Category Archives: Adult

The Forbidden Queen

The Forbidden Queen

The Forbidden Queen by Anne O’Brien

Genre: Historical-fiction, Romance, Adult

The Plot

The novel follows the journey of a young girl, Katherine de Valois who is realistically a mistreated, unloved French princess largely forgotten until she becomes of use as a pawn in peace agreements through marriage. She is thrust upon King Henry V in peace talks during the Hundred Years War and he is a man driven by war, with little interest in a wife except for producing an heir.

Katherine must deal with being largely unwanted by her husband, except to produce an heir, the consequences of being mother to the heir of the throne, being left widow and being the foreign enemy in an English court. A court inundated with controlling men, who have little time for a woman and her opinions and feelings. This forces Katherine to grow up in rather harsh conditions and lays testament to her strength with broken hearts, battles with those in power and struggles to be a mother.

The Review

The Forbidden Queen is a novel set in the prelude to one of my favourite periods of history, and this always leaves me wary to picking up such a novel. In general, historical-fiction as a history student is always a difficult one, because whilst I enjoy delving into a more imaginative side of history, sometimes the disregard for standard facts aggravates me. However, The Forbidden Queen whilst clearly being based on lots of imagination in terms of conversations, and the  real dynamics of relationships during this time, managed to encompass what I feel the 1400s would have felt like in England. I believe she encapsulated personalities and struggles from the events, and stuck largely to historical detail and it made a truly fantastic novel!

Katherine de Valois was a woman I fell in love with in this novel, my heart warmed to her throughout the novel. At the start I felt like she was childish and deluded, but part of the magic in this novel was how O’Brien developed her character and showed true growth to her as an individual that I imagine would to some degree be a true reflection. After all, when she left France, she was a scared young girl, basically still a child and by the time she was widow and mother to the heir of the kingdom, she was a much stronger, more capable individual and a woman with her own mind. Overall she was a likeable, strong individual and an important historical figure. After all, she birthed a king of England and was grandmother to another king of England, difficult to disregard such a woman in English history, even if she was the enemy!

There is ultimately a strong focus on romance throughout this book, and Katherine’s yearning for true affection, after receiving little from the Mad King, Charles VI her father and her mother the Isabeau a woman accused of adultery. Affection during this period was not common within royal families anyway, because the children were rarely raised by their parents. So Katherine stumbles through her early marriage, desperate for Henry V’s seal of approval, however he is much more interested in war. O’Brien really manages to interweave the romance with the historical events and descriptions, that provides greater plot and substance to the story.

Ultimately, the best part of the book for me does not arrive until much later in the story when Katherine meets Owen Tudor, which is when my attention was truly captivated. I have to warn you, O’Brien makes you work for happiness in this story, and it certainly tugs on your emotions, even at the end! The relationship between Katherine and Owen is everything is should honestly be, it develops once Katherine has achieved the kind of self-growth necessary to experience love, and Owen does not overpower her opinions. They are clearly an equal couple and one that I fully supported by the end, especially since it was something that actually happened.

O’Brien honestly brought these historical figures to life for me, she drew me into the English court and all the secrets, plots, hopes and dreams and weaved her magic with words. It was descriptive enough for me to visualise everything, yet O’Brien was never excessive. Overall The Forbidden Queen drew me into the 1400s with ease and elegance and kept my attention throughout. It is honestly a masterpiece in historical-fiction, and I encourage everyone to read it, not only because it serves to educate you a little about the basic happenings and people of this time in a fun, engaging and beautiful way, but it is genuinely a quality piece of fiction. I’ll be looking to get my hands on more O’Brien books now!

The Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

Goodreads ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website

Extra note: I had an extremely busy week last week with moving back to University, packing and I also am pleased to announce, I can now drive because I finally passed my practical driving test! So hopefully I will be back to a regular posting schedule and dropping by your blogs from now on!

12 Comments

Filed under 2013 Publication, 4.5 Books, Adult, Anne O'Brien, E-book, Historical Fiction, Mira Books, Romance

Series Review (1-4): Line of Duty

protecting-tessa-baileyHis Risk to TakeOfficer off LimitsAsking for Trouble
Protecting What’s His (#1), His Risk to Take (#2), Officer Off Limits (#3), Asking for Trouble (#4) by Tessa Bailey

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Adult

The Review
This is a contemporary series from one of my favourite publishers when it comes to contemporary books, Entangled. Line of Duty follows a series of different police officers as they come face to face with a woman who will challenge them and eventually one they will find romance with; inevitable right?

I feel like this series has strengthened as it has gone along and Officer Off Limits and Asking for Trouble were both much stronger than their predecessors. I will not claim that this series is free of the typical clichés that usually accompany the contemporary romance scene, and neither are these books perfect. However they are enjoyable.

Each of the novels introduces a new officer to the tale, however in some there are connections to the previous novels and links between the police forces, so the characters are not all entirely new. However each one explores a different perspective and this serves to reinvigorate each novel with new energy and prevent it from falling into the trapping of the previous one.

