Thursday, October 31, 2013

REVIEW: "Duke of Midnight' by Elizabeth Hoyt

Duke of Midnight (Maiden Lane, #6)
Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt
For Ages 18+
Historical Romance -- Georgian England
Grand Central Publishing -- October 15, 2013
Mass Market Paperback, 360 pages
Purchased from Amazon

THEMES
Alpha Heroes, Across the Tracks, Tearjerker, Fairy Tales

SUMMARY
WHEN A MASKED MAN . . .

Twenty years ago Maximus Batten witnessed the brutal murders of his parents. Now the autocratic Duke of Wakefield, he spends his days ruling Parliament. But by night, disguised as the Ghost of St. Giles, he prowls the grim alleys of St. Giles, ever on the hunt for the murderer. One night he finds a fiery woman who meets him toe-to-toe—and won't back down . . .

MEETS HIS MATCH . . .

Artemis Greaves toils as a lady's companion, but hiding beneath the plain brown serge of her dress is the heart of a huntress. When the Ghost of St. Giles rescues her from footpads, she recognizes a kindred spirit-and is intrigued. She's even more intrigued when she realizes who exactly the notorious Ghost is by day . . .

DESIRE IGNITES A DANGEROUS PASSION

Artemis makes a bold move: she demands that Maximus use his influence to free her imprisoned brother-or she will expose him as the Ghost. But blackmailing a powerful duke isn't without risks. Now that she has the tiger by the tail, can she withstand his ire-or the temptation of his embrace?

FIRST LINE
"Artemis Greaves did not like to think of herself as a cynical person, but when the masked figure dropped into the moonlit alley to confront the three toughs already menacing her and her cousin, the hand on the knife in her boot tightened."

MY THOUGHTS
And she has done it again!  There is just something about Elizabeth Hoyt's stories that makes me connect with her characters and really care about what happens to them.  I first discovered her with her debut novel, The Raven Prince, and have collected all her books since then.  The Maiden Lane series has been particularly intriguing with its Georgian setting, superhero overlay, and intriguing social commentary.

Despite my love of her work, I was a bit worried that Elizabeth Hoyt wouldn't be able to change my initial impression of Maximus, Duke of Wakefield.  He was not the most endearing character before, though he was interesting, but I wasn't sure if he would ever be hero material.  Well, I was proven wrong and I adored Duke of Midnight.

Maximus definitely reminded me of Bruce Wayne of Batman fame which I know was an inspiration for the author.  He was wealthy and powerful, but had some dark secrets which shaped his personality as much as anything else.  I loved how this book showed why he acted the way that he did in earlier books though he did still have a few jerk moments.  I just loved the depth of his character and how he slowly revealed his true nature to the audience and his heroine.

And then there's Artemis Greaves, poor relation and companion to her spoiled cousin, who is easily in the lead for my favorite heroine of 2013.  I read a lot of historical romances and am pretty picky when it comes to be heroines, but she had everything that I look for from her intelligence to her genuine nature to her ambition that never ventured into recklessness.  She has had a difficult time with her brother being considered mad and dealing the fallout from that scandal.  But, she never rested on her laurels and continued doing everything she could to help her brother.

Artemis and Maximus were an electric couple from the moment they met.  I loved how they both immediately felt the connection and spent quite a bit of time trying to ignore it.  Their backgrounds may be different, but they obviously understood one another and were as good together as they were apart.  Plus it was fun to see a story where the hero and heroine saved each other by the end.  Their love scenes were wonderfully spicy (like Ms. Hoyt's always are) and did a great job of developing their relationship beyond the physical.

I loved most of the side characters as well.  Elizabeth Hoyt excels at balancing a large cast of characters which she shows in this book.  My personal favorites were Maximus's sister, Phoebe, who suffers from vision issues, Craven, the manservant who was a great "Alfred" for Maximus's "Bruce Wayne", and Artemis's twin brother, Apollo.  I was not the biggest fan of Artemis's cousin, Penelope, but I understood her role in the book and thought the development of her character has been interesting over the past few books.

Besides the romance, Duke of Midnight focused on Maximus's life as the Ghost of St. Giles and his lengthy pursuit of his parents' murderer.  There is finally a resolution to this great mystery and I was surprised by the twists that occurred.  Overall I have liked the Ghost of St. Giles subplot, but I am pretty happy that it appears to be coming to an end.  The ending has really set things up for the next level of the series and I can't wait to see where Elizabeth Hoyt goes next.

While I do believe this book can be read as a stand-alone, I think it works best as part of the series.  There is a large cast and quite a bit of overlapping subplots that are much more interesting if read in order.  Plus it is fun to see the evolution of Maximus's character from overbearing jerk to leading man.  I highly recommend the Maiden Lane series (and the rest of Hoyt's books) for fans of spicy, thought-provoking historical romance!

4.5 STARS


FAVORITE QUOTE
"I’ll never tire of you," he said, knowing with every thread of his soul that he spoke the absolute truth.
"Then prove it."
He knew what she asked with such an open and vulnerable face. Something within him shriveled and died... he’d been on the rack too long for a penance he wasn’t sure he could ever entirely pay, "You know..."  His voice was hoarse, the croaking of a dying man. He licked his lips. "You know why I cannot."


BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. Wicked Intentions
2. Notorious Pleasures
3. Scandalous Desires
4. Thief of Shadows
5. Lord of Darkness
6. Duke of Midnight 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

UPCOMING RELEASES: November 2013

Champion (Legend, #3)
NOVEMBER 2 
  • Sentinel (Covenant #5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout (YA paranormal)
NOVEMBER 5
The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines, #4)NOVEMBER 11
NOVEMBER 19
NOVEMBER 26

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Scariest-Looking Book Covers


Hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.

~Scariest-Looking Book Covers~

7507908
1. The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Born at Midnight (Shadow Falls, #1)
2. Born at Midnight (Shadow Falls #1) by C.C. Hunter

11108981
3. Tommy Nightmare (Jenny Pox #2) by J.L. Bryan

My Love Lies Bleeding (Drake Chronicles, #1)
4. My Love Lies Bleeding (Drake #1) by Alyxandra Harvey

9571401
5. Blood Rights (House of Comarre #1) by Kristen Painter

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden, #1)
6. The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1) by Julie Kagawa

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)
7. Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake

Sweet Venom (Medusa Girls, #1)
8. Sweet Venom (Medusa Girls #1) by Teri Lynn Childs

Pretty When She Dies (Pretty When She Dies, #1)
9. Pretty When She Dies (Pretty #1) by Rhiannon Frater

Unwind (Unwind, #1)
10. Unwind (Unwind #1) by Neal Shusterman

Friday, October 25, 2013

FOLLOW FRIDAY (90)

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow
Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop that expands your blog following by a joint effort between bloggers. Feature & Follow Friday is now hosted by TWO hosts, Rachel of Parajunkee and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

Q: Bookagram: Photograph your favorite read in a funny place.

All my favorite books are packed away because I'm moving tomorrow!  So I decided to take a picture of my current read which is pretty fabulous itself.  Elizabeth Hoyt is one of my favorite authors and this is her most recent release, Duke of Midnight.

    

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bloglovin

I have created different ways for you to follow my blog: Bloglovin', LinkyFollowers, , Twitter, Goodreads, or email.  Comment, follow me, and I'll return the favor!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY (73)


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to highlight upcoming releases we're anxiously awaiting. 


Rebel Belle

REBEL BELLE
by Rachel Hawkins

Expected Publication: April 8, 2014
Young Adult -- Paranormal/Fantasy 

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him--and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.


WHY I'M WAITING: I love Rachel Hawkins's Hex Hall series so I am pumped to see what she does next.  I almost always enjoy books with heroines who go beyond their own self-perception and it sounds like that is exactly what happens to Harper.

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Landline 

LANDLINE
by Rainbow Rowell

Expected Publication: July 2014
Adult -- Contemporary Romance

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?  Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?


WHY I'M WAITING: I probably wouldn't be interested in this book if it didn't have Rainbow Rowell's name attached.  But, I absolutely adored her YA romance (Fangirl) and heard so many good things about her other books that I am willing to try anything she writes.



 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Unusual Character Names


Hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.

~Unusual Character Names~

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4)
1. Hermione -- Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
I'm not sure specifically where JKR found the name, but I have seen it in Shakespeare (A Winter's Tale) and Greek mythology (Helen of Troy's daughter).  I just love the story that she chose an unusual name so that fewer girls wouldn't get teased for sharing a name with such a little know-it-all especially because so many people would love to share a name with her now. 

Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, #1)
2. Terrible -- Downside Ghost series by Stacia Kane
This just works so well for the burly enforcer in this dark urban fantasy world.  The fact that Terrible is so much more than his name just makes it that much more intriguing to me.  I also like the protagonist of the entire series (Cesaria aka Chess).

Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, #1)
3. Echo -- Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Sometimes I get a bit annoyed with the weird names in young adult fiction nowadays, but I think this is a rare time when it works so well.  Echo's mother is pretty unstable so I could easily see her wanting to give her kids names that are pretty out there.

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1)
4. Penryn -- Angelfall by Susan Ee
I don't think readers ever got the origin of Penryn's name, but I love it!  It is a combination of pretty and tough which describes the character perfectly.  I also think it is interesting that she has an unusual name while her sister is called something a little more familiar, Paige.

When Beauty Tamed the Beast (Fairy Tales, #2)
5. Linnet -- When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James
One thing I love about EJ's historicals is the beautiful and unusual names she gives her characters.  Linnet is definitely my favorite because I could easily see myself using it in the future (probably as a middle name). 

Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss, #2)
6. Cricket -- Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
I really wish that we had gotten to know the reason behind such an unusual moniker, but Cricket is just Cricket.  I don't think I could ever name a person or a pet that though I do love the character.

Darkfever (Fever, #1)
7. Jericho -- Fever series by Karen Marie Moning
Another example of a name that just fits the character so perfectly that you can't imagine them being called anything else.  Jericho Z. Barrons is such a force of nature that he requires a powerful, foreboding name.

Lover Awakened (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #3)
8. Xhex, Rhage, Wrath, Zsadist, Vishous, etc. -- Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward
One of my favorite aspects of this world is the bizarre names.  When I first started reading the series, I rolled my eyes at all the deliberate misspellings.  Now I just find it is part of the BDB world's charm.  My personal favorite of all of these is Xhex and I am actually thinking about naming an animal that in the future.

Unveiled (Turner, #1)
9. Smite, Ash, Mark -- Turner Family series by Courtney Milan
Above are the nicknames of these three brothers.  Their mentally unstable mother gave them all lengthy Bible verses as their names such as: "The Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every living thing, as I have done."  This verse is Smite's true name.

Pleasure Unbound (Demonica, #1)
10. Eidolon, Wraith, Shade-- Demonica series by Larissa Ione
These three demons have names that are synonyms for phantom or spirit.  I think this works really well for their species which takes the form of other demons to seduce females and continue their line.

Monday, October 21, 2013

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: "Rhythm and Bluegrass" by Molly Harper

Rhythm and Bluegrass (Bluegrass, #2)
Rhythm and Bluegrass by Molly Harper
For Ages 18+
Contemporary Romance
Pocket Star -- October 7, 2013
Audiobook, 5 hours and 57 minutes
Purchased from Amazon

THEMES
Small Town Setting, First Person Narrative

 SUMMARY
Bonnie Turkle, multimedia historian for the Kentucky Commission of Tourism, is dispatched to Mud Creek, a tiny eastern Kentucky town, with few prospects but many oddballs, to rescue important artifacts from McBride’s Music Hall. Now fallen beyond disrepair, McBride’s was once a jewel of the early American music scene, an intersection of the country-western and rhythm and blues circuits. The former owner’s grandson, Will McBride, who also happens to be Mud Creek’s esteemed mayor, would like nothing more than to see the place bull-dozed in favor of a factory that will provide much-needed jobs to his citizens. But Bonnie finds evidence of a legendary musical event at the music hall and her plans to turn it into a museum put Mud Creek’s economic future at risk – not to mention the growing flirtation between the two of them. If Will and Bonnie can’t find common ground, the town’s past and future will be lost.

FIRST LINE
"Frantically unpacking my flaming vehicle while it merrily burned on the side of the road was not how I wanted to start my time in Mud Creek."

MY THOUGHTS
I was so happy when I saw that Molly Harper was continuing her series about the Kentucky Commission of Tourism.  My Bluegrass Baby is one of my favorite reads this year and I couldn't wait to learn more about the crazy people who work at the Commission.  I will admit that I was kinda hoping office assistant extraordinaire, Kelsey, would finally admit her feelings to the resident IT geek, Charles, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Bonnie and Will's story.

Bonnie is another quirky, but realistic Harper heroine who provides a very entertaining narration.  I love the detail that was put into her job as a multimedia historian and I really admired how passionate she was about her job.  I thought her optimistic outlook on life would get annoying by the end, but it was balanced pretty well with some of the less sunny parts of her personality.  She did have a few moments where I wanted to smack her especially when it came to how blind she was in regards to the McBride's Music Hall and its place in Mud Creek.  But, she freely admitted when she was in the wrong and was willing to do whatever she could to make things right again which I loved.

Bonnie's counterpart is the hot, young mayor of Mud Creek, Will McBride, who also happens to be related to the original owners of the music hall.  I found him to be very swoon-worthy especially because he fell for Bonnie so fast.  His devotion to his hometown was sweet to see and I thought his sarcastic personality really balanced with Bonnie's optimism.  Like Bonnie, Will did have a few moments where he got on nerves especially when he was so stubborn about not saving the music hall (though I could understand where he was coming from on that part).  And, like Bonnie, he was willing to be an adult about the whole situation which was very refreshing in this era of Big Misunderstandings and people not admitting their errors.

I also loved the setting of Mud Creek, Kentucky!  I am not always a fan of small town stories, but I found this one cute without overdoing it.  The townspeople were a little left of center, but never so far out there that I couldn't relate to their plight.  My personal favorites were the librarian (Miss Urlene), Bonnie's landlady (Miss Martha), and the friendly duo of Fred and Joe Bob.  The fact that the town had fallen on hard economic times was very timely and I think will help readers get invested in the story.

In conclusion, I thought Rhythm and Bluegrass was a cute and entertaining small town romance between two relatible characters with a bit of history thrown in for some fun.  Amanda Ronconi continues to do an amazing job interpreting Harper's humor and heart in her audio narration.  I adore Molly Harper's work and I can't wait to see more of the Kentucky Commission on  Tourism.  I am still waiting for Kelsey and Charles's story because I know it will be amazing.


4 STARS


BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. My Bluegrass Baby
2. Rhythm and Bluegrass 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

STACKING THE SHELVES (12) and WEEKLY RECAP

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A great feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews where bloggers get to feature the new books they received over the past week.


~BOUGHT~
Duke of Midnight (Maiden Lane, #6) Emma
Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt (historical romance) -- I love almost everything that Hoyt writes!

Emma by Jane Austen (classic fiction) -- I read this quite a few years ago, but want to listen to it in audio format.

~BORROWED FROM THE LIBRARY~
Spell Bound (Hex Hall, #3) Wild Cards (Wild Cards, #1)
Spellbound by Rachel Hawkins (YA paranormal) -- I need to finish this trilogy!

Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles (YA contemporary) -- Love Elkeles work and I am super excited to try this romance with a female football player.

~RECEIVED FOR REVIEW~
Bad Idea Three Broken Promises (Drew + Fable, #3)
Bad Idea by Damon Suede (M/M contemporary) -- I read Suede's Hot Head last year and loved it so I'm eager to read more of his work.

Three Broken Promises by Monica Murphy (NA contemporary) -- The first in this series, One Week Girlfriend, is so good that I am ready to get caught up.

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THIS WEEK ON FEMINIST FAIRY TALE REVIEWS
MY READING UPDATE

Love Lessons Rhythm and Bluegrass (Bluegrass, #2) After the Fall (Tucker Springs, #6)

Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan -- One of my favorite M/M authors with an adorable new story about a college freshman and the campus Casanova.  My review can be found at the link above.

Rhythm and Bluegrass by Molly Harper -- This is a continuation of the Bluegrass series though it can be read as a stand-alone.  A very cute contemporary romance that provides a fun twist on the sometimes tired small town setting.  Review coming soon.

After the Fall by L.A. Witt -- Another book from the Tucker Springs universe which is so much fun to read about.  I loved both characters and all the little cameos from other Tucker Springs couples.

CURRENTLY READING


Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt (historical romance)
The Untamed MacKenzie by Jennifer Ashley (historical romance)
Emma by Jane Austen (classic fiction)


COMING TO THE BLOG NEXT WEEK

Reviews
4 Stars -- "Rhythm and Bluegrass" by Molly Harper


Features
Top Ten Tuesday: Unusual Character Names
Follow Friday: Bookagram