As you can see from the title, it's book 10 in a series of interconnected stories. I've never read any of the othe...moreOverall, I really enjoyed this book.
As you can see from the title, it's book 10 in a series of interconnected stories. I've never read any of the other novels, but honestly I didn't realize it was part of a series when I picked it up. Many times, when a series gets past its second or third book, it's impossible to pick up with whatever the newest novel is without being completely and utterly lost (yeah, that's right, I'm talkin about you, Warden). ICSY, however, did a fantastic job of standing alone. Sure, I was curious as to some of the nuances of the group dynamics that obviously had been established in prior novels, but there were no prior details that left me scratching my head wondering what on earth people were talking about, or who the heck a certain character was.
On that note, however, I'm not certain I would be happy about that fact had I read the whole series already. Although well-executed, there was a LOT of information about different characters' history, their relationships to each other, and so forth, that might feel burdensome to a seasoned reader of this series. It wasn't quite a case of infodump or anything, but it certainly did add considerably to the page count.
As for the story itself, I have to say that I was highly impressed. While I did manage to figure out our killer's identity early on, I admit that I was never actually certain of it until right before the actual reveal. KR did a fantastic job of planting false clues and creating a lovely sense of paranoia for her readers to experience right alongside the police.
She also managed to make me care for the characters, which is something that I honestly don't find that often in romantic suspense novels (I'm more of a Harlequin type gal ;)). Both Eve and Noah were beautifully flawed -- her having survived two (that's right, two) brutal attacks by psychotic killers prior to this novel, and him having tragically lost his wife and young son in a car accident years ago, and then turning to alcohol. He's still working through his demons as a recovering alcoholic, and she's still struggling to be "normal" in the life of a survivor.
I also enjoyed the technological aspect of this story, as a good part of it revolves around an MMORPG, hacking and internet security. I also liked that some of the characters used Google on their phones, and that GPS devices and even high-tech baby monitors came into play. Quite fun :)
I may pick up one or two of the older novels in this series, but I admit, I don't really want to go back and read the whole set. That's more because I don't have the time and money to invest rather than a decided lack of interest, though, and shouldn't be considered as criticism. I am, however, definitely looking forward to the next novel in the series, Silent Scream, which is slated for release at the end of this month (yea!).
Princess Katharine of Austrich has always known that she was destine...moreThis is a Quickie Review. For the full review, please visit The Romanceaholic.com.
Princess Katharine of Austrich has always known that she was destined to have an arranged, political marriage. Having been seen as nothing more than a commodity by her cold father, she’s always striven for her every action to matter – attending parties brings rich tourists to her country, agreeing to a political marriage cements trade agreements and gives protection to her people, and remaining a virgin to appease the traditional rulers of other countries ensures that she always has a bargaining chip if the original agreement falls through. Cold blooded, true, but Katharine knows that since a female can never rule her country, she must do whatever is necessary to make sure that she can contribute in any way to the well-being of her people.
When her intended husband and his family are killed by insurgents of his country, leaving only the younger son Zahir to rule, Katharine is saddened by the loss but not heartbroken — after all, while she certainly liked Malik, theirs was by no means a love match.
Now several years later, with her father quickly approaching his deathbed and her younger brother too young to ascend the throne, Katharine must approach Malik’s younger brother and convince him to enter into a political marriage with her, or else her beloved country would be placed under the rule of a power-hungry man who would surely destroy everything her family has worked for.
Sheikh Zahir of Hajar is as reclusive as a monarch could ever be — choosing to address his people via radio from the security of his palace walls, and delegating whenever possible. Horribly scarred, both physically and emotionally, by the attack that took the lives of his entire family, Zahir has well earned his reputation as The Beast of Hajar.
When the lovely Katharine first approaches him with the idea of their marriage, Zahir expects her to flee in terror when faced with both his scars and his temper, but the beauty surprises him with both her tenacity and her pleas for him to think of the good of both their countries.
