Monday, July 7, 2014

Review: Sight Unseen


Sight Unseen
Sight Unseen by Iris Johansen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



From Goodreads: The #1 New York Times bestselling author and the Edgar Award winning author are back with a new a new novel featuring Kendra Michaels—hired gun for both the CIA and FBI

A deadly multi-vehicle pile-up on San Diego’s historic Cabrillo bridge is thought of as a horrific accident–until Kendra Michaels arrives on the scene and perceives it as something much more sinister. Blind for decades and now sighted, Kendra's unusual skill for observation is highly sought after by both the FBI and CIA. Now her amazing conclusions open up a multi-jurisdictional investigation that once again teams her with the FBI and federal agent Adam Kyle as they investigate a conspiracy so explosive that someone will kill again and again to protect it. As the killer casts a deadly web of lies, Kendra’s life hangs in the balance, as do the lives of those she holds most dear.

My Thoughts: While the Johansen books follow a bit of a formula, this one wasn't quite as obvious and I found myself really enjoying it and trying to guess at the various twists and turns. The writing wasn't as stilted as I sometimes feel it has been at times in the more recent books, and I ended up reading this in one sitting! The story was good and I enjoy Kendra as the heroine. The mystery part itself wraps up a bit abruptly, but sets it up great for the next installment. I'd have liked a bit more focus on Kendra's relationships, particularly with Adam, as it seems like we'll be seeing more of him in Kendra's books! Overall, a good story, interesting characters, a disturbing bad guy, and enough entertainment value to thoroughly enjoy.





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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Review: When the Marquess Met His Match


When the Marquess Met His Match
When the Marquess Met His Match by Laura Lee Guhrke

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



From Goodreads: What happens when a carefree, disreputable, stone-broke bachelor is forced to find a wife in a hurry? He hires a matchmaker, of course. What happens when the matchmaker doesn’t want to help him? Well, that’s when the fun begins…

Nicholas Stirling, Marquess of Trubridge, loves his life just as it is: dissolute, scandalous, and deuced good fun. His father, the Duke of Landsdowne is not amused, and when he cuts off Nicholas’ trust fund, the fun-loving marquess is forced to find an alternate source of income—in other words, he has to marry an heiress.

Every new-money American heiress knows Lady Belinda Featherstone is the key to social acceptance. Once a new-money nobody herself, Belinda discovered first-hand how heartbreaking the game of love and matrimony could be after a reprobate British earl married her for her money. Now a respectable widow, Belinda has become England’s most successful matchmaker, guiding young American heiresses through the hazards of the London season and helping them to find husbands worthy of them. To her mind, the Marquess of Trubridge is nothing but a fortune-hunting scoundrel and she has no intention of allowing him to charm his way into any American girl’s heart, including her own.

My Thoughts: One of the things I like about Ms. Guhrke's books is her time period (a bit later than many historicals) and her independent, modern heroines. That continues here, although the story, or perhaps maybe the hero, didn't grab me as much as some of the past books have. It was still an enjoyable read, setting up the next book well, and parts of the book were very enjoyable. I like seeing England through the eyes of the Americans at the time, it is a different angle than many books take, and makes for stories that are new and different, which I enjoy.



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Review: The Sum of All Kisses


The Sum of All Kisses
The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



From Goodreads: Hugh Prentice has never had patience for dramatic females, and if Lady Sarah Pleinsworth has ever been acquainted with the words shy or retiring, she's long since tossed them out the window. Besides, a reckless duel has left this brilliant mathematician with a ruined leg, and now he could never court a woman like Sarah, much less dream of marrying her.

Sarah has never forgiven Hugh for the duel he fought that nearly destroyed her family. But even if she could find a way to forgive him, it wouldn't matter. She doesn't care that his leg is less than perfect, it's his personality she can't abide. But forced to spend a week in close company they discover that first impressions are not always reliable. And when one kiss leads to two, three, and four, the mathematician may lose count, and the lady may, for the first time, find herself speechless ...

New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn's enchanting third novel in the Smythe-Smith quartet is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud and tug at your heartstrings in equal measures.

My Thoughts: I adore Julia Quinn and everything I have read of hers. This was no different and came through with a wonderful story with entertaining characters and a hero/heroine who both come to know themselves a bit better, in both good and bad ways. Moments in her books always make me giggle out loud, and that trend continued. This was one I quickly read and enjoyed from start to finish. I can always count on Julia Quinn for a quick, enjoyable read.



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Review: The Wicked Wallflower


The Wicked Wallflower
The Wicked Wallflower by Maya Rodale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



From Goodreads: Maya Rodale's captivating new series introduces London's Least Likely—three wallflowers who are about to become the toast of the ton…

Lady Emma Avery has accidentally announced her engagement—to the most eligible man in England. As soon as it's discovered that Emma has never actually met the infamously attractive Duke of Ashbrooke, she'll no longer be a wallflower; she'll be a laughingstock. And then Ashbrooke does something Emma never expected. He plays along with her charade.

A temporary betrothal to the irreproachable Lady Avery could be just the thing to repair Ashbrooke's tattered reputation. Seducing her is simply a bonus. And then Emma does what he never expected: she refuses his advances. It's unprecedented. Inconceivable. Quite damnably alluring.

London's Least Likely to Misbehave has aroused the curiosity—among other things—of London's most notorious rogue. Now nothing will suffice but to uncover Emma's wanton side and prove there's nothing so satisfying as two perfect strangers…being perfectly scandalous together.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this first book in a new series by Ms. Rodale. I have not read many of hers in the past, but this may have me hooked! I loved the three main female characters, their friendships, their quirks and personalities. They were definitely relatable, even though we're talking about generations ago :) Our hero had work to do, but most good heroes do to earn the title. The story was fun, but what really shined here were all the characters involved in the story, from minor to major. Definitely a series I will be looking to follow!



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Review: The Ruin of a Rogue


The Ruin of a Rogue
The Ruin of a Rogue by Miranda Neville

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



From Goodreads: Charm, wit, and nerves of steel have helped Marcus Lithgow gamble his way across the Continent. But when his heart is at stake, all bets are off for this most perfect rogue...

It's been years since Marcus set foot in England—why toy with the ton when he can fleece wealthy fools in Paris and Rome? Yet everything changes when he inherits a ramshackle estate. Marcus's first and only chance at a respectable life needs funding . . . the kind Anne Brotherton can provide. Such a wallflower should be ripe for the picking. So why does Marcus feel like he's the one hanging by a thread?

Anne Brotherton is sick and tired of being an heiress. She cannot bring herself to marry a fortune hunter. Why can't men like her for her sharp mind and kind hearts rather than her impressive dowry?

She nearly falls for Marcus's smooth seduction. But when Anne realized she's being strung along, a lust for payback empowers her like never before. Two can play the game of deception. The game of love, however, has its own rules.

My Thoughts: A slow start had me putting this down a few times, but I typically really enjoy this author (and enjoyed the first in the series as well and so I was determined to finish. I'm glad I did, the last half read much faster and with more entertainment in both the story and the characters themselves. The bit of a twist at the end was a plus. I don't recall enjoying this series quite as much as some of Ms. Neville's in the past, but she is still an author you can count on for a good read.



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Review: The Governess Club: Claire


The Governess Club: Claire
The Governess Club: Claire by Ellie Macdonald

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



From Goodreads: For fans of Christina Dodd and Elizabeth Boyle.

Claire Bannister just wants to be a good teacher so that she and the other ladies of the Governess Club can make enough money to leave their jobs and start their own school in the country. But when the new sinfully handsome and utterly distracting tutor arrives, Claire finds herself caught up in a whirlwind romance that could change the course of her future.

Jacob Knightly has a secret. He is actually the notorious Earl of Rimmel. He's just posing as a tutor to escape his reputation in the city. He never expected to fall in love with the kind and beautiful governess. She is the first person to love him for himself and not his title.

But when Jacob's true identity is revealed, Claire realizes she has risked her reputation and her heart on a man she doesn't truly know. Will Jacob be able to convince her that the Wild Earl has been tamed and that she is the true countess of his heart?

My Thoughts: A great author to watch! This was the first I rad of Ms. Macdonald and I will most definitely look for more. One of the best examples I've seen recently of how to write a short story/novella. The story felt complete, and I actually feel like there was character development...most of the time I feel like one or both is lacking/rushed. That wasn't the case here at all, and I really enjoyed the story, the characters, and the prelude of what is to come.



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Review: The Governess Club: Bonnie


The Governess Club: Bonnie
The Governess Club: Bonnie by Ellie Macdonald

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



From Goodreads: Miss Bonnie Hodges, governess to the Darrow family, is desperately trying to hold it together. Tragedy has struck, and she is the sole person left to be strong for the two little boys in her care. When the new guardian arrives, she hopes that things will get better. She wasn't expecting her new employer to be the most frustrating, overbearing, and…handsome man she's ever seen.

Sir Stephen Montgomery is utterly distracted. He should be trying to figure out how his two best friends were killed in a suspicious accident and why the new young viscount seems destined to be the next victim. But he can't concentrate on anything but his growing infatuation with the beautiful, mysterious, and utterly captivating governess.

Together they're doing their best to save the two boys, but will Stephen's feelings for Bonnie get in the way of their search for a killer?

My thoughts: Another good example of how to write a short story and still be able to actually tell a story. I didn't quite like this one as much as the first in the series, but I have had a hard time decided if that was the story or the characters (which for some reason I just never quite connected with). Definitely an author I'll watch and look for further stories.



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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review: The Devil's Heart


The Devil's Heart
The Devil's Heart by Cathy Maxwell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



From Goodreads: New York Times bestselling author Cathy Maxwell returns with her most unfortgettable novel about the Chattan family yet…

They call her the Unattainable. Lady Margaret Chattan spurned every suitor for her hand, vowing never to marry. The only way to break the curse plaguing her family for two centuries is this ultimate sacrifice. But now her brothers' lives are in danger. Determined to save them, she risks her very soul by traveling into the heart of the highlands to battle a force that has transcended time.

Heath Macnachtan is not superstitious. Laird of the most independent, nonconforming, madly infuriating clan ever to grace Scotland, he believes he has his hands full. And then, a woman lauded as one of the most beautiful in England, arrives on his doorstep with wild accusations and a mystical quest . . . one that just might help him discover who murdered his own brother.

But the real danger for Heath and Margaret is not a supernatural foe, but a very real love that could destroy them both.

My Thoughts: Devil's Heart is the third book in the Chattan trilogy and wraps up the tale regarding the curse affecting the Chattan family. Our heroine is the first female to be born in her family since the curse...our hero is the last male in the Macnachtan family (the curse originators). I liked the story overall very much, and enjoyed the entire trilogy. However, something about the story kept me from saying I "loved" it. I think the issue nagging in the back of my mind was that there were too many side story lines going on that in the end I felt weren't given a full account or space. Instead, I would have preferred that some of the side stories have been dropped to all the ones that remained to have more room for development. In addition, I felt as though the ending didn't quite wrap up the ties back to the origination of the curse and whatever happened to Fenella and Rose. It was another one that was somewhat addressed, but I might have like a bit more. Overall though, a lovely story of forbidden love (think Romeo and Juliet in a sense) with a bit of the mystical thrown in as well.



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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review: There's Something About Lady Mary


There's Something About Lady Mary
There's Something About Lady Mary by Sophie Barnes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



From Goodreads: Sophie Barnes is back with another delightful Summersby Tale. This time, Ryan Summersby meets his match!

Mary Croyden lives a simple life . . . and she likes it. But when she inherits a title and a large sum of money, everything changes. Forced to navigate high society, Mary finds herself relying on the help of one man—Ryan Summersby. Determined not to lose her sense of self, she realizes that Ryan is the only person she can trust. But Mary's hobbies are not exactly proper, and Ryan is starting to discover that this simple miss is not at all what he expected . . . but just might be exactly what he needs.

My Thoughts: I hadn't read book one in this series, and I don't think I missed out on too much in terms of background, this is definitely an independent read. I enjoyed the hero and heroine, although I have to say that while our hero was definitely true to his time in many instances, I was disappointed in how long it took him to wisen up :) Mary is a great heroine...she's unique, a true individual, independent, dedicated and willing to do what she knows is right, even if improper or not allowed. How everything wraps up seems a bit much (a Frankenstein moment in my mind) but in the end this was a fun read and has me checking the local library to see if I can't find Book One in the series, with Ryan's sister (another heroine I think I will enjoy as outside the box) as the heroine.



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Review: One Good Earl Deserves a Lover


One Good Earl Deserves a Lover
One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



From Goodreads: The second in the incredible new Rules of Scoundrels series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah MacLean. Lady Philippa Marbury is odd. The bespectacled, brilliant fourth daughter of the Marquess of Needham and Dolby cares more for books than balls, flora than fashion and science than the season. Nearly engaged to Lord Castleton, Pippa wants to explore the scandalous parts of London she's never seen before marriage. And she knows just who to ask: the tall, charming, quick-witted bookkeeper of The Fallen Angel, London's most notorious and coveted gaming hell, known only as Cross.

Like any good scientist, Pippa's done her research and Cross's reputation makes him perfect for her scheme. She wants science without emotion - the experience of ruination without the repercussions of ruination. And who better to provide her with the experience than this legendary man? But when this odd, unexpected female propositions Cross, it's more than tempting . . . and it will take everything he has to resist following his instincts - and giving the lady precisely what she wants.

My Thoughts: Sarah MacLean is quickly becoming one of my "must read" authors. I've thoroughly enjoyed every one of her books, her characters and her stories. They are fun, they are funny, and have that right blend of fiction with just enough reality in there to picture things happening in your mind. I'm probably partial to Pippa because I like "bookish" heroines, ones who don't quite fit in, the good old bluestocking. She doesn't really try to be anything she isn't, and she's resigned to the fact (true or not) that as someone who doesn't fit the norm, her options are limited. Luckily, that isn't necessarily the case and it was so fun to see her determined to test her theories, how Cross keeps getting drawn in and the growing relationship between them. Always a fun read, now I'll just be sitting here tapping my toes and waiting for the next book!



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Review: And the Miss Ran Away with the Rake


And the Miss Ran Away with the Rake
And the Miss Ran Away with the Rake by Elizabeth Boyle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



From Goodreads:

Daphne Dale never could have imagined that when she answered an advertisement in the newspaper that she would find true love. Now she has the opportunity to meet her unknown suitor, but it means traveling to Tabitha’s wedding, and into the heart of her family’s sworn enemies. Everyone knows the Seldons are terrible rakes and bounders, but Daphne will risk anything to gain the happiness she is certain is right around the corner.

Lord Henry Seldon is aghast at the latest addition to the house party guest list—one would think after the unforgettable scandal Daphne Dale caused at the duke’s engagement ball, she wouldn’t dare show her face at the duke’s wedding. But here she is, poking her nose where she shouldn’t and driving Henry mad . . . with an unforgettable passion that will turn enemies into lovers.

My thoughts: I'm a big fan of Elizabeth Boyle, and overall I did enjoy this book and so far the series. There's always witty banter between characters, just enough drama (as opposed to too much) and a few laugh-out-loud moments. I have to say there were times with our hero and heroine that I just wanted to move past them and focus on some of the other characters, as the "family feud" seemed a bit forced at times. That and there wasn't much to tell us what the feud was really about, just bits of history but no real backstory. Overall though, that aside, it was a fun story, lighthearted and enjoyable and I look foward to the next installment.



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Monday, October 22, 2012

Review: Shadow of Night


Shadow of Night
Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



I devoured Shadow of Night, the second in Deborah Harness' trilogy. I very much enjoyed it, but while it left me wanting, it wasn't for quite the same reasons as Book One did. This one left MAJOR gaps in the story that were mentioned without any explanation provided by the end of the book. It's clear (at least in my mind, ha!) that Book 3 will be set back in the present and cover the time that Diana and Matthew are gone and then once they return until the story wraps up, but the brief glimpses we see of present time events affecting the group at Sept-Tours end up being a distraction rather than a teaser or addition to the story.

The rest of the story is good, if not a bit long perhaps. Great world-building, great relationship-building, great cast of supporting characters. A great read and I look forward to seeing the trilogy wrap up. Easily 3.5-4 stars and another recommended read.



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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Review: A Discovery of Witches


A Discovery of Witches
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



I hesitate to rate books 5 stars, but this is a solid 4.5 at least. Harkness was a great story teller and while I was hesitant as I've been avoiding the paranormal bent for a bit, this was totally unexpected. More history than paranormal in its focus, the characters are fantastic and are described so well that you feel like you start to know them. The story itself is well woven and was one I couldn't put down. In fact, I had to go buy book 2 at an airport bookstore and spend too much in doing so because I couldn't handle NOT being able to start it on my trip home. Highly recommended as an enjoyable, well-told tale of forbidden love, yet told in such a fashion not to alienate those that don't enjoy the paranormal or romance. The focus is the story, the paranormal and the romance are simply background (yet important background!)



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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Book Club

Adding a baby to our lives has been wonderful...crazy, exhausting, terrifying, but absolutely wonderful.  Book club has been one of the things that has fallen by the wayside many times over the past 8 months unfortunately.  I'm hoping now that he's a bit older that I'll be up for getting away once a month (assuming we can stay healthy - last month's book club was a miss due to me coming down with shingles).

This month we are reading Mennonite in A Little Black Dress, which I think could be a great read.   next month is one of my recommendations - The Language of Flowers.  That one is already sitting on the shelf and I'm determined to get it done!  I've made it through at least part of two others over the past few months - Wild, by Cheryl Strayed (my first audible.com book - I'm still evaluating (and trying to finish!)) and Defending Jacob by William Landay.  Defending Jacob is very different from what I expected...disturbing on a number of levels, and I'm not sure I can even fully articulate all the reasons why.  This was one of the few times I can ever remember though reading the end of the book out of order.  The book is divided in to four "parts" and I read part 4 before I was quite through part 2.  Not AT ALL what I expected.  While I haven't quite finished part 3, I'm still determined to finish the book to see how it all got to the finale. My rating of the book overall is a bit mixed, but I have to say it's well written and that the author gets an A+ when it comes to keeping the reader guessing when it comes to the ending.