liliana’s relationship was beautifully paced, and the secondary characters added so much richness to the novel that I literally couldn’t put it down.
Recommended for fans of plain, abused heroines who use their inner strength to confront their oppressors, of amnesiac alpha heroes whose loyalty, devotion, and honor lead them on to great things, and of beautiful romances sprinkled with a bit of heat.
A solid 4.5/5 Stars
*Note, the edition that I received also contained Nalini Singh’s story, Desert Warrior. I will be reviewing that title separately due to its receiving a different rating from me. ...more
Incredibly poetic and strangely thought-provoking, this is probably one of the coolest "non-romance novels" I've ever read. Unapologetically full of bIncredibly poetic and strangely thought-provoking, this is probably one of the coolest "non-romance novels" I've ever read. Unapologetically full of blood and gore, the underlying romance and life is absolutely wonderful. Using a definite (and obvious) parallel to Romeo and Juliet (there's even a balcony scene for cripe's sake), there's a decidedly non-tragic ending, which pleased me greatly. I'd love a sequel.
I agree with other reviewers that Perry's death could've been so much... more, instead of being glossed over and easily forgiven by everyone, but even so, I adored it.
As you may be able to tell from the cover, Jaq’s Harp is a futuristic twist on the fairytale of Jack and the BeanstalReviewed at The Romance-a-holic
As you may be able to tell from the cover, Jaq’s Harp is a futuristic twist on the fairytale of Jack and the Beanstalk. I really enjoyed the not-so-subtle nods to the original story, such as the “magic” bio-engineered beans, Monsieur Bovine, a reference to “the blood of an Englishman”, and more.
What worked for me:
* The cover art is simply gorgeous.
* I’m not normally a fan of stories where the main protagonists had a previous relationship, but I heartily approve of this device in shorter works, because it certainly helps to get the action moving. The circumstances around their initial separation helped to add an extra layer of angst to the story, as well as adding sweetness to the resolution.
* There was an abundance of action as Jaq and Harp tried to escape from the compound, and the pacing was perfect.
* The single love scene was well done, and since I typically don’t care for stories where the main couple consummates their relationship before other issues are resolved, I felt that its timing fit well within the storyline.
* I enjoyed the slight glimpse into Harp’s childhood, though I wish that there’d been time to expand upon it. Thus is the way of novellas, however, and it was an acceptable sacrifice in my mind.
What didn’t work for me:
* I didn’t really care for Harp as a character. At one point in the story, both of their lives are in great danger, and he apparently thinks it prudent to strip down to his skin and pretty much tell her to “hop on”, despite the fact that there’s been absolutely no resolution between them. I understand that he was supposedly overwhelmed with lust at seeing Jaq again after they’d been separated for a year, but his timing did nothing to endear him to me.
* I wish that Ella Drake had played up Harp’s reliance on the dice a bit more. References as to how he always carried them, and his occasional use of them to make a decision made me think that he would’ve been much more intriguing had he relied on them a bit more heavily to make decisions in life, a la Harvey “Two-Face” Kent from the Batman franchise.
Overall, this was a quick, entertaining read. Sci-fi fans will enjoy both the technology and social structure, and fans of the original fairy tale will enjoy picking out tiny twists and references sprinkled throughout the story.