zondag 29 april 2012

Suzanne McLeod – The cold kiss of Death

The second book in the Spellcrackers series, published in paper form July 16, 2009.
Genre: Urban Fantasy.

The cold kiss of death

I’m Genny Taylor. My job is to make magic safe. My life is anything but. Wish me luck…
Given her sidhe bloodline and her job at Spellcrackers, Genny Taylor is accustomed to seeing ghosts. But rarely has she been haunted by one so persistent. Who – or what – ever it is, is trying to help her, she knows. Only she doesn’t know how.
Then a friend of Genny’s is murdered, and she stops worrying about the meddlesome spirit and starts worrying about the fact that all the evidence points to … her.
Now she’s on the run, with some of the most powerful supernaturals in town on her trail – and one of them is most certainly the killer…

Welcome to London, a city filled with most known and unknown paranormal creatures, like Fae, vampires, witches, trolls, goblins, dryads, naiads, a kelpie, satyrs, and whatever else you can think of from fairytales.
Genevieve, Genny, is Fae. The only Fae in London. She is also half vampire, something not many people know. When she was 14, she was bitten by a vampire, and became addicted to the vampire venom. She has been fighting to give in to it ever since, as she really does not want to become someone’s bloodslave. Unfortunately, that is something all the vampires in London do want! Her Fae blood makes her very powerful, and her healing powers would mean they can almost kill her on a daily basis and she will keep on healing, and keep on being addicted to their bite. Genny is the only Fae on London, as the Fae Queen sealed the portals after her son died. Dooming all the lesser fae, as they can only have halfblood children. And for some strange reason they all suddenly think that Genny is ready to become a mother and have a fullblooded Fae child, and they all want her to mate with one of them. A Fae mother is capable to determine the race of her child, be it Fae or whatever the father is. Being pursued through the streets of London by some dryads is not a fun thing, especially not when all the trees keep telling them where she is. Luckily, her fairy dogmother saves her this time.
Then there is the ghost of a young girl haunting Genny, but she can’t communicate with it. Fortunately, it appears to be helping her on a few occasions.

A young bakerfriend of Genny’s is found by Genny and her vampire ally Malik al Khan in his bakershop, killed while having sex. Sex with a Fae and Fae sexmagic. And as Genny is the only Fae in London, all the evidence points to her. But she did not do it, someone is framing her. But who, and why? To clear her name, she needs all the help she can get. But nothing is as it seems, and she has no idea who is her friend or ally, and who is only pretending to be, and is her mortal enemy.

I took a break while reading this book, which was not a smart idea. I should have kept on reading, even though it is a bit darker than I am used to. A lot of strange things keep happening in this book, and it is hard to figure it all out while it is happening. But in the end, everything is wrapped up nicely, and a lot of things make sense.
I really like books with lots of supernatural creatures in it, it make for a richness in the story with all their different appearances and customs and desires.

For those of you, who really need romance in their reading, there are no real kisses or smexy scenes, except some kisses when she is under the influence of Malik, and that is not really willing in my opinion. There are possible mates though. A kelpie, a satyr, and a vampire. So who knows what will happen, who will Genny choose? Or perhaps someone we have not yet met.

Even though this series is darker than I am used to, and a lot confusing at times, I really like it. Suzanne McLeod has a great writing voice, and her imagination and worldbuilding is superb. I have no idea where this series is going to take me, but I will be there for the thrill ride.

9 stars.

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© 2012 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 28 april 2012

New additions to my addiction

Stapel boeken

Last Saturday I received two books from Bookdepository, by two different mailpersons.
First one: Johanna Lindsay – When Passion Rules.

And one hour later Kevin Hearne – Tricked, which I started reading immediately. Review has been posted earlier.

Thursday I received my three books by Bella Andre, about firefighters! I hope I can stand the heat ;) .
Hot as Sin, Never too hot, Wild Heat.
Just in time to read before Berlin.

And an hour later, another mailperson delivered a package from Bookdepository as well, with:
Alayna Williams – Dark Oracle
Alayna Williams – Rogue Oracle
Jenn Bennett – Kindlng the Moon.

Perhaps you know that Alayna Williams is one of the names of Laura Bickle? I still have to read Embers and Sparks by her. But well, if you keep up with these posts, you would see that I buy more books than I can read. I can’t seem to stop myself buying more books though.

I have been bad last wednesday, and bought a few lots of secondhand books aswell. Unfortunately, none of those has arrived today.

vrijdag 27 april 2012

Robin Paige – Death in Hyde Park

The tenth book in the Victorian Mystery series, or the first one in the Edwardian Mystery series, as Prince Bertie now is King Edward. Published March 2, 2004.
Genre: historical cozy mystery.

Death in Hyde Park

Coronation Day, 1892. Charles and Kate Sheridan are pleased to be witness to the crowning of their King. Expatriate author Jack London is also watching the festivities – but with a more sceptical eye. He has come to London to write an exposé of the East End slums – and the coronation has not tempered his disdain for the monarchy.
This special day takes a sinister turn when an anarchist accidentally blows himself up with a bomb meant for the King. Charged with determining the extent of the danger facing the Crown, Charles and Kate turn up a number of intriguing – and disturbing – questions.
And then there is the matter of the mysterious, beautiful Charlotte Conway, editor of the anarchist newspaper where the dead man was employed. On the run from Scotland Yard, she takes refuge in Kate and Charles’ home – and in Jack London’s arms. All of which makes for a very interesting investigation indeed…

I am a little bit sad, there are only two more books in this series to enjoy. I do wish the authors, Susan and Bill Albert, would reconsider writing a few more. Yes, this is also Susan Wittig Albert, author of the cozy mystery I reviewed two days ago, but those she writes solo.

During the books, I have come to like Kate and Charles a lot. They are such great characters, open to reform, helping the poor and their servants where they can. I especially enjoy Charles’ interest in modern science, and in this book his fingerprinting hobby finally comes to fruition. The very first burglar in English history is convicted based on his fingerprint evidence. For the theft of 7 billiards balls, he is sentenced with 7 years in prison.
And that ruling turns out to be very important for this case.

When the Royal couple is on its way back to Buckingham Palace after the Coronation ceremony, an anarchist with a bomb meant for them, manages to blow himself up. He was already known as an anarchist by the Special Branch of Scotland Yard, and a few days later they arrest his coworkers at the anarchist newspaper the Clarion, where he worked. Only the editor, Charlotte Conway, manages to escape over the roof. Descending, she lands at the feet of Jack London, who takes an instant liking to her, but she swiftly runs away. Two of her colleagues are taking in custody by the police. A Frenchman and a Russian who had to feel their own countries and have taken refuge in London’s East End, like so many others. Both true anarchists. But also Adam Gould, who was just there to take Charlotte to lunch, and is also taken away. He is a socialist, working for one of the biggest railway Guilds, negotiating between the workers and their employees.

