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Currently Browsing: historical romance
Oct
2

Review: A Lady’s Secret Weapon by Tracey Devlyn

Review: A Lady’s Secret Weapon by Tracey Devlyn A Lady’s Secret Weapon Author: Tracey Devlyn Reviewer: Ang Rating: B, 3 Stars What I’m Talking About: A Lady’s Secret Weapon is the third title in the Nexus series, and I wish I had realized that going into the book. That knowledge would have saved me chapters of frustration because I could have either found the previous two books and caught up on the story line. OR known going in that a variety of relationships and other questions were going to be left unanswered, and I could have accept that and enjoyed what was in my hands. Tracey Devlyn gives us a well-written book with strong characters whose chemistry is tangible right out of the gate, and whose back stories are as interesting as the current story. She uses the similarities and differences between the characters to bring flavor and spice to a story that could easily be stiff or so far fetched it lacked plausibility. She delivers a storyline with interesting twists without going too far or playing it too safe, which is a nice change from the other books I’ve read of late. All of which were wonderful additions to world of historical fiction. Then the end happened, and although the final twist was interesting, it almost felt like a cop out, and it was one of many issues with the book’s conclusion. I read romance novels for the escape, which this book definitely gave me, but I also read it for the happily ever after, and I’m not sure I got that with this book. The side characters we follow and get to know through this book get no resolution. Giles and Latameyer disappear, Amelia and Mac what happens to them? Do they find their happily ever after together? apart? Does Mac find healing? What of the Nexus? As I was reading this book I was given no indication that this book is part of series and even as it ended I was not given any hint that another book would be coming to offer answers. Although the main characters Ethan and Sydney get their happily ever after, but I felt that there wasn’t enough story to give me the complete picture. Overall, I felt that despite its many assets, there were far too many unanswered questions for me to give this book an A. Was it fun? Certainly. Could many of my questions be answered by reading the other books? Possibly. Will I ever find...
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Sep
23

Review: Forged in Dreams and Magick by Kat Bastion

Review: Forged in Dreams and Magick by Kat Bastion Forged in Dreams and Magick Author: Kat Bastion  Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+, 5 stars What I’m Talking About: It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that completely captivated my attention like Forged in Dreams and Magick.  As the first title of Ms. Kat Bastion’s self-published Highland Legends series, readers are certainly in for a pleasant surprise. I went back and looked at my Goodreads updates while I was reading this title.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so up and down and all around emotionally for a dudes-in-kilts title as I was while reading this one.  Which is a good thing.  Ms. Bastion’s writing is tight, and able to transport the reader to 13th century Scotland or to the ancient Pict villages with her vivid descriptions and her attention to details needed to bring the reader into the time periods in question. In reflecting on Forged in Dreams and Magick, there’s nothing that irritated me.  Which. Is. Amazing.  Most of the time, even when I’m reading a fabulous book, something just doesn’t sit right with me.  You know, that one thing that makes you go, “Hrmmm…”  Additionally, I spent days revising this review just so I could write it spoiler-free.  VERRA difficult.  Here’s what I came up with. Characterization and setting were the primary focus, for me, while reading Forged in Dreams and Magick.  Without ever having been to Scotland, I felt as though I were riding through the woods on a trusty steed, wind in my face, the smell of the sea filtering through my lungs.  I could nearly smell the aromas in both time periods.  The tactile experiences were nothing short of amazing.  I could practically feel the fabrics and furs beneath my fingers.  I relished the experiences of Isabel, which can be two-fold.  The reading experience is EPIC.  Sometimes, however, vivid experiences such as this, throw me into the dreaded book hangover.  Not this time.  Ms. Bastion expertly resolved everything to my satisfaction, for this storyline.  Gently bringing her reader out of author-induced story hypnosis, and sending us on our merry way, with a smile on our faces.  A spoiler-free passage needs to make its way into my review; however (and seriously, I marked MANY passages I loved…this was the only one that was spoiler-free).  The illustration of emotion Ms. Bastion has masterfully crafted should convince any reader of the genre that this is a must read: Iain masterfully orchestrated every note of...
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Sep
19

