Category Archives: Review

Release Day Review- Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield

Once Upon a River

Title: Once Upon a River
Genre: Historical Fiction/Gothic/Fantasy
Author: Diane Setterfield
Publisher: Atria,Simon and Schuster Digital, Dec. 4, 2018
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Pages: 480
Rating: 5
Sexy Rating: 5
Violence Rating: 5
Description from Amazon.com:
On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can science provide an explanation? These questions have many answers, some of them quite dark indeed.

Those who dwell on the river bank apply all their ingenuity to solving the puzzle of the girl who died and lived again, yet as the days pass the mystery only deepens. The child herself is mute and unable to answer the essential questions: Who is she? Where did she come from? And to whom does she belong? But answers proliferate nonetheless.

Three families are keen to claim her. A wealthy young mother knows the girl is her kidnapped daughter, missing for two years. A farming family reeling from the discovery of their son’s secret liaison, stand ready to welcome their granddaughter. The parson’s housekeeper, humble and isolated, sees in the child the image of her younger sister. But the return of a lost child is not without complications and no matter how heartbreaking the past losses, no matter how precious the child herself, this girl cannot be everyone’s. Each family has mysteries of its own, and many secrets must be revealed before the girl’s identity can be known.
**
Infused with the lyrical prose of Diane Setterfield, this mysterious, magical book kept me turning page after page, after page, after page (yes, 480 pages to be exact). I did think the book could have been shorter without losing any of the pacing or characterization, but that is my only complaint. It is a true rendering of the late Victorian era along the Thames River. Much research went into this book which gives the reader the feeling of living alongside the river and the many characters. The river is the main character which runs through the lives of each secondary character; kind and determined Robert Armstrong, the hopeful Vaughans, psychologically and physically damaged Lily White, the well adjusted Inn keepers Joe and Margot and son Jonathan and Rita the nurse who stands in as the village doctor, plus a villain steeped in evil. All play intricate rolls in the mystery that is the lost and found four year old girl.
I have looked forward to reading another book by this author since I read her wonderful novel THE THIRTEENTH TALE; ONCE UPON A RIVER did not disappoint. It is moody, frightening, uplifting, engrossing, perfectly nuanced and superbly constructed. I highly recommend this book.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Authors, Book review, Books, Fantasy, Gothic, Historical Fiction, Review

Recent Release- The Stone Warriors: Gabriel by D.B. Reynolds

Gabriel

Title: The Stone Warriors: Gabriel (book#3)

Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy

Author: D.B. Reynolds

Publisher: ImaJinn Books, Oct. 30, 2018

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages:292

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 5+

Violence Rating:5+

Description from Amazon.com:

It was a time when gods walked the earth, when armies fought not for bits of land, but for the very existence of humanity. On such a battlefield, five formidable warriors stood against an evil greater than any the earth had ever seen. But evil is not an honorable foe. Betrayed by someone they trusted, the warriors were cursed, one by one, tossed into the maelstrom of time, imprisoned in stone, their freedom resting on nearly impossible conditions. Until. . . .

Gabriel Halldor. . . one of the fiercest warriors the world has ever seen, but his tremendous skill can’t save him from a sorcerer’s curse. Trapped in stone and left lying in darkness for thousands of years, he is, at long last, brought into the sunlight of a Japanese garden, where a young girl comes to sit at his feet and read him stories as she grows to womanhood.

Hana Himura. . . beloved granddaughter of a Japanese mob boss, raised to the life of a warrior. When death comes for her grandfather, he sends her to the one guardian courageous enough to protect her from a sorcerer who will stop at nothing to have her.

Raphael. . . the most powerful vampire lord on earth, and the only man who can save Gabriel and Hana from an enemy who would enslave them both.
Running from the certain death that awaits them in Japan, Hana and Gabriel flee to Malibu and the vampire lord her grandfather called friend. Raphael is magic and power combined, and Gabriel and Hana will need both if they’re going to survive long enough to defeat their enemy and light the flame of desire that’s been simmering between them for years.
**
Margaret Atwood on vampires, “You used to know where you stood with them-smelly, evil, undead-but now there are virtuous vampires and disreputable vampires, and sexy vampires and glittery vampires, and none of the old rules about them are true any more.”

