Saturday, October 31, 2015

UPCOMING RELEASES: November 2015

A list of new releases that grabbed my attention for the coming month. As always, release dates are subject to change.  All titles link back to Goodreads.

1st
The Game Plan (Game On, #3)
The Game Plan (Game On #3) by Kristen Callihan (NA contemporary)

2nd
Fangs for the Memories (Half-Moon Hollow, #4.5)
Fangs for the Memories (Half-Moon Hollow #4.5) by Molly Harper (paranormal romance)

3rd
The Sport of Baronets (Romance of the Turf, #0.5)
The Sport of Baronets (Romance of the Turf #0.5) by Theresa Romain (historical romance)

The Irresistible Rogue (Playful Brides, #4)
The Irresistible Rogue (Playful Brides #4) by Valerie Bowman (historical romance)

A Wicked Way to Win an Earl (Sutherland Scandals, #1)
A Wicked Way to Win an Earl (Sutherland Scandals #1) by Anna Bradley (historical romance)

A Talent for Trickery (The Thief-takers, #1)
A Talent for Trickery (The Thief-takers #1) by Alissa Johnson (historical romance)

Viking Warrior Rising (Viking Warriors, #1)
Viking Warrior Rising (Viking Warriors #1) by Asa Maria Bradley (paranormal romance)

9th
How We Began
How We Began by Edie Danford, Alexis Hall, Delphine Dryden, Vanessa North, Amy Jo Cousins, Annabeth Albert, Geonn Cannon (YA contemporary--LGBTQIA)
A charity anthology of YA short stories, all proceeds to support The Trevor Project's work with crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth.
10th
Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)
Winter (Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer (YA science fiction)

No Groom at the Inn (Dukes Behaving Badly, #2.5)
No Groom at the Inn (Dukes Behaving Badly #2.5) by Megan Frampton (historical romance)

Soundless
Soundless by Richelle Mead (YA fantasy)

Winter Wonderland (Minnesota Christmas, #3)
Winter Wonderland (Minnesota Christmas #3) by Heidi Cullinan (M/M contemporary)

17th
Real World (Bend or Break, #5)
Real World (Bend or Break It #5) by Amy Jo Cousins (M/M contemporary)

A MacKenzie Clan Gathering (MacKenzies & McBrides, #8.5)
A Mackenzie Clan Gathering (Highland Pleasures #8.5) by Jennifer Ashley (historical romance)

23rd
The Lost Soul of Lord Badewyn
The Lost Soul of Lord Badewyn (The Order of the MUSE #3) by Mia Marlowe (historical/paranormal romance)

24th
Sweetest Scoundrel (Maiden Lane, #9)
Sweetest Scoundrel (Maiden Lane #9) by Elizabeth Hoyt (historical romance)

Dukes Are Forever (The Secret Life of Scoundrels, #1)
Dukes Are Forever (The Secret Life of Scoundrels #1) by Anna Harrington (historical romance)

The Spinster's Guide to Scandalous Behavior (Seduction Diaries, #2)
The Spinster's Guide to Scandalous Behavior (Seduction Diaries #2) by Jennifer McQuiston (historical romance)

The Lie and the Lady (Winner Takes All, #2)
The Lie and the Lady (Winner Takes All #2) by Kate Noble (historical romance)

Steal Me (New York's Finest, #2)
Steal Me (New York's Finest #2) by Lauren Layne (contemporary romance)

Unnatural
Unnatural by Joanna Chambers (M/M historical)

Friday, October 30, 2015

REVIEW: "Scandal Takes the Stage" by Eva Leigh


Scandal Takes the Stage (The Wicked Quills of London, #2)
(Wicked Quills of London #2)

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

Avon -- Published on October 27, 2015
eARC, 384 pages
Read in October 2015
Received from Edelweiss

RATING: 4 STARS

THEMES/TROPES
Class Differences, Hero is a Rake, Writer Heroine

SUMMARY
Successful playwright Maggie Delamere has no interest in the flirtations of noblemen like Cameron, Viscount Marwood. She once paid dearly for a moment of weakness . . . and vows to rebuff the wildly persistent—and irritatingly handsome—scoundrel at every turn. But when pressure to deliver a new play hampers her creativity, an invitation to use his country estate as a writer’s retreat is too tempting to resist...

For years, Cam has admired Maggie’s brilliant work, and he can’t pass up the opportunity to discover if the beautiful, mysterious playwright is as passionate and clever as the words that flow from her quill. He’s never offered a lady his bed without being in it, but if it means loosening Maggie’s pen—and her inhibitions—he’ll do exactly that.

But soon Cam’s plans for seduction become a fight for Maggie’s heart. He’s more than the scandalous, carefree rake society believes him to be . . . and she’s the only woman who has ever noticed.


FIRST LINE
"The curtain at the Imperial Theater fell."

MY THOUGHTS
I received a free copy of this book from Avon via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

The Wicked Quills of London series features heroines who are prominent writers in Regency England.  The first book, Forever Your Earl, focused on the owner of a famous scandal sheet and I really enjoyed that so I had high expectations for the sequel, Scandal Takes the Stage, which features a female playwright.  And I found it to be just as charming and thought-provoking as its predecessor.

Maggie Delamere's burlettas are the main attraction at the Imperial Theater and her biggest fan is Cameron, Viscount Marwood.  Cam has been obsessed with Maggie's work for years and, after meeting her, decides that he wants to learn more about her.  Despite his abundant charm, Maggie wants nothing to do with him and is trying to focus on her newest play which is giving her a bad case of writer's block.  These two very different people end up in a battle of wits that could result in heartbreak or the love of a lifetime.

I loved everything about Maggie!  She comes from humble beginnings and, when she ends up in a bit of trouble, she uses her intellect and considerable talents to pull herself out of it.  There is a bit of mistrust of aristocrats in her which is understandable considering what she had gone through.  Her writer's block is throwing her off, but she isn't letting that or Cam's attentions distract her from her goal.  Cam is not as well-developed as Maggie, but he is easy to like and works as a partner for her.  I especially enjoyed his passion for the theater and how much he wanted to help Maggie with her writing.  The idea of a hero being the muse for the heroine was unique and a lot of fun!

The plot of Scandal Takes the Stage focuses on the slow-burn romance and the effort to get her latest play to the stage.  I found the way that the author built up the relationship between Maggie and Cam to be a real highlight.  They come from such different worlds that they developed a working relationship which moved to friendship which evolved into love.  I appreciated the care that was given to their love story which has some social implications in this time period.  It was also interesting to see the way the romance and the writing of the play developed simultaneously.  I did think the ending was a little over-the top, but it did work pretty well for this couple.

I think this historical would appeal to anybody who likes capable heroines and the heroes who adore them.  I am definitely anticipating the third Wicked Quills novel, which I believe will focus on Cam's snarky vicar of a cousin.  I love seeing women make their way in time period where it wasn't easy to strike out on their own so this series just makes me want to stand up and applaud their ingenuity. 

FAVORITE QUOTE
"I do not swan.  I stride about with masculine, virile purpose."

BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. Forever Your Earl
2. Scandal Takes the Stage
3. Temptations of a Wallflower (Coming 2016)

LEARN MORE
Goodreads --Author Website

WHERE TO GET IT
Amazon -- B&N -- BAM -- Book Depository -- Kobo -- Google Play -- All Romance -- Audible

Thursday, October 29, 2015

THEME THURSDAY: Enemies to Lovers

This is part of a feature where I focus on a specific theme (or trope) that I have found in my years as a voracious reader/blogger.  I love finding commonalities between my favorite books and how that helps define me as a reader.

Please note this is not meant to be a comprehensive list.  I am just picking a few examples of this trope.  So, if you have a favorite example of this theme, let me know about it in the comments.  I'm always on the lookout for more books to be added to my wishlist.

Image result for romeo and juliet
ENEMIES TO LOVERS
This is one of my favorite themes!  I love banter and that usually happens when there is a couple that doesn't really care for one another at first.  When done right, the transition from enemies to lovers is tons of fun and fascinating to watch.

Untamed (Medieval, #1)
Untamed by Elizabeth Lowell -- I gave it 4.5 stars.
Historical Romance -- Medieval Scotland
A hero of the crusades, Dominic le Sabre has returned in glory and in triumph to claim his reward: the beautiful Saxon bride awarded to him by the conqueror king. But Lady Margaret of the Blackthorne cannot yield to the bold Norman invader. The beloved daughter of a sacred tribe of the Celtic mystics, she fears an ancient curse that could bring further turmoil to her battle-scarred land...and sorrow to her marriage bed.
With a word, the lady could turn her wedding into war. But there awaits in the noble knight’s embrace a promise of passion unbound - and a love that neither violence nor treachery can tear asunder, a love both invincible and...untamed.

Never Seduce a Scot (The Montgomerys and Armstrongs, #1)
Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks -- I gave it 4 stars.
Historical Romance -- Medieval Scotland
Eveline Armstrong is fiercely loved and protected by her powerful clan, but outsiders consider her “touched.” Beautiful, fey, with a level, intent gaze, she doesn’t speak. No one, not even her family, knows that she cannot hear. Content with her life of seclusion, Eveline has taught herself to read lips and allows the outside world to view her as daft. But when an arranged marriage into a rival clan makes Graeme Montgomery her husband, Eveline accepts her duty—unprepared for the delights to come. Graeme is a rugged warrior with a voice so deep and powerful that his new bride can hear it, and hands and kisses so tender and skilled that he stirs her deepest passions.
Graeme is intrigued by the mysterious Eveline, whose silent lips are ripe with temptation and whose bright, intelligent eyes can see into his soul. As intimacy deepens, he learns her secret. But when clan rivalries and dark deeds threaten the wife he has only begun to cherish, the Scottish warrior will move heaven and earth to save the woman who has awakened his heart to the beautiful song of a rare and magical love.

The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgertons, #2)
The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn -- I gave it 5 stars.
Historical Romance -- Regency England
1814 promises to be another eventful season, but not, this author believes, for Anthony Bridgerton, London's most elusive bachelor, who has shown no indication that he plans to marry. And in truth, why should he? When it comes to playing the consummate rake, nobody does it better...—Lady Whistledown's Society Papers, April 1814
But this time, the gossip columnists have it wrong. Anthony Bridgerton hasn't just decided to marry—he's even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended's older sister, Kate Sheffield—the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with her determination to stop the betrothal, but when he closes his eyes at night, Kate is the woman haunting his increasingly erotic dreams...
Contrary to popular belief, Kate is quite sure that reformed rakes do notmake the best husbands—and Anthony Bridgerton is the most wicked rogue of them all. Kate is determined to protect her sister—but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. And when Anthony's lips touch hers, she's suddenly afraid she might not be able to resist the reprehensible rake herself...

My Dearest Enemy
My Dearest Enemy by Connie Brockway -- I gave it 5 stars.
Historical Romance -- Victorian England
“Dear Mr. Thorne, For the next five years, I will profitably manage this estate. I will deliver to you an allowance and I will prove that women are just as capable as men.”
Lillian Bede is shocked when she is tapped to run the affairs of an exquisite country manor. But she accepts the challenge, taking the opportunity to put her politics into practice. There’s only one snag: Lily’s ward, the infuriating, incorrigible globe-trotter Avery Thorne.

“My Dear Miss Bede, Forgive me if I fail to shudder. Pray, do whatever you bloody well want, can, or must.”
Avery’s inheritance is on hiatus after his uncle dies—and his childhood home is in the hands of some domineering usurper. But when he finally returns, Avery finds that his antagonist is not at all what he expected. In fact, Lily Bede is stunning, exotic, provocative—and impossible to resist.

It Happened One Autumn (Wallflowers, #2)
It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas -- I gave it 4.25 stars.
Historical Romance -- Victorian England
It happened at the ball...
Where beautiful but bold Lillian Bowman quickly learned that her independent American ways weren't entirely "the thing." And the most disapproving of all was insufferable, snobbish, and impossible Marcus, Lord Westcliff, London's most eligible aristocrat.
It happened in the garden...
When Marcus shockingly—and dangerously—swept her into his arms. Lillian was overcome with a consuming passion for a man she didn't even like. Time stood still; it was as if no one else existed... thank goodness they weren't caught very nearly in the act!
It happened one autumn...
Marcus was a man in charge of his own emotions, a bedrock of stability. But with Lillian, every touch was exquisite torture, every kiss an enticement for more. Yet how could he consider taking a woman so blatantly unsuitable... as his bride?

Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1)
Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost -- I gave it 5 stars.
Urban Fantasy
Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father - the one responsible for ruining her mother's life. Then she's captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unholy partnership.
In exchange for finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She's amazed she doesn't end up as his dinner - are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn't have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her newfound status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side . . . and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.

A Hunger Like No Other (Immortals After Dark, #2)
A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole -- I gave it 4 stars.
Paranormal Romance
A mythic warrior who'll stop at nothing to possess her...
After enduring years of torture from the vampire horde, Lachlain MacRieve, leader of the Lykae Clan, is enraged to find the predestined mate he's waited millennia for is a vampire. Or partly one. This Emmaline is a small, ethereal half Valkyrie/half vampire, who somehow begins to soothe the fury burning within him.
A vampire captured by her wildest fantasy...
Sheltered Emmaline Troy finally sets out to uncover the truth about her deceased parents—until a powerful Lykae claims her as his mate and forces her back to his ancestral Scottish castle. There, her fear of the Lykae—and their notorious dark desires—ebbs as he begins a slow, wicked seduction to sate her own dark cravings.
An all-consuming desire...
Yet when an ancient evil from her past resurfaces, will their desire deepen into a love that can bring a proud warrior to his knees and turn a gentle beauty into the fighter she was born to be?

Pleasure Unbound (Demonica, #1)
Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione -- I gave it 4.25 stars.
Paranormal Romance
In a place where ecstasy can cost you your life . . .
She's a demon-slayer who hungers for sensual pleasure-but fears it will always be denied her. Until Tayla Mancuso lands in a hospital run by demons in disguise, and the head doctor, Eidolon, makes her body burn with unslakable desire. But to prove her ultimate loyalty to her peers, she must betray the surgeon who saved her life.

Two lovers will dare to risk all.
Eidolon cannot resist this fiery, dangerous woman who fills him with both rage and passion. Not only is she his avowed enemy, but she could very well be the hunter who has been preying upon his people. Torn between his need for the truth and his quest to find his perfect mate before a horrific transformation claims him forever, Eidolon will dare the unthinkable-and let Tayla possess him, body and soul . . .

It Had to Be You (Chicago Stars, #1)
It Had To Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips -- I gave it 5 stars.
Contemporary Romance
The Windy City isn't quite ready for Phoebe Somerville—the outrageous, curvaceous New York knockout who has just inherited the Chicago Stars football team. And Phoebe is definitely not ready for the Stars' head coach, former gridiron legend Dan Calebow, a sexist jock taskmaster with a one-track mind. Calebow is everything Phoebe abhors. And the sexy new boss is everything Dan despises—a meddling bimbo who doesn't know a pigskin from a pitcher's mound.
So why is Dan drawn to the shameless sexpot like a heat-seeking missile? And why does the coach's good ol' boy charm leave cosmopolitan Phoebe feeling awkward, tongue-tied...and ready to fight?

Obsidian (Lux, #1)
Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout -- I gave it 5 stars.
YA Science Fiction
Starting over sucks.
When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring… until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.
And then he opened his mouth.
Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something… unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.
You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.
If I don’t kill him first, that is.

The Ghost and the Goth (The Ghost and the Goth, #1)
The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade -- I gave it 4 stars.
YA Paranormal
Alona Dare–Senior in high school, co-captain of the cheerleading squad, Homecoming Queen three years in a row, voted most likely to marry a movie star… and newly dead.
I’m the girl you hated in high school. Is it my fault I was born with it all-good looks, silky blond hair, a hot body, and a keen sense of what everyone else should not be wearing? But my life isn’t perfect, especially since I died. Run over by a bus of band geeks—is there anything more humiliating? As it turns out, yes—watching your boyfriend and friends move on with life, only days after your funeral. And you wouldn’t believe what they’re saying about me now that they think I can’t hear them. To top it off, I’m starting to disappear, flickering in and out of existence. I don’t know where I go when I’m gone, but it’s not good. Where is that freaking white light already?
Will Killian–Senior in high school, outcast, dubbed “Will Kill” by the popular crowd for the unearthly aura around him, voted most likely to rob a bank…and a ghost-talker.
I can see, hear, and touch the dead. Unfortunately, they can also see, hear and touch me. Yeah, because surviving high school isn’t hard enough already. I’ve done my best to hide my “gift.” After all, my dad, who shared my ability, killed himself because of it when I was fifteen. But lately, pretending to be normal has gotten a lot harder. A new ghost—an anonymous, seething cloud of negative energy with the capacity to throw me around—is pursuing me with a vengeance. My mom, who knows nothing about what I can do, is worrying about the increase in odd incidents, my shrink is tossing around terms like “temporary confinement for psychiatric evaluation,” and my principal, who thinks I’m a disruption and a faker, is searching for every way possible to get rid of me. How many weeks until graduation?

Poison Study (Study, #1)
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder -- I gave it 5 stars.
YA Fantasy
Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison...
About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.
And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.
As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Freebie--Halloween Reads for Scaredy-Cats


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

I love Halloween, but I am a huge baby when it comes to scary movies, TV shows, and books.  So, for this week's Halloween freebie topic, I decided to focus on books that would be good themed reads for the scaredy-cats out there.

Driving Mr. Dead (Half Moon Hollow, #1.5)
1. Driving Mr. Dead by Molly Harper (paranormal romance)
Any of Ms. Harper's paranormals would have worked for this list, but this book is one that I enjoyed yet don't get to talk about much.

The Ghost and the Goth (The Ghost and the Goth, #1)
2. The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade (YA paranormal)
The super popular girl dies in a tragic accident and her ghost comes back to haunt the weirdest guy in school?  Plenty of supernatural hijinks await!

Evernight (Darkest London, #5)
3. Evernight by Kristen Callihan (historical-paranormal romance)
This whole series would count, but I think the demon hero makes it feel even more Halloween-like for me.

Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies, #1)
4. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (YA dystopian)
I don't do zombies, but the humor really helped me enjoy this one.

The Replacement
5. The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff (YA paranormal)
Super creepy cover, but less scary story inside.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)
6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling (MG fantasy)
I think this is most Halloween-like of the HP books due to the appearance of the dementors, the werewolf mystery, and just whole idea of Harry being pursued by a murderer.

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)
7. Soulless by Gail Carriger (steampunk romance)
Lots of supernatural fun in this one paired with dry humor and a steamy romance.

Tempted At Midnight (Mayhem in Mayfair, #4)
8. Tempted at Midnight by Jacquie D'Alessandro (historical romance)
I chose this historical because one of the subplots involves figuring out whether is really a vampire sneaking around London.

The Gravedigger's Brawl
9. The Gravedigger's Brawl by Abigail Roux (M/M paranormal)
This one does get a little scary towards the end, but everything works at for the best.

Ceremony in Death (In Death, #5)
10. Ceremony in Death by JD Robb (romantic suspense)
Many in this series would count, but I found the occult element to be especially spine-chilling in this one.

Monday, October 26, 2015

REVIEW: "Falling into Bed with a Duke" by Lorraine Heath

Falling Into Bed with a Duke (The Hellions of Havisham, #1)
(The Hellions of Havisham #1)

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

Avon -- Published on October 27, 2015
eARC, 384 pages
Read in October 2015
Received from Edelweiss

RATING: 4.25 STARS

THEMES/TROPES
Artist Hero, Spinster Heroine

SUMMARY
After six unsuccessful Seasons, Miss Minerva Dodger chooses spinsterhood over fortune-hungry suitors. But thanks to the Nightingale Club, she can at least enjoy one night of pleasure. At that notorious establishment, ladies don masks before choosing a lover. The sinfully handsome Duke of Ashebury is more than willing to satisfy the secretive lady's desires—and draws Minerva into an exquisite, increasingly intimate affair.

A man of remarkable talents, Ashe soon deduces that his bedmate is the unconventional Miss Dodger. Intrigued by her wit and daring, he sets out to woo her in earnest. Yet Minerva refuses to trust him. How to court a woman he has already thoroughly seduced? And how to prove that the passion unleashed in darkness is only the beginning of a lifetime's pleasure . . . ?


FIRST LINE
"On the night of November 15, one of the most horrific disasters in British railway history occurred when a passenger train collided head-on with a train transporting flammable good."

MY THOUGHTS
I received a free copy of this book from Avon via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

I just adore Lorraine Heath's books because they are not afraid to dive into serious topics and also have characters who gain emotional strength along with their happy ending.  Falling into Bed with a Duke is the first in a series that is a spin-off of Heath's Scoundrels of St. James and Scandalous Gentleman of St. James books.  It focuses on a group of young aristocrats who grew up together in the dark and mysterious Havisham Castle under the lax guidance of the Marquess of Marsden.

Minerva Dodger is another in a long line of admirable heroines from this author.  She is the daughter of Jack Dodger whose love story was told in Between the Devil and Desire.  Minerva has been out in society for six Seasons and has given up on ever finding someone that she loves enough to marry.  Thankfully, her parents have provided enough for her to live as an independent woman of means.  I adored her intelligence, confidence, and desire to only settle for someone she loves.  That is a difficult decision for a woman of this era to make and I appreciated the thought that was given to it.  It was great to see her finally find a man who understands her and appreciates how amazing she is.

Ashe was a great hero for many reasons.  The first reason that I fell for him was how attractive he found Minerva's heart and mind.  He never felt intimidated by her and had a great deal of respect for her personality.  I also enjoyed his ability to deal with the darkness of his childhood.  His parents were killed in a train accident when he was young and he is dealing with guilt over his last encounter with them.  I was pleasantly surprised at him turning his nightmares into art through photography rather than just moping around.  An artistic-minded aristocrat is different for me to find and I thought it was a nice addition to Ashe's character.

I thought Ashe and Minerva were just a fabulous couple.  They came from two different backgrounds, but seemed to really understand one another. Their physical chemistry is obvious from the moment they met in the Nightingale Club (inspired by the real-life Parrot Club which I really want to research now) yet they also took the time to really talk to one another.  There was one time where Ashe kept something from Minerva which was a plot point that I could have done without, but, overall, I enjoyed the pacing of the romance.

Falling into Bed with a Duke was another successful romance by, in my opinion, one of the most consistently entertaining historical romance authors writing today.  The characters are enjoyable to read about and easy to root for while the world of Victorian London comes alive.  I am definitely looking forward to seeing the rest of the hellions get their stories soon.

FAVORITE QUOTE
"You talk about how beautiful the body is and how we shouldn't hide it.  Why should what passes between a man and woman be shrouded in whispers and only talked about in dark corners?  Why must women repress their natural urges?"
BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. Falling into Bed with a Duke
2. The Earl Takes All (Coming 2016)

LEARN MORE
Goodreads -- Author Website

WHERE TO GET IT
Amazon -- B&N -- BAM -- Book Depository -- Kobo -- Google Play -- All Romance -- Audible

Friday, October 23, 2015

REVIEW: "The Shattered Court" by M.J. Scott


The Shattered Court (The Four Arts, #1)
(The Four Arts #1)

For Ages 18+ (Language, Violence, Sensuality)
Fantasy Romance

Roc -- Published on April 28, 2015
Mass Market Paperback, 313 pages
Read in October 2015
Borrowed from library

RATING: 4.25 STARS

THEMES/TROPES
Alternate Universe, Magic, Arranged Marriage, Cliffhanger

SUMMARY
The royal witches of Anglion have bowed to tradition for centuries. If a woman of royal blood manifests powers, she is immediately bound by rites of marriage. She will serve her lord by practicing the tamer magics of the earth—ensuring good harvests and predicting the weather. Any magic more dangerous is forbidden.

Lady Sophia Kendall, thirty-second in line to the throne, is only days away from finding out if she will be blessed—or perhaps cursed—with magic. When a vicious attack by Anglion’s ancient enemies leaves the kingdom in chaos, Sophia is forced to flee the court. Her protector by happenstance is Lieutenant Cameron Mackenzie, a member of the royal guard, raised all his life to be fiercely loyal to the Crown.

Then Sophia’s powers manifest stronger than she ever imagined they would, and Cameron and she are inextricably linked in the process. As a witch unbound by marriage rites, Sophia is not only a threat to the established order of her country, but is also a weapon for those who seek to destroy it. Faced with old secrets and new truths, she must decide if she will fight for her country or succumb to the delicious temptation of power.



FIRST LINE
"Milady, please pay attention."

MY THOUGHTS
I enjoy fantasy, but I haven't actually been up to date on the genre so, when I heard about The Shattered Court on the DBSA podcast, I knew that I had to check it out.  This book takes place in the fictional country of Anglion in an alternate world heavily inspired by western Europe.  On a woman's twenty-first birthday, they learn whether they gain the ability to perform magic or not.  If they do, they are bound to an aristocrat in marriage and spend the rest of their lives serving their country.

Sophie is of royal blood and is quickly approaching her all important twenty-first birthday though she isn't sure whether she wants to manifest or not.  One day the royal palace is attacked while she is away and she, and a bodyguard named Lieutenant Cameron Mackenzie, are forced on the run.  While they are trying to get back to the capital city, Sophie's birthday arrives and her new powers force a link between here and Cameron.  Their return is then complicated by Sophie's overwhelming magical prowess and her unbound state.

Sophie is a fabulous heroine and someone I really admired.  She has been raised in this strict society, but has an awareness and a desire to do something more with her life than just marry, have children, and do remedial magic to benefit her husband's place.  The adventure she is forced on is difficult for her, but she rarely complains and tries to make the best of the situation.  I also enjoyed watching her grow through her journey with Cameron and her complex place at the royal court upon her return.

Cameron is a great counterpart for Sophie.  He is from an aristocratic family, but, as a younger son, he was trained as a Royal Guard and takes his responsibilities very seriously.  While on the run, he is consumed with keeping Sophie safe especially when she manifests.  I enjoyed his loyalty and his desire to help Sophie out both at court and away from it.   

Most of The Shattered Court's plot centers around the establishment of Anglion society, Sophie and Cameron's attempts to return to court, and what happens when it is realized that Sophie is unbound.  I thought the pacing was well-done and easy to follow.  I will admit that I got a bit bored during the down time right after they got back to court, but, thankfully, the action picked up again and I was glued to the pages until the cliffhanger ending.  The romance between Sophie and Cameron was not the focus, but I found it to believable and very sweet.

All in all, I had a good time reading this book and am happy to be back in the fantasy genre.  M.J. Scott's world building was creative and easy to understand due to the European influences.  I also enjoyed the subtle social commentary that the story offered up.  I am definitely excited to read more in the series and recommend it to anyone who likes their fantasy mixed with romance and political intrigue.

BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. The Shattered Court
2. The Forbidden Heir (Coming 2016)

LEARN MORE
Goodreads -- Author Website

WHERE TO GET IT
Amazon -- B&N -- BAM -- Book Depository -- Kobo -- Google Play

Thursday, October 22, 2015

THEME THURSDAY: Dancers in Romance

This is part of a feature where I focus on a specific theme (or trope) that I have found in my years as a voracious reader/blogger.  I love finding commonalities between my favorite books and how that helps define me as a reader.

Please note this is not meant to be a comprehensive list.  I am just picking a few examples of this trope.  So, if you have a favorite example of this theme, let me know about it in the comments.  I'm always on the lookout for more books to be added to my wishlist.

Image result for dancer
DANCERS AS MAIN CHARACTERS

A Private Duel with Agent Gunn (The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard, #3)
A Private Duel with Agent Gunn by Jillian Stone (historical romance)
Prima ballerina Catriona de Dovia lives the glamorous life of a starlet, filled with glittering jewels, sumptuous dinners, and admiring suitors. She's grown up considerably since losing her heart to Hugh Curzon once upon a time, no longer wasting her emotions on the empty promises of wealthy gentlemen. On her own since the untimely death of her parents, she will do anything for the only family she has left: her brother, a notorious anarchist.
Scotland Yard Agent Phineas Gunn—sometimes known as Hugh Curzon—receives his new assignment reluctantly. He's up for something a little more strenuous than playing nanny to a ballerina, until he sees who his charge is. Then, it's a completely different story, because he'd been unable to forget the trusting, beautiful Cate since he had to leave her behind.
As the two race across the Continent—by land, by sea, even through the air by zephyr—it becomes uncertain who is keeping tabs on whom, and Finn and Cate must battle the sexual tension that snaps and sizzles between them every step of the way.

Ways to Be Wicked (Holt Sisters Trilogy, #2)
Ways to be Wicked by Julie Anne Long (historical romance)
Dazzling!
Sylvie Lamoureux is the darling of the Paris ballet, renowned for her beauty and passionate dedication to her art. But when a mysterious letter sends her across the English Channel, she finds herself literally landing in the lap of one of London's most notorious men.
Daring!
With a face that has charmed many a London lady, theater impresario Tom Shaughnessy is used to women falling into his arms. But from the moment this feisty young Frenchwoman leaps into his carriage, he senses he's met his rival in wit, daring...and sensuality.
Destined!
When fate pulls Sylvie into the bawdy world of Tom's theater, a desire neither of them fully expects threatens to upend their well-laid plans. But the past Sylvie never knew she had will force her to make a decision. She can either let it bring down the curtain on their fiery pas de deux...or trust this wicked man with her heart.

The Sword Dancer (Tang Dynasty, #4)(Lovers and Rebels, #1)
The Sword Dancer by Jeannie Lin (historical romance)
Sword dancer Li Feng is used to living life on the edge of the law—a woman alone in the dangerous world of the Tang Dynasty has only her whirlwind reflexes to trust. She will discover the truth about her past, even if that means outwitting the most feared thief-catcher of them all...
Relentless, handsome and determined, Han sees life—and love—as black and white. Until he finally captures the spirited, courageous Li Feng, who makes him question everything he thought he knew about right and wrong. Soon he's faced with an impossible choice: betray the elusive sword dancer he is learning to love, or trust his long-disregarded heart and follow her to dangerous, tempting rebellion...

A Company of Swans
A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson (historical fiction)
For nineteen-year-old Harriet Morton, life in 1912 Cambridge is as dry and dull as a biscuit. Her stuffy father and her opressive aunt Louisa allow her only one outlet: ballet. When a Russian ballet master comes to class searching for dancers to fill the corps of his ballet company before their South American tour, Harriet's world changes. Defying her father's wishes and narrowly escaping the clutches of the man who wishes to marry her, Harriet sneaks off to join the ballet on their journey to the Amazon. There, in the wild, lush jungle, they perform Swan Lake in grand opera houses for the wealthy and culture-deprived rubber barons, and Harriet meets Rom Verney, the handsome and mysterious British exile who owns the most ornate opera house. Utterly enchanted by both the exotic surroundings and by Rom's affections, Harriet is swept away by her new life, completely unaware that her father and would-be fiancé have begun to track her down...

Dark Needs at Night's Edge (Immortals After Dark, #5)
Dark Needs at Night's Edge by Kresley Cole (paranormal romance) -- I gave it 4 stars.
A RAVEN-HAIRED TEMPTRESS OF THE DARK...
Naomi Laress, a famous ballerina from a past century, became a phantom the night she was murdered. Imbued with otherworldly powers but invisible to the living, she haunts her beloved home, scaring away trespassers -- until she encounters a ruthless

A VAMPIRE WARRIOR CONSUMED BY MADNESS...
To prevent him from harming others, Conrad Wroth's brothers imprison him in an abandoned manor. But there, a female only he can see seems determined to drive him further into madness. The exquisite creature torments him with desire, leaving his body racked with lust and his soul torn as he finds himself coveting her for his own.
HOW FAR WILL HE GO TO CLAIM HER?
Yet even if Conrad can win Naomi, evil still surrounds her. Once he returns to the brutality of his past to protect her, will he succumb to the dark needs seething inside him?

How Beauty Met the Beast (Tales of the Underlight, #1)
How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren (urban fantasy) -- I gave it 4.5 stars.
The Beast
Scarred. Damaged. Living with a terrible secret. Agent of the Underlight Wesley "Hauk" Haukon has nothing left but the fight for liberty against the oppressive Order of Ananke. He's starting to lose hope…and then he sees her.
The Beauty
Despite her night job as a burlesque dancer, grad student Jolie Benoit has always played the mostly good girl. That all changes following a scorching sexual encounter with a stranger whose face she doesn't see. After she's kidnapped by thugs and rescued by a man with a very familiar voice, Jolie becomes a pawn in a struggle she never knew existed.
Hauk knows he cannot have her, and resolves to protect his heart and his secrets. But as they work together and grow closer, he finds new reason to keep fighting. Dare he risk hope in a new life, one where Jolie can see past his ravaged face and where their friendship can grow into something more?

The Muse: A Pride and Prejudice Variation
The Muse by Jessica Evans (NA contemporary)
Elizabeth Bennet, the newest corps de ballet dancer at Ballet Theater of New York, dreams of rising through the prestigious company's ranks to become a prima ballerina. When she's cast in superstar choreographer William Darcy's newest work, she believes she's one step closer to realizing her dream-until she meets him.
William Darcy, the former dance legend and ballet bad boy, is a jaded perfectionist whom dancers both fear and admire. Although touted as the next big thing in the ballet world, he secretly battles a bad case of artist's block-until he meets Elizabeth Bennet.
Tempers ignite between Elizabeth and Darcy, but he's irresistibly drawn to the stubborn and beautiful corps de ballet dancer. Could she be the muse he needs to reignite his passion for ballet?

All Lined Up (Rusk University, #1)
All Lined Up by Cora Cormack (NA contemporary)
In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.
Dallas Cole loathes football. That's what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.
But life doesn't always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.
Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It's obliterated.
Dallas doesn't know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn't know that Dallas is his new coach's daughter.
And neither of them know how to walk away from the attraction they feel.

Beyond the Seduction (Reluctance, #3)
Beyond the Seduction by M.A. Stacie (contemporary romance)
For a man who thought he had everything, Trace Jacks sure had nothing now.After one letter blows his life apart, Trace is clueless how he can move on. He stumbles through the days, never accepting the grief that flows within him, and finding it easier to bury his loss. Hiding becomes a lot easier after he takes his niece to her dance class, striking up an interesting conversation with her teacher.
Shae Bennett is happy to keep things fun, enjoying Trace’s seduction and his spontaneity. With him she can forget about her concerns for her mom and stress of running the dance studio. With him she can be herself, and it is all-consuming.
When the fun beings to slip, when reality starts to encroach in the worst way, their relationship unravels at an alarming speed, leaving Trace and Shae battling for a way back to one another.

Love Waltzes In (Dancing under the Stars, #1)
Love Waltzes In by Alana Albertson (contemporary romance)
In another life, I'd been a ballroom champion, Reality star Selena Marcil had been my partner. Our lives have gone our separate ways. Nothing left but childhood dreams and memories of first love. Until I received the offer.
A letter from our former master coach bribing me with five thousand dollars a week to appear on one season of the hit show, Dancing Under the Stars. My impulse was to reject it in a heartbeat. I have no desire for fame or fortune.

Except I made a promise once. To a dying man. My best friend. I swore to him that I'd take care of his wife and kids after he passed away on the battlefield.

Fifty thousand dollars. For humiliating myself on national television, spending time with the woman who'd betrayed me, losing my privacy, becoming the laughing stock of the Marine Corps.

One season, ten weeks, a small sacrifice to make for the man who'd saved my life.

Hand me my dance shoes. I'm in.

Grease Monkey Jive
Grease Monkey Jive by Ainslie Paton (contemporary romance)
A romance about changing the game, finding the truth and fancy footwork.  She thought love was make-believe and the last person to prove her wrong would be a player.
When ballroom teacher Alex Gibson danced with Dan Maddox she’s reminded of the time she stuck a knife in the toaster, gave herself an electric shock and saw stars. He’s precisely the type of man Alex’s mother warned her off – a player, like the father who abandoned her.

Dan Maddox comes from a long line of men who were hiding under the hood of a beat up old car when the ‘successful relationship’ gene was given out, but he was first in the queue for an extra jolt of chick pulling power.

The chicks in Dan’s life are universally gorgeous, random, disposable, and answer to the name Baby until one drunken night when he picks the wrong girl, hurts a good friend and realises that unless he does something to change, he’ll end up like his violent, unstable father.

It’s Pimp My Ride meets Dancing With The Stars as Alex and Dan come together to compete in a ballroom dancing competition that changes the way they both feel about relationships and love.

Dance With Me
Dance with Me by Heidi Cullinan (M/M contemporary) -- I gave it 5 stars.
Sometimes life requires a partner.
Ed Maurer has bounced back, more or less, from the neck injury that permanently benched his semipro football career. He hates his soul-killing office job, but he loves volunteering at a local community center. The only fly in his ointment is the dance instructor, Laurie Parker, who can’t seem to stay out of his way.
Laurie was once one of the most celebrated ballet dancers in the world, but now he volunteers at Halcyon Center to avoid his society mother’s machinations. It would be a perfect escape, except for the oaf of a football player cutting him glares from across the room.
When Laurie has a ballroom dancing emergency and Ed stands in as his partner, their perceptions of each other turn upside down. Dancing leads to friendship, being friends leads to becoming lovers, but most important of all, their partnership shows them how to heal the pain of their pasts. Because with every turn across the floor, Ed and Laurie realize the only escape from their personal demons is to keep dancing—together.