I have two main things to say about this book. First, this book was awesome and has landed Gail Dayton a solid spot on my AutoBuy list from now on. SeI have two main things to say about this book. First, this book was awesome and has landed Gail Dayton a solid spot on my AutoBuy list from now on. Second, it's not steampunk. Or, at least, it's not steampunk as in what I envision when I think of steampunk. To me, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and The Iron Duke are steampunk, with things like airships and nanites and whatnot. The only thing that this book (and its sequel) had that, to me, screamed "steampunk" were the critters (which were metal, and that's all I'm going to say so's not to ruin anything).
If I had to classify this book, I'd say it's an Historical Fantasy (I'd say Victorian Fantasy, but I'm not 100% sure of the timeframe lol)
So, even though I first picked up this book because it was labeled as "steampunk", and even though in reading it I kept waiting for something that was more... well.. steampunkish, I still loved it.
What worked for me:
*Tortured hero just coming out of many many years of servitude to a cruel sorceress, and convinced that his ownership has been transferred to our heroine, who most decidedly doesn't want it. Freaking Awesome :D
*Average looking woman who only dabbles in magic (since the big stuff is illegal for womenfolk to use), who finds out Holy Crap -- She's a Blood Sorceress who will be totally badass once she figures out what the hell she's doing ;)
*The worldbuilding and the descriptions of how the magic worked, as it worked. Made you feel as though you were the one weaving the spell :)
What didn't work for me: *The cover. It's ugly. lol Okay that's mean -- I like the idea behind it (with the old font and such), but just really, REALLY not my thing. Thank goodness for Kindle, amirite? lol
*The beginning bits in the camp were boring. I realize they were giving a lot of background information not just on Amanusa but on Jax and the magic as well, but still, it got tedious there for a hot minute.
*The critters (which do have a better name, but I can't say since it's a spoilerrrrrr) -- at this point (having read both this book and the sequel, Heart's Blood), I still feel as though they're a bit pointless. I'm HOPING that book three will flesh out that bit of the plot a bit, completely making me eat my words :D
*Crenshaw annoys the pie out of me. I want to smack him. With something heavy. Repeatedly.
*Guild Secrets were annoying as well, even though I understand and agree with the reasoning behind keeping them. It's just frustrating when keeping those secrets only makes the prejudices and misogyny in the populace worse, but hey, that's part of the story development, right?
What was kinda iffy for me:
*the sex scenes. I don't want to say why as it is a possible spoiler, but even though they were beautifully done I didn't care for them. lol I may have to come back and check the spoiler box and just flat out say what I mean, but we'll see.
*Not really a "cliff-hanger" ending, but definitely left open-ended. I have mixed feelings about these types of endings. While I definitely like to keep stories open for sequels, I don't like going to turn the page and saying "wait, what? that's it?? what about ____??".. It's not so bad in this one because, hey, I had Heart's Blood already on my Kindle waiting to be read. But still.
Overall, I really loved it :) Solid 5 Stars...more
**spoiler alert** Ahhh this book was SO much better than I was expecting it to be!
I admit, it got off to a bit of a slow start, but once Lina met Deme**spoiler alert** Ahhh this book was SO much better than I was expecting it to be!
I admit, it got off to a bit of a slow start, but once Lina met Demeter, things definitely picked up.
Hades. *fans self* Oh my. *fans self some more*
Hades was delicious! How I adored him! He was absolutely everything a romantic hero should be - dashing, tender, sexy, wealthy, compassionate, and above all, willing to own up to his mistakes, all the while maintaining his powerful aura. He was the perfect blend of alpha male, full of the natural arrogance of a god, and a closet romantic who was compassionate and fair (well, most of the time lol).
I also thoroughly enjoyed the liberties that Cast took with the original myth, including that of Orpheus and Eurydice, Minthe, and of course, Persephone herself (including the bit about the Pomegranate)...
It was also refreshing to have an "older" heroine -- in her early 40's, though obviously for the majority of the story, her outward appearance didn't reflect her mortal age.
The ending was sweet (but left me slightly confused for a moment -- nothing major, just a question of dates really), and throughout the entire story was a nice "chick lit" undertone of loving people for who they are inside and not for their outer appearances. While this theme was pervasive, however, it was definitely subtly done, unlike some other "chick lit" stories where you feel that the author is lecturing you the whole bloody time.
The bathing scene annoyed me.. Granted, it was hot, but I have this.. aversion, I guess you could say, to heroes in romance novels seeing the heroine naked without her knowledge or consent. While she never discovers that this took place, it still irritated the bejesus out of me. Blech.
Other than that, though, it was a thoroughly enjoyable, sweet and romantic story, and I would highly recommend it (and boy did it make me want some authentic Italian pizza lol)
Meh. It was alright but not grand. There were too many loose subplots for my tastes -- such as who was behind the intrigue at the inn, and more detailMeh. It was alright but not grand. There were too many loose subplots for my tastes -- such as who was behind the intrigue at the inn, and more details on what happened between our hero and his previous fiancé. Other than that, I liked it... The heroine's subterfuge was completely understandable given the time period, and our hero's masculine pride (while irritating to the extreme) was also realistic.
