Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Heiress Effect - Courtney Milan

Miss Jane Fairfield can’t do anything right. When she’s in company, she always says the wrong thing—and rather too much of it. No matter how costly they are, her gowns fall on the unfortunate side of fashion. Even her immense dowry can’t save her from being an object of derision.
13489922And that’s precisely what she wants. She’ll do anything, even risk humiliation, if it means she can stay unmarried and keep her sister safe.
Mr. Oliver Marshall has to do everything right. He’s the bastard son of a duke, raised in humble circumstances—and he intends to give voice and power to the common people. If he makes one false step, he’ll never get the chance to accomplish anything. He doesn’t need to come to the rescue of the wrong woman. He certainly doesn’t need to fall in love with her. But there’s something about the lovely, courageous Jane that he can’t resist…even though it could mean the ruin of them both.

I thought I should continue another series and decided to pick this one up. Considering my reading choices so far this year will be the year I catch up on most series...

I really enjoyed The Heiress Effect! It had strong, interesting characters, both the main and the secondary ones. An unusual story with some really interesting themes in the background. Clearly something out of the ordinary!

Miss Fairfield is doing her best to avoid marriage. She wants to remain unmarried so she can protect her sister from the misguided good intentions of her guardian. So she behaves and dresses in a way as to repel everyone. Oliver Marshall is trying to rise in politics and to do that he needs to court the favour of some titled men. That and somewhere down the road a wife who can help him gain the favour he needs to succeed.

You can see how Jane and Oliver seem to be total opposites in terms of what they want and / or need. But Oliver sees something in her he recognises and thus they begin a friendship of sorts.

This seemed to have everything I enjoy. However, I didn't fall in love with it. I think my main complaint is that I felt, in the beginning, that Jane was acting, playing a role. And then it turns out that she becomes the character she is playing so that Oliver may have an obstacle to face. I felt she became a bit of a caricature while Oliver, with his behaviour, only felt human, with frailties and faults.

So, I enjoyed the first half of the story a lot more than the second one which lowered the grade I was intending to give to a 4/5.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Crown of Crystal Flame - C. L. Wilson


A Song of Love won her heart.
A Song of Darkness haunted her soul.
A Song in the Dance would seal her fate.
Seers had long foreseen an extraordinary destiny for Ellysetta Baristani. Already she had won the heart of the Fey King--the magnificent Rain, ever her ally, eternally her love. She had saved the offspring of the magical tairen and fought beside her legendary mate against the armies of Eld. But the most powerful--and dangerous--Verse of her Song had yet to be sung. As the final battle draws nigh and evil tightens its grip upon her soul--will Ellysetta secure the world for Light or plunge it into Darkness for all eternity? As she and Rain fight for each other, side by side, will they find a way to complete their truemate bond and defeat the evil High Mage of Eld before it's too late, or must they make the ultimate sacrifice to save their world?

I was checking my notes and I realised I read the first book in this series back in 2008. It is a wonder I never needed to go back and reread before starting each new book. This is the final novel and we finally get to the big confrontation between Ellie and the High Mage of Eld. I wasn't sure what to expect as Ellie and Rain have faced so many challenges before. And I am quite happy to report that in term of story development I was quite happy with this one.

It is not and easy book to read as it has much violence and quite a few known characters die but I was happy with Ellie and Rain's development and how they deal with obstacles they find on their way to fighting the war. Their confrontation with the High Mage is also painful to read and Wilson manages to keeps us guessing about their fate for a while. Ok maybe not so much guessing (this is  romance after all) but I was reading sitting on the edge of the couch for a while. This is definitely a book filled with tense emotional scenes, some for the good and others for the bad. 

I had a few problems with the pacing of the story. I think at times it was a bit slow and I just wanted to move on and get to the interesting bits. I also think this book left almost as many threads open and closed ones so I'll definitely be reading her next book set in this world. I really want to know more about the girl that helped Ellie's parents - Melliandra, about all those Dahl'reisen and their families, about Ellie's sisters and about Gaelen.

Since the author has a new book coming out soon but of  different series and I can only urge her to write faster!! And I'll be getting that book too.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Scarpetta Factor - Patricia Cornwell

It is the week before Christmas. A tanking economy has prompted Dr. Kay Scarpetta-despite her busy schedule and her continuing work as the senior forensic analyst for CNN- to offer her services pro bono to New York City's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. In no time at all, her increased visibility seems to precipitate a string of unexpected and unsettling events. She is asked live on the air about the sensational case of Hannah Starr, who has vanished and is presumed dead. Moments later during the same telecast, she receives a startling call-in from a former psychiatric patient of Benton Wesley's. When she returns after the show to the apartment where she and Benton live, she finds an ominous package-possibly a bomb-waiting for her at the front desk. Soon the apparent threat on Scarpetta's life finds her embroiled in a surreal plot that includes a famous actor accused of an unthinkable sex crime and the disappearance of a beautiful millionairess with whom Lucy seems to have shared a secret past.

I was bit confused while I was reading this. There seemed to be a lot of bad guys and I sometimes had a hard time keeping up with "who's who " and the "what are they doing and why". There was too much going on I felt - Benton's patient and former colleague, Lucy's relationship, Scarpetta's relationship with the TV channel... I'm finding hard to recognise them as the characters I enjoyed from previous books.

The only one that I enjoyed reading about was Marino. He seems to be closer to what he used to be in the beginning than in the latest  books of the series. I'm not sure where Cornwell is taking us next though. The crimes have ceased to be interesting for me and the main characters I'm not sure I wan't to continue with them if they are continuing as in this one.  Besides there seems to be less and less forensic issues and analysis with each books and that was one of the things that I enjoyed.

Will I read the next one in this series? I have a few doubts, especially as what I read about it is that someone is targetting Scarpetta again. She seems to have so many enemies that it has turned into a boring affair.

Grade: 2/5

Friday, April 11, 2014

Blood Ties - Kay Hooper

A  series of grisly murders has left a trail of blood across three states, bringing the Special Crimes Unit to a small Tennessee town. There, two more brutal killings lure Noah Bishop and the SCU into what may be the ultimate trap, and lead Special Agent Hollis Templeton into a dangerous attraction—and a serial murder investigation that turns very, very personal. In her time with the SCU, Hollis has shown an uncanny ability to survive even the deadliest attacks. But what she can’t know is that this killer intends to destroy the team from within. As the body count climbs, and Bishop and his agents race to uncover the true identity of their enemy, not even their special senses can warn them just how bloody, and how terrifyingly close, the truth will be.

Another Kay Hooper book, another installment in the Bishop series. I think her latest books have all been connected to one another and I wouldn't suggest reading this one without reading the others. Although the back blurb only mentions Holly I felt Diana was as much a main character here. And since they are both recurring characters I really enjoyed seeing them find center stage in this story.

Hooper does manage to keep the suspense going on two fronts. Who has been trying to harm Bishop and his work and who is the serial killer at work in a small town, that seems connected with the main villain they have been searching for.

I did like the story as a whole and indeed I read it almost in one sitting but I think Hollis love interest came about a bit too sudden and I would have liked to see more interaction between them. I was very much surprised by the "who wants to discredit Bishop?" twist and I found the final twist a bit worrisome - Although I enjoyed this trilogy I am ready to move to the next one.

By the way has anyone read the next book in the series? Haven? What I have been reading about it hasn't exactly thrilled me but I'll give it a go one of these days.

Grade: 4/5

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Sum of All Kisses - Julia Quinn

He thinks she's an annoying know-it-all...

17259795Hugh Prentice has never had patience for dramatic females, and if Lady Sarah Pleinsworth has ever been acquainted with the words shy or retiring, she's long since tossed them out the window. Besides, a reckless duel has left this brilliant mathematician with a ruined leg, and now he could never court a woman like Sarah, much less dream of marrying her.
She thinks he's just plain mad...
Sarah has never forgiven Hugh for the duel he fought that nearly destroyed her family. But even if she could find a way to forgive him, it wouldn't matter. She doesn't care that his leg is less than perfect, it's his personality she can't abide. But forced to spend a week in close company they discover that first impressions are not always reliable. And when one kiss leads to two, three, and four, the mathematician may lose count, and the lady may, for the first time, find herself speechless ...
New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn's enchanting third novel in the Smythe-Smith quartet is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud and tug at your heartstrings in equal measures.

It's so good when Julia Quinn is at her best. I think this TSOAK may well be my favourite book in the Smythe-Smith series so far. Lots of banter between the h/h but especially I liked the enemies to friends to lovers plot line (I guess several of my favourite books do have this plot line).

I liked both Hugh and Sarah, I liked that they are both given some depht of character. Especially Hugh who has had a lot going on in his life ever since the duel with Daniel Smythe-Smith. It was interesting to see the events through his eyes and how guilty he felt about his, and his father's actions. No wonder he felt he had to do everything Daniel asked of him.

Sarah was a trickier character to like in that sense because, although she feels Hugh ruined her life, it never seems something as serious and the life threatening events that befell both on Hugh and Daniel. Although I do understand that a good marriage may as well be that important for a young lady in that period.

Sarah makes no secret of her dislike for Hugh and he doesn't much like her character (obviously) so it is quite entertaining to see them evolve to a friendship of sorts and then on to something more.

The scene with Hugh's father, near the end, was one of those funny scenes by Quinn that makes us laugh out loud even after closing the book. A really good one on my opinion.

Grade: 4/5

Monday, April 7, 2014

Watch Your Back - Karen Rose

Baltimore Homicide Detective Stevie Mazzetti has suffered losses no woman should have to endure. And, despite it all, she’s still a fighter. When she learns that her ex-partner might have miscarried justice, she’s determined to put the past to rights, even when she becomes a target.It’s former Marine Clay Maynard’s job to see the risk in every situation, but he doesn’t have to look hard to find the danger surrounding Stevie. Since the minute he first saw her, Clay has wanted to protect the wounded officer, and he started loving her not long after that. So when Stevie attracts the attention of a vicious psychopath, Clay will do whatever it takes to keep her alive. That is, if he can stay ahead of a killer with everything to lose—and something terrifying to hide...

Keeping up with Karen Rose's books I was quite happy when I grabbed this one as Clay and Stevie's story is one we have been waiting for since reading about them a few books behind. Although some of her books can be read as stand alones that is definitely not the case here as this story wraps up the plot line started several books ago.

There's a lot going on in this story and it would be unfair to reduce it to the romance bit. The truth is that there is an engaging mystery to solve. The story features a lot of already known characters but we also see the appearance of several new ones and at times it even gets confusing trying to get who's who and what are they planning.

There also plenty of suspense as not all is what it seems. I really liked how Rose brought the events from the past to connect them with what was going on with Stevie's life. It never feels over the top or reality stretching. We know from the beginning that Stevie is bent on making up for Silas's wrongs but things are way bigger than I thought.

Two things annoyed me though. Yes Silas was a bad guy but he, and a lot of other people it seems, did what they did because their loved ones had been threatened. Considering Stevie's love for Cordelia would she really have acted differently had the little girl been threatened? Not that she shouldn't have protected Cordy better at times and that he shouldn't be condemned but it was too much at times. And by the way did his wife and little girl survived the last book? The other this is that Stevie is just too damn stubborn in what concerns Clay. The poor guy was so obviously a good guy and right for her and she kept fighting her own feelings in the name of God knows what.

Well, have said that it was a pretty good story and I look forward to the next one.

Grade: 4,5/5


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