Review: The Deepest Ocean (Eden Series, Book 2) by Marian Perera

the deepest oceanReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: Captain Darok Juell is due to set sail into enemy waters and for once in his life he has to wait for a woman, a woman who with her witchcraft can protect his ship as well as send his enemies back into the sea. The woman is called Yerena Fin Caller and she is cold, calculated and hard to read as she keeps her emotions in check in order to use the power of a shark deep in the waters. He doesn’t like the look of her at first as she is colder than he imagined, but will he get under her skin with his manner?

Review: Darok doesn’t like having a woman on board as seasoned sailors know, it is bad luck, but for Darok, if she isn’t on board, it might be worse for him as there are many enemies around who want to see him and his men dead. From the moment he sees Yerena he feels frustrated about having to wait for her and have her on the ship, and this frustration carries on trhough the novel. He hates having to rely on a woman’s witch powers to get him through a dark mission, and doesn’t take lightly that she will be there for the duration. As the story is seen from his perspective, you get to find out what he really thinks about the woman and his other crew men on board.

Good Bits:

  • I like the name Daystrider for the ship – reminds me of Dawntreader.
  • Captain Darok Juell – he’s the sort of captain who will send your heart racing.
  • There’s some great dry humor in this.

Summary: Marian Perera is an author who likes to write romantic fantasy novels with a touch of science, or that is what her biography tells us. Her other books; Before the Storm, and The Farthest Shore are similar. The setting is perfect, you can feel the effects of life on the high seas, the crew’s plight of never seeing their women until the witch comes on board, having next to no food, drink and the stormy seas whipping them around day in day out. It is a wonder Darok doesn’t get more problems from his crew than he does. Something else I liked about this novel is Darok starts out hating Yerena being there as he’s a man’s man who doesn’t like taking advice – or orders from a woman who thinks she knows better than him simmer down later on. He actually starts to like her and later love her for who she is.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: The Deepest Ocean (Eden Series)

Audio Review: The Ugly Duchess (Fairy Tales, Book 4) by Eloisa James

ugly duchessHeroine: Theodora “Daisy” Saxby (am I the only one that thinks sackbut at that last name?) isn’t ugly, but she’s not the standard of beauty. Her features are very foreign but some haters call her features mannish and dub her the Ugly Duchess. Daisy is determined to catch the eye of some buck on the marriage mart, but after James’ lovely proposal, realizes she’s loved him all along. She wants to be his bride and show him how much she loves him.

Hero: Sinfully handsome James Ryburn, heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook, must marry and soon because his father gambled it all away and he also dipped into Daisy’s funds as her guardian. James can’t imagine marrying his best friend, not because she’s ugly, but because the idea for why he must is so repugnant and deceitful. Then of course he’s not in love with her. So when his father spills the beans and humiliates his new bride, James doesn’t argue with her dictate that he leave and never come back. He’s ashamed to have betrayed his Daisy and realizes too late that he does love her.

Review: This romance features a married couple and is classified as an estranged romance because they are apart for many years before the real wooing begins. James returns to Britain as a bonifide pirate, tattoo and all, just in time to stop the House of Lords from declaring him dead. I like him as a pirate, much better than as a near-virgin hero – he was a beta hero in many respects. I preferred Daisy at the beginning of her marriage, not her new persona she developed after she kicked James out. The chemistry was good at the beginning of the story and peters out quickly. My favorite scene is James’ reappearance in London and Daisy swooning.

Narrator: I did not like Susan Duerden’s voice. It had a nasal quality to it that bugged me from the get-go. She can whip out a crazy evil father voice that sounds like another person is reading though. Wow. Good voice acting there!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: The Ugly Duchess

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Why I Wrote a Historical Romance

BoundbyDecencyGuest blog by Claire Ashgrove, author of Bound by Decency (The Flying Gang Legacy)

Hi, everyone – thanks for having me here today!

