Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn


Ten Things I Love About You
(Bevelstoke #3)

By Julia Quinn

Annabel Winslow is in a pickle. Having newly arrived in London for her first season and being in possession of a voluptuous figure, is being openly courted the the Earl of Newbury, who is at least 75 and a nasty brute to boot. Annabel does not want to marry him, of course, but feels that she has no choice since her father has recently died and left the whole family, including Annabel's mother her 7 siblings, almost destitute.

Then, while attending a party in the countryside, Annabel met Sebastian Grey, the Earl of Newbury's nephew. And suddenly she found herself not only courted by the lecherous uncle, but also the charming young nephew. Should she follow her heart so that she can be with the one she loves, or should she marry the loathsome earl just so she can put food on the table for her family and make sure that her brothers get to stay in school?


I LOVED THIS. Ah, Sebastian! He's so funny...he's so witty, he's so charming! Gosh, I think I loved him more than Harry, the hero in What Happens in London (Bevelstoke), which is really saying something.

Sebastian has a secret. We know from the beginning what that secret is and it's delicious!

His uncle is still a very bad guy. He has lost his son, the heir to the earldom and he REFUSES to let the title go to Sebastian. For his part, Sebastian doesn't really care about it. He's got family, friends and enough money to get by with, you know, because of his secret.

Unfortunately Annabel needs to marry well. Really well. Her father has recently died and she's the oldest of eight siblings. The boys need to continue their education and the girls will all need dowries. Her grandparents, who have ponied up for a season, have decided to sell her off to a nasty old earl. He wants her because it looks like her hips are wide enough to carry children, preferable a BOY and SOON.

There's a scene where he corners her and molests her. I wanted to jump into the book and deal with him myself.

Once again Ms. Quinn made me laugh out loud. I was chuckling and snorting into my shoulder, trying to keep some kind of decorum. But it was not to be. There are some FUNNY lines in here. I truly love her style and the way she blends a bit of angst and the humor. Such a lovely balance.
Okay, now that this one is done, we must find an HEA for Louisa!!!
 
This one is most definitely a FIVE BOOKMARK read!


This is a series, but one can read them on their own. Here are the first two:

The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever (Bevelstoke #1)
What Happens in London (Bevelstoke #2) Ms. Quinn makes me laugh OUT LOUD. This book was no exception. Harry was exquisite. I love him almost as much as Olivia does!

Connect with Julia Quinn:
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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (Guest Review)

 


By Rainbow Rowell

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.

I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.


Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.


First of all I have to say that I am the "big" girl with crazy red hair who married the half-Korean boy who never quite fit in. I like to say that the characters were based on myself and my husband.  Anyway, on to the story.

I'm sitting here wondering how a girl like me, a total HEA kind of gal, can read this book and the only word that comes to mind is PERFECTION. The writing style is flawless. The characters are more authentic than any I've ever read. The emotions are almost physical in their nature. This book is just fabulous. 

Park's mom is written with a frightening degree of accuracy. She is the embodiment of my Korean mother-in-law, if Lee were an Avon sales lady from the 1980's. 

Park is the unequaled in the world of fiction. He has a sharp dislike for Eleanor at first and has a tendency to be outright rude to her. As we learn more about Park, we see that his initial reaction to Eleanor is a direct result to being half Asian in a predominately white environment. He didn't understand why she would dress in a way that makes her stand out, a complaint he ponders often in the beginning. To someone who has spent his life trying to fit in, her choices are a mystery. As the story moves forward, Park begins to accept and eventually love these very qualities about Eleanor. It is these seemingly outrageous decisions that cause him to tell her that she's the bravest person that he knows.

And Eleanor...God bless Eleanor in all of her Big Red crazy-haired glory. It is through Eleanor's character and Park's reactions to her that I was able to think back to the early days of dating my husband and see what it is that he was able to see in me.


FIVE BOOKMARKS for Eleanor & Park!


aidanmomma
Guest Reviewer
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*If you have a book that you LOVE and would like to share your review here, contact me and I'll host you! aidanmomma is going to be sharing her reviews with us each Wednesday afternoon.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Seducing the Beast by Jayne Fresina



Seducing the Beast

By Jayne Fresina

Some men are born to make dynasties and some women are born to make trouble. Hellbent on arranging a pardon for her exiled cousin, Madolyn Carver will stop at nothing to achieve her aim, even if it means seducing the mysterious Earl of Swafford. So what if he's known as "The Beast" and is immensely powerful? Plucky Maddy isn't frightened off easily. Returned home after too long abroad, The Beast also has a mission. He must remove his younger brother and heir to the vast Swafford estate from the clutches of a most unsuitable woman. When a misunderstanding leads him to mistake Maddy for his brother's cunning mistress, he takes her captive under the guise of The Beast's manservant. Now she can longer be a threat to his misguided brother's future, or so he thinks. And surely, The Beast's infamous iron will can resist the charms of one particularly disobedient, witty, intriguingly stubborn young woman.But there is a far greater danger. A deadly assassin has come to the Swafford estate, and The Beast's fear of falling in love might just be his downfall. Maddy, the woman he won't trust, is the one innocent soul who can save his life--and his heart.


This book has romance tropes. BUT this author put them in a blender and said: Take THAT, reader!

And it works for the most part.

She twists and turns plot devices to keep things fresh, and me clicking through my kindle. I'm shocked that there aren't more reviews for this winner. If you like my review on Amazon, maybe you could click that like button?

