Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Duke of Her Own by Eloisa James

A Duke of Her Own is a gem. It's set in 1784 and closely follows This Duchess of Mine (which I reviewed in August.) Although I think you'd still enjoy the book without reading This Duchess of Mine first, I think it added a lot to my understanding of the hero, the Duke of Villiers. He's an important secondary character in Duchess and the book shows the beginning of his search for his illegitimate children.

Leopold, the Duke of Villiers, has decided he needs to find a mother for the children he is gathering, and he wastes no time in searching for an acceptable wife. Lady Eleanor has been nursing a broken heart for years because her beloved married someone else and she has declared she will only marry a Duke to keep other men from bothering her. Eleanor was wonderfully direct and honest, and quite a contrast with Lisette, the other candidate to be Villiers' new Duchess. I loved how James gave Lisette some of the stereotypical traits of a romance heroine, but with a twist.

This book wasn't quite as emotionally intense as This Duchess of Mine, but it's hard to compete with a dying hero. I did think that James handled the serious topics of mental illness and orphans amazingly well. I loved all the characters and found them refreshingly original. I even liked the dog and Villiers' son Tobias and I often find dogs and children poorly done in romances. The ending is a bit unusual but perfect for the characters.

I'll rate it 8.5 out of 10 and highly recommend it for anyone who likes British historicals.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian

Kiss of Midnight is the first in Adrian's Midnight Breeds series. I've had the first three books in the series sitting in my TBR pile for ages and now I'm kicking myself for not getting to them earlier.

At first Kiss of Midnight reminded me of Christine Feehan's Dark series but by the end it reminded me much more of J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series. This is another band of immortal warriors premise, with the Breeds as the good vampires who fight the bad vampires known as Rogues. It takes place in present day Boston and the paranormal world is kept secret from the humans.

Gabrielle Maxwell is a photographer with an unhappy childhood who first encounters the hero when she witnesses a Rogue vampire attack that no one else seems to see. Lucan Thorne is the powerful vampire who finds out she is a Breedmate, one of the rare humans who can mate with vampires and who have unique abilities. Although the focus is very much on Gabrielle and Lucan's romance, there is an exciting plot line featuring the fight between the Breeds and Rogues. I enjoyed finding out about the other warriors, who will no doubt have books about them in the future.

One of my favorite things about the book was all the action. It's very fast paced and full of tension, but I wasn't quite as emotionally affected as I was by the first few J.R. Ward books. It was a very satisfying read, though, and I have already started reading the second in the series, Kiss of Crimson.

I'll rate it 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Highwayman by Michele Hauf

The Highwayman is in the Silhouette Nocturne line and is the first in the Wicked Games series. The Wicked Games series takes place in the same paranormal world as Hauf's Bewitching the Dark series. I haven't read any of those but have one in my TBR pile and look forward to reading them all.

Max Fitzroy is a French highwayman who is possessed by a demon (actually part of a demon) in 1758. After that he can no longer eat, sleep or have an orgasm. On the other hand, he is immortal and has superhuman strength. He is driven by revenge and goes around the world killing demons and familiars. Familiars are cat shape-shifters who bring demons into this world during a magic sex ritual. Aby is a Familar who has a werewolf protector. Max tracks her down planning to use her to call up the demon whose shadow lives inside him and then kill her.

What I loved about this book was the originality. The Highwayman and his super cool whip are unique and a welcome change from vamps and weres. Although Aby is a shifter, the Familiars are also new and fascinating. I was not too happy with Max having killed so many of them, though. It's a fast paced book with lots of fun action and surprises. Aby was an enchanting heroine, so innocent in many ways in spite of being so sexually experienced. I especially liked the part of the book that took place in Paris. The only complaint I have is that the ending seemed rushed and I would have liked to find out a little more about what happened to them.

I'll rate it 8.0 out of 10 and will look for the next in the series, Moon Kissed, which is the story of Severo, Aby's werewolf friend.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Darkest Whisper by Gena Showalter

The Darkest Whisper is the fourth in Showalter's Lords of the Underworld series. I reviewed the first three in August 2008 and explained the premise of the series.

I had eagerly awaited the next installment and The Darkest Whisper did not disappoint. Sabin is the keeper of the demon Doubt and he rescues the beautiful Gwen from the Hunters. The Hunters are out to destroy the Lords of the Underworld, thinking them responsible for all the evil in the world, and they are breeding themselves a paranormal army. The Hunters are led by Galen, keeper of the demon Hope, and traitor to the rest of the Lords.

Gwen was a marvelous heroine. It was fun to learn about a new creature (the Harpy) and to watch her grow during the book. She was easy to sympathize with in spite of her powers and when we found out who her father was--wow! What a shock. I really enjoyed her sisters, too, who provided some humor (and muscle.)

Sabin is my least favorite hero so far, which isn't really his fault. He was wonderfully powerful and sexy, but his demon was just not that interesting. I was really touched by the scene where he tells Gwen his weaknesses to gain her trust. We learn a bit more about the other Lords as well, and I can't wait to hear their stories, especially those of Paris (Promiscuity) and Torin (Disease.)

