Friday, November 28, 2014

REVIEW: "The Understatement of the Year" by Sarina Bowen


The Understatement of the Year (The Ivy Years, #3)
The Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen
(The Ivy Years #3)

Goodreads -- Amazon
Author Website

For Ages 17+ (Language, Sensuality)
New Adult/Male-Male -- Contemporary

Rennie Road Books -- Published in October 2014
Ebook, 300 pages
Read in November 2014
Purchased from Amazon

THEMES
Dual Points of View, Sports

SUMMARY
What happened in high school stayed in high school. Until now.

Five years ago, Michael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then, he’s made an art of hiding his sexuality from everyone. Including himself.

So it’s a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenseless. For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team’s new left wing could destroy Graham’s life as he knows it.

John Rikker is stuck being the new guy. Again. And it’s worse than usual, because the media has latched onto the story of the only “out” player in Division One hockey. As the satellite trucks line the sidewalk outside the rink, his new teammates are not amused.

And one player in particular looks sick every time he enters the room.

Rikker didn’t exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won’t even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, his former… best friend / boyfriend / whatever isn’t doing so well. He drinks too much and can’t focus during practice.

Either the two loneliest guys on the team will self destruct from all the new pressures in their lives, or they can navigate the pain to find a way back to one another. To say that it won’t be easy is the Understatement of the Year.



FIRST LINE
"In all my favorite movies, when something bad was going to happen, the protagonist usually sensed it."

MY THOUGHTS
Sarina Bowen is definitely one of my favorite finds this year.  I have fallen in love with her NA romances and she really seals the deal with this emotional male/male love story.  The Understatement of the Year continues the series story line of focusing on the Harkness College ice hockey team.

Michael Graham's life takes a drastic turn when his high school best friend (and former boyfriend) transfers to Harkness.  Graham has kept his sexuality a secret from everyone except for John Rikker and he fears that everything will be revealed since Rikker is known for being an out gay athlete.  These two guys have some major chemistry as well as baggage to deal with before they can get their happily ever after.

I really liked the way that Sarina Bowen approached this story.  She allows readers to really understand both Rikker and Graham and their alternate reactions to the attack that shattered their friendship so long ago.  I admired Rikker for his strength in being known as a trailblazer even though he got outed accidentally.  And I really felt for Graham whose entire being is focused on making sure no one knows that he is gay.  

Graham and Rikker were a great couple, but they had to work for their happy ending.  I liked how they began their friendship again and just learned more about each other.  There were definitely moments when I became frustrated with Graham's inability to really go for it with Rikker, but those instances showed how deeply he hid his true feelings.  While it was a long, hard road, the resolution was amazingly sweet and emotional.

The Understatement of the Year was another very successful installment in this series.  I love Sarina Bowen's approach to the New Adult genre and admire that she isn't afraid to take risks in her writing.  I definitely am excited to read more of her books especially if Graham and Rikker's student manager, Bella, gets her own story.


4.5 STARS

STEAM LEVEL
Flush -- Detailed descriptions of lovemaking though nothing overly graphic.

FAVORITE QUOTE
"Getting along together was never the problem with you and me," he said. "We’re both easy. It’s just the rest of the world that’s hard."

BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. The Year We Fell Down
2. The Year We Hid Away
2.5. Blonde Date
3. The Understatement of the Year
4.  The Shameless Hour (Coming 2015)

OTHER REVIEWS
The Fiction Vixen (A)
Dear Author (B+)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

THROWBACK THURSDAY-HISTORICAL ROMANCE EDITION (54)

Happy Thursday, everyone! This is a new feature hosted by Buried Under Romance and Love Saves the World.

What is Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition?
Traditionally, Throwback Thursday celebrates nostalgia, asking participants to post a personal photo or an image from their past -- usually from 5 to 10 years ago. There are a lot of book blogs that also do a book-related Throwback Thursday.  Since Tin and Mary C. are unapologetic lovers of historical romances, they've decided to focus on this beloved genre.

Here are the rules:
1. It must be posted on a Thursday.
2. It must be a historical romance novel published before October 2008.

THIS WEEK I AM FEATURING...

The Texan's Wager (Wife Lottery, #1)
The Texan's Wager (Wife Lottery #1) by Jodi Thomas
Originally Published in October 2002

Thrown off a wagon train with two other women and trying to avoid jail for a murder they committed, Bailee Moore agrees to enter a "wife lottery"--a ploy concocted by the Cedar Point sheriff to secure wives for the men in the small Texas town.

For the sensible Bailee, however, marrying Carter McKoy is like exchanging one life sentence for another--especially since her new husband hasn't even seen fit to utter a single word in her presence. But still, she can't help thinking that something about this strong, silent farmer could be the key to leaving her troubled past behind...and making a worthy wager with her heart.

*******************
I really enjoy western-themed romances even though I don't get to read them very often.  This book introduced me to Jodi Thomas and it was a fabulous beginning.  Carter's journey still makes me teary-eyed.  I am always going to root for the troubled beta hero.  Bailee is a decent heroine who tries to understand Carter's quirks and gets the happy ending she deserves.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

2015 MYTHOLOGY READING CHALLENGE: Sign-Up Post


Check out the introductory post at Lili Lost in a Book.

The Rules:
  • The challenge will run from January 1, 2015 - December 31, 2015. You can sign up at any time.
  • The book does not need to be released in 2015, but it does need to be read in 2015. Any books read before or after 2015 will not count toward this challenge. ARCs are okay.
  • Crossovers from other Reading Challenges are also okay!
  • You don't need to pick your books ahead of time, but you can if you want to!
  • You do, however, need to pick a level (see below). Keep in mind that you can move UP in the levels, but not DOWN, 'kay? ;)
  • The books read must have a prominent mythology theme. They can be Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Norse... you get the idea.
  • The books can be YA, MG, adult... pretty much anything!
  • Books can be any format (e-book, audio, print).
  • You do not need to have a blog to participate. You can link up using your Goodreads account, Library Thing or any other platform.
  • And the most important rule of all, HAVE FUN! :D
The Levels:
  • Demigod Level: 1-5
  • God Level: 6-10
  • Titan Level: 11-20
  • Monster Level: 21+

**************
I am going to try for the TITAN LEVEL (11-20 mythology-themed books)
  1. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (MG)
  2. The House of Hades by Rick Riordan (MG)
  3. The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan (MG)
  4. The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan (MG)
  5. The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan (MG)
  6. The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan (MG)
  7. The Son of Sobek by Rick Riordan (MG)
  8. The Staff of Serapis by Rick Riordan (MG)
  9. The Crown of Ptolemy by Rick Riordan (MG)
  10. The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan (MG)
  11. Apollyon by Jennifer L. Armentrout (YA)
  12. Sentinel by Jennifer L. Armentrout (YA)
  13. The Return by Jennifer L. Armentrout (NA)
  14. The Eternity Key by Bree Despain (YA)
  15. Tricked by Kevin Hearne (UF)
  16. Trapped by Kevin Hearne (UF)
  17. Son of No One by Sherrilyn Kenyon (PNR)
  18. Dragonbane by Sherrilyn Kenyon (PNR)
  19. The Darkest Craving by Gena Showalter (PNR)
  20. The Darkest Touch by Gena Showalter (PNR)

REVIEW: "Take Me On" by Katie McGarry

Take Me On (Pushing the Limits, #4)
Take Me On by Katie McGarry
(Pushing the Limits #4)

Goodreads -- Amazon -- Book Depository
Author Website

For Ages 15+ (Language, Mild Sensuality)
Young Adult -- Contemporary

Harlequin Teen -- Published in May 2015
Ebook, 304 pages
Read in November 2014
Borrowed from the Library

THEMES
Dual Points of View, Sports

SUMMARY
Champion kickboxer Haley swore she'd never set foot in the ring again after one tragic night. But then the guy she can't stop thinking about accepts a mixed martial arts fight in her honor. Suddenly, Haley has to train West Young. All attitude, West is everything Haley promised herself she'd stay away from. Yet he won't last five seconds in the ring without her help.

West is keeping a big secret from Haley. About who he really is. But helping her-fighting for her-is a shot at redemption. Especially since it's his fault his family is falling apart. He can't change the past, but maybe he can change Haley's future.

Hayley and West have agreed to keep their relationship strictly in the ring. But as an unexpected bond forms between them and attraction mocks their best intentions, they'll face their darkest fears and discover love is worth fighting for.


FIRST LINE
"A door squeaks open at the far end of the barren hallway and the clicking of high heels echoes off the row of metal post-office boxes."

MY THOUGHTS
I have thoroughly enjoyed Katie McGarry's YA contemporary romances for their wonderful character development and plots that rarely seem contrived or melodramatic.  While Take Me On is not my favorite of the series, I still found it to be emotional and enjoyable.

It focuses on former kickboxing champion, Haley, and West, the troublemaker brother of the heroine of Crash Into You.  They meet when Haley is trying to take some medicine home to her father and gets waylaid by two guys who want to cause her trouble.  West happens upon them and attempts to help Haley out.  Unfortunately, one of the guys is the brother of Haley's ex-boyfriend and they decide to take revenge on West by challenging him to a MMA bout.  Haley and West are then paired together to figure out a way to train West to survive in the ring against trained fighters.

I really liked both Haley and West.  They have their own issues with Haley's family relying on the 'charity' of her uncle after losing their house and West feeling like he can never be good enough for his family.  They come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, but, through training, figure out that they can connect on another level.  I enjoyed seeing how strong Haley was with her devotion to her family.  I also understood her reluctance to jump back into the ring after a traumatic experience.  West really broke my heart with his constant attempts to help out the people he loved and then everything backfiring on him.  I loved them these two separate and together which is always a good sign in a romance.

The main issue I had with Take Me On was a subplot involving West's mother.  He figures out that she keeps meeting someone at a bar on the other side of town and he tries to figure out what she is doing.  This was a decent mystery until the truth came out and I felt like it was really random.  I don't think it really helped me understand West's parents' actions and actually made me even more irritated with his mother.

Otherwise, I thought this was another successful story in the Pushing the Limits universe.  I love seeing the random cameos from the other couples especially Isaiah and Rachel from Crash Into You.  I definitely hope Katie McGarry continues this series because I want to see Abby and Ethan get their story soon.
3.5 STARS

STEAM LEVEL
Blush -- Kisses with no/minor touching. 

FAVORITE QUOTE
"I've had a lot of time to think and even though the silence is new, the loneliness isn't.  How is it possible to have been surrounded by people and never feel complete?"

BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. Pushing the Limits
1.1. Crossing the Line
1.5. Breaking the Rules
2. Dare You To
3. Crash Into You
4. Take Me On

OTHER REVIEWS
Dear Author (B)
Good Books and Good Wine (5 Stars)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

2015 NEW TO YOU! READING CHALLENGE: Sign-Up Post



Hosted by Herding Cats & Burning Soup.

Basically...read something "NEW" to you in 2015 and review it.

This can be a debut author. A brand new to you author. And old favorites "debut" book. A new series. A first time reading a new genre or any other new that crosses your path.

Everyone is welcome to join--blogger, author, reader. Any genre/heat level is fine.


Levels
Level 1-- 6 "new to you"s
Level 2-- 12 "new to you"s
Level 3-- 24 "new to you"s
Level 4-- 36 "new to you"s
Level 5-- 48 "new to you"s
Level 6-- 72 "new to you"s
Level 7--100+ "new to you"s


**************
I am going to try to achieve Level 3 (24 "new to me"s):

2015 Debut Authors
 1. Victoria Aveyard -- The Red Queen
2. Viola Carr -- The Diabolical Miss Hyde
3. Lori Goldstein -- Becoming Jinn
4. Maggie Hall -- The Conspiracy of Us
5. Eva Leigh -- Forever Your Earl
6. Taran Matharu -- The Novice
7. Joanna Shupe -- The Courtesan Duchess

"New To Me" Author
1. Maire Clairemont -- The Dark Lady
2. Ann Aguirre -- Grimspace; Enclave
3. Kelley Armstrong -- Bitten
4. Leigh Bardugo -- Shadow and Bone
5. James Dashner -- The Maze Runner
6. Gayle Forman -- If I Stay
7. Kate Noble -- Revealed; The Game and the Governess
8. Nina Rowan -- A Study in Seduction
9. Katharine Ashe -- When a Scot Loves a Lady
10. Pierce Brown -- Red Rising
11. C.S. Harris -- What Angels Fear
12. Beverly Jenkins -- Destiny's Embrace

Favorite Authors' Debut Novels
1. Jennifer Ashley -- Perils of the Heart
2. Eloisa James -- Potent Pleasures
3. Laura Lee Guhrke -- Prelude to Heaven
4. Connie Brockway -- Promise Me Heaven
5. Kresley Cole -- The Captain of All Pleasures

TOP TEN TUESDAY: My Winter TBR List


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

I continue to be horrible at following these TBR lists.  I read only read four out of the ten books I put on my Fall TBR list.  So here I go again on my constant effort to get through some of the books on my TBR shelf.

~Already On My Shelf~

Say Yes to the Marquess (Castles Ever After, #2)
1. Say Yes To The Marquess (Castles Ever After #2) by Tessa Dare
This book doesn't release until December 30, but I got an ARC from Avon.  I love Tessa Dare and have had to stop myself from reading this too far away from the release date.

Endless Knight (The Arcana Chronicles, #2)
2. Endless Knight (Arcana Chronicles #2) by Kresley Cole
I am in love with Kresley Cole's adult paranormal series so I gave her YA debut, Poison Princess, a try.  I liked it and am trying to read the sequel in time for the conclusion to be released next year.

'Twas the Night after Christmas (Hellions of Halstead Hall, #6) (The Duke's Men)
3. Twas The Night After Christmas by Sabrina Jeffries
I am all about holiday-themed historicals and I have had this book for over a year.  I will read it this season!


The Iron Traitor (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten, #2)
4. The Iron Traitor (Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #2) by Julie Kagawa
I enjoy this series, but, for some reason, keep forgetting about this book.  I'm nervous about what Keirran will do...

Opposition (Lux, #5)
5. Opposition (Lux #5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
I just don't want this series to be over!  I love Katy, Daemon, and the whole crew and am scared of how things will end up.

~Not Yet Released~

Revenant (Lords of Deliverance, #6; Demonica, #11)
6. Revenant (Lords of Deliverance #6) by Larissa Ione
I've been waiting for ages for this!  I fell for Revenant as soon as he made his appearance in Reaver plus Blaspheme has always intrigued me.

Once Upon a Marquess (The Worth Saga #1)
7. Once Upon A Marquess (Worth Saga #1) by Courtney Milan
I will read anything Courtney Milan writes so, obviously, I am eagerly anticipating the start of her newest series.  (EDIT: I just found out (Thanks to Camille's comment!) that the release date of this got moved to 2015, but I'm still excited to read it even if it won't happen in Winter 2014.)

Breaking the Rules (Pushing the Limits, #1.5)
8. Breaking the Rules (Pushing the Limits #1.5) by Katie McGarry
I always want more Noah and Echo in my life.  Plus McGarry just clarified that this is a full-length story, not a novella!

This Shattered World (Starbound, #2)
9. This Shattered World (Starbound Universe #2) by Amie Kaufman and Meghan Spooner
The world of These Broken Stars intrigued me and I want to know more.

The Darkest Touch (Lords of the Underworld, #11)
10. The Darkest Touch (Lords of the Underworld #11) by Gena Showalter
I'm a bit behind in this series, but I want Torin's story so badly!

Monday, November 24, 2014

REVIEW: "Never Judge A Lady By Her Cover" by Sarah MacLean

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover (The Rules of Scoundrels, #4)
Never Judge A Lady By Her Cover by Sarah MacLean
(The Rules of Scoundrels #4)

Goodreads -- Amazon -- Book Depository
Author Website

For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality)
Historical Romance -- Regency England

Avon -- November 25, 2014
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Read in November 2014
Received from Edelweiss

THEMES
Heroine in Disguise, Across the Tracks

SUMMARY
She is the most powerful woman in Britain,
A queen of the London Underworld ...
But no one can ever know.

He is the only man smart enough to uncover the truth,
Putting all she has at risk . . .
Including her heart.


FIRST LINE
"I love you."

MY THOUGHTS
Warning!  This review contains spoilers for earlier books in the Rules of Scoundrels series particularly information about the identity of Chase.

When I finished Never Judge A Lady By Her Cover, my first reaction was "Thank goodness!"  Readers of Sarah MacLean's Rules of Scoundrels series have been anticipating the release of this book for awhile and I was so happy that it met all of my expectations.  Over the course of the past few years, we have seen the other owners of the Fallen Angel gambling club fall in love.  But, the real power in the club is the mysterious Chase who finally takes center stage.

Lady Georgiana Pearson (aka Chase) is the scandalous sister of the Duke of Leighton (Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart).  Her life is changed forever when she falls in love, is abandoned, and then discovers that she is pregnant.  After the birth of her daughter (Caroline), Georgiana decides to thumb her nose at society by using a generous gift from her brother to purchase a gambling club which she dubs the Fallen Angel.  She ends up saving three other aristocrats who have fallen on hard times and together they make the Angel the most prestigious establishment in London.
Georgiana is truly the star of Never Judge A Lady By Her Cover.  She finds herself in a difficult situation and figures out a way to establish a life without society's approval.  It did help that she had her brother's money, but she did all the legwork herself.  I loved how strong-willed Georgiana was.  She becomes pretty savvy in her years at the Fallen Angel which is fun to read about in a historical romance.  I also admired her determination when it comes to her daughter even though she often feels like she has let her down. 

Duncan West is the hero and he was pretty wonderful as well.  He is the owner of multiple newspapers in London and also acts as a secret partner with the Fallen Angel.  He has always had tension with Georgiana's "Annie" persona which allows her to move around the club without being harassed, but never knew who Chase really was.  Duncan has some skeletons in his past which allows him to connect with Georgiana.  They really worked together as a couple though the secret identity stuff did go on a bit long...in my opinion.

While most of the book focused on Georgiana and her relationship with Duncan, readers also get to see the other owners of the Fallen Angel (Bourne, Cross, and Temple).  They are still as irreverent as always and it was great to see their interactions with Georgiana.  And Caroline was just so funny!  She is exactly the type of daughter that I thought Georgiana would have though she never seemed to act too precocious.  As in the previous books, the Fallen Angel is a character by itself.  The descriptions are lush and just make me want to visit.  Georgiana's change in attitude does effect the club and it was interesting to see that development.

Overall, I was extremely happy with Never Judge A Lady By Her Cover.  It was the best of the series and my second favorite Sarah MacLean romance after Eleven Scandals To Start To Win A Duke's Heart.  I highly recommend that readers start from the beginning so that you can truly appreciate the evolution of the Fallen Angel and its unusual owners.

I received a free e-galley of this book from Avon via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 STARS


STEAM LEVEL
Flush -- Detailed descriptions of lovemaking though nothing overly graphic.

FAVORITE QUOTE
Georgiana looked to the Wests, "One should always travel with a nine year old to complete one's thoughts."
Cynthia replied, all seriousness, "I so agree.  In fact, I was thinking of finding one for myself."
"I'm certain my mother would happily lease me." Caroline's jest drew laughter from the group.

BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. A Rogue By Any Other Name
2. One Good Earl Deserves A Lover
3. No Good Duke Goes Unpunished
4. Never Judge A Lady By Her Cover

Saturday, November 22, 2014

STACKING THE SHELVES (59)

STSmall_thumb[2][2]
A great feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews where bloggers get to feature the new books they received over the past week.

 
~BOUGHT~
Killer Queen (Painted Faces, #2) The Lucky Charm (Portland Pioneers, #1)Kiss Me Like This (The Morrisons, #1)

Killer Queen (Painted Faces #2) by L.H. Cosway (contemporary romance) -- I bought this after I remembered it while writing this week's TTT post about sequels.  Definitely excited to read about Nicholas's point of view of Painted Faces.

The Lucky Charm (Portland Pioneers #1) by Beth Bolden (contemporary romance) -- I love baseball books so I had to get this when it went on sale.

Kiss Me Like This (Morrisons #1) by Bella Andre (NA contemporary) -- I had to try it after reading Quinn's review.  I'm trying to be more open with NA romances and this seems to be a good one.

***********
WEEKLY RECAP

I READ... 

The Understatement of the Year (Ivy Years #3) by Sarina Bowen (NA contemporary) -- Rikker and Graham really messed with my emotions in this book. Wonderfully written and extremely romantic.  Review coming soon.

Mastering the Marquess (Bound & Determined #1) by Lavinia Kent (historical erotica) -- I'm not really into erotic romances, but the premise of this intrigued me.  I thought the final part was a little overly dramatic especially compared to the well-written and subtle (for erotica) romance. 


Friday, November 21, 2014

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: "Eternity in Death" by JD Robb

Eternity in Death (In Death, #24.5)
Eternity in Death by JD Robb; Narrated by Susan Ericksen
For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality, Violence)
Romantic Suspense -- Futuristic New York

Berkeley -- Published in 2007
Audiobook, 3 hours and 27 minutes
Read in November 2014
Purchased from Audible

THEMES
Murder Mystery, Kick-Ass Heroine

SUMMARY
When notorious it-girl Tiara Kent is found dead in her plush Manhattan apartment, the murder looks to everyone like a vampire attack - everyone but the ever-practical Lieutenant Eve Dallas.  As cops begin carrying garlic and the hysteria spreads, Eve must act fast.  When they discover Tiara had a secret lover, a Dark Prince, things take a deadly turn, leading Eve and her team on a chase into the darkest corners of the city and deep into their own fears.

FIRST LINE
"Death was the end of the party."

MY THOUGHTS
This was a fun little story that had Eve Dallas going up against a self-proclaimed vampire.  Things get creepy when a famous socialite is murdered in her bed with bite marks on her neck.  Eve and her partner, Peabody, are then thrust into the underworld of New York City as they investigate a "vampire" club.

I am a huge fan of vampire-themed stories so I was excited to see the pragmatic Eve deal with the potential for paranormal antics.  It was interesting how JD Robb made the culprit pretty obvious from the beginning yet I still felt the suspense element while listening.  I knew that Eve would get the "Dark Prince", but I wasn't sure how she would be able to prove it.  And she kicked some major ass while doing so.  One should never underestimate what Eve will do to get justice.

On the more personal side of the series, Eve is forced (once again) to deal with demons from her past.  The main suspect strongly reminds her of her dead father in his mannerisms which causes the nightmares to make a re-appearance.  I thought I would get tired of this plot point by now, but I still find it interesting.  Eve is such a tough woman that these types of situations show that she is still human.  Vulnerability isn't something she deals with well and I always look forward to seeing how she has grown to accept that part of her personality.  And it doesn't hurt that Roarke is always there to help her in anyway possible.

Susan Ericksen does a killer narration as always and JD Robb provides readers with a short, but entertaining look into the world of Eve and her friends.  While I think the books in this series work best when read in order, this one could be read as a stand-alone to fans of vampire books that want to give it a try.

4 STARS

STEAM LEVEL
Flush -- Detailed descriptions of lovemaking though nothing overly graphic.


FAVORITE QUOTE
"I didn't want to tell you I'd been scared, much less why.  I guess that was stupid."
"It was."
"Aren't you supposed to say something like 'no, it wasn't.  Blah, blah, support, stroke, let me get you some chocolate'?"
"You haven't red the marriage handbook's footnotes.  It's another woman who does that sort of thing.  I believe I'm allowed to be more blunt, then ask if you'd like a quick shag."
"Shag yourself."


BOOKS IN THE SERIES
There are too many to show here, but I'm providing a link to the Goodreads listing and the listing from JD Robb's website.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

THROWBACK THURSDAY-HISTORICAL ROMANCE EDITION (53)

Happy Thursday, everyone! This is a new feature hosted by Buried Under Romance and Love Saves the World.

What is Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition?
Traditionally, Throwback Thursday celebrates nostalgia, asking participants to post a personal photo or an image from their past -- usually from 5 to 10 years ago. There are a lot of book blogs that also do a book-related Throwback Thursday.  Since Tin and Mary C. are unapologetic lovers of historical romances, they've decided to focus on this beloved genre.

Here are the rules:
1. It must be posted on a Thursday.
2. It must be a historical romance novel published before October 2008.

THIS WEEK I AM FEATURING...

The Pirate Lord (Lord Trilogy, #1) The Pirate Lord
The Pirate Lord by Sabrina Jeffries
Originally Published in August 2008

A Splendid Opportunity...

A shipload of women - theirs for the taking! Pirate captain Gideon Horn couldn't be more delighted. His men are tired of wandering the high seas and want to settle down with wives on the uncharted island paradise they've discovered. And the women are bound to be grateful to be rescued from the life of drudgery awaiting them in New South Wales . . .Lord, he's so clever!

A Splendid Passion...

Married? To pirates? Sara Willis couldn't be more appalled. First she demands proper courting—at least a month. The darkly handsome pirate lord gives them two weeks. Then Sara insists the men vacate their huts for the women—Gideon demands her kisses in return. As the demands heat up, so do their passions—and soon Sara can't remember just why she's fighting the devilishly seductive captain so hard. . .

*****************
I'm not usually into pirate romances, but there was something about this one that I enjoyed.  The premise was pretty out there with pirates taking over a convent ship in order to gain wives.  I think it was the characters that really made it stand out.  Sara was intelligent and admirable in her desire to improve the lives of women.  Gideon was exactly what readers want in pirate heroes with his sexy looks, sense of humor, and deeply romantic soul.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

REVIEW: "Dark Triumph" by Robin LaFevers

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2)
Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
For Ages 15+ (Violence, Sensuality, Language)
Young Adult -- Historical Fantasy

Houghton Mifflin -- Published in April 2013
Ebook, 405 pages
Read in November 2014
Received from Netgalley

THEMES
Kick Ass Heroine, Tormented Heroine, First Person Narrative

SUMMARY
When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge - but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.

But her assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father's rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother's love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for.



FIRST LINE
"I did not arrive at the convent of Saint Mortain some green stripling."

MY THOUGHTS
Warning!  This review contains minor spoilers for the first His Fair Assassin book, Grave Mercy.

I read and enjoyed Grave Mercy a few weeks ago.  While reading about Ismae and her involvement with the St. Mortain sisters, I kept getting distracted by the mysterious Sybella.  Readers first see her as a wild, tormented young woman with some serious demons in her past.  Grave Mercy doesn't delve too deep into her character so I was excited to learn about her in this book.

Dark Triumph opens with Sybella acting as a spy for St. Mortain in her home.  Her father is the villainous D'Albret who spent most of the first book figuring out a way to marry the young duchess of Brittany in order to increase his power and wealth.  When he was unsuccessful, he gathered his allies and is now seeking vengeance by taking over Brittany himself.  Sybella is assigned to report on her father's movements for both the duchess and the convent though she has trouble dealing with the return to the place of her greatest torments.

I became so enamored with Sybella in this book and really admire her strength despite her family's constant attempts to squash it.  Besides her cruel father, she also deals with an overly attentive brother, traitorous ladies in waiting, and a multitude of other issues.  Sybella fully embraces the skills that she learned from the sisters and I think it gave her a sense of purpose that she desperately needed.  Eventually, readers learn the reason behind her wildness in Grave Mercy and my heart broke for her the entire time.

Like the first book, there is a small romance that doesn't overshadow the main story, but just adds something sweet to a dark tale.  The male romantic lead is the legendary Beast of Waroch who acts as the duchess's champion in all things.  I loved this pairing and how different they were.  Beast is so loyal to his duchess and genuine in his affection that he is perfect for Sybella who has always felt like she has to watch her back.

Dark Triumph is much darker in tone than Grave Mercy, mostly due to the torments that Sybella faces at her father's house.  The plot is also much more action-based than its politically-inclined prequel.  The Duchess of Brittany is still trying to save her small country from the French and Sybella is instrumental in the continuation of this storyline.  Readers also get to learn more about St. Mortain and what he really desires from his daughters.  And, of course, I can't forget to mention the ever intriguing Reverend Mother whose loyalties are still a mystery.

I can't wait to get my hands on the next book in the trilogy (Mortal Heart) which will focus on the sweet Annith who is being kept at the convent for some reason.  It is obvious that the fate of Brittany still lies in the balance and the daughters of St. Mortain will continue to be a big part of the result.  I definitely recommend this book for readers who enjoy a little fantasy with their historical fiction and don't mind some politics on the side.

I received a free copy of this book from Houghton Mifflin via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

4 STARS


STEAM LEVEL
Glow -- Implied or subtle descriptions of lovemaking.


FAVORITE QUOTE
"Hate cannot be fought with hate. Evil cannot be conquered by darkness. Only love has the power to conquer them both."

BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. Grave Mercy
2. Dark Triumph
3. Mortal Heart

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Sequels I Can't Wait To Get


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

~Ten Sequels I Can't Wait To Get~

For this list, I decided to concentrate on sequels that have already been published.  I will be focusing on late 2014/early 2015 releases I want in the next few TTT posts.

Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin, #3)
1. Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFevers -- I'm excited to read Annith's story after learning so much about her in earlier books.

Wicked Temptation (Nemesis, Unlimited, #3)
2. Wicked Temptation (Nemesis Unlimited #3) by Zoe Archer -- I love this historical series which reminds me of Ocean's Eleven and Leverage.

A World Without Princes (The School for Good and Evil, #2)
3. A World Without Princes (The School for Good and Evil #2) by Soman Chainani -- I'm all about fairy tale retellings and I enjoyed the first book in this middle grade series.

The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus, #3)
4. The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus #3) by Rick Riordan -- I really need to finish this series up.  I love it, but I always forget to request it from the library.

Tricked (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #4)
5. Tricked (Iron Druid Chronicles #4) by Kevin Hearne -- I am hopelessly behind on Atticus's adventures, but I plan on getting back on track soon.

Second Grave on the Left (Charley Davidson, #2)
6. Second Grave on the Left (Charley Davidson #2) by Darynda Jones -- The first book made me laugh so much that I need to know what type of kooky situation Charley gets into next plus Reyes!

Quintana of Charyn (Lumatere Chronicles, #3)
7. Quintana of the Charyn (Lumatere Chronicles #3) by Melina Marchetta -- I sped through the first two books and just haven't gotten around to this one though I love Marchetta's voice.

Magic Study (Study, #2)
8. Magic Study (Study #2) by Maria V. Snyder -- Another YA fantasy I loved that I need to get back into soon.

The King (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #12)
9. The King (Black Dagger Brotherhood #12) by JR Ward -- I'm just not sure where I stand on this series anymore.  I'm kinda interested in seeing Wrath and Beth again, but there is so much going on that I am losing interest.

Killer Queen (Painted Faces, #2)
10. Killer Queen (Painted Faces #2) by L.H. Cosway -- I loved the first book which focuses on the romance between an eccentric young woman and a straight drag queen so I have to read the story from Nicholas/Vivica's point of view.