Expected Release Date: May 31, 2011 Publisher: HarperCollins Imprint: AvonThis is a Quickie Review. For the Full Review, please visit The Romanceaholic.
Expected Release Date: May 31, 2011 Publisher: HarperCollins Imprint: Avon Author’s Website: http://www.oliviaparker.net/ My Source for This Book: Netgalley Part of a Series: Yes, Book 3, Devine & Friends Series Best Read In Order: Works well as a standalone Steam Level: Hot
**Reviewer's Note** The version of the book that I received was an Uncorrected Advanced Reader Copy, and therefore some issues may have been resolved by the time of final printing.
When I first started reading this book, I knew that the author, Olivia Parker, sounded familiar, but I couldn't really place her. It wasn't until I was preparing the information for this review that I realized that she's the author of one of my favorite light-hearted historical romances, At the Bride Hunt Ball, which is a delightful historical version of The Bachelor.
This is technically Book 3 in the series of interconnected characters, with both At the Bride Hunt Ball and To Wed a Wicked Earl having taken place previously, but it works very well as a standalone.
Lady Rosalind is a romantic at heart, and has rather made a reputation for herself as a successful matchmaker amongst the ton. While her brother Gabriel is away on his wedding trip with his new wife, he knows better than to leave his sister unattended, so he asks his friend, Nicholas, to watch over and protect her while he's away. The catch, of course, is that he doesn't want Rosalind to be aware of the identity of her guardian, as he knows she will simply try to find away to subvert his protection if she figures out his identity.
Nicholas has known Rosalind (and her family) for years, and agrees to both the secrecy and the protection in order to repay a debt of honor to Gabriel -- and because he can't seem to stay away from Rosalind no matter how hard he may try.
Overall, while I thoroughly enjoyed it, I wasn't completely blown away. I can't quite put my finger on what the issue was, but if I had to say something, it would be that perhaps the tone changed too often. One moment it was funny and light-hearted, then the next it was darker and more serious, and then the next it was sexy beyond belief, only to be thrown back into being frivolous and light again.
Despite that, I loved the characters, and especially enjoyed the torture of silent, unrequited love on Rosalind's side. Both Rosalind and Nicholas managed to lead each other on quite the merry chase, and in the end, they truly were perfect for each other.
I admit, as well, that I am greatly looking forward to Tristan's book, which is up next. Fans of the series will recognize him as the "bachelor" from the first novel, and should enjoy seeing him finally get leg-shackled and smacked upside the head with love.
It's not often that the last book in a series is equal to or better than the earlier installments, but that's certainly the case with*contented sigh*
It's not often that the last book in a series is equal to or better than the earlier installments, but that's certainly the case with the fifth book in the Hathaway series.
I admit, I was never too interested in Beatrix as a character. Her kleptomania and odd affinity towards animals really didn't appeal to me all throughout the earlier novels in the series. However, the idea of accidentally falling in love through letters penned under another's name, now THAT caught my attention.
The idea of falling in love with a deployed soldier (and subsequently having the soldier fall in love with you) through letters is supremely romantic. The tenderness and compassion that Beatrix has always shown with her animals is expressed tenfold when confronted with the grim realities of war as illustrated through Christopher's letters from the front lines. I love how Beatrix was compassionate without being pitying; even in instances where others might have been frightened or uncomfortable when confronted with the same scenario, Beatrix remained patient and kind, without succumbing to the dreaded "Mary Sue Effect" that many a romance heroine has been afflicted with.
I absolutely adored reading the letters back and forth, and was just as anxious as Beatrix when he finally returned home. How would he react to the discovery that the letters by which he'd fallen so deeply in love weren't penned by the woman he'd been led to believe?
I won't say any more, because I don't want to spoil it for anyone (can you believe it? A spoiler-free review from me! lol), but suffice it to say that while there was definite angst and a lot of breath-holding, the resolution is absolutely beautiful, and I'm terribly saddened to see this wonderful series come to an end.
Ahhh I'd forgotten just how much I love Lisa Kleypas :)
I was so happy to see Leo find his match, and even more, I was thrilled when I found out he'd fAhhh I'd forgotten just how much I love Lisa Kleypas :)
I was so happy to see Leo find his match, and even more, I was thrilled when I found out he'd find it in Marks.
I admit, as an extremely nearsighted gal myself, I have to say I have a soft spot for the spectacle-wearing governess ;)
Leo was simply dreamy -- there's not much I like more than a truly reformed rake who's completely arse-over-teakettle for a woman like that.
Of course, I've read the entire Hathaway series, but I do think it would stand well on its own. I do recommend reading the whole series, and although Mine Till Midnight is my favorite, I do think this one is a very very close second. I despised Leo in the first book, and he barely redeemed himself by the last one. His transformation in this book is truly something to behold, however, because to paraphrase Leo himself, when he loves, he loves fiercely and completely.
