Thursday, May 25, 2017

When Bree Prescott arrives in the sleepy, lakeside town of Pelion, Maine, she hopes against hope that this is the place where she will finally find the peace she so desperately seeks. On her first day there, her life collides with Archer Hale, an isolated man who holds a secret agony of his own. A man no one else sees.
Archer's Voice is the story of a woman chained to the memory of one horrifying night and the man whose love is the key to her freedom. It is the story of a silent man who lives with an excruciating wound and the woman who helps him find his voice. It is the story of suffering, fate, and the transformative power of love.


Comment: I had this book in the pile for some time now but only picked it up now because it was chosen for one the book clubs I (try to) participate in, even if not always I can get the books chosen. Because I had this one, I did my best to add it to this month's list.

In this story we get to know Bree Prescott, a young woman who moved temporarily to a small town in Maine after an awful time in Ohio. She doesn't have good memories of her hometown because her father was murdered and the man who committed the crime tried to assault Bree.
In this new town, Bree manages to find some friendly people, she gets a job and she even starts up a friendship with a person most people consider weird and deaf but who is simply mute. The two have a similar past of family sadness, they both lost their parents and because they both know sign language, they start being together and it's easy to evolve to a stronger relationship. But Archer hasn't much experience being with others and has always preferred solitude. Can these two be a couple and face life together?

Overall, I can say I liked reading this book and that the main subjects dealt with - namely the way we react at a big loss and the prejudice of others who don't always put themselves in out shoes - were well done here. My opinion, of course.
To me, the biggest issue comes from the little details which I couldn't let go of when I was reading. I especially couldn't ignore the character's age. Yes, it's not such a big deal and it's not something always on your face but somehow I tend to prefer when characters are a bit older.Then there's the romance aspects and the HEA considerations...being older myself always makes me doubt the believability of a HEA when characters aren't yet in their late 20s at least. I know it's prejudice, after all many people get together and marry young and can be perfectly happy but...I tend to associate younger ages to immaturity, even if here it wasn't the case.

There are also some cliché scenes in this novel, in particular when it comes to Archer's experiences in the town, for instance he has a cousin who misleads him at a social gathering. I bet it's very common and mean people always play stupid and harming pranks but... Archer didn't have social experience but I kind of hoped he was more clever assessing his cousin's words and actions especially when he had been "pranked" and bullied by him in their childhood.

Bree and Archer's relationship is probably the strongest element in the novel and from them being friends originates all the emotional changes and evolution for them both, including how they manage to share their past experiences with one another and how that affected them in their behavior, expectations, hopes for the future...
The beginning of their relationship was very sweet and it was very good to see their friendship develop, it felt sweet and credible. Then intimacy happened and while I understand and accept the strength of being together like that and being connected more closely, it kind of distracted the reader because too much emotion of even their feelings were mixed up with sex and that made some scenes look slightly less emotional.

As a whole, this is a good story and it flows pretty easily but personally, I'd have preferred a slight change in the focus of some things. Just to make the story feel a bit more cute and less physical.
But overall, that was ok, we still got to see the emotional journey developing and it was quite amazing.
The epilogue was very sweet and cute, that was for sure, so I kind of feel better about grading this book for that alone.
Grade: 7/10

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Jana DeLeon - Sinister

Street kids are disappearing, but how do you report that to the police when, from their standpoint, the missing people didn’t exist to begin with? Hustle is certain that something bad has happened to his friend Jinx, and the only person he can turn to for help is private investigator Shaye Archer.
Because Hustle helped the young PI while she was investigating her first case, Shaye has already formed an opinion as to his character and believes he’s telling the truth. As she digs deeper into Jinx’s disappearance, she discovers that Hustle’s friend isn’t the only one missing. As a frightening pattern emerges, Shaye wonders if she can find the missing kids…before it’s too late. 


Comment: This is the second installment in the Shaye Archer series by author Jana DeLeon. Having enjoyed the first book, I was curious to see how I would like this one and if it would keep up the good elements from the first story. I was also curious to see if the little glimpses of romance would also be developed further.

In this story, Shaye is asked to help find Hustle's friend Jinx, who is missing. Hustle is a homeless teenager who helped Shaye in her latest case so now he only want her to look for Jinx because the police certainly won't help him. The problem is that homeless kids are disappearing and something or someone must be behind it, especially after one of them is found dead.
Things get even more worrisome when someone tries to get and drug Hustle but he manages to run away and tell Shaye. Will she be able to find what's behind the kidnappings and disappearances of several kids?

