woensdag 31 juli 2013

Nora Roberts – Reflection

The first book in the Bannion Family series, published June 1983.
Genre: contemporary romance
Cover: sweet

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A lifetime pursuing her dreams had left Lindsay Dunne little time for romance. But seductive Seth Bannion is about to give the inexperienced beauty a crash course in the art of love.

From a very early age, Lindsay Dunne has trained to become a ballet dancer, just like her mother, but better. Her mother has encouraged her all her life, and pushed her to keep getting better. Lucky for Lindsay, she loves the dance, and even the hard life of a dancer did not deter her from reaching her goal.
And she achieves her goal, became a star and danced with Novikov. But then her parents had a car accident, her father died, and her mother was in a coma for weeks. She was needed back home, to take care of her mother. And so she gave it all up. At first she kept hoping she would be able to go back to dancing soon, but after a year, she gave up that dream. Instead, Lindsay opened up a ballet school, and started teaching instead. Now, after three years, she is content, but her mother keeps pushing her to go back to New York. Lindsay just knows she won’t be able to compete with the young girls anymore. As a teacher, you just don’t dance like a dancer in training.

And then she meets Seth Bannion, the uncle of her newest student Ruth. Lindsay knows that Ruth is a big talent, and Ruth doesn’t want anything more than dancing professionally herself. But her uncle refuses to consider sending Ruth to New York for schooling. She recently lost her parents, and now he is her guardian. Ruth needs stability first. And although Seth and Lindsay are on opposite sides concerning Ruth, the attraction between them is instantaneous and undeniable.

But Seth is a famous architect, and a real ladykiller, who has no intention whatsoever to settle down and marry. He wants Lindsay in his bed, and thinks that is enough. But Lindsey doesn’t do one night stands, she needs more of a commitment before she gives herself over to a man. And so Seth keeps trying to persuade her, and Lindsay pulls back. Until she knows she is in love with him, and wants him however she can have him. She will treasure the memories of their time together.

And then Davidov shows up. He has written a ballet himself, and he wants Lindsay as his star dancer. Lindsay refuses at first, but Davidov is persuasive. And now that her mother is moving to California with her best friend, to start a new life and a business together, there is nothing keeping Lindsay here … And so she agrees, but only to dance the first night. But Seth just got back from his new job in Australia, and he thinks she is lying. When she is back in New York, she won’t be able to give up the lime light again, and he gives her an ultimatum. This is of course the wrong thing to do, and Lindsay cannot make him understand that she needs this closure for herself.

A really nice little romance by Nora Roberts, who is not called The Queen for nothing. Although I think Lindsey a bit naïve and too trusting, I enjoyed her character. She is dedicated to her dancing, and to her students. She knows what she wants, and she does hold Seth off, until she is ready to become intimate. We never really get to know Seth, just that he is a famous architect, and a man who is in the tabloids a lot, dating beautiful famous women. He does take good care of his niece though, although he is also overprotective perhaps. Seth really is an alpha hero, trying to dominate and sort of bully Lindsay, but he does not cross the line. He is a bit cold and distant in my opinion, but I just liked reading the story for the story itself, not so much the romance.

7 stars.

Autobuy author

© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

dinsdag 30 juli 2013

Lori Austin – An outlaw in Wonderland

The second book in the Once Upon a Time in the West series, published June 4, 2013.
Genre: historical romance
Cover: strong

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In a time of war, love has its own rewards...
Saving soldiers' lives at the Confederate army hospital Chimborazo, Annabeth Phelan is no ordinary Southern belle. She's never known work more exhausting or rewarding. And she's never known a man like Dr. Ethan Walsh, with his disarming gray eyes and peculiar ways. But now the Confederacy is charging her with another service: find the Union spy at Chimborazo.
Ethan's one passion is saving lives, and if he can do that by helping to end the war, he will - even if it means spying for the North. He's gotten used to fooling Confederates, but he can't bear lying to Annabeth. And together, they are about to discover a new passion - one that could even transcend the chaos of war.

I have to admit, as much as I loved the first book in the series, so much did I dislike this one. I just kept reading hoping it would get better, but sadly, for me, the nice ending did not redeem the whole book.

The story starts with Ethan and Annabeth (Beth) working as doctor and nurse in a hospital during the war between North and South. Ethan is recruited as a spy for the North, telling secrets he learns from the wounded soldiers he treats, so a Union sniper can kill their commanding officers. This sniper is Alexi/Fedya from the first book, helped by Mickey, Ethan’s younger brother, as a spotter/guide.
Annabeth is recruited by a childhood friend to find out who the spy is at the hospital, betraying the wounded soldiers secrets. She sets out a trap, not believe it is Ethan. Ethan and Annabeth are working close together, and falling in love. Until the trap closes, and they are both send to prison.
Annabeth desperately wants to find her only remaining brother, who was a victim of Ethan’s espionage. But when she sets out to exchange Fedya, the famous Union sniper, against her brother, someone else is exchanged in her brothers’ stead. After sleeping with Ethan when Mickey is severely wounded, she is then let out of prison by her contact. She will no longer be safe from the other prisoners or guards.

Ethan does not know why Beth suddenly does not appear to help him heal the prisoners anymore, nor does he know why Fedya has suddenly been released. But when Mickey awakens, he believes himself to be someone else, and Fedya his brother. He doesn’t know Ethan at all, nor does he listen to him. And so Ethan loses everyone when Mickey escapes to find Fedya.