Griff, aka the Earl of Swafford, aka The Beast...is knocked off his feet when he sees Madolyn Carver knocked off hers. As he lifts her out of the melee, she crawls the rest of the way up his body and uses him as a perch as she tried to spot the Earl in the procession making it's way down the street. That's when he starts to tumble.

They run into each other three times in all, once when he fishes her out of the Thames.

A case of drunken mistaken identity later and that's when the fun begins.

I thought she'd run...but she didn't. She was refreshingly honest, both in her needs and her wants. I liked that.

I figured out who the villain was right off. But that didn't deter me from watching the scenes play out.

There were a couple of plot threads that unraveled and didn't quite work out. They didn't detract much from the story either.

To not SPOIL something, I was totally mouth open shocked at one point. And it was great! What fun!

Griff is married when he stumbled upon Maddie. He's been married for 18 years. You know how we read about the girl's first hideous time? Well, Griff's wedding night is the stuff of nightmares. Does that make adultery okay? Not really. But there is a BUT...this works, at least for me. And I'm really anti-adultery. For some reason the fact that many men of the time had mistresses and the way GRIFF does this, made me sympathetic to his plight. Weird of me, for sure. For the record, Maddie didn't know he was married to begin with.

Again, it was like Ms. Fresina put romance tropes in a blender...pulsed them a time or three...and then started to write. A very fresh view of things.


Thank you, Ms. Fresina, this was fabulous!
Definitely FIVE BOOKSMARKS from me!



*I bought this one with my own money.

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lightning Rider by Jen Greyson




 

For Evy Rivera, thunderstorms have always caused her physical pain, but she's never known why. When a record-setting storm arrives on the same night her father finds ancient ancestral documents, Evy is set aglow with mysterious tiny lightnings she can command.

Even worse, she alerts some people in the universe who've been looking for her family for a very long time.

Thrown back into ancient Spain and tasked with killing a Spanish legend, she must train alongside Constantine, a sexy yet obstinate Roman warrior. He teaches her how to wield her lightning as a weapon, through more errors than trials. With a relationship as explosive as their late-night training sessions, Evy and Constantine battle their push-pull relationship while trying to ignore the two-thousand-year difference in their birthdates.

Ilif Rotiart, her quasi-mentor, is appalled at Evy's skill. He would prefer to train her father and keep Evy on the sidelines—where women belong. Evy has a feeling Ilif is keeping something from them, but she must play nice until she uncovers the truth. And if he's lying, it will be the worst day of his four-hundred-year life.

Penya Sepadas claims she's Evy's rightful trainer, and she has the prophecy to prove it. Penya doesn't share Ilif's misogynistic attitude, but she does have her own agenda...and her own secrets.

Evy must sort through the lies and find the truth behind her family's time-traveling past before the wrong history obliterates the future. She’s spent her whole life fighting for her place. Now, as the first female lightning rider, she'll dedicate her existence to fighting to save the world.

But will Evy learn to manage her lightning and find the truth before it's too late?




I'm quite fond of the time travel genre, even though sometimes it can make my head hurt! Ms. Greyson helped me avoid aspirin because the two time lines were so far apart. Evy starts out in 2013 and jumps back to something like 140 BC. Very easy to keep the two threads separate.

Of course, the hot guy was in the past. And what a guy he is. Constantine is a warrior and he needs to train Evy to use her lightning as a defense...and maybe as a weapon. He keeps wondering if she's a sorceress as he feels like she's cast a spell over him. That has to be it, right? Otherwise why would he, the mighty warrior, feel the need to be with her? Guys...so clueless!

This training is hard for Evy. She's always run from confrontation, commitment, anything difficult. As her trainer, Penya, tells her, she must do what is right for the alterations that fate? the cosmos? the powers that be? insist is the right path.  Even if that path is to not save someone, but to end them.

Evy can use lightning as a bullwhip. What a woman! She's headstrong and one who waffles through life. It takes a bit of time for her to stand up and do what the lightning in her body insists is what's right for her.

This book has drama, romance, intrigue. Who can she trust? That is the question. Quite the exciting read, that's for sure. I kept wondering what the next time jump would show.

While I enjoyed the fact that Evy was riding lightning to and from places and times, I found a few issues with the timeline itself that didn't add up. There were also a few things that didn't quite mesh together with regard to characters and the facts of lightning riding. Of course, this is a new world and one needs to allow for "world building" and have faith that the next book will be a bit smoother.

And there will be a next book. Hurray! We get a snippet of that one at the end of this one. That's good, because I'm not finished with these characters yet.

Lightning Rider can be found at Amazon.

This one gets FOUR BOOKMARKS...
A new world to explore...
and a woman who uses lightning as a bullwhip!

*Thank you, NetGalley and TWCS, for the opportunity to read this ARC.

Connect with Jen Greyson:

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ethan by Grace Burrowes



Ethan

Book Three in the Lonely Lords Series

by Grace Burrowes

Ethan Grey's life was shattered...

Estranged from his family, widowed after an unhappy marriage, and weary from fighting his troubled past, Ethan Grey now has a chance for redemption. His sons' beautiful and remarkable governess might help him battle his ghosts, but it's been a long time since he let himself get close to anyone.

Alice Portman has more in common with Ethan than she can comfortably admit. For now, she's satisfied with helping him rebuild his life and family. But the dangerous past is about to catch up with them both.

