Review: One Bite Per Night by Brooklyn Ann

one bite per night by brooklyn annFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: historical paranormal romance
Series: Scandals with Bite #2
Length: 372 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: August 5, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

The Dowager Countess of Morley asks Vincent Tremayne, Lord Vampire of Cornwall, to become guardian of her American granddaughter. Vincent honors the agreement and plans to get his new ward married and off his hands as soon as possible.

When Lydia Price arrives, she soon turns Vincent’s gloomy castle upside-down, and he decides he wants Lydia for himself. But if Vincent can’t protect Lydia from her entanglement with scandalous portrait painter Sir Thomas Lawrence, the vampire community will make sure that he—and Lydia—face dire consequences..

My Review:

bite me your grace by brooklyn annThis is the second book in Brooklyn Ann’s Scandals with Bite series (after Bite Me, Your Grace, reviewed last week) and I liked this one better than the first. I now have high hopes for book 3, Bite at First Sight, which I have scheduled for next week.

The formula is very similar to the first book, but it has been tweaked just a bit in ways that minimize the number of misunderstandammits and make the characters fit more comfortably, at least for this reader, into the unconventional heroine meets brooding hero plot.

(OMG I just realized that Lydia Price marries Vincent. If this isn’t a play on the name of the late horror film actor Vincent Price, I’ll eat my (fictional) parasol.)

Returning to the work in hand, Lydia truly is unconventional, not just on the inside where it counts, but also in her background. Her parents married for love, which was unusual enough, but her father gave up his wealth and title to marry her commoner mother. His mother disowned him and any children he might have, and turned her aristocratic and autocratic back on the lot of them.

Lydia grew up in New Orleans, where her parents fled to make a fresh start. It was a happy family until both Lydia’s parents died of yellow fever just about the time that Lydia should have been looking for a husband.

Instead, the orphan is on her way to England, to the hopefully accepting arms of the only family she has left. Unfortunately for her, that family is her hateful grandmother. Fortunately for Lydia, her grandmother is so hateful that she essentially bargains Lydia off to an old family connection.

Once upon a time in the 1600s, Vincent Tremayne, Earl of Deveril, pledged an alliance with his best friend, who was then Lord Morley. Lydia’s grandmother is that Lord Morley’s descendant, and Vincent feels duty bound to harbor his old friend’s great-great-granddaughter. Because while Lord Morley is long dead and has had several generations of descendants, Vincent is the Lord Vampire of Cornwall, and is still very much alive.

But Lydia brings a lot more life to his lonely castle than he ever thought possible. And not just because he has to finally hire enough servants to keep the whole place functioning again, as well as retain a chaperone for Lydia to supervise her “coming out” Season in London.

Lydia’s American upbringing has made her a refreshing change from the mostly simpering debutantes who have nothing on their minds but snaring a titled husband, whether by fair means or foul.

Lydia rides, shoots, fishes and paints. Those first three make her an ideal Countess for the remote Cornish estate – but all Vincent sees is a young woman with a zest for life who couldn’t possibly fall for the monster that Vincent sees himself to be.

All that Lydia sees is a handsome, brooding man who lights up in her company and encourages her intellectually.

Vincent admittedly also sees a way of getting back at her grandmother by ensuring that Lydia makes a more favorable match than her cousin, the grandchild that the old lady favors because she has the poor chit under her thumb.

Vincent’s first salvo in that polite war is to hire the best chaperone in England to supervise Lydia right out from under her grandmother. Miss Hobson sees the Earl and his ward together and decides that the most brilliant match available to Lydia is the one that appears to be the one after Lydia’s own heart. Miss Hobson begins scheming, in her quiet but effective little way, to get Lydia and Vincent together.

(After all, Vincent IS an Earl. It is a very brilliant match!)

The London Season offers plenty of opportunities for Vincent to avoid the affection that is growing between himself and his ward. Duchess Angelica Ashton, wife of the Lord Vampire of London and heroine of Bite Me, Your Grace, sees plenty of opportunities for a little mischief and more than a bit of matchmaking.

Lady Morley sees a titled Lord that she can both steal from her commoner granddaughter and possibly bring under her own sway into the bargain. She has no idea what she is attempting to bite off.

Lydia just sees Vincent pulling away from the friendship that they established in Cornwall. No one sees the very real danger that stalks them all.

Escape Rating B: Because readers of the first book already know quite a bit about the vampires of England and their governance, this story is able to delve more into its characters and spend a bit less time on explaining everything.

I like Lydia as the heroine. Her unconventionality is organic to her story. She’s not rebelling against expections, she’s trying to figure out where she fits between the expectations that her parents raised her under and the much, much stricter set of rules that confine English young ladies of a certain class. The rules of life have changed right under her, and in the midst of very real grief, and she is learning her place in her new world.

Vincent believes that as a vampire, he is a monster. He feels guilty for living, for everything he does, and does not want to bring someone else, namely Lydia, into a life which he feels will crush her spirit as it has crushed his. At the same time, he is an excellent lord, and takes care of his people, both human and vampire, and does what is a very good best by them. Ian Ashton often sends those who have been damaged by the change to Vincent for supervision and healing, and their partnership in this regard is quite successful.

As much as Vincent falls in love with Lydia, and it is great to watch them slowly and carefully reach out for each other, while he is certain that anyone else would be better for her. He sincerely tries to find her a mortal husband. In the end, Lydia has to seduce him (with Angelica Ashton’s wardrobe) to get him to see the light. Even then, he’s still in the process of convincing himself that his selfishness will not harm Lydia, and he isn’t certain.

When the decision is taken out of his hands, it puts all of them into even more danger. Rash actions produce drastic results. And while this story does eventually come to its blissful happily ever after, it was also incredibly pleasing to watch Lydia give her disgusting grandmother the comeuppance that she so richly deserved.

bite at first sight by brooklyn annOne of the secondary characters in this story who has continually made my “curiosity bump” itch is Ian’s second, the scarred Spanish vampire Rafael Villar. I am looking forward to finally discovering his story in Bite at First Sight. I have high hopes that it will be even better than One Bite Per Night.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Bite Me Your Grace by Brooklyn Ann

bite me your grace by brooklyn annFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: historical paranormal romance
Series: Scandals with Bite #1
Length: 354 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: April 2, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

England’s “vampire craze” causes much vexation for the Lord Vampire of London, Ian Ashton. To save his reputation, Ian enlists aspiring authoress Angelica Winthrop without realizing she has hidden plans of her own.

Angelica Winthrop’s life goal is to ruin her reputation, avoid marriage, and become a gothic authoress like her idol, Mary Shelley. To find inspiration for her new story, she breaks into the home of Ian Ashton, Duke of Burnrath, not knowing she will be coming up against the Lord Vampire of London. Romance sparks and reputations are at stake. But who knows the real difference between fact and fiction?

My Review:

I thought that this story was a lot of fun, but at the same time it felt as if it was as much of a send up or spoof of Regency romances as it was a Regency romance with a paranormal twist.

Still, it’s a genuinely light-hearted and fun spoof, if you want to take it that way. And there is a happily ever after that is going to mean a lot more of that “ever after” than is usual.

However, the tension in the story came more from a series of misunderstandammits than I would have preferred. On that other hand, so many of those misunderstandings are the result of a general lack of knowledge and information on the heroine’s part about the nature and preferences of vampires, as well as her more typical lack of knowledge of men and the way the world works.

Young misses of the upper classes were supposed to be innocent of worldly knowledge. Vampire knowledge is kept secret, so of course she hasn’t much clue on that score.

It was terrific to see the interweaving of the real rise in supernatural fiction with Angelica’s introduction into the real life of vampires. This story takes place at the time when Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and John Polidori’s The Vampyre (the forerunner of Bram Stoker’s Dracula) were all the rage.

And causing London’s Vampire Lord to gnash his fangs in his search for Polidori, his inspiration, and which one of the London vampires betrayed their kind and exposed them to ridicule and possible discovery.

Because London’s Vampire Lord is also Ian Ashton, the Duke of Burnrath. He has a place in ton society that he doesn’t exercise much but does cause a lot of jealousy and resentment in certain quarters. Also, his eccentric life (no one ever sees him at night) makes him an easy target for anyone who wants to suggest he is a vampire. Which, of course, he is.

In this case we have both an unconventional hero and an unconventional heroine. Ian is a vampire who regularly leaves the country, and returns 50 years later as his own properly documented heir. Being the Vampire Lord of London is sometimes frustrating, but he’s also getting tired and bored. And Polidori’s story has him seething.

Angelica is a headstrong young society miss who does not want to marry and turn into a society drone. She wants to become an author like Mary Shelley or Jane Austen. Of course, she has no idea what she will be getting herself into. Her plan is to “ruin herself” with her behavior so that her parents (especially her overbearing mother), will stop pushing her to get married.

Because Angelica is fascinated with gothic horror stories, she decides to check out Ian’s London house, which is conveniently across the street from her own. She lets herself in during the day and starts hunting for a ghost. She expects to find lots of inspiration in Ian’s dusty estate.

Instead, Ian finds her. According to the rules of the day, simply being alone in his house with him without a chaperone is enough to ruin her. What she doesn’t expect is that Ian will decide that marrying a human woman will throw off the scent of the very real vampire hunters who are after him.

That Angelica had no thought that her parents would fall all over themselves to “leg-shackle” her to the man who ruined her, whoever he might be, is just one of the ways that Angelica’s naivete is so clearly (and frequently) displayed.

Verbally sparring with Angelica, who is well if unconventionally educated, makes Ian feel alive in more ways than just sexually. She is different in ways that make her a challenge as well as a delightful surprise.

But they don’t talk to each other about what is really going on. Not just that Ian is a vampire, but what that will mean. Or even that he truly enjoys her unconventionality, especially including her extreme forthrightness.

That lack of communication nearly wrecks their fledgling marriage. Even more important, it very nearly gets both of them killed.

Escape Rating C: I liked Ian and Angelica, and the premise of the story was good, but there were too many things that drove me bananas.

As much external tension as exists in this story between Polidori’s elusiveness, the vampire hunter, and the continuing speculation on whether or not Ian is a vampire, the author concentrated too much on Angelica’s and Ian’s communication problems, which were legion. Everything that goes wrong in their story comes down to eavesdropping, misunderstandings and a complete unwillingness to talk to each other about anything serious. While this may have been the actual pattern at this point in history, that the entire difficulty in the relationship comes down a giant misunderstandammit almost made me stop in the middle.

Both Angelica’s mother and her grandfather felt like cardboard cutouts instead of real characters. It’s not just that Angelica sees her mother as being stupid, but that she consistently acts that way. Her mother’s desire to get Angelica married off is logical. That she never sees her very unconventional daughter as the person she really is grated on this reader’s nerves. While our time period may have different goals at least some of the time, what her mother wanted was the right thing for that era. That she never figured out that she used the wrong arguments and persuasions every single time made me cringe.

Angelica’s rich grandfather was just a nasty and overbearing bully. And creepy.

With all of the family drama going on, the introduction of a real bloodthirsty vampire hunter into this mix felt over-the-top. That one of Ian’s vampires was able to defy him and deceive him over Polidori also didn’t fit with the descriptions of how much vampires were obedient and beholden to their local lord. That the female vampire in question was as naive as Angelica, if not more so, made no sense.

This story had a lot of interesting ideas that didn’t quite gel for me. Your mileage may vary.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Stacking the Shelves (51)

Stacking the Shelves

My iPad is filled with two weeks of irresistible books, most of which are coming out in the fall. But…Rex Regis by L.E. Modesitt Jr. has the dubious distinction of being my book with the latest release date. Next year. And I’ve already read it and written the review. I’m so invested in the series that I couldn’t wait more than a day to dive back in!

Chicago Bear Teddy BearSpeaking of dubious distinctions and irresistibility, I picked one book up from Edelweiss that’s normally totally outside my review range, but it’s about some monsters that I remember. I was a very happy Chicago resident when the 1985 Chicago Bears won Super Bowl XX. I still have a commemorative Chicago Bear teddy bear from that glorious year. I hope the book does justice to just how much fun that season was. We’ll see.

Has anyone else noticed that there aren’t a lot of new books coming out in the next few weeks and then BAM! August 27?

Stacking the Shelves at Reading Reality July 20 2013

For Review:
Baring It All by Megan Frampton
The Christmas He Loved Her (Bad Boys of Crystal Lake #2) by Juliana Stone
The Crown Tower (Riyria Chronicles #1) by Michael J. Sullivan
Dangerous Women edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
The Heiress Effect (Brothers Sinister #2) by Courtney Milan
His Lordship Possessed (Disenchanted & Co. #2) by Lynn Viehl
Jaran (Jaran #1) by Kate Elliott
Love, Technically by Lynne Silver
Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football by Rich Cohen
My Lady Quicksilver (London Steampunk #3) by Bec McMaster
The Mysterious Case of Mr. Strangeway (St. Croix Chronicles #0.5) by Karina Cooper
On The Scent by Angela Campbell
Parasite (Parasitology #1) by Mira Grant
Playing the Part by Robin Covington (review at Book Lovers Inc)
Rex Regis (Imager Portfolio #8) by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
The Rose and the Thorn (Riyria Chronicles #2) by Michael J. Sullivan
The Strangled Queen (Accursed Kings #2) by Maurice Druon
To the 5th Power (Powers Trilogy #1) by Shirin Dubbin

Forged in Blood II (Emperor’s Edge #7) by Lindsay Buroker
Knight in Black Leather by Gail Dayton
Starliner by David Drake
Storm Force (Omega Force #1) by Susannah Sandlin

Checked Out from the Library:
The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig
The Mystery Woman (Ladies of Lantern Street #2) by Amanda Quick
Touchstone (Harris Stuyvesant #1) by Laurie R. King

Review: A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare

Night to surrender by tessa dareFormat read: Print book borrowed from the library
Formats available: Mass Market Paperback, ebook, Large Print
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency Romance
Series: Spindle Cove #1
Length: 372 pages
Publisher: Avon
Date Released: August 30, 2011
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Welcome to Spindle Cove, where the ladies with delicate constitutions come for the sea air, and men in their prime are… nowhere to be found. Or are they?

Spindle Cove is the destination of choice for certain types of well-bred young ladies: the painfully shy, young wives disenchanted with matrimony, and young girls too enchanted with the wrong men; it is a haven for those who live there.

Victor Bramwell, the new Earl of Rycliff, knows he doesn’t belong here. So far as he can tell, there’s nothing in this place but spinsters… and sheep. But he has no choice, he has orders to gather a militia. It’s a simple mission, made complicated by the spirited, exquisite Susanna Finch—a woman who is determined to save her personal utopia from the invasion of Bram’s makeshift army.

Susanna has no use for aggravating men; Bram has sworn off interfering women. The scene is set for an epic battle… but who can be named the winner when both have so much to lose?

My Review:

The “bluestocking meets her match” is one of the staples of Regency romance, but Spindle Cove may be the first time I’ve read about an entire village filled with that particular breed of heroine.

It makes for a very different type of Regency setting to read about a woman who is not only uninterested in balls and the gossip of the ton, but one who has created a haven for other women like herself, those who don’t quite fit into society’s expectations.

Susanna Finch is anachronistically ahead of her time, but in a way that makes her point of view an interesting and sympathetic way for the reader to view her world. We understand what makes her need to have a purpose to her life, why she wants meaningful work. She’s more like us than her normal contemporaries would be.

But she’s a complete vexation to Lieutenant Colonel Victor Bramwell and the men who follow him. Bram has been tasked with creating a militia company to defend Spindle Cove against the potential of invasion from Napoleonic France. The extremely unlikely invasion. Almost as unlikely as Bram finding two-dozen men for a militia company in a town commonly known as “Spinster’s Cove”. Susanna Finch’s managing ways have driven off most of the men.

On the other hand, the women who have flocked to her “ladies’ retreat” are keeping the town economically afloat. The town needs her.

Bram needs to prove he can raise that troop, to prove that the rifle ball he took to his knee did not rob him of the ability to command, even though being a commander of infantry means that he needs to be able to march miles with his men. His need to be back in the fight spurs him on.

Susanna’s father, Sir Lewis Finch, has promised Bram that he will make sure he gets his command back if he makes a success of the militia. He can make that promise, he is one of England’s foremost artillery experts and has a lot of pull with the Army.

But Sir Lewis has a habit of making promises in order to manipulate people. Sir Lewis wants to play with a new cannon design, and he’s using Bram’s militia company as an excuse to invite a clutch of dignitaries to the scene.

Sir Lewis also promised Susanna that he won’t experiment with cannons again. His promises to her are often broken.

The invasion of Bram and his men has ruined the peaceful feminine haven that Susanna has created. He thinks he’s there just long enough to get his command back. She thinks she can heal whatever is wounded inside him.

The sparks they light together are way more explosive than anything her father’s cannon will ignite, and just about as troublesome.

Escape Rating B: I’ve heard so many marvelous things about this series, that I finally picked it up, and I’m glad that I did. Spindle Cove is a neat place, where the misfits of very structured Regency society have a chance to be themselves. Too bad something like it probably didn’t exist.

Susanna and Bram both have serious trust issues, so it takes a long while for their relationship to become a relationship. They have chemistry from the beginning, but Susanna isn’t even sure what’s going on at first. She might have been a bit too naive for twenty-five.

The insight into medical treatment of women in that era was chilling, and the way it shaped Susanna’s character made the reader understand her reluctance to become emotionally involved.

Week to be Wicked by Tessa DareI’m curious to see how the couple in the next book, A Week to be Wicked, manage to get on. The set up was there, but it wasn’t what you might think. They aren’t even “in like” at this point. Far from it.

However, one does leave the story with an urge to slap Susanna’s father upside the head. Repeatedly.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Against the Wind by Regan Walker

Against the Wind by Regan WalkerFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Historical romance
Series: Agents of the Crown, #2
Length: 264 pages
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Date Released: March 19, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

A night in London’s most exclusive bordello. Agent of the Crown Sir Martin Powell would not normally indulge, but the end of his time spying against Napoleon deserves a victory celebration. Yet, such pleasure will not come cheap. The auburn-haired courtesan he calls “Kitten” is in truth Katherine, Lady Egerton, a dowager baroness and the daughter of an earl as elusive as she is alluring. She flees a fate worse than death. But Martin has known darkness, too, and he alone can touch her heart—as she has touched his. To the English Midlands they will steal, into the rising winds of revolution.

My Review:

When we think of the Regency, we think of ballrooms, the haut ton, and young ladies worrying about whether or not they will be considered diamonds of the first water or whether they will be wallflowers.

We don’t consider that the Regency was also the period of the Napoleonic Wars. Or that after the end of the Wars, in 1815, a lot of veterans returned from the continent to find that there were no jobs. Sound familiar?

Also the Regency saw the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. In addition to the returning war veterans, many textile workers were put out of work by machines. Poverty was widespread, and politicians feared a revolt of the masses in England, similar to the French Revolution.

The government decided to find out who the traitors might be by inciting them. Agents provocateurs were sent out to foment rebellion, so that the rebels could be spied upon and arrested.

This is the backdrop for Against the Wind. Sir Martin Powell is an English agent with a French background, formerly employed by the Prince Regent as a spy against Napoleon. He’s asked to perform one last service for his Prince. He’s asked to spy on those agents provocateurs, to see just how far the government is willing to go to incite rebellion.

Prinny’s ministers are planning to use the revolt as an excuse to enact even harsher laws than the ones already in place.

Martin takes this one last assignment, but before he does, he gets married. Again. And again he has a hostage to fortune.

While he was a spy in France, he had a wife he loved. Who was killed. And Martin never knew whether she was murdered by a random footpad, or whether the shot was meant for him.

This time, he marries to protect the woman from an evil bastard who is chasing her. But because he will not tell his second wife any of his secrets, he is no more able to protect her, or give her the knowledge to protect herself, than he was his first wife.

Martin’s nightmares come true. Again. But this time he might have a second chance.

Escape Rating B: The history behind this romance is very well done. The period of the early Industrial Revolution that is covered by this story was the first time that the word “Luddite” was used, and doesn’t that still have resonance? The Luddites, named after Samuel Ludd, were revolting against the use of machines to replace textile workers.

The economic plight of the Midlands village is well-drawn and so heart-breaking. It’s easy to see why people took up arms, especially when you compare their lives to the popular Regency romance. If this was how most people lived, then the balls at Almack’s seem excessively wasteful in comparison.

About the romance, Martin and Kit start off with a sexual encounter, then build an emotional relationship. They have chemistry from the beginning, but Kit wants to have a real relationship with her new husband, even if it’s just friendship and mutual respect.

There were one too many problems that needed to be tied up at the end. Kit is willing to marry Martin because her evil brother-in-law is stalking her. (Her sister is dead, he’s evil but not planning on a harem). Martin and Kit also have the problem that Martin is spying on the government agents but keeping her in the dark about it, and she doesn’t know if he’s part of the rebellion, or what he might be doing. The political plotting and counterplotting was fascinating, and highlighted Kit’s and Martin’s need to develop more trust in each other. A lot of their interpersonal problems and a big part of the plot hinge on them not trusting each other with their secrets. Admittedly, Martin’s spying for the government is a pretty huge secret!

And then there’s the evil brother-in-law swooping in. He added a melodramatic element to the conflict that felt like “one cook too many” to the pot. I was very glad to see him get his totally just desserts, but his part in the drama felt unnecessary. Martin’s espionage and the government drama was plenty of meat for this story!

Goddess Fish Against the Wind Banner

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Stacking the Shelves (42)

Stacking the Shelves

Another two-week sized stack. I have not been a good girl.

On the other hand, I keep giving in to the temptation that is the Macmillan/Tor whitelist on Edelweiss. I’ll confess to a not-so-hidden agenda, I’m hoping that Galen will borrow my Kindle and guest-review a couple of these for me.

But maybe I’ll keep all the goodies for myself. We’ll see.

Stacking the Shelves April 27 Reading Reality

For Review:
After Hours by Cara McKenna (review)
Burning the Page by Jason Merkoski
A Captain and a Corset (Steam Guardians #2) by Mary Wine
Carniepunk by Rachel Caine, Jennifer Estep, Kevin Hearne, Seanan McGuire, Rob Thurman, Delilah S. Dawson, Kelly Gay, Mark Henry
The Deepest Night (Sweetest Dark #2) by Shana Abé
The Exodus Towers (Dire Earth Cycle #2) by Jason M. Hough
The Goliath Stone by Larry Niven and Matthew Joseph Harrington
The Incrementalists by Steven Brust and Skyler White
The One-Eyed Man by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
A Question of Honor (Bess Crawford #5) by Charles Todd
The Right Bride (Hunted #3) by Jennifer Ryan
The Testing (Testing #1) by Joelle Charbonneau
The Testing Guide (Testing #0.5) by Joelle Charbonneau
Thieves’ Quarry (Thieftaker Chronicles #2) by D.B. Jackson
Two Serpents Rise (Three Parts Dead #2) by Max Gladstone
Werewolves by Damned (Magic & Mayhem #1) by Stacey Kennedy (review)
The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

The Duchess War (Brothers Sinister #1) by Courtney Milan
The Governess Affair (Brothers Sinister #0.5) by Courtney Milan
A Kiss for Midwinter (Brothers Sinister #1.5) by Courtney Milan
Midnight in Your Arms by Morgan Kelly
Out of the Past (Heritage Time Travel #1) by Dana Roquet

Borrowed from the Library:
Wild Invitation (Psy-Changeling #0.5,#3.5,#9.5,#10.5) by Nalini Singh

Review: And Then She Fell by Stephanie Laurens

And Then She Fell By Stephanie LaurensFormat read: ebook provided by Edelweiss
Formats available: ebook, mass market paperback, large print paperback, audiobook
Genre: Regency romance
Series: The Cynster Sisters Duo, #1
Length: 385 pages
Publisher: Avon
Date Released: March 26, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

The only thing more troublesome than a Cynster man…is a Cynster lady who belives love is not her destiny. Famously known in London society as “The Matchbreaker,” Henrietta Cynster’s uncanny skill lies in preventing ill-fated nuptials – not in falling victim to Cupid’s spell.

But then she distrupts one match too many and feels honor-bound to assist dashing James Glossup in finding a suitable bride for a marriage of convenience.

A task infernally complicated by the undeniable, unquenchable attraction that flares between James and Henrietta, who continues to believe she will never fall…

My Review:

And Then She Fell is the first one of Stephanie Laurens’ Cynster books that I’ve read in some time. But like many readers, the earlier books in the series are among my favorite Regency romances ever. I was very curious to see how much I would miss not having read the ones in the middle. And whether I would go immediately hunting through my shelves to find them!

Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh by Stephanie LaurensAnd Then She Fell is the story of Henrietta Cynster, the next-to-the-last Cynster female of her generation. Which does mean there is one more female, and one more book (The Taming of Ryder Cavanagh) in this particular cycle.

Henrietta is mature for a Regency heroine at 29, and I like her for it. She’s sensible and knows what she does and doesn’t want out of life. She’s no giggling, simpering miss. Even though she’s not sexually experienced (she’s unmarried and that would be very much out-of-character) she is intelligent and otherwise knowledgeable about the ways of her world. She doesn’t hold back on her opinions and she knows very well how to use the influence she has as a member of the illustrious Cynster family.

She’s earned a well-deserved nickname as “The Matchbreaker”. Young ladies of the ton come to her to investigate the true motives behind their suitors’ courtship. Henrietta delivers the goods. Not malicious gossip, but absolute facts. She doesn’t just break matches, she also makes them.

The story begins because her friend Melinda has requested an investigation of her suitor James Glossup’s motivation behind his courtship of her. Melinda desires a love match. James has another motive entirely. His great-aunt’s will left him a landed estate, but reserved the capital required to maintain it unless he married within one year of her death. James is wealthy enough to keep himself and a wife quite comfortably, but not to take care of all the tenants that he feels responsible for. Unless he marries in time, he’ll have to sell the estate. He was not honest with Melinda about his motives so Henrietta tells her friend that James would not suit her.

This leaves James with less than a month to find a bride. Complicating matters, James and her brother Simon are best friends. He’s a good man, he just has a big problem.

Henrietta the matchbreaker feels some responsibility for his predicament. The ton will know that she pronounced judgement on his unsuitability, without knowing the reason why. So she agrees to help him find a wife.

But the more time they spend together, the more they realize that the only match that needs to be made, is one between themselves.

However, Cynsters only marry for love. And that was not what James was initially offering. He will need to convince Henrietta that he has changed his mind. Or rather that his heart has truly become engaged in a suspiciously short period of time.

All while trying to protect her from mysterious attempts to take her life, for a reason that no one seems to be able to determine.

Have they left it too late?

Escape Rating B: And Then She Fell is a well-told addition to the Cynster saga. Henrietta’s position as “The Matchbreaker” makes her different from the usual run of Regency heroines, as does her position as a late-20’s woman who is not a widow and not a wallflower. She’s interesting in her own person, and not just as another Cynster. (Not that the Cynsters aren’t plenty interesting all by themselves!)

James Glossup was not particularly different from any other Regency male, at least as seen in this story. There are references to his having been a “wolf”, but in this outing he seems relatively tame. His “wolfish ways” might have been more apparent in some of the stories I missed.

The wonderful thing about the Cynster series is that it is terrific to see the members of the clan again, however briefly. One of the great things that happens is that when there is trouble, and there inevitably is trouble, the hero or heroine is not alone. She, or he, has all the resources of this marvelous family at their disposal. Henrietta needs help, and the Cynsters deliver. One of the best parts of And Then She Fell is that when Henrietta needs assistance, she calls on the Cynster women, and not the men, to come to her aid. And they deliver!

There are so many Cynsters that the family tree in the front of the book is absolutely required!

The mystery in the story concerns the identity of the man trying to kill Henrietta, and his true motives. The author did a pretty good job concealing the who and the deeper parts of why until the very end. Well done!

[Other reviews of And Then We Fell]
This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews.
***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Stacking the Shelves (40)

Stacking the Shelves

I listened to a webinar last week sponsored by Library Journal. Several publishers were highlighting their spring and summer books. It’s always good to hear about what’s coming out, even when it’s not in a genre I read myself.

The Human Division by John ScalziOne of the publishers was Macmillan, Tor’s parent company. Even though they didn’t talk science fiction, they sent this nice email afterwords, saying that any librarian who attended could get white-listed on Edelweiss for any Macmillan title. My eyes bugged out when they listed The Human Division as one of the books I could get.

I didn’t just get John Scalzi’s The Human Division, his return to his Old Man’s War universe, I’ve already inhaled it. And written my review. The only reason I haven’t posted it yet is because it’s too early to publish.

Just what I needed…more books. Yes!

Stacking the Shelves March 30 2013

For Review: (ebooks)
Beauty and the Blacksmith (Spindle Cove #3.5) by Tessa Dare
Dancing With the Devil (Nikki & Michael #1) by Keri Arthur
Death of Yesterday (Hamish Macbeth #29) by M.C. Beaton
His Southern Temptation (Boys Are Back In Town #2) by Robin Covington
The Human Division (Old Man’s War #5) by John Scalzi
Lord of Darkness (Maiden Lane #5) by Elizabeth Hoyt
A Riveting Affair by Candace Havens, Lily Lang, Patricia Eimer
Rules of Entanglement (Fighting for Love #2) by Gina L. Maxwell
Seduction by M.J. Rose
The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh (Cynster Sisters Duo #2) by Stephanie Laurens

Borrowed from the Library: (print)
Ran Away (Benjamin January #11) by Barbara Hambly
The Shirt On His Back (Benjamin January #10) by Barbara Hambly

Stacking the Shelves (36)

Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews

What can I say? I’m back to my regular, over-stacking ways.

The unexpected treat in this batch is Anne Hillerman’s Spider Woman’s Daughter (egalley at Edelweiss). She is picking up the threads of the late, great Tony Hillerman’s Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee mysteries, set in the jurisdiction of the Navajo Tribal Police in the Four Corners area of Arizona and New Mexico. I so hope Anne has inherited her father’s talent for storytelling!

Book Covers March 2 2013

For Review: (ebooks)
And Then She Fell (Cynster Sisters Duo #1) by Stephanie Laurens
Beyond Control (Beyond #2) by Kit Rocha
A Corner of White (Colors of Madeleine #1) by Jaclyn Moriarty
Down and Dirty (Dare Me #2) by Christine Bell
Fargoer by Petteri Hannila
Lightning Rider by Jen Greyson
Midnight at Marble Arch (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt #28) by Anne Perry
The Reluctant Assassin (W.A.R.P. #1) by Eoin Colfer
The Show (Northwest Passage #3) by John A. Heldt
Serviced: Volume 1 by Allie A. Burrow (and others)
The Spinster’s Secret by Emily Larkin
Spider Woman’s Daughter by Anne Hillerman
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker
What She Wants (Life in Icicle Falls #4) by Sheila Roberts
A Woman Entangled (Blackshear Family #3) by Cecilia Grant

Purchased: (ebooks)
Border Lair (Dragon Knights #2) by Bianca D’Arc
Calculated in Death (In Death #36) by J.D. Robb

Borrowed from the Library: (print)
The Bughouse Affair (Carpenter and Quincannon #1) by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini

Review: Waterfall by Lacy Danes

Format read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Dragon’s Fate
Length: 153 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Date Released: January 1, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance

It’s easy to fall in love. Destiny requires tooth and claw.

Dragon’s Fate, Book 1

Curses are designed to be cruel, but the one afflicting Jordan and his brothers is almost beyond bearing. A dragon born by blood magic, he is an immortal trapped in human form, with only one hope of finding his eternal mate. He must bite her—and pray she lives.

One dark night, he senses the wounded heartbeat of a woman in the shadows, begging him to end her life. Ever the gentleman, he chivalrously obliges her wish. Only to discover three days later that she lives. And has married another.

Celeste always dreamed of marrying for love, but the nightmare of living in her father’s home drives her to wed the Duke of Hudson. Yet on her wedding eve, she is compelled to follow a mysterious man who professes to know her secret. A man with curious blue scales on his muscular arms—whose shadowed eyes reflect a dangerous mix of destiny and desire…

Product Warnings
This novel contains explicit sex, sex in water, four super-hot dragon brothers, and a curse born from magical power that has left them wondering who they are all their lives.

My Review:

Dragons, fated mates, infidelity and vampires. Oh and did I mention dragons?

The concept for this series  (Waterfall is definitely the first (and introductory at that) novella in a series) is fascinating.

Four dragons are born from stone eggs and cursed to live as immortal men. Each brother has power over one of the elements. None have any memory of being dragons.

They call themselves the Zir.

All they know is that the curse will end when they find their destined mates.

It’s a pity that the only way they will recognize their fated mates is by biting a poor woman (yes, like a vampire) and having her survive the poison they inject into their bites.

Each brother has left a string of lovely corpses behind him. Five centuries worth of corpses.

And their powers are fading. It’s a curse after all.

Until Jordan, the water dragon, finds Celeste washed up on shore, surrounded by the wrack of a terrible disaster at sea. Celeste is the only survivor. He bites her to give her a quick death, because her body is broken beyond all possibility of survival.

The next time he sees her, she is about to become the bride of one of their few human allies, the Duke of Hudson. Her survival means that she is Jordan’s mate.

Hudson’s long set plan to marry her means that someone else has been manipulating all of them like pieces on a chessboard. But none of the brothers, or, for that matter, poor Hudson, know who the other chessplayer really is. Or even why he’s playing.

All Jordan knows is that she is the reward for his centuries of endless waiting. The world has come alive for him again. And Celeste finally discovers that all the eerie things that have made her different, are all part of being fated to mate the water dragon.

But first there is this pesky problem of Celeste already having a promised husband. And that the Zir have a powerful enemy who has been waiting a long time for a chance to defeat them. Again.

Escape Rating B: There’s a lot of terrific build up of the scenario. This alternate Regency world, where those who are slightly “other” are known to the ton, is pretty cool.

But we only get glimpses of how things got there. It felt a bit like a tease.

It was definitely a tease about how the Zir got to be cursed, but we only know what they know, so that was fair.

The Duke of Hudson had to have had a powerful reason for going so completely “dark side”, and we only got a glimpse of it. We don’t see how he got seduced to fall. He was more of a charicature than a real villain. Or even a front for the real villain.

I enjoyed the story for the way it begins the saga. In this particular instance, the “fated mates” trope does make sense. There was certainly a reference in the story that what Jordan and Celeste felt wasn’t love, but that it could be in time.

Using the destined mates trope as an excuse for infidelity, just doesn’t say “romance” to me. It may be “curse-ending” but it’s not romance. On that other hand, paranormals don’t promise happy endings, just more adventures.

And I always want more worldbuilding. I can’t wait to see what Ms. Danes does with this fascinating setup. I’m looking forward to finding out the next brother’s and dragon’s fate.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.