zondag 31 mei 2015

Suzanne Enoch – The Devil Wears Kilts

The first book in the Scandalous Highlander series, published November 26, 2013.
Genre: historical romance
Cover: my book has the small cover, this hardcover picture is a bit boring.

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The Price of Passion...
On a mission to rescue his runaway sister from the lure of flowery compliments and a useless lot of satin-clad scalawags disguised by their snooty titles, Ranulf MacLawry, Marquis of Glengask, has roared into British society like a storm across the Scottish Highlands. But he's about to find out that satin has its appeal, especially when it covers the curves of Miss Lady Charlotte Hanover--whose tongue is as sharp as her skin is soft...
...is Pure Pleasure
Lady Charlotte Hanover has had her fill of hot-headed men, having lost her fiancé in an utterly unnecessary duel. When did brawn ever triumph over brains? And yet there is something solid and appealing about the brash Highlander who's as dangerous in the ballroom as in battle. Sometimes bigger really is better... in The Devil Wears Kilts.

I did not read the blurb before I started reading the story, so I was surprised when I discovered the book was not about the runaway spoiled sister, but about Ranulf MacLawry, the Laird himself.
When he arrives in London to take his sister back home, where he can keep her safe, he does not intend to let her stay for a while, but meeting Lady Charlotte Hannover changes things. She doesn’t stand for his brutish behaviour, and challenges him. Ranulf knows nothing can come of it, as his own English mother was so unhappy living in the Highlands, that she took her own life when his father would not allow her to live in London.
And so it is that Rowena will have a few weeks in London, enough to sample the Season, and Ranulf and his men and especially his dogs, will keep her safe. As he does have real enemies, and they are living in London. Clan MacLawry is one of the biggest clans left in the Highlands, one of the few who has not kicked of the crofters to make room for English sheep to graze. Ranulf has done his best to create jobs and business for his people to be able to support themselves. He is a good Laird, and he can’t be away for long, even though two of his brothers are still taking care of things.

Lady Charlotte really enjoys debating with Ranulf, but she won’t accept any violence at all. And so Ranulf, doing his best to stay in Charlottes good graces, has to take the insults his enemies fling at him, when all he wants to do is strike them down. His enemies think this a weakness of him (of course), and grow bolder and bolder, threatening his sister and his younger brother whom has come to London to find out why Ranulf is staying so long in London that he has bought a house there. When someone sets fire to their stables, Charlotte finally realises that there is difference between the totally pointless kind of violence her late fiancé indulged in to soothe his injured pride, and justified violence when a man lives in a dangerous world.

Still, some of Charlotte’s influence is of the good kind. She forces him to try and look at Englishmen other than his enemies, Sassenachs, and he makes amends with his uncle Miles.

I really enjoyed this story, and especially the interaction between Ranulf and his servants/clan members. They don’t kowtow like English servants would, they give him a piece of their minds and they help him protect Rowena.
Charlotte is a strong character, at 25 she is firmly on the shelf, or so she thinks, until she finds out she doesn’t really like to act as her sisters’ chaperone. And Ranulf sure is a pleasure to look at, especially as she herself is taller than most English men and women of her acquaintance.
And then Ranulf, sigh. I would certainly follow him to the Highlands if given the choice! He has had to grow up way too soon when his father was murdered by their neighbours, and his mother took her own life. He had to take care of his younger brothers, his sister, and the clan when he was barely 18. He is strong, and he is a good leader, but he did spoil his sister perhaps too much. But they love each other a lot, and Rowena wants him to be happy. She is very grateful to him for letting her stay in London for a while.

I do want to read about his siblings, and I have the next two books on my shelves I think. I don’t think it will take me long to pick up the next book.

O for those of you who don’t like it, there is a lot of Scottish accent being used, but I think it is well done.

8 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 30 mei 2015

Rachel Caine – Bite Club

The tenth book in the Morganville Vampires series, published October 4, 2011.
Genre: YA urban fantasy
Cover: I like this one, the new ones are ugly. This is my book cover.

