Review: His Wicked Lady by Sharon Drane

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Publication: December 1st 2016 by Salt Run Publishing LLC

ISBN13: 9781623900557      Series:  Touch The Sky #3

Rating:  5*

I was completely engrossed from the very first pages of this delightful book by Ms. Sharon Drane.  Right from the beginning I wanted to smack the Baron William Hargreaves for his beastly insult to Miss Caroline Burgess.   And then I wanted to stand up and cheer for Caroline’s response back at William and the other aristocrats who joined in on verbally attacking Caroline.

No one hearing the nasty insults from William would ever believe that Caroline actually enjoys the skirmishes, or that she secretly relishes the feelings he stirs within her breast.    As much as William does his best to hide his growing attraction to Caroline the outspoken American heiress, she seems to continually fall further from acceptance from the Ton when she does the unthinkable and accepts a role in a play.   Probably the most inexcusable profession for a lady of the ton. 

None the less, William can’t ignore her for she had tried to save his niece from a disastrous marriage to a terrible bounder and brutal man.   And for all that he and the ton  were singing Caroline’s praises for the most wonderful actress she portrayed in the play.  She was a success!

However, the success became more of a burden and after having to kill a man in self defense, Caroline returned to Philadelphia, broken hearted that William who had seemed to come around to friendship, had totally snubbed her.

The story continues with clips of Caroline in America building a life without the man she loves and William in England raising the son he never knew he had.  It was both bittersweet, with hints of betrayal, suspense and longing and twists you never saw coming.

Bottom line:   This was a totally perfect read for me, with a steady pace and characters to fall in love with.  A really great read I highly recommend.

Marilyn Rondeau

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Review: When You Wish by Alexandra Ivy

whenyouwish

Publisher: Lyrical Press Publication Date: November 8, 2016

Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services

ASIN: B01BRFLI5W      Rating:   5*

THE CHRISTMAS WISH

Sarah Cresswell leads a peaceful life—until she’s asked to help a handsome nobleman unearth a thief. Soon the unlikely duo is navigating London’s seamy side—and an undeniable attraction. But it’s a love that can never be, unless intervention comes from a most unexpected source…

This was really kind of a cute story with Sarah being the daughter of the infamous Devilish Dandy – a rascally jewel thief and being approached by the uptight Flawless Earl, to help him locate his mother’s highly prized diamond tiara and necklace.   Needless to say, the story was delivered with a fast pace and several secondary characters who I hope return to enliven this sweet romance.

THE VALENTINE WISH

Emma Cresswell would do anything to escape gossip-plagued London because of her relationship to the Devilish Dandy so she leaves to start anew as a lady’s companion. Emma Certainly didn’t expect to become attracted to her employer’s reckless and highly attractive nephew and did her best to stay out of his way.  However, Cedric, Lord of Hartshore, senses that beneath Emma’s conservative veneer is a heart as passionate as his own—and he’s determined to win it!  Again, we have another of the three daughters of the Devilish Dandy whom has come to realize that he owes his daughters a future and reliable life  which in his younger years had not been something he’d thought about.   Emma the daughter who is most embarrassed by him is aghast that he drops into her quiet life and starts making a nuisance of himself and may just upset her newly composed life story.

THE WEDDING WISH

The most outrageous of all the Devilish Dandie’s daughter is Rachel Cresswell.  Rachel has come to Surrey primarily to make her presence known and to aggravate Lady Broswell who has snubbed and insulted Rachael for far too long!  Rachel wants revenge of a sort, but Anthony Clarke a handsome recluse inventor seems to thwart and talk her out of her most outrageous plots.   In the meantime, Rachel discovers that Lady Broswell has another daughter, one she keeps hidden in an old dowager house on her estate; the child Julia, just happens to be Rachel’s cousin – for Lady Broswell is truly her Aunt.

Bottom line:   All three of the these novella’s have one thing in common, all daughters of the Devilish Dandy and though wanted by the law, he disguises himself in every story to help out each one of his daughters.   The stories are all delightful and it’s wonderful to see each find the man of their dreams.   A really great ‘feel-good’ book of delightful stories.

Marilyn Rondeau

 

Review: Shadowed Souls ed. by Jim Butcher and Kerrie L. Hughes

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I love urban fantasy anthologies and Jim Butcher is one of my favorite authors so I couldn’t pass up on reading SHADOWED SOULS. And oh, what a treat SHADOWED SOULS is for readers! Eleven phenomenal urban fantasy authors have joined forces to compile a fascinating taste of their worlds for us to explore.

Jim Butcher’s “Cold Case” is obviously my favorite story in SHADOWED SOULS, as I’ve been following the Dresden Files for many years and I love this glimpse into Molly’s role in Mab’s court.  Jim Butcher ensures that the story stands on its own merits but I suspect that anyone who gets even the tiniest taste of Jim Butcher’s world is going to want more!

Seanan McGuire is a more recent addition to my favorite urban fantasy authors and boy, what an interesting twist on the succubus theme. Elsie Harrington just wants to support her cousin’s derby game and get over a broken heart. Instead, she finds herself aiding in a rescue. I’m still working my way through Seanan McGuire’s backlist but “Sleepover” is further proof that I will read anything Seanan McGuire writes- and like it.

Tanya Huff’s Vicki Nelson series is another one I’m a fan of so I was pleased to see her story, “If Wishes Were”, included in SHADOWED SOULS. Mike has been injured and the trail leads Vicki in an interesting direction, one that will put Vicki’s skills to use if she is to resolve the problem. I love that this series has shown back up, even if only in a short story. Vicki is a great heroine and I suspect readers of “If Wishes Were” will want to read her Vickie Nelson series immediately to enjoy the character in a longer format.

Anton Strout, Kat Richardson, Kevin J. Anderson, Lucy A. Snyder, Jim C. Hines, Erik Scott de Bie, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Rob Thurman round out the rest of this anthology. Each one is fascinating and I intent to read more by these authors soon. However, I have to mention the Kristine Kathryn Rusch story, “Sales. Force”, in particular. From the clever concept to the powerful emotional impact, “Sales. Force” hooked me!

If you love urban fantasy and are a sucker for anthologies (like I am), then SHADOWED SOULS is a must-read for you. Urban fantasy continues to thrive as a genre and SHADOWED SOULS collects together eleven outstanding stories by a nice variety of authors. Highly recommended!

*copy received from Netgalley*

Review: The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman

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It all started with the bidding on a precious book, banned by the government. Irene is determined to obtain the book for the Library while Charles Melancourt wants the book for a Russian buyer. Unfortunately, things quickly get complicated. Kai is supposed to meet with Peregrine Vale, a fellow fighter of crime and a friend. Instead, he runs into a trap and finds himself bound. Meanwhile, Irene is determined to find him- even if it costs her the position of Librarian that she values so highly.  Irene will have to sift through the various Fae intrigues if she hopes to rescue Kai….

THE MASKED CITY is the second book in Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library series but can easily be read as a standalone. As much as I enjoyed the first book, THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY, this second book simply blew me away! My only complaint- and it’s a very small one- is that we got less time with Kai since he spent most of the book in kidnapped status.

Genevieve Cogman expands on the world building in THE MASKED CITY and I love the potential I see for future books in this series as well.  The Library allows its librarians so basic resources that are typically at their disposal, but THE MASKED CITY turns all of that upside down. We get a lot of insight into the Fae world and the conflict exists internally. Even more intriguing, however, are the glimpses we get of the dragon’s world and I sincerely hope we get to see more of this in the future.

However, as much as I love the depth and complexity of the world building, it is the characters who truly make this series so enjoyable. Irene is a phenomenal heroine, both spunky and loyal to her friends. I love that she refuses to give up on Kai- and better yet, that Kai knows she won’t give up on him.  Vale isn’t as prominent in THE MASKED CITY but he continues to fight for justice, even when the paths for him to help seem blocked.

THE MASKED CITY solidifies my enjoyment of The Invisible Library series as I’m definitely hooked! Full of action, world building, and great character development, THE MASKED CITY is a fast paced read that keeps you rapidly turning the pages to see what will happen next. Highly recommended!

*Review copy received from Netgalley*

Review: Curse on the Land by Faith Hunter

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Nell Ingram has finished her training at Spook School and is now ready to start working under Rick LaFleur as part of his Psychometry Law Enforcement Division (PsyLED) team. The team’s current case seems right up Nell’s alley as the land itself appears infected and the infection is spreading. Can Nell and the rest of PsyLED Unit Eighteen uncover the origin of the problem and stop the spread of the malignant infection before it grows even more powerful?

I love Nell! She’s a great narrator for the story as she’s an intriguing blend of wisdom, wit, and innocence. Nell’s determination to become a full-fledged member of Unit Eighteen is apparent in every action she takes, as we see her learning even more about her own magical abilities. However, it is her quest for knowledge that makes her all the more fascinating. Faith Hunter incorporates some interesting scientific facts into the storyline of CURSE ON THE LAND– Spongebob, being one that sent me quickly to the internet and my friend Google.

And oh, does Faith Hunter ever throw some twists at the PsyLED team in CURSE ON THE LAND!  I don’t want to reveal too much but one of the twists definitely satisfied me and has me wondering how this will play into future events, particularly since we are seeing Jane Yellowrock’s name pop into the series more and more.  I like that we get to see Nell beginning to emerge as a leader in her own rights and I can’t wait to see where Faith Hunter takes us with her character.

CURSE ON THE LAND is the second book in Faith Hunter’s Soulwood series and I highly suggest reading it in the context of the series as a whole. The majority of the story stands alone but Nell is continuing to learn about her own powers and there is an ongoing thread involving events from the first book, BLOOD OF THE EARTH. Besides, this series is simply too good not to be enjoyed! Highly recommended!

*copy of the book received from NetGalley*

Leopard’s Fury

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She calms him, she excites him … she is his.

Evangeline Tregre has run from the bayou shifters lair and made a good life for herself. She has leopard shifter blood but has never shifted. She has decided to stay away from that world … until Alonzo Massi walks into her bakery.

Alonzo knows that he can’t get involved with the sweet bakery owner, but he has been compelled to visit her shop. She brings peace to his Amur leopard as no one had ever been able to do. When danger comes her way he has no choice but to step in. He has no choice because no one will endanger what is his. But can Evangeline possibly tame the viscous beast that is very much a part of Alonzo?

LEOPARD’S FURY is another fascinating winner from author Christine Feehan. I did have to go back to the previous “Leopard Novel” books to find out exactly who Evangeline was but once I had, I applauded her escape from the world she was raised in. Both she and Alonzo carry a lot of baggage that had to be worked through and I believe that was done well. There is still a bit of bossiness that is sometimes a little irritating to me, but I guess that is the nature of the men involved as shifters with a cold nature and killer instincts. On the most part the women, Evangeline especially, knows what to say and do to sooth the beast within.

I enjoy renewing acquaintances with past characters of any series and loved watching these “bad guys” as they try to clean up their part of the world as best they can. The outsiders might believe they are part of the mafia or gangster world but they and those that love them know the truth. If you are a fan of these novels you know what I mean and if not … you have got to read all of Ms. Feehan’s leopard books to understand.

If you want action, sometimes violent and dangerous; strong alpha heroes; sweet but with strength of steel heroines; and love that will last through any storm then LEOPARD’S FURY is exactly the book for you.

Review: Highland Chieftain by Hannah Howell

highland-chieftan

book, 352 pages     Published September 27th 2016 by Zebra

ISBN13: 9781420135060               Series:  Murray Family #21

Rating 5*

Beth Matheson, responsible for protecting her younger siblings, just wanted a bit of solace for herself and youngest sister in her secret place.  However, she could not ignore the body lying on the edge of the water when she passed by.  Hopefully he was dead and she could just continue on her way, but that didn’t happen.  So with some resentment at the change to her plans, Beth did her best to help to get the very large man on his feet (or foot as one leg was badly broken) and hide him in her secret place.  He was very ill and she knew she would have to return again and again to tend to his wounds.

Sir Callum MacMillan originally thought he’d been rescued by a celestial being, yet he soon realized the slight lass had saved him from certain death.  In spite of her slight frame, he knew she was as tough as nails, but the sight of telltale marks of an angry fist on her skin brought his protector instincts to the forefront although with his broken leg, there wasn’t much which he could do to protect her let alone save himself.

***  I have to say that this was an absolutely phenomenal read – Ms. Hannah Howell has always been a favorite of mine and while she writes some of the best Scottish Historical Romances, those that happen to be connected to the Murray family are always a treasure to behold.

One of the other things that Hannah delivers and I always enjoy are the numerous characters she creates to develop her in depth stories.  Consequently, the children or Beth’s siblings – of which only one was actually a blood relative –and the many brothers that she had grown up with she did her best to protect from her abusive father.  Often times at her own detriment when she would step forth to guard them from a swinging fist.   All the wonderful children aside, Howell’s story just kept getting better and better as it continued on and Beth was arrested, rescued and discovered who her real father was along with a sweetly written romance which built slowly and ever so solidly.

Bottom line:   You will not be disappointed to read HIGHLAND CHIEFTAIN and to be reintroduced to the wonderful Murray family!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Black Diamond by Susannah Sandlin

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Author:  Susannah Sandlin                  Book Publisher: Montlake Romance

Paperback, 255 pages                                  Published October 18th 2016

ISBN13: 9781503940413                            Series:  Wilds of the Bayou #2

Jena Sinclair isn’t exactly hiding in the beauty of the bayou, but as a wildlife agent it has become a place of refuge where she tries to forget the tragedy that scarred her body and soul.  However, when a mutilated body of a fisherman shows up , Jena realizes that Bayou Pointe-aux-Chenes is not safe and the something is definitely stirring up the alligator population to act in weird and dangerous ways.  The deaths are bad enough but there has been a terrible influx of a new and highly dangerous drug known as Black Diamond which is turing drug addicts into sociopaths with death wishes.

Jena’s investigation led her to the bayou where she happened to meet Cole Ryan – a handsome recluse struggling with his own tragic past – who just so happens to know a bit more than he would like to admit to.  But someone is dealing death and destruction throughout Terrebonne Parish and after a while Cole realizes two things; one, he must come forward with what he knows, and two since meeting Jena another obvious suffering woman maybe he’s ready to leave his self imposed exile and return to the 21st century.

What a most interesting and fresh plot that Ms. Sandlin has come up with in this second book of her Wilds of the Bayou series.   Very enjoyable with two wounded souls who one can see are simply made for one another.  Combining the suspense and mystery of “psycho” alligators, dangerous drugs, murder and mayhem BLACK DIAMOND seems to have touched on all the checks I want to see in a great read.

This was a fast read, both in length and especially the steady pace of the story which I found was not easy to put down.  Both of the leads were fully fleshed out and their motivation neatly tied up.  All things considered the romance was dealt both sweet and sexy.   What more can be said except I highly recommend BLACK DIAMOND for anyone looking for a very different themed excellent read.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: My American Duchess by Eloisa James

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Review:  My American Duchess  by Eloisa James

Published January 26th 2016 by Avon     Audio  Length: 12 hours and 13 minutes

After two broken betrothals Miss  Merry Pelford, an American Heiress has come abroad with her aunt and uncle as a last chance to marry Merry off to an English gentleman.  Lord Cedric Allardyce the younger brother of a duke has quickly zeroed in on Merry and after a short -one month –  courtship promptly proposed at a ball then disappeared to the card room.  Merry needed air and pulled herself out to a balcony to reassess what had just happened – she was now betrothed.

Before too long a gentleman came bursting out to the balcony, clearly upset and hadn’t noticed Merry standing alone in the shadows.  Naturally, Merry being American and not your normal gently bred unassuming London debutante, tapped him on the shoulder to discover if there were anything she might do to help.  Aghast that a woman would just simply approach him the Duke of Trent was anything but friendly, but alas Merry was not impeded by his brusque mood.  After many minutes of discussion with this unusually intelligent and attractive woman, Trent who never smiled had quite enjoyed their discussion and certain he must be introduced officially to her.  The introduction was not what he expected – Merry Pelford was betrothed to his twin brother!

In a couple of words…Absolutely delightful!  I loved the whole premise of twins – one the good one and the other somewhat of a sleaze.   Not identical in looks and definitely not in character, but ‘oh spit’ neither were a match for the intrepid American Heiress Merry Pelford.   After meeting Trent Merry had begun to think that she just might be a shallow person, especially now that after meeting her betrothed future brother-in-law, she was having second thoughts about jumping too quick into another betrothal which she was beginning to realize was another mistake.

But what could she do – go for three broken betrothals?  My gosh she wouldn’t have a reputation left or should she go through with it and be miserable married to one and lusting for the other.  My oh my, be careful what one wishes for .

Lots of fun between the pages, the sheets, and a real surprise wedding make this a terrific read which I consider a true winner.   The narration by Kate Reading was lovely and well performed.   I’m only sorry it took me so long to pick this up to listen to.

Marilyn Rondeau