4 star review

Review – A Christmas Dance

A Christmas Dance
By Alissa Johnson

This was a novella recommendation from Nalini Singh’s blog. It sounded so cozy it seemed a perfect read for what has turned out to be the dreariest day so far this year.

William Renwick, Earl of Casslebury sets out to find a wife with his usual military precision, but the quarry in question manages to continually elude him. Right when he thinks he has her cornered, he finds out her companion has some unusual proclivities. No, it’s not dirty, but it is one of the most humorous and novel openings to a story that I have had the pleasure to read. I simply adore a military man with a sly sense of humor who only thinks he knows what he wants. Patience is a plain woman, of limited means, advanced age for her time period, and even more dismal family lines. Not at all the sort of woman an earl would choose. Fortunately our intrepid hero doesn’t continue to pursue the wrong woman out of stubbornness, and in relatively short order a lovely sort of silly and romantic relationship blooms. Of course it had to bloom in short order, this is a novella, which means that there are very few conflicts than can be capably handled, and in this case it was the BIG SECRET. It isn’t my favorite trope, but with the secret in question, I can understand why it was kept.

A Christmas Dance was an altogether lovely novella that brightened my dreary day right up.

4 stars


dabwaha Round 2 Set 2

OK, I fell down on the job and missed the first rounds. But dabwaha Round 2 Set 2 is up for voting. You can probably guess which ones are my picks.


4 star review

Review – Prudence

By Gail Carriger

This is a spin off from The Parasol Protectorate Series. You could probably read this without having read that series, but why would you want to? It’s got steam punk and gaslight elements with all sorts of supernatural creatures, and manners, it is quite the most mannerly steam punk series to date. Plus, if you don’t read the Parasol Protectorate and maybe the Finishing School series first, I may just spoil them for you. Alexia Tarabotti, being soulless, had to come up with some way to behave in polite society, and manners worked nicely enough. Her daughter on the other hand is an entirely different sort of creature.

“Frankly, all I learnt is that I must give up bloomers. Perhaps a short silk underskirt would work better? It’s the tail, you see, it rips the seams.”

Rue (and she definitely still hasn’t forgiven her mother for naming her Prudence), grew up to be just as spunky, and funny, and slightly spoiled as I had expected her to. How could she not, having been raised by the most fashionable Rove vampire, the Alpha werewolf, and a soulless mother – yes there were politics involved in that decision, but you are going to have to read the Parasol Protectorate to get that cleared up. Primrose, on the other hand, grew up to be no where near the flibbertigibbet her mother was. And Quesnel grew up to be quite a rake, though that’s hardly a surprise as he is after all, French.

When Lord Akeldama gives Rue a new dirigible and a mission for new tea in India, a precipitous leave taking due to a fashion emergency leaves our intrepid heroines in the lurch as far as information. Rue is well on her way in espionage, like her mother, though she doesn’t precisely know that. Rue and Primrose have mad cap adventures, intrigue, and disasters. And they discover the world isn’t quite what they were led to believe, and that with adventure comes responsibility.

That sounds rather staid, but frankly, this book is charming, and for the most part so is Rue. It is sort of like the film The Avengers, except charming instead of irritating. Rue and Prim put on these ridiculous characters, for the most part, knowing they are being ridiculous but not caring so long as it obtains their ends. Overall, I really enjoyed this story, and I think the travel angle was an excellent choices so the reader could learn about Rue as an adult instead of merely being bogged down by characters from the previous series. But, I’ll admit, I am definitely looking forward to the next book when Rue will be back in the heart of London. There was also a touch of a romantic element, but nothing that detracts from the story.

4 stars

4 star review

Review – Flirting With Disaster

Flirting with Disaster

Flirting With Disaster
By Victoria Dahl

Book 2 in the Jackson: Girls Night Out series. This series has GROWN UPS. I’m not even kidding, they’re not even people who claim grown up ages but act like teen-20’s, these are actually grownups. And I’ll just devour romances with adults. The first in the series was a novella and really sucked me into the series. Who doesn’t adore a fireman and a librarian? The second wasn’t quite as good for me on the romance front, BUT it’s got another form of addiction for me: females who are actually friends. Can you sense my giddiness?

Isabelle is a mess. A 36 year old, highly distractable artist. But she’s grown into herself as a person and far away from the sheltered 22 year old she was forced to leave behind. Unfortunately, even when you leave your past behind, the secrets go with you. Tom’s a Federal Marshall on a local case when he butts heads with Isabelle. There’s teasing, and banter between the two of them, and equally as important, between Isabelle and her friends. Lauren from Fanning the Flames and Sophie from Looking for Trouble are both reprised. And we’ve added Veronica (whose story is up next) and Jill, who might be my favorite character yet. I am going to be slightly devastated if we don’t get Jill’s story. They’re not just sequel bait, they’re people I’d be thrilled to go on a girls night out with. There’s also some of the most realistic and sexiest scenes I’ve read in a long time. Tom and Isabelle just work, in a carnal sense, and Dahl’s writing of their intimate scenes was masterful.

Frankly, the relationships and the sex were enough to make me forgive some pacing issues, the fact that normally I hate stories where the main conflict is that people just aren’t communicating (in this case it mostly did make sense), and a few plot holes. It’s kind of like Nora Roberts’ Witnesses, just lighter, and with more relationships, fun, and raunch.

Plus, we’ve got Fanning the Flames at the end of it. So if you’ve not picked this series up yet, just know, you don’t have to pick up the first novella, it’s right here.

4 stars

3.5 star review

Review – Rocky Retreat

By Vivian Arend

This is book 7.5 in the Six Pack Ranch series. I’ve reviewed 1-6 previously, and really enjoyed them. They don’t make my top re-readable list, but nice family stories with some smexy times and romance are exactly what I need on occasion. Book 7 was kind of meh for me, but didn’t stop me from wanting to continue the series.

We’d met Rachel and Lee previously, and as much as he wanted her, it wasn’t enough for her to choose him over their age gap. She picked the wrong man. And now that Rachel’s seperated and thy’re both trapped in a snowbound cabin, Lee’s absolutely ready to show her he’s the right man for her.

The snowbound enforced intimacy trope works for me as a device to speed up the connection between the two main characters in a novella, particularly when those two characters have past history and knowledge of each other. It neatly side steps many of my issues with romance novellas. Though they don’t stay stuck, it was a nice bridge between their past relationship and their new more intimate one.

And I adore condom positive scenes:

“Condoms, yes. I know you’re clean, but…”    He shook his head. “This is your choice, your body, and you never have to explain.”

Plus we got the reprise of Jesse the Jerk. I’m not sure how Arend is going to salvage that spoiled brat, but it should be interesting.

Lee and Rachel’s romance was sweet and I enjoyed catching up with the Coleman’s. There were just two things I didn’t care for, them hooking up before her divorce was finalized, and using a big dramatic thing to finally get them talking. What I like about this series is that it’s about families and real seeming people, no matter how ridiculous some things in life get (life gets ridiculous for real people too), so the drama seemed like cutting corners. But I still really liked their story and look forward to getting the rest of the horde of Coleman’s settled down.

3.5 stars