Tag Archives: 2010s

Death Among the Doilies, by Mollie Cox Bryan

12 Jan

deathamongthedoiliesBack in August of last year, driven by sheer desperation at not having been able to read pretty much anything for months on end, I requested a bunch of ARCs for mysteries, in the hopes that tweaking my reading a bit would help me overcome the horrible, terrible, no good reading slump from hell.

Like so many good plans, it was derailed by life.

Then, in mid-December, I pulled it up on my phone and started it. Almost a month later, and barely 18% in, I’m throwing in the towel. This is the first book by Ms Cox Bryan that I read. Sadly, it will also be the last, as neither the voice, the setting, nor the gimmick worked for me.

Reader, beware: I did not, and will not, finish this book; however, I will rant about what I did manage to read of it, in detail. If you are a fan of this author’s work, you really want to avert your eyes, and go read a glowing review in GoodReads or amazon.

Death Among the Dolies, by Mollie Cox Bryan

Looking over Ms Cox Bryan’s page in fantasticfiction.co.uk, she has a number of books published, and this is the first installment on her second series, the Cora Crafts Mysteries.

Here, have a blurb:
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The Book Club Murders, by Leslie Nagel

7 Jan

bookclubmurdersI confess that, despite knowing better, I was attracted to both the cover and the blurb for this cozy mystery, and was happy to get an ARC some time ago. However, what with one thing and another, it took me a while to get to it.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had a really hard time reading anything new to me, for going on two years now. (Pity me.) Therefore, any novel I manage to read all the way through these days feels remarkable in some way, on that basis alone.

As usual, reader beware: there’s a romance alongside the mystery, but there’s no sex on page, and very little ‘objectionable’ language.

The Book Club Murders, by Leslie Nagel

I didn’t know before I started reading the story, but this is Ms Nagel debut release. It is also the first in a series set in Oakwood, OH.

I confess that, after reading a few chapters, I did suspect that this was either a debut, or perhaps a second book, because some of the elements of the story seem to fit rather awkwardly next to each other–such as the romance between our intrepid leading lady, one Charlotte “Charley” Carpenter, and the cop in charge of solving the improbable murders that, apparently out of the blue, are happening in the very quiet community of Oakwood.

Here’s the blurb:

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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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Allegiance of Honor, by Nalini Singh

27 Jun

AllegianceofHonorWell, I finally read something, and it’s actually something new, so, yay.

Sadly, it really, really didn’t work for me.

Quick caveat: there’s some explicit language, there are a couple of explicit sex scenes, and it’s the fifteenth full length book in a series with pretty complex world building. Which basically means: all the spoilers for all the books that came before. Plus, a reader new to the series would be completely lost in a sea of in-world references and jokes.

Further, the whole point of this book, as stated in the author’s note at the beginning, is to be “a walk through the interconnected lives of many of the characters who’ve become important to us over the past books and novellas.” (This, by the way, turned out to be a rather big problem for me.)

Seriously, if you are not already a fan of the series, reading this novel first will put you off even trying any of the other books.

So, let’s get on with the review–which is long and somewhat ranty, by the by.

Allegiance of Honor, by Nalini Singh

I have had mixed feelings about this book since it was first announced, mostly because it was described at some point as a bridge between the first and second arcs in the Psy/Changeling series. In the first arc, the world is unveiled, and a number of conflicts between the three main factions are revealed and, mostly, solved. In each novel and short story, different aspects of the world and these conflicts are explored and revealed, while following the stories of a series of couples who are, in their own way, integral to the resolution of the overall story arc.

In this novel there is no central pairing or love story, and while there are a few (very thin) threads that advance the overarching conflict between the three human groups, it’s mostly composed of little vignettes about…well, almost every character that’s even been mentioned up to this point.

The blurb:

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Captive Bride, by Bonnie Dee

6 Apr

Captive BrideI usually enjoy Bonnie Dee’s writing very much, because I’m always sucked into the lives of whatever characters she writes. Which tends to be exactly what I want, and need, from authors.

In this case, I had an extremely strong reaction to the beginning of the story, and it took a good long while before I could get past a particular scene–a scene with no gore, no graphic content, and no violence.

Our minds are strange places, n’est ce pas?

Eventually, I got past that bit, and then…well, I had other issues. Be warned, this is a very rambling and meandering review–more so than usual, that is.

Captive Bride, by Bonnie Dee

This is one of those extremely rare beasts in genre romance: it’s set in the aftermath of the War Between the States, but not in the South or the West (as we think of it–the Rockies or the Plains, or Texas). It’s set in San Francisco, in the late 1870.

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

San Francisco, 1870

Huiann arrives in America expecting to be wed to a wealthy businessman. She no sooner disembarks from the ship than she realizes Xie is not looking for a bride: Huiann is worth more to him as a high-end prostitute. Though her fate is better than that of other Chinese women forced into the sex trade, she has no intention of waiting for Xie to sell her virginity to the highest bidder. At the first opportunity, she escapes and disappears into the city.

When a beautiful woman takes refuge in his store, Alan’s life changes forever. He’s spent the last five years trying to forget the horrors of war, and had almost given up hope of finding love. He hires Huiann as his housekeeper, and though they can only communicate through signs and sketches, they quickly form a bond that transcends the need for words.

But Xie is determined to recover his property, and love may not be enough to protect Huiann from his vengeance.

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“Entwined” by Kristen Callihan

15 Mar

EntwinedThe theme for this month’s TBR Challenge is ‘a recommended read.’ Nothing could be easier: about three quarters of the unread books in my possession are there because someone recommended them to me, at some point or another. Then, something else shiny (or horrid, like the reading slump from hell), gets in the way, and the books languish there unread–while I keep on acquiring more words that too often, go unread for long, long periods of time.

And sometimes, when I finally get around to reading them, I could kick myself. Hard.

That was the case here.

It is no secret that I’m a fan of Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas world, and that I mourn the fact that there are so very few stories in that series, as well as knowing that there will probably be only one more full length book (the Blacksmith’s). Perhaps we will be lucky to have another short story released at some point (Scarsdale’s, pretty pretty please?)

So there I was, feeling bereft, when someone (don’t remember who), somewhere (no clue where), said something really glowingly positive about Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London series. I checked amazon, where this one is listed as Book 1 of the series, and priced at only 99¢. (Turns out, this is not the first story set in Darkest London, but the fifth.)¹ Of course I one-clicked it!

And then, it languished in the TBR until Saturday, when I read it in one delicious gulp.

(I really, really liked it.)

“Entwined” by Kristen Callihan

The story starts with two young men, barely out of childhood, a drunken brawl, a promise and a secret. It continues with a lovely exchange of letters between two people who, despite all good intentions, soon reveal to the other who they truly are.

(Aside: this is one of the things I love about well written epistolary novels. People do tend to be more who they truly are through the written word, particularly when they don’t know each other face to face. A lot of prejudice and preconception, particularly those we are not aware of, is absent, and therefore, it doesn’t influence how we see the other person, when all we have is words between us.)

Here, have a blurb:

Eamon Evernight has always lived in his older brother’s shadow.  While his brother is fair of hair and lithe in body, Eamon sparks fear with his fiery locks and massive frame—and rumors of a mysterious power. But when his brother has the good fortune to be betrothed to a beautiful stranger, it’s Eamon’s help—and quick wit and romantic heart–that he needs. Eamon agrees to write the noble lady…a generous offer that will forever leave him a changed man.

Lady Luella Jane Moran has no interest in an arranged marriage and tries valiantly to dissuade her betrothed from afar. Though her own letters plainly state her case, the words her husband-to-be writes her leave her aching for his touch. Will Lu give in to the desire the missives have kindled within her? Or will desire turn cold when she discovers their true author?

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“The Seduction of Lord Stone” by Anna Campbell

5 Mar

TheSeductionofLordStoneWhile I am not on twitter, I lurk there, following #not chilled, and two or three people’s stream/timeline/whatever it’s called. I am fascinated by all the things I learn about that way.

Among these many interesting things, I saw that Anna Campbell just released the second in a trilogy of shorter stories about a trio of tonnish widows returning to society after their mandatory year of mourning.

As each of these are only 99c, and as I enjoy Ms Campbell’s writing (and her), very much indeed, I snapped both of them up.

Here are my thoughts.

“The Seduction of Lord Stone” by Anna Campbell

The prologue introduces our three friends, henceforth known as The Dashing Widows. Two of them are nearing the end of their obligatory year of mourning, and they are chomping at the bit to get back out there, and to finally be allowed to live. Instead of, you know, playing the small, background character of “wife” in someone else’s life. Their thirst for life after such prolonged emptiness convinces the third to join in their quest.

The blurb, from the author’s site:

For this reckless widow, love is the most dangerous game of all.

Caroline, Lady Beaumont, arrives in London seeking excitement after ten dreary years of marriage and an even drearier year of mourning. That means conquering society, dancing like there’s no tomorrow, and taking a lover to provide passion without promises. Promises, in this dashing widow’s dictionary, equal prison. So what is an adventurous lady to do when she loses her heart to a notorious rake who, for the first time in his life, wants forever?

Devilish Silas Nash, Viscount Stone is in love at last—with a beautiful, headstrong widow bent on playing the field. Worse, she’s enlisted his help to set her up with his disreputable best friend. No red-blooded man takes such a challenge lying down, and Silas schemes to seduce his darling into his arms, warm, willing and besotted. But will his passionate plots come undone against a woman determined to act the mistress, but never the wife?

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