I liked reading this story, it was very easy and fluid and it didn't require much thought because the author has given us all the necessary information. If I can fault something is that it wasn't as emotional as I imagined it would be and it certainly didn't advance any hints of romance as I also expected.

The focus of this story is definitely the investigation of the missing teenagers. I think this was an interesting case but there's something in the author0s writing that gave me the impression it wasn't developed as well as it could. It almost felt the writing was a bit too unsure and vague when it came to the investigation process. I feel rather conflicted because I tend to not enjoy too detailed suspense books and here it's the opposite...maybe I'm too picky after all.

Shaye is the key character and I wanted to know her a bit more. I'm sad she has had a bad childhood experience but she did get the upper hand and she got a woman who did the best to offer her stability, so I can understand why Shaye isn't always depressed or detached as often happens in books that are mostly suspense, featuring female main characters. But I also thought I'd be able to get more layers on Shaye, that she would present us with more about her. I'm glad she will eventually solve the mystery of her childhood but I kind of wanted her to show her vulnerable side more at times, to better contract to her public image.

All this to say, I obviously would love her to interact with Jackson a lot more. He is the apparent male protagonist and supposedly they will become a couple? (I hope to see it and not just hear about it on the page)
But their interactions, despite polite and professional, aren't enough in my opinion. No, I don't want them to insta-love or insta-lust one another but I think the romance, if it will indeed be a part of this, is lacking. So much could be seen simply using sexual tensions scenes here and there but the level is way too bland at this point. Maybe the next book will be more obvious.

The plot is solved rather easily, we don't get much motivation from the villains, which I didn't mind not having, but yes, it also means things got a slightly too superficial layer and that means this story didn't feel as passionate or as mysterious as I think the intent was.
I'm still hopeful, though, for the next story.

All in all, a good enough story, it was good to see the recurrent characters again but the writing and the story needs to pack a bit more intensity for it to reach the full potential. My opinion, of course.
Grade: 7/10

Saturday, May 20, 2017

KJ Charles - A Gentleman's Position

Among his eccentric though strictly principled group of friends, Lord Richard Vane is the confidant on whom everyone depends for advice, moral rectitude, and discreet assistance. Yet when Richard has a problem, he turns to his valet, a fixer of unparalleled genius—and the object of Richard’s deepest desires. If there is one rule a gentleman must follow, it is never to dally with servants. But when David is close enough to touch, the rules of class collide with the basest sort of animal instinct: overpowering lust.
For David Cyprian, burglary and blackmail are as much in a day’s work as bootblacking—anything for the man he’s devoted to. But the one thing he wants for himself is the one thing Richard refuses to give: his heart. With the tension between them growing to be unbearable, David’s seemingly incorruptible master has left him no choice. Putting his finely honed skills of seduction and manipulation to good use, he will convince Richard to forget all about his well-meaning objections and give in to sweet, sinful temptation.

Comment: This is the third full length installment in the society of Gentleman's series by author KJ Charles. I was quite curious to see how this story would play out but I had full confidence in the author's work and talent.

This story begins practically after the last one ended and we know Mason (from book #2) now works for Lord Richard not only because it was a way to get him out of suspicious places but also because Lord Richard is the man everyone in the group goes to for help and assistance concerning financial issues. 
Lord Richard is a proud but fair man and he tries his best to honor his family's name, his brother's and even his own conduct. What he can't seem to ignore is his attraction and feelings for Cyprian, his valet. But Lord Richard feels very strongly about not overstepping the boundaries between himself and his servants.
David Cyprian is a well known professional valet and he is proud of it. He has tried his best to be indispensable to Lord Richard, he knows a relationship between them is impossible but he still dreams of it. Then one night, David makes a reckless move and things go horribly wrong... but can David still turn back time somehow?

I liked reading this book and I think it is a successful one in general terms. But I still think Lord Richard wasn't the hero I imagined he would be and the whole situation between the Ricardians (the name of the group) in the novel and another character who could expose them all seemed a bit too unlikely to be solved in a realistic manner. I can understand how such a situation - being gay and in love at a time and society where that alone could condemn someone to hang - would be tricky to maneuver and that it wouldn't magically be solved like a contemporary more or less can, but... I can't explain this well, and I do agree the way things worked out was the best possible, but it still didn't seem as smooth as I imagined.

As always, the characterization and personality of everyone is well done but there are things when it comes to general structure... for instance, both David and Richard have always felt attracted to one another, they sort of repressed their feelings and now voilá. I understand why we are told so and why the romance develops now. But how I wished we could have had more scenes where that sexual tension were more obvious because it felt they had need to distance between them and suddenly all changed.
At the end of things, this a good story but it does touch a subject not always easy to manage.

One of the biggest issues in this novel and why Richard and David can't simply live a relatively close life like Julian and Harry sort of do is because not only are they two guys who can't let others think they are close friends, but they are master and employee. The class difference is just simply too much and although they come to a satisfactory conclusion I still feel how unfair it all is. If David were a female employee, it would still be weird but easily accepted by society and they could be seen together as couple. The previous couples in this series aren't all equals in terms of social status but their connection doesn't feel as unbalanced. 
David is very proud of his work and career (and well deserved too) but I can't help thinking in the eyes of society he is the one who loses the most. Of course this wouldn't matter to the romance but we are given this situation all the time and why it can't work that it starts to become too weird that it ends up being possible. In the end, the romance felt a little bit "manufactured" when I see it's not the case.

Ok, all in all, this has all ingredients to be a good historical romance, very interesting in terms of historical facts but despite my apparently more negative opinions, I still liked when everything ended up well.
But, as a whole, this was not such a great series for me as the Magpie Lord was when I read it.
Grade: 7/10

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Naomi Novik - Uprooted

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows — everyone knows — that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
 


Comment: Months ago, I got interested in this novel because it was fantasy fairy tale for grown ups and I like the idea of authors using a fairy tale to create a whole new story but not the usual YA setting which I tend do avoid. It also helped readers mentioned a romance element and I was sold.

This is a story loosely based on the Baba Yaga legend, using traditional Polish tales. 
Every ten years, a wizard man called The Dragon goes to a village near his Tower and takes a young girl to be his servant. After the ten years, the girl is returned but soon leaves the village to be in a (often) better place somewhere.
The Dragon is keeping the area safe because it's close to The Wood, a forest area that is said to be corrupted by something evil and when someone gets there never returns, even if their bodies come back it's never the healthy sane person who entered.
This year,  Agnieszka is chosen because she seems to have some magic in her, a detail the Dragon finds out in the choosing day. Since she arrives at the Tower, however, Agnieszka realizes her experience is different from every other girl before her and she will have a task that can save everyone...

Well, this is certainly a well researched and well structured story. It has so many elements and detail that it's impossible it didn't take a long time for all to be in the right place. It's definitely not a simply story nor an easy fairy tale to follow.
I think the best part of this novel is precisely the eye for detail when it came to describe things and how engaged the reader gets among so much information, something not always easy to accomplish.

What makes me grade this book slightly lower than what I expected is the tone of the story, it simply is too dark.
Has the author the right to write as she wants? Yes.
Is this story the tale the author wanted us to read? I'm sure yes.
Is this a well done story? Completely.
Did I enjoy reading it? Not much, no.
I can understand perfectly why this is a dark fantasy story, filled with death and violence, but it had a lot of unnecessary description of bad deeds. I would have felt the same despair and impotence had I heard about most of the acts committed without actually seeing them. I know this goes against most reader's notions on writing, where being shown is better than being told but for me, I would have preferred that in this book.

At the same time, it was quite clever and insidious who the villain managed to corrupt and indirectly influence so many characters. Should I deduce all characters except the hero and heroine were weak minded and easy to manipulate? It just feels too convenient and overly dramatic.
Then the end comes, it's both too easy and appropriate in my opinion. But I liked the sort of HEA that happened and how some character's fates got to be. Too bad the cast of dead people was way bigger than any goodness that we got out in the end.

As for the romance, which I was looking for, as usual in fantasy books where romance is clearly not the main focus, I thought it was too subtle for the most part. But it ended up with such a positive note I was able to imagine their lives after....

All things considered, this is not a bad book. But I hated seeing so many characters die for the sake of the plot and it wasn't fun most of the time. Yes, artistic license and author's choice, all that is perfectly acceptable but I can also choose to enjoy or not.
In terms of writing style, nothing to say, and several scenes/situations were intriguing and well inserted within the fantasy mold and fairy tale. I just wish the positive aspects were more than the dark, scaring ones.
Grade: 6/10

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

TBR Challenge: Sophie Divry - The Library of Unrequited Love

One morning a librarian finds a reader who has been locked in overnight. She begins to talk to him, a one-way conversation full of sharp insight and quiet outrage.
As she rails against snobbish senior colleagues, an ungrateful and ignorant public, the strictures of the Dewey Decimal System and the sinister expansionist conspiracies of the books themselves, two things shine through: her unrequited passion for a researcher named Martin, and an ardent and absolute love for the arts.
A delightful divertissement for the discerning bookworm ...