Reluctantly agreeing to a temporary marriage to protect Austrich until Katharine’s brother reaches the age at which he can legally rule, Zahir waits for Katharine to turn from him, but the infuriating woman not only refuses to be intimidated, but insists on trying to break him out of his self-imposed isolation.
Having agreed that their marriage will be a temporary one, both Zahir and Katharine soon discover a blistering attraction that has the power to leave them both burned…
Anyone who knows me already realizes that I am a Maisey Yates fangirl, so I pretty much fell over with joy when this arrived in the mail, and I was so happy to discover that it more than lived up to the hype.
Ms. Yates has such a talent for writing heroes who can be ruthless jerks and yet we readers cheerfully forgive them for their behavior because they’re so beautifully damaged. Zahir was absolutely delicious, even with his physical imperfections, and Katharine proved that even a perfect outer appearance doesn’t always protect one from internal scars.
Perfect for fans of tortured and scarred heroes, arranged marriages, and of finding that sometimes protecting those you care about just means loving them with all your heart.
This is still a favorite of mine. While I think Christopher is a bit too squishy for my tastes, as Ms. Kurland has a tendency to mak...moreRe-Read July 2011.
This is still a favorite of mine. While I think Christopher is a bit too squishy for my tastes, as Ms. Kurland has a tendency to make her terrifyingly powerful warriors have an incredibly soft underbelly. As such Christopher (and Colin both lol) tend to tear up a bit more than is to my preferences.
I still love how Gillian overcomes the horrible physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her father, as well as how Christopher finally comes to terms with the fact that his disability does not make him less of a man in truth.
Gillian's actions during her fever still feel unrealistic -- that sick and she's going to hold an entire (and rather lucid) conversation and not remember it? I could go with some incoherent babbling, but nowhere near the extent of conversation she holds with "blanket" during her recovery. Plus, I'm not certain how one can be burning up with fever but also be so cold that someone has to get into bed with you to warm you up before you freeze to death *shrugs*
A few unrealistic bits aside, this is still a favorite of mine, and highly recommended for fans of abused heroines in their historicals. 4.5/5 Stars
No really though, I adored Nykyrian. Even if I truly was about to stab myself in the eye if I had to...more(Kindle Book)
Ahh Acheron by any other name... lol
No really though, I adored Nykyrian. Even if I truly was about to stab myself in the eye if I had to read one more bloody time about how unworthy he was and how he was nothing but an animal and blah blah blah. Yeah. I get it. The man hates himself. Cool. Move along already.
I have to say Sherrilyn Kenyon is the queen of (literally) tortured characters. Good heavens talk about a miserable childhood for pretty much everyone in the story, but no one more so than Nykyrian. I can't even imagine anyone even resembling sanity after being put through all that, but despite his self-hatred and profession, Nykerian rocked my socks off as the absolute scariest good guy I think I've ever read.
Kiara was a bit annoying at times, but really no more so than her character called for -- in the beginning she was naive despite both her past and her belief that she was worldly, and she really was just as unfairly judgmental of the assassins as Syn accused her of. However, I do think that her character matured a lot over the course of the story..
The side characters were incredibly fascinating too.. Syn was probably my favorite (and is the hero of the next book, Born of Fire), with both Darling and Dancer being a close second.
I'm definitely looking forward to the rest of The League novels (I have them right here on my iTouch, ready to read!).
I'm kicking myself for waiting this long to buy the series, and I just hope the rest of the books live up to this one. 5 Stars.(less)
**spoiler alert** Oh how I adored this book! This is my third Elizabeth Rolls book and I think it's officially my favorite.
In my last review (of The D...more**spoiler alert** Oh how I adored this book! This is my third Elizabeth Rolls book and I think it's officially my favorite.
In my last review (of The Dutiful Rake), I mentioned that one of my favorite things about ER's books was the unnecessary angst often brought about by the insecurity and self-doubt of the hero and heroine.
I must say that this particular book didn't have any of that, and yet, I adored it.
