This is almost too much for my heart to bear. Magic Shifts chapters 1 & 2 have been posted. It starts with a bang and ends with an explosion. I don’t know how I am going the be able to wait until it is finally released August 4, 2015. I’m telling you, I really need a time machine so I can go to the future and read ALL the books.
Garden of Lies
by Amanda Quick
With this one following Otherwise Engaged, it looks like Jayne Ann Krentz has stepped back from paranormal historical romance for a bit. While I still really want the final Ladies of Lantern Street book, I am enjoying her return to my historical romance roots. I think Amanda Quick may have been the very first ones I ever read, and if not, they are definitely the first ones I remember. So take this review with the grain of salt that is my nostalgia.
Garden of Lies starts with a really intriguing prologue, so if you read this on Kindle, check to make sure that Kindle didn’t “conveniently” skip it for you. Slater Roxton is one of the more nuanced heroes we have seen from Quick in a while, born between two very different London cultures and with some remarkable life experiences, he’s not just any substitute hero. Ursula Kern owns and operates an exclusive ladies secretarial pool. She has remade herself several times in an era when this wasn’t typically possible for women, and in ways that absolutely fit the time period. When her best friend dies, and she believes it is murder, she upends her own life in order to find out the truth. Mostly Slater Roxton is along for the ride because he wants to protect Ursula. He is nicely protective but not overly so, and doesn’t once as far as I can remember, step into alpha-hole territory. And furthermore, he respects Ursula, which makes it really easy for me to enjoy a book. The villainy and mystery were nice and twisty, and mostly (except for a brief flurry at the end) the relationship was nice and straightforward – which seems to be a nice change of pace for me. It reminded me why I loved Amanda Quick so much, because with her heroines could be smart, and brave, and resourceful, and intrepid, and any number of things besides just a damsel in distress requiring rescue. And in fact, the heroes could need rescuing too.
So, through the lens of my nostalgia, which is the only one I’ve got at the moment, this book was highly enjoyable. Trying to look at it objectively, I am not entirely certain new to Quick readers or those who don’t have the same fond nostalgia as I do would rate it as highly. Still, for me this is a 4 star book.
I believe it is very clear by now that I have big, big love for Shelly Laurenston, no matter her pen name and series. Whether it is her Dragon Kin Series under her pseudonym G.A. Aiken, or her newer series Call of the Crows. But the series that started my obsessive love was the Pack Pride Series. And for a limited time books 2-4 are on sale for $1.99 each. Fortunately, book 1 isn’t really the best book in the series, and you can start with book 2 with no fear of being lost, the overall series arc doesn’t even start until book 4 any way.
Don’t Walk Away
by Vivian Arend and Elle Kenedy
I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.
Don’t Walk Away is the third book in the DreamMaker’s Trilogy. Previous books have been comical and sexy, and I enjoyed them quite a bit. The premise is really the fun part, these former military Special Forces guys get out, and rather than opening up the ubiquitous security agency, they open DreamMaker’s, which is an upscale event planning service for clueless guys who want to impress their ladies.
The last book ended on a small cliffhanger regarding Dean, the unabashed manwhore of the group. There is a mysterious lady, because of course there is. Rather than having another heroine in jeopardy situation, this book takes a different route. Once upon a time Dean and Emma were inseparable, until they weren’t and Dean broke her heart. And it definitely was true love, as you’ll see why when you read it. When Emma happens to move to San Francisco, she inadvertently makes friends with Dean’s best female friend Suz, which of course throw the star crossed lovers into each other’s path. Because of their history together, this book really ramps up the feels when compared to the previous two books. It is a bit angsty, at least to start, because of all the emotional baggage. But their relationship settles in to sweet and caring with a nice side of sexy. And Emma’s secret was a bit…odd, but nothing insurmountable. And, as one of the things I enjoy about this series is the tapestry of relationships it forms, we also got peeks into Suz and Gillian’s future HEA’s, so whatever is happening next in this series looks promising. I am not sure if this series is going to extend past the previously promised trilogy, or if it is going to go into spin-off mode, but either way, color me stoked that there will be more.
This isn’t high literature, it is fluffy and happy and sexy, and they are fairly short books, but it’s a solid and enjoyable series.
by Nora Roberts
Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions …
The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn’t just dead. He never really existed.