Comment: Another post for the TBR Challenge of 2017. In May the theme is Something Different, which this time I decided to interpret as a different type of book. I really think this is adequate in all senses: it's a type of book I don't usually read, it's much shorter than what I usually like and it's told in the 2nd person narrator, probably one of the oddest narrative styles out there.

This is a monologue of sorts, told by a librarian who discovers someone who slept at her section of the library that night and when she comes in, she wakes him up and shares a lot of opinions with him until it's opening hours. The librarian's speech includes several subjects related to the library, to life in general, to literature, to those who attend the library. But the librarian's monologue also tells us some of her most personal quirks and which type of person she surely is...

This can be read as a short story. It was in my TBR for some time because 1) I like books where people talk about books and 2) it featured a librarian, probably the profession I'd have liked to have had I thought better about my professional life. It also interested me to see how someone, usually on the other side of the desk or the corridor, probably feels about several issues.
And from this arises my biggest disappointment with the novel, even if I consider this a good short tale: the monologue doesn't reference many contemporary issues, it does mention some, but I think I'd have liked a more contemporary approach. The narrator felt a bit dated but, I assume, it's just another form of showing a stereotypical portrait.

The reality is the narrator mentions several interesting facts, namely about the library method of classifying books by areas, and specifying the subject the more precise it gets, about french literature author's (the author is french) and why people go to the library, not forgetting how personalities can explain why people act a certain way and, even librarians, interact with one another at work and that doesn't dismiss the fact some people simply are bad co workers.

Because this is a monologue the graphic area of text is continuous, there are no paragraphs so the reading can be a bit tiring but, it's such a short book, I've read it in less than an hour but I got some food for thought. We never think, except if it's someone we know, what the librarian is really thinking, if by helping she is really there or simply fulfilling a task...But this narrator is a little bit too dated in her approach to what a library is. I can understand that but the cover image is quite precise. I feel this character is just the personification of what librarians used to be looked at: people who knew many things, who were respected, sometimes feared because of the control they had over a situation, and that spot was difficult to overcome. It should be mentioned too that this librarian is at a local, small library. I can only assume interaction is different in big libraries or those who receive more public.

This librarian is also smitten with a patron. She never talks personal things with him, she is fascinated with the back of his neck and we get a lot of information about her when she talks about him and why he must attend the library there. I couldn't help thinking about those medieval troubadours who sung about platonic love, never to be really reciprocated and thus, felt more worthy than simple and passable carnal love. This librarian doesn't really want to be with Martin, the patron, but she put him in a position where she can admire him sometimes and that makes him special. I think this detail isn't necessary for the little story, which I confess, I would have preferred to stay focused on the library itself, but it added interesting elements to the characterization of the librarian.

I don''t think this was fully perfect short story, it mentioned some interesting subjects, I learned a few things but overall, it could have given us a way better vision of what it means to be a librarian today and why libraries are - and can - still be one of the best places on earth.
As for the challenge, well, it was certainly different than the romance based stories I normally read.
Grade: 7/10

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Rachel Bach - Heaven's Queen

From the moment she took a job on Captain Caldswell's doomed ship, Devi Morris' life has been one disaster after another: government conspiracies, two alien races out for her blood, an incurable virus that's eating her alive.
Now, with the captain missing and everyone -- even her own government -- determined to hunt her down, things are going from bad to impossible. The sensible plan would be to hide and wait for things to blow over, but Devi's never been one to shy from a fight, and she's getting mighty sick of running.
It's time to put this crisis on her terms and do what she knows is right. But with all human life hanging on her actions, the price of taking a stand might be more than she can pay.


Comment: This is the third and final installment in the Paradox trilogy by author Rachel Bach, a story that follows the adventures of Deviana Morris while she tries to defeat a danger to the universe in which she lives. This is a sci-fi space opera that is quite amazing.