One of the things I was asked recently was, “Why did you decide to write a historical romance?” I thought I’d share my answer here with all of you, because granted, it is a shift from what I’ve been doing for the last several years.

I’ve always been writing historicals.  Ironically, I never intended to write a Contemporary, but that in fact, was my first sale.  That book was the product of a dare, as I’ve mentioned previously, and the cards fell into place with a delightful surprise.  But my roots in romance came from historical authors such as Johanna Lindsey, Sabrina Jeffries, and Julie Garwood.  The first romance I wrote, at age 17, was a Regency.

My paranormal series, The Curse of the Templars, is heavily derived from history and mythos, which goes hand-in-hand with history.  My short paranormal series, Inherited Damnation, is grounded in the historical Celts.  So it’s always been a part of my writing process.  And given that on any given trip to the bookstore I will make a beeline for the historical section before I go to fiction, that influence isn’t terribly surprising.

I also tend to lean, more naturally, toward a historical voice in my writing.  I like longer sentences, more description that typically comes with the subgenre, and the general cadence of my structure tends to follow what’s seen with historical romance.  I find when I work in non-historical projects that I have to do a lot more editing, I have to pay more attention to what I am putting down.  In many ways, I understand historical characters more than I do the characters that could be living next door to me.  (That might have something to do with the proverbial writer’s cave!)

But does this mean that I want to focus strictly on historical romance?  Absolutely not!  For reasons that apply to each individual series and book, I love the projects that I have going on right now.  Writing a straight historical simply allows me to immerse myself in the past completely, without having to consider modern day gadgets like cell phones, computers, and all the other conveniences that like to give my plots major hiccups.

I do, however, hope you’ll find Bound by Decency as enjoyable as my other books.  Afterall, it’s based on pirates.  And what’s more sexy than a rugged, bare-chested sailor who fears little and knows precisely how to obtain what he wants?

Excerpt: For a moment, he could do nothing more than stare. Richard had said his intended was lovely, but somehow, Cain had never pictured her as a beauty. Yet now, as she stood before him, her chest heaving with indignation and her hair a sopping mess, he realized Richard had once again played him false. India Prescott wasn’t merely lovely. She was breathtaking.

“What in the name of Mary do you think you’re doing?” she snapped. “My father will see you hang for this.”

Her sharp tongue yanked Cain out of his stupor. He collected himself quickly, and for the first time since his arrest, gave into a broad grin. “Indeed, he will have to get in line.”

India’s eyes widened a fraction, but anger drew delicate brows downward, and those sky-blue eyes narrowed. “I see no amusement in this. Do you have any idea who I am?”

As a rumble of laughter broke through the men within earshot, Cain’s humor subsided. His smile faded, and he reached out to twine a thick lock of her hair around his finger. Turning his wrist, he wrapped the silken length around his hand, slowly bringing her closer. So close that the wet fabric straining across her breasts dampened his shirt. The heat of her skin grazed his. “I know well who you are, Miss Prescott.” He ran the back of his free hand across her dainty collar bone, over the slope of her shoulder, then lifted it to draw his thumb across her parted lips. The audible catch of her breath ricocheted through him. So she was not unaffected by him. Good. He could use it to his advantage.

His gaze held hers. A flicker of fear passed behind her eyes, but to her credit, she didn’t shrink away. She stood straight and proud, even as she shivered in the stirring breeze. Courage Cain didn’t often encounter from the gentle born. God’s teeth, men far stronger and larger than she didn’t hesitate to grovel at his feet. Yet she, no bigger than a lark, defied him with stubborn silence.

Unacceptable.

To drive her subservient position as his captive home, he tightened his hold on her hair until she winced. Leaning forward, he lowered his mouth to her ear. “You are the daughter of a powerful man and presently my prisoner, to do with as I will.” Stepping back, he untwined his hand and smirked.

India’s palm cracked across his cheek. “Rot in hell!”

