Kiss of Steel, by Bec McMaster

23 Jul

KissOfSteelIt’s TBR Challenge time again, and I’m late (like, three months and change late, but who’s counting, right?). July’s theme is “Award Winner or Nominee,” but after last year’s Nazi ‘hero’ dêbacle, I just couldn’t look for a Rita book this year.

On top of which, I’m still struggling to read new stuff.

However, I had read “Tarnished Knight,” the novella that follows this story,  sometime ago, and liked it quite a bit; and Steampunk hits all my “I wanna read it right NOW!” buttons.

So when I saw that I had this in the digital TBR of doom, bought sometime ago (probably during one of those 99¢ deals), of course I had to try it.

Kiss of Steel, by Bec McMaster

Let me begin by saying that I like how Ms McMaster introduces the reader to her world–I love it when authors credit readers with enough smarts to deduce things, instead of explaining everything at the first opportunity. Here, the author lets the characters show us her world, bit by bit, in a very organic way.

Our heroine, Honoria, is a gently reared lady whose circumstances have been drastically, and irrevocably, changed. Six months before the novel starts, her father was murdered, leaving her in charge of her younger sister, Lena, and her much younger brother, Charlie. He also entrusted a number of diaries, containing important information that must be both preserved and hidden, to her keeping. Hiding from the authorities, and other, more sinister interests, the small, nigh destitute family struggles to survive–and hide–in the rookeries of London.

Where Blade rules with an iron and merciless hand. For fifty years, he has kept the aristocracy at bay, biding his time to exact revenge on the creature who made him. And Honoria just may give him the means to do so.

Here, have a blurb:
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Misogyny, domestic violence, mass murder.

22 Jul

(Originally posted to the Community section of MyMedia–added footnote)

(My apologies for the lack of commentary for this link–not up to it, for many reasons¹)

On the relationship between misogyny, domestic violence, and mass murder:

“1 in 4 women expected to be a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in her lifetime.”

“We raise our boys with an acceptance that violence will be part of their behaviors (’boys will be boys’), while teaching them to repress all feelings except for anger (’boys don’t cry’), in a society which objectifies girls and women,” she explained. “While problematic in and of itself (’patriarchy hurts men too’), we see that abusers overwhelming come from abusive background, and thus only replicate patterns they have learned during their childhoods, patterns which, while criminal, are ultimately reinforced in a number of ways in a masculine culture of violence.”

Source.
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Language again: inclusion v erasure

19 Jul

(Please see update at end of post)

I often harp on language usage, and I’m often irked when authors use it thoughtlessly.¹

This post by Alexis Hall expands on a couple of reasons why we all should think a bit more about how we express ourselves:

And for that matter, LGBTQ+ has issues as a term because it implies the inclusion of groups of people who are often, in reality, excluded by the mainstream LGBTQ+ community. And, bringing this back to publishing, it’s especially problematic in romance because very often LGBTQ+ is used to basically mean m/m. And part of me says that the use of inclusive language is a necessary precursor to genuine inclusion, but part of me says that it can be used as a smokescreen to disguise to absence of that inclusion. And my poor word choice at the RITAs is a good example of this. I instinctively used the more general term and, in so doing, betrayed my own failure to recognise the achievement of a writer of non-m/m LGBTQ+ romance.

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The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, by Jennifer Ashley

18 Jul

TheMadnessofLordIanMackenzieI’m still firmly in the land of re-reads–which will not shrink my TBR Mountain range any, but at least means I’m back to reading. And you, gentle readers, get treated to more reviews of older books. You poor things erm…lucky people you.

I first heard about this book from the lovely KristieJ, many, many moons ago, right around it was released. Unfortunately, at the time I had a very long list of ARCs and other review commitments, so I just made a note to read it soon.

Things happened, and it turned out that I read the second book in the series, Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage, first, sometime after it had come out.

In fact, if memory serves for anything, I think I also read the next one, The Many Sins of Lord Cameron, before I finally got my hands on Lord Ian.

When I finally did, however, I loved it as much as KristieJ promised I would; so much, that I own two paper copies (one will eventually my sister’s), and I just got the digital version when it was on sale a few days ago.

Of course, I immediately ‘paged’ through it, and a couple of hours later, when my phone battery died, I realized I was engaged in a full re-read. And so, here we are.

The usual disclaimer: explicit sex, explicit language, and a bit of violence. This novel has a hero in the autism spectrum, most likly Asperger’s; it is the first such hero in genre romance I’ve ever read, and I am not familiar enough with autism to vouch for the accuracy or sensitivity of the portrayal. Proceed with caution.

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, by Jennifer Ashley

The novel is set in 1881, well into the Victorian era, where many things were changing in Britain; from the political climate to technology, this was a period of social tension. Everything is in flux.

Our hero, the eponymous Lord Ian, is the youngest of four brothers with very tarnished reputations. The family is quite high socially–dukedoms do that–and they have a lot of money, individually and as a family–thanks in large part to Ian’s affinity for numbers, perfect recall, and instinctive understanding of finances.

Our heroine, Mrs Beth Ackerley, is the widow of a vicar from a rough part of London, lately the companion of a wealthy gentlewoman of little consequence, who willed her fortune to Beth.

Here’s the blurb:
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Dreaming of You, by Lisa Kleypas

16 Jul

DreamingOfYouI’m back with another historical romance from Lisa Kleypas–and not just any one of them.

For a rather large number of romance readers, Derek Craven, the hero of Dreaming of You, is up there with Mr Darcy, as far as favorite romantic heroes go. Ergo, the book shows up often on “top 100” romance lists.

I, however, came late to Ms Kleypas’ books; this book had been out ten years, if not twelve, when I finally read it, and I had read a lot of romance during that time (including a number of Ms Kleypas’ later novels) so my opinion has always been…a tad less enthusiastic than the norm, shall we say.

As usual, reader beware: there’s explicit sex and cursing on the page.

Dreaming of You, by Lisa Kleypas

This is the second book in a duology; Derek Craven, our hero, was introduced as a rather important, and quite intriguing, secondary character in Then Came You, published a year earlier.

Our heroine, Miss Sara Fielding, is a little country mouse who just happens to be a well known novelist, and who is visiting London to research her next opus. And let me tell you, this background for the heroine creates all sorts of problems for me.

Here’s the (as always hated) blurb from my copy:
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“The Warlord Wants Forever” by Kresley Cole

14 Jul

TheWarlordWantsForeverI’m still bouncing between the Immortals After Dark series, and other, semi-random re-reads.

So here I am, with a review of the novella that set up the IAD universe.

A couple of things to know: there’s a lot of explicit, graphic sex for the page count; both main characters are total dicks towards each other, though the male protagonist’s behaviour toward his mate may be especially triggering for some readers (explained in the review, so…here be mild spoilers?).

Oh, and there’s cursing. Proceed at your own risk.

Also, please note: I’m using the original digital release cover.

This novella was originally released in print, a full decade ago, as part of the Playing Easy to Get anthology, with two other stories; one was Sherrilyn Kenyon’s “Turn up the Heat.” The other was a story by Jaid-I-hate-romance-readers-and-will-sue-blogs-and-their-owners-Black, aka Tina-I-married-a-convicted-murderer-and-harasssed-his-victim’s-daughter-Engler.

If you have read this blog before, you already know how I feel about any of my hard earned money making its way to that asshole’s pockets. If you have not, you may start here, and lose a few hours of your life finding out why. The point being: if you must read the anthology, you may want to buy it used, so the aforementioned asshole gets no royalty money from your purchase. Otherwise, this story is available by itself digitally pretty much everywhere ebooks are sold.

All good? Okay, let’s start.

“The Warlord Wants Forever” by Kresley Cole

The protagonists are Myst, a two thousand plus years old Valkyrie, and Nikolai Wroth, a three hundred years old Forbearer Vampire.

If memory serves, I read this story fairly recently, and only after it was released digitally. At any rate, I had already read at least the first two, perhaps even the first three of the IAD full length novels. Obviously, at this point I knew quite a bit about the series’ world, but I think that this story does a really good job of introducing the series and providing background for the characters’ actions and thoughts, while avoiding infodumping all over the place.

As I don’t have the print edition, I don’t know if there was some sort of story-specific blurb somewhere, but here’s one from Fantastic Fiction:¹
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Where Dreams Begin, by Lisa Kleypas

12 Jul

WhereDreamsBeginI am feeling very frustrated about my reading right now; even though I’m enjoying the Immortals After Dark quite a bit, I’m having trouble concentrating on any one thing. *cue frustrated scream*

So when someone mentioned this title, I realized that I had not re-read it in a good long while, despite the fact that I like it quite a bit. In fact, I really like many of Ms Kleypas’ historical romances, but I’ve only reviewed two of her books. Which just makes no sense, so here we are.

Reader beware: there is sex on the page.

Where Dreams Begin, by Lisa Kleypas

This is that rare beast, a fully stand alone novel. It also has a widowed heroine who not only loved her husband, but was sexually satisfied by him–this is even rarer in romance. She’s also a lady, a member of the ton, long on manners and pedigree, short on cash. The hero is one of those trade magnates, a nouveau riche who wants to purchase respectability, and acceptance in society, through his fortune. Hijinks, inevitably, ensue.

Here’s the (inaccurate as always) blurb from my paperback copy:
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