Review: Archangel’s Prophecy

Review: Archangel’s ProphecyArchangel's Prophecy (Guild Hunter, #11) by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #11
Published by Berkley on October 30, 2018
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 368
Goodreads
five-stars

“One must die for one to live.”

FINAL DECISION: Fantastic book which turns everything upside down. Dramatic and powerful, this book is a game changer in the Guild Hunter series, and left me screaming at the end for the year’s delay before finding out what happens next, but I believe this could be one of the most amazing books in the series because it challenges the reader rather than keeping to a formula.

THE STORY: Elena is the only mortal in memory to have been made into an immortal angel by the ambrosia kiss of Raphael, the Archangel. But something seems be going wrong. Elena is regressing and becoming more mortal. Raphael and Elena are in a race against time to discover what is happening. At the same time, Elena is tracking a murderer who is threatening her family. Even worse, the Cascade is at work again with sinkholes filled with Lava and flocks of mysterious birds approaching Elena.

OPINION: Eleven books in and a series can become predictable and stale. Singh tosses all the rules away with this ending of this book. Some readers might be upset by the cliffhanger ending and by what it portends, but it worked in ways that I didn’t expect when I first finished it. I ended up re-reading the last quarter twice and I loved it more each time. The last quarter of this book was intensely dramatic and powerful.

This book is an interesting mixture of an big and important Cascade story and a more mundane murder investigation. This book allows readers to see all of Elena — the mortal and immortal parts — and things begin to change in big ways. I was happy to get to see several of the secondary characters in this series, but this is very much an Elena-centric book. This is about her journey.

Things in the series seemed to be going on an expected path and I thought I knew what was going to happen. This book upset all those expectations and thus brought confusion and anger and quite a bit of disorientation by the end. But ultimately that is why I ended up loving it.  This book asks a lot from the reader and I, too, had to sacrifice predictability and security along with the characters.

Elena and Raphael are not characters who will be bound by fate and prophecy. They make their own path — even when that path is unclear and uncertain. I’m just along for the ride now.

This is the only book since the first book in the series where I have no idea what is going to happen next. There is something wonderfully creative and fascinating about being in this place of uncertainty.

I also need to re-read it in total as soon as I finish this review.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book ends on a cliffhanger.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ARCHANGEL’S PROPHECY is the eleventh book in the Guild Hunter series. This series is meant to be read in order. While each book is an episode, there are significant overarching storylines in this series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

 

five-stars

Kiss Me at Christmas Release Date

Today is a release day for Kiss Me at Christmas, the latest Playful Brides novel by Valerie Bowman. Our review can be found here. We also have an excerpt to share (Kiss Me at Christmas_Excerpt).

 

Not every leading lady finds love, gets married and sustains a domestic life. What about the ladies who were never swept off their feet? Do they take matters into their own hands? In the delightful addition to Valerie Bowman’s Regency-set Playful Brides series, Regina has written off the prospect of marriage, but she still would very much like a pleasurable distraction in her life. KISS ME AT CHRISTMAS (St. Martin’s Paperbacks, October 30, 2018, $7.99), connects a headstrong spinster and a noble Bow Street Runner tasked with protecting her during Christmas time in London. Bow Street Runner Daffin Oakleaf abhors Christmas. Caroling and holiday cheer only remind him of a dark time. When a close friend calls on him for help, Daffin is happy to capitalize on the
distraction. But when he learns the lovely Lady Regina is the one in danger, he’s to become bodyguard to the captivating woman… Regina has one mission: to find a night of passion in the arms of a gentleman. Considered firmly on the shelf, Regina has given up on marriage—but that doesn’t mean she wants to be denied the pleasure married ladies experience. Daffin has long captured her attention…and when a threat calls him to her side, the sparks between them ignite. But how can a hired bodyguard find his way into Regina’s reserved heart?

VALERIE BOWMAN grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her mini-schnauzer, Huckleberry. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS. She is the author of the Secret Brides series and the Playful Brides series.
KISS ME AT CHRISTMAS
By Valerie Bowman
Price: $7.99
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1-250-14752-3
St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Review: Kiss Me at Christmas

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Kiss Me at ChristmasKiss Me at Christmas (Playful Brides, #10) by Valerie Bowman
Series: Playful Brides #10
Published by St. Martin's Press on October 30, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: The romance was the highlight here. There is a danger/threat story that was just okay for me, but the characters and their relationship was sweet and intelligent and quite enjoyable. I especially like these cross-class stories and this one had good intelligent characters.

