Monstress is the first volume in a a historical fantasy graphic novel series, and it's amazing. Like, reallOriginally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
Monstress is the first volume in a a historical fantasy graphic novel series, and it's amazing. Like, really amazing. The artwork is gorgeous and the storyline is compelling and mysterious. Fantasy fans out there will rejoice at the sheer level of complexity of the world that has been created in this graphic novel.
is a teenage girl who's out for revenge. She orchestrates her own capture in order to infiltrate those she believes to have the information that she needs. Something has happened to Maika and she finds herself changing, becoming more violent as she's influenced by an unknown force. Maika struggles to control the monster that is living inside her, but it's a constant struggle and at this point Maika doesn't have much control over the mysterious creature the compels her to do things she wouldn't otherwise. The world that Liu creates in Monstress is fantastic. A war has ended, but the division that brought that war still exists. It's a division between those that naturally have magic and those that do not. Because of this division there's a constant tension between the two sides, and that could break at any time and erupt into war. Maika is at the centre of that tension because it's clear that she has something that both sides want. Maika's strange abilities set her apart from both sides and it's clear that that inner monster that she's providing a home to could change the tide for either side. The duality of Maika's nature ratchets up the suspense in Monstress since it's anyone's guess whether Maika will use her powers for good or ill. And, readers don't exactly know who the good guys are. I personally have my doubts about certain individuals.
While I did enjoy the storyline and the character of Maika, what really makes this such an impressive graphic novel is the artwork by Sana Takeda. Seriously, the art is beautiful, dark, and expressive. All the themes that the author is trying to get across is emphasized by the art; they are a perfect accompaniment to the story, enhancing the tension and meaning of the author's words. The art alone will have me coming back for volume two.
The last thing that I'll mention is that the novel offers some fantastic secondary characters. When Maika breaks herself out of lockup she rescues a fox faced girl who provides a sharp contrast to the jaded Maika. This little fox is an innocent, and her capacity to care for Maika is lovely. Then there's the two tailed cat, who is snarkily funny. This cat offers unsolicited advice to Maika, and Maika's attitude towards the cat is downright hilarious. The moments of humour in Monstress are unexpected, but add an interesting texture to the book.
Monstress offers readers a rich reading experience, introducing readers to a mysterious heroine and a complex world. There are so many unanswered questions by the end of volume one, it's impossible not to want to more. Monstress is the perfect read for fantasy graphic novel fans....more
The Duke of Daring is Darcy Burke's most recent historical romance and it features a cross-dressing heroineOriginally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
The Duke of Daring is Darcy Burke's most recent historical romance and it features a cross-dressing heroine who is prowling gambling dens in search of a fortune so that she and her grandmother can retire to Bath. What this heroine doesn't count on is having her disguise discovered. Let the romance games begin!
Our cross-dressing heroine is Miss Lucinda Parnell, a spinster who has failed at the Marriage Mart. With finances now strained for her and her grandmother Lucinda decides that she needs cash and she needs it now. Having learned games of chance from her father Lucinda's hit on one method to get rich quick; however, she doesn't count on Andrew Wentworth, the Earl of Dartford discovering that she is a woman or her own attraction to the man. Andrew, being the gentleman that he is, decides that Lucinda can't be entering disreputable gambling dens on her own and makes a deal with the lady to accompany her on her adventures. Naturally, this close contact leads to an attraction, and just as naturally, it leads both the hero and heroine forced to reconcile their desire for each other with their reluctance to enter into marriage.
For the most part, I enjoyed The Duke of Daring. It was a cute and quick read featuring a likeable hero and heroine. Neither Lucy or Andrew is looking for a relationship and I liked how these two eventually realized that their reluctance could be set aside in favour of a partnership. The interactions between both characters were great and I loved the witty sense of humour that could be found throughout the book. Despite everything that I liked about the book, I did think that something was missing. The conflict between Andrew and Lucy seemed a tad contrived and I found myself loosing a bit of interest at the halfway mark. Andrew and Lucy seemed to come to terms with their respective hang ups perhaps a touch too quickly considering how much they focused on them. So, while I still enjoyed the read, I did find it a bit forgettable after finishing the book.
The Duke of Daring is an entertaining historical romp that does what it's supposed to. While I personally found it lacking in substance, it is an entertaining read and will appeal to readers looking for a romance that is not overly complicated....more
Adeline Hays is on the verge of marriage to an odious man; this marriage is not something that she wants buOriginally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
Adeline Hays is on the verge of marriage to an odious man; this marriage is not something that she wants but something her father has arranged. To escape this unwanted marriage, Adel decides a compromising is in order, only she compromises herself with the wrong man! Instead of finding her way into the room of her preferred suitor, Adel finds herself in the arms of Edmond Rochester, the duke of Wolverton. I do love a "compromised" theme in my historical romance and Accidentally Compromising the Duke delivers just that.
