Saturday, February 21, 2009

Vexing the Viscount by Emily Bryan

Vexing the Viscount has one of the best first chapters I've ever read. It has it all--humor, mystery, sexual tension, a fascinating look at history and original characters. I knew after the first few pages that I was going to love this book and I was right.

This book is hard to classify because it fits in neither the light and funny historical romance category or the dark and emotional category but manages to be both. It has wonderful humor and is a fast paced read that never slows down, but it also deals with some serious themes and tugs at the emotions. There are some twists and turns that I did not expect, and the action-packed ending has a big surprise.

I adored the heroine, Daisy, who is so natural and easy to sympathize with. She's smart and brave, yet vulnerable. The sexy Lucian, Viscount Rutland, is not your typical aristocrat. Besides being more intelligent and responsible, he is impoverished and desperate for funds. Instead of the usual plot device of having the hero try to marry an heiress, the author goes in a much more interesting direction. Lucian is convinced that he has found clues to a Roman treasure and he tries to find it to change his fortune.

There is so much going on in this book that it's amazing the author could fit it all in. Yet nothing seems rushed, it all fits perfectly and adds to the story. This is a book with depth and soul, yet it also had me on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next. I applaud Emily Bryan for creating a wonderful historical romance and can't wait to read her next work.

I'll rate this book a 9.0 out of 10.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn

Julia Quinn is a master of the light British historical. Her books are always fun, fast paced and yet full of emotion as well. They are perfect reading when you just want to forget about the modern world and get lost in the romantic escapades of an earlier time.

Secret Diaries features the likable and intelligent Miranda ("no great beauty") who falls in love with Turner when she is only ten years old and he is kind to her. It's easy to sympathize with her, especially because the diary device lets us see exactly what she's thinking. The diary entries could have easily become annoying or gotten in the way of the story, but Quinn uses them sparingly and to good effect.

While Miranda is growing up, the hero, Viscount Turner, has been deeply wounded by an unhappy marriage that ended in the death of his wife while she was riding to meet her lover. It is fascinating to watch him slowly overcome his bitterness during the book. Of course the road to happiness is not without potholes, and at a couple points I just wanted to shake him and tell him to stop being an idiot.

I'd rate this book 7.5 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone who wants an entertaining English historical.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dream Warrior by Sherrilyn Kenyon

I am a big fan of Sherrilyn Kenyon and have read all of her DarkHunter (and connected) books except for The Dark-Hunter Companion. I enjoy her work, but I'm not blind to her faults. Her DarkHunter series is getting very long and the cast of characters is overwhelming. I had a hard time keeping track of all the different demons, gods, Dream-Hunters, Dark-Hunters, etc. and I've read all the books. I don't see how someone who just picked Dream Warrior up (perhaps because of the great cover) could make sense of it.

Inside the bigger story of the fight between these supernatural beings is a romance. Cratus, known now as Jericho, has been tortured by Zeus for centuries because he refused to kill a baby. That baby is Delphine, a Dream-Hunter, who goes to Jericho 6,000 years later to beg for his help in saving the gods who are being defeated by the evil Noir and Azura.

Jericho is one of Kenyon's tortured heroes, a type she does well. Unfortunately she has done so many of them now that they are starting to blend together. Delphine is fine as a heroine, especially when she is both standing up to and standing up for Jericho, but she isn't one of the most memorable women Kenyon has written. The love story is enjoyable, though, and I found the ending very satisfying.

I'll rate this a 7.0 out of 10, and if I wasn't hooked on this series I might rate it a little lower. If you haven't read any of Kenyon's work, don't start with this one. Start with Fantasy Lover or Night Pleasures and you, too, can become hooked.

Books Bought

Yes, I know I have a problem. But I gave my husband $20 to throw in the slots when he went to Vegas on a business trip and he brought me $80, so I don't feel guilty at all. Too bad we didn't invest our 401K in slot machines....