THE STORY: Lady Regina is facing a marriage to a man who she doesn’t love. She decides that she wants something for herself since it appears that the love of her life isn’t going to arrive. She decides to settle for making the decision of who to give her virginity to. And Regina has decided on Bow Street Runner Daffin Oakleaf with whom she has a flirtation while he was investigating a murder. When someone seems to be threatening Regina, Daffin is hired to help protect her allowing the two to get closer.

OPINION: I enjoyed this book primarily because of the interactions between Regina and Daffin.

Regina is a woman challenged by the times she lives in. She would rather be a spinster, but her family wants her to be settled and married to an aristocrat. She is about to give in to her uncle’s choice but wants to experience her own rebellion first. Regina is intelligent and thoughtful and willing to take responsibility for herself. Her acceding to her family’s wishes comes from a place of love and caring and responsibility rather than weakness. I liked that she is lively and clever.

Daffin is a good man with a past that makes him feel unworthy of Regina even as the two get closer. He is accomplished in his profession and has good friends, but Daffin only can see the past. And part of his past is his dislike for Christmas. As he spends time with Regina, however, Daffin begins to recognize that Regina is not anything like the stereotype his has about aristocratic women. And that makes things even more complicated for him.

I really liked that Daffin and Regina’s relationship is built upon talking and friendship. Their connection was obvious from the beginning of the story. The only things really keeping them apart are Daffin’s doubts and the difference in their social status.

What didn’t work as well for me was the danger aspect of the story. The villain didn’t feel as necessary as the pages it took up. Fortunately, Regina and Daffin were wonderful and I ended up only being vaguely interested in the other parts of the story. Thankfully this is a romance and I much prefer that the romance be great!

WORTH MENTIONING: We get a small glimpse into the final book in the series towards the end.

CONNECTED BOOKS: KISS ME AT CHRISTMAS is the tenth book in the Playful Brides series. This book can be read as a standalone although there are characters from prior books in the series. The romance here is self-contained.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to help prepare this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: ‘Tis the Season

Review: ‘Tis the Season'Tis the Season: Regency Yuletide Short Stories by Christi Caldwell, Eva Devon, Grace Burrowes, Janna MacGregor, Jennifer Ashley, Jess Michaels, Louisa Cornell
Series: Rogues to Riches #0.5, The Brethren #3.5, The Many Brides of Lord Creighton #3.5, The Duke's Secret #1.5, Cavensham Heiresses #4.5,
on October 23, 2018
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
four-stars

This is a collection of short stories which are unconnected to one another (although most are connected to a series the author writes).

A FIRST-FOOTER FOR LADY JANE by Jennifer Ashley:  When her grandfather predicts that Jane will merry this year’s First-Footer, Jane is disbelieving. She intends to marry the man she has known since childhood. But at midnight, Captain Spencer Ingram walks through the door and turns her expectations upside down. This was a sweet story. There wasn’t much to the romance between Jane and Spencer, but Spencer’s sincerely made up for that along with the meddling Grandfather. A sweet holiday treat. Rating: 4 stars.

A KNIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS by Grace Burrowes: Chloe Thatcher is in danger of losing her grandfather’s bookshop after his death. Aidan Ferris has the job of gaining ownership of the property for the man who saved him from the streets. This is a prequel to the Rogues to Riches series. I really enjoyed the tone and characters in this book although the romance is merely sweet. I liked this one well enough to want to read the next book in the series. Rating: 4 stars.

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS by Christi Caldwell: Martha and Graham Whitworth (from THE ROGUE WHO RESCUED HER) are getting ready to celebrate their first holiday together after their marriage when they receive a summons from Graham’s parents (who tried to separate them) asking for a reconciliation. This book operates an an epilogue to THE ROGUE WHO RESCUED HER. However, I haven’t read that book and this story was still perfectly understandable and I immediately got the issues with the parties and the connection between Martha and Graham. I really enjoyed this story and it made me want to read Martha and Graham’s story. Rating: 4.5 stars.

STEALING CHRISTMAS by Louisa Cornell: Sebastian and Minerva Brightworth are going to be spending their first Christmas together but their happiness is interrupted when Minerva insists on inviting Sebastian’s brother to the festivities and Sebastian doesn’t want him there. This story didn’t work as well for me. I haven’t read the book that this couple is introduced in and I didn’t feel that the story seemlessly introduced these characters to me so that I would care about them despite not knowing their story. The story got better as it progressed, but I think this might be better for those familiar with the couple. Rating: 2.5 stars.

JOY TO THE DUKE by Eva Devon:  Robert Deverall and his wife Harriet aka Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Blackstone, celebrate Christmas but there are shadows of the past. This one didn’t work for me. There were too many characters that I was not familiar with not having read the other books in the series. I didn’t feel connected to the characters because there were obviously stories here between the characters of which I was not aware. Rating: 2 stars.

THE EARL’S CHRISTMAS BRIDE by Janna MacGregor: Cameron Dunmore, the Earl of Queensgrace, wants to win the woman he loves, Julia Lawson. Julia, however, even as she loves Cam has been hurt by his withdrawal from her life. But even if she can forgive him, she is not willing to leave her family to be with him. I liked this story although I had trouble getting into the story because I was not familiar with the characters and it took me a while to orient myself in the characters and the story.  I did, however, end up really liking the story once I was able to sort everything out. Rating: 3.5 stars.

SILENT NIGHT by Jess Michaels: Ewan and Charlotte, the Duke and Duchess of Donburrow, are planning Christmas with their friends and family. Charlotte, however, has a secret that causes Ewan to reexamine where he is in his life. This story is really an epilogue to THE SILENT DUKE from the 1797 Club series. This was my favorite in this collection because I already knew the characters and liked seeing their story advance. Ewan and Charlotte are wonderful together and this story brings something new to their romance. Rating: 4.5 stars.

four-stars

Review: Beautiful

Review: BeautifulBeautiful (Beautiful Bastard, #5) by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful #5
Published by Gallery Books on October 4, 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 416
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: A satisfying conclusion to the Beautiful series with a new couple who made me laugh and smile. Jensen and Pippa are perfect together despite their differences but Jensen and Hanna definitely have similar work obsession problems!

THE STORY: Times are changing for the Beautiful crew with the addition of a number of children and a group have decided to take a wine tasting tour. Included is one of Ruby’s friends, Pippa and Hanna’s brother, Jensen. As the unmarried couple in the group, the two are naturally matched together. Both are recovering from failed relationships and the lure of a holiday romance is irresistible. But what happens when the holiday is over.

OPINION: This book is elevated by the appearances of the Beautiful crew. The story is good, but it doesn’t compare to the first three couples in the series. On the other hand, I enjoyed this story more than Niall and Ruby’s.

Pippa and Jensen made me laugh. The two are such opposites and it was wonderful to see how these two end up melding so well together. There was something really beautiful about how Pippa expects Jensen to be judgmental about her, but he truly falls for her for herself.

I also really liked the symmetry of this story (won’t give spoilers here). Even if the events are a bit unlikely, there was something in how it came together that made my heart warm.

What I didn’t like as much is how these two are a bit stupid with miscommunication, or more accurately, lack of communication. The troubles between Jensen and Pippa is all about not talking to one another. I’m not a person that hates that plot device, but the excuses here made me roll my eyes at times.

But ultimately, the strength of the connection between Jensen and Pippa made up for the plot device keeping them apart.

And the ending of this book was simply wonderful and a great treat for anyone who has followed the entire series.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are appearances here from Bennett and Chloe, Max and Sara, Will and Hanna, and Niall and Ruby. I love the relationship between these characters and this book feels like a big homecoming for everyone.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BEAUTIFUL is the fifth and final book in the Beautiful series. The romance here is self-contained and can be read as a standalone, but this book is filled with the other couples in the series and serves as a conclusion for the series so it is better after reading the other books in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Beautiful Boss

Review: Beautiful BossBeautiful Boss (Beautiful Bastard, #4.5) by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful #4.5
Published by Pocket Star on February 29, 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 144
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I loved Will and Hanna, but Hanna really annoyed me in this story. Actually, I thought she was not thoughtful and treated Will pretty lousy by refusing to communicate with him even when he asked her again and again.

THE STORY: Will and Hanna are getting married, but Hanna is also interviewing for a variety of jobs. Flying around the country, Hanna and Will have important decisions to make but Hanna and Will are adjusting to making decisions together.

OPINION: I just wanted this story to be amazing and parts of it were. For fans of Will and Hanna there is much to like here. We get the run up to their wedding and then the aftermath. The two are working towards being a married couple which calls for some changes in their life.

But I really felt that all the issues here were on Hanna’s side. She seemed immature and annoying in not wanting to communicate with Will. I thought he was caring and tried to clue her in on how he needed her to communicate with him, but she kept blowing him off. He certainly was much nicer about the whole thing that I ever would be. And ultimately, I don’t know that I felt secure that these two were making decisions as a couple. It seemed more like Will said “I want you to be happy and will do what you want” and Hanna made her own decision and told Will about it.

I would have liked to see both of them discuss their concerns and the two come to a decision together. There were many parts here that I thoroughly enjoyed — especially the humor in the story and the Beautiful cast, but I was not happy with Hanna. I think she is better than this.

WORTH MENTIONING: We get a bit of Jensen’s backstory. He will be the hero of the BEAUTIFUL.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BEAUTIFUL BOSS is book 4.5 in the Beautiful series. This is an extension of the book BEAUTIFUL PLAYER and at least that book should be read first since this is a continuation of that couple’s story.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: How the Dukes Stole Christmas

Review: How the Dukes Stole ChristmasHow the Dukes Stole Christmas by Joanna Shupe, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, Tessa Dare
Published by Rakes Rogues & Scoundrels LLC on October 15, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 416
Goodreads
four-stars

This is an anthology of four short stories with a Christmas theme. The stories are not connected to one another (other than a recipe for a special shortbread and the holiday theme) so each can be read on its own.

MEET ME IN MAYFAIR by Tessa Dare: Louisa Ward has one night to catch the eye of a wealthy gentleman and only weeks to convince him to marry her before her family will be evicted from their home by the Duke of Thorndale. A turn of fate, however, puts Thorndale in Louisa’s path.  I enjoyed this one because the hours the couple end up spending together which felt sweet and romantic. Although the story is short, I did get the connection between the characters. The story is also funny at times, as it is a series of adventures and misadventures. I enjoyed this one. Rating: 4 stars.

THE DUKE OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT by Sarah MacLean: Eben, Duke of Allryd is obsessed with work and his wealth. Twelve years ago, this obsession led to the love of his life leaving him. Now the ghost of Christmas past has returned to Eben in the form of Lady Jacqueline Mosby. This is a wonderful adaption of A Christmas Carol (but with a happy ending for the romance). Eben is a sad, lonely man but is not a bad person. He is a man who focused on saving his dukedom from financial ruin and yet forgot to include the woman that he loved. I loved the relationship between Eben and Jack which was sweet and so perfect and I grieved as Eben let it slip away until Jack left as well. Then Jack returns and ends up saving Eben from himself. This is the best of this anthology and a Christmas romance that I will return to again. Rating: 5 stars.

HEIRESS ALONE by Sophie Jordan: Annis Bannister is mistakenly left home alone by her family. When her Duke neighbor comes to rescue the servants from a roving band of thieves, Annis is forced to seek refuge with him as well. This one was just okay for me. I never really felt a connection between the characters and thus the quick progression in their relationship didn’t work for me. The hero always felt indistinct to me and thus I couldn’t really understand his connection with the heroine. Rating: 2.5 stars.

CHRISTMAS IN CENTRAL PARK by Joanna Shupe: Rose writes a column as Mrs. Walker who gives advice on households and cooking. Rose, however, is not married, doesn’t have a house and certainly can’t cook. When the newspaper’s owner, Duke Havemeyer, requests that Rose host a Christmas party at her home, Rose has to acquire a house, a husband and the ability to cook a dinner. The problem is that a “married” woman shouldn’t be so interested in her boss.  This one was mixed for me. I thought the setup was really good and things went well until the dinner party. Once that was over, the entire resolution was so quick that I didn’t feel it was in characters with the rest of the story. I was disappointed in that because I thought the beginning of the story was so interesting that I would have liked something better than Rose making demands and the hero just giving in to her. Rating: 3.5 stars.

four-stars

Review: Wicked Christmas

Review: Wicked ChristmasWicked Christmas (Regency Sinners 8) by Carole Mortimer
Series: Regency Sinners #8
Published by Carole Mortimer on October 12, 2018
Genres: Historical
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: I really enjoyed this book because it operates as an epilogue to the series. After all the drama in the books in the series, it was nice seeing everyone happy. The romance in this story was really straightforward. None of these books is particularly deep and complicated, but this was a nice one time read.

THE STORY: The Sinners and their wives and children gather for Christmas, but echoes from the past threaten their happiness. One woman, insignificant and overlooked in the treason story has the possibility of finding happiness, but she has a secret.  The man she meets also has a secret.

OPINION: Some books are keepers and some books are a fine read that I put down and never expect to pick up again. This is the latter type of book. I enjoyed it as a diversion for an hour or two. The characters were interesting enough and the story flowed well.

Nothing in the story is particularly deep and there isn’t much historical content, but I liked seeing these characters and I especially liked seeing the characters from the series again with their children.

This is an easy read with more conventional sexual content than has been in much of the books in the series. And I liked the characters because everything isn’t titled. The secrets that are being kept perhaps were a bit obvious by the end, but I liked how everything turned out.

WORTH MENTIONING: By the end of this story, we get an update on every couple from the Regency Sinners series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WICKED CHRISTMAS is the eighth book in the Regency Sinners series. While there is a romance here that is self-contained, the book serves as a conclusion to the Regency Sinners series and an update on the couples from that series. Therefore, this book is better read after the others in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: The Scottish Prisoner

Review: The Scottish PrisonerThe Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon
Series: Lord John Grey #3
Published by Bantam on May 29, 2012
Genres: Historical
Pages: 518
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: More Jamie than Lord John, this story is a type of buddy book with John and Jamie having to work together to solve a mystery involving a possible Jacobite group. I loved seeing Jamie for an extended period even though my heart hurt for him missing Claire.

THE STORY: This book takes place in the time period covered by VOYAGER (and there are spoilers). Here Lord John Grey finds himself the recipient of a mysterious message written in the Scottish language. He reluctantly realizes that Jamie might be able to translate the message. (The two have had a serious falling out during an earlier Lord John story.)  Jamie is suffering from the loss of Claire but watching over his illegitimate and unacknowledged son. But he is also approached with echoes from the past by Irish remnants of the Rising. These events send Jamie and John Grey on an adventure to discover the truth of what is happening.

OPINION: This is my favorite of the Lord John series, but it feels closest to Outlander because of Jamie’s presence. But the reason that I like this as a Lord John book is because Lord John is best when he is interacting with Jamie and not just thinking about him.

This book definitely takes it shape from the Lord John Grey series. It is a mystery that John goes to investigate. Here, because Jamie is such a central character, we get more of the interaction between John and Jamie. Their relationship is strained but this book is part of their journey to becoming friends again — and this time a more honest friendship.

I really enjoyed the story which was political drama, a roadtrip adventure, historical download and a story of unrequited love all in one. I also enjoyed getting to see more of John’s brother and sister in law (a couple I enjoyed in their own story).

This book enhanced my Outlander understanding and also managed to be the best example of the Lord John books.

WORTH MENTIONING: This novel is told by alternating Jamie’s story and Lord John’s story as the stories overlap. It takes place in the space of when Jamie and Claire are apart VOYAGER.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE SCOTTISH PRISONER is the third book in the Lord John Grey series. This series is a spinoff of the Outlander series. While it is not necessary to have read the other books in the Lord John Grey series to read this book, I believe it is necessary to read VOYAGER to appreciate this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Wicked Sexy Liar

Review: Wicked Sexy LiarWicked Sexy Liar (Wild Seasons, #4) by Christina Lauren
Series: Wild Seasons #4
Published by Gallery Books on February 2, 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I enjoyed this story, but I ultimately needed more to accept Luke’s quick transformation. (I believed he would be faithful, but I needed as a reader more time to pass before this couple felt right to me).

THE STORY: London Hughes knows better than to get involved with the men who come into the bar where she works. But feeling knocked off her game, she decides “why not” and takes up the offer with the serious player Luke Sutter. But London is determined to keep it sex only. Luke, however, can’t stop thinking about this woman who breaks through his endless parade of women and makes him question himself.

OPINION: I liked a lot about this book, but the central part of the book which is Luke turning away from his years of having sex with numerous women and not having any relationships with them just didn’t work for me as well as I needed it to.

Luke was devastated by the end of his relationship with the girl he expected to always be with (Mia from SWEET FILTHY BOY). He has spent the years since keeping his distance from any serious relationship with a variety of women.

London is a woman who doesn’t trust the words of a man who can slip from one woman’s bed to another. But London also sees something more in Luke. And Luke begins to see something in himself as well.

There was so much that I liked about this book. London and Luke have a really good relationship and connection. I enjoyed seeing both London and Luke challenged in their personal viewpoints. Their relationship was smart and modern and funny and sexy hot.

My complaint is that Luke’s endless sexual partners are a big problem for London and is in fact the central issue in the story. As such, I needed something more dramatic in his transformation or more time to elapse to see his transformation. This was especially true for me because Luke violates one of my big romance no-nos. He has sex with another woman after he and London first start up their relationship. No, it’s not cheating, but it really bothered me. So, he needed to do something more to prove that he will be faithful to her. Maybe this book needed an longer view epilogue, but for whatever reason, I finished this book not yet convinced.

WORTH MENTIONING: My book included the short story A NOT-JOE NOT-SO-SHORT SHORT. I really, really liked this story and I wanted more. There was a sweetness and a reality to the story. Not-Joe takes a liking to Ansel’s ex, Perry. I could have read a whole book about these two and I had a thought that this would be a great start to a serial series about Not-Joe and Perry. A good addition.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WICKED SEXY LIAR is the fourth book in the Wild Seasons series. The romance here is self-contained and thus can be read on its own. There are overlapping characters, however, and the relationships are more significant after reading all the books in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars