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Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Review: Tempted by the Highland Warrior Michelle Willingham ★★★★★

Tempted by the Highland Warrior Michelle Willingham
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: MacKinloch Clan #3
Publication Date: June 19, 2012
ISBN: 0373296983
Page Count: 288
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review


After years of brutal torture, Callum MacKinloch is finally free of his captors—but his voice is still held prisoner. He'd never let anyone hear him scream. Although Lady Marguerite de Montpierre's chains may be invisible, they threaten to tie her to a loveless and cruel marriage. When Marguerite discovers Callum waiting to die, her heart aches for the warrior beneath the suffering—but they can have no future. Yet she is the one woman with the power to tame the rage locked inside him. Maybe he can find another reason to live…for her.





Review:

This was a wonderful book. I have nothing but praise.

First of all, taking on the challenge of writing a character that is mute in the first place earns big bonus points with me, as it's quite the undertaking and I just thought it was handled superbly.

I have read a number of books where the lead male character, or hero, if you prefer, has been tortured and/or imprisoned. Often this leads to your character becoming a very angry, volatile, impossible to be around, kind of character that needs 'taming' by a female... Hm. This was very different, and I found it a lot more thought-provoking. In this case, our hero, Callum, has been imprisoned since he was just a boy of 12 (he's 19 when the book starts) and can barely remember anything but cruelty and suffering, and instead of lashing out, he has reverted inwards. He's mute, and hasn't spoken for over a year.

When you discover the cause, the thing that started his silence, it actually makes a lot of sense from a psychological point of view. He isn't physically incapable of speech, all the words are just jammed up inside and no matter how hard he tries, he can't bring them forth.

Our heroine, Marguerite, is a young maiden who's been betrothed to the man imprisoning Callum by arrangement with her father, the Duke. Callum would have expected her to be the same kind of ilk as her fiancé and show him nothing but scorn and distaste. Instead, after a particularly harsh flogging where he's been left to die out in the cold, he meets an angel. His angel.

This meeting, although brief, stays with Callum throughout the rest of his imprisonment, because it's the first kindness he's known in so long, and so unexpected. The image of Marguerite's face is the only thing that gets him through the days and nights to come.

I can't even begin to tell you what a sweet man Callum is. We have no dialogue from him, obviously, but the way he communicates through actions and small touches, and the thoughts from his point of view, are so unbelievably adorable. He has, quite understandably, put Marguerite on a pedestal as his saviour and wants nothing so much as to protect her for the rest of his life if she'd allow it. He feels he owes her his freedom and sanity both. But it's impossible. He's a penniless ex-slave, and she's a Duke's daughter. It can never be...
"I shouldn't let you do this, I know," she whispered.
He touched a finger to her lips, bidding her to be silent. Then he went down on one knee before her.
"What is it?" she asked, frowning at his position. But Callum took her hand and set it on his head, needing her to understand what he couldn't say.
Her hand moved against his wet hair and she sighed. "I know you're not going to hurt me."
Slowly, he stood and took her hands. He struggled to speak, trying to force the words out. I never thought I'd see you again. The desperate need for words tormented him, but nothing came forth. Marguerite saw his failure, but instead of offering sympathy, she stood on tiptoe, resting her cheek against his. 
I confess I read this book out of series order, which I know is a crime punishable by severe finger-wagging, but I have to say I was never lost or confused at any point. It just makes me want to go back and read the story of the other two brothers, at least one of whom was also imprisoned in the same place. I plan to do that real soon.
A fantastic, poignant read that will melt your heart. Highly recommended.

5 Stars! ★★★★★
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Early Review: Chasing Magic by Stacia Kane ★★★★

Chasing Magic by Stacia Kane
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Dystopian
Series: Downside Ghosts #5
Publication Date: June 26, 2012
ISBN: 978-0345527523
Page Count: 400
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review

A DEADLY HIGH

Magic-wielding Churchwitch and secret addict Chess Putnam knows better than anyone just how high a price people are willing to pay for a chemical rush. But when someone with money to burn and a penchant for black magic starts tampering with Downside’s drug supply, Chess realizes that the unlucky customers are paying with their souls—and taking the innocent with them, as the magic-infused speed compels them to kill in the most gruesome ways possible.

As if the streets weren’t scary enough, the looming war between the two men in her life explodes, taking even more casualties and putting Chess squarely in the middle. Downside could become a literal ghost town if Chess doesn’t find a way to stop both the war and the dark wave of death-magic, and the only way to do that is to use both her addiction and her power to enter the spell and chase the magic all the way back to its malevolent source. Too bad that doing so will probably kill Chess—if the war doesn’t first destroy the man who’s become her reason for living.