We first met our hero, Richard, in His Lady Mistress (which is one of my all-time favorite books, but definitely falls into the "unnecessary angst" category), as Max's fraternal twin brother. In that book, we learn that when they were children, Max dared Richard to jump a fence (or something) while riding, and the horse fell on him, shattering his leg. He was told at that time that he'd never walk again, but our hero was too stubborn to listen and now walks quite well, albeit with a limp. We're maybe 6 or 7 months after the conclusion of HLM, as Verity is nearing the end of her pregnancy and is living in the country with Max.
Back in town, Richard and Max's stuffy Aunt Almeria (whom we also had the "pleasure" of meeting in HLM) coaxes Max into agreeing to stay with her in London. Unbeknownst to him, she's also agreed to take on her Goddaughter, Thea, for the season.
A childhood friend of Richard's, Thea has been living with her Aunt Maria for the past seven years, after her fiance died. When a wealthy relative passes on, his will states that if she marries with her estranged father's approval, she will inherit a large amount of money. If she does not marry, she will receive 200 pounds a year until she turns thirty, at which point she'll receive her full fortune.
Thea, however, is determined not to marry despite her father's grand plans to the contrary, and is quite happy to avoid the Marriage Mart completely. Now, if only someone could convince Almeria of the fact, perhaps things would be much simpler!
As you can tell just from the title, our heroine, Thea, isn't "an innocent" as is required in order to be considered a marriageable female in those days. As with the previous ER books that I've read, I did guess the full extent of The Big Secret (dun dun dun!) quite early on, but that didn't make the story boring like it could have.
While Richard does have one moment where I as a reader wanted to bash his stubborn head in, he's definitely one of my favorite characters. Unlike some of ER's heroes from her other books **cough**Max**cough**, he does not try to resist his feelings as they develop naturally for Thea, nor does he tend to say stupid, hurtful things in a fit of pique every four chapters or so.
Thea is definitely one of my favorite Regency heroines. She takes blame when it is rightfully hers, and she courageously stands up for what is right not matter what the cost to her personally. While she does try to make certain noble sacrifices, it's obvious from Richard's reaction in one scene in particular that she's not cutting off her nose to spite her face, but rather is just being realistic in the face of doing what she knows is the right thing. This is fairly unusual in regency romances, and I was very pleasantly surprised to see such a heroine in an ER novel.
It does tend to move a bit slow at points, and there's only one true "love" scene, which while nice, honestly just seemed to be thrown in there because it was expected. Maybe I'm getting old, or maybe I've just read way too much Twilight and other YA novels lately, but sometimes a "fade-to-black" is all that's really needed, and even a well-written love scene just seems a tad bit gratuitous. The sexual tension is fairly mild, but well done, and as I said, the singular love scene is quite nice.
This is definitely one of my favorites, mainly because I just adore Thea.(less)
**spoiler alert** EDITED: Re-Read August 2010 -- I still agree with the below review and rating, only this time I was really put off by the enormous a...more**spoiler alert** EDITED: Re-Read August 2010 -- I still agree with the below review and rating, only this time I was really put off by the enormous amount of exclamation points lol
What other secrets was his bride hiding?
Did family honor really dictate that he marry the first eligible girl who could make intelligent conversation? The Earl of Darleston certainly hoped not, but there was no denying that he needed a bride. And Miss Phoebe Ffolliot seemed the ideal candidate for a marriage in name only.
Or so he thought. Until his bride brought a wolfhound to the wedding and the learned that he hadn’t married Phoebe, but her twin, Penelope. But when Penelope revealed the reason behind the charade, Darleston knew his “unexpected bride” deserved nothing less than his whole heart. Could he now turn a paper marriage into wedding bliss?
If you've read any other books by Elizabeth Rolls, you'll recognize a lot of elements of this book. First, there's the bitter mistress plotting with some evil somebody to do harm to our Heroine. You've also got her typical Hero who just refuses to admit that he's falling for his wife. And then there's the bit about the horse at the end which reminded me a lot of the climax of His Lady Mistress...