I'll rate it 8.0 out of 10 and look forward to the next book in the series, which I think is Aeron's (Wrath.)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Highlander for Christmas by Sandy Blair

A Highlander for Christmas is an excellent time travel romance by Sandy Blair, author of the Kilt series of historical romances.

Claire MacGregor is a Boston antiques dealer who is bequeathed a chest that holds a puzzle box. When she opens it, Cameron MacLeod appears. The last thing he remembers is getting ready to fight the English in 1745. I generally like the time travels best when the hero or heroine travels back in time, but this book shows just how good it can be when one of them comes to the present day.

Claire is a wonderful and realistic heroine who is easy to sympathize with. The sexual tension between her and Cameron was sizzling and one of my favorite parts of the book. I really enjoyed seeing Cameron react to the modern world as well and some of his misconceptions were hilarious. The reindeer scene was very funny, even if a little over-the-top.

The book had some serious and emotional points, too, and brought me to tears when Cam found out what happened to his family in the past. The secondary characters were all well written and I loved the setting since Boston is one of my favorite places. The fast pace and many surprises kept me glued to the book until the satisfying end.

I'll rate this book 8.5 out of 10 and hope Sandy Blair will write other time travels because she clearly has a knack for them.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Twin Peril by Susannah Carleton

Twin Peril is a Signet Regency Romance and is only 217 pages long. I haven't read many of these types of books so don't have much to compare it with.

I have to admit I zoomed right through this book and it kept my interest the whole time in spite of some problems I had with it. I think some of the faults I perceived are because of the short length. There just isn't time in 200 pages to develop secondary characters or plot lines.

The basic premise of the book is that the Duke of Fairfax needs to find a wife and decides on Lady Deborah Woodhurst, one of the famous Woodhurst twins. Diana, Deborah's twin, decides she wants to marry the Duke instead and does what she can to achieve her goal.

The romance between Michael and Deborah was very sweet and ran surprisingly smoothly. Both are quite likeable characters, but they could have been more interesting. The only really lively character was the evil Diana, who would have been more believeable if she had been more complex and not just a stereotypical spoiled brat.

I'll rate Twin Peril 6.0 out of 10.

The Scandals of an Innocent by Nicola Cornick

The Scandals of an Innocent is the second in Cornick's The Brides of Fortune series, following The Confessions of a Duchess. I didn't read the first book and didn't feel like I was missing anything.

The book takes place in the village of Fortune's Folly in Yorkshire in the year 1810. The book gets off to a strong start when the heroine, Alice Lister, is caught by the hero, Lord Miles Vickery, in an act of theft (it's not as bad as it sounds.) Miles is in a terrible financial bind and tries to blackmail Alice into marrying him so he can have her money.

Alice is a very interesting and unusual heroine because she was a former maid who inherited a fortune from her former employer. I liked how the author explained how she had to go through a great deal (dance lessons, speech lessons, etc.) and only achieved limited acceptance in society, which made her position seem more realistic. I liked Alice's personality very much, she would be the perfect friend. Miles, on the other hand, was a total and complete cad for much of the book. You gradually learn why he acts how he does and he does change thanks to Alice's influence and his love for her. It was frustrating that he took so long to see the light, but maybe that long wait made the ending all the sweeter.

I'll rate Scandals 7.0 out of 10 and will look for the next in the series.

Confessions of a Little Black Gown by Elizabeth Boyle

Confessions of a Little Black Gown is part of Boyle's Bachelor Chronicles series. It closely follows Love Letters From a Duke which tells the story of Felicity Langley. Little Black Gown features Felicity's sister Thalia Langley. I felt that having read Love Letters From a Duke did add to my enjoyment of Little Black Gown, but it isn't strictly necessary.

The book takes place in England in 1814. The hero, Lord Larken, is masquerading as a bumbling vicar in order to find and kill the notorious escaped pirate Dashwell. Larken attends a house party hosted by Felicity where he meets Thalia (Tally.) She knows from the first that Larken is more than he appears.

The most enjoyable feature of the book for me was the interplay between the two scheming main characters. They were both intelligent, witty and a bit unusual. There were a couple of secondary plots, one dealing with the relationship between the pirate Dash and Pippin, Tally's cousin. The other concerned a member of a French secret society who was also searching for Dash, but it was somewhat over-the-top. Everything was tied up neatly at the end, except for Pippin and Dash's future, which is taken up in the next book in the series, Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress.

I'll rate it 7.5 out of 10 and look forward to reading more of Boyle's romances.

I'm Back

I'm back after my science fiction binge and after a week of illness when all I wanted to read was historical romance. I guess that is my comfort genre. I have four books here ready to review and two more that I'm nearly done with.

I also got a new bookshelf and organized my TBR books. I have them on three tall bookshelves now, all crammed full but organized by genre. Should make it a little easier to find whether I already have a book.