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Morganville, Texas is a quiet college town where humans and vampires live in relative peace. But lately a great deal of blood is being spilled.
Having survived a number of adventures with her new night-dwelling friends, college student Claire Danvers has come to realise that for the most part, the undead just want to get on with their lives.
But someone else wants them to get ready to rumble.
There's a new extreme sport being broadcast over the Internet: bare-knuckle fights pitting captured vampires against one another - or, worse, against humans. Claire soon discovers that what started as an online brawl will soon threaten everyone in Morganville. And if they want to survive, they'll have to do a lot more than fight...

It all starts with a stinky class mate of Claire, who steals some vials of vampire blood from the class room. To get it back, Claire and her friends Eve, Shane and Michael, will have to visit him in his dorm room. But when they find his room, also disgustingly smelly, they find him murdered in his bed, and the vials gone. Now they have no choice but to tell it all to the vampires. But who killed him, and why?
A fight club has opened its doors in town, and Shane is very excited about that. He wants more than just a gym, he wants to learn how to fight vampires for real. And here is a vampire who offers just that! As soon as he joins, Shane starts to change. No longer is his anger in the background, he is just angry all the time. He loathes his best friend Michael for becoming a vampire himself, and he is convinced that Claire is seeing Myrnin for other reasons than studying and work, and so he keeps pushing her away.

Claire, Eve and Michael are convinced something is just not right at the gym, they want Shane back!

Miranda, the odd visionary girl is also suddenly appearing in their lives as well, and Claire takes her shopping. But they run afoul or Gina, one of Monica Morrell’s best buddies and a real sociopath. She likes to hurt people and she is escalating. But Miranda knows that Gina will meet her faith soon. And she warns Claire not to interfere or they will both die …

In the end, Amelie, Olivier and all the loyal vampires will have to work together to defeat their ancient enemy once again, and Claire will have to fight for Shane. Not only against the female vampire who can bend minds Gloriana but also from Kim … another face from the past …

This series is just amazing. The storyline keeps surprising me, and Claire keeps growing as a person. She just won’t back down; she keeps going and does what needs to be done.
I love her interactions with Myrnin, who is partly insane and partly a genius. The fencing scene between Olivier and Amelie was awesome.
This time Shane gets in trouble, and it will take a lot to get him back in one piece. Again Claire will have to beg Amelie for his life, as he broke the rules.

9 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 29 mei 2015

Kevin Hearne - Shattered

The seventh book in the Iron Druid Chronicles series, published June 17, 2014.
Genre: urban fantasy
Cover: good

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For nearly two thousand years, only one Druid has walked the Earth - Atticus O'Sullivan. Now he's got company. Atticus's apprentice Granuaile is at last a full Druid herself. What's more, Atticus has defrosted an archdruid long ago frozen in time, a father figure (of sorts) who now goes by the modern equivalent of his old Irish name: Owen Kennedy. And Owen has some catching up to do.
The jury's still out on whether the wily old coot will be an asset in the epic battle with Loki - or merely a pain in the arse. But Atticus isn't the only one with daddy issues. Granuaile faces a great challenge: to exorcise a sorcerer's spirit that is possessing her father in India. As the trio of Druids deals with pestilence-spreading demons, bacon-loving yeti, fierce flying foxes, and frenzied Fae, they're hoping that this time, three's a charm.

While Atticus is busy introducing his archdruid Owen to the modern world, Granuaile is in Oregon with Oberon and Orlaith, teaching her hound Orlaith to talk.
While visiting a small town, she gets a call from Laksha, asking her to come to India as her father is in big trouble. He is being possessed by a demon, and that demon is spreading illness around. Laksha really needs her help in fighting the illness and the rakshaha.
To defeat the demon while keeping her father alive, she will need Icemagic, she needs help from the Yeti, who are the secret children of Mannanan MacLir, and an Ice Giantess. But it is not as easy as just walk up to them, ask a knife and leave again. The knife will have to be especially crafted for her, and the Yeti want something in return as well, as they are getting pretty bored up there in the Himalaya. And the Earth elemental won’t help without getting some concession in return from the Yeti’s.

