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Aug
22

Review: The Dragon’s Bride

Review: The Dragon’s Bride Please welcome new, part-time reviewer, Nissan Mama, aka “Nima.” She brings you today’s review. For more info about Nima, click HERE.  The Dragon’s Bride Author: Jo Beverley  Release Date: August 2, 2011 (re-release) Publisher: NAL The Company of Rogues #7 ISBN: #978-0451233400 Genre: Historical Romance Format(s): Paperback (336 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: Con Somerford, Viscount Amleigh, is not pleased to have inherited the Earldom of Wyvern and the monstrous house that goes with it. He’s even less pleased when the first person he encounters there is Susan Kerslake with a pistol in her hands. Susan and he have a past, a bitter one. The years in between, however, have been years of war. That must, surely, have armed him so he can resist her, and deal with the smuggling with which she is clearly involved. What Nima is talking about: “The Company of Rogues” is a band of twelve friends who met at Harrow School in their youth and bestowed this title upon themselves.  They came from different backgrounds and prided themselves as anti-bullies, “opposing oppression from all quarters.”  As I understand it, each book in this series is the romance of one of the Rogues, except two who died while on active military duty.  Other books in this series have been written as spin-offs utilizing the same Regency time period and background of established characters. I preface my thoughts with the disclaimer that I have not read the previous six books in the series and this was the first work of Jo Beverley that I have ever read.  My first impression was that The Dragon’s Bride wasn’t bad.  It also wasn’t great.  It’s been my experience that as an author gets to know her characters and the rules of the world she creates well, either her writing improves with each book because she can build what she’s already written OR the writing slacks off, taking the reader for granted.  The Dragon’s Bride felt to me like the latter.   In fact, this particular book read like a “B” movie of Hollywood’s Golden-Age.  I never mentally pictured a rich, layered countryside with a dark and brooding castle…I pictured Bing Crosby and Rhonda Flemming dressed up in modern fabrics and hairstyles, designed to look not historically accurate, but the way a modern audience would expect them to look, bowing to every stereotype.   How do you have multi-generational smugglers and rogues, but still make everyone friendly...
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Aug
11

Review: Catriona

Review: Catriona Catriona Author: Jeanette Baker  Release Date: August 1, 2011 Publisher: Sourcebook Casablanca ISBN: #978-1402255861 Genre: Paranormal/Historical Romance Format(s): Paperback (385 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: Catriona… Kate Sutherland always felt out of place in brash and modern Southern California. But when she comes to her ancestral home in the Shetland Islands to seek a mystical guide who may shed light on her true heritage, she is caught between the present day and visions of a life from five centuries past…. A fiery young woman of royal English blood, Catriona Wells is determined to save her family from the deadly political clashes of 15th-century Britain. But Cat’s cunning is no match for Scottish border lord Patrick MacKendrick. When this powerful warrior betroths her against her will, Cat must decide whether she dares to love him–and to trust him with lives that are more precious to her than her own. What G & U are talking about: Catriona is a standalone novel that claims to mix paranormal with historical romance.  Based on the description, Una and Gikany feel let down.  As we have previously stated, we are not contemporary romance people.  We also are very picky when it comes to historical romance (Gikany more so than Una).  Gikany and Una prefer the element of the paranormal in our romance stories.  With Catriona we thought we would be getting a good mix.  We didn’t. The most glaring issue we found is the main character, Kate, suffers from and gives the reader, whiplash.  She is on or off, hot or cold.  She takes a stance and then without much pressure, she’ll just switch.  This flashing back and forth was very unrealistic.   The interactions between Kate and her modern day love interest extenuate this.  We really wish Niall had just walked away, he deserved better and she would deserve the heartache from losing him.  It is very difficult to walk in the main character’s shoes when you wish she would just disappear. Another major issue is the transitions between the historic portion and the contemporary.  They are not smooth for the most part and depending on the reader’s perspective can be just summed up as a huge dream.  This “twice-lived” paranormal element is just a bunch of woo-woo; she dreamed it all in an effort to explain her “emo-ness.” In fact, Una found herself wanting to skip over the modern day portions so she could get back to the historical...
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Jul
12

Review: Burning Down the Spouse

Review: Burning Down the Spouse Burning Down the Spouse Author: Dakota Cassidy Release Date: July 5, 2011 Publisher: Berkley Trade Ex-Trophy Wives Series #2 ISBN: #978-0425241080 Genre: Contemporary Romance Format(s): Paperback (356 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: After discovering that her famous chef husband was cheating, Frankie Bennett lost her mind-on live TV. Now Frankie is broke, unemployed, and hiding out in her aunt’s retirement village. That is, until Maxine Henderson-Barker-reformed trophy wife and owner of Trophy Jobs Inc. employment agency-arrives to give Frankie a much needed kick in the pants. Soon, Frankie lands a job as a prep chef at a Greek diner in New Jersey, home to the world’s best meatloaf and an owner who resembles an exquisitely chiseled Greek statue. Falling into bed with Nikos isn’t the best idea, but after years of living in a man’s shadow, this ex- trophy wife is ready to get busy cooking… What G & U are talking about: As Gikany and Una have expressed before, we are not big on contemporary romance, we prefer it have an element of urban fantasy or paranormal within it. That being said, since Una has read the Accidental Friends series by Dakota Cassidy, she thought it might be fun to give this book a try, especially with the catching title and synopsis. This book, however did not quite live up to our expectations. Burning Down the Spouse is the second novel in the Ex-Trophy Wives series. You need not read the first book to jump into the series, and we didn’t realize this was the second book until we were getting this review ready. It is a lighthearted contemporary romance, and would definitely be considered a light and quick read. There is some funny banter and moments; however, we had some issues. Burning Down the Spouse begins with seeing our main character, Frankie, in the middle of her “crazy” after finding out her husband of 18 years is cheating on her. She was forthright and wonderful in her “airing of the grievances.” Sadly, her character turned out to not be the strong, sassy character we were introduced to (and hoping for). She was actually quite timid, battling incredible low self-esteem and plagued by her own pessimism. While her character did seem to fight this through the course of the novel, the battle had a very black-or-white feeling. One thing that Una would like to point out was the weak dialogue. It was something that normally...
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Mar
29

Review: Waking Nightmares

Review: Waking Nightmares Waking Nightmares Author: Christopher Golden  Release Date: March 29, 2011 Publisher: Ace The Shadow Saga #5 (Peter Octavian Novels) ISBN: #978-0441020171 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): paperback (352 pages), e-book I received a copy of this book from the PUBLISHER for the purposes of an honest review. From the author’s website: When chaos erupts in the small coastal town of Hawthorne, Massachusetts, former vampire-turned-mage Peter Octavian and earthwitch Keomany Shaw arrive to investigate.  Years ago, Octavian helped expose the secret existence of vampires to the world, dismantling the Vatican’s sorcery corps in order to save his fellow shadows from destruction.  But without the Vatican sorcerers, the magical barriers they spent centuries constructing to keep the forces of darkness out of our world are beginning to fail, and things are slipping through.  Now an ancient god of chaos is awakening in Hawthorne, its influence spreading…and it’s Octavian’s fault.  If he can’t stop it, the blood of all human kind will be on his hands. What B is talking about: Peter Octavian is a former vampire who has, quite literally, been through Hell and back and is now not only mortal, but the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Believing that he bears responsibility for the dark forces threatening our world, he has become mankind’s champion, determined to do what he can to save humanity. Waking Nightmares, the fifth novel in The Shadow Saga, was a difficult novel for me. Although it was a well-written book, it was more “horror-fantasy” than Urban Fantasy in my opinion. And while I have a serious soft spot for Paranormal Romance, as well as a growing appreciation for Urban Fantasy, I’ve never been able to really enjoy Horror as a genre.  With that in mind, I have to say I didn’t care for Waking Nightmares. It was gory, there is no trace of a happy ending, and there is at least one sex “situation” that I found fairly awful. The novel definitely had me turning pages as fast as I could read them, but I realized at some point that my compulsion to keep reading was born of the hope that the characters were going to catch a break soon, rather than a real anticipation of what Golden might have in store next.  To be fair, if I was a fan of horror novels I’d probably like this book a great deal. The story was truly well-written and would have been a good read, I think....
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