Friday, August 31, 2012

Defiance by C.J. Redwine

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making

Wow. Defiance was amazing, brilliant, wonderful, fantastic, and any other synonym of those words. 

First, I love the cover. It is simply gorgeous. But more importantly, what was behind the cover was just as good.

The story line comes off as dystopian at first. But, after reading it, I can assure you that Defiance is not just another of the many dystopians out. It's not even just dystopian. It has dystopian themes mixed with paranormal elements. And, of course, some romance. With these three mixed together, you're bound to have a winner.

The characters were narrowly focused. While there are a handful of supporting characters, just a few, this is almost entirely focused on the two main characters and their fight for justice against the Commander.

Rachel was SUCH a good character. She was strong, determined, and clever. She's been taught to fight despite the restrictions against women in this world. She goes through a lot in the book. She loses some of the people closest to her and those losses kindle a fire burning for revenge. She becomes a weapon for vengeance against the tyrant Commander. I could really feel her grief and anger. She was a heroine that anyone can admire.

Logan was fantastic as well. He's a skilled fighter and inventor. During the chapters in his perspective, you see how his mind works with logic and reason. He constantly planning for any eventuality. But he's not just an automaton. He's incredibly sweet. He's fiercely loyal to Jared, Rachel's father. He's also loyal to Rachel and very protective of her. Their relationship was perfectly done. They've known each other for most of their lives and Rachel has been in love with Logan for a while. Even during the parts that they were separated, their relationship was slowly developing. The romance isn't overwhelming, but it is a definite presence. Both were strong separately, but they were nearly invincible together. 

The story moved quickly. There was action, romance, secrets, and deceit. Everything needed to make a perfect book. The ending was wonderful. There wasn't an epic cliffhanger, but I'm still itching to get my hands on the next book to find out what happens. 

Defiance was a perfect book, just lovely!


Monday, August 20, 2012

Dante's Girl by Courtney Cole

Dante's Girl
I have spent every summer since I was ten years old with my father in London. Every summer, since I was ten years old, has been uneventful and boring. 
Until this year. 

And this year, after a freak volcanic eruption strands me far from home, I have learned these things:

1. I can make do with one outfit for three days before I buy new clothes. 
2. If I hear the phrase, “You’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto,” even one more time, I might become a homicidal maniac.
3. I am horribly and embarrassingly allergic to jellyfish.
4. I am in love with Dante Giliberti, who just happens to be the beautiful, sophisticated son of the Prime Minister of a Mediterranean paradise. 
5. See number four above. Because it brings with it a whole slew of problems and I’ve learned something from every one of them.

Let’s start with the fact that Dante’s world is five light-years away from mine. He goes to black-tie functions and knows the Prime Minister of England on a first name basis. I was born and raised on a farm in Kansas and wear cut-off jeans paired with cowboy boots. See the difference? 

But hearts don’t care about differences. Hearts want what they want. And mine just wants to be Dante’s girl. 

My heart just might be crazy

Wow, wow, wow!!!
That was so good, I'm speechless. Dante's Girl was incredibly, amazingly brilliant! I went into this expecting an average contemporary romance, but it was so much better than that.

First, I LOVED the setting. The descriptions were rich and detailed. I really felt like I could see this lush paradise, that I was truly there in Caberra. It was brilliantly done and I have to applaud to author for drawing out such a gorgeous setting.

The characters were all fun, each and every one.
Reece was hilarious. She tended to be accident prone and therefore embarrassed herself a few times. I actually liked that, it made her seem much more real. She constantly dropped sarcastic comments that had me laughing out loud-literally. But she was also smart and kind and caring. She was very likable, a truly lovely character.

Dante was so freaking hot, I don't even know what to do with myself. I so wish he were real, just so that I could have the assurance that guys like him exist. Because not only did he have godly beauty, but he was also kind, smart, caring, and sweeter than sugar. Girls, he will steal your heart within the first 20 pages and have you wrapped around his fingers withing 50. His one fatal flaw is his inability to stand up to people's expectations of him. But he tries for Reece's sake. Seriously, he was so ridiculously perfect that just thinking about him makes me speechless. As you can obviously tell, I ADORED Dante. And it definitely didn't hurt that I already thought Dante was a hot name :)

The other characters were just as great. Mia and Gavin were hilarious. Both were fun characters. Becca, Reece's friend, was less likable. But a solid character nonetheless. Even the antagonists were interesting and well drawn out.