Largely the female protagonists tend to be women with past troubles, who are seeing themselves as independent and without the need for a man in their life. Bailey unfortunately does seem to fall into the trappings of this typical cycle of strong female, eventually being ‘saved’ in some way by the male police officer in the end, but when read over a period of time and not directly next to each other, I think this makes the series easier to handle and more enjoyable.

My favourite book from the series is probably Officer Off Limits which deals with Story Brooks and Daniel Chase. I felt like Story stayed much more true to her strengths and independence than the other female protagonists and I really had my heart stolen by officer Daniel Chase. Although the other police officers certainly have many a redeeming quality; who after all, can resist a man in uniform? However I did feel like that for a romance novel this edition in particular had a little more of a serious note that wasn’t the typical backstory and it served to really address characterisation that sells a novel to me.

Overall, this series is fun, flirty and a quick read that has some great teasing moments. It easily fills the need for a little bit of fluff and romance in ones life whilst not being too unrealistic nor annoying. Bailey has a solid series here and I think most contemporary romance fans will find something enjoyable in the Line of Duty series!

Historical Survival Chances
Honestly, I do not think this series despite being lots of fun, will last long in the span of history. I believe much more epic romances that are on the level of Pride and Prejudice are the types of novels that should survive through history and will be the literary genius that we are remembered for.

Survival Chances: 25%

Expiration Date: 2027

 

Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars

Goodreads (#1), (#2), (#3), (#4) ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website

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Filed under 3.5 Books, Adult, Contemporary, Entangled Publishing, Romance, Tessa Bailey, Uncategorized

The Blue Blazes

TheBlueBlazes-144dpiThe Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig

Series: Mookie Pearl #1

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Adult

The Plot
The Blue Blazes draws together the criminal, gangster underworld and supernatural happenings to give a rather unique take on an urban-fantasy novel. There may be creatures of the dark that haunt your nightmares, but the key feature of the novel surrounds drugs. The ‘blue blazes’ that provide supernatural strength, endurance and enhanced senses is the drug everyone wants to have on their side in battle. However it isn’t that only drug that everyone is searching for, as the main character Mookie uncovers.

Mookie Pearl is a man involved in both the supernatural and gangster underworld, but his family life also crosses over between the two and the novel follows him, and his spats with his daughter that adds yet another dynamic to this urban-fantasy novel.

The Review

 

Chuck Wendig is an author that not everyone will appreciate, but I read the first two books in his Miriam Black series and enjoyed them, I was curious to test out another series by him. However, like with the Miriam Black series he does not shy away from the violence and brutality, harsh language and rather grumpy, sometimes dislikeable characters that characterised the Miriam Black series. Nevertheless, he has a fantastic imagination, and if you don’t mind those sorts of things, delving into The Blue Blazes is an exciting, unique journey that served to keep my interest!

The Blue Blazes is not to me the typical urban-fantasy novel, which I think sets it head and shoulders apart from its genre. Wendig takes on something a little more adventurous and more applicable to modern day and succeeds with flying colours to craft it into a believable, exciting and scary fantasy world. After all, we have drugs in our world, why can’t there be ones that bring about supernatural changes?

Mookie Pearl admittedly is not an easy man to like, he doesn’t make the best life choices and his conflict with his daughter and seeming ignorance of her life makes him seem like a poor father figure. Throughout the novel he doesn’t really seem to make real attempts to mend the broken relationship and whilst his daughter and her wild attempts on her father’s life when she opposes his gang seem to make such things difficult, he still seems to be a rather harsh character. However, he does undergo some character development in terms of sorting out his family relations that redeems him in my eyes. He’s also not the typical main character that usually stares in the books I read and I enjoyed exiting from my comfort zone. Especially since he has a strong sense of identity developed and he is a hard-man with a lot of gruff, ready-to-roll style.

The Blue Blazes has a lot to offer in terms of fantasy and criminal underground dynamics that makes it unusual. It’s exciting, tense and it has tonnes of potential for the future series. I am definitely intrigued to know more about the origins of the drugs, what will happen with them all and especially the gang dynamics after things collapse a little at the end of The Blue Blazes. One thing this novel was not, was predictable and I will definitely be looking out to get my hands on the second instalment of the Mookie Pearl series. This might not be your usual type of book, but definitely take a leap of faith and try The Blue Blazes, as I think any fantasy fan can appreciate Wendig’s innovative slant on the criminal underground!

Historical Survival Chances

I have been contemplating for a short time now, how I rate books, and whilst I might give this book a solid 4.5 stars, will it last into the future? Will people in 20-30 maybe even 100 years time be reading Chuck Wendig like we read Mary Shelley or Dickens?

Wendig is innovative and creative enough that I think in the genre of urban-fantasy, he might stand a strong chance of being read well into the future. So I will be applying a survival chance percentage and an expiration date to the novel when I think people might no longer hold interest in these types of things.

Survival Chance: 65%    

Expiration Date: 2064

Favourite Quotes

“The Blazes are like that: the blue stuff doesn’t merely tear aside the facade to reveal the monsters, but when on it, the whole of the Underworld pulses with a different kind of energy.”

“The saying goes that there is more below the streets of New York City than there is above them. An exaggeration by those who say it, perhaps, but they don’t known just how accurate that statement truly is. Hell’s heart, as it turns out, has many chambers.”