To his own dismay, Charles is asked by the Crown to look into things, and find out the truth behind this threat. He and Kate were not planning to go back to London just yet. But it is allright to wait until after the weekend. Which is a good thing, as Kate’s friend the actress (and their former maid) Nellie Lovelace with a friend, who turns out to be Charlotte Conway. She needs a place to stay for a while, until it is safe to go back to London. Charlotte is a true anarchist, trying not to care about other people, but she is truly impressed with Lady Kate Sheridan. Kate has founded a school for women to learn to be independent farmers and such, now the man are fleeing to the factories in the cities to find a job. And the profits of their labour are shared among them, and not end up in Kate’s pockets. But when Charlotte is expected to get involved in the school as well, and has to feed the pigs the next day, she flees back to London. There is something she can do for her imprisoned friends! But it is Charles who will make the difference, by taking care that a good solicitor/barrister will aid them in court. Still, acquitting them will not be easy with the evidence against them. Even though they are sure that the police planted it themselves! Which is true, as Inspector Ashford of the Special Branch of Scotland Yard is very keen to make a name for himself, and is of the opinion that any and all means are allowed to get the results he wants: anarchists of the street and behind bars.

Not really much of a mystery to figure out in this book though. Almost all the details are known up front, but I did like the trial. And it was nice revisiting these characters and England in this time period. Anarchy was a very real threat in those days. Nowadays, it is called terrorism. The Ochrana, the Russian secret service is involved, which makes for some intriguing details.
Who has not heard of the author Jack London, or read one of his books. I have fond memories of White Fang. But in this book he is not portrayed in a good way. He is kind of a scumbag. I often do wonder how true those characterizations are of the famous people appearing in this series.

As always, Robin Paige has written a true cozy mystery, with some famous guest characters thrown in the mix. I really like the writing style, and how everything fits together. But I admit I like the bits starring Kate the best. This is another series I can recommend to all history lovers.

8 stars.

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© 2012 Reviews by Aurian

donderdag 26 april 2012

Suzanne Enoch – Taming an Impossible Rogue

The second book in the Scandalous Brides series, published March 27, 2012.
Genre: Historical Romance.

You might think this cover is a bit bleh, and you are right, but there is a very gorgeous stepcover inside this book. I totally love it.

Taming an impossible rogue

A runaway bride.
One year ago, Lady Camille Pryce left her haughty fiancé at the altar-for good reason. Not only was the marriage arranged before she could even walk, her betrothed was too smug to exert himself to meet her! Now, disowned, with no husband or family to support her, she's left with one option: go to work in the notorious Tantalus Club...

A Gambler at heart.
A gentleman's gaming house run by a woman, the Tantalus is no place for a proper lady; so, to save face, her jilted fiancé must retrieve her. But banned from the club, he's forced to employ his ne'er-do-well cousin instead. A handsome, experienced rogue, Keating Blackwood is the perfect man to lure Camille away. But the moment they meet, Keating instead wants to save her... for himself. Impossible? Perhaps. But if Camille can make the ultimate player lay his cards on the table - and risk his heart - all bets are off.

After the supergood first book in this series, which I gave a record of 11 stars, I had very high expectations of this one. This is a great book, but not as great as the first one, which would be almost impossible of course. Still, I really enjoyed reading this one, and loved the tiny glimpses of the previous couple in this book.

When Keating Blackwood was 21, he was a terror in London, always gambling and drinking and carousing with willing women. Then one night, the husband of his latest tumble came to his home and tried to kill him. He killed the husband instead, in self defense. The court acquitted him, but guilt ridden; he went to a little farm in the country, vowing to never return to London. With the little money he makes, he supports the widow as well as he can. She was turned out by the cousin of her husband, and forced to flee to the continent. And she was pregnant with his son as well! So Keating feels obligated to both her and his son, whom she is refusing him to ever meet.
But now his cousin, the high and mighty and extremely stiff Stephen Pollard, the Marquis of Fenton has come to ask for his help. A year ago, his bride left him at the altar, and he is sick and tired of being made fun of. He wants the charming Keating to convince him to wed him after all. The girl is working in the Tantalus Club, a gentleman’s club run by a Lady, and with only female staff. But it is not a brothel!
If Keating can convince Camille to wed him, he will get 10.000 pounds. With that money, Keating can ensure the continued wellbeing of his son. Not that anyone, least his cousin, knows about that. Stephen won’t even acknowledge him in public! So hoping that after 6 years no one will recognize him, Keating sets out for London, where he will be staying with his old friend Adam, the Duke of Greaves.

From almost the day she was born, Lady Camille Pryce was engaged to Lord Fenton. At first, she thought it very romantic, but she was also sorry that she could not flirt with other men. It was known she was taken. She was also sad that he never came to meet her, or send her a birthday gift or something. She kept hoping for something, until she set foot into the church. Bare, no flowers, almost no witnesses but the bare minimum, and a bored looking man who was looking at his watch, as if he had something more important to do. All her dreams died at that moment, and she just fled. No idea, she just did not want to live with such a cold man for the rest of her life. But her parents threw her out of the house, and in her wedding dress she roamed the streets of London. Her so called friends would not even allow her to enter their homes. After staying for a while with a cold aunt as her lowliest servant, Camille saw the advertisement of the Tantalus Club for hostesses, and she applied. A real lifesafer. For the past year, she hardly ever ventured outside of the club. She was sick and tired of the cruel remarks of the people who knew her, and the lewd proposals of men who want her as their mistress, or only a bedpartner for a night.

The first meeting between Keating and Camille is easy, it happens over breakfast at the Tantalus Club. Some ogre is giving Camille trouble, and Keating just decks the man. Of course, the club’s security was on his way already, so it was totally unnecessary. And Camille is not interested in getting to know him. Until he confesses that he is the cousin of Stephen, and he asks her why she bolted from the church, or rather, what Stephen did to make her bolt? Finally, someone who just asks her, and is interested in the answer! So Camille agrees to meet Keating later in the club garden.

And then Keating kind of bumbles things up with Camille, she even hits him with her book. But after some second chances, he finally convinces her to go for a walk with him, and she can bring a friend as chaperone. He likes her and wants to be her friend. Camille really misses going on walks and drives and such. And when some of her former friends ran into them, Keating sure deals with that threat in a unique way! After all, her reputation is bad, but his is even worse. No one has forgotten the scandal in all those years. But sometimes a bad reputation can be put to good use.

Keating is honest with Camille; he tells her his cousin is paying him to convince Camille to wed him. And he tells why he needs the money, and what truly happens 6 years ago. And so Camille has to decide. To stay at the Tantalus Club, and be a free person, or marry and become a marchioness, accepted by society and taken care of for the rest of her life. Married to a man she despises in a loveless marriage.

She really tries, Keating gets Stephen to agree to just meet with her, and talk, get to know each other. He never even introduced himself to his fiancée, and he had plenty of opportunity! Of course Keating blumbles things again when he sends flowers and let her think they are his cousins way of making up the past. Not that Camille believes him though. When Camille finds out that Stephen thinks she has had many lovers in the past year, she decides to go for it, to give in to her feelings for Keating. To have at least experienced some happiness before her marriage. Because yes, she will marry Stephen. To be secure herself, and be welcomed back home. And for Keating to get the money he needs.

I so enjoyed both Camille and Keating, and was ready to smack Stephen on the head a few times. What an arrogant and self important man. Camille’s family is also not worthy of that name. Her real family are her friends and coworkers at the Tantalus Club, those girls are great secondary characters.
And then there is Keating. He is feeling so very guilty about killing that man. But he was only 21 or 22 at the time, and he has changed. Not that he is celibate, or not drinking anymore. He even drinks to excess, which are the scenes I did not like him. But he tries, for Camille, to be a better man. I liked their outings, how they enjoyed their time together. With Keating protecting Camille from the gossips, and not caring for his own reputation, only hers. And how he could not turn her down, when she made clear she wanted to be his lover.

One of the funniest details in the book was when Keating started reading Pride and Prejudice, and even commented on mr. Darcy! I loved that! It had me laughing out loud.

9 stars.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

© 2012 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 25 april 2012

Susan Wittig Albert – Mourning Gloria

Book 19 in the China Bayles series, published April 5, 2011.
Genre: cozy mystery

Mourning Gloria

China Bayles stars in “some of the best-plotted mysteries on the market.” Now the ex-lawyer and current herbalist must stop a killer whose evil is burning through Texas…
This spring China is busy selling her wares at Pecan Springs Farmers’ Market and enjoying the additional customers the market’s bringing to her herb shop, Thyme and Seasons.
But as the town bustles back to life in the warmth of the season, China happens upon a burning house trailer and hears a woman screaming for help. The evidence leaves no doubt that it's arson homicide – but who would commit such a ghastly crime?
China’s friend Jessica Nelson, an intern-reporter at the local paper, is assigned to cover the story. Drawn into the case by its similarity to her own tragic loss, she soon finds herself deeply involved - and in danger. And when Jessica disappears, China is determined to find her, before she becomes a headline herself.

I am always looking forward to the next China Bayles book. A lawyer turned herb shop owner and gardener, and sleuth. I love how her personal life keeps changing throughout the series, as do her friends’ lives. I have come to love all the secondary characters as my own friends, and like visiting with them.
China leads a very full and busy life. She is married to McQuaid, a former cop and now part time professor and private investigator. McQuaid has a son, Brian, who lives with them, and is not 16 and really grown up, but I witnessed that from a young age. There is also little Caitlyn, China’s niece, who lost her parents and her aunt, which made China her last relative. After being single for so long, it is not easy to be an instant-parent to a griefstricken little girl, but they all manage. There is also Howard Cosell, a basset hound. Brian is very interested in all kinds of creepy crawly creatures, who often escape from his bedroom.
China owns a herb shop, with extensive theme gardens, and together with her best friend and shop-neighbour Ruby, who has a shop in spiritualistic stuff, they have a catering service, and with a third friend, they run a tea room behind their shops. And now there is the farmers market, where China has a stand with fresh herbs and the tinctures and lotions she makes with them. She also writes a column for the local newspaper, and China and Ruby give lectures and workshops. So how she ever has some private time to her self, I don’t know, but China is a happy person.

McQuaid is out of town on some investigation for the local lawyer, and Brian is of to teach at summercamp, so China and little Caitlyn are home together. They started working in the garden early, to harvest the herbs China will be selling at the farmers market. Caity likes to help, and not just for the allowance she gets from China.
That night, after a get together with friends who also like local produce, Caity stays for a sleepover, and China drives home alone. Almost home, she happens to see a trailer she thought was vacant, on fire. After calling 911 she sets out to investigate if the trailer is empty, or if someone is still inside. And to her horror, someone is calling for help. But before she can smash in the window, the trailer blows up. Leaving China with some burnwounds and without her eyebrows. The firebrigade and the sheriff show up quick, but too late. The woman inside is death, and the trailer is beyond rescue as well.
China feels absolutely horrible that she could not safe that woman, burning alive, what is more horrible than that? But when the police tells her, the woman was shot and tied up, she also could have run into the killer if she was a few minutes earlier, and would have died as well.

Her story is the talk of the town as usual, and China has to keep telling what happened. Her young friend Jessica Nelson, who wants to be a reporter, is very interested in the case. As it happens, ten years ago, her own parents and twin sisters died in a housefire. As she was away with class, she escaped, and survived. Now she has also lost her grandmother, and is living with a roommate in a dingy house on the outskirts of town, with a really creepy neighbour who spies on her. But she wants to find out who the murdered woman was, and why it happened, and why the murdered did this. But when Jessica disappears, the only clue a frantic message on China’s answering machine, she must have come to close to solving the case! At first, both the editor of the newspaper, who also happens to be Ruby’s boyfriend, and the local police are not that interested in trying to find her.
But China feels restless, and is determined to follow in Jessica’s footsteps of that last Monday. What did she discover?

And so China sets out to investigate, using her lawyer skills to interrogate people, and scare them with the law if necessary. All that while also taking care of business as good as she can. Her little niece is having violin lessons, and has more than her share of talent! And so the Caity gets a part of a youth orchestra and things, as she is already good enough to perform. China herself hated her violin lessons in her youth, and it is her own mother who is paying for them. And when a stray cat wanders into their garden, Caitlin wants to keep it. Even Howard is fine with that, as the cat obviously has used several of its lives already and is in dire need of a new home and some food. How is China to say no to a young girl that is just starting living again? Especially when asked if she not rather have a young kitten, the answer is: that cat is just like me aunt China… it needs me.

Back to the mystery plot: that was good, I never did guess the murderer. I had my sights set on the married man who would not let go of Jessica when she found out the truth and broke up with him.

I do wonder if all will be right with Sheriff Blackie and Smart Cookie, if their relationship will hold this time. Unfortunately, the wait for the next book in this series will be another year.

I enjoy reading about the fictive town of Pecan Springs, Texas, a lot. I like the people, and the culture and the descriptions of plantlife and such very much. Susan Wittig Albert has a way with words, so you can see the pictures in your head. And I also like that China kind of talks to the reader in parts of the book, updating you on what happened before when necessary. You don’t get pages long of old information first. It is different. And of course, there is a lot of knowledge about herbs and plants and how to use them, and not. And always the warning to not try it yourself without specialist advice. Something that is good for you, can also be lethal in bigger doses.

9 stars.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

© 2012 Reviews by Aurian

dinsdag 24 april 2012

Kevin Hearne – Tricked

The fourth book in the Iron Druid Chronicles series, published April 24, 2012.
Genre: Urban Fantasie


Druid Atticus O'Sullivan hasn't stayed alive for more than two millennia without a fair bit of Celtic cunning. So when vengeful thunder gods come Norse by Southwest looking for payback, Atticus, with a little help from the Navajo trickster god Coyote, lets them think that they've chopped up his body in the Arizona desert. But the mischievous Coyote is not above a little sleight of paw, and Atticus soon finds that he's been duped into battling bloodthirsty desert shapeshifters called skinwalkers. Just when the Druid thinks he's got a handle on all the duplicity, betrayal comes from an unlikely source. If Atticus survives this time, he vows he won't be fooled again. Famous last words.

I was very happy when the mailperson brought me this new book by Kevin Hearne last Saturday. And for once, it was earlier than its official release date. So, win-win. I like being one of the first persons to read and review a book. It means I don’t have to wait to read other people’s reviews until I have read and reviewed the book myself. I do confess, after this action filled book read directly after finishing Alien Diplomacy, I really need something quieter to read now.

As we all now, the third book in the series, Hammered, ended with an evil cliffhanger. This book starts a little after that ending though; you are not dropped back in the car chase. Apparently, Atticus and Coyote have made some deal. Atticus will help Coyote with some big plans he has for his own people, the Diné or Navajo. And Coyote will take Atticus place and let the Gods out to kill Atticus, kill him instead. Coyote will be reborn, none the worse for wear, and Atticus will get rid of his enemies.
After all the centuries of being nothing but a Trickster God, Coyote wants to do something real for his people, and for the environment. Colorado is being eaten by coal mining operations, strip mining especially, which is the hardest on the earth. Druids have a special bond with Gaia, or the Earth, and Atticus will have to help him find enough gold to start a solar and wind energy company. Which is good for the environment, and will produce jobs for the Navajo. The money made from this company will be invested in infrastructure and other companies providing jobs. All Atticus has to do, is make a road to the top of the Colorado Plateau, and create a vain of gold to pay for the operation start up costs. Or rather, he has to convince the Elemental of Colorado, to do it for him.
Colorado is happy to have the Druid on his lands, and will gladly smooth the earth (his skin) to form a road. But he will only create the vein of easily to mine gold if Atticus will stop the biggest coal stripping company nearby. Which Atticus happily agrees to do in turn. And he will stay for a few years in the area, if it is safe to do so.
Of course, nothing is as easy with Coyote if you think. As it happens, there are some skinwalkers in the area. Evil people, who are willingly possessed by the sprits of the First World and capable to using animal skins to change their shape. And Coyote wants Atticus to take care of them for him. But Atticus has no clue whatsoever, as their magic is totally different from his own.
When the first crew arrives to start working on a hovel, there is an older man named Frank with them who he is Nataałi, or medicine man. While Frank starts working on the blessing of the hovel that night, they are attacked by the skinwalkers, who are after Atticus, thanks to a little visit from Hel, one of the Norse Goddesses. The blessing makes that they are safe inside of the hovel, but Atticus has to do his best to keep the hovel safe from destruction. Those skinwalkers are extraordinary fast and strong, and they are only a blur to him. There is no way he can step outside and fight them with his sword.

Atticus will have to fight those who want him death, try to defeat the skinwalkers when Coyote can’t or won’t and he has to sabotage a strip mining coal company. All in a days work when you are a Druid.

The best parts in this book are his conversations with his wolfhound Oberon. Oberon is such a great character, he loves his sausages, but he is also very knowledgeable and watches tv, like the foodchannel. The second best part is Granuaile, Atticus’ apprentice and a very smart and pretty young woman. I loved the parts where he explains about his past, and how to be a Druid, and teaches her stuff. It will take about 12 years for her to complete her studies, and be able to do some Druid magic. I like books with bits and pieces of other countries’ mythologies and pantheons explained, so this is just the series for me.
Of course the Morrigan visits as well, and that is one Goddess I never want to meet.

There are not many series written by a man, or having a male lead character I enjoy reading, but this is one of them. The only thing that sometimes irritates me, is that Atticus is a bit crude, and how he and Oberon use very long and difficult words sometimes, of which I have no idea what they mean. I also have no intention to look them up in a dictionary. I wonder if this is because English is not my first language, or if American readers have the same problems with them.

All in all, I really like this series, and am already looking forward to the next book. After all, the ending of this one promises quiet times for Atticus and Granuaile, and time for teaching. I enjoy the parts where he teaches her things, especially about the earth and its creatures. I wonder how long that peace will hold though.

9 stars.

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© 2012 Review by Aurian

maandag 23 april 2012

Gini Koch – Alien Diplomacy

The fifth book in the Katherine "Kitty" Katt series, published April 3, 2012.
Genre: sci-fi romance / alien romance.

Alien Diplomacy

Being newlyweds and new parents is challenging enough. But nothing’s ever easy for Jeff and Kitty Katt-Martini, particularly not when they have to switch from super-being exterminators and Commanders in Centaurion Division to mastering the political landscape as the new heads of Centaurion's Diplomatic Corps. Kitty’s brand of diplomacy and lobbying isn’t quite as smooth as Jeff’s – Washington parties, lobbyists of all stripes, and politicians from all states and countries presents challenges a well-stocked Ipod and quirky sense of humor aren’t always up to handling. But when a shadowy assassination plot and a new set of anti-alien conspirators are identified, Kitty’s the diplomat for the job – in between “Mommy and me”. “Diplomacy for Beginners” and the dreaded “Washington Wife” classes.
As explosions, assassination attempts, and murders pile up, the question shifts from “who’s the target” to “will we all survive to see next week”?
Armed with only their wits, and dressed to kill, it’s up to Kitty and the Diplomatic Corps to stop the bad guys from unleashing mayhem on all the world’s leaders. But will Kitty trust the right people, at the right times, or will going her own way prove deadly – not just to her, but to her daughter, Jamie?

