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)

Review: Dead Reckoning (Valkyrie Series, Book 2) by K A Perkins

Dead Reckoning PerkinsReviewed by Sandra Scholes

The year is 1671 and after watching his mother suffer brutality at the hands of three of the most feared pirates in history, Leo vows he will avenge her death one day when he is older. Gabriella is a young woman married to Erik, a cruel Dutch slave trader. Erik rules the house with an iron fist. He is an irascible man, prone to violent mood swings and always finds fault with his wife and his slave, Klara. Gabriella lives in fear of Erik and hopes for the day when she and Klara can flee without being found.

One of the interesting parts of the story is at the beginning as Gabriella wants to get away from her cruel husband, while Leo wants to get close to the pirates who killed his mother, and that in turn takes him closer to her husband. Gabriella grows from being a sensitive, downtrodden woman, to being a strong, independent woman who wants to help others, like Klara out of difficult and dangerous situations. She is ill-equipped for life in the jungle of the island of Sayba, but her life is worth nothing if she is caught by either Erik or his men. Leo has seen his mother die at the hands of Tarr’s men, and seeks his revenge, yet he is a decent man, even at sea. He is often fair with his men, and has braved death attempting to kill Tarr, Blake and Hornigold.

The author shows a real grasp of all things pirate, and has clearly researched in depth about what life would have been like on board a ship for both the captain and crew of the Sound of Freedom. The setting and the characters feel right for the time period, and it is easy to switch off from modern life to tune into the story as it seems believable. It is easy to get to the heart of the people involved, and the author doesn’t concentrate on the main characters alone. The story is gritty and realistic, and as a result gives a more realistic account of how people would have behaved during that time. Jungle life has a detrimental effect on the slaves, and Gabriella and Klara; the disease, the venomous wildlife, and the terrible heat of the location all serve to put the reader there into the thick of period Caribbean life. Having Gabriella and Klara on board isn’t a good idea for the men, but Leo likes the thought of having Erik’s wife and slave to use as a pawn to get what he wants, yet he sees in her a wildness that reminds him of Magdalena. He senses Gabriella is afraid of men, even Leo being around her, and all he wants to do is put her at ease. She is a free woman along with Klara, but life on board a ship like the Sound of Freedom isn’t made for women on the run and he can’t expose the men to them and risk Gabriella being hurt, or worse.

It takes a while for the romance to start, but when it does, Gabriella finds that Leo isn’t the man she thought he was, he is a better man than her husband, and he can show her what that means. Dead Reckoning is more than just a romance novel, it acts as a personal account of life in pirate days that is extensive and gripping.

Dead Reckoning was long-listed in the 2011 Mslexia Novel Competition and is the second book in the Valkyerie series. It tells of the losses and danger associated with piracy in the Caribbean during the Seventeenth Century. There are several books in the Valkyrie series including, An Ill Wind (Valkyrie Series 1), Ready About! (Valkyrie Series 3) which is set for a 2913 release, and Shadowfall (Valkyrie Series 4) which is set for a 2014 release. As a novella and K A Perkins’s first book, Gabriella Berryngton had high hopes for a better life in another land, but aged only 14, she realises she must have been so naive.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Dead Reckoning (Valkyrie Series)

Review: The Rogue Pirate’s Bride by Shana Galen

Reviewed by Susan S.

Climb aboard The Shadow! And set sail upon the high seas with Shana Galen’s new novel, The Rogue Pirate’s Bride. There’s plenty of adventure (narrowly escaping death by sword, dagger, pistols, and sinking ships), romance (hot cabin sex), and entertainment (whether imprisoned or freed-they’ll hate each other, save each other, and love each other).

Summary: The Conclusion to the Seas of the Revolution Trilogy, Book Three When Raeven Russell (heroine) finds Captain Cutlass (Bastien), she’s going to rip his black heart out! It was his ship The Shadow which battled the HMS Valor. And now, her fiancé is dead. For months, she’s entertained thoughts of avenging Timothy’s death. What Raeven never expected-was to be held captive aboard the privateer’s ship.

Bastien has just kidnapped the daughter of a British admiral; initiating events that’ll surely culminate with his death. Will Raeven find a way to escape her captivity? Can Cutlass outrun the British Navy? More important, will the traitor in their midsts change the course of their lives? Forever.

Review: My first thought was, there is no believable way the hero and heroine will fall in love. After all, the heroine’s always trying to kill the hero. And whenever there’s a respite in their sword fighting- it’s only because they’re battling other adversaries. And yet, Ms. Galen “does” have them fall in love-in a realistic manner. How? By keying in on their commonalities.

What impressed me the most, I think, was the author’s expert use of imagery. The scenes I mentally visualized were an effortless process. And the “reason” this novel earned a five-star review. I could see (in my mind) the ships moving into battle positions. I could envision the damage sustained by the ships. As well as picturing the injuries of the seamen.

Recommendations: My first recommendation is for readers who gravitate toward the enemies-to-lovers tropes. If you like them, then this novel is a must read that’s sure to please. Also for booklovers who enjoy: historical romance novels. And if you revel in stories of handsome buccaneers and fearless heroines-you’ll love Captain Cutlass and Raeven.