The story was so cute. It was sweet and adorable and just puts a smile on your face. The plot moves swiftly, never dragging. There's a surprise towards the end, when you find out who was behind the various accidents that occur throughout the story. I definitely didn't expect that particular twist. The ending was perfect, just perfect.

As you can see, I loved Dante's Girl. It is officially my favorite contemporary romance. I loved every part of it.


Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Archived (The Archived #1) SNEAK PREVIEW by Victoria Schwab

The Archived (The Archived, #1)

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books. 

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive. 

Being a Keeper isn't just dangerous—it's a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da's death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall. 

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

I LOVED Victoria Schwab's The Near Witch, so when I found out about The Archived, I was definitely interested. And then, lo and behold, a sneak preview showed up as a read now on Netgalley. Needless to say, I grabbed it in an instant.

And it definitely showed a lot of promise. At first, I was a little confused as the world of the book was being set up. Then, things got interesting. When I got to the end of the sample, I wanted to scream. Now, I have to wait until it comes out to find out what happens. Great.

Anyway, the writing is in that same lyrical script as  The Near Witch that makes you feel like your reading a work of art. After reading the first 100 pages, I would love to get my hands on this book.

We'll see how it turns out...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

How to Disgrace a Lady by Bronwyn Scott

How to Disgrace a Lady
Merrick's season of outrageous scandal has taken a challenging turn. Caught in a—far less than usually—compromising situation with Lady Alixe Burke, this so-called gentleman is tasked by her father with making his daughter marriageable!

Lady Alixe, more happy in the library than the ballroom, is most definitely left-on-the-shelf material. He'll never walk away from a wager, but Merrick's expertise extends way beyond society etiquette. Never before entrusted with a woman's modesty, Merrick sets about teaching her everything he know

Wonderful! I loved every bit of it! How to Disgrace a Lady was a sweet romance that any lover of historical romance will enjoy.

Lady Alixe is 26 years old and want to remain a spinster. Unfortunately, things don't go her way. But, despite it all, Alixe remained a lovely character. She held her own against Merrick. She knew when to fight and when to accept her losses. I have to say, she was a fun character. She's very clever and willing to fight for what she wants. She's strong enough not to settle. If there was anything I would have to say against her, it would be that I don't understand how the woman who fought so hard against being forced to marry suddenly decided to meekly accept the marriage her parents arranged for her. I get that it was a plot device, but it didn't fit her characterization. It would have been a lot better if the author had done without the whole engagement.But, otherwise, I really liked Alixe.

Merrick was even more fun. He's charming beyond belief. The charmer got me to smile whenever he was on the page. He's not shallow, however. He's very intelligent. His smarts combined with his charm make him unstoppable in claiming anyone's heart. He's known as a promiscuous lover, but he gives it up once he meets Alixe. I liked that he didn't wallow in denial. Once he found out he was in love with Alixe, he refused to stop fighting for her. It was very sweet and endearing. 

The plot was fairly predictable. That can be a bad thing to some people, but others will appreciate it. For myself, I adored it. The story moves quickly. We get to see sensual romance and gripping suspense. It's not a literary masterpiece but it was sweet, a book that will put a smile on your face.

So, if you like sweet and sensual romance, you'll love How to Disgrace a Lady.


Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Two Wrongs Make a Marriage by Christine Merrill

Two Wrongs Make a Marriage
Lord Kenton is surprisingly happy to be lured to a moonlit gazebo, held at gunpoint by the delectable Cynthia Banester and forced to marry her. The only finger he's had to lift is the one that's caressed the neckline of her dress. She's claimed a title—he's secured a fortune. There are just two problems—he's not the real Lord Kenton, and she's not rich!Bound by their own deceptions, Cynthia and Jack decide to make the best of a bad deal. They may not have two coins to rub together, but consummating their vows proves deliciously satisfying….

I've read a couple of Christine Merrill's books and I've loved each one, so I assumed that I would like Two Wrongs Make a Marriage.
And it didn't disappoint. This book was so good. It hooks you in immediately and doesn't let you go.

I liked the premise of this book. It's a new one. You don't often see the heroine forcing the hero to marry her at gun point. And it was very well done.

