"Whisper of Sin" - Nalini Singh (Psy/Changling Series prequel story)
This is story set in Ms. Singh’s amazing Psy/Changling series (one of the best PNR...more"Whisper of Sin" - Nalini Singh (Psy/Changling Series prequel story)
This is story set in Ms. Singh’s amazing Psy/Changling series (one of the best PNR series out there). It is set back in time, so you do not have to have knowledge of the series to enjoy this novella. Ms. Singh does a fabulous job of drawing me in by creating characters I care about. The story moves quickly, but doesn’t skimp on plot development or hot romance. My only issue was the final “hurdle” placed in front of the couple, which felt forced and unnecessary. The couple was already together and in love. I did not see the purpose in tossing them one more issue to deal with - especially one so minor and silly. But it was just that - silly - and the story is still a good one.
My Rating: 4 stars. Really enjoyed - strongly recommend.
"Blood and Roses" Angela Knight
Unfortunately, this story did not have adequate space to develop a solid romance between Raniero and Amaris. She seduces him, at the direction of her captor, but then feels an immediate connection. She doesn’t trust vampires, yet cannot explain why she feels safe with Raniero. Likewise, Raniero has a history which causes him similar doubts about Amaris. Yet they bond immediately. I do not care for “forced” sex starting off a “deep and true” relationship and did not feel a connection to these characters because of it. However, the action in this story is exciting and the story is decent.
My Rating: 2.5 stars. Finished it, didn't hate it - take it or leave it.
"Shifting Sea" Virginia Kantra (Children of the Sea Series #3.5)
After just finishing the previous short story in which a relationship starts off with meaningless sex, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this story because in their first meeting, Jack and Morwenna have sex. But unlike “Blood and Roses,” “Shifting Sea” takes the time to build a solid relationship between the two main characters. Jack is drawn to Morwenna and throughout the story, he courts her in a very romantic fashion. I like that Jack in imperfect and the Morwenna tells it like it is. She is not human and does not always understand human emotions or ambitions. The story was a little predictable at times, but I really enjoyed the climax and ending to the tale.
My Rating: 4 stars. Really enjoyed - strongly recommend.
"Here There Be Monsters" - Meljean Brook (The Iron Seas prequel story)
What can I say but that I LOVED this story! Ms. Brook does an amazing job building her new world and creating characters with heart and soul. Ivy’s innocence and determination drive her to believe she can and will create whatever she desires. Her character is full of life and I enjoyed seeing her develop a spine and get over her fears about life and her pirate captor.
Meanwhile, tough-on-the-outside, Mad Machen has ached for Ivy since he first met her. His love is heart-warming, and his strength of character is endearing. The fact that he searched for Ivy for two years, waiting for her - not knowing what had happened... and once he finds her lets her set the tempo and mood... Ah-so romantic and so good! Each interaction between Mad Machen and Ivy was a joy to read. Their banter is playful, but they shifted easily into thoughtful and sometimes serious discussions. They treat each other as equals, whether they realize it or not. The dialogue is sharp and smart.
This story has it all - adventure, romance, hot smex, and a happy-ever-after. The characters stuck with me and I didn’t want their story to end. I look forward to reading more in this new series.
My Rating: 5 stars. Personal favorite - a must read.
My Rating (for the entire book): #4 stars. Really enjoyed - strongly recommend(less)
I love this book. Seriously. It’s tough to write a review about something that has stirred such powerful emotions within me. How do I put into words t...moreI love this book. Seriously. It’s tough to write a review about something that has stirred such powerful emotions within me. How do I put into words the impact of these characters? My notes are filled with comments like “I feel Mina’s hopelessness” or “the heartache and pain” or “this is why I love this man.” The Iron Duke is an incredible adventure, but it also reached deep into my heart and soul, and won’t let go.
Ms. Brook’s story-telling skills are phenomenal. She has created a whole new world with details so rich and intricate that I could fully imagine life for Mina and Rhys. It is set in an “alternate” universe where modern technology never developed, and in it’s place, a world full of clock-work and steam-powered devices that modern-man could only dream of possessing. It isn’t a “backwards world” or primitive, just different. And not since I read the Harry Potter series have I longed to jump into a fictional setting and experience the world first-hand. I am truly amazed at this new universe.
The overall plot is exciting and adventurous. It begins with one dead body and slowly unravels to involve multiple players, imminent danger, genocide, pirates, air ships, creatures taken from old sci-fi books... Just when I thought I knew what was going on, there would be another turn in the investigation. But with all of the action and adventure, one thing that I loved about this book is that it didn’t dwell on drawn out battle scenes. The thrill was in the suspense of hunt.
Phoenix Rising is a well-written amazing adventure. The plot unfolds at just the right pace, leaving me at the edge of my seat throughout much of the...morePhoenix Rising is a well-written amazing adventure. The plot unfolds at just the right pace, leaving me at the edge of my seat throughout much of the tale. The story is smart and the characters witty. Ms. Ballantine and Mr. Morris have captured my imagination, heart and mind with their wickedly delightful tale. Phoenix Rising kicked off what I hope to be a long-lived series of adventures for Ms. Braun and Mr. Books. Although they may have closed the unsolved case they uncovered in the Archives, there are mysteries remaining and bigger bad guys waiting in the wings. I look forward to the next story from the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences.
Although it takes place in the same intricately-crafted, alternate world as the first book, THE IRON DUKE, HEART OF STEEL has its own feel and rhythm, primarily due to the differences in the main characters (who were introduced in the first book). Yasmeen and Archimedes are not Mina and Rhys, and this story is a reflection of their uniqueness. One could easily read Heart of Steel as a stand alone - but this series is SO incredible, I don’t suggest you skip the first book.
Yasmeen is a mercenary, a Captain and a trained assassin. She is accustomed to dodging danger and surviving the rough side of life. She enjoys her freedom and feeling the wind on her face as she travels from port to port. Ms. Brook does an excellent job of creating a tough woman that doesn’t “go soft” for a man.
Archimedes Fox is determined to fall in love with Yasmeen. He is taken by her ways and exotic look. He is a man that is used to being chased, hunted and surviving close calls, and as such, understands where he fits in Yasmeen’s life. They truly are the perfect fit.
The story flows seamlessly and has a bit of a mystery at its center. Once again, Ms. Brook builds a fantastic adventure on the backs of amazing characters. I seriously cannot say enough about how phenomenal I find the world of The Iron Series.(less)
My Rating: 3.5 stars: Liked it a lot - recommend(B+)
The Hunter is classified as a paranormal romance, steampunk western. With that said, let me transl...moreMy Rating: 3.5 stars: Liked it a lot - recommend (B+)
The Hunter is classified as a paranormal romance, steampunk western. With that said, let me translate: The story’s setting is a western - taking place during the late 1800’s on the planes of the wild west. The paranormal factor is strong and is the heart of the storyline. The steampunk attributes are more related to the props than the setting and way of life. Think Will Smith’s Wild Wild West with demons.
The story focuses on the youngest of the three Jackson brothers all raised to be Hunters - men and women that hunt down and kill the Darkin which torment the human world. Colt was told by his father long ago that someday the boys must collect and unite the three pieces of the mythical Book of Legend to prevent the coming of the creatures from Hell to end of the world. In his solitary journeys, Colt discovers a piece of the Book is hidden behind a door that only a demon can access.
Enter Miss Lilly. A human-turned-succubus after making a deal with the evil demon lord, Rathe, to protect her sister, she makes a bargain with Colt to help him open the door. Although a Darkin, Lilly comes across more human than demon, and it makes me wonder how she survived the past 25 years as a succubus. At times I felt she was a bit too prim and proper to be a believable succubus. Also, I felt the use of her demon powers was not consistent throughout the book - sometimes flashing in an item to help them and at other times sitting back remaining “helpless.”
Together Colt and Lilly take on the challenge of finding the first section of the book. Both are instantly attracted to one another, but are cautious given their respective backgrounds and situations. Colt constantly questions if his growing need for Lilly is because of her demon powers, and Lilly doesn’t trust because of her father’s grifter ways.
At first I found their budding romance sweet. I adored that she refused to use her succubus powers, hoping to find out if Colt was really falling for her. I admired their baby steps forward and loved when they would give into a passionate kiss. However, after about three-quarters of reading this back and forth play, I grew a bit weary of the constant inner-monologue each had questioning his/her own feelings and the other’s motives. I felt that there was too much contemplation and not enough action.
The overall plot of reuniting the pieces of the Book is interesting and I like the mythology Ms. Meyers has fleshed out in The Hunter. The conclusion was adequate, but I was not completely satisfied with the actions Colt took to fulfill his promises to Lilly. Knowing that there are still two books in the series, I am okay that the details of her world aren’t rock solid or completely laid out in this first book - it leaves room to grow. However, I am a little disappointed that the steampunk factor wasn’t a bigger part of the story. Maybe it’s the engineer in me, but I wanted a larger integration of the devices and instruments - for the world to be reliant on the steampunk way of life.
All-in-all a good read and definitely worth picking up if you enjoy westerns and paranormal romances. I look forward to finding out where the story is headed and how the Jackson brothers will save the world. The next book, The Slayer, is due to release next April, and I will be looking for it in the stores. (less)
You have to love a book that starts out in the middle of a stage coach robbery. Taunting and name callin...moreMy Rating: 3.5 stars: Liked it - recommend (B+)
You have to love a book that starts out in the middle of a stage coach robbery. Taunting and name calling leads to four guns cocked and aimed at our hero, Winchester Jackson. And then all hell breaks loose when the an enchanting contessa climbs off the coach and proceeds to slaughter the entire gang of outlaws. The Slayer starts off with a bang and rarely slows down.
The Slayer is the second book in the Legend Chronicles trilogy, overlapping in content and time with the first book, The Hunter. Although you need not have read the first book in the series to enjoy The Slayer, a bit of background is helpful. The books are set in a steampunked version of the “wild west,” where it has been prophesied that the Jackson brothers are the Chosen who will bring together the three pieces of the lost Book of Legend and defeat the evil demon lord, Rathe.
This book follows the adventures of Winn, the eldest of the Jackson brothers, each trained as a Hunter (defenders of humans against the Darkin) and each with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. Winn has given up tracking down and hunting the paranormal and supernatural beings that roam the earth, but when the Contessa Alexa Drossenburg, a vampire, asks him for help, he finds it hard to say no. Winn finds that the pull of being a Hunter is too strong and agrees to help the vampires recover a piece of the Book of Legend (and brother Colt telling him to do so helps influence the decision).