That is Raphael’s cue to make an entrance; for he is not smelly (thank goodness), he is not disreputable, and he is definitely not glittery. He is sexy and powerful and totally capable of aiding Hana and Gabriel in their fight against evil sorcerer Sotiris. Sorcerer Nicodemus Katsaros is the warrior who led the others in battle in ancient times and has been searching for the four stone warriors since. Nico’s magic will aid Hana in developing her magic control. He will also fight Sotiris along with Raphael.

This offering in The Stone Warriors series starts off with Hana running for her life with Gabriel, newly released from his stone prison, and hardly gives the reader a breath as they fight their way to safety from Japan to Malibu where they hope Raphael can help vampire Gabriel. However no place is safe for Hana as long as the evil sorcerer Sotiris is after her.

Once you start with this series it becomes addictive. The action, suspense, the sensuous sex, the romance and love all add up to pure addiction. You can easily read this book as a standalone but I don’t recommend that. You need to start with THE STONE WARRIORS:DAMIEN and then KATO. I recommend this not because this book lacks sufficient background but because these two warriors appear in this book and I want you to be immersed in their stories as well as Gabriel’s. Then we can all wait anxiously for Stone Warrior Dragan. I also have it on good authority that my heart throb, book boyfriend Nick Katsaros will get his book also in this series.

If you are new to this author you will want to read more of Raphael and his mate Cyn in the Vampires in America Series. Start with RAPHAEL and enjoy sexy, powerful non-sparkly vampires and the women who bring them to their knees. ( search for my reviews of this series in the search box in the left column. Type in D.B. Reynolds.)

Another aside: This blog received a cover quote but let me assure my followers that it in no way influenced my review. It just made me very happy. 🙂

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book review, Books, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Recent Release, Review, Romantic Suspense, Urban Fantasy, Vampire

Release Day Review- Wallflower Most Wanted by Manda Collins

Wallflower most wanted

Title: Wallflower Most Wanted: A Studies In Scandal Novel (book #3)
Genre: Historical Romance/Mystery
Author: Manda Collins
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Pages: 320
Rating: 4
Sexy rating: 5
Violence rating: 4
Description from Amazon:

THE PICTURE OF ROMANCE
A dedicated painter, Miss Sophia Hastings is far more concerned with finding the right slant of light than in finding Mr. Right. But when an overheard conversation hints at danger for another local artist, Sophia is determined to get involved. Even if it means accepting help from an impossibly good-looking vicar who insists on joining her investigation—and threatens to capture her heart…
Reverend Lord Benedick Lisle knows that Sophia is no damsel in distress. But he won’t allow her to venture into peril alone, either. . .especially since he finds Sophia’s curious, free-spirited nature so alluring. But protecting her from harm is becoming more difficult than the vicar could have expected as he and Sophia confront their fiery mutual passion. Who could have known that the art of love would prove so irresistible?
**
I have enjoyed the two previous books in this series; Duke With Benefits and Ready, Set Rogue. You do not need to have read those to appreciate this standalone novel but an introduction I feel is necessary. Four bluestocking young women have inherited an estate from a woman who believed that each had talents that needed nurturing. The woman who fulfilled her goal at the end of a year would inherit the estate free and clear. The heroine in this book is one of those women, Sophia, an artist. Each book has a mystery and a romance. Benedict is our romantic hero and the local vicar who Is enamored of Sophia and when they, together overhear conversations, and are included in talks of an art forgery ring they both are intent on solving the mystery. Romance blossoms while in the midst of sleuthing.
Once again Manda Collins gives us a page turning romance/mystery. Benedict is a wonderful romantic hero and Sophia is determined to paint her art, we keep reading to find out if marrying Benedict will allow her to continue with the subjects she prefers to paint. Yes this is a bit predictable but the mystery is a good one.
I can recommend this book along with the others in the series.