 

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

Goodreads ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website

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Filed under 2013 Publication, 4.5 Books, Adult, Adventure, Angry-Robot, Chuck Wendig, E-book, Fantasy, Uncategorized

Wallbanger

WallbangerWallbanger by Alice Clayton

Series: Cocktail #1

Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Chick-lit

The Plot
Wallbanger is a light, entertaining and humorous read, following the journey of Caroline who upon moving into a new apartment discovers her neighbour is quite the man! He in fact, is often found making nightly noises (I’m sure your imagination can fulfil the gap for now) with several different women that definitely hits the wall and is heard through the wall since Caroline and the mystery ‘Wallbanger’ share a bedroom wall she is also kept up nightly. The plot unravels from there following the journey of Caroline, her relationship troubles, her neighbour and the novel builds upon the premise of an unlikely relationship forming between her and the ‘Wallbanger’.
The Review
Wallbanger is one of those novels that is light, fluffy and pure entertainment! There is very little that is serious about this novel and it serves to be the perfect escape romance. However I do fear that the novel is very much based upon taste in terms of the humour which is obviously different amongst individuals. Personally I am not a massive chick-lit fan, but I engaged well with Wallbanger and although near the end I had a tendency to skim a little bit, overall I found myself immersed in the story.

Caroline had a solid character and personality that made her almost certainly a likeable character.  She likes to cook and bake, and she’s an interior designer who is proud of her job and this is evident by the hard work she puts in. However I did not really feel like she really brought this into her own home and I felt like we could have sensed more of her personality throughout the novel. There were moments where I felt she also had a tendency to fall into emotional dramatic scenes that were rather unnecessary in my opinion and did frustrate me. In addition to that, I felt like the strength of her character drained a little by the end of the novel and she was not nearly as strong as at the start. This disappointed me a little because I felt like it would have made the last part of the novel much stronger.

The ‘Wallbanger’ himself is quite the enigma and not as he first appears. He was incredibly suave, kind and caring and not at all what you first expect. I actually really liked his character and at moments he found himself floundering with Caroline who refused to give him a chance or hear him out entirely. However his persistence is certainly something that is a strong redeemable quality and maybe a very romance novel based quality!

I fear this novel could not be complete without the trusty pet, the cat, Clive. He certainly makes a strong addition to the humour and I found myself enamoured with him. I feel that novels without animals these days appear to be a little incomplete as they always tend to round character with their unexpected antics and Clive certainly is a pesky little devil, but a loveable one. In addition to this, Caroline was clearly a loveable owner and that showed throughout the novel and this affection is certainly the right way to portray pet owners, so Clayton is given both thumbs up here!

The plot, well it basically centres on the romance of the ‘Wallbanger’ and Caroline, but it does not just appear out of nowhere and that is the strong element of Wallbanger as chick-lit because it creates a friendship and emotional connection between the two that builds up over time. In addition to this, there are several plot strands to the romance that interweave and give it a little more substance.

Overall, Wallbanger is a solid addition to the chick-lit genre, and admittedly it won me over to a genre I don’t usually venture into. I can see that Wallbanger will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I enjoyed it and I am certainly tempted by the future sequel to see where things go even for a novel that is not perfect. If you have a spare few hours, I recommend giving it a chance since you might just find you enjoy it after all!

Favourite Quotes

“No woman has ever done breakfast bread foreplay the way you do.
Ha! When you coming?
Can’t. Drive. Straight.
Can we have one conversation when you’re not twelve?
Sorry, I’ll be there in 30.
Perfect, that will give me time to frost my buns.
Pardon me?”

“The girl next door was meowing. What in the world was my neighbor packing to make that happen?
Clive, at this point, went utterly bonkers and launched himself at the wall. He was literally climbing it, trying to get where the noise was coming from, and adding his own meows to the chorus.”

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars

Goodreads ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website

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Filed under 2012 Publication, 3 Books, Adult, Alice Clayton, Chick-Lit, Contemporary, E-book, Omnific Publishing, Romance

Gone with the Wolf

Gone with the Wolf

Gone with the Wolf by Kristin Miller

Series: Seattle Wolf Pack #1

Genre: Paranormal-Romance, Werewolves, Adult

Publication: April 21st 2013 by Entangled

The Plot

CEO and alpha werewolf Drake Wilder has given up the search for his one true love. When he discovers that she’s a secretary in his company, Drake’s primal instincts kick into overdrive.
What he wouldn’t give to have her fingers rake over his body instead of the keyboard…

Free-spirited bartender Emelia Hudson wants nothing more than to make her Seattle-based bar succeed. But when profits decline, she slips into a dress suit and secures a nine-to-five. After learning that her bar has become property of Wilder Financial, Emelia is determined to get some answers.

Two can play the ruthless business game. If only her attraction to the boss wasn’t so intense…
When Drake’s twin brother senses that Drake has found his match—and now inherits their father’s billion dollar estate—he hatches a plan to take Emelia out. Drake vows to protect her at all costs, but he might have to pay with his own life.