Back Blurb:

After inheriting a portion of Spain’s Royal Inheritance, Cain left The Flying Gang for a chance at honest wealth. With the secrets of his piracy tucked away, he achieved his lofty aspirations. But when his partner and best friend betrays him to the Royal Navy, Cain’s dreams are ripped to shreds. He’s left with his ship, the tattered remnants of a stolen future, and a piece of Spanish mystery. Wanted by three nations and destined for the gallows, he returns to the legendary band of buccaneers for one purpose — vengeance.

Kidnapped by the formidable Cain, India Prescott discovers he intends to kill the man she’s to marry. Cain’s story reveals betrayal. Treachery that extends to her as well. Although she holds the key to retribution, India refuses to become another man’s pawn. Freedom lies before her, the liberty to shrug off propriety, make her own decisions, and claim her destiny. But when she uncovers goodness in Cain’s soul and he awakens passion in her heart, she must combat the chains of convention once more.

Only this time India’s not fighting society. She’s battling a pirate bent on keeping her decency intact.

Series Concept:

The Flying Gang Legacy
1717…

With Europe in chaos over who would claim the Spanish throne, the Atlantic waters bred a most despicable lot. Privateers who pillaged and claimed, loyal to no country, more thief than noble mercenary. One man would claim Spain’s inheritance. He would pass it on. To a band of cutthroats more terrifying and deadly than the nightmares of the deep.

As the nations settle into peace, The Flying Gang knows no boundaries. No sea is safe. No shore unchartered. Chilling Rogers raised to the sky, they reign with fear, bound only to the wind, the brotherhood, and the ships they love. One tiny jeweled box strikes a gleam in their eyes. A golden trinket four rogue Captains risk danger, capture, and even friendship to possess.

Until love interferes with their rapscallion hearts…

Buy: Bound by Decency (The Flying Gang Legacy)

Author Bio: Claire Ashgrove has been writing since her early teens and maintained the hobby for twenty years before deciding to leap into the professional world. Her first contemporary novel, Seduction’s Stakes, sold to The Wild Rose Press in 2008, where she continues to write steamy, sexy stories for the Champagne and Black Rose lines. Adding to these critically acclaimed romances, Claire’s paranormal romance series, The Curse of the Templars debuted with Tor in January 2012. For those who prefer the more erotic side of romance, she also writes for Berkley Heat as the National Bestselling Author Tori St. Claire.

She is an active member of Romance Writers of America, and her local RWA chapters, Heartland Romance Authors, Midwest Romance Writers, North Texas Romance Writers of America, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers.

Claire lives in Missouri with her two toddler sons, and too-many horses, cats, and dogs. In her “free” time, she enjoys cooking, winning at Rummy, studying Ancient Civilizations, and spending quiet moments with her family, including the critters. She credits her success to her family’s constant support and endless patience.

To learn more about Claire, visit her on the web at www.claireashgrove.com, or www.toristclaire.com.

Giveaway Details:  Claire will be giving away a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card to one random commenter during the tour.  Follow the tour – the more times you comment, the better your chances of winning!  Complete schedule can be found here.

Review: The Cinderella Blues by Obren Bokich

Cinderella Blues Obren BokichReviewed by Sandra Scholes

We all daydream in varying degrees, but Kat Young daydreams her life away, remembering the most enchanting story of all, Cinderella. It is the most wonderful story a little girl ever hears, but not everyone dreams to become the heroine of the fairy tale – Kat however, does and she might be alone in her thoughts. Most women in their thirties know that Cinderella is a fairy tale, not supposed to happen in real life, but try telling that to her – she has a definite Cinderella complex where she thinks she needs to be rescued by a handsome prince/pirate/Bond type character, and she lies in wait, so to speak. Poor her.