Review:

She's done it again! How does she keep doing this to me? Just when I think Stacia Kane has sent me on every possible emotional roller coaster imaginable, there she is again with ride tickets clutched in her hand and a wicked gleam in her eye.

I am somewhat conflicted about certain elements of this book. As flawed as Chess is, and Lord knows she's one of the most, if not the most, flawed Urban Fantasy characters out there, I've still always respected her. Even as hard as that is to do sometimes with the way she's constantly telling you what a shitty person she is. I was always able to see through that and admire her strength anyway.

In this book she did something I didn't like. I'm not going to say what it was, not even a hint, save to say I actually had to put the book down and didn't pick it up again for 4 days. I still haven't decided if I'm mad, sad, disappointed or what, but I had to take a break to put my thoughts in order.

Aside from that, though, it was business as usual. Except these days Chess' business comes with lots more Terrible! I loved the amount of time they were able to spend together in this book. They're relationship is very intense and they have a lot of issues, but they're also a pretty freaking great team and they worked together on the crime/case like they've been doing it for years. Chess is the investigator, Terrible is the muscle, and it just works perfectly.

They also made some more progress as a couple. Although with Chess it's likely always going to be one step forward for every two steps back, I ended the book feeling more confident in Chess for the future. There are no major changes happening yet, but maybe in the next one....
“I ain't...Don't know how to say it up right. Never--Fuck, Chess. Thought you was dead once before, you recall? Never felt so bad in my life, not ever. Then on the other day, thought you was gone and just....I can't do it, bein without you.”
All in all, another fantastic book, despite my hiccup. And, hey, it's only a testament to how involved with these characters I am that it was able to affect me so much.

Outstanding job, Ms Kane. Next one please!

4 Stars! ★★★★ ♥
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review

Friday, 22 June 2012

Review: How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper ★★★★

How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Naked Werewolf #1
Publication Date: February 22, 2011
ISBN: 978-1439195864
Page Count: 384


Even in Grundy, Alaska, it's unusual to find a naked guy with a bear trap clamped to his ankle on your porch. But when said guy turns into a wolf, recent southern transplant Mo Wenstein has no difficulty identifying the problem. Her surly neighbor Cooper Graham -- who has been openly critical of Mo's ability to adapt to life in Alaska -- has trouble of his own. Werewolf trouble.

For Cooper, an Alpha in self-imposed exile from his dysfunctional pack, it's love at first sniff when it comes to Mo. But Cooper has an even more pressing concern on his mind. Several people around Grundy have been the victims of wolf attacks, and since Cooper has no memory of what he gets up to while in werewolf form, he's worried that he might be the violent canine in question.

If a wolf cries wolf, it makes sense to listen, yet Mo is convinced that Cooper is not the culprit. Except if he's not responsible, then who is? And when a werewolf falls head over haunches in love with you, what are you supposed to do anyway? The rules of dating just got a whole lot more complicated. . . .

Review:

I absolutely LOVED the setting for this book. Many scenes were recalled from 'Northern Exposure' and 'Men in Trees' to help build my mental images since I've never set foot anywhere even close to Alaska in terms of climate or wide open spaces. We have the mountains over here in the UK, but I'm sure even they don't really compare in scale or beauty.

Another useful mental image that I have to especially thank this reviewer for inspiring me with, is to simply transpose the face and body of Joe Manganiello onto Cooper's character, and voilà! Instant sexy werewolf. Just add water.


Seriously if I were ever to be convinced that a man could really turn into a wolf, this would be the man. Rawr.

And the the main character, Mo? She was delightful. Written in first person, I really enjoyed Molly Harper's writing style and voice. I was slightly worried by the cartoony cover that the humour would be a bit too daft, but it was a lot more sophisticated than I'd expected, and I just loved being in that setting and the town of Grundy for the short time that I was.

Mo is a 29 year old marketing executive, having a minor life crisis, and decides in all her wisdom that moving to the ass end of nowhere is the answer. A cabin in the middle of a small town in Alaska seems to fit the bill, so off she pops. You soon learn that she has got every reason to want to escape her life in the South, but that's something I'll let you discover for yourself as it's a very amusing backstory.

The town of Grundy has a feast of great characters to enjoy, and it's a small town where everyone knows everyone. And since the men outnumber the women, Mo is a more than welcome addition to the population.