I had mixed feeling about Cynthia, and they were my one problem with this book. My first impression of her was good. She was tough enough to use gun force to get what she wanted. But, then it went awry. Cynthia places huge importance in honesty and that's admirable. But she was self-righteous about it, and that bothered me. For example, she gets all angry when she finds out that Lord Kenton isn't really Lord Kenton, but she also lied-she lied about her family's financial state to avoid losing his hand in marriage. Doesn't that seem a little hypocritical. And she gets all stuck up about lying to the antagonist even though it's to get her family's money back. I understand morals, but I don't like it when a person is self-righteous and condescending to those her don't share his or her morals. It really irritates me. And that whole thing caused her to be quite mean to Jack throughout the book, but I didn't think he deserved it. And she looks down on her mother because she used to be an actress. Parts of it were understandable, but not as far as Cynthia took it.

Does that mean I hated her? No. Because, towards the end, she has a change of heart. She becomes more likable. I still didn't go crazy over her character, but it did keep me from disliking her. So, she turned out to be an okay character.

But everything else in this book was wonderful.

Jack was amazing. He was very sweet and hilarious. Despite all his attempts to convince himself otherwise, you can really tell how much he cares about his "father", the Earl of Spayne, and Cynthia. He was utterly charming, and I totally fell for it.

All the other characters were great. Cynthia's mother was interesting. She was always fun to have on the page. Just because the actress left the theater, doesn't mean the theater left her. The Earl of Spayne was surprisingly deep for a secondary character. He has secrets that he's kept from almost everyone, and each one is surprising. He was a nice character. The antagonist De Warde, was thoroughly villainous. I had fun hating his guts.

The plot held several interesting twists. The book literally starts with Cynthia holding a gun at Jack's head, and that level of interest continues right to the end. The ending was perfect. It had a little twist to it. The ending actually managed to surprise me.

Two Wrongs Make a Marriage is excellent. Other than one problem, I loved it. I would recommend it to any lover of historical romance.


Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Auracle by Gina Rosati

16 year old Anna Rogan has a secret she's only shared with her best friend, Rei; she can astrally project out of her body, allowing her spirit to explore the world and the far reaches of the universe.

When there's a fatal accident and her classmate Taylor takes over Anna's body, what was an exhilarating distraction from her repressive home life threatens to become a permanent state. Faced with a future trapped in another dimension, Anna turns to Rei for help. Now the two of them must find a way to get Anna back into her body and stop Taylor from accusing an innocent friend of murder. Together Anna and Rei form a plan but it doesn't take into account the deeper feelings that are beginning to grow between them

So, so amazing!
Auracle was original and a great read.

Anna's ability of astral projection is a new idea in YA. The descriptions of how it's accomplished was done well enough that I could almost believe it's all possible. Anna herself was a lovely character. She was clever and likable, a heroine anyone can like. She makes mistakes, but they serve to make her seem more realistic. Overall, I though she was a worthy lead.

Rei was an absolute sweetheart. While the romance isn't really in your face and focused on, you can still feel the elements of it throughout the book. Rei and Anna's relationship is very sweet. After being close friends for their entire lives, they have just started to see each other differently. The whole realization of a fledgling love and its growth are sweet and lovely. The romance isn't overwhelming, but it's most certainly there. But back to Rei. He's incredibly smart and very clever. He is loyal to his friends and very nearly perfect. I so wish he was real, but I guess I'm going to have to live without him :(

Taylor was actually an interesting antagonist. At first (actually for about 98% of the book) I couldn't stand her. She was terrible, with no redeemable qualities. But, towards the end, a few things are revealed about her character and I started to-reluctantly-sympathize with her. I still didn't particularly like her, but that addition of some depth kept me from hating her entirely.

The story was unique and fast-paced. The plot moved quickly and never dragged. The story itself was interesting and kept me glued to the book. The ending was perfectly resolved. I'm really glad that I found a nice stand-alone (assuming this doesn't suddenly turn into a series) when there are so many series out now.