5 Solid Stars (and now I have to wait for Beatrix's story! Dangit!)...more
What I liked: The premise - I'm a sucker for a good old fashioned "revenge plot" story. Throw in some angst fI'm really torn on how to rate this book..
What I liked: The premise - I'm a sucker for a good old fashioned "revenge plot" story. Throw in some angst from the h/h's past, and a dash of physical impairment and you've got a happy Jess.
The writing style - this is my first Penny Jordan story, and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed her style. You found yourself caring about even just the minor characters, and she really went out of her way to give you oodles of character development all around.
What I didn't like: The entire middle of the book. The book is split into four parts. The first part is present day and introduces you to both the hero and heroine, giving you a bit of their backstory and develops their relationship (and I use the term "relationship" loosely). The second part, however, goes back in time all the way to the heroine's childhood and pretty much gives you her life story for a quarter of the book. Then when it finally gets to part you'd recognize (when the hero and heroine first become aware of each others' existence), it jumps back in time again to tell you the hero's life story. Then finally it jumps back to present day picking up our heroine pretty much where we left her off many chapters ago.
So that's why I'm so torn. On one hand, the backgrounds Ms. Jordan wrote were well written, engaging, and interesting to read. However, it ruined the pacing of the book. I almost feel as though she could have left them out completely and simply had a shorter novel that didn't jump around in time. So I'm torn. Part of me wishes she had left it out completely, and another part realizes that it was important to the story and character development but doesn't have any idea where else it could have been included and made sense. Had she placed the characters' histories at the beginning, I doubt I would have finished the book because the pacing would have been dreadful.
So, I'm stuck giving it a lower rating than I would have otherwise. It was well written and interesting, with just the right amount of intrigue and sizzle, but the whole middle-section-flashback deal kind of killed it for me.
**spoiler alert** Overall, I enjoyed this book. It had several things going against it to me -- for one, a May-December marriage really isn't my thing**spoiler alert** Overall, I enjoyed this book. It had several things going against it to me -- for one, a May-December marriage really isn't my thing. Being 19 years old and being forced to marry a man quite literally old enough to be your father *ahem* doesn't really scream "HEA" to me, but, to each their own.
The villain was a bit over-the-top, though he definitely kept things interesting.
The twist squicked me, and I admit, were it not for the epilogue, this story would've rated MUCH lower. I swear I was having flashbacks to Old Boy or something. *shudders*
While I grew to love the hero, I really didn't like him in the beginning. He physically and sexually assaulted the heroine to "discipline" her. Granted, she appeared quite spoiled and shrewish at the beginning, but honestly that's not excuse to force your tongue down her throat with the intention of cutting off her breathing, and then brutally shove your fingers into your virgin wife's vajayjay to teach her that you can do whatever you want and she's powerless to stop you so she might as well stop trying.
His behavior in the carriage after he untied her though, did make me think maybe he wasn't quite the asshat that he initially appeared to be, when he thought to himself something along the lines of how she reminded him of a young soldier, brave and reckless.
Looking at his behavior from the perspective of a commanding officer who'd spent a lifetime looking out for those under his command, you could begin to see that his behavior wasn't necessarily born out of a cruel nature, but rather a man used to nipping mutiny and stubbornness in the bud. Sure, he could have gone about it better, and I wouldn't have been so slow in warming to him, but even so, it was a gentle foreshadowing that he wouldn't necessarily be awful to her in the future.
Also, their first consensual sexual encounter seemed a bit... off... I can't quite put my finger on it. Perhaps it was how she went from being all like look-we-can't-stand-each-other-so-let's-dispense-with-this-silly-idea-of-consummating-the-marriage, and being all squicked that he manhandles her and shoves his tongue halfway down her throat, to being all c'm'ere-an-lemme-see-you-nekkid... On one hand, perhaps I should be thankful(?) that it wasn't like most other "forced marriage" stories where they hate each other and then the man gets her all hot and bothered (unwillingly of course *snorts*), but still, it just seemed too much of a turnaround. Nothing he'd done up to that point had aroused her.. In fact, as I mentioned before, he was temperamental and both physically and sexually assaulted her (though neither beating or raping her -- it was still assault), and she was quite put off by him.. And then all of a sudden he's all like "you're my wife, so c'm'ere" and she's all "well then you take your clothes off too cause by gawd I'm not going to be the only one naked" lol Paraphrasing of course!
Once they got their collective heads out of their arses though, things progressed nicely. He was still an asshat, and she was still a manipulative shrew, but they were well matched and often times it seemed that their bickering was more foreplay than cruelty.
I did like the cameo of Vivian and Piers, though I admit I didn't recognize them immediately (they sounded so familiar but it's been a long time since I read their story that I couldn't place them)
Overall, though, I'd say I enjoyed the read, and think it rates a solid 3 Stars (having lost points for the hero's early behavior, and the "twist")...more