Coyote's Mate by Lora Leigh
When You Believe by Jessica Inclan
Killer Secrets by Lora Leigh
Impractical Magic by Karen Fox
Hundreds of Years to Reform a Rake by Laurie Brown
Never Romance a Rake by Liz Carlyle
My Lord and Spymaster by Joanna Bourne
Slightly Sinful by Mary Balogh
The Warlord's Daughter by Susan Grant (which I'm reading now and enjoying very much)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It Happened One Night (Anthology)

It Happened One Night features stories by Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D'Alessandro and Candice Hern. I was intrigued when I read the premise behind this collection. All of the novellas have the same basic plot: a couple who haven't seen each other for ten years meet at a inn in the English countryside.

It was surprising to me that each story was so different. They all have the same basic plot, have the same setting and approximately the same historical time period and yet each was unique. Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised, since these four authors are among the top historical writers, but I was impressed at the quality of the work. Each one was a small gem.

"The Fall of Rogue Gerrard" by Stephanie Laurens made me laugh and "Only You" by Jacquie D'Alessandro brought me to tears twice. "Spellbound" by Mary Balogh had a heroine I adored and the touching From "This Moment On" by Candice Hern featured an older couple. I can't pick a favorite because I liked them all and can't point to notable flaws in any.

I'd rate this 8.0 out of 10 and recommend it to anyone who enjoys English historicals.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Tanner's Scheme by Lora Leigh

Tanner's Scheme is another in Leigh's Feline Breeds series. The series features a world like ours but with genetically engineered beings who were created to be the perfect soldier. Of course some humans want to eliminate them since they've broken free and made a life for themselves. One of the main enemies of the Breeds is the heroine's father.

I enjoyed this book very much, but I did find the heroine's name, Scheme, annoying as hell. I also thought there was a period after the hero Tanner kidnaps Scheme and is holding her prisoner where the book got bogged down for a short period. Other than those two minor points, this book is a fast paced, action filled, steamy romance. The paranormal elements are fascinating, but I think there is more focus in the book on the suspense and action. There were twists and turns and a very nerve-wracking and emotional ending. Of course, with any Lora Leigh book, you know there will be very erotic love scenes.

I'll rate this book 7.5 out of 10 and I can't wait to read her new Coyote Breeds books, Soul Deep and Coyote's Mate.

Taken By a Viking by Michelle Styles

I picked up this book because I was in the mood for a medieval historical. There aren't that many of them out there and I hadn't read one in a long time. Unfortunately, I wasn't very impressed with this one.

Taken By the Viking surprise here...about a woman, Annis, who is kidnapped from Northumbria in 793 and taken to Haakon Haroldson's homeland to be held for ransom. I thought the book was well written, I just didn't ever really care about the characters. I did think the writer did a good job of integrating the history into the story and it felt accurate to me (though I am no expert on that period.) I liked the action sequences, particularly at the end of the book.

I'm not sure why I never felt drawn into this story. It may be that it was more my fault than the author's. I plan to try another medieval to see if maybe the period just doesn't catch my interest. I'd rate this book a 6.5 out of 10.

Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole

Kresley Cole does it again. If I counted correctly, this is the 7th in her Immortals After Dark series and once more she hits a home run. She is the master (mistress?) of keeping a series fresh. Each book is quite different and each one has everything you could ask for in a paranormal romance.

Kiss of a Demon King features Rydstrom, the Demon King, who has played a small role in previous books. The heroine is Sabine, the Sorceress of Illusions, who is working for the evil Omort. Sabine imprisions Rydstrom and the story begins. As soon as I got over the confusion I felt because this book takes place at the same time as the previous book, I enjoyed it very much. The hero and heroine were complex and fascinating, not your typical romance types but all the more interesting because of their differences.

If you liked Cole's previous books, you will not be disappointed in this one. If you haven't read her before, what are you waiting for? I'd rate this book an 8.0 out of 10.