In this final installment, Devi and Rupert are teaming up to go find Maat and rescue her so they can end the problems that have been affecting so many innocents.  Devi also has the virus to worry about and knowing the two things, her personal problem and the international issues, are entwined can be too difficult to solve. But having Rupert by her side and understanding she needs to confront certain people can turn out to be her only chance of freeing the innocents in all this. But will the beings responsible for all these problems let Devi be successful?

This story sure has a lot of adventure and situations sometimes difficult to imagine. But I do love having my own ideas about the settings and scenarios...imagining life in space, a routine situation where people simply travel by space ship to other planets can be both alluring and frightening. I think the author is very talented and she does have an eye for detail because she successfully brought to life many ideas and possibilities.

In this final installment, I was certainly hoping to see which explanation would exist for why all the issues Devi has faced existed. It was a lot simpler than I imagined and, sometimes, simplicity can be more difficult to solve. I liked that this wasn't a huge conspiracy by some people, it was all based on a situation originated by one single feeling: the need to be seen as superior by a certain group. It can be scary how many situations are so problematic because of one single detail... I liked how things were solved, although too many people die or suffer. Of course I assume this has drama reasons but in some aspects it didn't have to be so. Still, I understand where the author went by depicting such a harsh situation/world.

The end of the story was interesting. I think I'd have liked a bit more detail in the HEA and in the final scenes but overall, I think it was in line with what we've had int he previous books in terms of consistency and writing.

A significant part of the story is focused on Devi, even more so because this is a first person narrator story. Devi is a true heroine here, but some of her actions aren't always easily understandable. I like her character, her personality, her need to be the best person she can be and her bold confidence even in adverse settings. But I would have liked her to accept more easily she has a vulnerable side and love professions took their time to happen. Yes, this is not primarily a romance but it was certainly a fun part of the story.
Deviana also has an attitude towards one or two situations during the book I wasn't a fan of. I get the author's idea but I didn't always find it agreeable. Despite my minor dislikes, though I still think this was a well done story.

The secondary characters were truly amazing in this trilogy. I liked how the author didn't stick to simple stereotypes we often see in adventure books or sci-fi series and I enjoyed spending time with some characters. I obviously would have enjoyed more ease moments between the characters, especially Rupert and Devi and Devi and some key characters like Nova and even Basil. I can imagine what would happen to them all, but reading about it would have been more fun.
All in all, a great story, a surprisingly interesting conclusion and also some food for thought when it comes to human behavior and not when it comes to survival and pride...
Grade: 8/10

Friday, May 12, 2017

Anyta Sunday - Leo Loves Aries

A new person will enter your life in the early year, Leo. Look past any moments of frustration they might bring and laugh—this could be the start of a thriving friendship.
Theo Wallace usually laughs at the horoscopes his mom sends. Still hung up on his ex-girlfriend and practically friendless, this one begs him to reconsider. Because a friendship that stuck, that thrived…
Well, that would be a reason to leave past pains behind and look to the Bright Future.
When his sister Leone challenges him to find her the perfect date for a spring wedding, Theo uses it as a chance to make new friends. Theo’s ex economics tutor and newest roommate Mr Jamie Cooper seems to be a possible and convenient match. Real convenient. Like written in the stars, convenient.
All he has to do is make sure this Jamie is good enough. Could really be the one for her, and the friend for him.
But watch out, Leo, the stars have a surprise in store…


Comment: After seeing the recommendation for this book at a message board I usually participate in, I thought this would be a good story to read and I added it to my TBR. I got it some time ago and this month, I decided it would be a good choice to add to my May list.

In this book we meet Theo, a college student, and a very smart and extrovert person. Theo lives in an apartment with his sister Leone, also a student. They are both down because their respective exes decided they were a better with one another and now Theo and Leone got an invitation for their wedding. The siblings also need to rent one room to someone, to help with expenses and by luck, Theo finds the perfect candidate, Jamie Cooper.
Jamie is a tutor at the university and he teaches some classes, among them one Theo attended and where they met. Jamie is the perfect roommate, he cooks and he is considerate of Leone, who is practically blind. Theo thinks Jamie and Leone would be a great couple and he also becomes an amazing best friend. But Is Theo really just looking at things through a friendship perspective or is Jamie turning out to be something much more important than a mere friend?

Apart from one or two not-that-important details, this book is very close to be perfect. I really had a great time reading about Theo, Jamie and Leone and the secondary characters that do make things look even more adorable.
And I think "adorable" is a good adjective to describe this story. Every situation is described in such a way that this is simply cute and adorable all the way through.

This story is very sweet and told in a narrative I found very appealing. The writing was easy and accessible and managed to highlight the important things quite well, something we always dread not having in a new author.
I think the problem is how, being this a 1st person POV, we loose interesting points in the relationship development. Yes, I can understand the purpose but the reality is Theo, as the narrator only presents his own thoughts. There are some situations where it would great to have more than just one POV, for certain.
Theo is the only narrator so, except when he's talking to someone or thinking, we don't get access to others' ideas. This wouldn't be such an issue for me if Theo weren't such a clueless character for most part of the book. Yes, I can see why but... it delays the romance a lot and not always in a smooth way (as one would expect from a sexually tensed situation).

Despite the changes I'd make, this is still a great story, where Theo doesn't become gay just because he is attracted to Jamie. I liked this idea that we can fall in love with that person and adjust our desires and wishes according to that. It's not an easy concept, we are educated to think black and white when it comes to sexual orientation but it really shouldn't be such a big deal and in this novel we can have an example of that.

The romance, apart from Theo's lack of focus, is very cute, all the scenes between them are obvious signs where things are going and I wanted their coming together at last to be epic but I feel it could have been better than what it ended up being. But the situations that led to their final reunion and declarations of love were well entwined with the plot and the scenes of their daily lives and routines.

I'm very satisfied with this book and I do plan on reading more by the author, even if only in this series. I'll find time to add her work to my TBR and reading eventually.
Grade: 8/10

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mary Balogh - Slightly Dangerous

All of London is abuzz over the imminent arrival of Wulfric Bedwyn, the reclusive, cold-as-ice Duke of Bewcastle, at the most glittering social event of the season. Some whisper of a tragic love affair. Others say he is so aloof and passionless that not even the greatest beauty could capture his attention.
But on this dazzling afternoon, one woman did catch the duke’s eye—and she was the only female in the room who wasn’t even trying. Christine Derrick is intrigued by the handsome duke…all the more so when he invites her to become his mistress.
What red-blooded woman wouldn’t enjoy a tumble in the bedsheets with a consummate lover—with no strings and no questions asked. An infuriating lady with very definite views on men, morals, and marriage, Christine confounds Wulfric at every turn. Yet even as the lone wolf of the Bedwyn clan vows to seduce her any way he can, something strange and wonderful is happening. Now for a man who thought he’d never lose his heart, nothing less than love will do.
With her trademark wit, riveting storytelling, and sizzling sexual sparks, Mary Balogh once again brings together two polar opposites: an irresistible, high-and-mighty aristocrat and the impulsive, pleasure-loving woman who shows him what true passion is all about. A man and a woman so wrong for each other, it can result only in the perfect match.


Comment: After reading the other books in the series and liking them all and after realizing this would be the installment most people talked about and wanted to read, I confess I was expecting an amazing love story and in that regard, I was not disappointed. But I also think this wasn't as amazing to me as I wanted.

The final installment of the Bedwyn saga series finally has Wulfric as the main character. Wulfric is the important duke of Bewcastle and he has been key in all the other books somehow, at least to ensure his siblings all got their HEA. Now it's Wulfric's turn to find happiness but he certainly didn't expect that to happen at a house party he didn't even want to attend in the first place. There, he meets mrs Christine Derrick, a widow who, unlike most ladies of the ton, is sunny and cheerful and doesn't care about how she looks to others. She is everything a man like Wulfric wouldn't want in a woman, much less a potential duchess. But as time goes by, his curiosity develops to something more and unless, he is mistaken, she is having similar feelings...

I was really eager to get to this book. This story promised a lot and I was so curious to see how the author would finally give Wulfric a well deserved HEA. Yes, he hasn't been described as the friendlier of characters throughout the series but with a few glimpses here and there, we came to like and respect him. I really wanted him to be as happy as all his siblings now are.
I also confess I imagined a few scenarios and, after having finished the book, I did like how things ended and I liked the emotional journey Wulfric had to overcome to really grab his happiness. I just feel a little disappointed with the heroine. I mean, I like her, I like how sweet she can be and how they do make a good couple but... I would have preferred a slightly quieter heroine for Wulfric.

Wulfric is an amazing character. Very unassuming because he is quiet and reserved and keeps his feelings to himself. But he is a human being and rejoices and suffers as everyone else. I like it when characters are quieter because I am shy and try to act more quiet and look fro non exuberant protagonists as well. Wulfric, after helping his family is portrait of  lonely man but he deserves as much happiness as everyone else. I wanted happiness for him and Christine is that for him but her cheerful personality while being the perfect contrast to his quieter nature is at the same time the reason why I didn't always like her.

Christine is loud and uncaring about others' opinion and has a sunny disposition despite the less than good things she has felt and lived through. I did like she wasn't conventional and how she could bring Wulfric's personal side to light instead of him only having/showing his duke persona. In fact, art of the issues between them, why their relationship isn't as easy to happen is the class differences between them. But a fantasy like scenario can taka care of that. 
I just thought that Christine was a little too unconcerned about her actions and that can be just her simple way and she's not fussy, but for the time, she could still be the light of the party and not being an almost caricature, which she did to me sometimes. A huge part of the plot conflict is related to this, out idea of what is/was conventional and expected and I must sadly admit I prefer historical heroines to be more aware of themselves in a way Christine wasn't.

The best part of this novel, as always, is the family relationships and the adorable and  fascinating scenes with all of the siblings. The HEA also made me very happy although the base of the conflict, the problems that it originated and how it affected Wulfric and Christine's relationship didn't end up to be so serious as I imagined but, of course, nothing like happening in real life, which I'm sure is terrible.
Nevertheless, this was a great series, I'm looking for to see them again in the final novella and in the sequel series in the future.
Grade: 8/10

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Jeaniene Frost - Into the Fire

For nearly six hundred years, Vlad Tepesh cared for nothing, so he had nothing to lose. His brutal reputation ensured that all but the most foolhardy stayed away. Now falling in love with Leila has put him at the mercy of his passions. And one adversary has found a devastating way to use Vlad’s new bride against him.
A powerful spell links Leila to the necromancer Mircea. If he suffers or dies, so does she. Magic is forbidden to vampires, so Vlad and Leila enlist an unlikely guide as they search for a way to break the spell. But an ancient enemy lies in wait, capable of turning Vlad and Leila’s closest friends against them…and finally tearing the lovers apart forever.


Comment: Here's finally the last installment in the Night Prince series, a spin off of the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost. This book took some time to be released, by reasons explained by the author in a note in the beginning of the book. Still, no matter exterior facts, the reality is this book, to me, wasn't as amazing as others by her have been.

In this book, Leila and Vlad are almost catching up with Mircea, Vlad's nephew and their enemy for the past books. There is a necromancer spell connecting Mircea and Leila and if one dies, so does the other, so out couple wants to find a way to break the spell and a clue takes Leila into finding more about her heritage and what she finds out will have interesting repercussions...
But will the path towards finding a solution be without its own risks? What about the price demanded of them and their friends?

I mostly didn't think this was a perfect story because despite the adventures, despite the acceptable drama that a situation like Leila's could provoke, I still think their relationship wasn't well portrayed and if it had been, then everything else would have felt better too.

Their connection just didn't seem very strong in this book even considering the love acts they dedicated to one another. I guess I needed them to interact more often or, at least, in a way that would be more obvious showing their love and devotion. Their interactions felt a bit too cold at times and even the intimate moments between them seemed rather clinical.

The plot had its moments. Of course finding a way to solve the curse while discovering a bit more about Leila's ancestors was interesting but these actions led to a path I confess I'm not overly fond of, namely because we get to see some choices I find to be expected but still not necessary.
I can understand why certain actions took place. I also can understand why we would have the need to know a stronger base when it comes to follow some of the characters' choices and that definitely happens when we have Leila meeting someone from her family and why the conversations with her sister go the way they do but... I just can't help thinking that all the new knowledge we get isn't very linear or easily inserted into the story. It's like different parts of the whole thing were given step by step but not in a continuous way. I feel almost dissociated from the general plot and that sort of ruined the reading for me a bit.

I mean, I can't really complain because there is drama, emotion, fun scenes, key characters we care about and even one or two clues about things to come, which, by what happens to Ian, will be a great starting point for the next spin off, featuring him and Veritas, a character we've met before but that here got a slightly more important role.
But overall, things simply didn't go as smoothly and romantically as I imagined, considering this is the last installment in a series that features characters inserted in a romance genre too.

I think that, after four books, this story had its moments but I definitely expected more romance. More brightness than just Leila's personality. Because at the end of the day, no matter plots and ideas, this would be about redeeming Vlad and seeing him become a happier person because he found the perfect mate and there were times that it wasn't obvious.
Grade: 6/10