Well, at least she is to most people. Cooper- surly, cranky man that he is- seems to have a problem with her right from the word go, but Mo's not one to take that kind of thing lying down. Cooper soon learns that kissing Mo is the only real way to make her be quiet. Oh, the hardship.

“You will treat my underwear with the reverence it deserves. Next time, you will stop and appreciate--hell, you'll marvel at the miracle of my ass clad in silk.” 


Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I thought the secondary characters were extremely well developed, the mystery kept me entertained, I thought she captured the spirit of small town life wonderfully, and I can't wait to read more from this author. I've also got a list of snarky one-liners that I plan on stealing from Mo hence forth.

A funny, romantic book. Highly recommended.

4 Stars! ★★★★

Review: Never Love a Highlander by Maya Banks ★★★★

Never Love a Highlander by Maya Banks
Genre: Historical romance
Series: McCabe Trilogy #3
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
ISBN: 0345519515
Page Count: 336
Rating: ★★★★

Caelen McCabe’s young, reckless heart nearly destroyed his clan. Now, putting family loyalty above all else, he steps up to marry his older brother’s jilted bride and salvage the uneasy alliance between two clans.

While beautiful Rionna McDonald is a fit wife for any man, Caelen trusts no woman, especially not this sweet temptress who torments him with white-hot longing. As the sacrificial lamb in her father’s power game, Rionna will do her duty but vows to protect her heart and her pride from humiliation. Despite everything, though, the heat in Caelen’s touch melts her defenses, and she craves the sensual delights of a husband who guards his emotions as fiercely as his clan. But when the ultimate battle for the McCabe legacy is upon them, Rionna’s true warrior spirit emerges. She will risk the wrath of her father, the fury of her enemies, and her life to prove to Caelen that his wife’s love is too precious to lose.


Review:

And finally it's Rionna's book! I was intrigued by Rionna's character right from book one when she stomped up to a group of warriors, in trousers and helm, and showed them just who was bitch with the pointy end of her sword. Oh, how that doth ticketh all my boxes. When she took her helmet off and they realized it was a lass? Hee hee! I love it!

And who has she been paired with but the surliest of the brothers, Caelen McCabe. And man who's convinced all women are treacherous wenches just waiting to strike after a betrayal when he was but a young lad. It's fair to say Caelen has a few issues to work through, and only someone as strong as Rionna could have possibly tamed this particular Highlander's heart.

“'Tis a universal truth that when a lass says she's been thinking, a man ought to be wary.”
It was another emotional book but I didn't cry quite as much as I did over book two (probably since that's impossible). And there was a lot more action than in the previous book too, which I like. I wouldn't have expected anything less from Rionna's book, really.

The overall story arc has been wrapped up nicely and I have to say this has been a really wonderful trilogy. Maya Banks will be an auto-buy author from here on out.

Highly recommended to all fans of Scottish romance.

4 Stars! ★★★★

Review: Seduction of a Highland Lass by Maya Banks ★★★★

Seduction of a Highland Lass by Maya Banks
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: McCabe Trilogy #2
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
ISBN: 0345519493
Page Count: 352
Rating: ★★★★

Fiercely loyal to his elder brother, Alaric McCabe leads his clan in the fight for their birthright. Now, he is prepared to wed for duty, as well. But on his way to claim the hand of Rionna McDonald, daughter of a neighboring chieftain, he is ambushed and left for dead. Miraculously, his life is saved by the soft touch of a Highland angel, a courageous beauty who will put his fealty to his clan, his honor, and his deepest desires, to the test.

An outcast from her own clan, Keeley McDonald was betrayed by those she loved and trusted. When the wounded warrior falls from his horse, she is drawn to his strong, lean body. The wicked glint in his green eyes ignites a passion that will follow them back to Alaric’s keep, where their forbidden love draws them deeper into the pleasures of the flesh. But as conspiracy and danger circle closer, Alaric must make an impossible choice. Will he betray his blood ties for the woman he loves?

Review:

I must admit to being initially a bit disappointed that Rionna wasn't going to be the heroine as I'd assumed after reading the last book. As you'll recall (assuming you are reading them in order as you should!), Alaric stepped up to marry Rionna McDonald in order to form the alliance that his brother Ewan could no longer make after his marriage to Mairin Stewart. This kind of selfless honour describes Alaric perfectly. He's is a very honourable man and fiercely loyal to his brother, Laird Ewan McCabe of clan McCabe. That's what makes the storyline for this so heart-wrenching. The conflict of loyalties Alaric has to battle with is almost painful to witness.

After my initial worry, I soon came to absolutely adore Keeley. She was such a strong heroine. Emotionally strong, stubborn, determined and very caring. I thought she was wonderful and perfect for Alaric. If only fate weren't so cruel...

“Angel. I've gone to heaven, aye. 'Tis the only explanation for beauty such as this."

"Nay, warrior. 'Tis not heaven you've found. You're still of this world, although you might be feeling as though you've been gripped by the fires of hell."

"'Tis not possible for an angel such as you to reside in the bowels of hell.” 


I admit to crying like a newborn babe for at least an hour whilst reading this book. It totally got me hook, line and sinker. It's a real emotional ride. Bittersweet doesn't even begin to cover it. My only negative, and the only reason it didn't make a full house stars-wise, was that the sex scenes were a bit OTT for me. I realise this won't bother most people, people that enjoy erotica and such, but I don't so the second round of sex scenes could have been skipped for me.

If you are a fan of Scottish Romance as I am, this trilogy is a must read. It made me want to to straight onto the next book, which I did. Highly recommended.

4 Stars! ★★★★ ♥

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Review: All I Want for Christmas is a Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks ★★★

All I Want for Christmas is a Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Love at Stake #5
Publication Date: October 2008
ISBN: 978-0061118463
Page Count: 384
Rating: ★★★
Toni Davis's Christmas wish list

1. Springing my best friend from the psych ward.

2. Living somewhere that doesn't have coffins in the basement. Occupied coffins.

3. Finding Mr. Right. Please make him tall, dark, handsome, and alive.

This Christmas isn't so merry for Toni. Her best friend's been locked up in a mental hospital ever since she told the police she was attacked by vampires, and the only way for Toni to get her out is to prove that bloodsuckers really do exist. So she's taken a job as a bodyguard for the Undead, but she gets more than she bargained for, especially when she meets Ian MacPhie, a Scottish rascal looking for Ms. Right.

Although Ian's nearly five centuries old, he looks and acts like a twenty-seven-year-old hunk.

How can a dead man be so damn sexy? Could Mr. Wrong be Mr. Right? One forbidden kiss could lead to an eternity of passion—and all it takes is one moment under the mistletoe . . .


Review:

This is the book I've been waiting to get to in this series, because Ian had the most build-up and anticipation created through his fascinating back-story as a teenage vamp. I'm sad to say that it let me down a wee bit. The story was good, but considering this is Ian, who wants more than anything to find true love, it's ironic, then, that it was the romance aspect that I found disappointing. Indeed, I believed the love between Jean-Luc and Heather much more in the previous book than I did between Ian and Toni here.

It could just be a case of my expectations being too high, but I don't think so. You see, it starts out with a set up that's kind of a spin on The Bachelor, whereby Ian insists he needs to find a vampire bride so that he can be honest and not lie to her, even though he's increasingly attracted to Toni who is a new day guard. I wanted at this point to observe that he wouldn't have to lie to Toni about being a vamp either, since she clearly already knows, so that "conflict" was completely moot, but hey. I guess the main point was that she still wasn't a vamp, and he wanted a bride he can be with for centuries, not decades.

So, naturally they resist each other for a while and Ian goes speed dating with a bajillion air-headed vamps, all the while thinking of Toni. This part I actually enjoyed because it made Toni really stand out and seem so clearly the best choice of partner for Ian. It was when they finally got together that it started failing for me. It happened too soon, it was such an instant mind-change it nearly gave me whiplash. And I also found the sex scenes a little uninspiring this time too, which all together added up to...just, blah.

However, I thought the background plot was better- we were back fighting the malcontents- and I was glad to see the development at the end and what that might mean for future vampire brides. I am also ultimately glad Ian got his HEA, but I just wanted something a bit more. *sad face*

3 Stars! ★★★

Monday, 18 June 2012

Review: The Undead Next Door by Kerrelyn Sparks ★★★★

The Undead Next Door by Kerrelyn Sparks
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Love at Stake #4
Publication Date: January 2008
ISBN: 978-0061118456
Page Count: 384

Three signs that something is very different with your mew man:

1. He sleeps all day...which would be annoying except he's so attentive at night.

2. He's attacked by sword-wielding assailants, yet insists he can handle it on his own.

3. He never seems to age.

Heather Westfield has always lived a quiet life, but that all changes when she helps a very handsome, very mysterious stranger. There's something not quite right about Jean-Luc, but still, she's never been with a man so charming, so attractive...so wonderful. Now if only a murderous villain wasn't after them, they might get their happily-ever-after.



