Wednesday, January 18, 2017

2017 TBR CHALLENGE REVIEW: "Be Not Afraid" by Alyssa Cole

Be Not Afraid
TITLE: Be Not Afraid
AUTHOR(S): Alyssa Cole
SERIES: Stand-alone

Historical Romance -- American Revolution
PUBLISHER: Seditious Sisters
PUBLICATION DATE: February 2, 2016
SOURCE: Purchased from Amazon
LENGTH: 63 pages
DATE READ: January 2017

2017 TBR Challenge, 2017 Backlist Reader Challenge, 2017 New To Me Reading Challenge, 2017 Historical Romance Reading Challenge

CHARACTER ARCHETYPES: Beta Hero, Tormented Heroine

TROPES: Captivity/Imprisonment



Brooklyn, 1776

Elijah Sutton is no fool, despite his love of a country that enslaves people like him. When he's offered land, livestock, and—most importantly—his freedom if he fights in his Patriot owner's stead, Elijah believes he'll soon have everything he ever wanted...and then he meets Kate.

The Crown has promised freedom to slaves who escape their Patriot masters and join the British side, and Kate intends to take them up on it. She's eager to leave America—and the painful memories it holds for her—far behind...and then she meets Elijah.

Their attraction is undeniable, but their goals couldn’t be further apart. When Elijah is captured by the British while helping Kate, they're thrown into close proximity and forced to choose between their hopes for the future and their hearts.

Why I Read It...
I have been wanting to read an Alyssa Cole book for awhile and also am continuing my efforts to read historical romances that are not set in Regency/Victorian England.  So, when it came time to pick a book to start off the 2017 TBR Challenge with the January theme of Short Shorts, I decided to give Be Not Afraid a try and I was not disappointed.

What I Liked About It...

1. I have always been into the American Revolution as a time period so the setting automatically grabbed my attention.  I thought the idea of having the protagonists be on opposing sides of the conflict due to their individual beliefs on who could offer them a better life out of slavery was a unique and important aspect.  I knew a little about the various promises the British and the Patriots gave to slaves during the war, but really felt like I came away from this book knowing more and wanting to know more.

2. Elijah was such a sweet guy!  He has been through a lot in his life as a slave, but, somehow,  maintained a gentle personality that paired well with his protective instincts.  I liked reading about his convictions and also that he was willing to rethink them when he was presented with other ideas.  It is always great to read about stand-up heroes in difficult situations who definitely deserve their happy ending.

3. Kate was the pricklier side of the romance, but that doesn't mean I didn't like her.  Her life has been difficult and she learned to survive by shutting her emotions out.  I admired her ability to keep going after the tragedy she suffered while trying to run away years ago.  Like Elijah, she had strong opinions about who would provide her with the best opportunity to succeed after the war.  It took some coaxing, but she also showed that she was intelligent enough to rethink her ideas when presented with evidence to the contrary.

4. The romance was full of tension, but also had plenty of sweet moments.  With Elijah and Kate being on different sides, there was a forbidden aspect that amped up the drama which I liked.  I enjoyed reading about their conversations and how much they respected one another.  It became obvious how much they wanted to rely on the other for happiness and I spent much of the book wondering how they would get their happily ever after which is always a good sign for me.

What I Disliked About It...

1. The only thing I didn't care for regarding Be Not Afraid was the page length.  It is pretty short and has a lot to pack into those few pages.  I thought Alyssa Cole did a good job with the pacing early on and towards the end.  I did feel like the middle part was out of place especially when the story jumped forward in time.  I think that time was important to the development of the romance and I would have enjoyed seeing more of it.

Would I Recommend It...

I definitely would recommend Be Not Afraid to readers who want a different type of historical romance and an introduction to Alyssa Cole's writing.  I definitely want to read more of her backlist and I am happy that this was my first experience.

Monday, January 16, 2017

2016 IN REVIEW: Favorite Reads

Hamilton: The Revolution
HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION by Jeremy McCarter and Lin-Manuel Miranda (nonfiction)
A big part of 2016 for me was my obsession with the musical Hamilton so this glossy tome was destined to be a favorite.  I loved the story of how the musical was created paired with the lyrics/annotations.  The photographs were also beautiful and made it something I will page through again and again.

Listen to the Moon (Lively St. Lemeston, #3)
LISTEN TO THE MOON by Rose Lerner (historical romance)
A fascinating Regency romance featuring a marriage of convenience between a valet turned butler and a housemaid turned housekeeper.  The characters are richly drawn, the love story is engrossing, and the historical details just made my inner history nerd squeal with excitement.

Duke of Sin (Maiden Lane, #10) Duke of Pleasure (Maiden Lane, #11)
DUKE OF SIN & DUKE OF PLEASURE by Elizabeth Hoyt (historical romance)
The Maiden Lane is one of my favorite currently running series and the two installments we got in 2016 show that it is getting better every time.  The 1730s setting continues to fascinate me as does the author's tendency for unorthodox pairings and gritty storytelling.

Vision in Silver (The Others, #3)
VISION IN SILVER by Anne Bishop (urban fantasy)
The third book in the Others series and showcases how wonderful these books are.  The development of the heroine is subtle, but powerful.  The world building is mind-blowing and the action keeps me turning pages late into the night.  I still need to read the fourth installment in time for the release of book five, but that won't be a hardship when the series is this fabulous.

Bayou Moon (The Edge, #2)
BAYOU MOON by Ilona Andrews (paranormal romance)
Book two in the genre-bending Edge series which features a changeling soldier who almost stole the show from the main couple in the first book and is pulled back into the world he left forever.  William is one of my favorite heroes of 2016 and his romance with the determined, kick-ass Cerise was full of action and chemistry.  Also, I have to give a shout-out to the authors for the killer world building.

Radiance (Wraith Kings, #1)
RADIANCE by Grace Draven (fantasy romance)
An arranged marriage romance between two humanoid species in an alternate world.  The slow burn of the love story, the development of all the characters (main and secondary), and the attention to detail are highlights of this beautiful book.

Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles, #4.5)
STARS ABOVE by Marissa Meyer (YA science fiction)
I don't read much young adult fiction these days, but I always make an exception for Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series.  Her sci-fi twists on fairy tales are so engrossing and this anthology, which features nine novellas that help flesh out this already wonderful series.  My personal favorites were the wedding epilogue, the reverse POV of when Kai met Cinder, and the loosely connected retelling of the Little Mermaid.

Forbidden (Old West #1)
FORBIDDEN by Beverly Jenkins (historical romance)
I have been meaning to try Ms. Jenkins for years and 2016 was when I finally took the plunge.  Her writing is as exquisite as my fellow readers have said and the premise of a businessman passing as White and the woman he can't resist.  My favorite aspect was the heroine who has gone through so much stuff and still retains her determined personality.

Saving the CEO (49th Floor, #1)
SAVING THE CEO by Jenny Holiday (contemporary romance)
Jenny Holiday was one of my favorite "discovered in 2016" authors.  I am very picky about contemporary romance, but her snappy writing style and Big City settings just work for me.  This is my favorite of her 49th Floor series, but I highly recommend all four of the books.  What makes this one stand out to me is the twist on the pretend relationship and the math genius heroine.

Kings Rising (Captive Prince, #3)
KINGS RISING by C.S. Pacat (fantasy romance)
I first started reading this addictive fantasy story when it was being published on the author's LiveJournal.  I (and the other Captive Prince fans) had been waiting for the conclusion for five years and it did not disappoint.  Damen and Laurent are one of my favorite all-time couples and the twists and turns of this book had me reading way into the night.

Magnate (The Knickerbocker Club, #1)
MAGNATE by Joanna Shupe (historical romance)
The Gilded Age setting helped this book (and series) stand out to me in 2016.  I also loved the class differences between the self-made millionaire hero and the upper crust heroine who wants to start her own brokerage firm.  I also enjoyed the "snowed-in" aspect which helped force these two to finally admit their feelings.

A Promise of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #1)
A PROMISE OF FIRE by Amanda Bouchet (fantasy romance)
I bought this debut on its release date after seeing a ton of gushing reviews/tweets/posts about it and it was the right decision!  Cat is such an amazing heroine and her romance with the gruff, but sweet Griffin had me laughing and swooning.  I also loved the Greek mythology that peppered the fantasy aspect of this world.
Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9)
KATE DANIELS SERIES by Ilona Andrews (urban fantasy)
2016 was the year that I got caught up on the popular Kate Daniels series and it was an amazing ride.  Curran and Kate are fantastic as are the other series characters like Andrea, Jim, Roman, Derek, and Julie.  I am sad that the series will ending in 2017, but it will always have a place in my heart.
Archangel's Heart (Guild Hunter, #9)
GUILD HUNTER SERIES by Nalini Singh (urban fantasy)
This is also the year that I caught up with Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter books.  I read eight installments and am always left wanting more.  Elena, Raphael, Janvier, Ashwini, Illium, Dimitri are all so fantastic and the political machinations really help this series stand out.