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An Unseen Attraction, by K.J. Charles

21 Jun

I’m cheating just a teensy bit by choosing this a my TBR Challenge review of the month. But hey, the novel was in the digital TBR Cordillera of Doom, so it counts.

While I enjoy Ms Charles’ online presence immensely,¹ and despite having at least three other of her books in the TBR Cordillera of Doom, I had not yet read any of her fiction. Then, our Queen Librarian of the Universe, Wendy the SuperLibrarian, reviewed this book recently, and I was most intrigued.

As it often happens, I discovered that I had already purchased it a few weeks before, and, since I had not only read a whole new-to-me book that week, but actually wrote a semi-decent review, I decided to dive right in.

And yay, I really liked it!

Reader, beware: there’s explicit sex and adult language; there are also references to sexual abuse of a character who is not in the story.

An Unseen Attraction, by K. J. Charles

This is the first book in the Sins of the Cities trilogy, set in Victorian London in 1873. There’s fog. Serious fog.²

Clem manages a lodging-house for skilled artisans in a very diverse neighborhood in London. Rowley, one of his lodgers, is a taxidermist, called a preserver (or stuffer) at the time.

And there they are, two gents going about their business as normal, until things…change.

Here’s the blurb from the author’s site:

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Dukes Prefer Blondes, by Loretta Chase

14 Jun

Recently the lovely Keira reviewed this novel at Cogitations and Meditations, and after reading her wonderful review, I just had to look it up, with a view to checking the price, perhaps snag it.

Turns out, I already owned it.

I am not exactly sure how long this book has been on my digital TBR pile (frankly, I’m a little afraid to look too closely at these things), but, probably from the first time it was offered at a reduced price.

Long story a bit shorter, this meant I could start reading it on the spot, without budget guilt.

Reader, beware: while there’s very little explicit language, the bedroom door is open.

Dukes Prefer Blondes, by Loretta Chase

I didn’t realize it until I was already a few pages in, but this novel is connected to Ms Chase’s Dressmakers trilogy¹. The heroine, Lady Clara Fairfax, is an important secondary character in the first two books.

Our hero, brilliant barrister Oliver ‘Raven’ Radford, may be not-so-distantly related to a duke, but he’s not what one would call a great catch for the daughter of a Marquess.

Or, perhaps, that’s exactly what he is.

Here’s the blurb, from the author’s site:
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The Hating Game, by Sally Thorne

28 May

…or how I DNFed a book most everyone else seemed to love.

The Hating Game, by Sally Thorne

For months, I heard everyone and their pet poodle praise this book, so I snagged it at some point when it was on sale.

I don’t know how it was that I didn’t realize it’s written in first person present tense–which I do not like. As far as I’m concerned, first person is incredibly difficult to do well, and present tense can be gimmicky. I have enjoyed first person present tense before (Ann Aguirre’s Grimspace books, for example), but it’s very rare.

One of the reasons first person is tricky is that it’s harder to read for the other characters, when you don’t connect with the main character.

I also didn’t realize this is the author’s debut until I looked up the blurb; the writing does not read like a first effort.

The first few pages are smooth and engaging, and I felt myself being pulled into the story. Among the pulls is the fact that the story is set is the offices of two ailing publishing houses merged into one, still failing, company.

Blurb:
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Catify to Satisfy, by Jackson Galaxy and Kate Benjamin

18 May

This review is for our very own, awesome, Queen Librarian of the Universe, SuperWendy’s TBR Challenge.

The theme for this month is Something Different, and boy, oh boy, this is different.

How different? Well, it’s somewhere between interior design and self-help, neither of which I ever read.

(Spoiler: if you enjoy either of these types of books, or the show, you’ll probably want to skip this review)

Catify to Satisfy, by Jackson Galaxy and Kate Benjamin

A dude at work often gets print ARCs directly from publishers, and every so often he goes around the office, handing them over to people according to what he knows of their interests. This is…a very hit and miss way of giving books away.

Because I rescued two kittens. back in the fall of 2015, he just knew I would love this book, and so he handed it to me, with an admonition to let him know my thoughts.

Seventeen months later…::crickets::

But where are my manners? Here, allow me to introduce you to our characters, via the blurb:
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The Girl Who Knew Too Much, by Amanda Quick

9 May

thegirlwhoknewtoomuch

I received an ARC for this novel sometime in late 2016, and it was one of only two new books I read in the months following my mother’s death.

Although I have not yet written any reviews for them, I own and love all of Ms Quick’s early historical novels (Surrender, Mystique, Ravished, etc). In later years, I had given up on her books, after growing a bit fatigued by some writing tics, and frankly tired of the Arcane Society novels.¹

However, the cover caught my eye, and the blurb makes it clear this novel is not part of a series. Best of all, it’s set in California in the 1930s!

Warning: there are a couple of murders, though not much gore; there’s adult language, and sex on the page. If any of these bother you, avoid this one.

The Girl Who Knew Too Much, by Amanda Quick

I liked many things about this novel, starting with how well the setting is rendered. I felt immersed in the period without awkward lectures or info-dumping. Both of the main characters are complex and three dimensional, and their world is populated by three dimensional, complex people.

The suspense thread is a lot more layered than the blurb would make one think, and the story is told from several characters’ point of view, which allows the reader to believe she knows more than our hero and heroine.
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Murder on the Last Frontier, by Cathy Pegau

16 Feb

Some time ago, the inestimable Miss Bates talked about this novel. I made a mental note that it sounded very interesting, so when the opportunity presented itself, in the form of a sale, I snagged it.

Then it languished in the TBR Cordillera of Doom for months, until I realized it fit the theme for SLWendy’s TBR Challenge for February, as I had not read anything by Ms Pegau yet.

I have only one warning for this book: it is not, strictly speaking, genre romance. There is no HEA, or even HFN. It is, however, a well written historical mystery, with romance elements.

Murder on the Last Frontier, by Cathy Pegau

Two things this novel has going for it from the get go: it’s set in the Alaska Territory during the Prohibition, and the heroine is a journalist and suffragette in her mid-twenties.

Charlotte Brody may be single, but she’s not an innocent, cossetted, naÏve little thing–which is crucial to me given what she does. But I’m getting ahead of myself. This is the first in a series (three titles currently out).

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Mr Perfect, by Linda Howard

16 Jan

mrperfectlindahowardAs I have been struggling to read new stuff, even by authors I love (Hold Me, by Courtney Milan, and Eidolon, by Grace Draven, languish still in the digital TBR, to name but two), I’ve indulged in some re-reading of old favorites, in the hope this will kick-start my reading mojo.

I have said often that I am a fan of Ms Howard‘s work,¹ so going back to a novel that I remembered loving to pieces was an easy decision to make. Snappy dialogue, female friendships, off-the-charts sexual tension, funny-as-hell heroine, what’s not to love?

Well…

A lot, actually.

This is one of those times when I realize how truly privileged I am when it comes to what I can shrug off: there is some seriously problematic stuff in this book. It was written close to twenty years ago (published in hardcover in 2000), and it really shows its age in its representation of gender dysphoria. If you identify as transgender/gender fluid/gender questioning, you don’t want to read this novel. I will spoil the hell out of this below, but even that may be triggering, so: take care of yourselves, please.

Other reader warnings: there’s violence on the page, explicit sexual content, and adult language. There are also references to mental, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of a child.

Mr. Perfect, by Linda Howard

Okay, without further ado, because this is going to be rather long, even for me, here’s the blurb from my hardcover copy:
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