Review:

I admit I came to this novel with less than enthusiastic expectations when I found out it was Jean-Luc's book. You see, the impression I'd got of him in the previous books had made me think he was only ever going to be a secondary character. He just didn't seem like leading man/hero material. I think it's because he's a french fashion designer and whenever I see that description, I get this in my head:

Franck Eggelhoffer - Father of the Bride

Of course, now that I've actually read the book, I get something more like this:

*sigh* Bonjour, Jean-Luc ♥

He made an adorable hero. I couldn't have been more wrong if I'd tried. And the heroine, a full-figured red-haired beauty, was also a breath of fresh air. I loved the fact that after working with wraith-thin models for 30 years, the sight of Heather (Or 'Hezzaire' as Jean-Luc would say) reminded him of the great Silver Screen beauties from back in the day like Marilyn Monroe or Diana Dors, and he was totally smitten at first sight. Their courtship was sweet and often humorous. Heather didn't seem to realise how many of the men in her small town drooled over her. She was totally oblivious. I think she just assumed that because she wasn't as obviously beautiful or outgoing as her model BFF, Sasha, that she was somehow beyond notice. She was wrong.

As well as new men wanting her attention, she also has a couple of old flames who can't seem to let her go. Such as her ex-husband, Cody, whose only redeeming feature seems to be that he gave her her cutie-pie daughter, Bethany. Bethany almost stole the show along with Heather's fortune-telling, gun-toting neighbour Fedelia. They both provided many cute and funny moments and were excellent secondary characters.

Again, the story followed the same pattern as the previous books, of the reader knowing right from the getgo that Jean-Luc is a vamp, but then having to watch Heather slowly but surely figure it out. I'm kinda waiting for this to start getting on my nerves because it is becoming quite formulaic, but somehow the author is managing not to irritate with it so far.

My only fault with it was that the Big Bad made very little impact and was hardly on page save for a very brief intro and a somewhat anticlimactic exit.

A great continuation of the series, highly recommended. Next up is Ian's book which I've been dying to get to!

4 Stars! ★★★★

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Review: Highland Outlaw by Monica McCarty ★★★★

Highland Outlaw by Monica McCarty
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Campbell Trilogy #1
Publication Date: March 2009
ISBN: 978-0-345-50339-8
Page Count: 361
Rating: ★★★★

Handsome and dangerous, Patrick MacGregor is a wanted man, possessing the tough, tenacious spirit of his outlawed clan. He will stop at nothing to save his people from destruction, even if it means marrying Elizabeth Campbell, the daughter of his worst enemy. Yet the flaxen-haired beauty disarms him from the start. Her sweet, unspoiled softness touches the cold depths of his ravaged soul–and makes him want much more than revenge. Inside the shy and dutiful Lizzie is a passionate woman longing to emerge, a woman ready for love. So when the piercing emerald eyes and searing kiss of a stranger spark in her a desperate hunger, she surrenders to Patrick’s glorious seduction–unaware that his daring deception has just found its one and only chance for redemption: a love more powerful than hate.



Review:

Another great highland romp from Monica McCarty. This time, there was just as much emotion and drama as the first book in the trilogy, Highland Warrior, but whereas that all came from external forces, this time, the heartache comes from within.

I really just wanted to shout at the two main characters from the very first pages because there was so much deception going on, and it was so obviously all going to end in tears and upset, that it was like watching a slow motion train wreck. And I really felt for Lizzie when she found out the truth. I also have to commend McCarty for writing Patrick's character in such a way that although he did something awful, when you learned of his plight and the terrible history of his clan, you forgave him.

"God knows why with the way you are acting right now, but for some reason you make me happy. I love you and I'd rather endure hell with you than hell without.”
The love scenes were very hot as I'm coming to expect from this author, and the ending totally satisfying. A great read- highly recommended!

4 Stars! ★★★★

Review: Blackout by Annie Solomon ★★★★

Blackout by Annie Solomon
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: n/a
Publication Date: April 2006
ISBN: 0446616311
Page Count: 376
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review

A month ago Margo Scott was a book dealer with family and friends. Now, suddenly, she can’t remember the last four weeks of her life, everyone close to her has disappeared, and she’s the prime suspect in a murder. When an intruder attacks, she responds with lightning-quick moves she has no memory of ever learning. Undercover agent Jake Wise has her in his sights and can’t decide if this mysterious woman is an assassin or a pawn. Is he tempted to protect her because she’s innocent or because he’s falling for her? Thrust together, these two loners realize that trusting each other is their only hope of survival. Because the good guys and the bad guys have one thing in common. They all want Margo Scott dead—the sooner, the better. 