Review: The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin

Review: The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin The Lotus Palace Author: Jeannie Lin  Reviewer: Una Rating: A, 4.5 Stars What I’m Talking About: The Lotus Palace is the first novel in a new Tang Dynasty series by Jeannie Lin.  Ms. Lin is a new-to-me author, and I am so excited to have volunteered for The Lotus Palace.  Suffice to say, I was enchanted, engaged and enthralled, the three E’s to which lead to me absolutely loving a new book.  This story reminds me in a way of Pretty Woman crossed with L.A. Confidential and yet is solely its own.  A hauntingly beautiful love story crossed with a fascinating detective drama, all of which seems impossible and yet still finds its happy ending.  I warn you, it is absolutely impossible to put down! Firstly, I know very little about Chinese culture, mores and customs; current let alone historically.  However, from what I have learned from school and movies and the like, it is very different from my own culture and yet, historically speaking, enchanting and similar.  I admit there were terms I did not understand, but thanks to technology (I read this on my e-reader) the definitions were easily found.  It was so seamlessly done that I didn’t realize how much I was learning as I was completely consumed and lost in the story.  I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the novel. This time period is stunningly beautiful, enchanting and yet the the beauty is hiding some very ugly and painful layers in society.  The rich descriptions of the locations and people allow the reader to be completely immersed in the world.  It is fascinating to learn how hurtful, ugly and hopeless the pleasure district is under such extraordinary beauty and charm.  The contrast between what is seen by the aristocracy and the life of those within the walls is staggering.  What allows us to see both sides of this world well is that we are granted the point of view from not only Yue-ying but Huang as well.  The dichotomy between then and the seemingly endless divide which separates them is surreal.  How they can hope to have a relationship seems so impossible and yet, Ms. Lin gives us the hope even when it seems only the darkness will remain. Our heroine of the story is from this more painful and ugly layer.  Yue-ying is the servant of a courtesan (I believe this is the correct term) for the famous Lotus Palace.  She has little hope...
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Sep
19

Review: Darke London by Coleen Kwan

Review: Darke London by Coleen Kwan Darke London Author: Coleen Kwan Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A-, 4 stars What I’m Talking About: Darke London was a great little historical distraction.  With a different flavor than my normal reading fare, I thoroughly enjoyed this novella. There really wasn’t anything specific that caused me to rate this title four stars; it just didn’t grab me like those that are a five.  I need an intense emotional connection for that perfect rating.  However, it was an expertly crafted story that had excellent character development. While not truly bothersome, I prefer a bit more setting description than Ms. Kwan chose to use.  I’m OK with that, but in this instance, my imagination could have taken a little break and focused more on the steampunk aspect of the story. Poor Nellie!  Besides surviving attempted murder, unbeknownst to her assailant, this little spit-fire has guts to spare.  Eager to learn the circumstances of her attack, Nellie took matters into her own hands.  I liked her.  She was of the mindset of 1800’s London, and that upbringing and the conventions of that time period were evident. Julian, the dashing doctor and engineer extraordinaire, fell head-over-heels for Nellie.  I thought he loved her inner beauty, and that was evident throughout the story.  Julian was tormented with his own inner demons surrounding his parentage, and that dominated about a third of his storyline.  Provided some great conflict, and a resolution that’s I adore. This novella is definitely worth the read!  I look forward to reading the next installment of Ms. Kwan’s Uncanny Chronicles series in the future. 4 stars: Enjoyed – strongly recommend (A-) About the Book: Julian Darke was only a newborn when he was abandoned on the doorstep of a gentleman doctor. Though raised with love, he is driven to discover his true origins. Convinced Sir Thaddeus Ormond knows something, Julian shadows him one night—and is shocked to see a young woman thrown from Ormond’s carriage and accosted by a thug. Julian manages to save her life, but not her face and hands from horrific injuries. Nellie Barchester doesn’t recognize the scarred, disfigured stranger in the mirror. Though the gifted doctor and engineer has done his best to repair the damage, scars ravage her body, and chill her soul with the realization that her own husband may have plotted her death. Julian’s tenderness is a balm to her soul, and Nellie is drawn to the edge of passion by a man not repelled by her...
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Sep
5

Review: Shivering Sands by Victoria Holt

Review: Shivering Sands by Victoria Holt Shivering Sands Author: Victoria Holt Reviewer: Una Rating: DNF What I’m Talking About: I was surprised to find that this novel, Shivering Sands is not a new book but a republished one.  That being said, this is not the type of historical novel I read.  I enjoy historical mysteries and suspense along with historical romances.  My problem with Shivering Sands is the narration.  I find the main character too focused on the trivial while not conveying items or snippets of importance.  I feel as is Caro is giving us a stream of consciousness account of a past experience.  In many ways I feel this novel to attempt to be like Rebecca and falls flat.  When I read, I like to find myself immersed in storytelling.  The sights, sounds, emotions conveyed in such a way I experience it along with the characters.  In Shivering Sands, I feel like I’m being instructed by a teacher who is easily distracted by the minutia.  By the half way point, even though it was finally getting interesting (plot-wise) I cannot take the style of writing any longer.  I hope to one day pick it up and finish it (I would like to know what happened to Roma) but I just cannot force myself to do it right now. DNF – Did Not Finish About the Book: Caroline knows something is wrong. Her sister Roma has gone missing, and no one can tell her why. The only option is to go where Roma was last seen—an estate with a deadly history… The Stacy family has lived off the Dover coast for generations, carefully navigating the treacherous quicksands nearby. But the sands aren’t Caroline’s biggest threat. Everyone here has a secret, especially enigmatic young heir Napier Stacy. No matter where Caroline turns, the ground she walks is dangerous. And the closer she comes to unraveling the truth, the closer she comes to sharing her sister’s fate… Release Date: September 3, 2013 (original release 1971) Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca ISBN: #978-1402277498 Genre: Historical Romance Format(s): Paperback (336 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley Purchase Info: The Shivering...
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Sep
3

Review: The Wife He Always Wanted by Cheryl Ann Smith

Review: The Wife He Always Wanted by Cheryl Ann Smith The Wife He Always Wanted Author: Cheryl Ann Smith Reviewer: Ang Rating: B-, 3 Stars What I’m Talking About: I want to like Cheryl Ann Smith’s novels. She steps out of the box and mixes Victorian period romances with decent mysteries. My struggle is that in every book I’ve read of hers one side of the story or the other suffers, The Wife He Always Wanted was no exception. It starts out strong. Rough and rowdy cowboy shows up at the door rescue the struggling and starving maiden and sister of his best friend, except he isn’t a cowboy–he is a gentlemen, and off they go on an adventure to find love in a marriage of duty. Pretty typical historical romance and Ms. Smith did a fine job with the romance side of the story. Sarah is sweet and it is fun to watch her come into her own as she learns to be a wife, a lady, navigate society and seduce her husband. Gabriel is kind and caring and works hard to be a good husband as he works through a few issues of his own. All-in-all they are charming couple to watch, with a family full of interesting characters that adore them both. This in and of itself would have made a fine novel but between the family references and the mystery of Sarah’s father’s death in the mix things got mucky. First, The Wife He Always Wanted is the last book in a series. I now have read two of the five books in the series, and it was frustrating for me because throughout the book there are references to things that have taken place in the past. While these issues were likely addressed in other books and clearly relate to the character or characters presented at the moment, I felt a bit lost and only got veiled references or a hint, but nothing solid. I don’t need a complete retelling, but I feel like more information into their back stories would have been helpful to catch me up. Second, The mystery of Sarah’s father is dealt with throughout the book, but her brother and his past is never dealt with. We know he died in America, but never do we get so much as a flashback to tell us what he was like with Sarah or Gabriel or what happened to him in America other than he died. Given that this is last novel in the series...
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Aug
16

Review: Behind His Blue Eyes by Kaki Warner

Review: Behind His Blue Eyes by Kaki Warner Behind His Blue Eyes Author: Kaki Warner Reviewer: Ang Rating: C What I’m Talking About: Let me start by saying I REALLY REALLY like Kaki Warner’s writing. I have thoroughly enjoyed every book I have read by her up to this point. I love the way she captures the Colorado frontier. I adore her handsome, haunted, brave heroes and her beautiful, feisty, smart heroines. She is a master of showing what is going on and capturing a moment or feeling. Her relationships are fun to read, the danger is real and I wait with baited breath for the kidnapping or other trouble to come and for the gallant hero to come to the rescue. I must say she didn’t disappoint with Behind His Blue Eyes in regard to any of these things. Our story centers on Ethan, the hero is haunted with a tragic past that threatens to consume his future, and Audra, the beautiful, independent woman working to save her family and saves Ethan in the process. Along the way they encounter a forest fire that threatens the entire town and a crazed serial killer, among other things. But it is the crazed serial killer that changed the entire novel for me. Don’t get me wrong her is well written, brutal, vile, disgusting, so much so I found my stomach churning in spots, not unlike something out of a Law and Order SVU episode. Now I’ll admit it could just be me and my baggage but I thought Ms. Warner went too far with the villain and the descriptions of his activities. I felt like she could have described his earlier actives, the abduction, what the mine shaft looked like, and the trip to Audra’s keeping place, and that would have given a clear and accurate picture of his craziness and brutality. Instead she goes into such detail in the mine shaft that I very nearly stopped reading. If I hadn’t been familiar with Ms. Warner’s writing style and known there would be a Happily Ever After I would have stopped. The sexual assault was just too much for me. I realize it made a beautiful moment later in the book between Ethan and Audra but I think the picture could have just as clear without all the detail. Ms. Warner does a lovely job of bringing everything back to a safe, sweet, beautiful place and I wish I could say that that was enough for me. But...
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Jul
15

Review: Tempting a Devil by Samantha Kane

Review: Tempting a Devil by Samantha Kane Tempting a Devil Author: Samantha Kane Release Date: July 8, 2013 Publisher: Loveswept The Saint’s Devils #2 ISBN: #9780345537928 Genre: Historical Romance Format(s): e-book Book Source: Publisher/ NetGalley About the book:       As wealthy and beautiful as she is desperate, Harriet Mercer can have any man she wants—which makes picking the worst of the lot quite easy. By convincing the ton she is a ruined woman, Harry hopes to outwit the greedy, conniving cad blackmailing her into a loveless marriage. Roger Templeton is a rogue with a scandalous reputation, no expectations, and no shame. He is perfect for Harry’s fall from grace. Her brazen attempts at a very public seduction are delightful fodder for gossip . . . and pure torment for Roger.       With his pockets as empty as his heart, Roger is in no mood for games and decides to show Harry how foolish it is to tempt a devil. But behind her mesmerizing golden eyes, he sees something unexpected: a woman in trouble. Her scandalous behavior would be amusing if he wasn’t captivated by her lush, curvaceous beauty. Worse, every libertine bone in his body has turned traitorously noble. Only a rake would seduce her. But only a gentleman in love can save her. What I’m talking about:       Roger Templeton, a rake known as one of the Saint’s Devils, is leaving a party when he overhears a woman attempting to remove herself from a man’s unwanted advances. He rescues her, only to find himself being seduced by this beautiful temptress. However, he soon realizes she is his childhood friend, Harriet (Harry) Stanley. He quickly back-pedals and attempts to help his long ago friend before she becomes the focus of ugly gossip.       On the other hand, Harry is determined to be ruined. Enjoying the freedom that comes to a widow, she does not want to marry anyone, let alone the unpleasant Mr. Faircloth, and she feels that sullying her reputation will end his obstinate pursuit. Unfortunately for Roger, she is determined he will be the one to do it.       Nothing is quite as it seems in Ms. Kane’s wonderful Tempting a Devil. Right from the start of the book, the reader understands that there is more going on to the entire situation than meets the eye. Ms. Kane does a wonderful job revealing information a little at a time, leaving the reader hanging on...
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Jun
14

Review: The Magic of "I Do" by Tammy Falkner

Review: The Magic of "I Do" by Tammy Falkner The Magic of I Do Author: Tammy Falkner  Release Date: June 4, 2013 Publisher: Sourcebooks Faerie #2 ISBN: #978-1402268151 Genre: Historical/ Paranormal Romance Format(s): Paperback (320 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book:      Claire Thorne is a faerie on a mission. When the governing body of her world puts a prohibition on magic, she escapes to the human world and straight into the arms of Lord Phineas Tremble. When he insists on being her crime-solving partner, she does everything she can to get rid of him—until she realizes his gift for smooth talking might come in handy when tracking down a killer. Before long, Finn has his hands full keeping Claire out of trouble, because the two of them together create more sparks than her faerie dust ever could… What Una is talking about:      I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this Historical Paranormal Romance series, A Lady and her Magic.  The second novel, The Magic of I Do, is just as fun and fluffy and was more even more engaging.  I continue to enjoy this fresh Faerie series.      As we reenter this fascinating world of Faerie, we are better introduced to Sophia’s sister, Claire.  While Sophia is stubborn, Claire in contrast will make Sophia look as if she lacks a backbone.  Claire is delightfully hardheaded, sarcastically witty and carries a bit of a chip on her shoulder.  She is having a very difficult time adjusting to the impact that Sophia’s romance and marriage to Ashley, the Duke of Robinsworth, had on the fae.  Most notably the inclusion of her estranged/banished mother, father and her siblings (most who are not considered fae).      Finn, the Duke of Robinsworth’s brother, is a rake.  He is the younger son, so he is a gentleman with no profession.  Except, he enjoys solving mysteries, interestingly enough, and it seems it is something other members of the ton know.  Finn seems to have a somewhat successful time of solving crimes, discretely which causes someone to seek his assistance in The Magic of I Do.  However, as the novel begins Finn’s life was devastated when his long time mistress leaves him for a wealthier gentleman.      At the conclusion of A Lady and her Magic, Claire is entrusted into Finn’s care.  As The Magic of I Do begins it seems that Claire and Finn are stoutly opposed to each other.  However a bit of whiskey and relaxation...
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Jun
10

Review: How to Tame Your Duke by Juliana Gray

Review: How to Tame Your Duke by Juliana Gray How to Tame Your Duke Author: here Juliana Gray Release Date: June 4, 2013 Publisher: Berkley A Princess In Hiding #1 ISBN: #978-0425265666 Genre: Historical Romance Format(s): Paperback (320 pgs), ebook Book Source: Publisher About the book:       Three intrepid princesses find themselves targets in a deadly plot against the crown—until their uncle devises a brilliant plan to keep them safe…       England, 1888. Quiet and scholarly Princess Emilie has always avoided adventure, until she’s forced to disguise herself as a tutor in the household of the imposing Duke of Ashland, a former soldier disfigured in battle and abandoned by his wife. When chance draws her into a secret liaison with the duke, Emilie can’t resist the opportunity to learn what lies behind his forbidding mask, and find out what adventure really means…       The duke never imagines that his son’s tutor and his mysterious golden-haired beauty are one and the same. But when the true identity of his lover is laid bare, Ashland must face the demons in his past in order to safeguard both his lady—and his heart. What Ang’s talking about:       I want you all to know that I really wanted to like How to Tame Your Duke. I have enjoyed everything else Juliana Gray has written up to this point and frankly, I don’t want to make her mad.  I want her to keep writing.  Not that my one little review is going to keep that from happening, but if the next novel is as tepid as this one is, I probably won’t continue to read this series.  Seriously, these characters were so unremarkable I can’t even remember their names sitting here writing this review.  I know there was princess. She was smart and snarky.  There was a wounded duke, his son who was hilarious, and a maid who was so clueless that she offered a lot of comic relief from the boredom.       There was a lot of potential here.  There was a princess, spies, abductions, hidden identities—sounds good, right?  The seduction  was really beautifully written.  I felt the emotion and struggle of it. The side characters offered a wonderful distraction from the main plot.      However, the rest of the story was like a roller coaster ride where you wait five hours in line, finally get to the top of the giant incline, and—nothing.  It’s just a straight shot to the...
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