My Review

Originality was rather lacking in the department of Gone with the Wolf. It felt like it fell into the typical cliche of Rich Man + Poor Woman + Angst over social and monetary value = Happily Ever After. Having said that, there still managed to be entertaining moments that I’ve labelled the “good bits” but there were quite a few “bad bits” to match those that damped my overall enjoyment of the book. Overall, it was rather forgettable too, which makes it harder to enjoy a book when nothing strikes you as entirely original.

Honestly, it was quite a while ago since I read this, and I’ve found that much of the details have slipped from my memory. However, Emelia Hudson the protagonist of our story I do recall grating on me quite a lot. She was supposedly free-spirited and whilst she had spunk enough to rebel against Drake, she quickly became drawn to him and didn’t provide that much opposition to him. There were moments when she was clearly against being dragged into his world and suspicious, but as it seems with the paranormal-romance genre, she accepted things a little too readily.

Drake was a rather interesting character, I couldn’t quite pinpoint his emotions at all the times and he was a little stupid. He was also a little frustrating, but eventually he unravelled to see the typical romance figure who didn’t quite understand the girl to start with as he bulldozed in as the “alpha male”. Luckily he rectified that by the end, and I managed to like him a fair amount.

His face didn’t twitch, flinch, flex. Nothing. He barely responded to her presence at all. Like the kiss last night never happened.

The concept wasn’t overly original, but the idea was Drake had to find his “mate” before his evil twin brother to gain control of their father’s pack. However he’d been searching for a long time and about given up hope on that aspect. It makes for a rather, race against time aspect in whether Emelia will accept him and adds some tension. Nevertheless the typical bad family relations that usually provide that angst for paranormal-romance was present and a little tiresome.

Ultimately I enjoyed the romance was a strong, rather entertaining aspect that certainly provided a few shivers. It was more or less the focus of the story, the relationship that kind of occurred rather than a progressive relationship. In addition the “plot” of the story tended to focus largely around the romance, so there wasn’t much substance to the novel.

She gasped for air, clutched at his back, and ache to taste more of his lips.

He dove down to her neck, smudging deliciously wet kisses along her collarbone and back up to her chin.

Overall, Gone with the Wolf is a romance that’s great for a quick, rainy day read as just something light and fluffy. There isn’t much too it and it’s not the best paranormal-romance or werewolf story, but neither it is the worst!

~ 3 Books / 5 Books ~

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Filed under 2013 Publication, 3 Books, Adult, E-book, Entangled Publishing, Kristin Miller, Paranormal Romance, Werewolves

How Beauty Saved the Beast

How Beauty Saved the Beast

How Beauty Saved the Beast by Jax Garren

Series: Tales of the Underlight #2

Genre: Urban-Fantasy, Magic, Romance, Adult

Publication: February 11th 2013 by Carina Press

*mild spoilers for book one

The Plot

Jolie Benoit left her old life behind to become an agent of the Underlight. Training under Sergeant Wesley Haukon, she’s honing her combat skills, all the while coping with the intense sexual attraction she feels for Hauk. She keeps their friendship casual, but when his high school sweetheart transfers into their division, Jolie finds herself grappling with jealousy.

The Underlight gave Hauk a purpose, but he can’t escape his past completely. The physical and emotional scars from the fire that killed seven fellow Army Rangers will mark him forever. Jolie sends his protective instincts into overdrive, but he’s convinced he’ll never be worthy of her love.

Hauk is determined to keep Jolie from harm. But when the Order of Ananke ambushes them with a new weapon that neutralizes Hauk, making him vulnerable, it’s Jolie who must tap into her hidden strengths to rescue him—or risk losing him forever…

My Review

How Beauty Saved the Beast picks up seamlessly from the end of How Beauty Met the Beast. There is a short time gap between the two, but one that enables the plot to be driven on without being hindered by confusion of recapping the events in between. Again, How Beauty Saved the Beast has a very pacey plot line that continues to engage my attention as the reader and build upon the events of the last novel, bringing in more information about the world and the characters and serving to heighten my all around experience of the Underlight.

Admittedly my first thoughts are to the cover which I enjoy so much more than the previous one. The Beast on the front appears to have no visible scarring on his face which is a little annoying, he does seem to fit the kind of figure I would imagine and Beauty’s presence in the back fits much more with the ideal I imagined than the first appearance. The dark blue and light blue fit the mood of the text and bring out the vivid red of Beauty’s hair, so I think Garren really captured the essence of the characters in this cover.

In terms of character development, we’d already gained a good grasp of both Beauty (Jolie) and the Beast (Hauk) in the previous novel, and Garren continued to build on these as both individuals exploring themselves and who they were, but together. She helped to build their relationship based upon communication and things they did together. This displayed the foundations of an emotional connection that whilst didn’t push through directly to lead the novel, had a strong enough presence to see that friendship came as part of the building. I liked that these two valued each other and regarded each other in terms of friends, because in terms of character growth it allowed themselves to look a little deeper at their own characteristics and attitudes. I think this was seen in Jolie’s acceptance of Hauk’s appearance more than anything else, which is probably to be expected, but it wasn’t cliché, it was more natural which I liked.