Disclaimer: I received this novel free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Others in the Series:

Review-O-Meter Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: The Rogue Pirate’s Bride

Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc., Copyright February 2012, Historical Regency Romance, Mass Market Paperback, Print Pages 340. ISBN-13# 9781402265556

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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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Review: Once Upon a Time in Space by Heather Massey

The Situation: Earth is a dying hunk of rock in the wasteland of space, but humans are doing their best to deny it while digging tunnels deep under the surface to avoid the sun’s harmful rays. Humanity is 40 billion strong and counting. There aren’t enough resources to go around, jobs are limited and nobody has enough to space to think let alone live. Desperate doesn’t even being to cover it.

The Hero: Nick Venture is leader of a tunneling team, but he’s fired, and so is his team.  He can hardly believe it. Just when he was supposed to get a place of his own the company cans them in order to not comply with their side of the agreement. He stops by a bar before calling it a night and his act of heroism leads to an unjust imprisonment that’s the equivalent of a death sentence. Lucky for him, his secret heritage, works like a get out of jail free card. In exchange he must do something he’s clearly unqualified for, but he’s going to try to do his best. He’s going to claim a newly discovered habitable planet.

The Heroine: Raquel Donovan is a space pirate searching to revenge herself on a military man abusing his position and his power. For years she’s been building a reputation for herself as the deadliest pirate in the galaxy. They call her the Siren. When this eye-patch toting captain captures Nick’s ragtag crew near one of the solar system’s outer planets sparks fly. She never expects him to turn the tables on her and put her in a position she can’t refuse. Another earth? Impossible!

Review: I regularly follow Heather Massey’s blog on science fiction romance and I’ve picked up a thing or two about this genre. Massey has written a book with elements she thought the genre needed more of and really that’s the type of book authors should write. While I don’t read much science fiction romance, I watch a lot of sci-fi with my father and I can honestly say this story had a very unique take on the Earth-in-peril plot. The tunneling underground was extremely well done and the space exploration and pirate endeavors were interesting and well thought out. For the sci-fi Heather Massey gets 5 out of 5!

That said, I wasn’t too hot on the hero. I like my heroes more alpha and Nick Venture is really more of a beta hero. He’s the leader of a ragtag, but experienced group of individuals in space flight, while he had none. I don’t really understand why being Christopher Columbus’s last descendant qualified him for the job or the respect he received. He kind of bumbled along and got lucky because he was an out of the box thinker.

I also thought the romance was a tad unbelievable with Raquel being so hot and cold (a double standard?  Heroes can usually get away with this…) She constantly pushed Nick away and considering how much time spent away from each other on separate ships with little communication, I found it hard to buy Nick’s near instant-love for the sexy pirate.

Recommended: For SFR fans, readers who love beta heroes, female pirates, and characters beating all the odds for a happy ending.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Once Upon A Time In Space

Review: Guardian Angel by Julie Garwood

bookreview

Guardian Angel by Julie Garwood is the second book in the set of three novels, Guardian Angel follows on the heels of The Lion’s Lady. I didn’t know this when I started and was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed the book. Usually I dislike sets of romances because one couple or half of a couple ends up irking me due to their actions in a previous book. However, Lyon and Christina are already wedded by this point and I loved them in their story. I did wonder as to their purpose in this novel, but Lyon is clearly Caine’s friend and trustworthy ally which Caine will need before the novel is up. Speaking on ends, I thought the ending to Guardian Angel was lacking in some fashion. I can’t put my finger on it but the ending left me feeling vaguely like how the ending of The Wedding made me feel… unresolved I guess.

The Marquess of Cainewood is on a mission. Revenge coldly calculated, this ruthless man has set out to avenge his brother’s death at the hands of the notorious pirate known only as Pagan. The pirate would meet his maker, and then perhaps Caine’s father would get some peace. Sitting in the back of a pub that had become his haunting place since his brother’s death, Caine’s evening is interrupted by the unexpected appearance of an angel with fiery red hair. She’s scared, trembling, but determined.

Her first question is about his identity… is he Pagan?

His charade as the pirate was working, but instead of drawing out the real Pagan, he got a maiden in distress. She asks him to kill her before the men after her catch up and do the job themselves. She wants to die quick and painlessly and hoped the honorable Pagan would help her. Honorable indeed! Caine refuses and shoulders the burdens of the young woman.

Jade he will find leads him on a merry goose chase after criminals who do and don’t exist. And all the while she is flitting about trying to keep Caine occupied, a real mystery is brewing… but also passion. Can Jade keep her heart safe or has a man finally pierced her shields to the vulnerable girl inside?

Rating: ★★★★☆

Edit: The sex in this novel doesn’t follow the usual path in romance novels. When Jade loses her virginity it’s not a quick flash of pain and then over with. I enjoyed how Garwood handled everything when it became an issue between Jade and Caine. Jade was also very tender for her second time. It was different than what I am used to in a romance novel and I found that I enjoyed it because of that.

Buy: Guardian Angel

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