I very much enjoyed The Slayer, even a bit more than the first book; there was less detailed world-building and more of an organic growth to the mythology and story. The action and tempo, which was fast-paced during the action scenes, but a bit slower during the inter-personal time, was entertaining.
The romance between Winn and Alexa (aka Tessa) was slow but smoldering. I felt the pace of their “courtship” was fitting as they took the time to learn more about each other. They are natural enemies - each having to learn to accept the other and that preconceived notions aren’t always true. Their mutual attraction is powerful, and while neither deny their attraction to the other, they each hope to keep it in check. They never forget who they are, but see uniqueness in the other-how the other is different from any (Darkin/Hunter) they've met before. And although it takes all book for them to finally consummate their relationship, the story is filled with sexy glances, simmering touches and smokin’ kisses. This is one of the wonderfully vivid examples:
"As she walked by, the tantalizing scent of sweet female filled his nose and the satin of her dress made the sounds of sheets moving on a bed."
I did feel that there were some inconsistencies with the Darkin and powers during the course of the story. For example, Tessa has the ability to dematerialize and reappear in another location. Yet in the middle of the story there were a few times where she unnecessarily put herself at great risk by physically jumping from one place to another. In addition, I felt that the time pressure Winn and Tessa kept placing on themselves (Winn was counting off minutes as time slips away, yet they have a couple of weeks to “get the job done”) was a bit dramatic. While these things aren’t deal breakers, it did bother me enough that I made note of it a few times while reading.
I also wanted more from/with Rathe, the “bad guy.” His presence was more of an "assumed" one until the very end. I hope he has a bigger role in the final story. In addition, I am looking forward to seeing how some of the open-ended pieces conclude, especially those involving inventor friend, Marley.
Overall The Slayer is a delightful story. I loved that it fed directly from last book. The flow of the story was mostly spot on, and even when it did get a little slow, it wasn’t repetitive. I am most certainly looking forward to the next story (The Chosen, March 2013) to see how it will all wrap up. (less)
My Rating: 4 stars: Enjoyed - strongly recommend(A-)
The story opens with our wonderful agents, Eliza Braun and Wellington Books, on their way home fro...moreMy Rating: 4 stars: Enjoyed - strongly recommend (A-)
The story opens with our wonderful agents, Eliza Braun and Wellington Books, on their way home from Scotland. While on the train, they witness a bizarre incident where a woman is snatched up in a ball of energy and just disappears. This truly is a Peculiar Occurrence, but since Ms. Braun and Mr. Books have been relegated to the Archives (and after making a bit of a mess taking down the House of Usher in the last story, Phoenix Rising), the investigation is left to the bumbling traitor, Bruce Campbell. Of course, since we are talking about Ms. Braun and Mr. Books, and after personal intercession from Eliza’s past, have no fear... they are secretly on the case.
After being blow away by the first book of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, I could not wait to get my hands on The Janus Affair, and once again, I am enamored. The action begins right from the start and doesn’t slow down until we solve the mystery. One does not need to have read the first book in this series to enjoy The Janus Affair, but it is an excellent book and gives marvelous backstory - it is truly worth while.
The first thing I noted and was excited about was the deepening relationship between Eliza and Welly. The two have become comfortable with one another - almost like best friends. But as the books moves forward and we gain perspective from Wellington’s point of view, we realize that he is truly smitten with Eliza. It is sweet and endearing and makes the book that much more enjoyable. Welly is crushing big time on Eliza, but she remains obtuse despite the small signs. A wrench is tossed into the duo’s potential romance when Eliza’s first love, Douglas, comes to visit from their homeland of New Zealand. Not only do a multitude of emotions spring forth in Eliza, but it also serves to remind her that she can never return home to see her family.
Douglas arrives on the scene escorting his mother, Kate Sheppard, who is a suffragist leader from New Zealand. She is in England to garner support for the cause, but instead is fearful for her life as one-by-one the suffragist leaders are being kidnapped in the ball of energy. Kate asks for Eliza to help investigate and stop the abductions. Douglas wants to pick up where he and Eliza left off, and Eliza isn’t certain what to think or do. With their arrival, we discover though suggestions and innuendo that Eliza’s expulsion from her homeland was related to an incident involving Kate.
I did not care for Douglas and felt he was up to something the whole time I read the book. I even wondered if he was directly involved in the abductions (spoiler-free here!). His garish behavior - especially in front of Wellington - along with his constant interfering with Eliza’s work infuriated me, but Eliza handles herself just like she should! Kuddos to the authors for creating a character that I love to hate!
In my note taking, I have flagged so many wonderful passages - most of which are dialogue between Eliza and Wellington. The pair work so well together, despite the circumstances and pressures. Secrets are unraveled and the pair learn to get past it all.
As Eliza and Wellington work behind-the-scenes (with help from the wonderful “Ministry Seven” - a group of vagabond children with many mischievous “skills”), we are interrupted from time-to-time with short “Interludes” which detail a much larger story arc. The nefarious and mysterious Maestro returns to the scene in his continued efforts to bring down the Ministry and its director, Doctor Sound, but what his plans are remains unknown. He has enlisted the help of Peter Lawson, Duke of Sussex, who in turn has an “inside” man in agent Bruce Campbell. Also continuing in her roll as master thief and trouble-maker is the lovely Sophia del Morte. The whole sequence of events gives much to the content of the story without detracting from the plot. I want to know so much more.... what is Doctor Sound up to?
If it seems like there is a lot going on, it’s because there truly is. However, the plot is fairly seamless and the story is so engrossing, that one hardly notices. There were a few times I felt lost, but it never was cause for a re-read.
Overall, The Janus Affair is an excellent story. Although I got a little lost in the words at times, the descriptive settings were exquisite (and for steampunk fans, the contraptions are wonderful!). The madcap schemes and intricate plots are on par with classic whodunit mysteries. The story has amazing humor, non-stop adventure and action, and yes... romance! The addition of the romance sweetened the story without cheapening it. Welly's smitten behavior and the introduction of Douglas added a new dimension to the fabulous series. I am still trying to figure out the overall story arc and look forward to finding out more... hopefully sooner than later.(less)
Although Riveted is the third book in the Iron Seas series, it is a completely stand alone story. The only knowledge you need from the prior books is the history of Ms. Brook's world - one where the Horde (Khan's) invaded much of Europe and Africa, infecting the people with nanoagents and ruling for a long time. However, she explains much of the basics along the way, so newcomers can jump right in. You can also check out Ms. Brook’s Iron Seas Primer on her website.
The story follows Annika Fridasdottor and her journey to find her sister, Källa. Annika left her small, isolated (and completely hidden from the outside world) settlement to travel the New World as an engineer on an airship, and for four years, she was unsuccessful in her quest. It was fate that brought David Kentewess into her life. David, a vulcanologist headed to iceland aboard Annika's ship, is searching for the small village his mother hailed from so that he can fulfill her dying wish. It doesn't take long for David and Annika to realize his mother is from the same place as Annika.
First, a bit about our main couple. Annika is a kick-butt heroine in her own quiet, subdued way - although she would disagree that she is even a heroine. She is fiercely loyal, smart and unique. She feels a fast rapport with David, who is a bit of a loner himself. David’s mother and several of his father’s native people were killed in a huge accident caused by inventor Paolo di Fiore. David himself was grossly disfigured, losing two legs, a hand and one of his eyes. Although he has supplemented his losses with nanoagents and prosthetics, he is regarded by most in the New World as a monster.
There are so many layers in this story. The first as mentioned, is Annika’s search for her sister. The next involves David’s wish to find his mother's home and Annika's opposing desire to keep her village hidden and protected. David’s unquenchable need to locate this mysterious village is what first brings him to Annika. After unsuccessfully attempting to garner any information about Annika’s home, he lays his cards on the table. It was because of his abruptness and honesty, followed by a genuine apology, that allows Annika to trust David. This is a perfect example of how the pair breaks through protocol and expectations to reconcile, thus creating a stronger bond.
Another layer of the story revolves around the di Fiore family - Paolo, a father whose visions and ideas rival those of DaVinci, and Lorenzo, the psychotic son willing to do anything to make his father's wishes come true. Early on, David has a run in with Lorenzo, who attempts to hire David for his father’s latest project. Although David turns down the offer, it’s not the last we see of Lorenzo. This part of the story caused a bit of nail biting for me, but kept me glued to the pages--eager to find out how David and Annika would right the wrongs occurring around them.
Although the storytelling and intricately woven plots make this book well worth the read, it is the powerful emotions the story stirs that make it a favorite. Time and time again - scene after scene - I was absolutely blown away by the intensity and genuine honesty of raw emotions aroused within myself. First, there is the innocent desire that two lonely people feel for one another. It is sweet and even slightly erotic. Ms. Brook brought the lust to a slow, simmering boil that eventually exploded on the pages.
Riveted is a love story at its core. The love of a man and woman, the love of a person for his/her family, the love for life, the love of home. All of these are so wonderfully detailed and described. The story warmed me from the inside out and I know it will stick with me for a long while.
So I’ll just conclude with WOW! What an absolutely wonderful book. Like I said before, I cannot put into words how lovely Ms. Brook’s writing truly is. Her world-building skills and ability to detail the scene without overburdening the reader is superb. The multifaceted story lines are interesting and captivating. But it’s the characters and their journeys that will keep you thinking about the book long after you’ve put it down.(less)
The Invisible City is a lovely epilogue, yet completely stand alone novella, to the first book in Ms. Brook’s Iron Seas series, The Iron Duke. Newcomers to this marvelous series could read and enjoy this story, but it is a real treat to fans of Mina and Rhys... seeing them in action after they’ve been married for a few months.
The story centers around the daily lives of newly married couple Inspector Mina Wentworth and “The Iron Duke,” Rhys Trahaearn. The pair have a deep and richly full backstory which makes up The Iron Duke, so I will not go into that here. Although Rhys has always been the center of public attention (being hailed as the country’s savior from the Horde occupation), now Mina must endure similar notoriety. There is humor in how Mina deals with the press and society, and even more so in how she adapts to Rhys’s oppressive concern for Mina’s well-being. It is a joy to watch the pair continue to adjust to one another, learning to deal with the quirks and to love whole-heartedly.
Mina is called in to investigate the murder of Viscount Redditch, a man who was very vocal about wanting to prevent factories from installing automatons. The novella follows the inspector as she pieces the clues together. Tied into the murder is Mina and Rhys’s “adopted daughter,” Anne, which creates a personal component to the story. This added “glitch” gives heart to what could be just another murder mystery. Overall, the clues are easy to follow and the whodunit entertaining, even providing a couple twists despite the shortened length of the story.