Will Granuaile be able to return to India in time to safe her father? But the fact that it is her father who is possessed, is no coincidence. Someone is behind it all …

All is not well for Atticus either, there is a traitor amongst the Fae, and he doesn’t know who it is. It takes Owen with a fresh viewpoint to figure it out. While he, Owen and Oberon are enjoying a hunt before Owen will leave for the Fae Court to present himself to Bridget, a foxlady asks Atticus to join her mistress in Japan.
Some of the Gods of different pantheons have joined forces, and they need Atticus’ help.

Another amazing book in the series, I devoured it in one evening, and I really don’t want to spoil anything for you. I love the conversations between Atticus and Owen, and how Owen really likes hanging out with the local werewolves. Of course he completely ruins Atticus’ reputation by telling stories about his training time, 2.000 years ago, and they love those stories!
This is a very good book, lots of action, and also pain and loss and happiness. Granuaile totally saves the day a few times, and I liked that. The battle of Fae against Fae is epic, and scary.

I love this series, and I look forward to reading the next book.

10 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

donderdag 28 mei 2015

Susannah Sandlin – Deadly, Calm and Cold

The second book in the Collectors series, published December 2, 2014.
Genre: romantic suspense
Cover: good

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How far will ordinary people go to protect their secrets? The Collectors' games are as much about manipulating lives as finding lost treasure. Everyone is expendable as the ruthless C7 pushes people into gambling with their lives in order to find priceless objects lost to history.
Samantha Crowe's secrets could ruin her career, while Brody Parker's could get him killed. They become pawns for two Collectors seeking Bad King John's crown jewels, which disappeared in rural England back when Robin Hood roamed Nottingham. This time, however, the Collectors - a ruthless dotcom billionaire and a desperate London detective - might not be playing for the same team, leaving Sam and Brody trapped in the middle.
One thing's for sure: If either hopes to survive, Sam and Brody will have to find a way to overcome their distrust - and their growing attraction - in order to succeed on this winner-take-all treasure hunt.

Samantha Crowe is an American grad student in London, studying ancient history. After being courted by a rich American businessman in the past week, she accompanied him to his rich hotel last night, and now she is alone and hung over. How could she have fallen for a bad guy once again? But at least he paid for the room, and ordered her breakfast.
But when she looks inside the envelope he also left for her, her appetite is gone. He knows everything about her, her childhood and her most recent bad past. If she doesn’t do as he wants her to, he will ruin her, her mother and her previous lover …

She should have known he was too good to be true, what businessman would have been interested in her old research? But apparently he believes she is onto something, and now he orders her to find the lost Crown Jewels of Bad King John, within 30 days, or else …
He has left her a pile of cash and has arranged for one of his buddies to rent her a car, so she can go to Swineshead, the place where King John died. Some think the monks killed him, after he slept with the abbot’s wife, others think he was ill already when he went to the Abbey.

Tom has become a member from the C7 because of his gambling debts, and the other members think he can be useful to them. He is not a millionaire or a megalomaniac like the others, he is just as trapped as Sam is. And so he will arrange for Sam to have a place to stay, but he really does not want her to find the Crown Jewels and see them leave England into the gready hands of “mr. Smith”. And so he finds Brody, who is hiding in the witness protection program, and blackmails him into working against Sam while pretending to help her.

Feeling really bad about it all, he finally confesses to his beloved wife, and hopes she will forgive him. Donna is not happy with him, but it is she who enjoys living beyond their means and she will not give up her beautiful home. To his surprise, she is even more ruthless than he is, when it comes to protecting themselves. And he is not sure he can live with that …

Sam and Brody meet, and Brody certainly feels homesick after talking to Sam for a while. He has not had contact with another American in 7 years. But he doesn’t trust her, thanks to Tom’s story. He thinks she is just a gold digger, working for her rich boyfriend.
But when the elements conspire to push them together, they finally start trusting each other, and sharing their story, or at least a part of it. And when they work together, they just might be able to win …

I really enjoyed the first book in the series, but I think this one is a lot better. The characters are acting a bit more natural, and I could feel the attraction between them. Brody has been badly injured in the past, and he still has a limp. He is a good man, and he had to give up his whole life for it. But he has made a new life for himself here in England, as a painter, and made some good friends. And now danger has come to his door again, in the form of a pretty young woman in trouble.
Sam had a really bad childhood, with a junkie for a mother, and her being the one who took care there was food on the table and rent money, no matter how she did it. Her mother still depends on her to help her out financially, even though Sam has to work multiple jobs to support herself through college. And now she has gotten herself in this mess, will they survive it? Or will they just be killed as they know too much and might figure out who “mr. Smith” really is?

The treasure hunt became a bit of a side story, while the relationship between Sam and Brody and them fighting Tom and his cronies took the stage. I would have liked to learn a bit more about the treasure though, and I certainly would have liked a little bit different ending. Still, it was a very enjoyable read and journey to follow. I did not foresee a lot of the things that happened, and I love being surprised by a good story. It has a lot of action and danger and mud, but also some emotional scenes and some nice love scenes.

I look forward to reading the next book … and then there were 5 …

8 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 27 mei 2015

J.D. Robb – Obsession in Death

Book 40 in the In Death series, published February 10, 2015.
Genre: futuristic suspense
Cover: fits the series

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Lieutenant Eve Dallas walks the thin line between love and hate in this fabulous 40th thriller from #1 New York Times - bestseller J. D. Robb...

Eve Dallas has solved a lot of high-profile murders for the NYPSD and gotten a lot of media. She - and her billionaire husband - are getting accustomed to being objects of attention, of gossip, of speculation.
But now Eve has become the object of one person's obsession. Someone who finds her extraordinary, and thinks about her every hour of every day. Who believes the two of them have a special relationship. Who would kill for her - again and again...
With a murderer reading meanings into her every move, handling this case will be a delicate - and dangerous - psychological dance. And Eve knows that underneath the worship and admiration, a terrible threat lies in wait. Because the beautiful lieutenant is not at all grateful for these bloody offerings from her "true and loyal friend."
And in time, idols always fall...

Book 40, and still not bored by it at all. Somehow, J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) keeps those stories fresh and exciting. This was truly suspenseful, and I loved the little looks in the killer’s mind without knowing who it was. I certainly did not guess at all.

It is just a day after Christmas, just a few days after book 39, and still bitterly cold in New York December 2060. And Eve is not pleased at all with the personal message the killer left for her on the victim’s headboard. She did not like the victim, but she did not deserve to be killed like this.

A killer is leaving her bodies, thinking those offended Eve and need to be killed. But if Eve cannot find the killer soon, more people will die, and when the killer thinks he is not appreciated, he will turn on Eve, and probably on her friends first. So who does she need to protect, who will be in the bigger danger? Running probabilities, looking for suspects, anything to link the killer and the victims to her.
The danger to her friends becomes frightingly real, but lucky for Eve, they are smart and not helpless or clueless to the danger. But the killer knows so much about Eve, her deepest secrets, her private history, and that is just not bearable.

I absolutely loved the mystery, the suspense, and the sick mind of some people is a horrible place to be. But as always, the book is filled with good scenes as well, short scenes with Peabody, with Roarke, Summerset, Myra, Nadine and of course Mavis. It is always fun to witness how terrified Eve is with little Bella, and now Leonardo leaves her alone with the baby! What is she to do?
I love how Roarke is always there for her, to vent at, to work out with, and of course make steaming hot love to. And he picks out her clothes in the morning as Eve has no fashion sense at all. She is baffled by Myra wearing a matching necklace and pumps.

And then there is Peabody, she is so vibrant and full of joy in live, but also good in her work, and getting better all the time. I could picture her easily in her new pink coat and pink cowboy boots. Wrapped in miles of scarf.

40 books and still going strong, congratulations J.D. Robb, let’s hope for 40 more!

9 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

dinsdag 26 mei 2015

Heather Blake – One Potion in the Grave

The second book in the Magic Potion Mystery series, published October 7, 2014.
Genre: paranormal cozy mystery
Cover: pretty

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Carly Bell Hartwell's love potions are always in demand in Hitching Post, Alabama, the wedding capital of the South. When Katie Sue Perrywinkle walks into the Little Shop of Potions, Carly is surprised and delighted to see her old childhood friend. Katie Sue fled her hometown and a troubled family more than a decade ago. But she's not back for a social visit; she's come to settle a score with Senator Warren Calhoun, who is in town for his son's high-profile wedding. But before Katie Sue has a chance to voice any objections, she's forced to forever hold her peace.
After finding her friend dead, Carly vows to find her murderer. Were the corrupt Calhouns willing to go to any lengths to avoid a scandal? Did Katie Sue's family take the term "bad blood" to a whole new level? And why did the bride to be come to Carly for a love potion? As Carly gets closer to the truth, a killer is planning a very chilly reception...

I am a big fan of Heather Blake/Heather Webber’s series, but when I read the first book in this series last year, I did not like it all that much. And that made me a bit sad as I wanted to love it as much as her other books. It also made me hesitant in picking up the second book, but I am so glad I finally did it, as I really enjoyed this one. This time, I really liked Carly and her extremely quirky relatives and friends. They were so much fun to read about. I don’t know what changed though, compared to the first book, perhaps just my mood?

The mystery was very good, and the real killer not somebody I had suspected. Katie Sue has been murdered, and perhaps it was the mighty senator who did not want her to upset his plans for his son and their careers in politics, but perhaps it was her own family? Her weak addicted mother and the sleazy stepfather who are after her money? Her older sister perhaps who carries a grudge?

It is really disheartening to read about how far a mother can go for the man she loves and the evil things she is willing to do to her own children because he asks it of her. And I know this happens in real life as well. Of course I was willing to believe it was the politician who could do this without blinking an eye, because, well, power corrupts and he wants more power. Yes I think Karma got him.

It is a really good book, a lot of fun because of the eccentric characters of mainly Carly’s family, but it just felt real, and engaged all of my emotions. And I love that in a book.
A good story, characters you like and to root for, a possible love story, and a good murder mystery. Bring on the next book Heather Blake!

9 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

maandag 25 mei 2015

Recommendations from Karin for May 2015.

In order to bring some more variety to my blog, I have asked some of my bookish friends to tell about the books they have in the past month, and to give us a recommendation. Today’s post is made by Karin from Austria.


Now this is going to be an unusual post as I don’t write about any new books I would like to recommend but today I want to concentrate only on one author and one (or maybe two) of my most beloved series.
I’m talking about:
Nalini Singh and Slave to Sensation

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In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of "rehabilitation"--the complete psychic erasure of everything she ever was...

Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a Changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy coexistence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murders of several Changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate, and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion--and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities--or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation...
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I’m aware that most of you will be big fans of Nalini Singh’s. Still I want to talk about the book that lured me into the world of paranormal romance – where I have remained faithfully ever since.
It has been quite a few years since Slave to Sensation was published and now it gets a new cover. (Not that I was unhappy with the old one but since nobody asked me….  ) So this is a chance to talk about the kick-off to this unbelievable series.
I think I loved both Lucas Hunter and Sascha Duncan from the first few pages. I was fascinated by the concept of the races, by the pack whose Alpha Lucas is, by the world Singh created.
Already from the first book on I was taken in by Hawke and his wolves and I so loved the heartbreaking scenes at the end of the book when Sascha decided to sacrifice herself for the changeling she loved, for the pack who had accepted her as a loving, feeling and, most of all, beloved member.
Aside from the members of the DarkRiver leopards Singh actually lay ground for many more excellent books with a lot of supporting characters who snared my attention.
This series is one of a very few who kept me interested, fascinated, hardly be able to wait for the next published book.
What I also love about this series – besides Hawke, Judd, Walker, Riaz, ….. (I could name almost all of the heroes and quite a few heroines of the following books), is that Nalini Singh doesn’t write a book about a couple who is then never heard of again. She develops this world further and further and all the main characters keep coming back. You see them developing, forming new bonds, making families. It gives me a feeling like meeting old friends again. (I have to confess that I read almost every book – with one exception – multiple times. With some of them I can continue dialogues without having to read. It’s a little embarrassing to confess something like that – but that’s the way it is.)
These books and the books of the Guild Hunter series – this is the other series I want to mention – are books I return to when I need comfort. There are lots of violent scenes and fighting but I really think that hardly anyone writes love scenes as well as Nalini Singh does.

