Review: Magic for Nothing by Seanan McGuire

MAGIC FOR NOTHING is the sixth book in the InCryptid series. Readers can jump right into the storyline although spoilers for the previous book, CHAOS CHOREOGRAPHY, are given. MAGIC FOR NOTHING switches narrators as we start to see the life of Antimony “Annie” Price, the younger sister of Verity Price who was featured in CHAOS CHOREOGRAPHY.

Annie is forced to go undercover in the very organization her family has spent generations avoiding- the Covenant of St. George. Fortunately, her stint with a circus gives her an edge and Annie soon finds herself in the midst of a diabolical Covenant plot, with no help immediately available. Can Annie find a way to save herself and the lives of the people she’s grown to love?

I didn’t expect to like Annie. Prior books featuring her older siblings have painted her in a less than appealing manner and Annie initially does nothing in MAGIC FOR NOTHING to dispel that impression. However, Seanan McGuire isn’t a master in the urban fantasy genre for nothing as a different view of Annie starts to emerge. By the concluding chapters, I was cheering for Annie and hoping against hope that Seanan McGuire was not going to leave me hanging.

And oh, does Seanan McGuire leave us hanging! The cliffhanger in MAGIC FOR NOTHING is perhaps one of the most heart breaking ones I’ve ever read. Why, oh why, must I wait for the next installment rather than digging right in and seeing what happens next? Seanan McGuire, please hurry with the next book as I must know what happens!

MAGIC FOR NOTHING introduces us to a whole new aspect of the InCryptid world and I’m eager to see what ensues with Sam, Leo, and the Covenant. Even better, we learn more about the Aeslin mice. Seanan McGuire never fails to deliver a phenomenal tale and MAGIC FOR NOTHING is yet another example of her stunning talent.  Highly recommended!

Review: Code of Honor by Alexa Aston

CodeOfHonor.jpg

(Knights of Honor Series Book 3)

ebook, 210 pages

Publication: March 28th 2017             by Dragonblade LeCleRe Publishling, Inc.

ASIN   B06X6K3456 Rating: 4*

In a bold and horrific beginning the Earl of Sandbourne banishes his supposedly unfaithful wife to a convent. After trying to stop his father from striking his mother again, Michael was beaten back by his father, whereby, he jumped on his horse and swore to never return home until his father was dead and he could restore his mother to her rightful place of honor as the countess.

Fifteen years later, the newly knighted Sir Michael Devereux serves Lord Geoffrey de Montfort at Kinwick Castle.   Asked to organize the honor guarding for Lord Geoffrey and his family as they traveled to visit Lord Geoffrey’s sister and attend the wedding of their niece Michael was thrilled and honored to be chosen.   Michael unknowingly falls in love with a horse-mad maiden he helped to foal a mare and assumed she was part of the stable workers.

Lady Elysande is furious at her step-father for not listening to her pleas to call off her betrothal which was made when she was but a child.  As her wedding day approaches, she is full of dread especially as she has also fallen in love with the honorable knight who helped her foal her mare.  It almost seems like fate has intervened when she hears that her betrothed died on the way to the wedding, but unfortunately, his aged father plans to step in and take over for his son.

***   I have to say I really enjoyed this story, to only because I have been following along with the, Knights of Honor series, but because each book in this series had wonderful characterizations which made me fall in love with the characters.

Just when you thought the Elysande’s problems were over along comes this beast of a supposed father-in-law who after burying his only son wanted to jump in and marry his dead son’s betrothed! The events  leading up to the show down between Elysande and her step-father and finally her mother’s support still made you think all would be well.   But, there was more in store for these ill-fated lovers and some really neat surprises as well.

