Tag Archives: 8.75 out of 10

The Girl Who Knew Too Much, by Amanda Quick

9 May


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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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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Kiss of Snow, by Nalini Singh

4 May

Kiss of SnowAnother small step on my quest to catch up with my reviews on the one series left in my auto-buy list. In fact, this is the only series I still pre-order in hardback. Consider that your warning for reviewer bias.

I plan to review the remaining three books each Monday until the release of Shards of Hope, with a review for that book going up on June 1st.

For readers coming cold to the Psy/Changeling series, please note: this is the tenth full length installment.

I would strongly discourage readers to start with this one, not only because there is too much background and too many characters in the world, which could be confusing if not overwhelming to a newcomer; but because this particular story, this couple, have been building up for at least five books, if not more. By starting here, you would miss the absolutely delicious anticipation build up.

Also, this review spoils some things revealed earlier in the series–read on at your own peril.

Kiss of Snow, by Nalini Singh

Finally, Sienna and Hawke’s book! (If I used gifs, there would be a Kermit flail here.)

Avid fans of the series–re-readers in particular–have noted that Ms Singh managed to pepper a number of cryptic, small, almost invisible hints about this couple as early as Slave to Sensation. The tension between them, however, becomes pretty obvious to even the most oblivious reader (and character) at least as far back as Branded by Fire. 

As a bonus (at least for me), we also get Lara and Walker’s story, which is hinted at with just a couple of scenes a couple of books earlier.

Here’s the blurb from the jacket of my print copy:
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“The Lady Always Wins” by Courtney Milan

13 Mar

The Lady Always WinsI have made no secret that I love Ms Milan’s work.¹ I enjoy her writing voice very much, I love how strong her heroines are, and how even in short stories like this one, she manages the most wonderful twists.

I have, however, been quite remiss in reviewing any of her work until now. I’m hoping to correct the oversight this year.

“The Lady Always Wins,” by Courtney Milan

You can see in the author’s website that this story was originally written for, and published in, a charity anthology a couple of years ago. Later, Ms Milan self published it individually, and it’s also available in her A Novella Collection.

You can read more about the story, and a longish excerpt, here.

And the blurb, from the author’s site:
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Skies of Gold, by Zoë Archer

7 Jan

Skies of GoldSkies of Gold by Zoë Archer

I am usually very much a stickler when it comes to reading series in order, which means that by the time I got my greedy mitts on Skies of Gold, I should have read at least two, or more likely four, other books.

See, this is actually the fifth book in the Ether Chronicles, a steampunk historical series written by Zoë Archer and her husband, Nicco Rosso. That is, they do not write the books together, they write alternating books in the series.

The thing is, though, that I probably wouldn’t have even known about the series, let alone this novel, were it not for an interview podcast with the authors at SmartBitches.

Still, and even though I’ve liked what I’ve read of Ms Archer’s other work, I don’t think I would have looked Skies of Gold up, except that it went on sale right after I read this very enthusiastic review–also at the SmartBiches.

What’s a reading addict to do then?

Obviously, get the book and inhale it.

Which I did.

Now all you lovelies get to see what I think about it 😀

But first, the blurb (directly from Ms Archer’s site):
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Burning Up (Angela Knight, Nalini Singh, Virginia Kantra, Meljean Brook)

30 Dec

Burning UpAs much as I talk about Meljean Brook’s amazing Iron Seas series, it came as a surprise that I had never reviewed the story that forever hooked me on it. I hereby hasten to correct that egregious oversight.

It will be brief, but it will be done!

Burning Up by Angela Knight, Nalini Singh, Virginia Kantra and Meljean Brook

Not too long ago, in one of the Smart Bitches podcasts, there was a conversation on how effective are novellas as a way to introduce new series to readers.

My knee-jerk reaction is to say that they don’t work for me, but the truth is that they don’t when:

  1. the world building doesn’t hold up in the novella,
  2. events that are essential to the longer stories happen in the novellas (I like the shorts as extras, not compulsory reading, myself), and
  3. when the novella is actually the first few chapters of a novel (yes, this has happened–ask Nora Roberts about Laurell K Hamilton and the Out Of This World anthology)

Three out of the four stories in Burning Up are part, or the starting point, of series of different lengths and success. I will review them as they appear in my print copy. Please do be aware the there’s explicit sex, and in some quite a bit of it, in all four stories.

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Christmas in the Duke’s Arms (Grace Burrowes, Carolyn Jewel, Miranda Neville and Shana Galen)

18 Dec

Christmas  in the Duke's Arms anthologyNot-so-incredibly, it’s TBR Challenge time again. The older I get, the quicker the third Wednesday of each month arrives.¹

The theme for this month is a holiday book. While our fearless leader, the lovely SuperLibrarian Wendy, doesn’t restrict the theme to end of the year holidays, I m weak and tend to buy way too many Christmas-themed books.

Also, this is my year for cheating on the TBR Challenge—I’ve only had this book a couple of weeks. Ah well, at least it got read, instead of languishing forever more in the infamous TBR that can be seen from space. And hey, I think this is also the year of the anthologies—I missed four months, and three of the eight I managed to write and post are for anthologies.

(Note to self: do better next year!)

With that out of the way, here’s the review.

Christmas in the Duke’s Arms, by Grace Burrowes, Carolyn Jewel, Miranda Neville and Shana Galen

The Duke’s Arms is an undistinguished little inn in the tiny village of Hopewell-on-Lyft. But one Christmas season sees both inn and village seething with adventure, intrigue, rabbits, and, above all, love as four couples find Yuletide happiness.

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