The best part of the book is following Mina and Rhys as they continue to struggle with insecurities over marriage and their place in one another’s lives. For fans of the series, it’s more than an epilogue - there is no “riding off into the sunset,” but rather a glimpse at a favorite couple as they proceed forward in life. The Invisible City is an delightful novella for both fans of the series and newbies alike.(less)
Kiss of Steel starts the reader off in the middle of Honoria Todd’s meager life. It is evident right from the get go that Honoria and her family were living a good life just a mere six months ago, but now they must scrape to make ends meet. In addition, there is a magnificent bounty on her head, so she must hide her family from those who would turn her in for cash. But all of her hard work didn’t keep her from the notice of Blade, the protector of the rookery and provider for the slums. So when Honoria’s life takes another turn for the worst, she must turn to Blade, and sell her body for blood to make ends meet.
Honoria and Blade are both interesting characters. I enjoyed watching them learn to deal with their lot in life, fighting against stereotypes and falling in love. Their chemistry was fairly hot, at times sensual and at others combative and humorous.
One of the things I really liked and disliked about Ms. McMaster’s storytelling is that she relates the events and tales as if the reader has intimate knowledge of her world. There are no side explanations of her lexicon or creations. The reader must figure out the world by piecing together bits of information and inferring their meanings and importance from dialogue. It makes the story flow faster, but it did make understanding everything a bit difficult at first.
In Kiss of Steel, there is a rogue vampire loose in the slums, and Blade must work with the Echelon to find it. The mystery of where the vampire came from is an interesting one, giving the tale an edge of suspense. And adding to the tension, is Honoria’s attempts to find a cure for her brother before he is discovered.
I would like to mention that I feel this book is primarily a paranormal romance with a historical setting. The steampunk aspect is very minimal, with little detail about any mechanisms or contraptions. The steampunk is more of an afterthought and not the primary aspect of the setting or storyline.
Overall I have to say I really enjoyed this story. Although I felt there were some inconsistencies in Blade’s character, and I longed for more details at times, the tale kept my interest, and I became invested in the characters. A few open-ended items such as the political ramifications of the ending and the desire to find out more about the side characters and the craving virus, vampires, blue bloods, etc., have me looking forward to reading the second story. (less)
Our action-filled story starts with our brave Man O’War Captain, Christopher, and his ship, Demeter, waged in a sky battle with enemy airships. It’s Her Majesty’s Royal Navy against the Hapsburg (aka Huns) troops, and the odds are against the British. After successfully hiding from the enemy, Christopher notices a distress signal coming from a nearby village. The crew prepares for and makes a daring rescue of the British Intelligence officer who was ambushed while undercover. The agent is none other than the captain’s long lost love, Louisa.
Right at the start of the book, the reader is tossed into heavy action. The scenes are intense and exciting, leaving little room for long, purposeful world-building. Instead, the reader enjoys an almost “on-the-job training,” learning bits and pieces of this steampunk world through the storyline. It’s extremely effective for allowing the reader to get caught up in the plot and become emotionally invested in the characters. Once the initial action quiets some, Ms. Archer takes time to fill in bits and pieces of her world. For example, in the beginning we are told that Christopher is a Man O’War ... a man who has been physically altered with metal plates of telumium implants. These implants power the batteries and ship. But it isn’t until later that we learn more about what it really means to become a Man O’War. The concept grabbed my attention in the beginning, and the further explanations later quenched my thirst for more information.
With Louisa on board and Christopher determined to help her with her mission to destroy a hidden munitions operation deep in enemy territory, the pair must confront their past so that the mission can be successful. The close quarters, coupled with their possible and probable deaths while attempting this mission, heighten the tension and emotions - creating an ideal situation for some HOT and needy reunion sex! It also allows for the couple to quickly get over issues and move forward.
Overall, I found Skies of Fire an enjoyable read. It is a lovely romance with an historical setting and a steampunky feel. There are equal parts wartime spy thriller, action-adventure, and love story. The book has a great tempo - moving seamlessly between the interpersonal stories and romance to the intensity of wartime. For those looking to test out the steampunk waters, or if you just want an entertaining story, I recommend Skies of Fire.(less)
My Rating: 2.5 stars: Finished it - take it or leave it(C)
Our hero, Tom Knox, left his small coastal hometown of Thornville three years ago, leaving b...moreMy Rating: 2.5 stars: Finished it - take it or leave it (C)
Our hero, Tom Knox, left his small coastal hometown of Thornville three years ago, leaving behind his love, Rosa Campos. He joined the service and has been fighting against the Hapsburg soldiers here on US soil - or in Tom’s case, in the sky as an Upland Ranger. Before Tom left, he wasn’t much of a hero or a man worthy of Rosa, and her parents were certain to remind him of that often. He returns now, uncertain of how he’ll be received, yet certain that Rosa has settled down and moved on. To his surprise, Rosa is a changed woman - now the sheriff of Thornville, and she’s never forgiven Tom for abandoning her those three long years ago.
Unfortunately, as soon as Tom arrives, there are serious problems for Thornville. The Crandall Mining Company, unhappy that no one would sell land in Thornville, is heading towards town in a massive monstrosity of a machine that destroys everything in its path. It’s up to Tom and Rosa to overcome their past and work together to save the town.
Although this is the second story in The Ether Chronicles, the opening of Night of Fire is almost the complete opposite of the first book, Skies of Fire. Instead of jumping right into the action as in Skies, this book takes its time and introduces the reader to the surrounding landscape. We take a stroll down memory lane with Tom as he flies his way back to his childhood homestead and the woman he left behind. The beginning focuses on world-building and filling the reader in on the environment of the times.
Another change from the first book is that the locale has shifted from Europe to the United States in Night of Fire. The Army is warring with the Hapsburg troops (as they did in Skies), yet here in the US, there are no Men O’ Wars or large airships. The culture is that of the “Wild West” and cowboys, complete with flying metal “horses” used to combat the foe. This book has a very different feel from Skies of Fire.
Yet even with the differences, the story still has similarities with its predecessor. Once again we have a hero and heroine that share a history - a love - that ended abruptly when one partner left. This time around it's the guy who ran away three years ago, instead of the girl. But that’s about where the similarities end.
Although I’m not a big western-genre fan, I hoped the steampunk elements would supersede the wild west feel. At times the story did have the action and intrigue of a more traditional steampunk, yet at others, it was all whooping it up and cowboys. And while I felt the opening was strong and compelling, once the pair start their interactions with the mining company, the dialogue became flat and repetitive. The storyline held promise, but the voice it was written in just couldn’t keep me glued to the pages.
I liked that Rosa was such a strong woman and could handle herself. I liked that Tom appreciated that in her and even found it sexy. I also enjoyed that they both recognized that their time apart (although it was painful), was the best thing for their relationship.
However, their one sex scene came across mechanical in style and didn’t flow well for me. I also became annoyed with Tom and his constant jabs at and about Parker, the man he thought Rosa would marry. I wanted Rosa to punch him and tell him to get over it.
Overall, Night of Fire is an average book for me. It started out strong, and I found it intriguing. But all too soon, the story started to drag and felt repetitious. The high-intensity action was exciting for a while, but then started to grow old, and I found the insertion of serious relationship dialogue in the middle of fighting to be awkward. I had hoped for more after loving the first book, written by Zoe Archer. Knowing the next book is also written by her, I look forward to getting back to the Men O’ Wars and the British navy. (less)
The Chosen is the third full-length story from Ms. Meyers’ paranormal romance, western steampunk trilogy, The Legend Chronicles. The series centers on the Jackson brothers, who together make up “the Chosen,” the three Darkin Hunters foretold in prophecy, who will collect and unite the three pieces of the mythical Book of Legend to prevent the coming of the creatures from Hell to end of the world. *phew* The first two books each focused on one of the Jackson brothers. In The Chosen, we follow the adventures of the middle brother, Remington, as he looks to find his piece of the missing Book. In addition, this book overlaps in time and content with the first two stories (all three books take place all at the same time). The difference between The Chosen and the first two books is that the story goes beyond finding of the missing pages, and focuses on the brothers’ attempts to reunite the book and stop the impending apocalypse.
The opening of The Chosen is a lot of fun and indicative of the tempo and feel of the series. Lawyer Remington is paired with unpredictable shifter China. Note: shifters are “shape shifters” and not “weres.” Stuck in jail after working with the youngest Jackson brother, China is reluctant to trust Remington. I love that confident Remington is tossed into jail when he tries to free China. However the pair make and exciting escape only to be attacked by some snake demons. The fast adventure makes for an engrossing read from the get go.
Along the way we learn that China has some very interesting and potentially deadly secrets. Since the story is told from shifting third-person POVs, the reader is privy to China’s true plans while accompanying Remington to find his section of the Book of Legend. (For the record, each set of pages can only be recovered by a team of both a Hunter and a Darkin.) Her secret is a doozy, and I was pretty baffled how she could come to love and crave affection and attention from someone so rotten (this is a spoiler-free comment about her life before meeting the Jackson brothers). Her motivation for wanting to betray Remington just felt a little off, and eventually, even China begins to realize the same thing. I love that we witness her path to self-realization, and I cheered out loud when she figured out that what she really wants is true and meaningful love, not approval.
I really liked China, and she is by far my favorite Darkin heroine from the trilogy. She is very confident and free. She doesn’t abide by anyone’s rules or constraints, giving her a strength that the previous heroines did not have. She is also insightful, with some of the best scenes in the book coming from her POV. She is feisty and a joy to read.
As for Remington, he is a blend of his younger and older brothers, yet a character onto himself. However, as China so adeptly observed, Remington tends to hide behind fancy clothes and big words. He’s lived that way for so long, he doesn’t know how to be himself sometimes.
The bulk of the book revolves around discovering the third section of the Book of Legend. The long journey affords China and Remington the opportunity to get to really know one another and of course, fall in love. Their unreleased passion and heat sizzles off the pages.
Once the couple find their section of the Book, all three brothers, together with their Darkin loves meet up with my favorite inventor, Marley (who has a wonderfully touching scene when he meets his daughter, Octavia). The group must figure out how to stop demon lord Rathe from opening a gateway to hell and begin armageddon. Other than one awkward scene involving China and the other two Darkin females, the end of the book flies by. It was exciting to have everyone working together.
In conclusion, China and Remy's story was enjoyably entertaining and my favorite of the trilogy. I admired that the pair were always on equal footing, and the trust they had to put into one another made for such a wonderful relationship. I also appreciated how their story concluded in a manner different that what the previous two couples had to overcome in order to be together. All-in-all a very fitting ending for the trilogy, with enough opening for future installments. (less)
Professor of Anthropology Daphne Carlisle finds herself in a desperate situation when her parents are kidnapped by a warlord on the Arabian Peninsula. The British government refuses to get involved, which leaves Daphne to seek out the help of rogue Man O' War Airship Captain Mikhail Mikhailovish Denisov. Once a decorated Captain in the Russian navy, Mikhail is now a mercenary for hire. Daphne convinces a wary Mikhail to take her to her parents with ransom in tow.
Once underway, Daphne and Mikhail discover that each has secrets to hide, yet their attraction to one another is strong. Both fascinated with the other, but unwilling to share personal stories. They play a fragile game, revealing only the barest amount of information and only when forced into a situation which calls for the truth.
Overall I really enjoyed this story. It was exciting, action-filled and very entertaining. I love Mikhail... his description is awe-inspiringly hunky! I adore that he is flawed and he doesn't make apologies. He went down the wrong path - he isn't a "good guy." But he does have a heart, and he tries to make good choices.
I love Daphne's tenacity! She is a strong character and woman; one without apologies. She is driven and I love that she never apologizes for lying to Mikhail for doing what she believed she had to.
The story line was intense, having a bit of an "Indiana Jones" feel. The adventure was exciting. The final battle was a bit chaotic, and I would have liked a bit more with the warlord and his advisor. I would LOVE to read more about Mikhail and Daphne - they make a great pair, and I foresee wonderful adventures ahead. But I will be satisfied to read another one of Ms. Archer's wonderful tales.(less)
My Rating: 4.5 stars: Loved it - enthusiastically recommend(A) Originally Posted at That's What I'm Talking About
Tethered is a wonderful novella set in...moreMy Rating: 4.5 stars: Loved it - enthusiastically recommend (A) Originally Posted at That's What I'm Talking About
Tethered is a wonderful novella set in Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas series set sometime after the second book, Heart of Steel. Although this story can be read stand alone, it does build upon the events in the second book, and therefore, contains some spoilers from Heart of Steel. Also, I feel those that have read the series will have more emotional investment in the characters.
The story opens with hilarious letters sent between our hero, Archimedes Fox and his sister, Zenobia. Their correspondences set the mood for the story, and although there are extremely serious moments during the book, the letters serve as a reminder that the characters know how to laugh at themselves and enjoy life.
An old associate of Archimedes shows up on board the Lady Nergüi, and soon Fox and Yasmeen find themselves on a rescue mission for which they did not willingly volunteer. But no matter the circumstances, Archimedes and Yasmeen seem to always be on step ahead of the nefarious Miles Bilson.
I adore how much Archimedes loves Yasmeen. Knowing she is carries much sorrow from the loss of her previous airship and its crew, he finds a way to help her deal with the painful memories without compromising the woman she is. The fact that he danced for her, joked and played, then finally loved her so that good memories would replace the bad is so wonderful.
Throughout the entire story, the interaction and play of emotions between Archimedes and Yasmeen is amazing. Ms. Brook has a gift for putting heart and soul into words, allowing an array of emotion and sentiment to leap off the pages. The pair are playful with their words and actions. They accept the other for who they are and accommodate differences out of love. Whether through quiet introspection and subsequent actions or passionate outbursts, the pair can communicate at a level that would make real life couples envious. I adore how much they love one another.
Although there are a few known players in this book, Ms. Brook creates a handful of colorful characters unique to Tethered. She gives each character enough background and page time to provide this novella with the richness of a full-length story. And our villain, Bilson, is desperate and cruel with the shine of a new penny. I wanted to strangle him more than once.
In conclusion, Tethered is an excellent story and perfect sample of Ms. Brook’s storytelling talent in the steampunk romance genre. The depth and range of the plot, characters, and actions are on par with that of a full-length novel. The plot twists are exciting; they never feel contrived, and the story flowed well. The action and adventure kept me on the edge of my seat, but it’s the characters and their stories that give this story and series real heart.(less)
For those of us that read The Legend Chronicles series by Theresa Meyers, we know and love grouchy ol’ Marley: genius inventor extraordinaire. He is friend to the Winn Brothers (the men of legend fighting the evil Darken), but lives alone. He has a mysterious past, one hinted full of lost love and sadness. The Inventor is a prequel set several years before the beginning of the series and can be read at any time. There are no series spoilers in this novella.
The short story takes place in London, 1868, and opens with Marley working on his latest invention. He hopes to impress the Queen and be invited to join the prestigious Aeronautical Society of Great Britain. While stumped trying to work out a kink in his inventions, the lovely Lady Persephone Hargrieve sits down and starts tinkering (with his permission). Marley is immediately taken with Sephie and hopes to court her, even though she is daughter of Lord Hargrieve and above his station.
Lord Hargrieve is impressed with Marley and invites him to his home to discuss a project. It is here that Marley learns the true nature of Lord Hargrieve’s work: he fights the things that go bump in the night, the Darken. Marley is overcome with the knowledge that demons, vampires and other beings exist, and quickly becomes wrapped up in the dangerous life.
Overall, The Inventor is an enjoyable tale, a short story that gives a very small insight into Marley’s past. It is entertaining for both readers and new-comers to The Legend Chronicles. Marley is an amusing character, and I want to know more. His relationship with Sephie is sweet and romantic, and appropriately chaste for the setting.
However, the story left so much still unknown and unsaid, which was frustrating for me as someone who knows what becomes of Marley! If you read the series, you know that things go wrong at some point, and I had hoped this novella would have shared the entire story of Marley’s past.
With that said, The Inventor is a delightful tale centered on beginnings of a sweet love story. It can be read prior to reading the series, or at any time in between. Readers get a great taste of Marley’s gadgets and of what is to come. (less)
Violet Whitcomb has lived a fairly isolated life as the only child of famous inventor Joseph Whitcomb. After her mother died, Violet spent most of her childhood helping her father with his top-secret creations, the biggest and best of which is about to be revealed.
Traveling through the Wyoming Territory aboard a luxury steam engine, Violet lives vicariously through her weekly reader “The Lady’s Fireside Collection” and the romantic adventures of John “Wild Wolf” Wallace. Yearning for adventure and a love of her own, Violet is immediately taken with a handsome stranger on the train. Soon the safety of her world is shaken when the Iron Scorpion sends his terrifying machines to kidnap Violet’s father. Enlisting the aid of her stranger, Logan McCoy, Violet sets out into the unknown to rescue her Papa.
Violet is extremely lonely, and I empathize with her desires to break out of her father’s shadow and live her own life. Yet, she comes across naive, with an innocent childlike quality, and I am uncertain she could make it on her own. This image of Violet is reinforced time and time again, especially in her interactions with Logan. The lines between stubbornness and childish were blurred as she argued with Logan along the way. I waffled between feeling sorry for and being annoyed with Violet.
Logan is a stereotypical western hero. He is tough and distant, but he is willing to help out the lady in distress. In addition, Logan is keeping a big secret from Violet, and while it is evident to the reader he’s not the man Violet imagines him to be, he continues to allow her to believe otherwise. Although he reluctantly agrees to help Violet, his constant stand-offish and distant behavior wore on me.
I had a hard time connecting with the couple, and I think partially (mostly) that's because the entire story (with the exception of the end) is told from the third-person POV of Violet. Being mysterious and secretive is one thing, but rude and distant is another. Yes, Logan did some kind things, but his attitude rubbed me the wrong way. And without the benefit of Logan’s POV, I had no idea of his true nature or intentions.
I enjoyed the use the weekly reader story, but it was evident that Violet would blur the lines between the fantasy story and real-life. During the rescue of her father, she viewed the situation with a naivety that bordered on reckless. And she saw in Logan the man from her romance weekly, not the true person, even as she was falling in love.
Iron Guns, Blazing Hearts is an enjoyable western adventure, but not the steampunk romance I was expecting. In fact, the romance was pretty much non-existent. Not that it is a prerequisite for a good romance, but there was NO sex - only one kiss is it, and that was on the last page! The developing relationship between Logan and Violet was based on mistruths and outright lies. I really don't know how it is that they came to fall in love during the course of this book.
With that said…. it is an entertaining, simple story. The characters are likable, and the adventure itself is pretty exciting. I liked Violet, but until the end of the book, she came across too childlike and naive, living in a fantasy world - believing what she wanted and not seeing the truth. Things are simple in her eyes and she wants to live the life of her romance adventures. Maybe we all need to be a bit more like Violet sometimes!(less)
The Devil's Due by Lora Leigh (Breeds series) Although the opening prologue was confusing, these early events do not have a big impact on the entire novella (although for readers of the series, it will probably come into play down the road). The entire story flows smoothly after the group move to the US and settle in.
Katie and Devil are SO HOT together! This is the Breeds I’ve been missing in the last few titles. The pair are overcome by the Breed’s mating hormone - and since both are Breeds, they both exhibit the signs, including insatiable lust and desire. What makes the story fun is that Devil realizes immediately that the mating hormone is being produced, even though he had thought it was just rumor prior to his own experiences. And poor Katie--she has no clue.
Overall, The Devil’s Due is a hot and sweet story of two breeds coming together. They both enjoy their mating heat and don't fight the coupling--in fact they want it, which is a refreshing change from most Breed books. There is little conflict within this story, but hints of a war brewing in the larger story arc. Things were left open ended with respect to the bigger picture.
The Curse of the Black Swan by Alyssa Day (League of the Black Swan prequel) The story is sweet and fun. I adore both Sean and Brynn - two lonely people who come to realize that they can be themselves and be accepted. The story follows their courtship while Sean attempts to solve the mystery as to who is starting magically enhanced fires.
Without spoiling the story, my only negative is that I wish we'd been told how “things” transpired at the end to come to the conclusion it did. The Curse of the Black Swan is a wonderful little story, happy and sweet. I adored both the romance and mystery. Although it ties into the overall mythology of Ms. Day’s new series, it can be enjoyed as a stand alone.
Salvage by Meljean Brook (Iron Seas) I just love Ms. Brook’s world. Salvage is yet another marvelous stand alone story in her amazing Iron Seas series. Thom and Georgiana are wonderful characters, both strong as individuals, but not so much as a married pair. The reader learns so much of their situation through their individual POVs. Thom's POV is so sad. He loves and craves Georgiana; he just never figured out how to give her what she needed. And Georgiana thought she was so clear in her coversations with Thom, but it’s not until the pair are held in captivity do they really talk it all out.