Auracle was so good;I adored it!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Lost Prince (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten, #1) by Julie Kagawa

The Lost Prince (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten, #1)
Don't look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase's unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he's dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister's world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myths and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

My wait for The Lost Prince was cut short! I swear, when my request was approved on Netgalley, I barely kept myself from squealing like a fangirl.
And, yes, it was worth all the hype and the agony of waiting, a fantastic addition to the world of the fey (which, btw, I was endlessly happy about diving back into)

First of all, Ethan. I adored that little boy in the first Iron Fey series and now he's all grown up :) Is it weird that I kind of feel like a proud mother? Anyhow, he's definitely all grown up and his life hasn't been easy. He has a huge chip in his shoulder. He's been fighting off fey for the last decade and they've still cost him loads of trouble. Add to that he resents Meghan for leaving and hates Ash for taking her back to faery, and you've got one troubled teenage boy. He tends to lash out and uses the mask of being a jerk to keep people away. But, beneath all that, that sweet boy still exists. Ethan is strong, determined, and brave with a soft-side that will melt your heart. Truly, he's grown to be an excellent character.

There is a new main group, obviously, and the others are Kierran (the Iron prince), Annwyl (Kierran's sweetheart), and Kenzie (Ethan's love interest).

I had a lot of fun reading about Kierran. He is a lot like his parents. He goes on crazy dangerous missions with little to no thought of his safety. When he gets angry, a chill goes through the air. He loves a girl from another court. Sound familiar? But, of course, there is more to him than that. Kierran can actually use all three glamours-iron, summer, and winter. I think this is why he figures in the prophecy we'll see in  Iron's Prophecy. He has the power of all three courts. Of course, I read The Lost Prince before reading Iron's Prophecy so I'm just guessing (though I'm pretty sure I'm right). I feel like the prophecy will shed some light on the situation, so, for those who have to wait until October 23, you'll have more information about the plot going into it than I did.

Anyway, I digress. Kierran was wonderful. His sarcastic comments were always a good laugh and his protectiveness over Annwyl was endearing. When he meets Ethan, it's a little weird for both of them, but they manage to get along. I adored Kierran.

Annwyl was shown briefly in the Iron Knight, if anyone remembers that. It was during Ash's look into one of his possible futures. She's a sweet girl. Her and Kierran's love remind me of a certain other couple in its devotion. Annwyl is banished from the summer court and is living with our Dark Muse. Kierran visits when he can. I wonder how their relationship will be resolved...

Kenzie was the new main girl. I have to say, at first I was a little wary of her. I'm protective about my Iron Fey (weird as that sounds) and she felt like an intruder. But, after a while, I started warming up to her. She proved herself to be brave and clever. All my reservations about her vanished when we find out something about her. After learning her secret, it made a lot more sense why she was so determined to join with Ethan. By the end of the book, I was fond of her.

Of course, our old group makes a few cameos. Whenever that happened, I started smiling like crazy and barely contained myself from fangirling (note: I don't fangirl. Ever.) Meghan and Ash are there, still in love and still the same as they were when we left them. Puck was there with his sarcastic comments and his bickering with Ash. Grim was there, still guiding, still just as we remember him. It was fun to see them again. The thing is, I think some people are going into this to see more of our old group. As much fun as it was to see them again, it's not their story anymore. Of course, they're part of it. But the torch has passed on to a new generation. I think everyone should realize that before reading The Lost Prince.

The conflict in The Lost Prince is ingenious. You get a hint of it in The Iron Knight. I don't want to say it, because I think it would ruin the suspense of the beginning, while they still don't know what's going on. However, if you look back at The Iron Knight and look at the name of the new series, I think you'll be able to figure it out on your own.

The plot was as brilliant as the old Iron Fey books. It moves quickly, holds a few twists and turns, and leaves off with you wanting more. At the end, I was a little in shock. I am so curious to find out what happens next. I can already tell that the wait is going to be agony.
I wonder how long this series is going to be. Does anyone know how long it's planned to be?

The Lost Prince was the epitome of brilliant, just as good as the previous series. If you liked the old series, you'll like the new just as much.

Pure perfection: 5/5

Thanks to Netgalley and HarlequinTEEN for a copy!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Covet (The Clann #2) by Melissa Darnell

Covet (The Clann, #2)
Dangerous to be together. Painful to be apart.Savannah Colbert knows she broke up with Tristan Coleman for the right reasons. Most of all, to keep from killing him with her new vampire abilities. But try telling her heart. Now, lost in a sea of hostile Clann faces, Sav tries to come to terms with what she's becoming and what that means for her future. And that someone is doing their best to bully her into making a terrible mistake.

Tristan can't believe Sav won't even talk to him. If being apart is her decision, fine. Just don't expect him to honor it. But even as he prepares to fight for the girl he loves, forces beyond their control take them both in directions neither could have foreseen or prepared for.

A reckoning is coming …and not everyone will survive

Wow, just wow.
Covet was phenomenal, even better than the first!

Covet was full of heartache. For about 99% of the story, both characters were heartbroken and the feeling permeated throughout the book. And I could really feel all that emotion. I'm not usually a crier, but Covet had me on the verge of tears a few times. At the beginning, Savannah breaks up with Tristan and she forces herself to stay away. Tristan, however, was more stubborn. He kept trying to find ways for them to be together. But, obviously, things weren't that simple. For one thing, they were both watched like hawks with both the council and the Clann. I thought I wouldn't like that the couple was separated, but I did. Just because they were apart, didn't mean the elements of romance weren't there. They thought about each other most of the time. And their separation allowed each of them to grow individually. 

Savannah was incredible in Covet. I think she is the one who had the most character growth. She develops completely into a vampire, with blood lust, beauty, and all. But she also starts cultivating her witch side. She's extremely powerful, which was exactly what everyone was afraid of. She was also remarkably strong throughout the book. She had to deal with avoiding the love of her life and current circumstances didn't help. Tensions were brewing between the witches and vampires and she often dealt with the backlash with the descendants. After reading Covet, Savannah has elevated herself to one of my favorite heroines.

Tristan went through a lot of growth as well. He stubbornly refused to admit defeat and call it quits with Savannah, looking for ways for them to be together until he exhausted all possibilities. With the tension boiling between species, he had to contain the most violent reactions from the witches. He was as sweet and adorable as ever, but he also showed a lot of strength. He showed himself to be a worthy hero.

The other characters went through some growth, as well. Anne has to come to terms with Savannah's new life. We find out why Dylan acts the way he does, and,  I have to say, he got my sympathy-even though it was reluctantly given. Savannah's dad came up much more (she lives with him in this book) and we get to see the more human side of the vampire.
And we get introduced to a new species! Though this species doesn't come up too much in Covet, I think they will be much more important in the next book, Consume, after what happened at the end.

Ah, the ending. During the last chapter, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. And when the book ended the way it did, I wanted to scream. Oh my goodness, I honestly don't know what to say after that ending. So much happens and so much changes within that ending, I still don't know exactly what to feel about it. And the cliffhanger. Ugh, I need to find out what happens next. But consume won't come out until 2013...oh, well.  I guess I might be able to muster up some patience (though probably not).

The pacing of Covet was much the same as the first book. It takes place over several months. The pace is steady and deliberate before we go into the breakneck speed of that epic ending.

Covet was wonderful, marvelous, fantastic, and any other synonym of the words. I loved it!


Thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin Teen for a copy! 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Outrageous Confessions of Lady Deborah by Marguerite Kaye

Outrageous Confessions of Lady Deborah
Just who is Lady Deborah?I am the Dowager Countess of Kinsail, and I have enough secrets to scandalize you for life.

I will never reveal the truth of my soul-destroying marriage—some things are too dark to be told. But at least no one can guess that I, a famously icy-hearted widow, am also the authoress of the shamelessly voluptuous romances currently shocking the ton!
Only now I have a new secret identity, one that I will risk my life to keep—accomplice to Elliot Marchmont, gentleman, ex-soldier and notorious London thief. This adventurer's expert touch ignites in me a passion so intoxicating that surviving our blistering affair unscathed will be near impossible

Outrageous Confessions of Lady Deborah was a wonderful book, simply amazing. The romance, high stakes, and shocking secrets kept me on the edge of my seat.

The story of this book was very original. I haven't seen anything like it before. And that definitely turned out for the better. 

Lady Deborah was a unique character in the world of romance. To say she is shocking would be an understatement. She writes steamy, erotic books and jumps at the chance to be an accomplice to a notorious thief as soon as she meets Elliot. That made her really fun to read about. But she was more than that. Her marriage was a disaster, an absolute train wreck. It caused her a lot of pain, shame, and humiliation. Not to mention the emotional scars it left behind. That was probably my favorite part of the story, the depth of the emotion as Lady Deborah tries to heal from her previous marriage. This causes her to make some really stupid decisions, but I couldn't fault her for it, not when her emotional state was so clearly described. Despite all her baggage, she is brave and strong in trying to move on. Really one of the best romance heroines I've seen.

Elliot...oh Elliot. He was phenomenal. I adored him. He's an ex-soldier and has a chip in his shoulder from his time in the army. He resents all the gentlemen in higher ranks who controlled supplies to the army and failed to send enough. His incarnation as the Peacock-a notorious thief-is his way of revenge. That gave his as much emotional depth as Deborah had. But, of course, he was more than that. He is so sweet to Deborah, and helps her in healing from her marriage. I absolutely fell in love with him. Their relationship was a whirlwind, with Deborah wary and Elliot persistent in his attentions. Elliot was a brilliant hero. If only he actually existed :(

The story moved quickly. During the thefts that Deborah and Elliot did together, I was on the edge of my seat, the suspense nearly killing me. The ending was sweet, a perfect ending for the book.

Loved this book. If you like a combination of romance, secrets, and suspense, you'll love this book.


Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

When the Duke Found Love (Wylder Sisters #3) by Isabella Bradford

When the Duke Found Love (Wylder Sisters, #3)
The spirited Wylder sisters continue to scandalize the ton in Isabella Bradford’s witty and winsome trilogy. This time, the most impulsive of the siblings meets her match: a charming rake determined to save her from an arranged marriage.
The youngest of the Wylder girls—and the last left unwed—Lady Diana is also the most willful, a trait that’s leading her ever closer to dishonorable disaster. While her family’s solution is a fast and excruciatingly respectable marriage, Diana can’t imagine being wed to the very staid and dull Lord Crump. But while wedding plans are being made, a chance meeting at a gala turns Diana’s world upside down.
A kiss from a dazzling stranger gives Diana a most intimate introduction to one of the ton’s most resolute and scandalous bachelors, the Duke of Sheffield. Torn between family duty and her heart’s desire, Diana recklessly surrenders to the headiest of passions, recognizing that she has found a kindred soul in the handsome young duke. Soon it’s clear that seduction is no longer the game: Something deep and lasting has come to bind their hearts, and the stakes are nothing less than true love

I had really hoped to like this book, I really did. But, unfortunately, it didn't live up to expectations.

Let me start by saying what I did like.
I loved how richly detailed the setting was and I loved the writing itself.
And I ADORED Sheffield. He was what really saved the book for me, the only thing that kept me from completely disliking it. He was so sweet and charming and just perfect. Once he realized that he was in love, he stopped at nothing to win Diana's heart. He was undoubtedly the best part of the book.

Now to the bad. It was really two things: the plot and Diana.
Diana was not what I expected. From the characterization, I thought she would be wild, lively, impulsive, and full of life. What I got was a meek lady who decided duty should come before love. This first came about when she accepted the hand of her suitor, Lord Crump. No one even forced her to do it, her family just wanted her to give him a chance. She was the one who decided to act like a martyr and accept his hand. You would think she would have fought even the thought of being engaged to someone she didn't know and later had  nothing in common with. But she just meekly accepted him. And then, despite Sheffield's insistence that she should marry him instead, she continues to meekly accept the engagement THEN AGREE TO MOVE UP THE WEDDING DATE. Do you sense a pattern. She was meek, spineless, cowardly, and wimp. 

Here I was thinking she would be a heroine full of life and she was just dull. First, that didn't fit the characterization. That was not the way she was described; her actions didn't fit her character. And second, her spinelessness made me dislike her. I like my leading ladies with some fire. Diana showed none. Until the last few pages when she suddenly comes to her senses. That last-minute return to sanity is what saved me from hating her outright. I just couldn't like her. I could understand why she wanted to do her duty, but I didn't think that involved dousing all of her fire and becoming a wimp. Forgive me if I sound like I was ranting. It was just really disappointing for me to start the book and realize that the heroine was the opposite of what I expected. I tried my best to like her, but I couldn't.

The problem with the plot was a result of Diana. It tended to drag. She spent 95% of the book acting like a wimp, so there wasn't really a move in the plot. It dragged from about a couple of chapters in to right before the end, with only a few moments of life in between. And those few moments were only because Sheffield was there, bringing some life and fun into Diana's depressing mindset. At the end, however, I must say that despite the couple finally coming together, I felt bad for Lord Crump. He was nice, really just a pawn in the story. I felt sorry for him. I don't think there will be any further books because all three sisters are called for, so I guess that loose end won't be tied.

I didn't hate When the Duke Found Love. But I didn't like it either. It was just okay. The problems I mentioned were too much for me to really like this book.

So, unfortunately, 2/5

Thanks to Netgalley for a copy.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Thing About the Truth by Lauren Barnholdt

The Thing About the Truth
In this humorous love story from the author of Two-Way Street, an unlikely romance is the best sort of surprise—but the wrong secret can ruin everything. Kelsey’s not going to let one mistake ruin her life. Sure, she got kicked out of prep school and all her old friends are shutting her out. But Kelsey’s focused on her future, and she’s determined to get back on track at Concordia High.

Isaac’s been kicked out of more schools than he can count. Since his father’s a state senator, Isaac’s life is under constant scrutiny—but Concordia High’s his last stop before boarding school, so Isaac’s hoping to fly under the radar and try to stay put for a change.

When Kelsey and Isaac meet, it’s anything but love at first sight. She thinks he’s an entitled brat, and he thinks she’s a stuck-up snob. So it surprises them both when they start to fall for each other. Kelsey’s happy for the first time in months, and Isaac’s never felt this way about anyone before...But nothing’s ever completely perfect. Everyone has secrets, and Isaac and Kelsey are no exceptions. These two may have fallen hard, but there’s one thing that can ruin it all: the truth.

Another brilliant book from Ms. Barnholdt...loved it!
I think I've read every one of this author's YA and I've loved them all. And The Thing About the Truth is my favorite yet.

The relationship between Kelsey and Isaac was adorable. They were very cute together. They didn't exactly get along right away. They assumed things about the other, and that led to them disliking each other. But, obviously, they work it out in time and then starts the relationship and the whole "thing about the truth."

Kelsey is my favorite of the leads from Barnholdt's books. I was a little frustrated with her in the beginning, when she automatically book a negative label on Isaac and refused to see any evidence of the contrary. But, after she got over that hiccup, she was a great character. I thought her lying would bother me, but it didn't. I understood why she would want to forget the thing she lies about. And that leads into the whole area where the book focuses. The lie itself wasn't the important part. It's more about the morality of lying to someone you love and how that affects your relationship. I think that whole idea was played out really well.

Isaac was another wonderful character. He chafes at having to keep up a good image for his dad's career as senator, but, this time, he's decided to actually try to stay in school. He was very sweet. Despite the rocky beginning to their relationship, Isaac is the one who is persistent in seeking out Kelsey until she finally sees that he's not a brat. And after, he is the most perfect boyfriend you could ever wish to have. I adored him.

The story goes back and forth between the past and the present. It was well done, never getting confusing. The plot moved fast and the ending was another happily ever after for our lovely couple.

Loved this book!


Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Devil's Thief by Samantha Kane

The Devil's Thief: A Loveswept Historical Romance
In Samantha Kane’s sensual tale of wicked passion, a desperate woman must resort to burglary—but the beautiful thief ends up stealing the heart of a rogue.

The daughter of a reformed jewel thief, Julianna Harte knows a thing or two about stealth. When the foundling home she provides for finds itself in dire financial straits, Julianna is forced to do the unthinkable. In a bit of misguided Robin Hood derring-do, she slips through the window of a wealthy rake to search for a treasure she knows is there: an invaluable pearl. But when the towering and very naked occupant of the moonlit bedroom ambushes her with a bargain—a night in his bed in exchange for the pearl—Julianna doesn’t know if it’s masculine heat or sheer desperation that makes his terms so tempting.

Alasdair Sharpe had no intention of keeping his end of the bargain. Planning to offer his little cat burglar carte blanche instead, he promptly loses himself in the delights of unexpected pleasure. But when he awakes the next morning to find his family heirloom gone, fury quickly replaces sensual languor. Of course, Alasdair is more than willing to use seduction to reclaim his stolen pearl—and find the key to Julianna’s heart.

The Devil's Thief was, hands down, one of the best romances I've ever read. There is romance, suspense, surprises, anything you could ask for in a historical romance. And I just devoured it.

First of all, I really liked the idea. It's a new one, one I haven't seen before. A lady stealing from a handsome gentleman for the sake of her orphanage and getting caught? It already sounds like a winner.

My favorite part, however, was the characters. They were all brilliant. 
Juilianna is not your average lady. She cares for the children in her orphanage and will do whatever it takes to take care of them. Even if it means stealing an invaluable pearl. However, she feels bad about stealing the pearl later, once she and Alasdair have fallen for each other. So, about halfway through, the story is focused on getting the pearl back. And Julianna is just as brave, if a little reckless, in getting it back as she was in stealing it. She was a lovely character. One that I could really like. 

Alasdair was wonderful; I adored him. He places a lot of value in the pearl, a family heirloom from his mother's side. So when it gets stolen, he's understandably angry. But, right away, there was a blur in which he wanted more, the pearl or Julianna. When he started looking for his pearl, he was already more focused on Julianna than his heirloom. He was so sweet and protective of her, the perfect hero for the story. Their relationship was explosive. Right away, there are sparks flying and they don't let up. And it doesn't take long for him to see his real treasure. And on that cryptic note, I will move on to the other characters. 

I loved every one of them. Roger, Wiley, Hil, even the Earl (Alasdair's cousin). Roger, Alasdair's friend, was hilarious. His comments made me laugh out loud-literally. Hil, another friend, was lovely in a different way. He was more staid and serious, but he doesn't hesitate to move into action when one of his friends need help. Wiley was amazing. He's the leader of a street gang and, at only seventeen, has two young boys in Julianna's orphanage. He helps her with the pearl business, from selling it, to retrieving it. He was totally awesome and hilarious at times. I even liked Julianna's father and step-mother. They were nice and had their shining moments. Every character was dynamic, even the antagonists. 

The plot moved quickly. It starts immediately, with the first sentence and moves fast from there. The story kept me hooked from beginning to end.

The Devil's Thief is brilliant, one of my favorite romances to date.


Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Scandal's Mistress by Bronwyn Stuart

Scandal's Mistress
London, 1805
Justin Trentham, third son of the Earl of Billington, is determined to get himself disowned from his cold and unloving family. Despite his numerous affairs with questionable women of the ton, his parents continue to be dismissive of his ploys, but Justin spots the perfect scandal in the form of a beautiful, exotic Italian opera singer...
Carmalina Belluccini refuses to become his mistress, despite being tempted by his charms. But after losing her singing voice, she finds herself destitute. She agrees to be Justin's mistress for one month, until she has enough money to return to her beloved Italy.
She intends to keep their arrangement strictly business, but after witnessing Justin's vulnerable side, she finds herself falling more in love than in lust with him. Carmalina is having second thoughts about leaving England...but is their love strong enough to survive the scandal of the season?

Scandal's Mistress was a brilliant book. Everything about it, from the characters, to the plot, was perfection.
The idea of a deal that involves the lady to become temporary mistress to a gentleman isn't new, but the author does her own spin that makes this book unique. 
Carmalina was a strong character. I liked that she held on to her morals, even when she was a singer. She has done her best to remain independent, but, after losing her voice, her options become limited. But she doesn't let that get her down. No, instead she marches to Justin's house and accepts the position of his mistress. And things really start from there. I really liked how loyal she was to Justin after getting to know him. She even slaps his mother after the witch said some awful things about him. In the face of all the scandal, she stands by Justin and turns her chin up. She was wonderful, a really good character.
Justin was a complicated character. Sometimes he could be so blind and oblivious that I just wanted to shake some sense into him. But then he would do something sweet and I fell in love with him again. He doesn't have the greatest past. His family either ignored him or was outright mean to him, so he's been trying his best to distance himself from them. That is, of course, what started the whole affair. But after a few blind moments, he finally realizes his love for Carmalina and from then, he's just the sweetest. I adored him, blind moments and all.
The other character were well done. From Justin's parents, to his uncle, all were dynamic. Justin's parents were awful people. There is really no redeeming quality to them and I was glad when they got their set down. Justin's uncle was a little more complicated. He was kind of the voice of reason throughout the book. His ending was...unexpected. I really want to say more on that, but I don't want to give the plot away.
The plot was fast, no dull moments. There's a twist at the end that I didn't see coming, and what a twist it was. The ending was perfect. A happily ever after for the two beloved characters.
Scandal's Mistress was wonderful, a perfect romance.
Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!