We met her at two LLCs and she is ever so open, friendly and outgoing. I’m so looking forward to seeing her again next year.

So, for those of you who agree with my opinion about the Psy-Changeling series – let’s find out how this world develops further with the soon to be published “Shards of Hope”!

Karin photo Karin 2_zps9oybhsee.png

Aurian: Thanks for the recommendation Karin! I also love this series very much, but I will admit, I do prefer my own bookcover over the new one. How about you reader? Are you in love with this series as well? Or is it just not your thing?

© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

zondag 24 mei 2015

Jennifer Ashley – Rules for a Proper Governess

The seventh book in the Mackenzies / Highland Pleasures series, published October 7, 2014.
Genre: historical romance
Cover: nice

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Scottish barrister Sinclair McBride can face the most sinister criminals in London - but the widower's two unruly children are a different matter. Little Caitlin and Andrew go through a governess a week, sending the ladies fleeing in tears. There is, however, one woman in town who can hold her own.
Roberta "Bertie" Frasier enters Sinclair's life by stealing his watch - and then stealing a kiss. Intrigued by the handsome highlander, Bertie winds up saving his children from a dangerous situation and returning them to their father. Impressed with how they listen to her, Sinclair asks the lively beauty to be their governess, never guessing that the unconventional lady will teach him a lesson or two in love.

It has been a while since I read a historical romance this good. Of course, it has been a while since I read one by Jennifer Ashley.
The book starts with a courtroom scene, where the barrister Sinclair McBride clears the name of a young girl, and nails the real murderer instead. Earning the gratitude of the girls friend, and the hatred from the killer’s friends. And so Bertie admires him for his skills, and the fact that he actually cared enough to find the guilty person, and her father and fiancée make her steal something from him in a strange kind of revenge. He put away their buddy! Yes, Bertie lives in the poorest part of London, and her father has used her all his life to help with his criminal exploits, but there is nowhere else Bertie can go to. At least he protects her from all other men, even her own bully of a fiancé.
But when Bertie reluctantly steals Sinclair’s watch, he notices and as the watch in question is a treasured gift by his late wife, he sets out in hot pursuit. Not caring that Bertie leads him from the more classy parts of London to the worst places, trying to loose him. But when her cronies set upon him, intent to do him major harm, she comes to his rescue and leads him to safety. Where she steals a kiss from him …
The next day, curious about this fascinating man with the bleak look in his eyes, she searches out his house, and sees his children going to the park with their nanny. When the nanny looses the children (as they don’t listen to her at all!), Bertie manages to keep them safe, and to gain their trust and admiration and so, suddenly, she finds herself in the position of nanny. A live in job, with a good honest wage, freedom from her father and fiancé. For now. Especially her fiancé is not happy with her living with the “rich bloke”.

Bertie enjoys her new life very much, and the little glimpses she sees of the hardworking Sinclair. His sister-in-law quickly takes her under her wing as well, not caring about the difference in their status in life at all.

I loved this book so much. I liked Bertie, she is smart and resilient and practical. She knows a man like Sinclair is not for the likes of her, but she likes him a lot, and doesn’t care if it can only be for a short while. But Sinclair is a honorable man, and he won’t take advantage of a woman living under his roof. Slowly they get to know each other more, and get closer. Bertie brings a new life and light into the lives of Sinclair and especially his children, and it was so good to read. Yes, I cried at times, but it is fun as well, and great seeing all the MacKenzie’s again. My favourite, Lord Ian MacKenzie, makes a few appearances in this book, fabulous.