Salvage reads with the details and descriptions usually found only in a full-length novel. The action is fairly intense and exciting; the plot is engrossing. All of the characters are well-developed and fun. It is a wonderful story about second chances. Being kidnapped and threatened with death allows Thom and Georgiana to share their feelings and passion uninhibited.
Ecstasy Under the Moon by Lucy Monroe (Children of the Moon) Ecstasy Under the Moon is the only title in the anthology that is a new-to-me author and series. Thankfully, Ms. Monroe includes a detailed prologue; however, even with the details, I was lost for a while.
Ecstasy Under the Moon has a traditional fantasy feel, more so than a paranormal romance. The world-building is extremely complex and intense. I enjoy fantasies, so this did not bother me; however, if you are looking for more of a light-hearted PNR, this one may not be for you. The highland/Scottish clan setting also gave it a historical feel.
I liked the easy-going nature and flow of the story after I became grounded in the world. Bryant is a noble man/wolf, and I admire what he is trying to accomplish with his Faol brethren. I enjoyed the stories of his history, which piqued my interest and left me wanting to know more. The story had a strong message of good over bad and “never judge a book by its cover.” It never got deep, but had a solid message.
There was also a bit of humor - subtle, but fun.
Overall, Ecstasy Under the Moon was enjoyable. It was my first introduction to Ms. Monroe's series. Even though it is obvious that there is much to Ms. Monroe's world, and possibly several other books, I was able to enjoy this as a stand alone.
In conclusion, Enthralled is an extremely enjoyable anthology, especially for those that read some or all of the series represented. (less)
My Rating: 4.5 stars: Loved it - enthusiastically recommend(A) Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About
Will Carver, protector of Blade - mast...moreMy Rating: 4.5 stars: Loved it - enthusiastically recommend (A) Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About
Will Carver, protector of Blade - master of the rookeries, is a verwulfen with a bounty on his head. Known as the Beast of Whitechapel, he helps Blade keep order, something Will cannot find within his own life. For more than three long years he’s desired Ms. Lena Todd, but knows he can never have her, and that fact drives him crazy every day.
Meanwhile, Lena has moved back to live with her (secret) half-brother, Leo Barrons, a blue-blood member of the Echelon. Fleeing life in the rookeries after Will rebuffed her advances a year ago, she attempts to make her way through society, playing their games in hopes she will find a place to fit in. But when she learns about the Humanists, a group interested in overthrowing the ruling Echelon, she begins to help the illegal society - hoping someday she’ll find some sort of happiness.
It comes as a complete shock to both Will and Lena that the Prince Consort and four of the more “liberal” members of the council of Dukes want to form a treaty with the verwulfen clans of Scandinavia, and they want to enlist the help of Will to smooth the waters. In exchange for his aid, the council is willing to change the laws regarding the treatment of verwulfen. In order to learn proper etiquette and fit in, Will ropes Lena into tutoring him - bringing the pair together almost daily.
Heart of Iron is a suspenseful tale of political maneuvering among the classes with a paranormal twist that ups the ante. To try and describe the complexities and nuances of the blue bloods (pre-vampires), verwulfen and human factions in this review would be a great disservice to this book; however, it is not so intricate that one cannot easily read and enjoy this tale.
The entire mix of intrigue created an exciting read. I was leery of everyone except our main characters - but most especially of the slimy Alaric Colchester, Duke of Lannister. His intensions for Lena are anything but honest and pure, and I was on edge every time Lena thought he was near. Adding to the tension are the Humanist leaders who may or may not be threatening Lena with her brother’s life so that she’ll betray Will and her own heart. Knowing that this threat put Lena in an impossible situation in which she would have to destroy Will or see her brother hurt created a stressful circumstance. I enjoyed every moment!
Although the suspense makes Heart of Iron a thrilling read, it’s the budding romance between Lena and Will that make this book such a wonderful story. The pair long for each other, but each has a set of expectations and rules that govern they stay apart. For years, Lena would “test the waters” with flirtatious games - wanting Will to respond, but fear of rejection, or even acceptance, keeping her distanced. There was no honesty for so long, that when the barriers started to crumble, it was intense. Frankly, Will broke my heart a few times during the book, especially after Lena would open up her heart and he’d push away. Normally that kind of behavior in a romance is a turn off for me. Yet, Ms. McMaster spins a beautiful broken web that grows stronger over time. There are so many interactions between the pair that I just adored. Ms. McMaster was able to convey every emotional moment with such clarity that I laughed and cried right along side the characters. The lead up to the conclusion was an emotional masterpiece - bringing me to tears as the entire gang from Whitechapel came together.
The back and forth nature of Will and Lena’s relationship created intense sexual tension. Their first real kiss was passionate and needy and so wonderful. With every encounter, the heat ratcheted up a notch, and I swear my face flushed for a few moments.
Once again, Ms. McMaster ends her story with a bang that leaves this reader anxious for more. Although the primary story within Heart of Iron comes to a satisfying conclusion, the events of the climatic ending will have substantial impacts to the Echelon, verwulfen, humanists and our friends in the rookeries. Add to that an interesting epilogue, and I am hooked, wondering what will happen next.
Overall, I found Heart of Iron extremely well-written and highly entertaining. The story hit highs and lows, causing me to laugh, my heart to race, and I even shed some tears. Will and Lena's developing love was sweet and passionate. Their sexual tension was palatable. Even though the pair kept secrets, and I was frustrated with the number of times Will pushed Lena away after she opened her heart to him, it didn't ruin the story. Rather it surprisingly enhanced the overall outcome and made for a richer love story. The layers of mystery were complex but didn't weigh down the progress of the plot. And although the story isn't over, Heart of Iron had a fulfilling conclusion. I cannot wait to read My Lady Quicksilver, coming in October.(less)
Enjoyable novella offered free from the author. It takes place about 6 months after the conclusion of the first book and tells the story of Esme and R...moreEnjoyable novella offered free from the author. It takes place about 6 months after the conclusion of the first book and tells the story of Esme and Rip. The pair showed signs of a budding romance until Rip was nearly killed (first book), and Blade (their master) infected Rip with the craving virus to save his life.
Tarnished Night is a lovely romance packed with action and a touch of suspense. You do not need to have read the first book to enjoy the novella.
After the conclusion of Tarnished Knight, there is a "prequel" for the upcoming second book in the series, Heart of Iron. It is a great bit of information for fans of the series. (less)
Speed Mating by Jessica Sims Midnight Liaisons series
Estrella is an anomaly in her pack--she is a liger: half tiger, half lion. While she doesn't reall...moreSpeed Mating by Jessica Sims Midnight Liaisons series
Estrella is an anomaly in her pack--she is a liger: half tiger, half lion. While she doesn't really fit in with her tiger pack, she is not accepted at all by the lion pack. Estrella had always been told she was sterile, and she believed that right up until she realized that she was going into heat. Now with only a week's notice, she needs to find someone she likes to service her needs and be the father of her child.
The one man she truly desires is her alpha, Vic. But since she thinks he could never be interested, she goes through the motions of dating and looking for a mate.
Speed Mating is a fun and sexy little story. There is a bit of humor and light-heartedness throughout the novella. I liked that the story stayed in Estrella's POV for the duration of the tale because it elevated the tension without knowing Vic’s true feelings. The pair are a joy to watch as they come together.
Conjuring Max by Carolyn Crane Code of Shadows 0.5
Readers of Ms. Crane’s first release in this series, Mr. Real, will recognize Vicky as Alix’s Great Aunt who left Alix all of her worldly possessions - including a computer program that brings to life objects from photos. One need not have read Mr. Real to enjoy this novella.
Vicky is in danger and in hiding from crime syndicate boss, Salvo. She’s used her knowledge of witchcraft and computer programing to bring to life Max, former Chicago police officer recently killed in the line of duty, to be her bodyguard.
The story opens about three months after Vicky first conjured Max. I liked that Max knows he's been conjured from a photo (and the “real” Max is dead). Max is more human that most as he contemplates life, the existence of a soul, falls in love with Vicky, and learns to let go of the daughter he orphaned after his murder.
The opening of the novella is very exciting. We have no idea why Salvo is after Vicky, only that he is relentless in his pursuit. The action is suspensefully written, keeping this reader glued to the pages. In addition, the book has a heart and tackles powerful emotions. The concepts of life, death and love are wonderfully interwoven into the thrilling tale.
The story switches POV between Vicky and Max. We learn of their mutual yet secret desire and admiration for the other. I loved how Vicky pushes Max and how Max teaches Vicky to learn to let go. As the story progresses you learn how perfectly matched the pair is. It's lovely to see the give and take between the individuals.
Bottom line: Exciting action with heart. As a fan of Mr. Real, I enjoyed “history lesson” about how the computer codes came to be. 4 stars
Wrecked by Meljean Brook Iron Seas series
Five years ago, Elizabeth Jannsen ran from her powerful father, who subsequently sent highly-trained hunters to collect her and bring her home. Caius Trachter was the only one to ever capture her, but she was able to make a dangerous escape. (2 years prior to the start of this story.)
Now Elizabeth's father has caught up to her, and she must make a quick exit. Little does she know that Caius is watching, nor does she know that he has loved her since the day he met her.
I must share with you that I am completely in awe of Ms. Brook’s storytelling and of the tales she spins. She is simply a master at her craft. Wrecked is no exception, further cementing the Iron Seas series as one of the Top 5 series among the current romance genre.
Elizabeth has every reason to run from her father, and when you find out why, I imagine your jaw will drop just like mine. Knowing that she has little chance to escape Caius, Elizabeth makes the decision to trust the man that once tried to turn her in. The pain and heartache, loneliness and internal torment of both Elizabeth and Caius is portrayed with an absolute care for detail. Elizabeth loves her father, but he is a madman and she cannot see a way out of her situation without someone's death. She wants to trust and believe Caius, but she isn't certain how. This creates emotional conflict and amazing tension. The emotional depth of the novella is on par with a story two to three times its length.
In addition, the details of the ship, voyage and world are wonderfully woven into the tale. The action--hunt and chase--are thrilling and suspenseful.
The story reaches beyond the two primary characters without stretching thin the plot of and time allotted to the primary tale. For example, I adore Captain Harker who is the captain of the ship on which Elizabeth attempts her escape. He is a supporting character with a ton of integrity. His actions give Elizabeth the ability to trust another human. It is endearing how he cares for her in his own polite way.
The ending of the story was “perfect” for the situation and again brought forward an array of emotions, but this time a bit different from the earlier scenes. It was a touching, albeit simple, way to wrap up the tale... perfect.
I absolutely loved this novella. *sigh* I cannot say enough about how great the Iron Seas series is. This novella is a stand alone and can be enjoyed by all. It is a sweet romance, suspenseful action, exquisite steampunk world and all around wonderful story.
Bottom line: Amazing adventure full of rich detail and complex storytelling that will blow you away. 5 stars
Overall, Fire & Frost offers three wonderful tales, each very different, but all exciting, romantic and fun!(less)
Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About Review copy provided by author -----
Her Ladyship's Curseis actually the first part (of two) of the up...moreOriginally posted at That's What I'm Talking About Review copy provided by author -----
Her Ladyship's Curseis actually the first part (of two) of the upcoming title, Disenchanted & Co., the first novel in the Disenchanted & Co. series by Lynn Viehl. Fortunately, I was able to read both parts back-to-back, and knowing that they were two halves of a whole makes this review difficult to write. Therefore, I am giving this story two ratings: one as a stand alone story and the other as the first half of a bigger book.
The story is set in an alternate timeline where the colonies did not win the Revolutionary War and are now the Provincial Union of Victoria. Times are hard, and society supports a wealthy class, a working class, and a group of undesirables. The Native Americans have some rights, but are still looked down upon. Women – especially ones like Kit who are trying to make it on their own – are on the lowest rung of society. While the author promotes the book in the steampunk genre, I feel there isn’t enough steam technology to support this label. With that said, it doesn’t matter what genre you want to label the book, it is a fascinating, well-developed world that I highly enjoyed reading.
Miss Charmian "Kit" Kittredge doesn't believe in curses or magic, yet she is surrounded by believers. Therefore, she has opened up her own “private eye” business (not something looked highly upon by society) called Disenchanted & Co.. While Kit feels she is debunking myths and uncovering false magic, everyone else believes she is the best dispeller of magic.
Lady Diana Walsh, the young trophy wife to the wealthy Lord Nolan Walsh, thinks she's been cursed by her husband's deceased first wife. Terrified by the mysterious events plaguing her, she turns to Kit in secrecy, hoping Kit will put an end to the curse. However, when Kit begins to uncover the facts, the ominous nature of the truth begins to turn on Kit, placing her in mortal danger.
As I mentioned earlier, writing a review for one half of a story is difficult. However, as a stand-alone book, Her Ladyship’s Curse provides an exciting glimpse into an adventurous new world. Ms. Vielh does a marvelous job setting the stage by developing her world and creating interesting characters. The story is completely engrossing and engaging from the get-go. The author weaves details into the lines of the story, giving clues and hints, while leaving the truth a mystery to be solved. My mind was constantly working to figure out who did what and why, all the while trying to decide if magic is real, or as Kit believes, a big hoax.
Another aspect that makes the story so interesting is the characters in Kit’s life. Kit has two marvelous girlfriends. Rina is the owner of a successful brothel. Bridget is the owner of an exclusive dress shop that caters to the wealthy class. She married for love and it came with the perk of wealth. Both independent women care deeply about Kit and have the resources to help her. Then there is a childhood friend, now police officer, Tommy Doyle. You can tell that he cares for Kit, but he's not going to let his feelings stop him from doing his job. He's sweet and protective, yet hard and scary. Finally, there is the mysterious Lucien Dredmore (former Lord Traval). He is the Grand Master of the Dark Arts and a death mage (although his is the biggest con artist in town according to Kit.) He feels entitled to whatever he wants, and he wants Kit. He is aggressive and cruel, and for the life of me, I have no idea why he desires Kit so obsessively.
Along the way, Kit also begins to unravel her own past and the truth of her ancestry (which she knows very little). This storyline is equally as intriguing as the primary mystery of what is being done to Lady Walsh. Again, bits and pieces are uncovered, allowing the reader to guess and discover what the truth may ultimately be. More side characters are introduced, creating a full ensemble of individuals that enrich the overall tale.
While the groundwork is set for an exciting adventure, the story ends quite abruptly. If I hadn’t known this was only the first half of a book, I would have been very upset. It’s not so much a cliff-hanger ending, but rather there is just so much left unresolved that stopping at the end of the book would leave one completely unsatisfied. It literally is only half of the story.
Her Ladyship’s Curse is the exciting first part of the book Disenchanted & Co. The second half, His Lordship Possessed, will be released on October 14, 2013 (with my review later this week). Both parts 1 and 2 are being released as ebooks, and the whole book will be released as mass market in 2014. The story had me hooked right from the beginning, and it was fortunate for me that I was able to immediately start the second part upon conclusion of this tale. Ms. Viehl has created a richly detailed world, which I find completely fascinating. I love Kit's fierce independence and intimate desire to find a man who will treat her as an equal rather than a possession.
As a stand-alone book: 3 stars: Liked it, but I had some issues - recommend (B)
As part 1 of Disenchanted & Co. 4 stars: Enjoyed - strongly recommend (A-)(less)
Rating: B Liked It, recommend Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About Review copy provided by publisher.
The third full-length tale from the M...moreRating: B Liked It, recommend Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About Review copy provided by publisher.
The third full-length tale from the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences begins shortly after the conclusion of the second book, with Agents Wellington (Welly) Books and Eliza Braun en route to America. This is Books first official mission as a field agent, although he’s been through the routine a few times with Eliza. The pair are being sent to America to help with a case, but more importantly, to stay out of the limelight back home while there is some heat on the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences following their last case. While on the airship, the pair gives chase to a cunning thief, who gets away. The start of Dawn’s Early Light opens with action and adventure, befitting of our heroes.
Once Books and Braun are in the New World, they are paired with their counterparts from the Office of the Supernatural and Metaphysical (OSM). Agent Felicity Lovelace is the OSM librarian. She’s never been in the field, and this is only her tenth assignment. Then there is William "Wild Bill" Wheatley. He is a rough and tumble cowboy with arrogant attitude. He and Eliza share a brief history, and he was the cause of some problems for her several years ago. The American pair are truly mirror images of Welly and Eliza. The team is tasked with investigating the disappearance of airships off the coast of North Carolina. But what they uncover is something much larger, taking the quartet cross-country, and involving Thomas Edison, The House of Usher, a female priest, and a death ray. The story truly is a madcap adventure with high stakes and plenty of action.
One thing that I love about the Ministry books, which holds true with the current offering, is that the stories are richly detailed, complex, and full of action. There is so much that goes on within the pages of each book, that to try and recap the adventures would take up several paragraphs of review space, something I choose not to do. So don’t mistake my lack of summary for a sign that the book is simple in structure and nature - for it is not. And if I tried to connect the dots, not only would I spoil the experience for other readers, but I could never do justice to the marvelous storytelling of Ms. Ballentine and Mr. Morris. I will admit, however, that at times the volume of information did overwhelm me, and careful note taking was a must. But once the pieces of the puzzle started to lock into place, I found that the journey to get there was well worth the effort!
The story is told in the back-and-forth third person point-of-views of both Wellington and Eliza. There are also interludes that are written from one of the antagonists’ POV or the agents’ director, Dr. Basil Sound. These interludes provide bread crumbs of parallel stories that all come together by the end of the book. Hearing the tale from both Books and Braun’s perspective is wonderful. Each of the agents have their own unique way of thinking about the cases and life, so the reader is privy to a more complete picture of the story having both POVs.
In addition, the reader gains some insight as to the emotional ties and feelings each agent is experiencing. For example, in the previous book, Books planted an intense kiss on Agent Braun, leaving her to ponder what it meant. And boy, does she think about it. A lot. And she tries unsuccessfully several times to do something about it while on their journey. But Books is completely obtuse, leaving Eliza even more confounded. However, Eliza’s personality pushes her to solve the meaning of the kiss and Welly’s behavior. At first I loved how perplexed Eliza is over the kiss; however, once I reached the midpoint of the book, I had grown tired of Eliza’s childish attitudes and jealousy. While I loved how their feelings enhanced The Janus Affair, for about half of Dawn’s Early Light, I found it distracting and annoying. But it does get better... a lot better!
Eliza's wit and sarcasm are such a pleasure to read. I found myself chuckling out loud throughout the title. She is sharp and seems to know when and how to speak her mind to provoke a desired reaction. However, there is more than one time that Eliza is left speechless. One such example comes in her interactions with Wild Bill, someone she relates to as a field agent. There is a definite spark there, and when he kisses her (not giving any more detail than that!), Eliza isn’t too sure what to think or say. In addition, Agent Lovelace gives Eliza a run for her money when it comes to Welly’s attention. Felicity may seem innocent and naive, but underneath is an observant woman who can call it like she sees it. Finally, Wellington has poor Eliza stumped. Why did he kiss her? Why can’t she figure this one out? I don’t know if there is as much character growth as in previous books, but we do see a side of Eliza we haven’t before… jealousy. The evolution of both her and Books’ feelings was enjoyable, but it did take up a little too much of the story.
The most enjoyable scenes in the book come when Books and Braun work together in the field. They make an amazing team. Neither tries to outdo the other, each recognizing his/her own strengths and weaknesses, while acknowledging the same in the other. When it counts, they are seamless. I think Chapters Nineteen and Twenty were my favorites because they showcase the pair’s teamwork so marvelously. And then, Eliza does something crazy, which is a stroke of genius, to finally air out the pair’s true feelings.
Another favorite part came early in the book, when the agents observe a potential witness dying. The entire scene was marvelously written. Not only is it touching - allowing me to gain more emotional investment in the story, but it showcases the agents, all coming together with differences aside, to pay respects to a fallen hero. The scene demonstrates the integrity of the agents, telling us so much more by painting an entire picture, rather than using a few words to describe the characters. This is the type of storytelling I admire and appreciate.
Finally, for readers of the series, we learn a lot more about the mysterious Maestro, who I had been confusing as the head of the House of Usher. After finishing Dawn’s Early Light, I went back and reread large chunks of The Janis Affair to piece together the bigger picture. Overall, this storyline, which also involves the Queen and Dr. Sound, is still a bit too ambiguous and enigmatic for my liking. And unfortunately, the book ended oddly with a vague chapter, which personally, I could have done without.
Overall, Dawn’s Early Light is another great tale in the amazingly creative and entertaining Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series. Although I struggled with some of the extended jealousy, I enjoyed where it took Eliza and Welly in the end. I was also a bit confused over some of the background story, and I didn’t care for the final chapter. However, I loved Books and Braun in the field, the gadgets, the fight scenes, the use of historical figures, and some of the interactions involving supporting characters. This series becomes richer with each title, and I cannot wait to find out what adventure is next for dear Books and Braun!(less)
3.5 stars: Liked it - recommend(B+) Review originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About I received a review copy from the author.
Kali is a brillia...more3.5 stars: Liked it - recommend (B+) Review originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About I received a review copy from the author.
Kali is a brilliant young engineer who was severely injured in a battle in the skies above Liverpool. She decides to move to a family cabin on a remote island to give her time to heal: mentally, physically and emotionally. Planning to live in complete isolation, she’s a bit dismayed to discover someone else occupying Eilean Comhachag.
Fletcher, one of Britain’s mighty Man O’ Wars, has been alone for three months until Kali showed up. Captain of the Persephone, he went down with his airship, stranded and determined to stay that way. When the British Navy didn’t come looking for him, he realized maybe the world we be better with out another “killing machine.”
Skies of Gold is another wonderful addition to the Ether Chronicles. The story takes place in the same world as, yet mostly independent of the earlier books. This time around, our powerful war hero, Fletcher, has decided he’d rather not be in service any longer because he feels that the Man O’ Wars are perpetuating the war between the Russians and Britons. I love that when we meet Fletcher he is completely tormented and a bit mad after living alone for three months. His initial interactions with Kali feel so genuine for someone who has given up being part of society. I adored him right from the start.
Yet Kali too is a bit distressed by her recent past. She is a victim of war and broken after witnessing everyone she knows die in a ruthless battle. However, she is a strong woman, and I enjoyed how often she would do something “outside the norm.” Although they are not part of the story, her parents clearly had a marvelous influence on her life. And in spite of, or rather mostly because of their similar circumstances and histories, the pair begin a tenuous and sweet friendship. Their initial interactions are awkward and made me chuckle, yet they are genuine and refreshingly honest. They are two damaged souls finding some peace and comfort.
As their friendship deepens, I enjoyed reading about their mutual desire. They both want each other so badly, but Fletcher values her friendship even more. It is so lovely how he opens his heart and asks her to slow down so they won't ruin their friendship. Yet when they finally give into their passion, it is completely hot and very tender. The trust Kali places in Fletcher by baring herself completely, and how honored he is by her trust, is wonderfully portrayed. My heart melted.
Once the pair finally connect completely, the conflict of whether or not to stay hidden and isolated rises to the forefront. However, the choice is taken away from the couple and they must deal with the consequences. What happens for the rest of the story is a wonderful crises that adds a lot of excitement to the plot. This leads to an intense fight that was fairly action-packed. It was also a treat to have mention of characters from the previous books.
All in all, Skies of Gold is another wonderful addition to the Ether Chronicles. It is a delightful balance of romance and action woven together with entertaining story telling. Both primary characters are enjoyable to read. The bad guy is easy to despise. I love Fletcher’s transformation from isolated scary man back to a captain and gentleman--from insecure and unsure to confident and lover. Kali and Fletcher made a wonderful pair. Neither would have been able to open up to anyone else. They are both damaged, and with friendship and the bond of mutual experiences, they find a way to live again. It is a sweet story.(less)
Rating: 4 stars: Enjoyed - strongly recommend(A-) Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About Review copy provided by the publisher.
Picking up sh...moreRating: 4 stars: Enjoyed - strongly recommend (A-) Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About Review copy provided by the publisher.
Picking up shortly after the explosive conclusion of Heart of Iron, My Lady Quicksilver focuses on the search for the humanist leader, Mercury, by Sir Jasper Lynch, the commander of the Nighthawks (the blue blood police force). Lynch is determined to capture him, for crimes against the Echelon, including the bombing at the Ivory Tower, the seat of the ruling Echelon's power.
Rosalind is Mercury. Trained as an assassin, Rosalind picked up the humanist cause after her husband’s death. She and her two brothers, Jack and Jeremy, have lead the humanists for several years. However, after the mechs mutinied against her leadership (Book #2) taking Jeremy with them, Rosalind’s focus is no longer with the humanist cause - instead centering most of her energy on finding her younger brother that she raised as her own.
You know those series that you just seem to fall more in love with after each successive story? The London Steampunk series is that way for me. Ms. McMaster weaves a wonderful romance in and among an interesting political climate founded on a unique vampire mythology. While one could definitely read My Lady Quicksilver as a stand alone, I recommend starting with the first book so that you get a full grasp of the world. It took me that whole first book to understand the intricacies of the Echelon, blue bloods, vampires, rogues, mechs, humans, and all of the other bits and pieces. Ms. McMaster’s world is complex and so very fascinating.
As Mercury, Rosa and Lynch share a healthy respect based in a deep rivalry, which plays out like a game of cat and mouse. They are each drawn to the other, which surprises them both. And after sharing a kiss, neither can forget the other. I love the tension created between the two; however, it is clear that their “relationship” is doomed. A man of the law and a revolutionary leader cannot have an HEA. This adds an element of intrigue for me, as I was constantly trying to figure out HOW things could possible work out for the pair.
Now enter Mrs. Rosa Marberry, Lynch’s newly hired secretary. Rosa takes the job in disguise in an effort to learn the whereabouts of her missing brother. Mrs. Marberry represents everything Lynch wanted in his life - a life he will never have. The pair match words and innuendos. They spar with sharp wit and sensual looks. I LOVE them together. Their sexual tension is heightened by the fear that Lynch will discover Rosa is in fact his greatest nemesis, Mercury. The dichotomy of Lynch’s affections for Rosa and Mercury creates a wonderful story.
Of course, Rosa and Lynch each hide certain truths from the other, playing their cards close to the vest. It is the slow exchange of truths and development of trust, coupled with the sexual tension, that creates intimacy and my love for this couple. It’s amazing how well each sees the other’s true inner-being, even through the blurred lines. This exchange is a perfect example of their tit-for-tat sparring:
"And I shall offer you a truth in exchange for one," he said, knowing that curiosity was her downfall. ... "Besides, I didn't request the food for myself, obviously. I have been remiss in feeding you since you started."
"I don't mind."
"You mean," he said, looking up over the tray, "that you do not wish to tell me your truths."
I love how brilliantly observant and sharp these two are. Their mental dueling and game of truths is incredible. The sexual tension coupled with their quest for truth is tangible. Perfect!
Rosa and Lynch spend much of their time working on a series of mysterious blue blood deaths. Something is making healthy blue bloods act like crazed, mindless vampires, and both Rosa and Lynch are driven to find the truth. Each interaction at a crime scene is filled with amazing action. In addition, the reader can pick up bits and pieces of the mystery, as well as clues to the inner workings of the main characters.
My Lady Quicksilver has a few twist and turns that kept me glued to the pages. The overall humanist vs. Echelon storyline progresses and deepens. There are surprises that had me catching my breath and smiling all at once. What makes this story great is that there is closure on key parts of the storyline, while leaving open a few questions for the next book. Plus the ending plays out perfectly. All of this makes for a very satisfying read.
All-in-all, My Lady Quicksilver is a wonderful tale full of suspense and romance. The sexual tension between Rosa/Mercury and Lynch is palatable, making their coupling all the more satisfying. They are almost combustible together.
I love that both had to overcome a lot, which helps drive a satisfying tale. They come from such different backgrounds, and what may have started as a dangerous kiss, slowly smolders into a flaming need and eventually mutual love.
The continuing story of the humanists was captivating. I love cheering for a noble underdog. Solving the mystery of what is causing the blue bloods to go mad, trying to figure out if Rosa's brother is still alive, wondering if Rosa would be caught... Such a fantastic mix makes this another wonderful story in the London Steampunk series. (less)
My Rating: A+ Personal Favorite Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About Review copy provided by publisher
Note: At this time, the only way to...moreMy Rating: A+ Personal Favorite Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About Review copy provided by publisher
Note: At this time, the only way to read this book is to purchase the 8-part serialize novel.
Zenobia Fox, sister of the infamous adventurer Archimedes Fox, spends more time living vicariously through the intrepid tales she pens rather than out in the real world. She embarks on journey with Helene, her childhood friend, to the Red City, where Helene’s husband works as the French ambassador to Nippon. However, as their airship approaches the Australian continent, it is attacked by marauders and shot down near Krakentown. Luckily the governor of Krakentown, Ariq, aka The Kraken King, is able to rescue Zenobia and her associates. Meanwhile, Ariq has only one goal and that is to protect his town and citizens. He doesn’t have time for the distractions Zenobia brings; however, he insists on escorting Zenobia and Helene on the dangerous route to the Red City himself.
The Kraken King shares the wonderful story of how a sheltered spinster and a honorable warrior meet and fall in love. Their journey is unlike any I’ve read before, and I was simply blown away. Although the story takes place in the familiar (to me) world of Ms. Brook’s Iron Seas series, almost all aspects of this story are unique and new. The reader is introduced to a number of supporting characters throughout the first few chapters, but I never felt overwhelmed or confused. The author does a wonderful job creating an immediate connection to the characters and the story. In addition, the locale for the book is one that the author has not touched on prior to this book. The world-building is tight and absolutely riveting. Ms. Brook creates such vivid visual imagery, that I almost feel like I’m right there, aside the characters - seeing everything they see. I also enjoyed the additional new creatures and gadgets that make appearances throughout the novel.
Although The Kraken King was penned as an eight-part serial, the book can be read from start to finish and remain a solid, cohesive story. But what the serial format does is give the entire book several mini-adventures, each creating a great deal of mounting tension that kept me glued to my Kindle and anxious to find out what would happen next. The action is well-paced, and although there are several riveting scenes, the story also has some well-placed down times. I appreciate how the author slows the entire story about mid-way through the book, affording Ariq and Zenobia some one-one-one time. These moments are the ones that provide for emotional character growth and allowed me to connect to the couple on a deeper level.
The overall story involving the marauders, who they work for, and discovering what the ultimate goal is for Ariq’s adversaries is exciting and well-played. Pieces of the puzzle come together in chunks, and the reader has both Ariq and Zenobia’s observations and intelligence to guide the way through the maze. I absolutely loved the climatic scenes and overall direction of this ongoing plot. Ariq was placed into an impossible situation, and I appreciate how the author addressed the complexity of the situation, coming to a conclusion that is both emotionally and intellectually satisfying. The story is written with an eye for detail, creating intense tension, which is never over-the-top or gratuitous. I cannot stress how well done the whole situation is written.
Although the story itself is phenomenal, the heart of The Kraken King is the unbelievably touching and rousing romance between Ariq and Zenobia. The sexual tension between Ariq and Zenobia is outstanding. It is amplified by the reader’s capability to see into both characters’ minds and hearts. Ms. Brook does a fantastic job bringing the pair close and then pulling them apart just a little bit. What I appreciate is that the issues and problems driving a wedge between the couple, while they are mostly misunderstandings, hold some basic truth behind the concerns. And the consequences of any wrong action could be the lives of the people closest to both. The conflict and hidden truths are well-established, so the back and forth nature does not feel contrived.
When Ariq makes statements like
“He hadn’t known that simply holding her in his arms would feel like a gift.”
how can one NOT be moved? The pair’s love grows with each chapter, and the struggle to find the happy middle while keeping their individual identities only adds to the strength of their relationship. They share both intimate and humorous moments, giving and taking, examining and feeling. I simply adore their journey discovering a love that is true and deep.
Honestly, I could just go on and on about The Kraken King. From start to end, the romance, humor, and political intrigue are sublime. The entire story builds to a crescendo that is the culmination of everything which came before it: every word, every look, every emotion... they all build and explode. The emotions are so powerful that they provoked true tears from my eyes. The suspense so gripping that my heart was pounding in reaction. The stakes are high and I am happy to report that every conflict is resolved. I am completely satisfied with the emotional content, the tension and action, and the conflict resolution. I feel that Ms. Brook does a marvelous job wrapping up the story without giving readers an easy out.
I just don’t know how to put into words how wonderful this book is as a whole. You know when you finish a book with a full heart and tears of joy streaming down your cheeks? Sad for the story to end, but so happy with what happened? It is definitely my favorite read so far this year and my first perfect A+ book of 2014. Ariq and Zenobia have become my favorite all-time romance couple. This story brought tears to my eyes and warmth to my heart. It’s just THAT GOOD!(less)
Rating: A Loved It Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About Review copy provided by publisher
Welcome to the utterly fascinating and fantastic...moreRating: A Loved It Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About Review copy provided by publisher
Welcome to the utterly fascinating and fantastic world of Disenchanted & Co. Ms. Viehl's series is set in an alternate timeline world where the colonies did not win the Revolutionary War and are now the Provincial Union of Victoria. Times are hard, and society supports a wealthy class, a working class, and a group of undesirables. Native Americans have some rights, but are still looked down upon as native heathens. Women – especially ones like Kit who are trying to make it on their own – are on the lowest rung of society.
The Clockwork Wolf opens sometime after the events of the previous story, with Kit having "just another day" running her company, Disenchanted & Co. She is considered the top dispeller of magic, albeit evil by some, even though until very recently she did not even believe in magic. Kit is propositioned by Lord Dredmore to do some sensitive investigative work for one of his clients, the very wealthy Lady Eugenia Bestly. Lord Bestly recently transformed into a wolfman, and after murdering innocents, dies a gruesome death. Since he isn’t the only man to suffer this fate, it's up to Kit to find out why.
While I feel one could enjoy The Clockwork Wolf as a stand alone, I do not recommend it. Although the author does a great job filling in what occurred in the prior book during various conversations, the world-building, which is accomplished in the first book Disenchanted & Co., is an integral part of the story and series. Reading both books creates a much richer experience. In addition, Ms. Viehl is one of the best storytellers around, and the first book is worth the read on its own merits. Just be warned that this review does contain spoilers from the first book.
Kit Kittredge is one of my favorite heroines. She is smart and extremely clever, all during a period when proper women shouldn’t be. Kit’s witty humor within the pages of this book made me smile on several occasions. Kit is also stubborn, giving her the edge when standing toe-to-toe with men who would crush her. She is fiercely loyal, surrounding herself with friends that share the same characteristics. Yet she is calm and kind, even in the face of ridicule. Also, having recently discovered that she is descended from an ancient race of immortal beings, and her grandfather is Merlin himself, Kit is learning to accept the magic around her and how to hone her own latent skills. This adds complexity to her already dynamic character. All of these traits combine to create a charismatic heroine whom I adore and enjoy.
Although I wouldn’t classify this story as a romance novel, there is a touch of eros woven throughout the story, creating a well-rounded and balanced tale. Unfortunately, due to a time-travel incident in the first book, Lord Lucien Dredmore does not recall the bonds he formed with Kit, yet he feels in his heart they share a past. As someone privy to this knowledge, my heart ached for the loss of what the pair once shared. However, Ms. Viehl expertly weaves in the romance, creating an undeniable chemistry between the twosome. It is evident that the intricacies of the overall plot were well thought-out, with each scene contributing to the whole. Trying to solve the mysteries surrounding the wolfmen from beginning to end created an engaging and engrossing story. The supporting characters each add to the richness of the story; creating interesting tales in and among themselves, but also affording Kit the opportunity to shine as a heroine. I have quickly come to care about each of the characters. I dare say this book is a near perfect read.
I only had a couple of very minor issues with the book; for example, there seem to be a few inconsistencies with who knows what about Kit’s true nature and the alternate past before time travel. My biggest issue with the story is that Ms. Viehl employs a "plot device" that I really do not like in stories (sorry, not going to say what so that I don’t give away anything). But as a testament to her mad storytelling skills, I was able to put aside my concern rather swiftly and even come around to almost appreciate what she did. This also happened in the first book. I hate using time-travel to repair and make right the direction of a story. Yet, I found that I adored Disenchanted & Co. despite my misgivings with time-travel. Ms. Viehl is just that good.
In the end, I consumed The Clockwork Wolfwith a fierceness. I enjoyed all of its ups and downs, twists and turns. I found the substantial forward progress with regards to Kit’s character and her place in society completely rewarding. The plot itself was engrossing and the conclusion satisfying, even though there are some significant questions left unanswered. Kit and Dredmore’s romance, while not the focus of the story, added heart and created a deeper emotional tie to the characters. The ending left me craving the next story and dying to know what is up next for Kit and the gang.(less)
4 stars: Enjoyed - strongly recommend(A-) Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About Review copy provided by author
Note: this review will contai...more4 stars: Enjoyed - strongly recommend (A-) Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About Review copy provided by author
Note: this review will contain spoilers from the first title, Her Ladyship's Curse, which is actually the first part of the two part story making up the novel Disenchanted & Co. If you plan to read the novel in its entirety when it comes out in January - or - if you haven't read Ladyship, please be warned! His Lordship Possessed truly is the second half of a larger story, and I do not recommend reading it as a stand alone story.
His Lordship Possessed picks up immediately where Her Ladyship’s Curse ends. In the first half of the tale, the reader was introduced to Kit Kittredge, a sort of “private eye” who debunks magical curses and spells. Lucien Dredmore is her nemesis who is terribly attracted to Kit and wants her all to himself. After a brief weakness of spirit resulting in exciting sexual encounter between Kit and Lucien, Kit finds herself locked away in his estate. Relying on her mysterious grandfather, she makes a daring escape, only to find that Lord Walsh is attempting to ruin her.
I completely devoured His Lordship Possessed in a matter of hours. I could NOT put this exciting story down for more than a moment. After doing a fabulous job laying the groundwork and creating an interesting and intriguing world in the first book, Ms. Viehl sends her characters on a non-stop adventure, full of unforeseen twists and amazing revelations. The purposeful actions and events are well-planned and masterfully written. One really doesn’t need more from a book, right?
But wait... that’s not all! As I stated in my review of Her Ladyship’s Curse, the characters of this tale are an exciting aspect of the book that make it so much more than just an adventure. Each of the characters undergoes further development and adds heart to the story. However, it is Kit herself that truly makes this story a wonderful piece. Seeing everything from her point-of-view, I was heartbroken as Kit watches her life unravel due to the machinations of Lord Walsh. Her feelings and subsequent actions add complexity to the story and give readers a character to root for and admire. Add to this her complex feelings towards Lucien and their growing affections, and you have a beautiful romance as well.
Meanwhile, we learn the true nature of what happened to Lady Walsh (from the first book), as well as a detailed and elaborate history of events that shape the current conflict with Lord Walsh. We learn if in fact magic is real, and what the repercussions of the truth mean for our heroine. The added world-building is fascinating and completely unique.
I enjoyed the direction the book headed, creating some difficult choices that Kit had to confront. I liked that she took charge and faced each moment with everything she had. However, without giving spoilers, I will say that I did have a minor issue with how things resolved themselves in the end. While the concept of what happened made me cringe a little, I actually am please with the results, so I can’t judge Ms. Viehl’s choice too harshly. Additionally, it left the door open for some exciting adventures ahead, and I cannot wait to get my hands on Kit’s next story!(less)
My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot (4.5 Stars) Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About Review copy provided by publisher - also purchased with own f...moreMy Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot (4.5 Stars) Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About Review copy provided by publisher - also purchased with own funds!
The first part of The Kraken King introduces readers to our two main characters: Zenobia and Ariq. Zenobia Fox, author of the famous Archimedes Fox adventures, is traveling to Australia with a childhood friend and wife of an ambassador, Helene Auger. While making the trip, Zenobia keeps an alternate identity that she is the widow, therefore allowing her to live alone and enjoy freedom rather than being viewed as a spinster.
Once the leader of rebel armies, Ariq Noyan, aka the Kraken King, is now governor of Krakentown. It is evident that he rules with honesty and integrity. When a band of marauders bring down Zenobia’s airship, Ariq and his brother take action to save the passengers. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the marauders have destroyed an airship off the coast of Krakentown, and the pending repercussions could spell the end of Krakentown and its citizens.
Although the reader is introduced to a number of supporting characters throughout these first few chapters, I never felt overwhelmed or confused. The world-building is tight and absolutely riveting. Granted, I am very familiar with the Iron Seas world having read all of the preceding stories, but almost everything about The Kraken King is unique to this story. The author does a wonderful job creating an immediate connection to the characters and the story.
I completely enjoyed Zenobia and Ariq’s first meeting when he helps rescue her. I adore how impressed Ariq is with Zenobia... How he is sexually attracted to her, but it's her humor and intelligence that draws him in. I also appreciate that having recognized Ariq to be the notorious Kraken King, Zenobia does not discredit him, and although she remains leery, is open to learning all she can from Ariq. The pair have an immediate, innocent attraction that is so much more than physical.
It is amazing how deeply and utterly engrossed I was by the end of the first part. The story quickly pulled me in, and after just a few short chapters, I was already emotionally tied to Zenobia, Ariq, and their journey. The author creates such energy and focus on the main characters that I have no interest in finding out what is going on outside their immediate world.
The individual adventure of Part I is good, but it's evident that it's not over by a long shot. It doesn’t end with a cliffhanger, but rather leaves the reader primed for further adventures. As the first part in a larger story, The Kraken King and the Scribbling Spinster is written superbly: it drew me in and I want more, yet I was given enough meat to keep me satisfied for the week.(less)