That said though, I was quite pleased with our Heroine, Penny. She wasn't nearly as much of a doormat as some of ER's other heroines which was quite refreshing. While I was a bit surprised by a physical condition of hers (that I'm going to make you read to discover -- bad me!), I was also thrilled to see that it didn't make her weak as it might have any other character.
One thing that bothered me though was that during the first three chapters, our Hero had an active sexual relationship with another woman. Now, I realize that part of the fun of those Reformed-Rake stories is that the Hero previously was a man-slut.. However, I don't particularly want to read about it in the present tense, no matter how hard the author tries to allude to it without going into an actual "love scene"...
Having his mistress (who is, of course, not our Heroine) change into a very revealing night robe and him remove his cravat and start kissing her on the sofa before they fade to black and then have the narrative comment the next morning about how late he got home? Yeah. Not my thing.
I actually cringed to hear the mistresses' POV about how our hero was "distant while making love" or somesuch nonsense. Blech. I would have been much happier had ER left that out, and merely given us the history as she did in The Dutiful Rake which of course had a similar bitter-mistress-turned-villainess plot (though I actually LIKED the villainess in TDR lol) At least in TDR, when the Hero was still macking it with his mistress, he hadn't yet met our Heroine..
Don't get me wrong -- he's not cheating on Penny. In fact, they'd only met once (maybe twice by this point?), and it's not as though they'd started to express any interest in each other except for the casual social chatter you would expect from passing acquaintances.
The ending left me a bit... I don't know.. "Not Surprised" I guess... I don't want to spoil it completely but let's just say that I had a sneaking suspicion all along that things would end up exactly the way they did. You'll see what I'm talking about if you read it :)
Overall I did enjoy it. I still prefer His Lady Mistress, though it was pretty equal to the other ER works that I've read.
While all of ER's books seem to have similar plot elements and tend to be a bit formulaic, it's the needless angst brought about by lack of communication and even self-loathing and insecurity that make me keep reading anyway. This book had the formula, but not as much of the angst.
For many readers, however, that will actually be a positive point. Had I not read her other works, I think I might have enjoyed it a bit more because of this. The simple fact that I recognized similar plot elements from her other books did detract from the story a bit, which is why it got a lower score than some of her other books that I've rated. If I work to put those similarities out of my mind, then the book really does become more enjoyable (starting with Chapter 4, for reasons I mentioned above ;)).
Overall a nice summer read, despite the fact it's December ;)(less)
**spoiler alert** Ahhh how I do love Anne Stuart novels *contented sigh*
One of her older stories, this book had all the delicious angst and subterfuge...more**spoiler alert** Ahhh how I do love Anne Stuart novels *contented sigh*
One of her older stories, this book had all the delicious angst and subterfuge that I've come to adore from Anne Stuart. It was, however, a lot more.... hopeful I guess you could say, than her more recent novels. In her more recent works, you're really not certain if our main male character is a villain or a hero until the end. In fact, in Ritual Sins (the last Anne Stuart book I read), I really couldn't even see how she could possibly finagle a HEA into the story line.
Michael, the hero of Now You See Him, is much more in touch with his feelings (but not in a smushy, metrosexual way or anything -- he's still all alpha male!). He knows exactly when he's fallen in love with Francey, and even though he won't allow himself to be with her, he's honest with himself, and even with her (as much as he can be). Every time he walks out of her life, I just wanted to shake him because it was just so bloody obvious he was never going to get over her.
But, that's part of the fun of Anne Stuart -- lots of teeth gnashing and rending of clothing due to overwhelming angst ;)
**spoiler alert** One of my favorite "themes" in romance novels is The Reformed Rake -- you know, the man who's seen it all, done it all, and is to th...more**spoiler alert** One of my favorite "themes" in romance novels is The Reformed Rake -- you know, the man who's seen it all, done it all, and is to the point where he's actually getting bored with debauchery, only to be turned around by the love of a good woman? Yeahhh those :)
I'm so torn with this book. I truly can't decide if I loved it or hated it. Sebastian is a true rake -- he's bored, promiscuous, a bit cruel, and just overall a pretty nasty fellow. At least, that's how he is at the beginning.