He had no hair at all and marked where his eyebrows should be with four curved barbells on each side. He had no tattoos on his face, but his skull had her favourite one, a phoenix rising from a fire at the top of his spin, her colourful wings encircling his head and her beak touching his forehead, right where a priest would place a blessing. It was an incredible piece of art, and must have hurt like a mother to have been done entirely on bone like that.

Now when I say that the romance doesn’t overshadow the plot, there are definitely still some very sweet and tension filled moments between the pair that only added to my enjoyment of the overall plotline. So for romance lovers out there, don’t worry because Garren knows how to deliver in the romance department!

Her lips were soft enough, fascinating enough to keep him happy for hours. Jolie wasn’t some quick hook-up. Touching her wasn’t some itch that just needed scratching. She was the real thing. She needed to know that. He needed to treat her like that. They had time to learn each other right.

The plot depth only gets more complicated and even more unexpected since the first book which I really liked because I never knew what to actually expect. Garren makes some really unique ideas, legends and political wars to bring together a novel of some great originality that also manages to be action-filled with fight scenes, rescues (which is pretty obvious given the title) and bomb-shells that I’m finding less and less in modern fiction. I certainly thing How Beauty Saved the Beast hypes up the plot another gear from where we first began and Garren only demonstrates how fabulous she is as an author.

In addition to this, we do get some new characters in this that certainly add more complexities to the novel. I liked how we didn’t weigh to heavily on the past events and Garren drove the novel forward with more action and characters and whilst many of the secondary characters that were in the previous book return, there seems to be something still new and refreshing about the second book that makes it as easy to read as the introduction was to the world.

I would mention that I didn’t quite feel the steampunk element as strongly in this one, however in replace we did get some magic that blends much more strongly into How Beauty Saved the Beast than the first novel. So I wouldn’t expect too much steampunk from these novels, but do regard that Garren has the power to blend, action, romance and magic and so much more into these books that she continues to build upon with new layers that make them so enjoyable.
Another good point, is whilst How Beauty Saved the Beast is urban-fantasy and not a book that looks deep into humanity and pondering the issues of society like contemporary fiction generally does; it certainly proves effective in looking at judgements upon appearance and the conspiracy theories of politics that make it more relatable and realistic for an urban-fantasy novel.

Ultimately for me, Garren has done what so many authors seem to fail when writing a sequel, she has managed to step up the game and only have me eager for more! So pick up the Tales of the Underlight series now as I promise you won’t regret it.

4 Books / 5 Books

3 Comments

Filed under 2013 Publication, 4 Books, Adult, Carina Press, E-book, Jax Garren, Magic, Romance

Twice Tempted

Twice Tempted

Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost

Series: Night Prince #2

Genre: Paranormal-Romance, Adult, Vampires

Published: March 26th 2013 by Avon

The Plot

Dating the Prince of Darkness has its challenges…

Leila’s psychic abilities have been failing her, and now she isn’t sure what the future holds. If that weren’t enough, her lover, Vlad, has been acting distant. Though Leila is a mere mortal, she’s also a modern woman who refuses to accept the cold shoulder treatment forever–especially from the darkly handsome vampire who still won’t admit that he loves her.

Like choosing between eternal love and a loveless eternity…

Soon circumstances send Leila back to the carnival circuit, where tragedy strikes. And when she finds herself in the crosshairs of a killer who may be closer than she realizes, Leila must decide who to trust– the fiery vampire who arouses her passions like no other or the tortured knight who longs to be more than a friend? With danger stalking her every step of the way, all it takes is one wrong move to damn her for eternity.

*mild spoilers potentially for book one

The Review

Twice Tempted is honestly my guilt pleasure, or at least Jeaniene Frost is. This woman continues to astound me with her brilliance, talent and pure entertainment quality that she manages to inject into every inch of her books. Twice Tempted is tantalising, tempting and filled with tension for every moment that had me up well into the night turning the pages on my kindle to find out the next adventure of Vlad and Leila. And I assure you, Vlad hands down gets even better than before and he will set the world on fire. Despite my gushing praise, Twice Tempted is not perfect, but it’s enjoyable and filled with romance, action and mystery that means the plot link continues to elude you until the very end.

Vlad is my favourite of Jeaniene Frost’s characters and whilst Bones will always have a special place in my heart, there has always been something about Vlad. He’s definitely what you call the heartless vampire that will crucify his enemies and plunge a stake into the heart of his employee if there is even a whisper of betrayal. It’s ultimately what makes him so fabulous with his iron-will and strong notions that make him predictable. However, beneath all that there is a side to Vlad that is entertaining to be uncovered and he’s not quite as impenetrable as he once thought. He is also the archaic gentlemen with ideas of chivalry and fighting for his lady, however what makes it all the more entertaining is that he is in love with a modern lady.

I drank in the sight of his muscled chest with its dusting of dark hair and numerous scars. Vlad looked like what he was—a warrior who’d hacked his way through battles that would’ve killed lesser men. Unclothed, his seething masculinity and inherent dangerousness weren’t diminished. Instead they increased, and I’d have it no other way.

