book review

Or, My Thoughts On Zoe Archer’s Historical Paranormal

devils kiss

Cover Blurb:

1762. James Sherbourne, Earl of Whitney, is a gambling man. Not for the money. But for the thrill, the danger–and the company: Whit has become one of the infamous Hellraisers, losing himself in the chase for adventure and pleasure with his four closest friends.

Which was how Whit found himself in a gypsy encampment, betting against a lovely Romani girl. Zora Grey’s smoky voice and sharp tongue entrance Whit nearly as much as her clever hands–watching them handle cards inspires thoughts of another kind. . .

Zora can’t explain her attraction to the careless blue-eyed Whit. She also can’t stop him and his Hellraisers from a fiendish curse: the power to grant their own hearts’ desires, to chase their pleasures from the merely debauched to the truly diabolical. And if Zora can’t save Whit, she still has to escape him. . .

My Thoughts:

Full disclosure–I stopped reading this book at the 50% mark when I lost all sympathy or interest in the hero and heroine.

However, I really enjoyed the first half. The author’s attention to detail is incredible. Her story is full of magic and the supernatural while at the same time rooted in a realistic historical setting. I chose this book specifically because it was recommended to me as a great example of the historical paranormal genre, which I’m very interested in. And I got into the story, but at some point I just lost interest. At the 50% mark the “magic” binding the hero and heroine together was gone. They were a couple, and it was obvious their major relationship roadblocks were gone. They were sexually attracted to each other. And they were each the most important person in each other’s lives.

Basically, the stakes were gone, and I gave up. Perhaps the conflict would have picked up again, but to be honest, I felt like the story was over and I wanted to move on to a new book.

Or, My Thoughts On Julie Klassen’s Novel

apothecarys dau

 

Cover Blurb:

Lillian Haswell, brilliant daughter of the local apothecary, yearns for more adventure and experience than life in her father’s shop and their small village provides. She also longs to know the truth behind her mother’s disappearance, which villagers whisper about but her father refuses to discuss. Opportunity comes when a distant aunt offers to educate her as a lady in London. Exposed to fashionable society and romance–as well as clues about her mother–Lilly is torn when she is summoned back to her ailing father’s bedside. Women are forbidden to work as apothecaries, so to save the family legacy, Lilly will have to make it appear as if her father is still making all the diagnoses and decisions. But the suspicious eyes of a scholarly physician and a competing apothecary are upon her. As they vie for village prominence, three men also vie for Lilly’s heart.

My Thoughts:

There are so many great things about The Apothecary’s Daughter. The historical details are amazing. I felt immersed in the world Klassen created. Whether we were in a London sitting room or Haswell’s apothecary shop in Bedsley Priors I felt like I was there. Her characters, too, are each distinct and layered human beings that really shine.

The only part that made me roll my eyes is that by the 50% mark, every eligible young man Lilly had ever met was crazy in love with her. Not one, but two bachelors from her London season, her father’s former apprentice, the village’s new apothecary, even the local lord’s son. Do you mean to tell me there’s not one man Lilly knows who thinks she’s pretentious or boring?

This is where Lilly slipped into Mary Sue territory. Even the people she wronged by abandoning, first her friends and family in Bedsley Priors, and then her aunt and uncle in London, forgive her immediately and completely. No one is ever annoyed with Lilly. Which I find hard to believe.

Even her flaws aren’t really flaws. She has a photographic memory. Her mother ran away when she was a small child. Both situations only make Lilly a more sympathetic character.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys richly detailed historical romances, but with a warning that the heroine might get on your nerves with her sparkling perfection.

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<3 Anna

Or, What I Thought Of Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove Starter

night to suurender tessa dare

 

Back Cover Blurb:

Spindle Cove is the destination of choice for certain types of well-bred young ladies: the painfully shy, young wives disenchanted with matrimony, and young girls too enchanted with the wrong men. It is a haven for those who live there.