Review:

This is my first Annie Solomon book, and while not the first Romantic Suspense I've read, I'm definitely still a newbie to the genre, but this is the one that so far I have enjoyed the most.

I think that might be due to the fact that it's got...not paranormal elements, exactly, but there's definitely some weird woo woo stuff going on. Which is more my cup of tea. How else would you explain waking up with almost no memories of your life save for a few dry facts, having the last 4 weeks completely missing from memory (like what you thought was yesterday was a month ago), and having these seemingly instinctive badass fighting skills with no knowledge of any training?

Well, it was all very intriguing let me tell you, and I enjoyed the story, including the romance angle, very much. Your main couple consists of Margo Scott, the one with the memory issues, and Jake Wise, the guy who always seems to be in the right place at the right time.

I enjoyed the fact that, as the relationship progressed, it was Jake who wanted it to be more than just casual sex, and Margo was the one that kept trying to keep him at arms' length. It makes a refreshing change and made him seem very sweet and endearing. Which you kinda needed to balance out the deception beforehand. But it did balance out nicely because I liked him very much as a hero by the end of the book. And I liked Margo, too, once we, and she herself, got to know her!

A great suspense-filled read. Recommended.

4 Stars! ★★★★

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Cover Love: Trapped by Kevin Hearne 5/5




New cover releases for upcoming titles. The good, the bad and the why-god-whys. Feel free to share your thoughts on the artwork.

And today we have...

Trapped by Kevin Hearne

My thoughts:

It's Granuaile! Yay! And Atticus is looking particularly fine, too!

I'm surprised but thrilled to see Atticus sharing the cover with his protege for this, the fifth instalment of the Iron Druid Chronicles. There's a 12 year gap between the events of book 4, Tricked, and those of book 5, Trapped, and it's great that Granuaile is clearly going to be a big part of book five's plot. The last time there was a book release, Kevin gave us an insightful look at what went into creating the final image. I'll be keeping my eye out to see if he does a similar blog post this time.

My Rating: 5/5

Previous covers in the series:



Monday, 11 June 2012

Review: When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James ★★★★

When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James
Genre: Historical Romance, Fairy Tale retelling
Series: Happily Ever Afters #1
Publication Date: January 25, 2011
ISBN: 978-0062021274
Page Count: 384
Rating: ★★★★

Miss Linnet Berry Thrynne is a Beauty . . . Naturally, she's betrothed to a Beast.

Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, lives in a castle in Wales where, it is rumored, his bad temper flays everyone he crosses. And rumor also has it that a wound has left the earl immune to the charms of any woman.

Linnet is not just any woman.

She is more than merely lovely: her wit and charm brought a prince to his knees. She estimates the earl will fall madly in love—in just two weeks.

Yet Linnet has no idea of the danger posed to her own heart by a man who may never love her in return.

If she decides to be very wicked indeed . . . what price will she pay for taming his wild heart?

Review:

Aw! Another sweet fairy tale retelling with some humour and hot smexy times thrown in for good measure.

This time it's Beauty and the Beast. Beauty is as gorgeous as she sounds; practically perfect in every way. Except that she's been ruined by rumour and scandal, and her ridiculous father and aunt insist that the only noble who'd even consider wedding her now would be the dreaded "Beast", a man whose ruthless reputation and medical brilliance precede him. I was very interested to read the historical notes section to discover that this character has been loosely based on Dr. Gregory House from the T.V show House. Or at least the leg injury, the need for the cane and the grumpy demeanor were hints of him. My Beast certainly didn't look anything like Hugh Laurie (No offense Hugh).

Beauty and Beast, aka Linnet and Piers, had sizzling chemistry right from their first meeting and it never waned. I loved the development of their love story, Piers' grumpiness didn't make him any less appealing to me. In fact, I found it quite sweet because it was so obviously all bluster; a defense mechanism against his growing admiration for Linnet.

“She’s like my other half,” Piers said savagely, keeping his head down. “My other bloody half, like some sort of joke that Plato made up. Like nothing I ever wanted, and then, there she was.” 


I'm really enjoying this series. Next up is 'The Duke is Mine' which is the retelling of The Princess and the Pea (can't wait to see how they fit that aspect in), and then another book has just been added to the series called 'The Ugly Duchess' *snort* How can you not want to read that?

4 Stars! ★★★★

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Review: The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie by Jennifer Ashley ★★★★

The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie by Jennifer Ashley
Genre: historical Romance
Series: Highland Pleasures #1
Publication Date: April 2009
ISBN: 978-0843960433
Page Count: 320
Rating: ★★★★

Beth Ackerley knows Lord Ian Mackenzie is mad. Only a madman would give a woman he had never met before a letter warning her not to wed her fiancé and then propose to her. Beth knows Ian is bad for her. One kiss from Ian, and Beth is prepared to give up her quiet new life as a widow and indulge in a scandalous affair with the sexy Scottish nobleman. But Beth knows that Ian is not dangerous. Even if everyone else in society might believe he is connected to the murder of two different women, Beth believes Ian is innocent, even if it means risking her life to prove her faith in him. 






Review:

This was a fascinating read. I thought Ashley did such an amazing job at highlighting some of the ways in which an autistic person views the world, and also how they are perceived in return. The attention to detail, the struggle to concentrate on more than one person at a time, the reluctance to make eye contact, the inability to filter their thoughts or lie. It made for some very interesting, sometimes heartbreaking, and sometimes sweetly endearing, scenes.

I really loved Lord Ian and his Beth. I was worried when he confessed right off that he would never be able to love her, because he just doesn't understand love. That made me fear this wouldn't be a particularly romantic tale.

Bah! Is what I say to that assumption.

“Your being with me makes it stop. It’s like the Ming bowls—when I touch them and feel them, everything stops. Nothing matters. You are the same. That is why I brought you here, to keep you with me, where you can please make . . . everything . . . stop.” 

As for the plot going on in the background....eh, I didn't love that quite as much. All the talk of murder and prostitutes and the revealed identity at the end could have come right out of Hercule Poirot. Or even Scooby Doo.

But who cares. It's all about Ian and Beth for me and I really enjoyed their story. We were also set up nicely for the next book featuring Mac MacKenzie. I look forward to getting to that one.

4 Stars! ★★★★

Review: Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn ★★★★

Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn
Genre: Urban fantasy
Series: Kitty Norville #4
Publication Date: January 2008
ISBN: 978-0446618755
Page Count: 352
Rating: ★★★★

Kitty's radio show is as popular as ever and she has a boyfriend who actually seems to understand her. Can she finally settle down to a normal life? Not if this is just the calm before the storm. When her mother falls ill, Kitty rushes back to Denver--and right back to the abusive pack of werewolves she escaped a year ago. To make matters worse, a war is brewing between the city's two oldest vampires, threatening the whole supernatural community. Though she wants to stay neutral, Kitty is again drawn into a world of politics and violence. To protect her family, her lover, and herself, she'll have to choose sides. And maybe become what she hates--a killer. 






Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed the last book, Kitty Takes a Holiday, with the caveat that although all the shocks and twists entertained me, I didn't actually like one of the plot developments. So I decided to go straight to the next book to see if it was just a temporary place holder, or something more permanent.

Well, it's permanent, and not something I can easily accept. I think Carrie Vaughn has made an epic mistake with her characters. She set up one potential plot line beautifully, then turned you in a completely new direction, with no set up whatsoever, so as a reader you're just like 'you're kidding, right? I mean, seriously, not really. Say it ain't so!'. So much so, that I did what I almost never do, which is to peek ahead at reviews to see how long it lasts. And unfortunately it looks like it's as permanent as permanent gets. So I have actually made the decision at this point not to read any further, which is really sad considering I gave the first four books 4 and 5 star ratings. I just don't think it's good for my health or sanity to read something that's going to annoy me from here on out.

I'm sorry this review is all so very vague. People that have read it will know to what I refer (I hope). And I would never spoil it for those that haven't. Or maybe it just doesn't bother anyone else. Who can say?

But for me, for the moment at least, it's goodbye Kitty. *sadface*

4 Stars! ★★★★

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Review: Kitty Takes a holiday by Carrie Vaughn ★★★★★

Kitty Takes a holiday by Carrie Vaughn
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Kitty Norville #3
Publication Date: April 2007
ISBN: 978-0446618748
Page Count: 336
Rating:  ★★★★★

After getting caught turning wolf on national television, Kitty retreats to a mountain cabin to recover and write her memoirs. But this is Kitty, so trouble is never far behind, and instead of Walden Pond, she gets Evil Dead. When werewolf hunter Cormac shows up with an injured Ben O'Farrell, Kitty's lawyer, slung over his shoulder, and a wolf-like creature with glowing red eyes starts sniffing around the cabin, Kitty wonders if any of them will get out of these woods alive...