An unforgettable Regency tale of two wounded people who get another chance at love. Award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes's extraordinary writing will immerse you in a Regency world unlike any you've experienced.

Pulled me in from the very first page. All of Ms. Burrowes LONELY LORDS books have characters that pop up in each book. It's always a JOY to see them. While this is Ethan's book, Nicholas is everywhere in it. I keep having a hard time deciding which Lonely Lord I like the best. Darius, Nicholas...or Ethan. Each book stands alone, but reading them as a series is a joy.

Ethan is wounded in spirit. We get little peeks into what caused his trauma. And it's scary.

Alice has physical and mental issues as well. Her hip was badly damaged at one point and as we get teased with how that came to be, I began to have a sneaking suspicion of who lay at the base of both of their hurts.

There's a BAD GUY. Yes, I'm putting that in all caps. The BAD GUY was very adroitly inserted into the narrative and my anxiety over him just kept growing. He was truly evil and his intentions made me shudder.

The journey of our H/h was a lovely one. I love that "governess and the lord finding each other" trope. There's just something about that one that appeals to me. Both Ethan and Alice need someone to love them, to hold them, to care. My heart clenched a few times over their path. I also laughed, out loud, a couple of times! I love when that happens in a book.

Add in two adorable little boys, Jeremiah and Joshua, and quick visits by Nicholas, and that makes this a very fine read. One of the best parts is that there are other siblings in the family, and I hope I get to read about each and every one of them.

FIVE BOOKMARKS!
This one made my heart clench...
 
*Thank you, NetGalley and Sourcebooks, for the opportunity to read ETHAN.


I posted my Reviews for Darius and Nicholas earlier today.

Nicholas by Grace Burrowes



Nicholas

Book Two in the Lonely Lords Series
By Grace Burrowes
 

Nicholas Haddonfield has something to hide...

After a wild youth, Nicholas Haddonfield, Viscount Reston, has promised his ailing father he'll finally take a bride, though doing so will force Nick to make impossible choices and face old, painful wounds.

Leah Lindsey is glad to find refuge from her own desperate situation in a marriage of convenience with the gallant viscount. But soon convenience is not enough, and Leah can't understand why Nick remains so distant. What is he hiding, and will he never allow her into his heart?

An extraordinary and passionate tale of courage tested and fears overcome. Once you enter the lush Regency world of award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes, you'll never want to leave.



This is book #2 in the Lonely Lords Series by Grace Burrowes. I loved the first one, Darius. There was some background things in that book that I wish had been explained. They mostly are in this one. It was interesting to see the overlap between the two books. The author didn't repeat a lot of it, just enough to make us aware of the two time lines marching together.

I don't often like to read stories where I already know the outcome. In Darius, I knew who Leah ends up with, and that's Nicholas. I was a bit leery about reading this one, since I knew how it would end. I was incredibly surprised and pleased that once I picked Nicholas up, I didn't want to put it down! Darius was dark...Nicholas is light and mostly cheerful.

He truly is a knight in shining armor. Nicholas loves small children, he loves his horse Buttercup, he loves women. Doesn't matter that he's about the size of a giant. His tender heart and sincerity shines through his interactions.

Leah needs him. Desperately. Her father is one of those characters that one loves to hate. And he truly is worthy of hatred.

Nicholas has some secrets. A couple of reasons for choosing to engage in a "white marriage." From the beginning we know that's what he's seeking. It's too bad his choice of bride is falling in love with him. Who wouldn't? He's adorable!  He really should have chosen some daft little twit who wouldn't care as long as she got that title.

Leah has secrets of her own, and I had wondered while reading Darius what those were. It's good to know, now. Although I had suspected a couple of them, I was surprised by others.

This is a long, involved journey for these two characters as they try to make their marriage work. We also get to know the MC of the next book, ETHAN. Yes, I want more of him, for sure! I've just discovered that Valentine has his own book: Virtuoso (The Duke's Obsession) which you can find HERE. I'm definitely going to check that one out, too. Valentine is a sweetheart!

I have taken one bookmark off because for such a smart guy, Nicholas really should have looked further into his reasons for wanting a white marriage. The reveal was a bit of a let down.


And yet, I still loved this one, too.
I will be reading portions of it again.
FOUR BOOKMARKS from me!


 
I will be adding ETHAN's review at 10 today.


*Thank you, NetGalley and Sourcebooks ~ Casablanca, for the opportunity to read Nicholas.


Connect with Grace Burrowes: 
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Darius by Grace Burrowes


Darius
Book One in the Lonely Lords Series

by Grace Burrowes



Desperate, penniless, and shunned by his wealthy father, Darius Lindsey begins offering himself secretly to jaded society ladies. He hangs onto his last shreds of honor, but he's losing ground financially each month.

That is until the aging Lord William Longstreet makes Darius an offer he can't refuse: get the Lord's pretty young wife-of-convenience, Lady Vivian, pregnant discreetly, and he will earn enough money to never want again. But problems lie ahead when the stunning Vivian captures his heart, and his clients refuse to let him go. Can Darius untangle himself without scandal and offer himself to Vivian heart and soul?

 
I loved this. LOVED it. I love Darius. I loved Vivvi. And Vivvi's husband? Lord William Longstreet? Yes, I loved him, too.
 