(I love the covers on this series.  My favorite color blue.)

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book review, Books, Books Historical Romance, Mystery, Review, Romance

Advance Review- Never Trust a Pirate by Valerie Bowman

Never Trust A Pirate

Title: Never Trust A Pirate (Playful Brides Series)

Genre: Historical Romance/Regency

Author: Valerie Bowman

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks, May 2, 2017

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 304

Rating: 4.5

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 4

Description from Amazon.com:         

The rules of engagement were never so scandalous. . .

A rumored pirate and the scurrilous black sheep of his well-to- do family, Cade Cavendish relishes his world of rebellion, deception, and seduction. Nothing and no one can hold him to be the duty-bound, honorable man he is expected to be. But when an unexpected run-in at his twin brother’s estate with a ravishing, raven-haired maid leads her to believe he’s actually a viscount, Cade’s renegade life is thrown wildly off-kilter. And even though a case of mistaken identity can be quickly set to rights, matters of the heart are quite different…

Miss Danielle LaCrosse is startled to learn that the handsome gentleman who radiates sin and has the devil in his eyes is not her employer the Viscount, but rather his infamous brother. A former heiress, orphaned and left penniless, Danielle has more than a few secrets of her own. Cade may be skilled at coaxing even the most hidden desires out of Danielle but can he earn her trust—and win her heart—as they embark on an adventure to confront a dangerous enemy from both of their pasts . . . and uncover the identity of the so-called Black Fox along the way?

***

If you like novels that give you some twists and surprises then I’m sure you will like this one.  There are secrets that both Danielle and Cade are hiding.  This novel is about the business of spies and also revenge and falling in love.  The side characters we have met before in previous novels of the series but in no way will you be lost if this is your first time.  Some characters, like Grim, are particularly mysterious and I hope their story is on the horizon. There is action, adventure and steamy, sexy times.  Our hero is handsome and totally HOT and our heroine is feisty and full of surprises. I highly recommend this book and Valerie Bowman’s entire Playful Brides series.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book review, Books Historical Romance, Review, Romance

Recent Release Review- An Improper Proposal by Heather Boyd

Title: An Improper Proposal

An Improper proposal

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Heather Boyd

Publisher: LLD press, June 9, 2015

Pages: 234

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:         

In life there are choices… Spinster Iris Hedley was once the darling of the ton until her father lost his fortune through an illness of the mind. Reduced to living as a penniless guest while her father rots in debtor’s prison, she’s determined to escape unscrupulous robbers who’ve set her to spy on the ton by the only means possible—by becoming a wealthy man’s mistress. Unfortunately for Iris, her proper upbringing never covered intimacy or seduction so she asks the one man she trusts for help with private lessons in the duties of a mistress. …in love there is but one Martin Andrews, the Earl of Louth, may have a soft spot for tiny Iris Hedley, especially after her father fled London with a horde of debtors nipping at his heels. Her request for lessons in seduction leaves him reeling and although tempted it’s an offer he must refuse for her own good. Convinced she’s headed for heartbreak, he sets out to prove that surrendering to wicked pleasure is not worth the sacrifice of her future only to discover that her problems are more complicated than his own. A sizzling regency historical romance novel.

**

Yes, this is a sizzling novel; safe to say it is a bit raunchy but feels like reality of the times. It doesn’t gloss over the morals and attitudes of society by focusing on the simpering debs at the ball. This is about those who are trying to just hang on in society and perhaps even feeling some panic at their perceived downfall. Or some who have learned how to play the game for their own advantage.

I enjoyed this darker regency romance. The characters were brought to life and felt very real. The good guy had his faults and the villain was truly evil. Iris was very lucky when she pursued being a mistress that she encountered Martin who was an honorable man since the ton was full of the dishonorable type. I really like this not-so-varnished view of the era.

I can easily recommend this book to HR fans.

2 Comments

Filed under Book review, Books, Historical Romance, Review, Romance

Recent Release Review- As Chimney Sweepers Come To Dust by Alan Bradley

 

 

Title: As Chimney Sweepers Come To Dust (A Flavia de Luce mystery)

As Chimney Sweepers Come To dust

Genre: Mystery

Author: Alan Bradley

Publisher: Bantam, Janury 6, 2015

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 0

Description from Amazon.com:

Flavia de Luce—“part Harriet the Spy, part Violet Baudelaire from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” (The New York Times Book Review)—takes her remarkable sleuthing prowess to the unexpectedly unsavory world of Canadian boarding schools in the captivating new mystery from New York Times bestselling author Alan Bradley. Banished! is how twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce laments her predicament, when her father and Aunt Felicity ship her off to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy, the boarding school that her mother, Harriet, once attended across the sea in Canada. The sun has not yet risen on Flavia’s first day in captivity when a gift lands at her feet. Flavia being Flavia, a budding chemist and sleuth, that gift is a charred and mummified body, which tumbles out of a bedroom chimney. Now, while attending classes, making friends (and enemies), and assessing the school’s stern headmistress and faculty (one of whom is an acquitted murderess), Flavia is on the hunt for the victim’s identity and time of death, as well as suspects, motives, and means. Rumors swirl that Miss Bodycote’s is haunted, and that several girls have disappeared without a trace. When it comes to solving multiple mysteries, Flavia is up to the task—but her true destiny has yet to be revealed.

**

This is my third Flavia de Luce mystery and I have to say Flavia is just a delight. She is precocious, borderline genius, fears nothing and is the bane of all adults.   A dead body greets her first night arrival at Miss Bodycote’s Academy, and the body falls out of the fireplace in her room. The event has traumatized another student who was in the room also but it has only fueled Flavia’s desire to solve the mystery.

I thought this offering in the Flavia de Luce series was a bit slower then the others I have read although I still enjoyed every moment of Flavia’s shenanigans. As with most mysteries there are red herrings and just when we think we have outsmarted our twelve-year-old heroine she outsmarts us once again. An enjoyable page turning read. I’m sure you will love Flavia like I do.

The Flavia de Luce novels in order (Although each is a standalone):

THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE

THE WEED THAT STRINGS THE HANGMAN’S BAG

A RED HERRING WITHOUT MUSTARD

I AM HALF-SICK OF SHADOWS*

SPEAKING FROM AMONG THE BONES*

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches.    

Leave a comment

Filed under Book review, Books, Mystery, Review

Recent Release Review- The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

Title: The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman, book #2)

The Rosie Effect

Genre: General Fiction

Author: Graeme Simsion

Publisher: Simon and Schuster, Dec. 30, 2014

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 3

Description from Amazon.com:

The highly anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel The Rosie Project, starring the same extraordinary couple now living in New York and unexpectedly expecting their first child. Get ready to fall in love all over again. Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman are back. The Wife Project is complete, and Don and Rosie are happily married and living in New York. But they’re about to face a new challenge because— surprise!—Rosie is pregnant. Don sets about learning the protocols of becoming a father, but his unusual research style gets him into trouble with the law. Fortunately his best friend Gene is on hand to offer advice: he’s left Claudia and moved in with Don and Rosie. As Don tries to schedule time for pregnancy research, getting Gene and Claudia to reconcile, servicing the industrial refrigeration unit that occupies half his apartment, helping Dave the Baseball Fan save his business, and staying on the right side of Lydia the social worker, he almost misses the biggest problem of all: he might lose Rosie when she needs him the most. Graeme Simsion first introduced these unforgettable characters in The Rosie Project.

**

The first book in this series, THE ROSIE PROJECT, was a favorite of mine last year. So naturally I jumped at the chance to read and review this sequel. OMG! This is terrific stuff! Laugh out loud, and I do mean loud, hubby kept quizzing me on what was so funny. This book takes Rosie and Don on a journey to parenthood that is nothing like what I assume you or I have experienced. Don with his Asperger’s Syndrome and Rosie with her own issues are two ships that are not going to pass but collide. Don’s heart is always in the right place but his literal mind and inability to be “average” lead him into one mess after another. Rosie, riding high on pregnancy hormones misinterprets most of what Don is trying to do. Don trying to minimize Rosie’s stress gets himself in tons of trouble. Side characters are absolutely wonderful. Gene the psychologist friend who moves in, Dave and Sonia who also are expecting, George the rock star landlord, Lydia the Social worker with issues and Rosie’s dad, Phil who has his own PTSD.

Graeme Simsion has penned another wonderful book and we can only hope there are more to come. Do I recommend this one. You betcha! Big time. Do yourself a favor, start the year off right , read this one.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book review, Books, Contemporary Romance, General Fiction & Literature, Humor, Review

Recent Release Review- Lisette’s List by Susan Vreeland

Title:  Lisette’s ListLisette List

 

 Genre: General Fiction/ Romantic elements

Author: Susan Vreeland

Publisher: Random House, Aug. 26, 2014

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: behind closed doors

Description from Amazon.com:

In 1937, young Lisette Roux and her husband, André, move from Paris to a village in Provence to care for André’s grandfather Pascal. Lisette regrets having to give up her dream of becoming a gallery apprentice and longs for the comforts and sophistication of Paris. But as she soon discovers, the hilltop town is rich with unexpected pleasures.

Pascal once worked in the nearby ochre mines and later became a pigment salesman and frame maker; while selling his pigments in Paris, he befriended Pissarro and Cézanne, some of whose paintings he received in trade for his frames. Pascal begins to tutor Lisette in both art and life, allowing her to see his small collection of paintings and the Provençal landscape itself in a new light. Inspired by Pascal’s advice to “Do the important things first,” Lisette begins a list of vows to herself (#4. Learn what makes a painting great). When war breaks out, André goes off to the front, but not before hiding Pascal’s paintings to keep them from the Nazis’ reach.

With German forces spreading across Europe, the sudden fall of Paris, and the rise of Vichy France, Lisette sets out to locate the paintings (#11. Find the paintings in my lifetime). Her search takes her through the stunning French countryside, where she befriends Marc and Bella Chagall, who are in hiding before their flight to America, and acquaints her with the land, her neighbors, and even herself in ways she never dreamed possible. Through joy and tragedy, occupation and liberation, small acts of kindness and great acts of courage, Lisette learns to forgive the past, to live robustly, and to love again.

**

It is always a special treat to pick up a book and learn about something new.  For me it was all about mining and the preparation of ochre from the earth into pigments for painting.  That lesson was wrapped up in the beautiful story of a young bride on the verge of WWII.  The story tells of the hardships the French dealt with during the war, and especially those of this young woman, Lisette, living alone and struggling to get by.  It also touches on the confiscation of paintings by the German’s.  The heart of the story is the hiding of the paintings and Lisette’s pursuit of them.

I have been a fan of Susan Vreeland since reading her book, THE GIRL IN HYASENTH BLUE.  Blue must be a favorite of Ms. Vreeland for she also makes Lisette’s desire a blue dress.  This book is long, 433 pages, it could have been shorter but the length does submerge the reader in the environment of the village in Provence.  The author is especially adept at creating visions of landscape and mood with her lovely prose.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book review, Books, General Fiction & Literature, History, Review

Review- Married by Midnight by Julianne MacLean

Title:  Married by Midnight

Married by Midnight

 Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Julianne MacLean

Publisher: Createspace, 2012

Source: Purchase (within a boxed set THE PEMBROKE PALACE COLLECTION on Kindle for $.99, Also available as an individual book.)

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

AN UNATTAINABLE ROGUE… For seven years, Lord Garrett Sinclair– the ruggedly handsome illegitimate son of the Duke of Pembroke–has been traveling abroad with no intention of ever returning home to Pembroke Palace… until his father commands that he must marry by Christmas in order to thwart a family curse or lose his inheritance forever. Haunted by a tragic accident that has hardened his soul, Garrett entrusts his brothers to seek out a bride who will agree to a marriage in name only. Her reward? A sizable share of his inheritance–payable immediately after the wedding night….

A BEAUTIFUL TEMPTRESS… Lady Anne Douglas has been ruined by scandal and disowned by her father. Facing a life of poverty and spinsterhood, she leaps at the generous terms of the marriage contract to ensure her independence. But the charade of a two-week engagement proves more of a challenge than either anticipated when they cannot resist the intoxicating lure of the marriage bed. Anne knows they will part ways after the wedding. Will she dare risk her heart for two weeks of pleasure in the arms of an irresistible rogue? Or will her surrender become her undoing after a most unexpected turn of events mere hours before the wedding?

**

Smartly written I thoroughly enjoyed this short book (220 pages).  Lord Garrett’s older brothers arranged the marriage so Garrett only meets Anne a few weeks before the wedding.  There is an early on mystery as to why Garett has stayed out of the country for so many years.  Lady Anne was disowned by her family and had no recourse but to go with an arranged marriage.  She was happy to do it because it was explained to her that her bridegroom would leave England right after the wedding so she would have freedom and be well compensated.  Neither expected to have such instant chemistry.

A sweet, sexy story.  

Leave a comment

Filed under Book review, Books, Historical Romance, Review

Recent Rerelease Review- The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley

Title: The Splendour Falls

The Splendour Falls

 Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/Mystery

Author:  Susanna Kearsley

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark, January 2014

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating:  3

Description from Amazon.com:

Emily Braden has stopped believing in fairy tales and happy endings. When her fascinating but unreliable cousin Harry invites her on a holiday to explore the legendary town of Chinon, and promptly disappears—well, that’s Harry for you.

As Emily makes the acquaintance of Chinon and its people, she begins to uncover dark secrets beneath the charm. Legend has it that during a thirteenth-century siege of the castle that looms over the city, Queen Isabelle, child bride of King John, hid a “treasure of great price.” And in the last days of the German occupation during World War II, another Isabelle living in Chinon, a girl whose love for an enemy soldier went tragically awry.

As the dangers of the past become disastrously real, Emily is drawn ever more deeply into a labyrinth of mystery as twisted as the streets and tunnels of the ancient town itself.

**

Susanna Kearsley takes  historical facts and actual locations and writes gripping stories about those that lived and those that live now.  She makes locations come alive and if you look up those locations you can see photos of the places where the story is set.  This makes the reading feel not so much a fiction but as if events are real.

Here are a few photos of the actual locations mentioned in this novel, The Chateau Chinon in France, The Place de General DE Gaulle with the Fountain, the bar in the Hotel Chinon (actually The Hotel De France) and a room in that same hotel:

Chateau chinon1

chateau Chinon three graces fountain 2 Chateau Chinon three graces fountain

 

Chateau Chinon bar in Hotel De France

Chateau Chinon Hotel de France

She is masterful at creating flesh and blood characters. In this, one of her earlier books, the pacing is a little slow but the story so compelling that little mind is paid.  There is a mystery and there is a villain but we are lulled into not suspecting the true nature of the villain.  We are left wondering if the villain would actually have harmed our heroine.  The romance is slow developing and we are left to wonder for a long time if our heroine will find true love.

I am a huge fan of Susanna Kearsley’s highly original novels and although this is not my favorite, it is an outstanding read. Even if one of her novels is not my favorite she still writes heads above others in the genre.

I recommend this book to all readers who like to be placed in the actual location of the story and those who love a mystery.

(This is a reissue of a Kearsley book published in the 1990’s.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Book review, Books, Contemporary Romance, General Fiction & Literature, History, Mystery, Review