My last 11 star rating was Written in Red, but this book certainly deserves it as well. Bring on the next one Jennifer Ashley!

11 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 23 mei 2015

Alexis Morgan – Honor’s Price

The third and last book in the Warriors of the Mist series, published September 2, 2014.
Genre: fantasy romance
Cover: very nice

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Cursed by the gods. Bound by brotherhood. Freed by love.

The Warriors of the Mist have fought side by side for centuries, but Kane alone has felt something darker calling to him. With the Kingdom of Agathia on the brink of rebellion, Kane knows that relying on dark magic to infiltrate the enemy's court is dangerous but necessary despite the cost to his soul.
Lady Theda hopes to end the tyrannical reign of Duke Keirthan, the man who killed his own brother - Theda's husband. But she has little hope of succeeding, until a mage-marked warrior appears.
For the first time in centuries, Kane is tempted not by dark magic, but by a woman who wants more than his protection. But with both of their hearts - and her people's lives - in jeopardy, giving in to their passion may be a risk too great to take...

The warriors of the mist (the Damned) sleep under the dark river through the eons, until they are needed again. When times are dark, they are called for aid. 5 warriors and their avatars, doing the work for their goddess, the Lady of the River and her consort. Fighting the blackest of evil, and when they have succeeded in their task, they will be judged. Are they finally worthy of redemption, or will they go back to sleep for untold years to come?

This time the Damned are called forth by Lady Merewen to protect her from her evil uncle, and to fight the deadly magic of Duke Keirthan, the ruler of Agathia. The warriors hate magic, they were created to fight it, and they distrust it immensely. But somehow, some of them have found love with a woman who uses magic herself, but uses it for good and protection of the people of Agathia.
Duke Keirthan has killed his own brother to become the Duke, embracing the darkest of magics to do so. Sacrificing his own servants and subjects to further his own magic and power. The nobles are ignorant, still trying to win favor with him, thinking they will be safe and share in his power. Until he turns on them as well … everything to keep the power fed on blood and suffering.

And now Kane and Averel has gone to the capital of Agathia, to gauge the mood of its citizens, to find out about the troops the Duke can put in play against them, and possibly get close to the Duke himself. Averel is a good minstrel, and he quickly finds employment at one of the local pubs. And Kane can’t believe his luck when he is chosen by the Duke for his personal guard, and granted the recently opened position of captain.
Due to his childhood, Kane can see the dark cloud of blood magic hanging around the Duke, and he know they will need to act fast, before the darkness consumes the Duke himself, and the demon is raised completely. He also doesn’t like the fact how women in the castle are being treated, especially the Duke’s sister in law, Lady Theda, who acts as housekeeper.

What Kane doesn’t know, is that Duke Keirthan can sense the deep well of black magic inside of him, and he wants to keep Kane close, so he can take that magic and use it for his own purposes. Kane quickly uses his position of Captain to find out who is bad and worth killing, and who has no choice but be a soldier and wants to do a good job of it. And he uses it to protect the woman in the castle, and make the men treat them with respect. Even in the face of the Duke, and that makes him vulnerable …

It will take Kane all of his considerable will power, and the power he swore to never use, to keep free … with a little help from Averel, Hob, and his beloved, Lady Theda …

When the Damned are finally back together, Captain Gideon and his love Lady Merewen, Duncan and his love Lavinia, Murdoch and Lady Alina, Kane, Averel and their newest member, Sigil, they are finally ready to march upon Duke Keirthan to put an end to his evil practices.

If you like fantasy romance, I do recommend this series. I first discovered Alexis Morgan’s books because of her Paladin series, which I loved. The book is very well written, with good characters, a fascinating world with a little magic in it. It is not like there are mages and witches everywhere, only a few people have magic and know how to use it. The concept of warriors sleeping until needed is a good one, and I would love to read more about past battles. I like their avatars as well, living in their shields until called forth by the warriors.
It is a fast paced story, action and suspense, but also love and romance and magic, both good and evil.

9 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian