Review: Knight of Love by Catherine LaRoche

knight of loveHero: The hero has a complicated name. He is Wolfram von Wolfsbach und Ravensworth, also known as Wolf, the English Earl of Ravensworth. He first meets the heroine when he’s undercover as a blacksmith in Prince Kurt’s court, where he finds her being publicly whipped for a small infraction to the amusement of the Prince. Barely able to contain himself, Wolf watches and then volunteers to carry Lenora upstairs where he gives her a large knife for protection.

Heroine: Despite appearances to the contrary, Lady Lenora Trevelyan is not a damsel in distress. She is resourceful and determined to make her escape on her own… no knight in shiny armor needed. She successfully escapes her abusive fiancé, Prince Kurt von Rotenburg-Gruselstadt and is galloping toward freedom and safety with the English/German diplomat… and gets captured by rebels just days down the road. The head of the rebel camp is none other than the blacksmith who gave her the knife.

Review: The hero is an unusual mix of beta and alpha characteristics. He’s very flowery in his language, chivalrous, and believes in love at first sight, but is also skilled at war, believes in civil rights of man (and woman,) and carefully controlling to ensure all is in his favor. For my tastes, I would have had less flowery language and more determined wooing. Wolf arranges a wedding to Lenora in order to protect her – this battlefield wedding is hardly legit as she didn’t give her consent. Still, he consummates the marriage in a forced seduction that evening. It is a heartbreaking (and erotic) experience for both of them which makes it successful. That night destroys what trust Lenora had in him. Now she’s plotting a new escape… but it’s harder to break the touch of silk than the touch of iron. There’s also an erotic scene where Lenora is in full control of Wolf and that is also successful as it is healing for both. I felt the story fell short when it changed locations from Germany to England. It was a night and day difference and the smoldering passion cooled quickly. Definitely a memorable read.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Knight of Love

Review: Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, Book 2) by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night by Deborah HarknessReviewed by Sharon S.

I had heard wonderful things about A Discovery of Witches so when I got an opportunity to review the sequel Shadow of Night I thought, perfect! Unfortunately this is a series that needs to be read in order. Harkness did a great job of catching the reader up on her world building, except for what Daemon are. I still don’t know anything about them and considering one of the main characters in this book, Kit Marlow, is one I would think Harkness would have mentioned more about them. What you don’t get by skipping the first book is the emotional connection to the main couple Diana and Matthew. I can tell it was a passionate and emotionally volatile romance, but without it I wasn’t able to fully appreciate Shadow of Night. I love first person POV, but I found Diana a bit sterile and boring in her account of events. The subject matter is fabulous and I recognize and respect what Harness has accomplished with this book and the series as a whole, but I just didn’t like Diana.

Now, Matthew is whole other story. I love a complex and emotionally damaged paranormal Alpha male. Matthew is a 1500 year old vampire and in this book he must face the past he has never really been able to let go of. He is the perfect blend of powerful, sexy and scary. It is because we only see him through Diana’s eyes that make him so mysterious and absolutely delicious! I plan on reading the first book just to experience more Matthew. Another character I connected too was Matthew’s father Philippe, and watching these two interact was heartbreaking and touching.

I don’t know about A Discovery of Witches, but Shadow of Night is more like a historical, which isn’t my favorite genre. I got tired of Diana’s constant commentary on her surroundings and the ways of Elizabethan period. I do appreciate the effort it took Harkness to weave factual history and her made up world into one story.

I honestly don’t think I can rate this book in a fair manner. If you have read the first one and loved it, then you are going to go nuts over this one. There are tons of surprises that I am sure you won’t see coming (isn’t that mean <G>, but I can’t spoil). If you haven’t read the first book yet, then do so before picking this one up. And lift some weights, because this book is almost 600 pages long! I am going to give the book 3.5 stars when read as a stand-alone.

Rating: ★★★½☆ (as a stand alone novel)

Buy: Shadow of Night: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy)

Private Jets in Regency England?

meganmulryroyalpainGuest Blog by Megan Mulry, author of A Royal Pain

Thanks so much for having me! Whenever I look at the name of your blog, there’s always a voice in my mind saying, “Check. Check. Check!” When I started reading romance novels I was like a really bad addict. I wanted it all—Dukes. Earls. Ball gowns. Private jets.

Wait. What? Private jets in Regency England?

And I didn’t want time travel. I wanted a duke. And I wanted him now. As in the present. I wanted him all reserved and proper (which is really just a veneer over all that roiling passion and encouraging prowess to bring the heroine to…well, you get the picture). I came to this genre pretty late in life, via Julia Quinn and Judith McNaught and Amanda Quick. I love snappy dialogue and I love angst. I can tolerate even the most protracted, diabolical misunderstandings if the characters have me hooked. Flowers from the Storm, for example? Just yes.

So how did I get from there to A Royal Pain? The short answer is I have no clue. But let’s just pretend for the sake of this blog that I have the slightest idea as to how or why any of this came to be. So there I am reading every Amanda Quick at the public library, plowing through McNaught and Quinn and Eloisa James. I’m still chugging along. I’m reading and reading, not even giving a thought to writing and then BAM! it hits me. I want something…a mash-up. I want all the meticulous social observation of the drawing room Regency and the powerful Duke (the one in A Royal Pain is very responsible, but don’t worry, in Earl Meets Girl his younger brother is a horrible reprobate in need of the redemption that only one kind-hearted American girl can give him)…but I digress.

Right. No time travel! I just wasn’t feeling this as a time travel idea. But I couldn’t let go of wanting all that buttoned-up duke-ish manpower right here in the midst of our (supposedly) sexually liberated present. Guess what? Turns out you can write whatever the hell you want when you don’t have an agent or a book deal! (In fact, you can do that after you have an agent and a book deal, too…but it becomes slightly more complicated…apparently readers develop something called “expectations”…but that would be another blog!) Anyway, I pretty much just sat down and tried to weave all of those ideas and emotions into one big story. And if I was able to draw upon some of the crap that life had thrown me, all the better. Writers are allowed—nay, encouraged!—to use every last bit of that…imaginary…stuff. Mostly imaginary. Reified, maybe?

Well, anyway. I suppose I followed the write-what-you-want-to-read rule before I had ever heard of that rule. And I wanted it hot. So I did that, too. I made it steamy. As my editor said, “I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but I think we might need to take out a few of the sex scenes.” And if it turns out that other people end up liking the duke and the jets and the, ahem, intimacy, well, that’s like the world’s best cherry on top. Because, like any good addict, I merely grew up to become a supplier.

Buy: A Royal Pain

GIVEAWAY: 1 copy of A Royal Pain up for grabs. Open to US or CAN readers. Enter by leaving a comment. Share some of the ideas you love to read and want written! Last day to enter: November 24, 2012.

Review: Wild Rides by Elizabeth Coldwell

Reviewed by Sharon S.

Ridden Hard, Stud to Go, Layover… A collection of three intensely erotic gay novellas – prepare yourself for a Wild Ride!

Whew! I think I need to fan myself after reading these stories <G>.  I read and reviewed Ridden Hard a while back for LRP and gave it 5 stars. So when I got a chance to read more by Coldwell I jumped at the chance. I always say I don’t like erotica, but I think I might have to rethink that when it comes to m/m romances. These three stories are over the top, throwing every possible sexual scenario at you in a very short amount of time. Ben, the lead character in Stud to Go manages to be involved in voyeurism, BDSM, ménage, masturbation and probably some others I forgot, with multiple people. In his defense, he was working as a male escort.

These stories worked for me because of how well developed and likable the characters are.  Each story is told in the first person POV, which I am quite fond of. I immediately loved each lead character. They are good natured, funny and all around nice guys. Coldwell has a talent for writing wonderful characters and she will have you rooting for them and their HEA, which they all get I might add.  The sex might be rough and crazy, but the romance behind all that is so strong and sweet it will leave you wanting more.

My favorite of the three was Stud to Go. I loved Ben and Jeroen. It is almost like a m/m version of Pretty Woman (for those who remember that one <G>). Layover was my least favorite of the three, but I still liked it! We are talking 5 stars vs 4 stars, but I didn’t feel the same connection between Cal and Justin as I did with the other two couples.

If you like m/m, HEA, and freaking hot sex, then you will love this collection :)

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Wild Rides

Review: The Forbidden Wife by Sharon Kendrick

Before you start: Have you read Jane Eyre? Did you like it? Well The Forbidden Wife followed Jane Eyre to a Tee, which is great if you love Jane Eyre (which I do) but awful if you’re looking for new surprises (I was and there wasn’t any).

Heroine: 18 year old Ashley Jones is an orphan who grew up in the foster care system. She’s got lots of debt and so desires jobs that include room and board. She’s pretty perceptive and has a lot of insights on people’s behavior because of her upbringing. Working as Jack’s live-in assistant at Blackwood Manor is her ticket for something better, even if it’s located out in the middle of nowhere on the moors.

Hero: 30 something Jack Marchant is working on a novel about his experiences in the military where something bad happened (but is never explained). He suffers a lot from bad dreams which might be indicative of PTSD (but again never specifically stated). He wants Ashley, his little oddball, something fierce, but the trick is making her realize she wants him and can have him.

Wife in the Attic: Or in this case the cruel wife in a coma. She tricked Jack into marriage with a fake pregnancy, which he honored even after finding out because he didn’t want her to swindle him out of money for a marriage that was only 3 months old and also because his pride demanded he make it work anyway.

Review: I wanted Forbidden Wife to do more. If it explored more emotional depth out of Ashley and Jack it could have been a solid update on Jane Eyre. I found this review of the story hilarious because it really tells it like it is.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Buy: The Forbidden Wife (Harlequin Presents)

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Review: Promises, Promises by Erica James

Reviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Main Characters: Maggie Storm, wife to car mechanic Dave for 17 years. Maggie is a housekeeper to Ethan Edwards. Ethan owns his own business and his wife Francine loves to spend his money. Ella Moore is a decorative paint artist who ends up doing work for Francine.

The book setting is in England and for some American readers you may get lost among some of the words, phrases, and references – unless you want to do some sleuthing to find out what they mean. Erica does a great job of describing settings. The reader can almost picture the places where the story takes place.

We see that Maggie loves to go to the library on her day off and read books – and guess what, she loves to read romance novels. She’s miserable at home. Her husband’s nickname is “Mr. Blobby” and she has a terror of a mother-in-law. Will she ever stick up for herself? You’ll just have to read to find out.

This story seems to interconnect all the main characters. Ella meets Ethan, although she doesn’t know it at the time, by saving him from getting mugged. Ethan’s wife always wants to impress everyone and the only way to do that is to do that is to spend all of Ethan’s money and then some. So she hires Ella.

If you want to get a picture in your mind of what Francine may be like – think of the old movies, or soap operas, where the wife is totally oblivious to anything but spending her husband’s money so that she can show off to her neighbors.

Thrown into this crazy mix is the next door neighbor’s wife that has the hots for Ethan. We also see what lengths she will go to – she wants Ethan all to herself. You will need to read the book to see how this all works out in the end.
We get a lot of backstory on our main characters – sometimes I think a little too much. It may have made the book a little more interesting if there was a little less character history. It seemed to make the story drag at certain times. Would it have changed the story any if some of it was left out?

At one point in the story we see Ethan musing about some of his previous conquests. I don’t know that this adds anything to the story. The only thing it does is gives the reader a look into how much of a philanderer Ethan really is.

Erica writes one scene of Ethan having dinner with a client. I don’t see that this added anything to the story other than showing the fiscal hard times he’s having. But couldn’t this have been shown some other way?

Ella also has an ex-boyfriend Lawrence who wants to get back together with her. But after seeing how things used to be between them, does she really want to put herself through that again? Isn’t there someone else better out there for her?

Maggie meets a guy named Daryl Delaney. She ends up starting to have a relationship with him. Like a lot of stories, she gets caught and then makes herself miserable because of it.

The book just seemed to go on and on. It wasn’t until I was three-fourths of the way through the book that I finally started to enjoy it. I will say that Erica did a great job of showing how Ethan’s family acted after he got sick. It all follows with how they act at the beginning.

If you’re looking for a sexy chick-lit book you won’t find it here. It reads more like a soap opera. It’s an ok story but if I were to read it again, I would go check it out from my local library.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Promises, Promises

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Review: The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton (The Burgundy Club, Book 3) by Miranda Neville

Heroine: Kidnapped, Celia Seaton is no passive miss. At the first opportunity she gets out of the attic of a two story cottage wearing only her under clothes. Stumbling upon her worst enemy (who doesn’t even know he’s her enemy because she doesn’t register on his radar) conked out across the threshold of the house, Celia hesitates on what to do. When he wakes and doesn’t know who he is a brilliant idea takes shape.

Hero: Tarquin Compton is a rich fashionable dandy (but not gentry) who collects erotic books and books on poetry. When he gets lost in the moors he stops at a cottage for directions and gets knocked out by Celia’s kidnapper. When he wakes he suffers from amnesia and buys Celia’s story that he’s her fiance. Well he buys some of it anyway, there’s no way his name is Terence Fish, which makes him wonder if he tricked Celia about who he was in order to seduce her.

Favorite Moments: When she gives him her web of lies about who he is and what he means to her, the cauliflower incident, and when she gives herself to him.

Missed Opportunity: Tarquin immediately confronts Celia about her ill use of him after the return of his memories, instead of actively trying to be the man she created for him. I thought he was really falling for her at the time and would rather go undercover to discover if she really loved him or was just using him before his confrontation. But apparently he needed to get his head on straight before he could regret his harsh actions/words.

And heroine should have said once when he was still suffering from amnesia that she loved him… all of him even the parts he couldn’t remember, because she was darn near thinking it and that would have been sweet. It would also force Tarquin to come to terms with his idiocy sooner. Luckily she rejects his reluctant and insulting proposal to patch up her now ruined reputation.

Mystery: Why is an ex-fiance/governess who has been tossed aside/dismissed for moral turpitude kidnapped? Terence Fish wants to know and so should you!

Review: A fun romp with witty banter, a plucky heroine, an amnesiac hero, and cauliflower! You won’t regret running out to get this book for your collection.

Rating: ★★★★½

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Top 10 Reasons to Travel to Victorian England

by Isabel Cooper, guest blogger and author of No Proper Lady

When Joan, the heroine of No Proper Lady, finds herself back in Victorian England, she’s pretty happy about it. Sure, she takes issue with some expectations for women—but compared to the post-apocalyptic future she came from, where demon lords rule the Earth, 1888 is a pretty easy time to live. Since my time includes more lattes and laptops and fewer tentacled things trying to eat my face, I think I’d be less enthused about going back permanently.

As a tourist, though? Absolutely. Get me some money, a fake name, and a chance to go back to the twenty-first century next time I get a cavity, and I’d take all my vacation days in Victorian England. Here’s why:

10. An Age of Discovery! Evolution, spiritualism, railways, automobiles—the Victorian era was as inventive and controversial as our own, and people really seemed to get invested in the theories as well as the gadgets. They also used More Capital Letters, which may or may not be a good thing.

9. Travel Was Fun. If you had the money, first class on a railway sounds like it beats any road trip I ever took. Plush seats, private compartments, and great dining when you stop, plus nobody would be talking on their cell phone. Likewise, I’d much rather cross the ocean by boat than by plane if I could go in luxury. Sure, it’s slower, but that brings me to my next point…

8. Life Was Slower.  Which is weird, because I am not a patient woman—ask anyone. But maybe that means it would do me good to go to a time and place where I had to slow down and take it easy. Maybe I’d take more in, relax a little, and be better for it. Sounds nice, anyhow.

7. Food. Again, this is one of those things that depends on having money. But if you did…wow. I’ve seen some menus from the time. Meat. Cream. Pastries that defy the imagination. I would explode, but I would enjoy myself until I did.

6. You’re a Time Traveler.  In itself, that’s pretty cool. You can try and change the past; if you can’t change the past, you can always make strangely knowing predictions and impress young men/women; and you can always hope to run into David Tennant.

5. The Clothes (Women). Oh my God, the clothes—and the reasons to wear them. In my daily life, it’s hard not to just wander around in jeans and a turtleneck, and while that’s good in its way, I’d love to have some motivation to make myself all pretty and have tea, or go dancing, or similar.

4. Dancing. Yes, people dance today. I do it myself, and it’s fun—and the ratio of men to women in most dancing groups my age is not great. Back in the 1800s, men who danced were not rare and majestic creatures like the noble…I’ve run out of metaphor here, but you get my point.

3. Active Recreation. Or at least different recreation. I like video games as well as the next geek girl, but it would be nice to sing for fun, or dance, or ride horses or row boats—and to have those things be regular amusements rather than once-in-a-while novelties.

2. Meeting Future Famous People. Darwin. Dickens.  Tennyson. Eliot. You could have harsh words with Freud, if you wanted, and maybe set him straight about a few things. Why not?

1. The Clothes (Men). Insofar as I have recently been a single young woman, and insofar as the baseball cap dude-bro look does not flatter one single person ever, and neither does the cartoon-t-shirt neckbeard look…I would so not mind an era when the average guy wore a nice suit regularly. Nope. Would not mind that at all.

NO PROPER LADY BY ISABEL COOPER – IN STORES SEPTEMBER 2011

It’s Terminator meets My Fair Lady in this fascinating debut of black magic and brilliant ball gowns, martial arts, and mysticism.

England, 1888. The trees are green, the birds are singing, and in 200 years demons will destroy it all. Unless Joan, a rough-around-the-edges assassin from the future, can take out the dark magician responsible. But to get close to her target she’ll need help learning how to fit into polite Victorian society to get close to her target.

Simon Grenville has his own reasons for wanting to destroy Alex Reynell. The man used to be his best friend—until his practice of the dark arts almost killed Simon’s sister. The beautiful half-naked stranger Simon meets in the woods may be the perfect instrument for his revenge. It will just take a little time to teach her the necessary etiquette and assemble a proper wardrobe. But as each day passes, Simon is less sure he wants Joan anywhere near Reynell. Because no spell in the world will save his future if she isn’t in it.

Buy: No Proper Lady

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Debut author Isabel Cooper lives in Boston and maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager working in legal publishing. She only travels through time the normal way and has never fought a demon, but she can waltz. Her next book, No Honest Woman, will be in stores in April 2011. For more information, please visit http://isabelcooper.wordpress.com.

GIVEAWAY: I have 2 copies of No Proper Lady for 2 lucky readers. Open to US and Canadian readers/addresses only. Enter by leaving a comment about why you would want to visit Victorian England! Last Day to Enter: October 15, 2011.