One minute she will be thinking about swashbuckling pirates, the next a James Bond style scenario, and the next minute she is driving her car, and having an accident not concentrating on what she is doing. She doesn’t realize her daydreams get her into so much trouble, but they do. Her story begins with her daydreaming about being dangerously corseted and hung from a yardarm, Captain Jack, a ruthless, yet handsome pirate rescues her from her living hell, yet it isn’t him she wants to rescue her – there is someone else she wouldn’t mind being close to.

I found it comical, and strange that an otherwise intelligent woman could act so childish at her age – but here she is – our lovely heroine who has enough daydreams to fill a novel of her own. I got the impression that it was her imagination that got her through the bad times either in her private or work life. She wasn’t the sort that would daydream for no reason and there is no better way than escapism. Her tendency for getting into trouble while doing everyday activities is funny enough, but the general outcome of them is funnier when she still daydreams through the most dangerous things.

I thought it would be obvious that Kat would eventually need to find a man who could cope with her daydreaming nature, but the one she finds is even more interesting than I imagined. She believes that one day she will meet her Prince Charming, but along the way she will have to make do with men who aren’t trustworthy, safe to be with or faithful in any way. This for her is the ultimate hell on Earth, and she does wonder when the day will finally come when she will meet her prince.

I enjoyed the story, found it endearing in many places, and laughed out loud at the funny bits. Kat gets into so many problems from her daydreaming it makes her into a different kind of heroine – one everyone would like.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Cinderella Blues

Review: Encompassed (Immortal Series, Book 4) by Em Petrova

Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

It is interesting the amount of cross genre fiction there is out for readers to have a look at. Encompassed, book 4 is Em Petrova’s chance to show how she can weave a ship’s captain and a Mayan Princess into a loving relationship.

There is a reason Dante and Maria are together and it is to do with the Calling, a way of them bonding with full knowledge of whether they are good for each other. They love each other very much, and their immortal companions notice that too. After a while though, that feeling of love and affection starts to leave them and while others like them are only just getting that feeling, they long to get it back and have the fulfilling relationship they once had.

It isn’t long before a love triangle develops with Dante being distracted by Gracie, another immortal who is influenced by the Calling too. Before this can happen and Dante is torn away from her, Maria has to go back to the place where their feelings were first felt.

I liked how Em Petrova had the original concept for Gracie, the heroine in this new novel. Originally she was under another name and in a contemporary spanking story. She gives her heroines a comical aspect and isn’t afraid to create unusual stories in order to somehow make them seem real to others. She has a great descriptive mind and can make the reader truly believe they are there in her chosen world.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Encompassed

Review: Scandalous Desires (Maiden Lane, Book 3) by Elizabeth Hoyt

Heroine: Widow Silence Hollingbrook is in a dire situation. To reclaim what she loves she must face the man who callously and cruelly used her to make a point that ruined her marriage. Only of course he doesn’t make things simple. Apparently there’s danger (evil Charlie Grady, the Vicar of Whitechapel) and wouldn’t you know, he’s the father of the baby girl she thought was an orphan.

Hero: River pirate “Charming” Mickey O’Connor is fiercely handsome but woefully unfeeling (or so he thinks, he takes quite good care of those he considers his). He climbed his way to the top of London’s dark and dangerous criminal underworld and has no intentions of falling back down. But when a danger from his past threatens to tear it all down, Mickey acts and once again his actions will prove to be Silence’s undoing.

Review: Scandalous Desires is not to be missed – pirate hero? Hello! It’s a beautifully written story with all the elements that I like including a seemingly heartless hero (he’s dragged into love, but once there he’s going to go all out). I love how Mickey is the engineer of his own romantic downfall – he wants Silence and to get to her he uses Mary Darling, a bastard daughter a whore claimed was his but he knows is not. He’ll keep Mary around because it means Silence will stay because she loves the girl. Of course he falls for both, poor man, haha. Silence and Mikey are enemies, but they aren’t, because Mikey doesn’t really want Silence as an enemy, but plays the part because of his plan to keep her by his side. The only thing left to say is that this is definitely one of the best books of the year!