Darius is his brother's spare. His father isn't fond of him. Has cut him off from funds and despises him intensely. Dare has expenses that his small manor house and acres just can't support. While we don't find out how it comes about (and I'd rather like to know), Darius offers himself to ladies of the Ton, and right now he is working for two hideous women. He doesn't care about them. But they have deep pockets and his manor house needs a new roof. And he has that young by-blow (not his) to support.
 
Darius is a good man. He's been forced into this position. But he's still a very good man. Which brings him to the attention of Lord Longstreet and his young wife of convenience, Vivian.
 
Lord Longstreet needs a legitimate heir. He has this lovely, young wife, but his heart belongs to his deceased first wife, Muriel. They had two sons, who have also passed. William doesn't want his estate to be taken back by the crown, so he makes a list and asks Vivian to choose a young man (discreet, needful of coin, reasonably handsome) to get her with child, to enact baby-making on his wife. Yes, this trope pulled me IN. Which is kind of odd, as I don't like cheating books at all.

 
So, was this cheating? I truly hate cheating fics, and I loved this. Talking it over in my head, I know that her husband has encouraged this assignation. Darius has agreed to it. Vivian, though scared, agrees also. The only one hurt by this is the crown. And William really doesn't want them to profit by his death and he does want Vivian to be taken care of. He's a wily one, that William. He married Vivian to keep her safe from her step-father. He's EVIL. Gah!
 
In fact, there are a few evil folk in this book: Darius' current clients, the two harpies; Thurgood, Vivvi's stepfather; William's bastard's wife, Portia. Surprisingly, William's bastard is not a bad guy.  Plenty of bad guys to go around, that's for sure.
 
I was worried, a couple of times, about how this could end with that HEA we all read this type of book for. WORRIED, I tell you!
 
So, back to the baby-making. Vivian is shy. Darius calls her a Married Spinster. But he's rather enthralled with her. Knowing that at some point she is going to have to face the world without William, he decides that besides the baby making, he's going to bring her out of her spinsterhood. He cajoles her into buying a few new clothes, to stand tall and become the lioness that her child will need. And then he entices her to make babies.
 
Oh, how he entices her. She's shy, she's enthusiastic, she's enamored of him. And, to his fear, he with her. Yes, there are several baby-making scenes. They are HOT. They are SWEET. They made me fall in love with Darius. And Vivvi didn't stand a chance. She fell for him. Hard. Which was good, because he falls in love with her, too.
 
This is the point that I started to worry. She's MARRIED. And William is a really great guy; a gentleman to the core. And even though she entered this pact with her eyes open, and with her husband's encouragement, HOW can it work out? There are so many people in line to bring destruction to these two. Yep, I was worried! And I cared. Thank you, Ms. Burrowes, you made me care deeply about these characters.
 
Now that I've gushed, I will say that there were a few things that I wish had been ironed out a bit. Some things that I thought could have used a bit more explanation. Like why Darius' father hated him. What's the story behind Leah, Dare's sister? But this is still a FIVE BOOKMARK review as those things just couldn't water down the fact that this is a LOVE story. Thankfully, some of the answers to those questions will be in NICHOLAS,  the next book of Lonely Lords' Series. All of these books can stand alone, but reading the entire series is just such a JOY.


I will be reviewing NICHOLAS at 9 and ETHAN at 10 today.


I will be reading this one again and again.
And I hope you do, too!

 
 
Connect with Grace Burrowes:
 
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  *Thank you, NetGalley and Sourcebooks Casablanca, for the opportunity to read Darius.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mindlink by Kat Cantrell



by Kat Cantrell
 
Determined to revitalize her imploding career, blacklisted movie star Ashley V takes on her biggest role yet: posing as one of ten scientists invited by aliens to a universal summit. But when the aliens seize, strip and implant the entire delegation to extract their knowledge, she is quickly found out and sent to a cell to await recycling.
The alien research director designated ZXQ-One devised a plan to let the humans volunteer their best and brightest in a gamble to solve his people's energy crisis. But he fails to find anything useful and winds up imprisoned alongside the fiery human woman who refuses to give up, and who insists on calling him Sam.
After an accidental link between their implants lets them share their thoughts, they find themselves drawn to each other. Sam will have to trust in her human compassion and forgiveness for his role in her capture, and Ashley will have to trust him with her deepest secrets if they are to have any chance at survival…
 

WOW, what a ride!

Mindlink by Kat Cantrell is a sci-fi romance...and I loved it.

Ashley V is so annoying to begin with! She's an actress that has made some really bad decisions in her life. Like being photographed passed out in a bar. And it goes downhill from there. She's been offered the part of a lifetime: Pretend to be a scientist and travel to another planet and if she can pull it off, then she'll get to play a big part in a movie that is a shoe-in for an Oscar. She seems so shallow and selfish when we meet her. This story follows her growth and I loved her journey.

Her photographic memory helps her to nail every aspect of the scientist she is pretending to be. The aliens, the Telhada, have asked for ten of the brightest minds that Earth has to offer. The group will spend the next six weeks on another planet, sharing ideas.

The PR company that's running the event has rejected one scientist and brought in a "contest winner" to replace him. The other eight scientists are not amused to have this girl, Natalie, with them.

The ten step into a ship, slip into pods and are whisked away. They step out onto a gray world. There's no welcoming committee. No parade. It was quite shocking when they were separated, stripped, and a probe that appears to be somewhat alive is forced into their heads.