Bottom line: Fast pacing, great writing and a wonderful story make this one highly recommended Historical Romance fans should hurry to read!!!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: The Highland Duke by Amy Jarecki

TheHighlandDuke

Paperback, 384 pages

Expected publication: March 28th 2017 by Forever

ISBN13: 9781455597802 Series:   Lords of the Highlands #1

Akira Ayres was a healer above all else and when she happened upon a brawny Scot with a musket ball in his thigh, Akira had no doubt she must act to save him.   Even though the hated English were closing in on them Akira could not let another man die for not being brave enough to tend his wounds.   Even as Akira does her best to ease his pain and help him out she was definitely intimidated by the fearsome and huge brutally handsome highlander who refused to tell her his name.

Geordie knew that if Akira ever knew he was the Duke of Gordon, both of their lives would be forfeit.  The only way to keep her safe was to keep her by his side day and night.  However, the more time he spent with the sassy lass, the harder it seemed to let her go.  Despite the difference in their social standing Geordie was determined to make Akira his.

***  Again this is a new author to me and don’t you know I am just going to have to put Ms. Jarecki on my author watch list.   I really enjoyed THE HIGHLAND DUKE with its fast pace, great writing and and  wicked good dialogs.  I wasn’t always happy with Geordie assuming that his elevated status was insurmountable to making Akira an honest woman – I understood it – I just didn’t like it!

There were a lot of scenario’s where Akira was captured and released – some of them were even quite humorous but most were not.  However each attempt to free Akira was devilishly clever and the entrance of Akira’s Uncle Bruno was for me one of the highlights of the hit and run scenario’s found in the book .

Bottom Line:   Don’t be afraid of new authors – Ms. Jarecki’s THE HIGHLAND DUKE brought me a lot of pleasure and I highly recommend to fans of Scottish Historicals!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Mother’s Day, Muffins, and Murder by Sara Rosett

Professional Organizer, mom, and regular school volunteer Ellie Avery has her hands full managing all of the end of the year activities for her two children. The annual Mother’s Day breakfast is always a nice treat, however, even if she has to deal with her only work competition, Gabrielle Matheson.  In an unexpected twist, Gabrielle swears she’s seen a dead body- and yet there isn’t one to find. Later, the body reappears and now everyone is mistrustful as no one knows why the murder occurred. The ending of a school year is always chaotic, but never as much as when a murder is involved. Can Ellie uncover the murderer while juggling both her job and the activities of her children?

How could I resist a book that features the end of the school year and murder? Sara Rosett perfectly captures the mayhem that ensues at the end of the school year. Ellie is a great heroine, balancing her inquisitive nature with a respect for the privacy of others. Ellie is a very likable character and I can’t wait to read the earlier mysteries in the series as I want to spend more time with Ellie!

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about a professional organizer as the heroine but I quickly grew to enjoy the change from my usual culinary cozy mysteries. I love the Organizing Tips for PTA women featured at the end of many of the chapters as they give a glimpse into the incredible tasks that face parents who want to be successfully involved in their children’s schools. I particularly love that the tips recognize that saying no is a perfectly acceptable answer as well.

MOTHER’S DAY, MUFFINS, AND MURDER is the tenth book in the Ellie Avery Mystery series but it’s easy to jump right in and enjoy the story. I hadn’t read Sara Rosett before but I have now downloaded the first book to my Kindle and can’t wait to see what other troubles Ellie has had. Highly recommended!

*A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review*

Review: Home At Last by Lily Everett

Home AtLast

Series: Sanctuary Island #6

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks (March 7, 2017)

NET Galley – March 7, 2017 (ISBN13: 9781250074065)

Rating:  4*

After his mothers funeral, Marcus Beckett had left Sanctuary Island with the intention of never returning.  But now, after living the dangerous job he’d had as a bodyguard for some high value politicians, he was ready to return and enjoy a solitary life as the proprietor of a small neighborhood bar in his hometown.

Unfortunately, Marcus had made a huge mistake. He had seduced and then dumped the town’s sweetheart, Quinn Harper.  Marcus actually thought he was doing Quinn a kindness – a great gal like Quinn had no business with a broken man like him!   Consequently, his business was taking a hit by the customers who thought his treatment of Quinn was not nice and they were now boycotting his bar.