Our heroine, Rachel, was horribly abused by her husband, both physically and sexually, for the one week that they were married.. The only thing that stopped him was someone murdered him. Rachel was convicted and sent to prison for ten years.
Prison in those days was not like prison is today. It was solitary confinement, with prisoners never allowed to speak or even make eye contact with anyone else. Basic human qualities such as modesty and vanity were completely abolished, with prisoners suffering all sorts of indignities designed to strip away their individuality.
Rachel ends up with a pretty solid case of PTSD, both as a result of her treatment at the hands of her cruel husband, and based on her experiences in prison.
My biggest issue with this book is the same one I think a lot of people have -- the first sexual encounter between the hero and the heroine is not consensual (even though it's not a violent rape). And I don't mean "forced seduction", where the heroine very weakly protests then gives in because she's so turned on. Rather, she doesn't want to have sex, it obvious to both the reader and to the hero that she doesn't want to have sex, and he has sex with her anyway. To the point where he actually makes a conscious decision to go ahead and ignore her pleasure and seek his own climax simply because he realizes that continuing the facade of trying to seduce her will just end up in his physically hurting her.
Is it "rape"? Yes. Not in the he-threw-her-down-and-violently-had-his-way-with-her-while-she-sobbed-her-protests way or anything, but it's still rape in my eyes when a sexually abused woman clearly indicates that she is not interested in a sexual relationship and the man pretty much tells her that she can either have sex with him or go back to prison. Our heroine is hesitant to call it rape (it even says just that right afterwards), but deep down, I think most people would acknowledge that it was. At the very, very least, it's dubious consent, and made me very uncomfortable reading it.
However(and that's a big "however"), I can't say that it was gratuitous. I did not get the feeling that Patricia Gaffney included that disturbing little scene (and the one immediately following it) in order to arouse or even give a thrill to the reader. Instead, it seemed to be a further illustration of Sebastian's true character. He is not a nice man. While it's clear he had no intention of physically hurting her (as he's clearly concerned that he might have done just that), it's also just as clear that he's excited by the fact she's not interested in a sexual relationship. He's so jaded and filled with ennui that pushing the envelope like that is one of the few things that gets his motor running. As uncomfortable as it was to read, I can't say that it wasn't necessary. Without that scene (and the scene immediately following), the reader would continue to foster the misconception that deep down Sebastian is a noble man who wouldn't really take advantage of someone who was truly in a helpless situation. That's simply not the case, and it's important for the reader to realize that in order to truly appreciate his redemption.
In addition, the entire bit where his friends come to visit, and it's clear that Rachel is to be that evening's entertainment (not sexually, mind you, but so that his friends can pick her apart about her abuse and jailhouse experiences), was also very uncomfortable to read.
Rachel is not your typical "abused heroine". She's a realist -- she understands that sometimes bad things happen for no reason other than that's just the way things are. She did not agree to be Sebastian's housekeeper with blinders on, but instead expected to have to please him sexually from the moment they arrived at his house. I think that might be one of the reasons their first encounter was so hard to read -- she'd been expecting it, had resigned herself to it, and yet still desperately wished she didn't have to go through it.
I still really, really liked this book.
There was a single pivotal scene where Sebastian comes face to face with the reality of the type of man that he's become, and his whole world shatters. He knows he doesn't deserve Rachel's forgiveness for his treatment, and is appropriately grateful when she begins to bestow it upon him.
The whole conversation with the vicar before he leaves town that last time had me wanting to shake him. Total V8 moment (you know, where you want to just thump them on the forehead for being a moron?).
Also, do be aware that this book contains several situations and conversations that could be triggers for victims of sexual abuse.
So, my final rating is a solid four. Part of me really wants to give it a five, because it was so well written. The characters were three-dimensional, and there wasn't a single Mary Sue in the entire novel which was so very refreshing. If I could get over the squick factor of their first two encounters, I wouldn't hesitate to give it a five. (less)