Ashley's biggest fear and regret at that moment is that she's may not be able to make it back to Earth and make a splash in that new movie she was promised. Then she decides to fight to survive. She doesn't know how she's going to do it, but, by gosh, she's going to try!

Acquisition Manager, ZXQ-One, has orchestrated the entire "kidnapping" of the scientists. In the past, the aliens have snatched people from here and there on Earth. But they have been disappointed in the "quality" of the minds they've gotten. That's why they thought they'd invite the best and brightest to come visit. Of course, none of the humans thought the visit would be one way.

There's something about Ashley that ZXQ-One is drawn to. And she's drawn to him, too. But how can that be? They are not the same. He's an alien! But what a cutie...

This planet has some really strict CLASS segregation. There's the Ruling class, and everyone else are just worker bees. Humans are the dregs. When a worker, or a human, are no longer deemed necessary, the are recycled. Yes, killed, their bits used for various things.

ZXQ-One has messed up. He gets sent to the recycle cells. There he actually gets to "chat" a bit with Ashley, who is trying to protect Natalie, who seems pretty fragile. She IS going to escape. Because how else will she be able to make it back to Earth and be in that movie? She thinks that "ZXQ-One" is not a good name. She decides he's Sam. She invites him to help them (by now a couple more of the scientists are in her cell and a boy child has been put in the cell next to them) to escape. He's told her that it's his duty to be recycled, since he made a grave error. She doesn't believe that for a minute. No one should die.

The thing in her head (he has one, too) accidentally connects them mind to mind when they are close and make eye contact. They are now linked. MINDLINKED. Their memories are shared and they can speak telepathically once they get the hang of it.

So begins their journey to Kir Dashamun, a place that's rumored to be paradise.

There's a thread of mystery here. Just WHO are these aliens? And how alien are they? Can Ashley make it back to Earth to star in that movie?

And Sam, would someone really want to leave him after they got to know him? I don't think I would because he's sweet, and hot, and charming...and he's learned some shocking truths about his planet and his people and he's pretty ticked off at the king, too.

This was a rough journey for both of them. With some tender moments, some hot moments, growth for both of them, and some shocking moments, too.

I'm not taking any stars off for a couple of questions that I had when I was done. Like, who left the food squares out in the woods? This is not a "how to get to another planet" sort of book. So, suspend your disbelief over some of the transitions and just enjoy being in another world, meeting aliens, and falling in love.

I loved it. Totally. And while this book had an ending, I'd sure not mind seeing more of them. Ms. Cantrell has built a world that was fascinating. She kept me worrying over these characters and hoping for a good outcome. What a ride and I'm so pleased she shared her vision with us.


This one is sticking with me. I keep thinking about different bits!
FIVE BOOKMARKS!
 
 
*Thank you, NetGalley and Carina Press, for the opportunity to read MINDLINK
 
Connect with Kat Cantrell:
 
 



Monday, June 24, 2013

The League of Illusion: Destiny by Vivi Anna


The League of Illusion: Destiny
by Vivi Anna

The conclusion to the League of Illusion trilogy

Five years ago, Sebastian Davenport tried to go back in time to reverse a fatal mistake, but found himself trapped in another reality. Unaware of the jeopardy facing his family and the League of Illusion, he gave up his magic for a quiet life as a blacksmith. Quiet, until a monstrous three-headed goddess of war called the morrigan comes to town…

Seeing Sebastian poised to charge the goddess, healer Drea Blairwood has no choice but to hit him over the head to stop him. Nursing the mysterious outsider back to health afterward is just an added benefit. She knows he's hiding something about his past, but has no idea what kind of adventure awaits them both.

Sebastian has no desire to risk the life of anyone else, let alone someone as enticing as Drea. But after militant elves kidnap Drea, Sebastian needs to find a way to reclaim his magic. The fate of the League—and the world—hangs in the balance.


Wow! I haven't read the first book in this series, but after reading this one, I really need to go back and look them up. This was a total page turner. While I didn't know what had happened previously, it was easy to catch up. I love it when an author can do that for the reader without a huge info dump.

This story, although short, is a rollicking good adventure. It has mystery, romance (some of it pretty 18+ steamy!) rescues and escapes. AND it has the Steampunk edge.

Sebastian is a sorcerer who has stopped using his magic. He's a man lost in time and while he misses his family, he kind of enjoys the lack of huge responsibilities. He's a blacksmith in the here and now and that suits him.

Drea (cool name, btw), wants more than to be the healer's daughter. She's had her eye on Sebastian since he arrived. She and the rest of the village women. He's quite nice to behold.

There's a flash in the sky and some wicked elves arrive. The adventure Drea has craved takes off at a gallop.

Okay, the morrigan was creepy. Even after we see it up close and personal, what was that thing? Glad there wasn't a picture of it because my imagination, driven by Ms. Anna's words is the stuff of nightmares! Well done!

The first books in the series:
Book One: The League of Illusion: Legacy
Book Two: The League of Illusion: Prophecy

Exciting, Steampunky, Fun!
Yes, I'd read this one again!
 
*Thank you, NetGalley and Carina Press, for the opportunity to read the ARC of Destiny.