Kitty is totally miserable living in Washington. She is homesick for her own desert state and the beauty of it. She hates her “Washington Wife”-class, the teacher and most of her classmates, and she is really not cut out to be a diplomat. But she has no choice, and Jeff is actually pretty good at all of it, especially the paperwork. She really misses all the action, and the ass-kicking and her friends. Of course there are still her hot husband and her beloved babygirl, and the rest of the family, but still.
Finally there is a nice surprise from Jeff for her. She has not liked any of the chauffeurs assigned to her so far, so he has arranged for Len and Kyle to be her new bodyguards/chauffeurs. She is very happy with that! Finally men she knows and can trust, and they share her love for the same music! Then, coming back from her “Mommy and Me”-class with Jamie, she gets intercepted by Mister Joel Oliver (MJO), the paparazzo who has been stalking and exposing them for years now. But this time he is not after making pictures of her, he wants to warn her. The President’s ball is in a few days, and they all will have to attend, but something big is going to happen. Big and bad. All his many sources have reported it, but he still doesn’t know who the target is going to be.
And that is the last of the quiet time in the book. Their limo is blown up, almost with them in it, if it wasn’t for Kitty’s paranoia. How come their car is the only one parked there? So they walk away from it again, but only MJO’s quick actions keep them all safe and unharmed. Then some suspicious looking taxi’s keep trying to pick them up, if they want to or not, and they have to run again. And no police is coming either. Because half the force has been fired, due to the machinations of a private security firm who is now supposed to take care of protecting the civilians.
To keep out of sight, Kitty decides to go shopping for a dress for the President’s ball, taking her bodyguards, baby and Mister Joel Oliver with her. She desperately misses Reader and his advice, because the other man can say nothing else but: it looks nice.
When she is finally picked up again by a new limo send by her husband Jeff, she gets a second surprise. Inside it is Pierre! The one who saved her wedding day. And he will certainly take care of everything for her, her dress, her hair, her shoes and accessories. Going home to the Embassy is also not an easy thing. Roadblocks and construction are everywhere, and suddenly, they are surrounded by other limos and under fire. They can activate the laser shield just in time, but the other limo with their security is not so lucky.

Lots and lots of action follows, and they try to find out who is behind this new murder plot, and who has send the other assassins, still not knowing who the real target(s) will be. Of course there is some time for Jeff and Kitty to be together, but not much.

Then there is a second plotline, where Caroline is in danger at the airport. Caroline and Kitty are sorority sisters, and close friends. Caroline is also the aide to a Senator, who is trying to find the truth what is happening in Paraguay, which is a huge plotline through the books, and which will be answered partly in here.

I really did like that Jeff is learning to control his jealousy, and he and Chuckie seem to have come to an understanding. I am still rooting for Chuckie to find his own love though. He is my favourite secondary character. I really like meeting all the previous characters in this series again and again, even though they have new jobs as well, and have less time to “hang”.

Of course the Poofs play a part in this book as well, though not as much as I would have hoped. Sometimes I though: call the Poofs, and you will be safe, but Kitty never seemed to think about that, until almost to the end of the book.

And sometimes I did think Kitty a bit naïve, if there were so many bugs planted in her purse, why did she not keep checking for them, everytime she was being held or touched by one of her “classmates”.

There were new friends in here, unsuspected allies, and friends who were really enemies and assassins. This makes if very difficult for Kitty to decide who to trust, and who not.

So, conclusion, as usual an action filled book, with lots of twists and turns and multiple complots running through it. Still the personal lives of the main characters keep developing as well, with some new babies being born, and with little Jamie showing her powers. It is impossible to skim-read this book, as you would miss upon some important details.

A really great series, one I enjoy reading a lot. And I can totally recommend it to any romance lover out there.

I have one question though, that keeps bugging me: how did MJO know to push the button on the stroller? So, I asked Gini on Twitter, and her answer: It's marked. Clearly. And he IS the best investigative reporter in the country. :-D

9,5 stars.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

© 2012 Review by Aurian

zondag 22 april 2012

Jennifer Ashley – The Duke’s Perfect Wife

The fourth book in the Highland Pleasures series, published April 3, 2012.
Genre: historical romance.

The Duke's Perfect Wife

Lady Eleanor Ramsay is the only one who knows the truth about Hart Mackenzie. Once his fiancée, she is the sole woman to whom he could ever pour out his heart.
Hart has it all--a dukedom, wealth, power, influence, whatever he desires. Every woman wants him--his seductive skills are legendary. But Hart has sacrificed much to keep his brothers safe, first from their brutal father, and then from the world. He's also suffered loss--his wife, his infant son, and the woman he loved with all his heart though he realized it too late.
Now, Eleanor has reappeared on Hart's doorstep, with scandalous nude photographs of Hart taken long ago. Intrigued by the challenge in her blue eyes--and aroused by her charming, no-nonsense determination--Hart wonders if his young love has come to ruin him . . . or save him.

Hart MacKenzie is determined to have Eleanor Ramsay as his wife, and has made some careful plans to achieve that. He is on the verge of becoming prime minister of England, and he will need a wife by then. But he is not prepared when she appears on the streets in London, among a bunch of reporters calling his name. He has his bodyguards pick her up, and take her home with him. What is she doing in London, when she almost never leaves her father and her house in Scotland? Her father is an impoverished earl, who spends his life in studying obscure things and writing books about them. Hart and Eleanor were engaged once, when they were very young, but Eleanor ended that when she found out some disturbing things about Hart. Not even him threatening her and her father would change her mind. But somehow, they did stay friends for all those years, writing to each other now and then. Hart married someone else, and became a widower when his wife died in childbirth, his son a day later.

Hart is not ready for Eleanor to reappear is his life right now, but he will not let this chance go buy. When Eleanor asks for a job, as one of his secretaries, and his support in finding out who send her an anonymous letter with a picture of a young and very naked Hart, he agrees. But he also insists she and her father stay under his roof, and under his protection. His brothers and sisters in law are also very happy with this, as they think El is perfect for Hart, and can defrost him a bit. And perhaps keep Hart from meddling in their own lives so much.
The fire between Hart and El is still hot, and they cannot help but give in to it. And Hart discovers that El is naughty herself. She not only refuses to give him the pictures she has found (his former mistress made them) she wants to make new ones of the mature and very masculine Hart as he is now! El is one of the very few people not afraid of Hart and his power, and refuses to listen to him and obey his wishes. She will do as she pleases, and as she thinks best. Hart is afraid that if she discovers too much of his shadowy past, she will refuse to marry him, so he leaves her no choice this time. After compromising her in public, she has no choice but to agree.

Becoming the next prime minister comes with a price though. To defeat Gladstone, he needs to kill a bill that would have been a little benefit for the Irish, and Hart becomes a target for the Fenians. He gets shot at, but doesn’t think it very important. He just doesn’t want to have his family in danger.

I really loved this book, and it was such fun to see Hart and El together. She stands up to him, she makes him unsure, and she never ever does what he wants her to, or expects her to. With her, the might Duke becomes more human. El is a great character; she has never fallen out of love with Hart, which is why she never married after she broke of their engagement. She is good friends with his brothers and their wives, and knows everything about his servants.
Hart MacKenzie had a very difficult childhood, being born rich does not equal happy. Their father was mad and a tyrant, and Hart learned from a young age that he had to protect his brothers. Especially his youngest brother, Ian, who is different. But he could not protect him when his father send him to Bedlam, and did not mind him being tortured there. Only when he got older he could stand up against his father, but at a huge price. He still feels guilty about what happened. He swore never to be ruled again, so he set out to control everyone and everything he can, including the nation. And he is good at it too, and almost had achieved his goal now.

