Joanna Wylde is an astounding writer. I love how meticulously researched her books are and how her characters are just so vivid but also feel so grounded in reality. And that reality is not a pretty one. It’s messy and gritty and complicated, but love and passion exist in that same world.
The barbarians are back! And so are the arrogant dragons and their (often) psychotic spouses. The eighth book in G.A. Aiken’s Dragon Kin series starts off pretty much where the last one left off. Kachka Shestakova, having left the Steppes of the North with her sister, is bored out of her mind. So when The Mad Queen gives her a quest, she gathers a ragtag band of misfits (don’t they always) and sets out to kick some cult ass. When she unexpectedly runs into Rebel King Gaius Domitus, again the sparks fly.
I enjoy conflict as much as anyone else, but this sweet and sexy story, with its sparkling dialogue, just hits the right spot. At the end of the book, I realized that there’s still a place for good old-fashioned romance with scintillating characters who make an emotional connection that sustains them and readers all the way till the end.
I thought Dreamer’s Pool, the first Blackthorn & Grim novel, was a fine start to a series. I liked the characters quite a bit, and was intrigued by the competing agendas between courts and species that Juliet Marillier had set up. I thought the mystery plot could have been stronger, as well as the depth of some characterizations, but it was a good start. It was certainly good enough that I didn’t hesitate to pick up a copy of the second book, Tower of Thorns. read more…
I was just recently lamenting the fact that a lot of the new-to-me authors I’ve read recently haven’t really worked for me for one reason or another. I’m very happy to say M. O’Keefe has broken that chain with this two-book story about a tortured couple who find their way to each other through fate, karma, luck – maybe all of those things and more rolled into one. The universe may have brought them together, but it takes everything they’ve got in them to stay together.
I don’t know if it was the wait or the emotional punch of the story, but I devoured this book from cover to cover in a single evening. I find the author’s research and historical notes at the end of the book as compelling as the story itself and definitely urge other readers to check them out. The writing is so vibrant that I found myself walking in Margaret’s shoes as she navigates the treacherous waters of a Scottish court at the brink of war. The gulf between Eoin and Margaret is so wide that only two hearts in love could have crossed it and yet one cannot live by love alone, as this story proves. Set against one of the most turbulent times in Scottish history, Margaret’s struggle to find the right balance between love and duty propels this story out of the ordinary and into squee worthy.
I have never come across a heroine in a contemporary romance novel so broken and weak that I don’t want her to end up with anyone at all. That the only happy ending I want for her is a safe place in a high-walled, gated institution where there will be well-paid, caring people watching over her, guiding her, and counseling her until she is well enough to stand on her own two feet. She could learn how to paint there or make ceramics while meeting like-minded people going through the same pain and heartaches as she is. She could learn to love and trust other human beings.
This is the type of help that Marisa Radley needs in the beginning of the novel and what she obviously frickin’ needs throughout the novel, but doesn’t ever receive. Our hero, Gabriel Radley, while a little overbearing and maybe a tad bit intense, is not a horrible guy, but he is so besotted and obsessed with Marisa that he doesn’t see that she needs more help than he’s capable of giving. I hate to say this because I’m obsessed with HEAs and must have HEAs in my romance novels, but this is one Harlequin Presents that would have ended better had the hero and heroine parted ways at the end, with the hero getting custody of the baby while the heroine gets well in a serene oceanside mental facility far, far away. Maybe, six months down the road, they can try again and Marisa will be more emotionally and mentally prepared to accept Gabriel’s brand of intensive love, but as she is at the start of the novel… well, let me explain.
While I haven’t been in a full-blown reading slump lately, it’s been a difficult time for me when it’s come to authors who I’ve not read before. I go through this phase once in a while, and sometimes it works quite well, and other times, well, let’s just say I can’t wait to get back to my favorites for some reading comfort. Sandy Blair is one of those authors, combining charming characters with fun, laughter, time travel, and romance, ultimately aligning my reading stars so I once again don’t feel the need to throw a poor book across the room to hit the wall.
This book launches a new story arc with a host of new characters with what appears to be almost a zero degree of separation between the reapers and the dragon kings who seem destined to be allies. I have to say this, because it was just so weird to see Death depicted as a beautiful compassionate woman who appears to be destined to get her very own HEA, if I am reading between the lines correctly, given the early nature of this new and emerging series I am still somewhat fuzzy on where it will go and how it will all come together, but I’ve been a fan a long-time. So I am very confident in the author’s ability to make it great reading along the way.
I was all set to give this book a A- or at the very least, a B+. It is always a cause for celebration in all my years of reading Harlequin Presents whenever I come across a heroine I like a lot more than I like the hero. It’s sad, but true. It’s seldom I find an HP heroine who can dish out as good as she got and doesn’t cower before the hero, awed by his gorgeous magnificence. Oh, gurrrl, please. Heck, this time, I almost didn’t want the heroine to end up with the hero. Not because I was jealous and wanted him for myself or anything, but because he was such a disrespectful dickbag to her for 70% of the book, becomes nice to her only when he’s proven wrong, then reverts to said dickbag behavior the last twenty pages because he’s a scared, stupid little boy who thinks other people are always out to get him because no one paid attention to him or gave him a hug when he was a kid. IMHO, he doesn’t deserve her. Fortunately, our heroine, Kathryn, gives as good as she gets, stands her ground, and makes the reading of this novel worthwhile, even when Luca Castelli is acting like a spoiled brat and is at the pinnacle of his douchebaggery. I just wished Kathryn gave him a couple of good kicks right square in the nuts whenever he threw a hissy fit. That would have set him right.