Connect with Vivi Anna:
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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cemetery Planet by J. Joseph Wright





Cemetery Planet

A short story by J. Joseph Wright
 
J. Joseph Wright gave me a copy of Cemetery Planet. I took it because, really, can one have too many books? Then I looked at the genres that he tends to write (Sci-Fi and Horror) and some of it appears to be really scary. So I did the only sane thing, I asked my 21 y/o daughter who likes things like “Walking Dead” to read it first. She did and then she nagged me to read it.
I needed to know if I was going to be able to sleep afterward and she assured me that while I should read it in the daytime, I’d enjoy it.

She was right. This was great! Yes, it’s a short story. In fact, I read it while I waited for a prescription to be filled. Of course the fact that it is a total page turner had me finish it in that short time frame.

The blurb:

It’s eight hundred years in the future, a time when the Earth had become so populated, all graveyards had to be relocated to another planet. It’s an entire world of graves in a lonely, desolate part of the galaxy, and Harvey Crane, the sole caretaker, finds he’s not alone on…Cemetery Planet.

Okay, kind of freaks me out, too, to think about being on a planet of graves. ALONE on a planet of graves. It’s good that the computer can do a bio scan to verify that one is truly alone. And Harvey is. Well, maybe. He begins to suspect not when "things" start happening. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for that BOO to come. Well done, Mr. Wright!

One of Harvey’s jobs is to make sure that the holo images work. In front of many of the graves is a pressure plate, that when activated, a holo image of the deceased plays a pre-programmed message to the visitor.  Of course he can’t check every single one every single night, so he does a random sampling of them. But he always returns to one particular holo image. Lea Hamm. She’s the prettiest woman he’s ever seen. With the advances in technology, he gives her an upgrade. The holo image can now learn and converse with him. And maybe become something a bit MORE.
Yes, that’s when THINGS start happening. Creeped me out! But it was a fun kind of shiver down my spine.

So, if you are looking for a bit of fun, a bit of creepy, a bit of sweetness, a bit of BOO, this one is for you!
I've already read a couple bits TWICE!

 
Just checked at Amazon and BOOK TWO is out, with THREE and FOUR on their way!
 
 

Connect with J.Joseph Wright:
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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Behind the Courtesan by Bronwyn Stuart


 
By
Bronwyn Stuart
 

When courtesan Sophia Martin returns to the village she fled as a young woman, she knows it won't be a happy reunion--but she can't refuse her brother's request to attend his expectant wife. Trapped until the baby arrives, she must navigate the social rift she caused when she left to pursue a disreputable life--and keep the true reason for her departure from the man she once loved, the bastard son of the Duke who ruined her.

Blake Vale has never forgotten Sophia, but he can't accept the decisions she made, the courtesan's life she leads, or the fact she's cast aside her true self. Plain old Sophia has to be inside this hardened woman somewhere, and he's determined to make her see she doesn't need rich men to be happy, and that their future has nothing to do with the past.

When the dukedom suddenly falls within his reach, Blake must come to terms with his own past and his birthright, and what that means for his future...and Sophia.


I loved the beginning of this book. Sophia is in a carriage and needs to be in the Inn. There is a sea of mud between her and the stoop. Blake, who she had hoped to not see right away, strips off his boots, socks, and wades to her. We all know what's going to happen, and indeed, it does.

She thinks he did it on purpose and so begins the continuation of their miscommunications.

Sophia hasn't ever told anyone why she left at the age of 14. Blake, once he found out where she was, never went to her. She left because her father sold her, basically, to an abusive man. And what takes this down a bookmark rating is the fact that the Old Duke never got what he was due. I like my bad guys to get what's coming to them. I don't think this is a spoiler, as he's gone when the book begins.

Sophia keeps her secrets, as does Blake. Blake thinks that her life as a courtesan was all trinkets, new dresses and romping bewteen the sheets with many men. Part of  her secret is that it really hasn't been that many men, and if she hadn't taken on this persona, she would  have been dead. Somehow he just doesn't get that.

Very few books that I've read that have had a main character who was less than pure. And even fewer that followed a courtesan. This was an interesting theme and I think that Ms. Stuart gave us a seldom seen perspective. I have to applaud her for giving Sophia men that appreciated her.

There are a few twists and turns, some that I saw coming, and some that caught me by surprise. I sure wanted to smack Blake a couple of times! I actually didn't need to, as Sophia slapped him four, or was it five, times. Why, yes,  he did deserve it!

This one had me turning the pages, wondering if something else BAD was going to happen, and wondering just how this would all come together. I would have liked to have had just one more chapter, as I like to see my main characters down the road a bit. But the ending was a good one, especially followed by the author's note.

I'm giving this one FOUR bookmarks as I'm sure I'll be back to read this one again!




Thank you, NetGalley and Carina Press, for the opportunity to read Behind the Courtesan.

Connect with Bronwyn Stuart:
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Friday, June 21, 2013

Take What You Want by Jeanette Grey

TAKE WHAT YOU WANT

by Jeanette Grey

She needs an escape…and he’s exactly what she had in mind.

College senior Ellen Price spends every spare minute studying to get into medical school. Until spring break yawns before her, as empty as her wallet.

With no money to hit the beach, she fills her empty to-do list with a plan: for just one week, she will become the kind of take-no-prisoners woman she secretly wishes to be, starting with the hot guy at the bar. It's a no-risk situation: at the end of break, he’ll head back to his campus, and she’ll go back to hers. No muss, no fuss.

At first, Josh Markley isn’t sure what to think when the quiet, intense beauty from his pre-med classes approaches him for a night of casual sex. Even more mystifying, she doesn’t seem to return his recognition. But if she wants to play “strangers in a bar”, he’s game.

Their passionate night is a welcome respite from life’s stress, but afterward, Josh realizes he wants more—from himself, from life, from Ellen. Except she still thinks he’s a one-off she’ll never see again. Confessing the truth now—before she figures it out on her own—could shatter the fragile beginnings of just what the doctor ordered. A forever love.

Warning: Contains mistaken identities, a sometimes-glasses-wearing hottie, deep questions about figuring out what you want from life, and a red-hot college romance.


This was a quick little read.

Ellen is a hardworking college student. Never has the time or the money to do anything fun. When her friends head off to the beach for spring break she decides to do something totally OUT THERE.

She remakes herself to some extent as she buys a few new (hotter) clothes and heads out to a bar. She is going to have a spring break fling with a stranger, and there will be no commitments...just hot fun.

Josh is shocked when Ellen walks in. She looks different. He does too, to a small extent. He's wearing contacts instead of his glasses. Felt like a bit of a Superman/Clark Kent moment. He is surprised and confused when Ellen approaches him and acts like she's never seen him before. But he goes along with it because he's always been attracted to her, just been too shy to do anything about it.

The following scenes are hot and spicy.

The reader is left with wondering just when all the truth will come out.


The ending was quite satisfying and this made for an enjoyable steamy afternoon read.
FOUR BOOKMARKS!
 
Jeanette Grey @ Facebook
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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Twisted by Rebecca Zanetti




A short story (31,000 words) 

by Rebecca Zanetti



From the back of the book:

Maggie is a wolf shifter who was captured and experimented on by the Kurjans. Now that a cure has finally been found for shifters (although not for vampire mates or witches), she can concentrate on creating a new life for herself and finally accepting that her memories are gone forever. Most memories, that is. Sometimes in the hazy world between dreams and dawn, she hears a Scottish voice, dark and deep, that sounds suspiciously like wolf-shifter Terrent Vilks. A man she happened to anger by kidnapping a few years back. Hey, it was for a good cause.

Terrent Vilks knows more than he’s let on for the past several years. After digging for answers, he knows exactly why the demons want Maggie dead. And he remembers his past with Maggie…very well. She is finally where he wants her. Now all he has to do is discover what exactly the Kurjans did to her, beat the demons into so much submission they leave her alone, and get her to fall in love with him. Again. Good thing he’s used to wrangling monsters.


Kathie's Review:

This is number 5.5 in the Dark Protectors Series. I haven't read the first five, but I will certainly be searching them out, and will be anxiously awaiting Book 6, Shadowed (available for pre-order, comes out October 3, 2013).


I stayed up until after midnight reading Twisted.

Even though I haven't read the others, I was quickly drawn into Ms. Zanetti's world of shifters. I like when an author can bring new readers to an understanding of their world and the past goings on without beating us over the head with it. Ms. Zanetti had a very natural way of bringing the past histories together in this new story.

Poor Maggie. She's been without her memory for ten years. She's been learning to fight, thanks to the vampires she's lived with and despite her nearly overwhelming clumsiness. The king sends her to find out why a vaccine, in the hands of her fellow wolf shifters, has been contaminated. Her host, Terrent, gets to protect her immediately when three wolves, with no scent, try to take her. Good thing her vampire friend, Jase (and the MC for Shadowed), is there to help.

To her shock, and a bit of hope, Terrent tells Maggie that they agreed to be mated just before the events that occurred to steal her memory. There is something about him that she's drawn to. Something that makes her think that this might be true.

Their coming together, rather to test those theories, is beyond hot. Totally makes this for a more mature reader.

While this book is in the middle of a series, it stands alone. Yet it still makes me want to know more. Some threads are tied up, but we really need to find out about Jase in his book, Shadowed!

Yes, indeed, I'd read this one again!







*Thank you, NetGalley and eKensington, for the opportunity to read Twisted!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How Beauty Loved the Beast by Jax Garren








Book three of Tales of the Underlight

It's all been leading to this.

Jolie Benoit has become a skilled agent of the Underlight, relying on her savvy to complete assignments while Sergeant Wesley Haukon was out of commission. But an unexpected clue to the Order of Ananke's diabolical scheme rattles Jolie, and she turns to Hauk for comfort.

It's been years since Hauk took comfort from the touch of another person, though his love for Jolie is deep and powerful. Uncomfortable in his skin, scarred by a terrible fire, he is unable to give in to the pleasures that Jolie so desperately wants to grant him.

Meanwhile, the Order is lurking in the shadows—and when they strike, the blow is swift and terrible. Hauk and Jolie scramble to fight for their community, but with the future of the Underlight threatened, no one is safe. And Hauk will never be the same…

73,000 words

Discover how it all began:

Book One: How Beauty Met the Beast 
Book Two: How Beauty Saved the Beast 




I read book one in this series, and missed book two "How Beauty Saved the Beast" but that's okay. Although I will go back and read HBStB, Ms. Garren was very good at "catching us up" without going all info dump on the reader.

This series doesn't cover a lot of time, HBLtB is about two months after the first book. A lot happens in each of these books and the action is almost non-stop.

The title of this one, How Beauty Loved the Beast, is very appropriate. The UST has been building by leaps and bounds, there was a kiss in the last book...and Beauty Loves this Beast, here. 