Quinn was worried sick over her parents as her mother seemed enthralled with her latest marriage counselor who seemed more like he was counseling for a divorce than a reconciliation between her parents.  As such Quinn came up with a  fake four-week courtship where by she would convince Marcus to play along and pretend they were seriously dating, letting he r parents know that all was well in her life and letting the townspeople know it was all right to come and frequent Marcus’ bar again.

*** In this stand-alone story HOME AT LAST by Lily Everett, we are once again visiting the charming area of Sanctuary Island and some of the marvelous characters that you’ve met in previous books from this SANCTUARY ISLAND series.  Marcus and Quinn had began a relationship in the previous book of this series which had ended in a humiliating breakup for Quinn.   Wanting desperately to save her parents marriage, Quinn begged Marcus to go along with her scheme and even though Marcus was reluctant he couldn’t deny that he really did want Quinn as much as she wanted him.

The pacing was done very well and this was an easy read.  The growth Marcus maintained after he finally opened up about his past and came to terms with his aversion of his father made it easier to be honest with Quinn.    Loved the storyline regarding the conman marriage counselor and loved seeing him get his comeuppance.   Bottom line:   A really fun and heartwarming story that is perfectly enjoyable.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh

SomeonetoHold

Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages

Published February 7th 2017 by Berkley Books

(ISBN13: 9780451477804) Series:  Westcott #2

When Humphrey Wescott, Earl of Riverdale died he left behind a huge fortune, along with a life changing secret that will forever change the lives of the family he left behind.  It would also send his children on journey’s of self discovery.

Now that the secret of her father’s bigamous marriage to her mother the daughter , once proud Lady Camille Wescott, is simply an illegitimate Miss Camille Wescott without a title.  Refusing a portion of the fortune her half-sister Anastasia generously wanted to gift all of her new-found half-sibling relatives, Camille stubbornly leaves London to teach at the Bath Orphanage that her new-found step-sister had grown up in and was employed as a teacher before the discovery that she was the only legitimate issue of the Earl of Riverdale.

To add insult to injury, Camille’s maternal grandmother had hired an artist to paint portraits of her and her sister.   The artist being a young man who had grown up with her sister in the orphanage and whom Camille determined was still in love with Anastasia, even though Anastasia was now blissfully wed to Avery Archer, the duke of Netherby.

***  Once again, Mary Balogh has written a story that will capture your heart in a very strong and powerfully emotional way.  SOMEONE TO HOLD has a plethora of unforgettable characters, some nice and some not so nice.  Camille the heroine of this story was not easy to like but as she evolved into her new reality one sees the strength and determination that helped her to become a much nicer person, who actually seemed to grow a heart.  Being so stubborn Camille was determined to prove herself capable as a teacher and she did this remarkably well where she gained as much from the exercise she taught her pupils to understand living within your means as well as learning economies she had never thought of.

The romance between Joel the Artist and Camille was slowly and thoughtfully developed into a beautifully sensual love story.  Bottom Line:  SOMEONE TO HOLD was a beautiful, sensual, and sensitive read which I can highly recommend!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: The Enchanted Swans by Christy Nichols

EnchantedSwans

Net Galley – March 7, 2017                                      ebook, 282 pages

Published March 8th 2017 by Tirgearr Publishing    ASIN:  B01N9VB6PZ

Rating: 3-1/2*

In pre-Celtic Ireland, Fionnuala, a fae princess, born in a loving household to a kind king and his beloved queen was born to a life of luxury.   She knew her duty loving her family and adoring her parents.  Unfortunately, at the age of ten, her mother struggled and died in childbirth leaving Fionnuala, her brother Aed, and now, newborn twin brothers to care for.  Fionnuala’s father was completely devastated and withdrew from all who cared for him including his children.  He went from completely withdrawn to bouts of rage over losing his beloved wife.

Fionnuala was worried about her father but was strong having promised her mother to care for her brothers.  Eventually the high king issued a proclamation that her father would have to choose a bride from one of two step-daughters of the king.   Not only that but the daughter who was not chosen by her father would be wed to the young man Fionnuala had set her sights on.

Not only were Fionnuala’s dreams ripped from her by these proclamations but the woman to whom her father married turned into a vicious viper and threw a curse upon Fionnuala and her brothers -– turning them all into swans.  Their stepmother was caught and would not cancel out the curse but for another time penance of 600 more years, she would allow them to speak in their normal voices.

The story then follows the swans lives over the next 900 years, through all their ups and downs, learning to live as swans along with the royal retainers who lived near their watery home in order to care for them and keep them safe.    Naturally, the story covered so many issues of trying to live within the confines of each body of water they were attached to.  The writing was very good although some of the names and terms used slowed down the pace as I tried to pronounce the words in my head the story was interesting.   THE ENCHANTED SWANS was original, but after all the trials and tribulations they lived through for 900 years the ending was a terrible let down.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: The Courtship: A Novella by Grace Burrowes (Windham Book 0)

TheCourtship

Print Length: 120 pages   Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (November 6, 2012)

ASIN: B0095VT3RG Rating:  4-1/2*

This is the first introduction to the Windham Series by author Grace Burrowes.  It is in Novella form and quite short but chock full of romance and the gallant gentlemen, as well as the not so gallant rogues who inhabited the aristocracy at that time.

Percy Windham, is the kind and generous second son of the Duke of Moreland.  At a house party he found the woman of his dreams in the shy retiring, beautiful Esther Himmelfarb, poor relation to her wealthier relations who take shameless advantage of Esther’s kind-heartedness.     But Percy sees Esther as the perfect, kind, generous and intelligent lady she truly is and sets out to woo her away from the curious eyes of the woman who were throwing themselves at him.

Bottom Line:   Very short but sweet and with much to recommend it as well as giving a great nibble of what to expect in the upcoming series!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: The Arrangement by Mary Balogh

TheArrangement

Series:  The Survivors’ Club #2

Paperback, 366 pages    Published August 27th 2013 by Dell

ISBN13: 9780345535870 Rating:  5*

Desperate to escape all his relatives efforts in finding him a suitable bride, Vincent Hunt, Viscount Darleigh flees to a remote country village.  His relatives all want what they consider is best for him since he came home from the wars after losing his eyesight.   Vincent was adamant he did NOT need a wife to play nursemaid to him.  Staying and living independently was his fondest desire, yet it seemed that even in this remote village another was attempting to coerce him into marriage.   If not for the quick thinking of Miss Sophia Fry’s intervention he would have been trapped into marriage.  Unfortunately for Miss Fry her intervention caused her to be tossed out of her guardian’s home.

Naturally, when Vincent heard of her plight, he invited Miss Fry to come and take shelter in his home.  During this time, as he became more acquainted with Sophia he decided that their was a solution to both their problems – if Sophia would consent to marry him.  Naturally Sophia refused. He was a handsome titled gentleman too much above her. But he argued that he wanted a wife of his own choosing as much as Sophia needed protection from destitution.

*** Once again Ms. Balogh has created the most wonderful tale in this Survivor Club series.  And for the uninitiated to Ms. Balogh’s sterling word-smithing talents – THE ARRANGEMENT is definitely a stand alone novel as I believe I have now read them all.  What stands out for me most with Balogh’s writing is the humanness she imbibes with all her characters to give them motivation and emotion.   I want to be there hugging her characters through their pain, their joy, and triumphs.

Sophia was a remarkable and inventive lady, and the things she came up with to make Vincent’s life more independent and carefree were so unselfishly awe-inspiring I shed tears for each accomplishment she succeeded at in bringing Vincent each new measure of self-reliance. Naturally each deed brought them closer together and the sensuality between Vincent and Sophia as they began to care and deeply fall in love with one another was a joy to behold.

Bottom Line:   No one writes more emotional historical romance with sensuality than Ms. Balogh.   THE ARRANGEMENT was superb and I can HIGHLY recommend this to fans and new readers alike.  Love! Love! Love!

Marilyn Rondeau