Shelby takes her three-year-old daughter and heads south to seek comfort in her hometown, where she meets someone new: Griff Lott, a successful contractor. But her husband had secrets she has yet to discover. Even in this small town, surrounded by loved ones, danger is closer than she knows—and threatens Griff, as well. And an attempted murder is only the beginning …
This year’s offering is a family saga/drama as much as it is romantic suspense. Shelby returns home to Tennessee after her husband’s death. It turns out her husband was a miserable excuse for a human being and she is absolutely better off without him, no matter how much debt he left her in with his death. Her daughter is more than a plot moppet in this story, and she was a cutie pie. Griff, the love interest is the Mary Poppins of romance heroes. There are also a host of other family members and friends who are integral to the storyline. I enjoyed reading about these people and their lives. What broke down for me a bit was the suspense, I had figured out all the plot twists before a quarter of the book was through. So while I enjoyed the journey, the book failed a bit on the suspense level. There were quite a number of twists though, so I am not going to heavily into the plot because that could possibly spoil it for the handful of people who might just be surprised. What i will say is that it was a nice cozy book that was easy to get into, with likable characters, and a plot that seemed relatively believable.
Overall I am rating this 4 stars, but read it for the characters and the journey, not for the suspense, unless of course you have never read a Nora Roberts romantic suspense book, only then would you possibly be surprised.
by Loretta Chase
OK, so I had to do something drastic to step out of this reading/reviewing funk I have been in recently. Fortunately, Desi linked to this blog post on romance and PMS, and something different piqued my interest. A historical nobleman ready and willing to deal with cramps and periods in a non sexual way.
And I am so glad I followed that random blog post. Mr. Impossible was delightful. The perfect anodyne to previous reading endeavors. How much was because of the sheer difference from what has recently been read, I just can’t say, but I really think most it was just this book. This lovely, lovely book. Here is the chimera, the unicorn; here is a man who legitimately falls in love and lust with a woman because of her mind. And Rupert, I adore him, he’s self-deprecating and sweet and not at all the aggressive alpha-hole, all without being a Beta either.
“And being a great dumb ox,” He went on, “I’m wonderfully easy to manage.”
I can’t quite put my finger on why, but he reminds me of my beloved Scarlet Pimpernel, who in so many ways is my ideal hero. And Daphne, she’s a scholar, and a spitfire. Her now deceased husband may have tried to curb her, but underneath it all, she is still who she is, and passionate about her research.
“It’s called ahezan,” she said.
“Yes, but what is it?”
“A scarf girdling the waist,” she said. “Useful for stowing things. Like my knives.”
“Have you the least idea how to use them?” He said.
“I know that you hold it by the handle and the sharp end is the part you stick in,” she whispered impatiently. “What else do I need to know?”
“Hold it with the sharp end aimed upward rather than downward,” he said. “More control, better aim that way.”
“Oh,” she said. “Yes. I see.”
“Shall we proceed, and ought I do so with my knife drawn?’
“You’d better keep it where it is for the moment,” he said. “Otherwise you might stab me to death accidentally.”
“If I stab you to death,” she said, “It will not be accidental.”
And what starts as lust on both their parts, slowly transforms into something very sweet.
Strange things happened inside him-a sudden rush of feeling he hadn’t a name for. Lust was involved naturally, since he was a man, and it would want far more than a few bloodstains on her clothing to make that go away. Lust though, was a hanger-o, an old friend as natural as breathing. The thing it hung upon was as strange and puzzling as the wooden figure tucked inside his coat. He didn’t understand the feeling and didn’t try to. He did understand that she was upset. She had reason.
And Rupert seduces Daphne in a manner that isn’t at all typical of historicals. He seduces her mind as much, if not more than her body.
She could hardly believe her ears. He had been so reluctant to teach her to shoot. But these were words used between equals, words of trust-in her judgement, in her skill-from a man. Her heart leapt with pleasure or fear, she wasn’t sure. Perhaps both.
And then I got to the period scene that started my journey, and it turned out to not even be my favorite scene, though it was awesome enough:
He did not like to leave her alone, suffering, even if it wasn’t his fault and the only cure was time.
“For such a clever woman you are woefully ignorant,” he said. “There’s a great deal one can do.
He had no idea what one could do. He had no sisters, and even if he had, they would have kept this secret from him as every other woman did.
And he proceeds to care for her, no matter how uncomfortable he was. It was as lovely as I had hoped. But that caring didn’t transform into something overly protective and smothering, it transformed into something that nurtured independence and acknowledges her as a strong woman in her own right.
“It wasn’t her rising to the occasion. It’s the occasion rising to her. Egypt and this business with you and the papyrus have finally given her the chance to show what she truly is. She’s-she’s a goddess. But human. A real goddess, not make believe. She’s beautiful and brave and wise, And fascinating. And dangerous. As goddesses are, as you know, in all the best stories.”
And then, the point when he tells her he loves her, it is beautiful, and I am not spoiling it with quotes, so you’ll have to read it when you get there.
I don’t think that this will necessarily make my re-read list, as there was something in the prose that wasn’t my preference and looking back there were a few plot holes (I didn’t notice those while reading though, only when reflecting back on what to say). BUT, it was a truly lovely story that I enjoyed very much, and I sincerely recommend it to any reader who like historicals and/or smart and independent heroines.