But it's not without it's shocks, it's twists and turns, it's stops and starts. Wesley Hauk is, after all, a man hurt. I love that Jolie knows what she wants and she goes after it...after him. He knows what he wants too, but the scars are deep, and I don't mean just on his body. This is hot hot hot. Never thought that brushing one's teeth could be sexy...but Jolie made it so. Wowza for sure. Most definitely for the over 18 crowd.

This series is a mix of paranormal, adventure, romance, mystery, magic, fantasy...and it does each of them well. Then there's this touch of Steam Punk, but it's in the here and now. All the other SP that I've read was set in Regency times, so this is an intriguing twist for me. And I like it. Is there even a genre listing for Burlesque? Probably, not, but Jolie is a Burlesque Dancer and that figures strongly throughout the book, too.

None of these books are overwhelmingly long. This one is "just" 73K, but what a ride. I read fast, but felt like I had to read even faster to find out what was going to happen. It was just that exciting.

Now, I know that the line at the top there, It's all been leading to this, makes it sound like this is the end, but I'm hoping it's not. We have a supporting character missing and the bad guys aren't all done away with. I really need to see the bad guys all gone. And really? I need more of Odin. That guy is something else. He winks and likes to cart Jolie around like he's a caveman! Gotta love that.

I love this one. It's a FIVE BOOKMARK for sure.
More, please, Ms. Garren?




*Thank you, NetGalley and Carina Press, for the opportunity to read this ARC, what a pleasure it was!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Music for My Soul by Lauren Linwood

By




As the third wife of an abusive French vineyard owner, Madeleine Bouchard hasn’t produced the expected heir after three years of marriage. Fearing he plans to kill her, she flees during a trip to England. Unable to make her way home, she joins a troupe of traveling mummers and reinvents herself as the only woman troubadour in the land, captivating audiences with both song and story.

Nobleman Garrett Montayne’s fascination with Madeleine causes him to pay the troupe to bypass their next stop in order to journey to his estate. Though he suspects Madeleine of being a thief with dark secrets, love blossoms between them under the magical moon of summer solstice.

But Madeleine’s past is about to catch up with her, as her husband is set to arrive to conduct business with Garrett. Madeleine determines to free herself from her loveless marriage and make a new life with Garrett, no matter what the cost.


~*~*~*~
 
I'm having a bit of a hard time writing this review. On the one hand, Music for My Soul isn't listed in the "inspirational" genre, but Madeleine did have a lovely relationship with God. She prayed and asked for His guidance in all that she did. So when an intimate scene came along, I was surprised by it. The heat level is not a ten, but a pretty steamy six. And that surprised me. Also, the fact that both of these people were married...it shocked me just a bit. Does it count as cheating if your spouse beats you? Or if your spouse has run off? It did to Madeleine.

There is a death at one point, and I was left wondering who would inherit and why the gendarmes weren't called in. A small thing, but I did wonder.

Setting those issues aside, this was an interesting look into Old England and mummers. I wanted to be in the audience as Madeleine sang. I also wanted to see the bad guys get their comeuppance. And now I want to know what happens to Ashby.

This was Ms. Linwood's debut novel and she shows a lot of promise.

THREE and a HALF BOOKMARKS.
I look forward to seeing more from this author.
 



*I recieved an ARC from the author for review.

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Monday, June 17, 2013

The Reluctant Countess by Wendy Vella


by Wendy Vella


From rising romance star Wendy Vella comes a Cinderella story of whirlwind passion between a dashing earl and a beautiful countess—and the secret that threatens to tear them apart.

Regal, poised, and elegant, Sophie, Countess of Monmouth, is everything that a highborn lady should be. But Sophie is hiding a past that is far from royal. When Patrick, Earl of Coulter, realizes that her story doesn’t add up, he resolves to find out the truth of what Sophie and her sister-in-law are concealing. Although Sophie has every reason to avoid him, the handsome and charismatic Patrick awakens something wicked deep within her soul . . . a powerful need that Sophie must stifle in order to protect her place in society.

Despite Sophie’s humble background, the raven-haired beauty has won Patrick’s heart. But what Sophie needs now is an ally. Viscount Myles Dumbly, the disgruntled former heir of Monmouth, is determined to expose Sophie as a fraud to recapture his lost inheritance. Soon Patrick is drawn into a fight for both their lives. Somehow he must find a way not only to rescue Sophie from poverty once and for all, but to keep her in his arms forever.



Sophie, the Countess of Monmouth is hiding a huge secret.
 
Patrick, Earl of Coulter, wants to know what it is so that he can out her.
 
Because she's rather "touch me not," isn't she? And a bit icy and aloof...in his opinion she really needs to come down a peg or three.
 
But then again, he really likes her, dang it!
 
There were a couple of times that I really wanted to smack Colt, but he had been working under a false assumption about her. And his shock was great when he realized that. I always like to see the Alpha male knocked back on his heels, and he sure was!
 
I enjoyed this very much. It's a Cinderella story with a couple twists and turns. The supporting cast, Stephan, Letty, Amelia...I loved them, too. In fact, this entire story touched my heart a few times. Well done, Ms. Vella!
 
FIVE BOOKMARKS for touching my heart!

 
 
*Thank you, NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Bantam Dell - Loveswept, for giving me the opportunity to read THE RELUCTANT COUNTESS by Wendy Vella.

Wendy Vella at Facebook