Victor Bramwell, the new Earl of Rycliff, knows he doesn’t belong here. So far as he can tell, there’s nothing in this place but spinsters…and sheep. But he has no choice, he has orders to gather a militia. It’s a simple mission, made complicated by the spirited, exquisite Susanna Finch–a woman who is determined to save her personal utopia from the invasion of Bram’s makeshift army.

Susanna has no use for aggravating men; Bram has sworn off interfering women. The scene is set for an epic battle…but who can be named the winner when both have so much to lose?

My Thoughts:

I adored this book! It was fun and feisty from the very beginning to the happily ever after ending. Bram is damaged, both inside and out, but so is Susanna, and they make the perfect pair. When the boys took over the girls’ delicate tea shop, transforming it into the Rutting Bull Saloon, I couldn’t wipe the goofy grin off my face.

But my favorite part is Bram and Susanna’s verbal brawling in the cove.

Bram: “You’re just begging to be taught a hard, fast lesson in what it means to please a man.”

Susanna: “You’re just longing to put your head in my lap and feel my fingers in your hair.”

He backed her up against a rock. “You need a good ravaging.”

“You,” she breathed, “need a hug.”

I highly recommend this book to Regency fans, and I’ll be looking for the second book in the series!

Or, What I Thought Of The 1st Book In The King Trilogy

kings mimi pamfiloff

 

I wasn’t sure what to think of King’s. By the 50% mark I was completely turned off by the hero, King. He said things like, “Shut the f**k up,” and “Look at me when I speak to you” to the heroine, Mia Turner. When Mia disobeys him by trying to escape he punishes her. And not the kinky, sexy, fun kind of punish. No, he just hurts her. At that point, I didn’t know how I would ever have sympathy for this sadist.

Second, I thought I was reading a novel about a vampire hero, so when Mia asks King if he’s a vampire and he responds with something like, “Are you a silly child? Vampires don’t exist,” I was disappointed. Call me immature, but I enjoy reading about vampires.

The fact that the novel ends on a cliffhanger only frustrated me further.

Bottom line: The book is well written, I just think the hero could have shown a smidgeon more human emotions before the final chapter. I hope the story improves in book two, but I probably won’t be reading it.

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<3 Anna

Or, My Thoughts On Andy Weir’s Sci-Fi Adventure

martian

 

I first heard about The Martian in Entertainment Weekly and I was interested in the runaway bestseller soon to be a star-packed movie, but I was still blown away by how great the story is.

Mark Watney, and his space suit, are critically injured during a dust storm on Mars. His crew, believing him to be dead and not wanting to risk more lives collecting his body, abandon him on Mars and evacuate the planet. The only hiccup is that Mark isn’t dead. There begins one of the wildest and most exciting adventures I’ve ever read. We follow him day-by-day as he struggles to survive on a planet completely inhospitable to him. The story gets even better when we are introduced to a wider array of earthbound characters.

Though I’m not a huge science fiction fan, Mark’s narration was so enthralling I couldn’t stop reading. I had to know what happened to him. Sometimes the author’s attention to detail when it comes to resisters and amps and volts made my eyes cross (perhaps it would help if I knew what any of that stuff actually does), but overall it is a can’t-miss novel.

<3 Anna

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Or, My Thoughts On The Illustrated Case Of H.H. Holmes

beast of chicago

Usually, I restrict myself to unsolved murder cases from history, but reading about Jack the Ripper led me to the horrific crimes of H.H. Holmes. Maybe I was so interested because we still know so little about his crimes, even how many people (mostly women) he actually killed in his “castle.” The fact that this upstanding businessman had a castle full of torture chambers is astonishing in itself.

Rick Geary’s illustrated casebook, The Beast of Chicago: the Murderous Career of H.H. Holmes, is a wonderful introduction to the subject, and I feel like I don’t need to read anymore about this man. The book gives all the pertinent information and accompanies it with incredibly detailed line drawings, from Holmes’ little known childhood to his execution. It’s a quick read. I read it in one sitting. I was also relieved the drawings aren’t too gory. No detailed sketches of torture or the bodies found, which I was glad for since some of his victims were children.

Geary’s volume is a wonderful mash-up of a true crime paperback and a graphic novel. I will be looking for the other books in his Treasury of Victorian Murder series.

<3 Anna

Or, Scorching Hot Sex Scenes Ahead!

darling beast

Back Cover Blurb:

A MAN CONDEMNED . . .

Falsely accused of murder and mute from a near-fatal beating, Apollo Greaves, Viscount Kilbourne has escaped from Bedlam. With the Crown’s soldiers at his heels, he finds refuge in the ruins of a pleasure garden, toiling as a simple gardener. But when a vivacious young woman moves in, he’s quickly driven to distraction . . .

A DESPERATE WOMAN . . .

London’s premier actress, Lily Stump, is down on her luck when she’s forced to move into a scorched theatre with her maid and small son. But she and her tiny family aren’t the only inhabitants-a silent, hulking beast of a man also calls the charred ruins home. Yet when she catches him reading her plays, Lily realizes there’s more to this man than meets the eye.

OUT OF ASH, DESIRE FLARES

Though scorching passion draws them together, Apollo knows that Lily is keeping secrets. When his past catches up with him, he’s forced to make a choice: his love for Lily . . . or the explosive truth that will set him free.

My Review:

Darling Beast is a fantastic and romantic read that I had trouble putting down. I adored the hero, Apollo, and the heroine, Lily, was sparkling from beginning to end. Indio, Lily’s little boy, was by far the best character in the novel and his early scenes are both hysterical and endearing.

My only issue with the story is that the trait that makes Apollo so interesting–his voice was literally beaten out of him–is miraculously reversed halfway through. After that, he’s not nearly as exciting. He’s just another well-dressed lord.

But I can overlook that because everything else in the story is so great. And the sex! Wow. Hot doesn’t even cover it. Hoyt has written some of the best sex scenes I’ve read in a really long time.

If you’re a fan of historical romances with hilarious kids, mischievous dogs and secret aristocrats falling in love with lowly, though spunky, actresses–you’ll love Darling Beast.

<3 Anna

Or, My Thoughts On Mark Garber’s Book

19055218

Back Cover Blurb:

For centuries one great historical crime mystery has been capturing the imagination of the world – the fate of the Princes in the Tower.

Shakespeare casts Richard III as the ultimate villain, murdering his nephews in order to usurp the throne. This has always been the traditional view. In recent years alternative theories have been suggested that let Richard III off the hook and lay the blame elsewhere. However, with the recent discovery of Richard III’s body in Leicester a whole new wave of interest has been stirred in all things related to Richard III. Was he really the child killer portrayed by Thomas More and William Shakespeare?

In this short book a retired detective reopens this true crime cold case and attempts to piece together the evidence and answer the great historical crime mystery about what really happened to the young Princes in the Tower.

Were they really murdered? If so, what happened to the bodies and who did the evil deed? Or were they left unharmed and left to live out their days in peace? Was a challenging offered up in place of Richard, Duke of York by Elizabeth Woodville and was that why Henry VII was so concerned by Perkin Warbeck? How much did the sister of the Princes and Henry VII’s wife Elizabeth of York actually know about this true crime.

As the author delves deeper into the evidence he finds intriguing facts including doubts about dental evidence used to determine the ages of the skeletons found in the Tower of London, the fact that skeletons were abandoned for years in the Tower after their discovery and details of two mysterious coffins buried at Winsor.

In addition, he highlights the key suspect that no historian seems to even contemplate could be responsible for the Princes disappearance.

Finally he gathers the suspects in one room to revel what he believes really happened. The question is, do you agree?

My Thoughts:

I have been obsessed recently with the mystery of the princes in the tower and the role their uncle, Richard III, played in their deaths. Garber, as a former detective, has a very logical and evidence-centric approach to the case, which I really enjoyed. His conclusion makes a lot of sense and ::spoiler alert:: his prime suspect is not Richard III. Though, because of the lack of real evidence, any of the major players of the time could have been responsible for the boys’ murder, so I don’t think the case will ever be fully solved. In some ways, that makes the mystery more intriguing and frustrating.

If you like true crime stories from history, you’ll enjoy this brief take on the famous case.

<3 Anna

Or, What I Thought Of Cathy Gillen Thacker’s Novel

0413-9781460312674-bigw

Back Cover Blurb:

She’s no damsel in distress, but Shelley Meyerson may just need a white knight like deputy sheriff Colt McCabe. Thanks to her scheming ex-husband, Shelley’s about to lose her home. The last person she wants to turn to for help is Colt, the guy who broke her heart the night of the high school prom. But now that she’s back in Laramie, there’s no avoiding him—especially when they’re both serving in the same wedding party.

True, the handsome, gallant lawman is a valuable ally. And he seems genuinely interested in Shelley and her little boy. She could definitely use a friend…and maybe something more. Rekindling their romance is easy—but learning to trust again is hard. Especially when Shelley learns that Colt’s been keeping a secret that could cost him his badge….

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were well developed and the sexual tension was sizzling. The only critique I have is I felt Shelley waited way too long to take action against her no-good, thieving ex-husband. In my opinion, any halfway intelligent woman would have seen through his nonsense a lot sooner.

If you’re looking for a quick, sexy read set in rural Texas, pick up The Texas Lawman’s Woman.

<3 Anna

Or, I Gush Over Elizabeth Hoyt’s Regency Romance

thiefofshadowsBack Cover Blurb:

A MASKED MAN . . .

Winter Makepeace lives a double life. By day he’s the stoic headmaster of a home for foundling children. But the night brings out a darker side of Winter. As the moon rises, so does the Ghost of St. Giles-protector, judge, fugitive. When the Ghost, beaten and wounded, is rescued by a beautiful aristocrat, Winter has no idea that his two worlds are about to collide.

A DANGEROUS WOMAN . . .

Lady Isabel Beckinhall enjoys nothing more than a challenge. Yet when she’s asked to tutor the Home’s dour manager in the ways of society-flirtation, double-entendres, and scandalous liaisons-Isabel can’t help wondering why his eyes seem so familiar-and his lips so tempting.

A PASSION NEITHER COULD DENY

During the day Isabel and Winter engage in a battle of wills. At night their passions are revealed . . . But when little girls start disappearing from St. Giles, Winter must avenge them. For that he might have to sacrifice everything-the Home, Isabel . . . and his life.

My Thoughts:

I have a secret to confess. Though I write paranormals, I adore regency romances. The dresses, the balls, the afternoon teas. The polished manners concealing roiling passion. I can’t get enough!

Thief of Shadows has it all. From the first line — “The body in the road was the absolute cap to the day” — to the last, it’s a sexy and thrilling adventure.

My favorite part has to be Isabel’s tutoring Winter in not only good manners and ballroom dancing, but in the bedroom, as well.

<3 Anna

"A sizzling and sweet paranormal romance." 5 stars.
--Christine Rains, author of the 13th Floor Series

"A wonderful, suspenseful love story." 5 stars.
--Coffee Time Romance

"A great paranormal adventure with many twists and turns." 5 stars.
--Community Bookstop

"This book kept me on the edge of my seat." 4 stars.
--The Reading Cafe

Anna's bookshelf: Read

The Duke Is Mine
5 of 5 stars true
I'm not ashamed to say I cried at the end of this book, or that I read it in a single day because I couldn't stop.
Forbidden
3 of 5 stars true
The story started out a page tuner I could not put down, but by the middle I was skimming to the end just to see how it all wrapped up. I think the James' are wonderful storytellers, but this particular story didn't do it for me. I'd lov...

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