Rating: 4.5 Stars

(Would have been 5 Stars, but Mary Darling gets sick and drags focus)

Buy: Scandalous Desires (Maiden Lane)

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Pirate Romance: Separating Myth from Truth

genre


What is pirate, privateer, or buccaneer romance?

While pirate romance seems pretty self explanatory the truth of the matter is that modern romantic notions of pirates are far from fact. When we think of a pirate, I am sure many of you will conjure up an image of the deliciously sexy and adventurous Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. The code that they lived by was far from the images brought to mind by the movies or by modern day romances. Pirates in truth were vicious and the chances of two pirates following the same code of honor were pretty slim, but that doesn’t stop them from being some of the best of the bad boys in romantic literature.

What makes the pirate so sexy?

We love reading about pirates, of that there is no question. Why, you might wonder. The answer is thus: who wouldn’t want a handsome man to give us permission to buck the rules of society, live life voraciously with no limit on what we can or should do? Rogues and rakehells might make delicious rapscallions on land and in London society, but it is the pirate captain that is both scandalous and notorious.

Lead males in pirate romances are muscular, domineering, swashbuckling, passionate, buccaneers. The open sea is their mistress and no female can tame their hearts… or so they think. Pirate heroes soon realize just how lonely their life on the water really is and endeavor to capture the love of a woman. When they loot, pillage, and ravish pirate heroes find themselves desiring to do so to the pretty maid with the feisty tongue and not the nearest enemy ship.

This is the character cast in romance novels. The truth however is that pirates have never been truly noted for charms, manners, or fantastically gorgeous good looks. Despite their shortcomings, the romance of seven seas calls out like a siren’s song. Thrills, romance and adventure, you can’t go wrong with a pirate romance.

Review: Beauvallet by Georgette Heyer

Beauvallet is one of my top favorite Georgette Heyer romances. It’s one I would recommend for a guy to read because of how daredevil the hero is and how much action and high jinks take place.

Sir Nicholas Beauvallet is a dashing pirate with a rakish charm. He’s the bane of the Spanish empire and good friends with other famous privateers such as Sir Francis Drake. He’s gallant, courageous to the point of foolhardiness, and full of confidence. His ego is adorable because it’s so over-inflated and lighthearted.

Dona Dominica de Rada y Sylva is a gutsy heroine. When captured she steals Beauvallet’s dagger and waves it at his nose. When forced aboard Beauvallet’s ship she snubs him, flirts outrageously with another officer, and ignores him. Obviously she’s just hiding her true feelings—the instantaneous crush, the deepening attraction, the utter fascination. The more she pushes him the more under his spell she falls.

When he promises to win her hand in marriage, she scoffs. Not likely! When he says he’ll pursue her right to her doorstep in the heart of Spain, she laughs. Impossible! When he says, “Risk not!” she begins to hope. But can it be done?

Some of the funniest scenes are Beauvallet flaunting his presence under the Spanish aristocracy and nobody being the wiser. I’m so happy that Heyer kept it in mostly Beauvallet’s point of view because we got to his side of the story and laugh at the supposedly mystical and magical escapes he managed to execute under Spanish noses.

It’s also an unusual historical I feel because of the monarchs and events happening.

Relative Time Period – Tudor:

  • Spanish Inquisition – 1478 to 1834
  • Henri III – 1551 to 1589
  • Elizabeth I 1533 to 1603
  • Phillip II –  1527 to 1598
  • Sir Francis Drake1577 to 1580 – around world trip

The references to the Spanish Inquisition are just cloying and realistic enough to make you shudder with all the “infinite kindness of the church” and whatnot. I’m not an expert of anything, but the way the dialogue happened almost made one think that King Phillip had no idea what truly happened during the churches inquisition sessions. Does anybody know if he did or not?

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Buy: Beauvallet

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