Review:

This is my favourite book of the three so far. The story was very different in feel to the first two with the new setting of Kitty's holiday house, the strong presence of both Ben and Cormac, and the very surprising plot developments that occurred!

Also I enjoyed the mystery element over the more political plot of the last book. All in all, a much more satisfying read in terms of emotional connection and character development.

Kitty has basically decided to hide herself away for a month or so to get over the shock of her new status as the world's first celebrity werewolf after being filmed Changing on live TV in the last instalment. She's also supposed to be using the time to write a book, her memoirs, which isn't going quite as well as hoped.

I started a new page and wrote a title at the top: “Ten Ways to Defeat Macho Dickheadism.” Then I realized that most of the world’s problems stemmed from macho dickheadism, and if I could defeat that I could save the world.

I can't say a whole lot more about what else happened because of spoilers, but it was very shocking. At first I liked the development, until I realized what else it was going to affect and what it meant for other characters. Then I definitely didn't love it so much. However, I still have to give the book an extra star for entertainment, even if I don't like the developments. I'm hoping they are only temporary. I'll head straight on over to the next book to find out.

5 Stars! ★★★★★

Friday, 8 June 2012

Review: Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen ★★★


Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: Nightwatchers #1
Publication Date: May 22, 2012
ISBN: 978-0373210473
Page Count: 304
Rating: ★★★
Review Copy: ARC

 I don't do DANGEROUS.

Smart, über-careful, ordinary Samantha—that’s me. But I just couldn’t pass up a surprise kiss from my number-one unattainable crush. A kiss that did something to me...something strange. Now I feel hungry all the time, but not for food. It’s like part of me is missing—and I don’t know if I can get it back.

Then there’s Bishop. At first I thought he was just a street kid, but the secrets he’s keeping are as intense as his unearthly blue eyes. If he’s what I think he is, he may be the only one who can help me. But something terrifying is closing in, and the one chance Bishop and I have to stop it means losing everything I ever wanted and embracing the darkness inside me....

Nightwatchers: When angels and demons must work together, something beyond evil is rising...

Review:

First of all, I cry foul! Where's the Elvis hair gone? I was promised Elvis hair!

When the cover for this was first released the guy on the cover had this massive Elvis quiff that brought me no end of amusement. Seriously, you could have done a Half Pipe off the thing.

Don't believe me? Check it out, here's the original:

Elvis hair:

And here's the new one:

No Elvis hair:

Now where's the fun in that? It's all, like, normal and stuff. B. O. R. I. N. G.

As for the contents inside the book? Eh. It was okay. It was a decent enough story, but it had a lot of cliches, incredibly 2D cardboard cut-out characters, and a rather unlikable protagonist.

The worst part for me was the characterisation of the main character, Samantha, which consisted of TELLING me (as opposed to showing me), that she was a bookish, nerdy type that incongruously, for reasons unknown to the world at large, kept banging on about how she'd once shoplifted and ran away from home and spent three nights sleeping rough on the streets. #troubled #introverted

She was also quite bitchy and snarky, which was another thing she kept TELLING us about; that she had this incredible wit and had learned to fight people with her sharp tongue. Not once did I find any of her comebacks funny or cool in any way, but whatevs. #ohsnap #noyoudi'n't

She was also a bit TSTL. Like, "Hee, hee! Let's follow the weird, clearly mental, homeless dude into a dark alley. 'Cause he's like, super hot!". #inspired #tinygenius

And that's really all the characterisation you get. #theend

Oh, but then there were the boys: One good but tormented. One bad but redeemable. One really sweet, the token friend. One bad as bad can be...

I'm pretty sure the YAers will lap it all up, but I've read far too many books, including recently two brilliant YA books (Wilde's Fire by Krystal Wade and Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa), to accept this mediocre writing. It's all been done before so much better.

Having said all that, I did read it all the way through and in pretty short order. Like I said, the story itself was not too terrible and could have been so much better if it had some decent characters to carry it. But alas, it did not.

To sum up, it entertained me for a few hours, but I didn't like the characters enough to want more. I won't be reading the next one.

3 stars ★★★