Leila continues to build on herself and her strength as she flies into everything head-strong and independent. She doesn’t allow anybody to beat her, least of all Vlad. This is particularly what makes their relationship entertaining as they battle and bicker that makes you smile. Leila definitely has lots of emotional turmoil to deal with in this instalment, but she is exceptional and comes out of everything even stronger than before. She is definitely what I call a real kick-ass heroine.

Honestly what makes Jeaniene Frost my favourite author is her ability to articulate flowing scenes, but balance it with humour, spicy romance and action. It perfectly blends elements of urban-fantasy and paranormal-romance into a balanced healthy mix that gives you the best of both worlds. I definitely think fans of either side can appreciate Frost for her wonder and enthusiasm which touches every aspect of her work. In addition to this she crafts well-rounded, realistic and characters full of emotion and grit that draws in every aspect of your attention until you are entirely drawn into it.

Twice Tempted certainly affirms why I love Frost so much and that whilst the Night Huntress series may have waned by the end, she has relighted the passion for her novels in something new, fun and quirky that takes place with the Prince of Darkness. Seriously, don’t miss out on Frost because she is undeniably an author that keeps me up late at night wanting to finish a book, which I find to be a rare occurrence these days.

4.5 Books / 5 Books

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Filed under 2013 Publication, 4.5 Books, Adult, Avon, E-book, Jeaniene Frost, Paranormal Romance, Vampires

How Beauty Met the Beast

How Beauty Met The Beast

How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren

Series: Tales of the Underlight

Genre: Urban-Fantasy, Magic, Romance, Adult

Publication: November 19th 2012 by Carina Press

The Plot

The Beast – Scarred. Damaged. Living with a terrible secret. Agent of the Underlight Wesley “Hauk” Haukon has nothing left but the fight for liberty against the oppressive Order of Ananke. He’s starting to lose hope…and then he sees her.

The Beauty – Despite her night job as a burlesque dancer, grad student Jolie Benoit has always played the mostly good girl. That all changes following a scorching sexual encounter with a stranger whose face she doesn’t see. After she’s kidnapped by thugs and rescued by a man with a very familiar voice, Jolie becomes a pawn in a struggle she never knew existed.

Hauk knows he cannot have her, and resolves to protect his heart and his secrets. But as they work together and grow closer, he finds new reason to keep fighting. Dare he risk hope in a new life, one where Jolie can see past his ravaged face and where their friendship can grow into something more?

My Review

How Beauty Met The Beast is a book I saw quite a while ago and dismissed it thinking it wasn’t for me. It is safe to say, I am so glad that I returned and picked it up. It may only be a short novella at around 100 and something pages, but every inch of it is action-packed and hooking. Urban-fantasy isn’t usually my primary reading material, but blending this in with a little bit of steampunk and teasing us with romance served to encapsulate my attention for the whole time. And it served to motivate me to read the second book straight after, a very rare occurrence for me, since I much prefer to procrastinate for months and forget the plot lines of previous books before returning to the series. Admittedly, the book isn’t perfect, but it’s enjoyable and entertaining.

I think one of my favourite aspects has to be the ‘Beast’ of the story or Hauk. He may be a man troubled, emotionally reserved and with low expectations of people but he doesn’t allow that to define and infiltrate his actions and morals. He might not be on the right side of the law, but there was definitely the feel of a good man. After his accident in the war, he has been left horrifically scarred and this definitely affects the way he views himself, but I enjoyed how he met ‘Beauty’ a.k.a Jolie and things changed. It wasn’t so blatantly obvious, but the subtly really worked into the storyline to not overpower the plotline.

The world was definitely one to be admired and the complexity of the underground movement, the Underlight and all the political conspiracy that surrounds this certainly entertained me. The aspects of steampunk enter in the Underlight which has removed itself from the world of technology and it moving away from the modern world that is full of corruption. It wasn’t entirely developed to tell every detail, but sufficient enough to gain a good idea and I enjoyed the concept. It definitely served to add excitement with the warning factions and the underground secrecy of everything.

“It’s like I went back in time,” she muttered in awe.
There wasn’t a single piece of plastic anywhere. No electronics, either. No computer. No phone. No television or radio. The desk held paper and a fountain pen. Candlelight gave the room a living glow. Damask browns and burnished hold made up the main palette, with hints of burnt orange and forest green filling the room with a masculine warmth.

Jolie was definitely a character I admired. Despite her bourgeois background, she didn’t allow this to define her or constrain her relationships with others like Hauk. She was down to earth and kind and caring. She also happened to be sassy, smart and brave. Without a doubt Jolie is a kick-ass heroine that runs into things with the best of intentions and usually succeeds because she does think too. I liked everything about Jolie and whilst at times she was a little obtuse, I think that was more a reflection of human nature than anything. Her choice of job is certainly interesting, but I don’t think the judgement should come on first impressions because there is a lot beneath the surface with Jolie.

“Oh. Weird. Well, I guess being a classy stripper is pretty different.”

One of my favourite characters had a very small part, but it was Jolie’s niece and her witty insight to situations certainly added to the humour of the book. It also rounded that novel that there was touches on humour throughout not just from Whitney but other characters too. It certainly showed that the secondary characters could also be fleshed out despite the short length of the novel and this served to impress me because I really felt that I had a handle on the other characters and their positions in the novel.

Whitney sighed. “I told you not to kiss him while he was asleep.”
Was she getting chastised by a twelve-year-old?
“I didn’t!”

Overall, How Beauty Met the Beast was enjoyable, action-packed and thrilling from start to finish. This is most definitely the start to a fantastic series that has some well-fleshed out characters and ideas that have me eager to read more. I definitely recommend this one without reserve!

~ 3.5 Books / 5 Books ~

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Filed under 2012 Publication, 3.5 Books, Adult, Carina Press, E-book, Jax Garren, Magic, Romance, Urban-Fantasy

Helen of Troy

Helen of Troy

Helen of Troy by Margaret George

Genre: Historical-fiction, Romance, Adult, DNF

Published: 2007 by Pan Publishing

The Plot

Daughter of a god, wife of a king, prize of antiquitys bloodiest war, Helen of Troy has inspired artists for millennia. Now Margaret George, the highly acclaimed bestselling historical novelist, has turned her intelligent, perceptive eye to the myth that is Helen of Troy.

Margaret George breathes new life into the great Homeric tale by having Helen narrate her own story. Through her eyes and in her voice, we experience the young Helens discovery of her divine origin and her terrifying beauty. While hardly more than a girl, Helen married the remote Spartan king Menelaus and bore him a daughter. By the age of twenty, the worlds most beautiful woman was resigned to a passionless marriage until she encountered the handsome Trojan prince Paris. And once the lovers flee to Troy, war, murder, and tragedy become inevitable.

In Helen of Troy, Margaret George has captured a timeless legend in a mesmerizing tale of a woman whose life was destined to create strife and destroy civilizations.

The Review

Before we begin you may have noted I marked this book at DNF, but it stands at a crazy 700 pages and I have yet to finish such an epically long book. I am cursed, cursed I tell you. So I was trying to break it with this book and I made it past 400 pages. Unfortunately, Christmas, exams and lots of other things got in the way and I ran out of steam as well as renewal times for a library loaned book. So I can’t tell you whether I didn’t finish this one because I didn’t enjoy it because I did or if I’m lazy with big books or I just seem to have this fear of their sheer size and I cannot fathom how to finish such a book. Still, I must say Helen of Troy is not a book to dismiss just because I did not finish it.

Honestly, I don’t read that much historical-fiction for an avid history lover. I soak up all the facts and the figures and just revel in the world of the past, but I’m always a little wary of historical fiction and I just couldn’t tell you why… Maybe because I fear it will not capture the world or I just won’t get honest facts. However, Helen of Troy is about a world that may or may not have existed.  It’s about a woman who has been part of Greek legends for centuries and who is the claimed daughter of a God. So much of this ‘historical-fiction’ relies on Fantasy. There is evidence today that the sight of Troy that can be found in northwest Turkey in a place called Anatolia. Still, this is not certified exactly, which is what makes this story so fascinating and gives George a huge artistic license.

I enjoyed how George slowly drew us into the world of Greece and Sparta and Troy. I loved how she revealed the characters slowly and built upon them giving them fleshed out foundations and characteristics that made them real. I adored how the developed and changed over the storyline and they evoked anger and sadness and frustration in me. Truly, the characters of Helen and Menelaus particularly came to life. Honestly I felt like Paris is a naive, silly boy who is too weak to truly fight and understand the world and this is where I began to abhor Helen for her decisions.

I am sure you all know the story of Helen of Troy in how she ran away with Paris, the Trojan prince which led to the Spartans waging war on her. George takes lots of time to unravel the story in Sparta and Helen as a child and uncovering her true heritage. I liked this touch and the links we got to her father and Zeus because they really added to the tale. I even enjoyed the journey over to Troy. Nevertheless this story had to fall flat somewhere, it is when we reach Troy and she seems to be searching for time to fill the space. I never reached the huge, colossal battle that destroys a civilization, the great Achilles and all over a woman. NEVER did I reach that in OVER 400 pages. George didn’t leave us action less, but I felt like it was dragging too much to actually reach the battle which is where my interest lost.

In some ways I wish I had preserved because I feel the battle would have again stole my attention because George wrote in a fabulous detail that managed to encapsulate every essence of Ancient Greece but stopped before you became lost in every tiny detail.

Helen of Troy is far from being a bad book, I think George takes an inventive, new approach to the tale of the famed Helen of Troy who know felt like a real person and not some absolutely stunning woman on a pedestal that has been famed. She had thoughts and feelings and she wasn’t entirely stupid. I liked Helen for most of the story until she ran off for Troy. For that, I find it hard to forgive her. However George creates a story that gives a reason and adds flavour to the previously rather vague story of Helen of Troy. I think that if George had cut the story 200, even 100 pages shorter she would have managed to keep the story with a much tighter narrative and not lost us in the mundanely-ness and politics of Troy that first occur when Helen enters which I felt too much time was spent on.

So, despite not finishing Helen of Troy for those mythology lovers and those much more ready and with much more spare time ready to take on a 700 page novel, I utterly recommend Helen of Troy. For those, like me, cursed never to finish such a long book, I’d say maybe try an audio of this book or just skip it and wallow in annoyance that you cannot finish a darn book beyond 600 pages.

~ 2.5 / 5 Books ~

Nerd Fact

The Trojan War is depicted in the Iliad written by Homer which was written quite a while after the events and is unknown whether to be truthful or largely fiction.

Heinrich Schliemann is the German man who claimed his fame in finding Troy, but in actual fact the city remains he uncovered were not Troy and whilst the place in Anatolia, Turkey, is where the city is. It was actual several layers of earth below this in which more city remains were found which are now believed to be Troy.

24 Comments

Filed under 2.5 Books, 2007 Publication, Adult, DNF, Historical Fiction, Margaret George, Pan Publishing, Paperback, Romance

Contemporary Blend #3

Vanilla on Top

Game for Marriage

 

 

 

    Versus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vanilla on Top by C.J. Ellisson                                Game for Marriage by Karen Erickson

Series: Walk on the Wild Side #1                                                Series: Game for It #1

Published: January 11th 2013                                                     Published: January 11th 2013

As you know I’ve recently developed an obsession for Entangled Publishing books, particularly their Brazen collection and here are two more, very different books to add to my collection. So I thought I’d try and mix something up with my review and do a little bit of a rating system.


  Vanilla on Top Game for Marriage
Seduction 7 / 10 9 / 10
Angst Levels 8 / 10 4 / 10
Fun 6 / 10 8 / 10
Male Candy 6 / 10 8 / 10
Sexual Adventures 8 / 10 7 / 10
Strong Female Character 8 / 10 6 / 10
Plot 6 / 10 6 / 10
Set-up for Sequel 4 / 10 7 / 10
Clichés 7 / 10 6 / 10
Overall Rating 6 / 10 8 / 10

Mini-Reviews

Game for Marriage

Game for Marriage was an awful lot of fun and exactly what I needed to put a smile on my face and make it stay there. It had very little angst as it focused on a fake wedding between a super hot, quarterback, Jared and struggling artist, Sheridan. They have lots of laughs and problems, but they tend to work them through with minimal pain and angst that can get a little oppressive in the contemporary genre. My favourite quote from the book has to be…

“No, not really. My grandma said she was like Elizabeth Taylor. I guess Elizabeth was once quoted saying she was in love with falling in love. My grandma said that described her to a T.”

Jared was all around sexy, he had me drooling and sighing in all the right places and he was certainly the man for me. I couldn’t have wanted anybody else. He balanced confidence, arrogance and the ability to let loose as well as being serious to give him a fairly rounded character. He plays the “bad boy” appeal, but beneath the surface he genuinely cares about Sheridan and watching their relationship blossoming is exciting.

It’s not perfect, they’re not perfect, but Game for Marriage has to be a fun, flirty read and my only complaint is it was far too short. I felt that the author could have added more to flesh out the time period because she seemed to skim over it all very quickly to cram it into the time period and that she would have gained much more in adding in a few more details just to give substance to the characters and the plot as we moved through several months in a very quick time.

Overall, I recommend this to contemporary and romance fans alike and somebody looking for a little fun.

4 books

Vanilla on Top

Vanilla on Top takes on a very different approach to the contemporary genre, and it wasn’t quite what I expected. It was nothing alike to my recent read, Game for Marriage but I appreciated the differences and found Vanilla on Top to be a refreshing addition to the contemporary genre. Vanilla on Top focused on Heather our main character coming out of herself from a rather downtrodden character to somebody with confidence, esteem and authority and whilst she still had her doubts, it was enchanting to watch her progression since the story focused around her character.

“Turn it off,” I say, with a challenge in my tone. I sit up straighter and stare into the depths of his caramel eyes. “You want someone to tell you what to do?” He nods, his calculating gaze on me as the phone continues to ring, “Turn off that damn phone,” I bite out, pretending I’m issuing a command. “Now.”

Vanilla on Top very much entwines business and pleasure and we get a lot more angst as we look at relationships, confidence and personalities and changing images, but it works for the novels approach and whilst it felt well placed in Vanilla on Top it hasn’t in previous angst novels. Heather and Tony have sexual encounters a dozen, but the real entertainment comes when they realise who the other is and how they develop from there on out.

I loved how Heather took the control of the novel and whilst it isn’t entirely my thing, she was very much an assertive woman and she knew what she wanted. I like how she teased Tony, yet again the typical “playboy” which to be honest, I didn’t really see it.

I didn’t like the supporting characters in Vanilla on Top and I felt very little time was given to developing their characters and especially if they are to be in the sequel to this as a series, which I fear they will. I found that the secondary characters changed their attitudes a lot and were very self-centered and unsupportive of the protagonists so I didn’t take to them at all.

Overall, Vanilla on Top was an interesting read and I may read the sequel, but I haven’t fully decided.

*Quote taken from an uncorrected e-arc provided through Netgalley by Entangled Publishing.

3 books

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Filed under 2013 Publication, 3 Books, 4 Books, Adult, C.J. Ellisson, Contemporary, E-book, Entangled Publishing, Karen Erickson, Romance