When the war is over, Ethan sets out to find Annabeth, and ask her to marry him. He knew where she grew up, and finds her in her old home, pregnant and maligned for sleeping with the enemy. They marry, and move to Kansas, where Ethan will become to doctor in a small town called Freedom.
Ethan never knew that Beth was the one who set the trap that ended with all of them in prison, and when her secret is revealed, he does not believe in her anymore. She lied to him, she deceived him. It does not matter that she was trying to prove his innocence, when he was the spy they were looking for after all.

But during their argument, Beth looses their baby, and while Ethan is drinking himself unconscious in the saloon, Beth leaves him. At first she just wants to escape the pain and the memories, but then she accepts Mose’s request to join him at Pinkerton, and continue the work she was so good at: as a spy.

Now it is 5 years later, Annabeth is very close at infiltrating one of the most dangerous gangs of outlaws in the west, when she gets a message from Fedya that Ethan needs her, he is in trouble. Without hesitation, she rides off to Freedom, to Ethan. What she finds, is Ethan who thinks she is dead, and involved with another woman. Ethan, addicted to laudanum, because alcohol did not work anymore. Is there enough between them to save their marriage, is it worth trying? But Annabeth has no intention of staying, Lassiter will expect her back at camp in a few days.

Well, the verdict. It is not a bad book, it is very well written and engaging. But for me, it is just depressing. Only bad and sad things happen in this book, and not for one moment could I like Annabeth or Ethan. Ethan is just a drug addict, and he comes very spineless over on me. Annabeth never showed a softer side to herself, why did she ever fall in love with Ethan? Because he was a good and caring doctor for his patients? Because he thinks her beautiful, when other men only see her as too tall and dislike her red hair? Because Ethan is the most gorgeous man she has ever seen?

They had sex with nothing resolved between them, without either telling the other their feelings, what happened during the past 5 years.

The title of the book then. The main villain, the one Annabeth is trying to get arrested, has a secret hide out place called Wonderland. Apparently, he has only read one book, Alice in Wonderland, and is enchanted with it. Unfortunately, the Red Queen is his favourite character, he kills very easily, though Annabeth thinks him more the Mad Hatter.

I know other people who love this book, but sadly, I just could not enjoy it. Only a bit of the ending, and that was not enough for me. I will not give up on this series though, Lori Austin/Lori Handeland is one of my favourite authors, so I will try the next book which is due next year.

5 stars.

Autobuy author

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

© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

maandag 29 juli 2013

Sara Ramsey – The Marquess who loved me

The third book in the Muses of Mayfair series, published March 16, 2013.
Genre: historical romance
Cover: nice

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A not-so-merry widow...
The widowed Marchioness of Folkestone is notorious for her parties, her art collection, and her utter disregard for the rules. But Ellie Claiborne knows her destruction is near. The new marquess is her first lover - the man whose sculpted body and sardonic grin haunt her every time she picks up her paintbrush. If he ever returns to claim his inheritance, her heart won't survive seeing him again.
A man determined to destroy her...
Nicholas Claiborne hasn't stepped foot in England since watching Ellie marry his cousin. He has no use for the gorgeous, heartless girl who betrayed him, or the title she abandoned him for. But when his business in India turns deadly, Nick must return to London to uncover a murderer - and take revenge on the woman he couldn't force himself to forget.
A love they can't escape...
Nick hates Ellie's transformation from sweet debutante to jaded seductress. Ellie despises him for leaving her behind. Still, the sparks between them reignite the passion that should have been their destiny. As their demands of each other turn darker and a potential killer closes in, they must decide whether to guard the fragile remnants of their hearts -- or find a way to fall in love all over again.

Ellie and Nick were a young couple in love, but with Ellie a Duke’s daughter, and Nick a rich tradesmen’s son, her father disapproved of the match. Instead, he wanted Ellie to marry Nick’s titled cousin. And to please her father, and save Nick from his wrath, Ellie gave in. But three days later, Ellie was a widow, and Nick was his cousin’s heir, the new Marquess of Folkestone. But Nick had already left for India, and there he stayed for the next 10 years, obsessing over Ellie and plotting his revenge, and also getting very, very rich.
But now he is back in England, determined to claim his inheritance and take his revenge on Ellie. His younger brother was in on his plans for revenge, and he has made sure that Ellie kept spending more than she could, lending her money from Nick’s estate, while thinking it is her own money. And so Ellie is indebted to Nick for forty thousand pounds. A fortune she cannot possibly pay back. He wants her as his mistress for three months, to do with as he pleases, in and out of the bedroom.

To keep her father from making another loveless match for her, Ellie had to sully her reputation so he would not bother with her anymore. She is known for her debauchery and orgies at her house parties. But still, she never did everything the ton is whispering about her. She has only had a few lovers in those 10 years, very casual flings. All this time she has been waiting for Nick to come home and claim her. And now, she is betrayed by him, and by his brother, whom she trusted to look after her affairs. She will not give in without hurting Nick in return.

Nick came back for a reason though, someone is trying to kill him, and the thinks the culprit is in England. And now he has to find out who it is, before he is killed.

This book is darker than the historical romances I am used to reading. There is not much humor in it, but it is a gripping tale, and I kept hoping that Nick would give in to his feelings for Ellie, and give up his revenge. He did show her some consideration every now and then that was unsuspected. Of course Ellie is furious about being deceived this way, but she is still glad that Nick has come home. They never did stop loving the other.
I have been curious about Ellie since I encountered her in the first book. She is supposed to be a bad woman, with lots of lovers and such, but she did help her brother’s mistress without questions. And she never did sully her reputation beyond repair, beyond being welcome in the ton. She is a painter, using her handsome servants as models. And of course Nick stars in a lot of them…

Nick has a hard time at the house party, trying to be nice to the aristocrats who would have shunned him before he inherited his title. And he certainly does not like how other men act protectively towards Ellie. She is his! But in the end, he might even has made some friends.
The mystery was a good one, not easily solved.

Sara Ramsey has a nice, fluent writing style, but she is especially good in writing characters you just have to fall for. The story is original; there is never a moment that I thought I knew what would happen next. So I do recommend this series, but don’t think it is fluffy, as it is not.

8 stars.

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

© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

zondag 28 juli 2013

Heather Webber – Absolutely, Positively

The third book in the Lucy Valentine series, published February 1, 2011.
Genre: psychic cozy mystery
Cover: lovely

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'Exposed' by a Boston Herald reporter, Lucy is suddenly the talk of the town. Long back-story short: Even though the rest of her Valentine ancestors were blessed by Cupid with psychic abilities, Lucy's only special power lies in her ability to find things. This skill has proven quite a blessing for those who come to her matchmaking agency in search of finding their long-lost loves. Now that Lucy's secret is out, she has more new clients than she knows what to do with. But soon a certain man of mystery steals Lucy's spotlight.

No, it's not Sean Donahue, the sexy fireman-turned-private-eye who's stolen Lucy's heart. It's a masked man in a cowboy hat, dubbed 'The Lone Ranger,' who's been throwing handfuls of cash across the Common. Now all of Beantown's abuzz. Can Lucy unmask the mysterious money man, track down all her clients' old flames, and turn up the heat on her love life? Absolutely, positively.

No doubt about it. I am absolutely, positively, sure that I loved this book.
Lucy is doing well in her new job of reuniting lost lovers, working closely together with Preston, almost becoming friends. But this new case might just be way over her head, when the man she has been asked to find, appears to be a master criminal. The story told by her client though, is heart breaking, and Lucy is sure there must be some redeeming qualities in Tristan Roarke. Otherwise, Meaghan would not be still in love with him. But Tristan is undoubtedly dangerous, and he keeps scaring Lucy until he gets or finds what he wants. But it is up to Meaghan to decide if she wants contact or not. And when Tristan gets involved in a murder case of his former foster father, both the FBI and the local police are on the lookout for him.

The other case Lucy and Sean are working on, involves a missing person. A long time friend of her grandmother’s, and Dovie has asked them to look for Mac Gladstone. He has disappeared a month ago, leaving his beloved dog and all his possessions behind. His daughter Jemima and her husband (former one night rock star Rick Hayes) seem to be so sure he is dead, and Rick is already talking about having him declared dead, so Jemima can inherit.

Searching through Mac’s study, they do find some clues, and Lucy ends up taking Mac’s beloved dog Rufus with her, as Jemima has had enough of the dog and wants him gone. Her daughter Christa is heartbroken about it, she was the one taking care of Rufus. But her mother is determined, and rather than allowing the sweet golden retriever and his rubber chicken to the shelter, she takes him home with her. But knowing her three legged cat Grendel is not going to be happy about it, she leaves him at Dovie’s. Her grandmother is protesting about it, but Lucy knows she already loves the dog by the time she and Sean leave for her little cottage.

Did Mac commit suicide, did he disappear because he wanted to, or is there something else going on? Rick Hayes is talking about a reality show about his life, something Mac really opposed, and did not want to fund. So with Mac out of the way, the show might go live after all. Uprooting his daughter from her last year in highschool, and showing her pain on camera seems to be something Rick is actually looking forward to, as it will up the viewer stats.

Still, Lucy is not convinced Mac is dead, and following the only clue they have, a hideous orange sweater bought in a consignment shop, she will be trying for the first time if her powers work in that case.

On the personal side, Lucy is very much in love with Sean, but still afraid of Cupid’s Curse. Sean is looking for a new place to live, now his brother has told him, he has outstayed his welcome. This is perhaps more due to his suddenly incontinent little doggie. She would love to have Sean living with her for real, he is over at her place a lot of time already, but still unsure. It is just so early in their relationship yet.
Lucy is also getting used to having a brother, and getting to know him. Her father is trying to get him involved in the family business, as he is the only one besides her father, who can see aura’s to match couples. But so far, Cutter is refusing.
And what is with this strange dating thing between her parents? They have been living happily separated for so long now. Can her mother really trust that her father will stay this time? But things will change anyway, with Raphael moving out as well, to live with his new lady love. Her father also gets a little of what he deserves though.

So, lots of things are happening in Lucy’s life, some good, some to be seen. I loved her sleuthing, and the little surprises on the way. It are the small details that make a good mystery, and I have to be honest, I did expect the truth about the murder case. But the missing person case was the most intriguing and fun to read about.
I have to admit, I was in tears s well when Rufus disappeared into the night while Lucy was walking him, and she could not find him again. Later on, I did suspect the truth, but nevertheless, it tugged on my heartstrings.

Heather Webber sure knows how to write characters you fall in love with, who feel like close friends. I love the paranormal/psychic twists in the book, and the settings of the story. I am looking forward to the next one.

9,5 stars.

Autobuy authorLove this book

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

© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

Full review on my blog, www.boeklogboek.blogspot.com

zaterdag 27 juli 2013

Rachel Hawkins – Hex Hall

The first book in the Hex Hall series, published March 2, 2010. Also known as Raising Demons.
Genre: YA paranormal
Cover: nice.

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On her 12th birthday, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes.Three bumpy years later, after a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, she’s exiled to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries and shapeshifters.
By the end of her first day, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Then when a mysterious predator begins attacking students, and Sophie’s only friend is the number-one suspect, a horrifying plot begins to surface. Soon, Sophie is preparing for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Although I enjoyed this book, I was expecting more from it, thanks to some raving reviews I have read about this series.

Before Sophia/Sophie was even born, her parents split up. Sophie is raised by her mother, who is human. She has never even met her father, a warlock. When Sophie’s mother discovered that Sophie was a witch, she turned to her father for advice about how to raise her. But all Sophie knows about magic, comes from the books her mother has been collecting. They moved around a lot, never staying anywhere for a long time, which means Sophie has no real close friends. But now she has outed herself doing a magic spell for a class mate (which went horribly wrong) and Sophie is being punished by having to go to boarding school. She really doesn’t want to, but apparently there is a ruling council, and they have sentenced her to Hecate Hall, or as the students call it, Hex Hall. Her mother brings her to school, and sees her settled in, but knowing nothing at all about other Prodigium and her own heritage, is not easy.
When a young werewolf attacks her, it is the most handsome but arrogant young warlock who saves her. Sophie’s roommate is a vampire, someone not Prodigium, as she was not born that way. Jenna was turned not so long ago by her vampire girlfriend, who was staked very soon after. Her girlfriend’s family turned her over to the council, who sent her to Hex Hall. There she is the only vampire student.

While exploring the school that afternoon before dinner, Sophie gets a proposition from three other girls. They tell her they want her to join their coven, as they need four Dark Witches to form one. Sophie did not even know there is such a thing as a Dark Witch or a Light Witch, and she really does not want to. She doesn’t know these girls, nor does she like the way they talk about others. But they won’t give up that soon, and keep trying to persuade her until she gives in.

The lessons are strange, and hard, and the teachers don’t seem to like her on first sight, especially the woman who is training them in defense. She does pair Sophie with her big crush, Archer Cross, who has to attack her, and it sure feels very real to Sophie. Afterwards, she discovers that everyone knows more about her family than she does! Her father is the Head of Council, so he is the one who sent her here? Who sent most of the students her to teach them a lesson in keeping themselves hidden from humans? No wonder she is not more popular.

When Sophie meets her grandmother’s ghost, things seem to be going better for a while. Or are they?

As said, I did like the book, but I was expecting a little more. It has a lot of clichés, like the one good friend, the crush on the unattainable most handsome boy in the school, the slowly revealed secrets about her own family. She is supposed to be the most powerful witch, but surely shows no signs of it. Sophie needs to learn so much!
Still, I liked how Sophie stood up for Jenna, and how she handled things with Archer. I really got the impression he was under a spell from his girlfriend though. And the revelation about his secret was well done and unexpected.
As I already have the next two books, I will read those in time.

7 stars.

A blogger made me buy it

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 26 juli 2013

Susannah Sandlin – Absolution

The second book in the Penton Vampire Legacy series, published October 9, 2012.
Genre: paranormal romance
Cover: mwah

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With the vampire world on the brink of civil war over the scarcity of untainted human blood, battle lines are being drawn between the once peaceful vampire and human enclave of Penton, Alabama, and the powerful Vampire Tribunal. Mirren Kincaid once served the tribunal as their most creative and ruthless executioner - a time when he was known as the Slayer. But when assigned a killing he found questionable, Mirren abandoned the tribunal's political machinations and disappeared - only to resurface two centuries later as the protector and second-in-command of Penton. Now the tribunal wants him back on their side. To break their rogue agent, they capture Glory Cummings, the descendant of a shaman, and send her to restore Mirren's bloodthirsty nature. But instead of a monster, Glory sees a man burdened by the weight of his past. Could her magic touch - meant by the tribunal to bring out a violent killer - actually help Mirren break his bonds and discover the love he doesn't believe he deserves?

The book starts very well for Matthias Ludlam. He finds a psychic unvaccinated human woman work as a convenience store clerk, and he just takes her. Determined to find out what her powers are exactly, and using them for himself. But no matter what he and his minions do to her, she won’t break and tell him her secrets.
His other prisoner is just as stubborn. His loyal manager/toadie Shelton has managed to capture Mirren Kincaid at one of Penton’s safe houses, and has taken him prisoner for Matthias. Matthias wants Mirren to break his bonds with Aidan, and come back to work for the council, or rather himself, as an assassin again. And to bring his wayward son, who is living in Penton as well, back to his home and under his thumb. But Mirren keeps refusing him. Being starved doesn’t seem to bother him either.
Exasperated with both his victims, Matthias decides to throw Glory in with a starved Mirren. Perhaps if Mirren kills her while feeding from her veins, he will become an assassin again.

But Mirren has more honor than that, especially as he sees what Matthias and his minions have done to the girl. Aggravated as he is by her chattering, he still won’t harm her. Luckily, at the same time this happens, Aidan and Will, with the help of Hannah, have finally figured out what has happened to Mirren, and know where to find him. And so Will, who knows his father’s property best, sets out to break Mirren out of the silver barred room. If not for the silver, Mirren would have escaped long ago.

When Mirren wants to take Glory with him to Penton, Will is surprised. Mirren has never cared for a woman before, as far as he knows. It takes a while before they can get Glory of her forced heroine addiction, but even under thrall, neither of the vampires can get Glory to divulge her secrets, even though they all can sense or rather feel the power inside of her. Glory has learned first hand that vampires exist, and how much it hurts to be fed upon, so she has a hard time deciding if she wants to stay safe in Penton, or go somewhere else with the risk of Matthias Ludlam finding her again. He has a habit of killing of loose ends, and her testimony could have him kicked of the Council and into prison.
But there really is not much of a life to go back to. She never fit in with her family so she left home at 16. She would love to open up her own restaurant some day, and perhaps she can do that here in Penton. She will have to be bonded to Mirren or one of the other vampires though, so wandering rogue vampires can’t feed on her. With the current level of starvation in the country, more and more vampires go roaming the country looking for un-vaccinated humans.

With the threat of Matthias and the Council coming after them, the Penton vampires really need to put project Omega on a faster track. They might need their refuge sooner rather than later.

Glory is blending in, with some help from Melissa, Aidan’s fam, and her husband. She is even living in Mirren’s house, something totally unheard of. And with her telekinetic powers, not even the intricate locks on his secret day resting place are a match for her. The other vampires soon notice that Mirren is fallen for Glory as his mate, even though he keeps denying it. But why else would he put up with her in his home, touching his things?

Not only Matthias is an enemy and a danger to the Penton vampires though, one of Aidan’s oldest friends thinks he can do whatever he wants as well, without regards to human feelings.

I enjoyed this second book in the series very much. I enjoyed Glory, who talks a lot when she is nervous, but who is a really courageous woman. She faces facts and the future with open eyes and determined to do the best she can. She notices details about Mirren none of the others who have known him for decades ever saw. I loved how she would cook tasty dishes so Mirren could smell them, and then eat them an hour or so before he came to her to feed, so he could even taste it in her blood. Glory is caring, and giving, and totally blooming as a person now she is in a community where she is accepted. And not treated like a freak.
And the hard bolster soft hearted Mirren was a joy to read about. He was the strong silent type in the first book, and he tried to be in his own story. But Glory just got to him, and she changed him for the better. He did not go all alpha male on her, dictating to her, as could be expected, but he let her take a job to pay for what she needed, and he let her clean his house and stuff.

There is a lot of action and bloodshed in this book, but there is plenty of space for romance and I am already looking forward to the third book, about Will. Susannah Sandlin has created a really unique world, where the vampires are starving because human blood has become poisonous to them. The old ways will have to go, and Aidan Murphy has build himself and his followers a great society in a small village. But jealousy and hatred are fighting to destroy his world and his community. Susannah is not afraid of killing people who are important secondary characters in this world either, for which I applaud her. It gives just this touch of reality extra to the world.

9 stars.

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

© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

donderdag 25 juli 2013

Recommendations from Karin, Peggy and Maia

In order to bring some more variety to my blog, I have asked my best friend Maia, my new friend Karin from Austria and our old/new friend Peggy from Belgium to give us their recommendation of the month.


I have read 12 books and one anthology in the past month, and the 3 books I enjoyed the most are:
1. Demon Night (Bound, Blood) by Meljean Brook

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2. A Fatal Four-Pack (L.L. Bartlett; Rae Davies; Deb Baker; P. B. Ryan

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3. Enthralled (Lora Leigh: Alyssa Day; Meljean Brook; Lucy Monroe)

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The one I can recommend to all Aurian’s readers is:

Demon Night – Meljean Brook

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Beautiful Charlie Newcomb is being hunted by vampires, for she is the link to a medical miracle that could be invaluable to the night stalkers. Her only protection is her guardian, Ethan. But will he be enough to save her when darkness falls?

The thing is – I chose this book as it started my addiction to the Guardian Series by Meljean Brook. I also sneaked in the two other favourites of mine in this ongoing series that is (un)fortunately going to end with Michael’s book on August 6th. All the books deal with one couple in a world where Guardians (sort of angels) defend mankind against demons, Lucifer himself and anything evil you can think of. All three books that I mentioned have such great leading couples. You can’t help but cheer for them when they succeed in a world full of problems and feel for them when things turn bad. I started this series with the third book and had an easier entry than with the first book (which I read later – as per suggestion of the author herself.
Give this series a try – it’s definitely worth it!!

Aurian: Thanks Karin! I have also bought the four pack of (cozy) mysteries for the good cause, but still have to read them. And Enthralled is on my TBR as well, I really want to read that Alyssa Day story!


I have read 4 novels and one novella in the past month, all by Christine Warren and the 3 books I enjoyed the most are:

1. Christine Warren - You’re so Vein

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2. Christine Warren - Fur Factor (aka Big Bad Wolf)

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3. Christine Warren - The demon you know

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The one I can recommend to all Aurian’s readers is:

Christine Warren - You’re so Vein.

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Ava Markham is beautiful, savvy, chic, and more at home with Kate Spade than with the idea of fangs and fur. She can't get quite used to the fact that some of closest friends have crossed over to the Other side. Then one night she is attacked by a rogue vampire, and her deepest fears are realized when her body begins a dangerous transformation from human to immortal - a change she cannot survive without the help of an alluring stranger who comes to her rescue...
Vladimir Rurikovich, an elite member of the European Council of Vampires, is on the prowl for a murderous vampire fugitive on the night he saves Ava from the clutches of death. It takes just one look for Dima to know he cannot live another eight centuries without the stunning and seductive Ava - until he discovers a secret about her bloodline that could change everything...

I started reading the Christine Warren ebooks, because I had a couple of them printed out and got swept up in her world. Christine’s series is a bit difficult to follow because the printdate doesn’t match with the sequence of the series.
She first published six novella’s as ebooks. Then she started (with a new publisher) the series anew and reworked and expanded the old stories into new books.
The series has ended and the picture is clear. It is:

1. 2008 One Bite with a Stranger (aka Fantasy Fix)
2. 2009 Big, Bad Wolf (aka Fur Factor)
3. 2010 Prince Charming Doesn’t Live Here (aka Faer Fetched)
4. 2011 Black Magic Woman
5. 2011 Not Your Ordinary Faerie Tale (aka Fighting Faer)
6. 2012 On The Prowl
7. 2012 Drive Me Wild (aka Fur For All)
8. 2013 Hungry Like A Wolf (aka Fur Play)
9. 2006 Wolf at the Door
10. 2006 She’s No Faerie Princess
11. 2007 The Demon You Know
12. 2007 Howl at the Moon
13. 2008 Walk on the Wild Side
14. 2009 You’re So Vein
15. 2010 Born to Be Wild

The upside of this confusion is that the books are very good to read as stand alone. So I could pick the ones that spoke to me the most. That’s why I read You’re so Vein. I liked Ava Markham in the novella’s and was very curious who she would be paired up with. Christine Warren didn’t disappoint me. Vladimir is a rounded character who is a great match for Ava. Throw in some action and you have my favourite book of the month.

Aurian: Thanks Maia! I have had this series on my wishlist, and some of the books on my TBR for years now. Someday I will read them all.


I have read 8 books in the past month, and the 3 books I enjoyed the most are:

1. Gina L. Maxwell – Rules of Entanglement

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2. Beverley Kendall – All over you

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3. Abbi Glines - Breathe

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The one I can recommend to all Aurian’s readers is:

Gina L. Maxwell – Rules of Entanglement

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Seven days. And seven rules to break...

District Attorney Vanessa MacGregor firmly believes that structure and order are the stuff that dreams are made of. Happiness can be planned - and it starts with the seven rules she's laid out for her future. But as she's organizing her best friend's wedding in Hawaii, all of Vanessa's best-laid plans are about to meet their match in a wickedly hot MMA fighter...
Jackson "Jax" Maris is focused on surfing, training, and fighting. That is, until he opens up his big mouth and finds himself having to pretend he's engaged to his little sister's best friend, Vanessa. When they're forced to share a romantic bungalow, however, their little charade suddenly takes a turn for the seriously sexy. And while Jax is definitely not part of Vanessa's long-term plan, he has seven days - and seven naughty nights - to turn her seven-rule plan upside down.

After reading the first book (Seducing Cinderella) in the ‘Fighting for love’ series I was really looking forward to the second book ‘Rules of Entanglement’ and I wasn’t disappointed. From the beginning sparks are flying around between Vanessa and Jax. It was nice reading Vanessa’s story after meeting her in the first book. Especially after reading about her ‘seven- rule plan’ she lives by. I was very curious to read about the man who would let her forget her own rules. Jax was a surprise for me. Because in this book we see a different side of him. Not the serious brother Lucie talks about in the first book but a man with a secret and someone who’s living day by day. It was great reading how Vanessa breaks her own rules, one by one and how Jax is enjoying it of making her do it. Although this series is about MMA fighters, the theme of the story is about the romance and not the fighting. This book surprised me a few times what I really like as a reader. I really enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to the next book in this series.

Aurian: Thanks Peggy! Those are certainly not books on my reading horizon, so I am curious what my readers think of those.

So readers, tell me, have you read any of these books? Do you want to?

woensdag 24 juli 2013

Annette Blair – Tulle Death do us Part

The sixth book in the Vintage Magic Mystery series, published July 2, 2013.
Genre: psychic cozy mystery
Cover: lovely

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New York Times Bestselling author Annette Blair's "fast-paced, fascinating" (Fresh Fiction) Vintage Magic series continues as clothing boutique owner Madeira Cutler takes on a murder from the past that won't stay dead...

Maddie's love of classic fashion has made her Vintage Magic boutique a success--even if the visions she experiences when touching certain items often lead her into trouble. Decades ago, at a Mystic Country Club costume ball, a secret scavenger hunt ended in an unexplained death, hastily concealed.
Now, Maddie's invited to participate in a similar anniversary event: but one touch of the vintage petticoat used to hide evidence of the original crime hurtles Maddie into a scavenger hunt of her own. She must find missing petticoat pieces and re-stitch the clues it reveals...to expose a killer!

As I did not really like the fifth book in the series, I was a bit hesitant about starting this one. But I need not have worried, as I really enjoyed this story.

Now her father and “aunt” Fee are openly in love, and planning to live together in Fee’s house, and her brother Alex has bought their home from their father, Maddie needs another place to live, in order to give the other couples some privacy. And so she decided to put another story on her shop, Vintage Magic, where she sells vintage clothing and accessories.
The ancient building started out as a carriage house, has housed an undertaker business, and is now completely renovated after decades of neglect. Maddie really loves her shop, and with this new floor, she will be living in one of the three new condo’s and rent out the other two.