The love scenes between them are hot and really different from other books. I liked that.

Jennifer Ashley has a great writing voice, the book is easy to read and very fluent. Filled with great characters and unique twists that makes a familiar trope seem brandnew. The ending of the book was especially surprising, and full of suspense. The only thing I had trouble believing, was that Hart could let his family think him death for so long. I could understand the why, but not the time.
All of the MacKenzie brothers and their wives have a nice role in this book, but especially Ian. I very much want to re-read his book, The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie.
I am looking forward to the next book and the spin off series with the McBride brothers.

If you have not yet read this historical romance series, you are missing out on something really good.

9,5 stars

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

© 2012 Review by Aurian

vrijdag 20 april 2012

New additions to my addiction

I usually don't post these messages twice in a row, but this has to be an exception. Yesterday I had an outing with some collegues, so no time to write a review. Today I don't want to write my review, as I just received Alien Diplomacy by Gini Koch! So, no disturbing please, I will be reading!

I also got Susan Wittig Albert - Mourning Gloria. One of my favorite and long running cozy mystery series.

And one of my collegues gave me a whole bag full of heavy books:
Suzanne Collins - The hunger games trilogies
Cassandra Clare - City of Ashes / Bones / Glass.
This will delight my stepdaughter :)

Also Lauren Conrad: L.A. Candy; Suger and Spice; Sweet little lies.
Justin Cronin - The Passage
Joe Hill - Horns.

Those last two books will find a new place soon, as they are not my kind of read. And very sorry, but they are way too heavy to give away as a price on my blog. Shipping costs would be outrageous. They will be handed over to someone who appreciates them :)

I really do wonder, why the full male author name is on the spine, and from the female authors only the last name ...

donderdag 19 april 2012

New additions to my addiction

Last Saturday I received three new books from Bookdepository, which have been on the road a looooong time!

Suzanne Johnson – Royal Street
Laurell K. Hamilton – Flirt
Rachel Caine – Working Stiff

The last one I won over at Amberkatze’s Blog. Thanks again Ann-Marie! I do wonder if this is the first zombie book I am going to like.
Still waiting for more books to arrive though.

woensdag 18 april 2012

Misty Evans – Soul Survivor

The first book in the Lost World series, published June 20, 2010.

Soul Surviver

Haunted by tragedy, FBI profiler Rife St. Cloud is driven to find the person who brutally attacked six women. Unfortunately the only survivor, Keva Moon Water, has no memory of what happened, and the evidence makes her the prime suspect. Keva cannot die. She has waited a thousand years to be reunited with the man she loves, whose soul sleeps within Rife. Though he refuses to believe her claims of immortality, there’s no denying the passion that burns between them. Keva desperately hopes their sexual connection will be enough to awaken Rife’s memories of the love affair that started a war and bound their souls together for all eternity. But when Keva’s own memories come trickling back, she realizes that a future with Rife depends upon confronting the mistakes of the distant past…

I was very flattered when I was asked by Colette (A Buckeye Girl Reads/Cozyonthecouch blog) to review a new book by Misty Evans, called Soul Protector, and participate in her blogtour. I have never done that before. But I have been thinking about that, after all, I have been blogging for 2 years now. Time to do a little bit more, but not too much, as I hate “reading on command”. So yes, that big banner at the top of my blog means, I am going to participate in my very first blog tour! And if I like this, I will probably be open to some more blog tours. I do like doing something back for the authors whose books I enjoy reading.

When I found out that Soul Protector was the second book in a series, I really wanted to read the first book first. And so I rapidly got both books, and I decided to start that same evening with reading. The blurb really interested me. I’ve finished the first book in one night, and have been thinking about it all every now and then. How am I going to write a coherent review about this book, without spoiling too much?

Keva Moon Water is the Chieftess of the Moon Water Clan, or rather, she was that a thousand years ago. She was supposed to marry the son of the Chieftain of a neighbouring tribe, Enann. But all Keva saw in her visions, was another man who was her Soulmate, and death and destruction for her clan. When she met Kai, Enann’s half brother, she knew he was her Soulmate, and she choose him. Kai was supposed to force her to marry his brother, and unite their tribe’s, or kill her, so her sister could marry his brother. But instead, he fell for Keva, and they became lovers.
Enann witnessed that, and he plotted his revenge on the couple carefully. He poisoned them, and forced Keva to kill Kai to safe the rest of her clan. As Kai was dying, Keva had no choice but when she used magic for personal gain, something went horribly wrong. Through the soulbond, she would find Kai again, but instead of dying with him, she became Immortal, for ever waiting for her lover to re-incarnate. And now, a thousand years later, they meet. Over the slaughtered bodies of the last members of her family, her Clan.
Enann was also cursed, and forced to relive that same day over and over again. But he used his time to grow in his magic, to try to change history, and to plot his wrath. And now he has learned to travel through time, and he wants to bring Keva back with him, so she will become his wife after all.
Kai has been re-incarnated as Rife St. Cloud, but he has no memories of his previous life. He is attracted to Keva, even though he cannot afford more scandal to his name. He is a FBI agent, a profiler of serial killers, and he has come home to Wolf River, Oregon, for a vacation. His grandfather is the Sheriff there, and he asks him to consult on the crime scene. Keva appears to be just one of the victims, but when Rife comes near her, she revives.
Rife gets permission to question the witness later in the hospital, but instead of questioning her, (she could of course also be the murderer!) he helps her leave the hospital against doctors advice, and takes her to his grandfather’s house with him. He can’t explain the strange connection he feels for her, the need to protect her, to keep her safe. But when she explains everything, as promised, he just can’t believe her. For him, as an FBI agent, he only believes in what he can see, and prove in Court. Re-incarnation? A ghostly shaman who is the killer? That is just bullshit!
And Keva starts doubting. Is he really her lover re-incarnated? If so, why doesn’t he remember her and their past together?

And then Enann appears, and all they can do is what Enann wants, or loose each other for ever.

A very intriguing story. Mixed with tales from the past, with magic, and shamans / Native Americans. The power of love that lasts through the ages. One determined woman, who will keep her loved ones safe if she can. There was very little time for Reva and Rife to get to know each other in this life, but Reva did feel that Rife was an honorouble man, even when he did not believe her. He would not give her over to the other FBI-agents, or take her to police headquarters to question her.
I liked how Rife got his memories back little by little, through visions. Not only the good memories surface, also some very painful and difficult ones. And even though he at first refused to believe in them, in the end he had no choice, and acted as he had to. They had an enormous attraction between them, but they did not give in to it immediately, which I liked. O there are some love scenes in this book, and they are pretty hot (to my tastes, that is). And our bad guy, Enann, wow, he is truly evil. An ancient serial killer, who enjoys causing pain and grief.
Misty Evans has a nice writing style, very fluent and easy to read. The story is told in third person, but still somehow from multiple points of view.
I liked the ending of the book, how everything came together. But I did wish for a little bit of humor or lightness in the book, as the overall tone is a bit dark and sad, and urgent. It all happens in a few days, now and in the past.

7 stars.

This book is only available as ebook and audiobook, but some of her books are for sale at Bookdepository. I can especially recommend the Witches Anonymous books, as they are really fun and sexy.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

dinsdag 17 april 2012

Shelly Laurenston – Bear meets Girl

The seventh book in the Pride series, published April 1, 2012.

Bear meets girl

He's big, burly, and way smarter than your average shapeshifting bear. He's also about to get trapped by own his game. . .
Lou Crushek is a reasonable, mellow, easygoing kind of guy. But once someone starts killing the scumbags he works so hard to bust, that really gets under his fur. Especially when that someone is a curvy she-tiger with a skill set that's turning Crush's lone-bear world upside down--and bringing his passion out of hibernation. . .
As a member of an elite feline protection unit, Marcella Malone has no problem body-dropping anyone who hunts her kind. But Crush is proving one major pain in her gorgeous tail. The only reason she's joined forces with him is to track down the wealthy human who's got her entire species in his ruthless sights. It sure isn't because Crush's stubborn and contrary attitude is rubbing Cella in all the right ways. . .

The story starts when polar bear shifter Lou Chrushek (Crash) wakes up after a party with too many Jell-O shots with an equally naked female feline shifter on top of him. He sure does not make a habit of sleeping with people he doesn’t know. And when she explains in a very strange and roundabout way that she preferred using him as a pillow instead of sleeping with someone else, he gets even grumpier. But when Crush thinks that is the last he will see of that female, he is sorely mistaken.
He is being transferred from the “normal” police department, to the shifter department. And he is not happy with that. As a bear, he doesn’t like change. The pay is a lot better, but the work is not in his opinion. He liked being an undercover cop, and the shifter division hardly does any investigation. They just kill a lot. And when he gets surprised by the feline again, who literally throws herself in his lab, claiming him to be her new boyfriend, he is out of his league. If only he could just throw her off, but he cannot treat a female like that. Not even a clearly deranged one.
Crush is a major ice hockey fan, and he absolutely loves the home team, the Carnivores. He knows everything there is to know about all the players, the previous players, and the scores. And when he finds out that the woman who has been tormenting him, is one of their star players, he is totally flabbergasted. But when she introduces him to her father, who is his main hero, Crush doesn’t know what to do. Talk about hero-worship! And then there is the currant star player, Novikov, who is treating him like a friend. Just because his girlfriend likes Crush and got him a haircut?

And then Della needs a favor, her aunts are trying to matchmake her with one of her distant cousins. Her daughter is turning 18 soon, and she really needs a mate. They will not be dissuaded from this, so she needs to bring a boyfriend home asap! And the only one she can think of, is Crush. To his own surprise, he agrees. Especially as her best friend and the team doctor is with her, explaining things to him, and of course, the risk to the team if Della is off her game … He will be her pretend boyfriend, going to a birthday party and a wedding with her. And of course to the games!
Della really starts to really like this quiet and stodgy bear. He even has a little bulldog as a pet! Even though he claims he is only fostering Lola till he finds her a good home, with children. He is loyal and dependable, and so very strong. Hmm all those muscles ….

My best friend has been after me to read those books for years now, but it was not until I read all of the raving reviews about this specific book and the blurb, that I caved. And I am not sorry. Bear meets Girl is a fun book, with a special hero and heroine. I have not read the previous books, and I had no problem at all with following the story lines. But I do think I will read some others, especially the one about Dee-Ann. I really liked her. So Freya, thank you for lending me your copy of this book.

The relationship between Della and Crush is totally believable and kind of sweet. I was amazed that their first love scene took so long, and I really do appreciate that. They had time to get to know each other, and not just act on their hormones. Two total opposites, a bear and a tiger, a quiet man and a cop who likes order, and a whirlwind of a woman, who is also an enforcer for the team and a sometimes hired killer.
And ofcourse, there are many secondary characters I really liked and enjoyed and who made the book fun. Still, the story lines were good, and there was some action and suspense. I really do think this series will become auto-read for me.

8 stars.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

maandag 16 april 2012

Melissa Mayhue – Warrior’s Redemption

The first book in the Warrior series, published December 27, 2011.

Warrior's Redemption

MALCOLM MACDOWYLT sees himself a failed warrior, haunted by the death of the woman he married to become laird of Clan MacGahan. Neither his Viking heritage nor his claim to descend from Norse gods can restore his confidence in his ability to protect his people. His sister is held captive, her life in jeopardy, and his Magically powerful half brother wants him dead. The last thing he needs is more responsibility, but that's exactly what he gets when his Faerie mother-in-law arrives seeking justice for her daughter in the form of an enticing woman from seven hundred years in the future.

DANIELLE DEARMON has waited fifteen years to discover the life she is supposed to live. She just never dreamed she'd end up in the thirteenth century with a handsome Scot bent on saving everyone but himself. With the lives of those most dear to him hanging in the balance, Malcolm sets out to battle a powerful evil magic, only to learn that the redemption he seeks exists in the arms of the woman he loves.

On the eve of Samhain, Dani is finally going to do something with her life. For fifteen years she has been setting milk outside for the faeries, and never has she even seen one of them. She just doesn’t feel like she belongs in this life, so she is going to ask the Queen of the Faeries to show her her purpose in life, her destination, a place where she can belong. Something. And so she is whisked back in time to Scotland in the 1200s.
Malcolm is still feeling guilty of letting his wife (of convenience) and the man she loves leave him, certain they are death by now. And when his mother in law comes for a visit, he has no idea how to deal with her, especially as she is rumoured to be Faery. Which she is. And Elesyria really doesn’t like being called an Elf by his brother Patrick, the Norse name for her family. Malcolm is preparing to go to war with his eldest half-brother, who is keeping his sister a prisoner. Christiana has the gift of sight when she uses her rune stones, and Torquil wants to use that for his own purpose. He is descended from the Norse gods, and gifted with a lot of the old magics, and he wants them to rule again. He also likes to hurt and torture people for fun. After their father’s death a few weeks ago, Torquil became Laird, and he demands a very large tribute and fealty from Malcolm, who has no intention to do so.
For any chance to go to war, Malcolm needs allies, and the only ally he can rely on, will demand that he weds his daughter. So a relationship between Malcolm and Dani is doomed from the start. Still, Dani doesn’t give up, on the advice and help of Elesyria, who wants to see them both happy.
Thanks to a loose remark by Dani, Malcolm sets of alone to free his sister, and perhaps fight his brother, and is taken prisoner. I think you can imagine the rest of the story.

This is the first book in a spin off series of her usual series Daughter’s of the Glen. It involves more Viking Mythology, or Northman. And I had high expectations of it, but frankly, I am disappointed in this book. The other series is filled with great characters, and magic, and battle and danger. I just could not care for the main characters, the story was totally not grabbing me and the suspense was minimal. Things were horrible, but solutions too easy, and not enough fight between Malcolm and Dani. Dani was really unbelievable in dealing with her being magicked to the past, and how she acted there. And I never go the vibe of strong Scottish Laird with Malcolm. It all was too loose. Dani is not a strong heroine as I like them, just stubborn. And they fell in love with each other because they are both beautiful, and for no other reason. O yes, they are Soul Mates, and according to the Faery, you will find your true love, your Soulmate, only once in a thousand lives. There was just no getting to know the other person at all.
Dani is brought up by her aunt, why? And what happened when that aunt died? Why did she end up being a cook slash waitress in a trucker’s café? There is almost no mention of Malcolm and what he is doing, except prepare a bit for a war with his half-brother. Not even a mention of how hot he is in his kilt! No training, no dealings with other warriors except his brother Patrick.
And of course, Elesyria, the Faery woman who is Malcolm’s ex-mother-in-law. Elesyria knows her daughter is living safely and happy in the future, but Malcolm still acts like he is responsible for her death. She is also a two-dimensional figure.

Which does not mean the second book cannot be better. There were of course parts I did like, like the sister Malcolm wants to rescue, and cannot, and the evil half brother with the strong Norse magic he fights. I really like Daughters of the Glen series, and I do hope this series will get better. There sure is enough potential for that.

5 stars.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

zondag 15 april 2012

Winners to my blogoversary giveaway!

The three winners to my giveaway are:

1. Felicia – The Geeky Blogger.
You win two books of choice from the Bookdepository, but they have to be books I have reviewed this past blogyear, or from the same series.

2. Sabrina – About happy books.
You win the book by Suzanne Johnson, Royal Street.

3. Missie – The unread reader.
You win some swag. Please let me know what kind or book genre you would like.

Congratulations! I hope you like your prizes.

Send me an email with your choices and address please ladies, and I will order / send the items this week.

auriansbooks at gmail dot com

Suzanne Enoch – Always a scoundrel

The third book in the Notorious Gentlemen series, published April 28, 2009.

Always a Scoundrel

Never a gentleman … until now.
Lord Bramwell Johns, the second son of a duke, is an unrepentant scoundrel. Now that his two closest friends are disgustingly ensconced in domestic bliss, Bram is feeling strangely restless. And not even relieving London’s least deserving aristocrats of their ill-gotten jewels is enough – until the night he overhears an argument. It seems that Lady Rosamund Davies is about to be forced into marriage with a rogue even worse than himself.
Rose is well aware of Bram’s scandalous reputation, so any reason for his sudden interest in her is suspect; more so since he’s close friends with the man about to ruin her family! She has her own plan though, and Bram may be just what she requires – as long as she remembers that he is only looking out for himself. As long as she remembers that his kisses and caresses don’t mean anything. As long as she can keep from wondering whether she can trust a scoundrel … with her heart.

Lord Bramwell Johns, or Bram, is the second son of a Duke, and he absolutely hates and loathes his father. And with good reason I might add. So he does everything he can think of to cause his father to think of him and to irritate him. If the Duke thinks he is a good for nothing, he will be that, and more! He even robs his father’s friends, and then tells his father about it. To protect their precious name, the Duke can do nothing about it. But even the excitement of stealing is not all that excitement any more, as it is most often way too easy for Bram. And all the gambling and bedding is getting tiresome as well.
Then one night, he decides to break in when the owners are at home. Two burglaries in one night! That is new for the Black Cat. But he overhears a conversation, where the daughter of the house is “sold” into marriage, to solve the debts the son made. He really feels for this unknown woman, as she has apparently no worth to her parents whatsoever.
Rose is a dutiful daughter, and she knows her family will be ruined if she does not marry Viscount Kingston Cosgrove. They just don’t have 10.000 pounds. And her 18 year old brother (and the heir) still thinks he is a great man of the town and knowledgeable when it comes to cards and woman. He sees no error in his ways, and thinks it a fine way to procure a husband for his sister, she is after all 22 now. And Cosgrove is a friend of his, no matter his very bad reputation.
Rose really dislikes Cosgrove, even though he looks like a handsome blond angel, there is something creepy about that man. And she totally blames him and Lord Bramwell for being her brother’s bad companions and leading him to ruin. She totally wants to slap their faces for it. But when she by chance meets Lord Bram outside a bookshop, she had no idea he was so handsome! And when he keeps turning up where ever she goes, and wants to safe her from marrying Cosgrove, she doesn’t know what to think anymore. Cosgrove is being his evil self, and he loves to make her afraid for him, and tell her the depraving things he is going to do to her once they are married. If he had waited with that, she would have married his as the dutiful daughter she is. Now Rose turns to Bram for help. But even though she accepts his help, she will not change a depraved but rich and titled rogue for a poor rogue. That will not help her family. So Bram, to his own surprise, continues being a hero, and a gentleman. Ofcourse there are his friends and their wives, and even his brother who still have faith in him. But can he win Rose after all?
And when Cosgrove gets wind that Bram is after Rose, no holds are barred and the battle between them is on. Their friendship will never survive that.

I am a big fan of Suzanne Enoch, and somehow, this book had escaped my attention. When some other booklovers visited me earlier this year, Pearl and Leontine, Pearl brought some books she wanted to sell. And of course, she left with a lot less books. Including this one. I have been hoarding it carefully, saving it for a day when I needed a sure thing. And I am not disappointed by Suzanne Enoch; I enjoyed this book very much. She gave a really nice twist to the dreaded arranged marriage thing. And especially the ending, wow, I did not see that coming, but what a great thing to do!

I totally loved both Rose and Bram. Rose is a very strong character, determined to safe her family. But when Cosgrove keeps frightening her on purpose, she gets second doubts. Why should she sacrifice the rest of her life to her family who have totally no love or respect for her? They have no idea what she has been doing for years to make their lives run smooth. She has only one month to find a solution before the engagement is made public.
Bram is a rogue by choice, ever since he was sixteen. And he has done a lot of bad things, he is certainly not proud of. But to his own surprise, he draws the line when he finds out what Cosgrove wants to do. And he will do everything in his powers to help Rose escape his evil clutches. Even when she makes very clear that she accepts his help, but will not marry him. He changes his life, his lifestyle, even goes to his father willingly, and all for her. He, who so ridiculed his friends since their marriages, has he finally fallen himself?

Two great main characters, good and evil secondary characters, loyal friends, horrible family, and a very good story. And of course, Suzanne Enoch has such a great writing voice, she takes and holds my attention effortlessly. I just kept turning the pages, needing to know what would happen next. What sounds like a standard trope, is really very original and good.

9,5 stars.

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zaterdag 14 april 2012

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