While neither Adel nor Edmond thought to marry each other, after all they didn't even know each other, they both decide to make the best of the situation. For Adel, this is because her former suitor is scandalized by Adel's actions, and for Edmond, he'll take any wife since he simply needs a mother for his daughters. Unbeknownst to Adel, Edmond has no intention of making Adel his wife in truth, instead wanting theirs to be a white marriage. Sadly for Edmond, Adel has absolutely no intention of letting him off the hook, especially as she learns more about her intriguing and attraction new husband.
Accidentally Compromising the Duke is a fun historical romance featuring one of my favourite tropes. I loved the fact that Adel is initially reluctant to accept Edmond's marriage proposal because, you know, she just met the man. From there, the author spends a good deal of time allowing for Adel to get to know her new husband, which leads to a more realistic romance between them. Edmond in particular has a lot of issues with his new marriage, and it's his past with his deceased wife that adds drama to their budding romance. Edmond's first wife died in childbirth and it's not something that Edmond wants to go through again.
While Edmond's inner turmoil about his first wife's death and his attraction towards his new wife brings tension to the romance, Edmond's insistence on maintaining a specific marriage dynamic of his choosing was a little over the top. I felt that Edmond held on to his notions about what his new marriage should be like for too long. When the unexpected happens, Edmond takes off leaving Adel when she needs him most. I'm not opposed to the action, but I would have a liked a deeper exploration of the ultimate resolution between Edmond and Adel. Edmond had his reasons for maintaining his distance from Adel and it felt to me that these reasons were overcome a little too quickly and continued to be a problem for a little too long.
If you too enjoy a good old fashioned compromised tale, Accidentally Compromising the Duke is sure to appeal. The characters are appealing and the drama between the couple will keep you engaged until the very end....more
I snapped up Paper Girls solely because I've really enjoyed Vaughn's Sagagraphic novel series. I knew absoOriginally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
I snapped up Paper Girls solely because I've really enjoyed Vaughn's Sagagraphic novel series. I knew absolutely nothing about Paper Girls when I jumped in, but this retro read was a lot of fun.
Paper Girls features four young women who deliver papers in a suburban neighbourhood. They are the first female delivery girls. Because these ladies are harassed on their beat, they team up to get their job done and on the night in question some strange happenings occur, including an alien invasion.
Quite simply, Paper Girls is a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the rollicking adventure that is Paper Girls. In their own way the paper girls are trailblazers. They are the first of their kind as lady paper delivery persons. On the fateful night that these girls team up, they find themselves doing more than delivering the news: they're fighting back against an alien invasion! This is a tricky thing in the suburbs.
Volume one combines issues one through five, so readers get a good snapshot at the direction the series is heading. However, I personally didn't find the storytelling as rich as Vaughn's Saga series. There's humor and adventure in Paper Girls, but it wasn't as complex as Saga, which might simply be because this is a brand new series. I'm willing to continue on with the adventures of the paper girls, but at this point, it's not holding my attention in the same way as the space-set Saga. Time will tell.
The other element that I thought was great was the retro vibe that Paper Girls had going for it. Paper Girls is set in the 1980s and the artwork and the dialogue reflect that. As a result, Paper Girls has a huge dose of nostalgia running through it and I think that will appeal to many readers.
PaperGirls is a fun first installment in a retro-inspired graphic series. The characters are foul-mouthed and entertaining and for that alone, I think this series is worth the read....more
The concept of this alternative San Fransisco where humans have gained strange abilities is an intriguing oOriginally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
The concept of this alternative San Fransisco where humans have gained strange abilities is an intriguing one, as is the fact that a select few in this world have developed powers, and some are even able to channel those abilities into a sensational career as a superhero. Evie's best friend since childhood, Annie, was able to successfully transform herself into Aveda Jupiter, San Fransisco's beloved heroine because of her telekinetic powers she developed after an earthquake. Of course, every heroine worth her salt needs a back up team, and that's where Evie comes in. Evie, with powers of her own, prefers to stay out of the limelight, managing the more mundane aspects of Aveda's life and basically ignoring the fact that she even has powers. However, when Aveda is injured Evie is forced to take centre stage and start to reconcile her own feelings towards her volatile abilities.
As I said, the premise for Heroine Complex is fantastic as is the emphasis on the self-discovery Evie goes through and her co-dependent relationship with her best friend. The internal character development hooked me, as did the romance element featuring the mysterious science nerd, Nate. I wanted to love this book, I really did. But, I struggled to finish this one. I wanted to like everything about this book, but my attention failed to be captured by Evie and her adventures. For me, I think this is partly due to the fact that there was perhaps too much emphasis on the larger conflict and why this alternative San Fransisco is the way it is. Combine this world building with lots of action packed fights and I was lost. I'm never going to be a reader that likes a blow-by-blow accounting of a fight scene, and in the case of Heroine Complex there was just too much of this for me to truly feel engaged by the characters. I'm chalking my ambivalence towards this one to personal taste - you can't win them all.
So, if you like you reading fast-paced and action-packed and have a preference for snarky, awkward, earnest, and funny heroines, Evie and her band of eccentrics will be sure to please in Heroine Complex. Readers who have an appreciation for the superhero genre will also be entertained with how the author plays around with the concept of identity creation and the superhero, especially in the age of social media. Lots to like in Heroine Complex if it's your particular brand of catnip....more
There's absolutely nothing wrong with this book. The writing is lush and atmospheric. The characters strong and compelling. So why didn't I finish theThere's absolutely nothing wrong with this book. The writing is lush and atmospheric. The characters strong and compelling. So why didn't I finish the book? For me, this would have been a much more engaging read had I not read Cruel Beauty. There were way too many similarities plot-wise between this and Cruel Beauty that I lost interest. ...more
Elizabeth Sloane is a well-bred socialite; however, as readers soon discover, there's more to Elizabeth th Originally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
Elizabeth Sloane is a well-bred socialite; however, as readers soon discover, there's more to Elizabeth than fashion, gossip, and social calls. Elizabeth is looking for more out of life than her station offers. Instead, Elizabeth wants to open her own stock trading company, in part, due to the fact that her brother's company appears to be in trouble, and also because she wants to put her brain to work. When her brother denies her wish to open shop, Elizabeth approaches Emmett Cavanaugh, a rich and powerful figure that rose from the slums of Five Points to Fifth Avenue. Little does Elizabeth know that Emmett is no friend of her brothers and decides to help her open her company for reasons of his own.
Initially, Elizabeth and Emmett conspire to create a business partnership; however, private dinners and conspiring family members soon transform this arrangement into a compromising situation. One hasty wedding later, Elizabeth and Emmett are unhappily wed. There is an attraction between them, but multiple misunderstanding on the part of both parties work against the couple. At least, until a snow storm rolls into town...As an avid reader of the historical romance genre, it's refreshing to change the setting every once in awhile. In Magnate, readers are taken to New York in 1887 and immersed in the doings of high society. Since the bulk of my historical romance reading tends to be across the pond, Magnate was a refreshing read based on the setting alone. And the author does a really good job at using this setting to it's full advantage. Shupe includes tons of details about life in the Gilded Age New York, and this worked to create a heightened sense of place that isn't always present in the historical romance genre.
Apart from the setting, the characters were also compelling. I'm a sucker for the whole "compromised" trope and the author uses to complicate the relationship between Elizabeth and Emmett. There's a lot of turmoil on the part of both Elizabeth and Emmett after they've been forced to marry. Each questions the other's true thoughts about the marriage, which leads to a lot of misunderstanding between them. At times, I found the reliance on misunderstandings to be a touch tedious, but on the whole, it developed the relationship between Emmett and Elizabeth quite nicely.
Magnate marks the start of a great new series from this author. The characters are interested and developed and the sense of time and place are used as more than window dressing. If you're a fan of the "compromised" trope at all, Magnate is a must read....more
Jess Moulson is recovering from severe facial burns when she is transferred to Fellside, a women's prison. Originally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
Jess Moulson is recovering from severe facial burns when she is transferred to Fellside, a women's prison. Jess wakes to discover that her face has been burned beyond recognition and she has been charged with murder after setting her apartment ablaze. Learning that the fire she apparent started killed the young boy that lived her building, Jess doesn't put up a fight when she is sent to Fellside, and in fact, chooses to end her own life. However, soon after arriving at Fellside Jess begins to have doubts about her guilt in killing Alex, especially when his ghost tells her that she did not kill him. But, how can Jess investigate when she has turned down the support of her lawyers and is locked away?
Fellside is a book that is many things. Part mystery, part ghost story. But what I found to be most compelling about this prison drama is the way that the author connected Jess's narrative with other threads in the story. Jess is investigating the death of Alex as much as she can from within the walls of her prison, but she is also connected to larger events happening in the prison. The way that the author interweaves Jess's story with other inmates and support staff that work at the prison is masterful. One action on the part of a negligent nurse has consequences that reverberate throughout the entire novel. These connected moments is what makes Fellside something more than a mystery; it's also a novel that explores the consequences of one's actions and how those actions can impact others in ways you would never anticipant.
While the author's narrative connections are, for me, the strongest features of Fellside, I also found the ambiguity of Jess's ghostly interactions to be well done. From the start, it's clear that Jess has suffered a trauma after almost being burned alive. Jess's memories are faulty and because of that I think readers are forced to question her insistence that she is seeing Alex's ghost. However, the author skillfully continues to force the reader to consider that Jess is seeing Alex's ghost, such as including Jess's history of vivid dream walking when she was a child. Ultimately, readers are never really sure if Jess can be trusted. She doesn't remember setting fire to her apartment and she has a history of drug use. How can readers possibly trust this person's narrative? The author does a excellent job of forcing readers to really consider trusting Jess.
Fellside is not the ghost story or mystery that I was expecting, and that is a good thing. Fellside combines facets of multiple genres and bends them to creative a cohesive story that intrigues readers with its ambiguity. If you enjoy mysteries where you are left wondering the "real" truth, than Fellside is the read for you....more
Luck is No Lady is a historical romance that I was looking forward to because, hey, gambling den!
Emma Chadwick is a woman in dire straights. She's threatened by a moneylender that her father was in debt to when he died. Due to this financially stressed circumstances (it cost a lot to launch your sisters in society) Emma needs to find employment. Fast.
A gently bred woman finding respectable employment is no easy thing in the Regency era. Hence, Emma's eventual employment as a bookkeeper at a scandalous gambling hell. The owner of the club is Roderick Bentley, bastard son of an Earl, who hires Emma in order to discover how his previous bookkeeper was fleecing him out of his money. Emma is up to the mathematical challenge, but is less prepared for her attraction to the handsome owner of the club. The first half of Luck is No Lady is really, really good. The tentative attraction Emma feels towards Roderick is done very well. As is Emma's conflicted feelings about her attraction towards Roderick. As the primary caregiver of her two younger sisters, Emma shoulders a lot of responsibility, despite the fact that her sisters are of an age when they could help and support her. Due to her responsibility, Emma has led a rather sheltered live and is unprepared for her reaction to Roderick. That tension between the two main characters was beautifully done in the first half of the book and I was captivated.
For me, the momentum in the first half of the book did not carry on to the second half of the book and I think a lot of that had to do with the hero himself. I'm sorry to say that Roderick Bentley became a bit of a bore. Don't get me wrong, there's a place for the upstanding hero in the romance genre. However, when you have two rather upstanding and responsible characters like Roderick and Emma there romance can be a bit, well, dull. Both Roderick and Emma were so wrapped up in their responsibilities that their romance kind of lost steam. The romantic tension that started so strong between the two of them faded a bit when the obstacle to their relationship was nothing more than their upstanding natures.
Another element that I found frustrating was Emma's reluctance to share the burdens of her father's debts with her sisters. I could have understood Emma's lone wolf mentality if her sisters were significantly younger than her, but both of them were old enough to be married. Old enough to marry but not old enough to solve a very real financial problem? Emma's insistence on marrying of her sisters and not asking them for help didn't really make sense. Combine Emma's determination to go it alone with Roderick's determination that he wasn't good enough for Emma and you have a duo that lost it's magic.
Luck is No Lady had a lot of potential. The first half was great, filled with great tension between two intriguing main characters. Unfortunately, Emma and Roderick became flat characters that changed little throughout the narrative. While disappointed, I enjoyed the writing style and will check out the author's next book in the series....more
The Bride Behind the Curtain is the first in what appears to be a three-part series. After reading the firs Originally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
The Bride Behind the Curtain is the first in what appears to be a three-part series. After reading the first part, I believe that each part is novella length and features a different romantic couple. Considering the open ending to Bride Behind the Curtain, I think it's safe to assume that all three novellas are going to be strongly tied to one another.
Bride Behind the Curtain started out really strong. Awkward wallflower meets devilishly handsome Frenchman and an unexpected romance ensues. Adele Edmundson is that wallflower and James Beauclaire the French expatriate. After a happenstance meeting, the pair can't stop thinking about each other. For Adele's part, she doesn't believe that such a dashing and handsome man could be attracted to her. And for James' part, he should be on the lookout for a malleable heiress to support his impoverished family. Of course, neither gets what they bargained for. I really liked the beginning of Bride Behind the Curtain. Adele and James were great characters and the romantic tension that the author created between the two of them was perfection. The setup was great, and I also liked the fact that Adele started to develop her own confidence separate from James. They were worried about a scandal if they were "together" in public too soon and that reasoning worked in Adele's favour, allowing her time to develop her own confidence. I appreciate the fact that the romance doesn't solve either Adele or James' problems.
At about the halfway mark, I felt that the novella lost it's steam. Adele and James are quick to declare their love for each other, which is always a little suspect in the novella format. However, what I found most troublesome was the fact that in the later half the two didn't really spend that much time together. The fell in love quickly. Fine. But there was nothing to substantiate those feelings. I guess absence makes the heart grow fonder?
I also wasn't expecting Bride Behind the Curtain to end so inconclusively. When I learned of the author's three novellas, I simply assumed that they were three interconnected novellas: short, but complete. However, the Regency Makeover trilogy reads more like a serial novel in three parts than three separate novellas. I am not a fan of the serial format, so I wasn't thrilled about the way Bride Behind the Curtain ended.
Would I read the next two installments? That's a tricky question. I really liked the characters that the author created and I'm curious to learn more about the other ladies the author is going to focus on. However, the format overall is a real turn off for me. Perhaps if I could read the entire collection at once...
At any rate, I enjoyed the writing style of the author and that alone make me interested in other titles by Darcie Wilde. Since I also have an advance copy of Wilde's historical mystery, A Useful Woman, I am suddenly wanting to shuffle my to-read list to move that one closer to the top....more
I’ve been on a bit of a romantic suspense kick as of late (see Shattered Duty), so Robards’ Darkness really appealed. Stranded on a desolate island in Alaska, plus a mysterious hot dude, what wouldn’t work? For me, something was missing. The setting and thriller elements were off the charts, but the romance was a little lackluster.
Dr. Gina Sullivan is an ornithologist studying the wildlife on Attu island and when a plane crashes pretty much right next to her, Gina finds herself battling memories of her own tragic plane crash and rescuing the lone survivor. Cal is the only survivor of the plane crash and when he refuses to give Gina information about himself or the crash and then turns his suspicion on her, Gina is ready to leave the guy the freeze. Then that pesky conscience intervenes. And before any real trust can build, Gina and Cal are on the run from some sketchy military type folks who are intent on killing any person that’s on the island. Let the games begin.
It’s hard to rate Darkness because it can be read as two different things. On one hand, Darkness is a thriller. Gina and Cal are running for their lives quite literally. Compounding matters is the fact that they are on an island, so there are only so many places that they can go to escape their pursuers (hence the plane to steal a plane). On the other hand, Darkness is also a romance. From the start Gina and Cal are attracted and suspicious of one another; at the end of the day, the attraction tips over the suspicion and the inevitable happens. From my perspective, I felt that the novel skewed to heavily towards the thriller spectrum when I would have preferred a more developed romance. When you’re running for your life with some dude you just met, there’s clearly not a heck of a lot of time for the whole courtship thing.
The romance is further complicated by the fact that Gina is still recovering from the death of her husband, father and sister in the plane crash that she survived. Obviously this is a big deal in any future relationship Gina chooses to pursue, but how the past was dealt with by Cal and Gina just made the resolution of the past a token discussion so that their romance could move on. Like I said, I think there could have been a little more depth here. And lastly, I just have to ask: are snow pants ever sexy? Cal spends a fair bit of time admiring Gina in her outwear and I just have to wonder. Really? Snow gear has to be the most unflattering outfit out there. I'm not buying it.
What I thought was done really well was the actually setting of Attu Island. I'm a big fan of fiction exploring more exotic locales, so that was part of the attraction for me in picking up Darkness. The author does a great job of delving into the scenery of Attu as well as the history of the island. This was a really cool setting to place the book and will appeal to armchair travel fans. I was especially intrigued by the history of the island as a place of battle during the Second World War. For more information about the Battle of Attu, check out History.com.
For those that like more suspense in their romantic suspense, Darkness is a fun read. It's formulaic but it adds some interest by showcasing a remote and unknown location in Alaska. In the romance department, I personally found Darkness underwhelming. Snow pants aren't sexy and no one's convincing me otherwise. ...more
I’ve been a fan of Griffin’s Tracersseries since I discovered her on audiobook. When I had the chance at an advance copy of book ten, well, there was no waiting on the audio format. Everything I love about Griffin’s series was here: romance, mystery, and suspense. And, Griffin hooks readers from page one, immersing readers into the terrifying experience of a home invasion.
Laney Knox was attacked in her home two years ago. Laney managed to escape, but so did the intruder and it seems that other woman have not been so lucky. When a former co-worker is murdered, Laney reaches out to the investigating officer, Reed Novak. Unfortunately, Reed is less than impressed with Laney’s methods and her penchant for evasion. Despite their differences, it soon becomes clear that Laney does have essential information about the case, but she wants to participate fully before giving it all up. Needless to say, detective Novak isn't pleased with Laney’s withholding of information, while at the same time he feels drawn to the young woman.
If you’ve not read a Laura Griffin book before, you soon come to realize that Griffin effortlessly combines a mystery and romance. The balance between these two genres is handled really well, and I would say that it sways closer to the mystery/thriller side if I had to give a definitive answer. At the end of the day a serial killer is on the loose and that’s kind of a little bit more important than the burgeoning romance between our hero and heroine, as it should be. But, that’s not to say that the romance isn’t done well.
Like Griffin’s previous books in the series, romance is a big part of the book. And, in Deep Dark I found it particularly compelling considering that it was between two seemingly mismatched characters. Laney’s twenty-four, a computer hacker that skirts the law, likes high-top sneakers and has colourful hair. Not exactly someone that you would obviously put with Reed, a thirty-nine year old, jaded detective that favours dress pants and button-down shirts. So, based on description alone, you wouldn’t assume that these two go together. But, the author really makes this relationship work, examining why these opposites attract. Even with the rather important hunt for a serial killer going on, Griffin does not skimp out on the important parts of a romance (FYI – it’s more than a sex scene).
Lastly, Griffin once again proves that she knows how to the write suspense. From the first page, I was immersed in the suspense. There was something so terrifying about being part of Laney’s home invasion. Her fear is the readers fear. The first chapter set the tone of Deep Dark and from then on in it was a race to the finish line for Laney and Reed to discover who is behind these murders.
Fans of Griffin will not be disappointed by Deep Dark. For those that especially enjoyed Twisted (book 5 of the Tracers series), I think they will find the characters particularly appealing. While obviously different characters, both Reed and Laney reminded me of Mark and Allison. And not just because of the whole May-December relationship thing. Romantic suspense fans, you wont want to miss Deep Dark....more
London Gambit is Tracy Grant’s latest Suzanne and Malcolm Rannoch historical adventure. In this outing, Suz Originally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
London Gambit is Tracy Grant’s latest Suzanne and Malcolm Rannoch historical adventure. In this outing, Suzanne and Malcolm are investigating a number of things. First, Malcolm is called to the scene of the murder, only to discover that the man found dead is a former military man and found in a warehouse connected with a previous investigation. Second, Suzanne learns of potential plot to free Napoleon, which could put her and her family at risk, considering that she is a former French spy. And if that wasn’t enough, it seems that the murder just might hit closer to home than Malcolm originally thought when a personal friend seems to be keeping secrets. Luckily, Malcolm and Suzanne have their trusted (and unofficial) band of investigators to help them discover the truth.
Since reading Vienna Waltz, I have been a huge fan of Grant’s series. I love the intersection of character driven drama and the integration of historical fact. While all of that is present in London Gambit, it is clear that this latest addition marks a shift in the series. I think the shift will prove to be a good one. It’s been a long time since Malcolm and Suzanne have left London, so I am inclined to be interested where their investigations will take them considering the ending of London Gambit. I think the shift in the series will also breath some fresh air into the series. As much as I have enjoyed the previous books, it seems that Malcolm and Suzanne have been struggling with the same issues over and over again. This is the second time that I have noticed a significant shift, the first being when Malcolm discovered that Suzanne was a spy for his country’s enemy. That first shift created some tension in the Rannoch’s marriage and I think this latest change will also challenge the characters as well as interest readers of the series.
London Gambit also offers a closer look at some of the characters that Grant has introduced over the course of the series, most notably Malcolm best friend David and his lover Simon. The inclusion of secondary characters’ perspectives is something that I have long enjoyed about Grant’s writing style, and her latest book is no exception. While some could claim that the multitude of narrative points of view hamper the plot, I actually think it helps to develop the characters of Malcolm and Suzanne. Through these other characters, readers get to learn how Malcolm and Suzanne are viewed, giving readers additional information. Not to mention that these are characters that readers have come to love in their own right (Harry and Cordelia, anyone?). Over the course of this series this list of characters has grown, but if you're a longtime fan of the series, this is something that you will enjoy.
If you’re a reader of Grant’s series you wont want to miss out on the latest adventure featuring former spies, Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch. If you’re a historical mystery fan, I suggest that you don’t jump into the series wherever. At this point in the series, there is so much that is dependent on the previous books that it’s a must to start at the beginning. Luckily the author has a handy guide to her series on her website to help you get started....more
Flight of Dreams tackles the crash of the Hindenburg, an event that I know little about. Lawhon fictionalizes the events that lead up to the famous crFlight of Dreams tackles the crash of the Hindenburg, an event that I know little about. Lawhon fictionalizes the events that lead up to the famous crash, creating her own version of why the zeppelin exploded in New York. Considering the inescapable fate of the Hindenburg, I was not expecting to be so caught of in the suspense of Lawhon’s version of events. The Hindenburg is going to crash and some of the characters that readers meet are going to die. There is no escaping this fact. But, Lawhon gives readers such a compelling and human story about the people who were on board, and it’s the human element that captured and held my attention throughout.
Lawhon relates the events of the crash through five main characters: the Stewardess, the Journalist, the Navigator, the American, and the Cabin Boy. The days leading up the crash are all told through these character’s duties and interactions with one another. And, through these characters readers also get a sense of the tensions of the period. It’s 1937, only a few years before the outbreak of war; however, the consequences of the Great War are still looming large. In fact, the American is enraged that his brother died during the bombing at Coventry and the Hindenburg is his chance to get revenge, dooming the lives of many aboard the zeppelin.
Despite the grim subject matter, Flight of Dreams is a compelling read. I continually found myself thinking “just one more chapter” and then I would put the book down and get on with life. It never quite happened that way. The storytelling in Flight of Dreams was superb and the choice by the author to relate events through specific characters worked really well. But, what really keeps you engaged is the fact that it’s never forgotten that the Hindenburg is going to crash. Throughout the book, readers are given the countdown in days, hours, and minutes until the explosion. It’s impossible not to get wrapped up in the fate of the five characters Lawhon introduces you to. Who will survive? In tying this question to specific people, Lawhon forces the reader to really consider the implications of the crash. It’s not some dry historical event that happened long ago. In Flight of Dreams the event gains immediacy with those who are on the ship. Fans of historical fiction that tackle a true event will be engrossed with Flight of Dreams.
To Lure a Proper Lady is the first of a new series from historical romance author Ashlyn Macnamara. This bo Originally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
To Lure a Proper Lady is the first of a new series from historical romance author Ashlyn Macnamara. This book had me as soon as it was revealed that the hero would be a Bow Street Runner. Class conflict? Count me in!
Lady Elizabeth Wilde has sought out the assistance of the famed Bow Street Runners when she suspects that her father is being poisoned. Unfortunately, her first meeting of Dysart doesn't exactly demonstrate his competence. Despite her first impression, Elizabeth agrees with Dysart's plan to discover the poisoner. And Elizabeth learns that there's much more going on below the surface of Dysart's rough facade. The majority of Lure a Proper Lady takes place at Elizabeth's home during a house party her ill father demands be held. Elizabeth's father, convinced of his imminent death, would love to see his daughters settled before he shuffles off to his mortal coil. Unfortunately for Elizabeth, she is none too fond of her father's choice and much too intrigued by the mysterious Dysart and his unexpected knowledge of the ways of the upper echelon. And when, through the course of their investigation, they're thrown together again and again, it's all too clear that both are willing to cast aside their very different social statuses and act on their attraction.
For the most part, I enjoyed To Lure a Proper Lady. The premise was good and the romance between the two main characters was done well. The mystery of the poisoner didn't overwhelm the plot, nor did I expect it to in a romance. The romance was definitely the main focus of the story, as were the hang ups of the characters. In particular, it was Dysart's attitude that I found somewhat tiring. Throughout the majority of the book Dysart continually laments the fact that he's not good enough for Elizabeth. He's not of the same class; hence, they have no future together. Yeah that makes sense, but I personally felt that this concern got old. Dysart needed to get some self confidence and trust that Elizabeth knew what she was doing by getting involved with him. For me, the conflict of the classes dragged out far too long, especially when it didn't seem like all that much of an obstacle by the end of the book.
Other than wanting more meat to the class difference in the romance, I enjoyed To Lure a Proper Lady. I really enjoyed the stark differences in the seemingly proper Lady Elizabeth and the brash Dysart. They're interactions with one another were done very well and the author shows a great talent in creating romantic chemistry between her two leads. To Lure a Proper Lady is a nice, romantic read with just a hint of mystery....more
A Gift for Guile is the second in Johnson’s Thief Takers series. As much as I enjoyed the first one, I think I have to admit that I liked A Gift for Guile just a tad bit more. Intrigued by the character of Esther Walker Bales in A Talent for Trickery, I was curious to see how the author would pull off a romance between a cunning woman and a private investigator. Let me tell you, it really, really worked.
Esther Walker has come to London to make amends. However, London is the last place she should be because of her and her family’s disreputable past. Esther’s father was a con artist and unbelievably as it sounds, Esther was his muscle. Despite her small stature, Esther is a wizard with knives and that was all it took for her father to put her to work as an accomplice. Now that her father is dead, Esther can move forward and away from her past, which means that she wants to meet her biological father. The problem is that Esther is all too recognizable in London and if she’s discovered she could be in big trouble especially with her father’s enemies.
Sir Samuel Brass is a private investigator and years ago he and his business partners allowed the Walker family to inform for the police. Now that Esther’s sister has married one of Samuel’s business partners his concern for Esther is a little more personal. Tracking down Esther in London when she goes missing, Samuel insists on assisting her in her mission despite the fact that he would much rather her be safe and sound in the country. Naturally, Esther refuses to put up with Samuel’s protective instincts and feels queer in his presence, after all, she’s a former criminal and he's a former police officer. How could he possibly accept her more fluid approach to the law?
As a romance, I really, really enjoyed A Gift for Guile. It features a woman struggling to find herself and reconcile who she is today with who she was in the past. She’s frightened of being judged and not accepted for who she is, and her clumsy suitor doesn’t help matters when he can’t quite explain that he does, in fact, like her for who she is. Esther’s path of discovery was a highlight in A Gift for Guile. There was something about her struggle for who she is on her own when she’s not responding to other’s expectations that just seems so authentic. Esther’s desire for affection from her father and others has led her to believe that she can’t be considered a priority:
Esther was second-best. She was a filler, a stand-in until something better came along, or came back. She wasn’t good enough to keep. She wasn’t worth fighting for. And whatever approval and acceptance she might garner were undeserved, and temporary.
She could and would be replaced at the earliest opportunity (p. 249).
The fact that Esther truly believes that she will never be the most important thing to anyone is tough. But, what I liked about the novel is the path that Esther takes to realize that she does deserve to be a priority. While a large part of this has to do with her relationship with Samuel, it also has a lot to do with her own introspection and consideration of her past actions. When Esther accepts her past, even those parts that she’s ashamed of, she can finally see herself as someone worthwhile. It was a great journey for a reader to be part of.
While Esther is by far the more complex character in A Gift for Guile Samuel Bass was a perfect foil for her. There’s a lot to like about this clumsy, bearish, over protective private investigator, most especially his willingness to let Esther do things on her own terms. Samuel doesn’t always say the right thing, he doesn’t exactly have a way with words, but eventually he gets where he needs to go as it concerns Esther. Ultimately, what I liked about their romance was that it was about each of them just making the effort for one another. All too often the romance genre skips over real issues and that wasn’t the case in A Gift for Guile. Instead Samuel and Esther actually talk about their problems and how it impacts their relationship. It doesn’t always go well, but they keep trying, which is appealing in a genre that is often flooded with the grand gesture. A big, dramatic scene between the couple is all well and good (and there is lots of drama in A Gift for Guile), but the presence of a real dialogue between the hero and heroine goes a long way in cementing the romance element of the book.
Strong characters aside, there is also a fabulous sense of humour prevalent throughout the book. Samuel and Esther do not initially start out liking each other; there’s a lot of animosity between them when Esther discovers that Samuel has followed her to London and would like to dictate her investigation. That tension fuels a lot of witty barbs between these two, a particular favourite is when Samuel tries to lecture Esther on the risk she takes in coming to London:
“Heavens, I’d quite forgotten,” she drawled in a voice that could only be described as sweetly caustic. “Thank goodness you are here to remind me of all the little details of my life.”
God, she was infuriating. “Esther -“
“You’re rather like my very own talking diary” (p. 10).
Sarcasm and Esther get along really well.
If you enjoy your historical romance filled with strong characters and more of an emphasis on the relationship building part of the romance, A Gift for Guile will not disappoint. Bring on more from Alissa Johnson!...more