But construction stalls, when the foreman finds some hidden treasure. When he hands the fabric draped chest to Madeira, a piece of it touches her forearm, and she sinks in a vision. And it is not a happy one, some young rich spoiled people went on a scavenger hunt, and now a woman is missing as she went overboard in the storm. They don’t seem to care about that at all, they just want to keep it hushed up. And Maddie thinks she should now some of those people, especially the woman who is wearing such a gorgeous dress. But she callously tears up the matching petticoat, so she and the others can wrap their scavenged treasures. Madeira is determined to find out more, did the woman drown, or did she escape after all? She was on Vassar’s swim team according to the others.

As her ex-boyfriend FBI-agent Nick is not only out of town, but out of the country, she has no choice but to ask her friend and local police detective Lytton Werner for his help in solving the case. He doesn’t know she is psychic, only that she is good in sleuthing, and that their kisses are explosive. They have known each other since kindergarten, but were not always good friends. Lytton wants more than friendship with Maddie, but she has been in a long term on-off relationship with Nick for years. Maddie’s best fried Eve really dislikes Nick for leaving Maddie behind without any notice, and she seems to like Werner a lot better. Especially as he saves them both from their sleuthing scrapes a few times.

Maddie has not yet opened the box the foreman gave her, she wants to do that with a witness present, and Werner is the one. Inside they find a lot of old money, and some priceless objects. And the list of scavenges the conspirators talked about, and it sure is not all harmless! Werner finds out that Robin, the woman who jumped overboard in a storm, never surfaced. Her brother and his wife had her declared legally dead exactly seven years after the “incident”, and inherited her half of the estate left by their very rich grandparents. Surely that does sound like motive.

Maddie is also very busy with the Valentines Ball at the country club, thanks to her father and aunt Fee asking her to judge the vintage costume contest. They are doing a segment of “this is your life”, and Maddie is needed to fit the clothes that were once worn at the Golden Anniversary of the country club to their current owners. As this is the best opportunity to come into contact with those members who participated in the scavenger hunt all those years ago, she agrees.

With the help of Dante, her inherited ghost, her best friend Eve and Werner, Maddie sets out to unravel the mystery and to see justice done…

A great new book in this fun cozy mystery series. I do have a weakness for the psychic ones as you might have noticed if you have been following my blog for a while. Maddie is a great character, and I was very happy that she finally let go of Nick, and moved on with her life. The fact that he left the country, and selling his house in town without telling her, should tell her enough of her importance to him. More a convenience I think. And so she finally feels free to explore her lingering feelings for Werner. After the few explosive kisses they shared in the past (while her relationship with Nick was on the off-fase!), it was about time.
I loved how Werner always loved seeing her in the vintage outfits Maddie loves to wear, and how she drives him crazy. The description of those clothes often goes above my head, as I really am not a fashionista, but it is still very interesting. I wish this book came with pictures!

As always, I love the interaction between Maddie and her best friend Eve, who have been best friends since kindergarten, although they did not start out that way. Eve is brilliant, and loves to dress gothic, with Maddie taking care of the necessary fashion details to make her stand out even more. Maddie loves men, and goes through boyfriends like candy. But in the end of this book, well, perhaps …
Maddie’s father and her aunt Fiona, her late mother’s best friend, are finally openly happy together, and it was good to read about them as well.

And then there is our cover model, Chakra, Maddie’s kitten. She sure loves all the tulle in Maddie’s shop and workspace. Dottie also plays a small role, she is 106 years old and still loves to make out with Dante, who used to be her “secret” lover back in the day. She can also see him, and more ;). But the end, well, that does deserve a tear and a smile, and already I cannot wait for the next book.

Annette Blair writes with humor and passion, her characters are so very lifelike, I wish I could visit Vintage Magic and meet all of them, even the town’s gossiping butcher. There is never a dull moment in the life of Maddie Cutler, she has a great relationship with her family and friends, and it is just sweet to read about.

9 stars.

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

dinsdag 23 juli 2013

Nora Roberts – Irish Rebel

The third book in the Irish Hearts series, published December 2000.
Genre: contemporary romance
Cover: Lovely, my own bookcover is different but lovely as well.

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She was practically royalty, the daughter of a rich, renowned horse-breeding dynasty. He was just a hardworking horse trainer. But Brian Donnelly was in America now, where even he might aspire to possess the breathtaking Keeley Grant. Her wealth and position didn’t deter Brian … for it was the innocence Keeley offered him that beguiled the wild Irish rebel and threatened to corral his restless heart!

Another old romance by Nora Roberts, the third and last book in this first series ever. And even though the ingredients are the same, an Irish person coming to America to work, racehorses and love, it was still very different. I loved catching up with the previous characters, in fact, our heroine is the oldest daughter of the first couple, Travis and Dee.

Brian Donnelly has been asked by Travis Grant to come to America to be his new head trainer of his famous racehorses. Paddy is getting old, and wants to retire, return to Ireland for his last years, and he has recommended Brian. Brian is flattered, and as he is a true wanderer, he loves the opportunity to come to America. He is the best trainer there is, but he never stays in one place for more than three years. But from the moment he sees Keeley Grant, something changes. And he is scared of what he is feeling, how can a simple man like him ever have a princess like that. This is how he sees her, a spoiled little rich girl, used to lazing away the days and getting whatever and whomever she wants. He could not be farther from the truth though. Like the rest of the Grant children, Keeley has always worked hard in the stables alongside her family. And now she has her own riding school, where she not only teaches rich country club children, but also the underprivileged ones, the scarred ones. Like the horses she rescues, she is drawn to the children in need, and tries to contribute as much as she can. Her business is doing well, but is growing above her head, she really needs to hire an assistant.

At first Brian tries to seduce Keeley, thinking she knows the ways of the world, especially as she keeps turning him down. When her little sister fills him in on the true Keeley, he starts seeing her differently, with respect for her accomplishments and her goals and her hard work. And when she tells him, when he finally gets through her defences, that he will be her first lover, he gets scared a lot, and is determined to leave her alone, ignore her if possible. But that does not work out, and now Keeley is determined that she wants him, like she has never been attracted to another man before, and she will have him.

Their hunt and chase was fun to read about, and at first Brian is really arrogant and condescending, but Keeley totally makes him eat crow and fall for the real her. Keeley is a strong character, she knows what she wants, and goes after it. She tries to do it all on her own, but is not to proud to ask for help when needed. Brian keeps thinking that he is beneath her for a very long time though; seducing the boss’ daughter is just not the thing and could cost him his job. But in the end his eyes are opened, and that was a fun scene. Keeley did not back down but got up in his face, making sure there was no big misunderstanding that caused them to part ways.
Brian is a real horse whisperer, and although I know absolutely nothing about caring for horses, especially racing horses, it was fun to read about.

A golden oldie, a classic Nora Roberts feel-good story, and I enjoyed it a lot. Recommend reading for in between your heavier books.

8 stars.

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

maandag 22 juli 2013

Kevin Hearne – Hunted

The sixth book in the Iron Druid Chronicles series, published June 25, 2013.
Genre: fantasy / urban fantasy
Cover: strong

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For a two-thousand-year-old Druid, Atticus O'Sullivan is a pretty fast runner. Good thing, because he's being chased by not one but two goddesses of the hunt - Artemis and Diana - for messing with one of their own. Dodging their slings and arrows, Atticus, Granuaile, and his wolfhound Oberon are making a mad dash across modern-day Europe to seek help from a friend of the Tuatha Dé Danann. His usual magical option of shifting planes is blocked, so instead of playing hide-and-seek, the game plan is . . . run like hell.
Crashing the pantheon marathon is the Norse god Loki. Killing Atticus is the only loose end he needs to tie up before unleashing Ragnarok - AKA the Apocalypse. Atticus and Granuaile have to outfox the Olympians and contain the god of mischief if they want to go on living - and still have a world to live in.

I really need to stop reading reviews for books I want to read myself. I know my opinion often is different from those of other reviewers, and I should have trusted that. I have read some less enthusiastic reviews, and this made me hesitate a bit with starting to read Hunted. But I am glad I enjoyed it just as much as the other books in this series, and am already looking forward to the next one.

Book six takes up where book 5 left us, with Atticus, Oberon and Granuaile on the run from the Olympian goddesses of the hunt, Artemis and Diana. Apparently the Greek and Roman pantheon are working together on this. They are still angry at Atticus for making Bacchus disappear, and incarcerating his nymphs for a while.

Following the advice of the Morrigan, Atticus, Oberon and Granuaile literally have to run across Europe and try to reach England, especially Windsor Forest, where Herne the Hunter will aid them. But not only the Olympian gods are after them, there is still the insane Loki and his daughter Hell, the Dark Elves and the vampires after them. It takes a lot of cunning to fight and avoid them all, but they are making progress. The earth’s elementals all help them, and of course it is convenient that now Granuaile is a full fledged Druid herself, they can take on animal shapes that can run way faster and surer than their human bodies. Still, it is awkward running with weapons in your mouth, and even Oberon has to help with that, holding Granuaile’s throwing knifes.

They defeat the goddesses a few times, but they are truly immortal, and after some superfast healing, they are back on the hunt. Atticus gets some unsuspected help from Odin, who is watching it all from his realm. With Hunin and Munin as his emissaries, he tells Atticus what is happening, and how the other gods have kept the other Olympians from interfering too much. Odin needs Atticus alive to fight in Ragnarok after all. O, and they are betting on the outcome …

I really don’t want to spoil any surprises in this book if you still want to read it, so I’ll have to stop with this part of my review.

As I live in Europe, I think I do appreciate the descriptions of all the countries they have to cross a bit more than American readers, especially the bit about The Netherlands. The book is almost filled cover to cover with action, until they do reach Herne the Hunter. I was surprised and happy to read about him, ever since the tv series Robin the Hooded Man I was intrigued by him. Of course, Kevin Hearne made him into something completely different from the tales I already knew.

Granuaile is now a full Druid, and being hunted sure makes her look differently at killing people. She is growing harder, and Atticus had hoped she would have more time just enjoying her new life and her new powers. But she sure is kick ass, and does not take a step back for anyone, and I admire her greatly. She fights and she survives and she still sees the beauty in the world.

I have to admit, I did expect some more romance between Atticus and Granuaile in this book, now they have finally become lovers, but there just was no time for that. Oberon was his usual great self, he sure is one smart hound, and I loved the ending of the book, a lot. Even though this really is not a cliff hanger ending, I want to read the next book asap.

I never expected what happened in the first part of the book though, with the Morrigan. I never could have guessed and am really surprised. I wonder what will happen next.

Kevin Hearne has again blended a lot of different mythologies and sagas together in one action and humor filled novel. I do like the world he has created, both good and evil, and look forward to many more books in this series.

In the back of the book, is the important short story/novella Two Ravens and a Crow as an added bonus. If you don’t buy paperbacks anymore, do get the ebook.

9 stars.

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian