Review: Ravishing the Heiress

Review: Ravishing the HeiressRavishing the Heiress (Fitzhugh Trilogy, #2) by Sherry Thomas
Series: Fitzhugh Trilogy #2
Published by Berkley on July 3, 2012
Genres: Historical
Pages: 304
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: This book is complicated and out of the ordinary. It challenges the reader, and many will reject it. But the right reader will find this book simply beautiful as it explores two people who are married for years before the romance starts. I loved Millie and Fitz and will think about this book for a long time.

THE STORY: Millie is to marry an earl who needs her father’s money. The Earl Fitzhugh never planned on inheriting the earldom, and certainly not in giving up his life’s plan and the woman he loves because of an impoverished earldom. Now he has to marry an heiress. The only problem is that Millie has fallen in love with Fitz at first sight. Fitz and Millie end up agreeing not to consummate their marriage for eight years — and allowing Fitz to live his own life during those years. Now, as the eight years are coming to an end, the love of Fitz’s life is now free, and she and Fitz are brought together again. Before he can be free with the woman he loves, however, Fitz knows he must consummate his marriage and hopefully get his wife with an heir to uphold his agreement with Millie.

OPINION: I wouldn’t have appreciated this book when I was younger. This book is so much about marriage and dealing with disappointment and loss. But it is also about friendship and love and building something together. Millie and Fitz become partners and grow up as individuals. This is an amazing story, but reading it takes the right mindset.

This book is angsty, emotional, and heartbreaking.

There are so many moments when I wanted to dislike the characters, but Thomas does such a good job of making all the characters complex that each has positive and negative qualities.

Millie is simply amazing in this book. She is quiet, but she isn’t a pushover. Indeed, she has a spine of steel. She endures. Everything about her personality shows that she is strong and opinionated. As Fitz recognizes in her something wry and clever and so very strong. She runs her home, she is able to run her family business. She is kind. This book could so easily go wrong with a heroine who Fitz walks over — but Millie is not that person. She makes choices that others disagree with, but they are her choices.

Fitz could have come off as a terrible jerk. But, like Millie, he is incredibly young when their marriage begins. I love this book because we get to see how he grows up and how his relationship with Millie forms an essential part of who he is. He makes mistakes, but he also grows during the book.

The relationship between Fitz and Millie is beautiful. It is messy and complicated, but I also love that the two talk and communicate with one another. That’s what makes the messy parts okay. They are always talking with one another, so the apparent betrayal isn’t really betrayal. Their relationship is really a friendship and partnership that grows throughout the book.

The only negative thing to me was that the introduction of the next romance involving the sister felt intrusive at times. I wanted more Millie and Fitz.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book transgresses one of the rules of romance — infidelity. Some people won’t like this book because of that.

CONNECTED BOOKS: RAVISHING THE HEIRESS is the second book in the Fitzhugh Trilogy. There are overlapping stories, and appearances are made by characters from the other books in the series (because the series is about three siblings). This book can completely be read on its own — as I haven’t read the others in the series and understood what I needed to here.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Whiteout

Review: WhiteoutWhiteout (Survival Instincts, #1) by Adriana Anders
Series: Survival Instincts #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on January 28, 2020
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 514
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I really enjoyed this book which I didn’t expect. A romantic suspense, it has action, but there is such emotion between the characters, that I almost forgot about the drama that was going on because these characters really clicked for me.

THE STORY: Angel Smith has finished her latest job as a chef at a research station in Antarctica and is ready to leave and start something new for herself. On her final day, however, the station is attacked. Angel and glaciologist Ford Cooper make it out alive but are stranded in the middle of the ice continent. With limited time and food, the two must find safety before the people who killed their co-workers find them and finish the job.

OPINION: Sometimes I like romantic suspense, and sometimes it leaves me cold. I enjoy the romance part much more than the suspense part, and sometimes the books are very light on romance and relationship development. But this book gets that balance just about perfect for me.

The characters are well-developed and interact with one another in interesting ways. Angel is a woman full of life, and Ford is a man who has closed himself off. (Sunshine and the grumpy scientist is a great trope) But the book explores the complicated edges of those archetypes as they are stranded together.

The book read fast, and honestly, I didn’t care that we didn’t get full answers about the suspense plot. For me, the important part of the book is how Angel and Ford peel away the things that are between them and keep them apart. They are so perfect for one another that I almost forgot that there were some villains that had to be dealt with.

WORTH MENTIONING: As part of a series, the “big” story isn’t finished here, so some people might be disappointed that everything about the overarching plot is not fully explained or completed. Not a cliffhanger per see (although the next book is suggested), and this couple’s story is complete.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WHITEOUT is the first book in the Survival Instincts series. There is a prequel novella, but I didn’t read it and didn’t feel that I needed to do so.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: More Than Desire You

Review: More Than Desire YouMore Than Desire You (Reed Family Reckoning, #8) by Shayla Black
Series: Reed Family Reckoning #8
on November 1, 2022
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 322
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I enjoyed this book, but my interest in this series is beginning to wane a bit. I’m hoping that we will move on soon to a new group of people. I didn’t feel that the story between these two was as deep as others in the series.

THE STORY: Xavian Costa has decided to get revenge on his best friend who slept with the woman Xavian planned to marry and then made a movie that painted Xavian as the villain. The form of Xavian’s revenge is his ex-best friend’s sister, Corinne, who has come to Xavian for help manipulating her brother to get her inheritance. Xavian proposes that the two of them fake an engagement — but Xavian also plans on using Corinne for his own pleasure. When Xavian just begins realizing that something between the two of them might be real, his plans completely unravel.

OPINION: This book is really hot, but I wanted a bit more of the relationship development. Corinne wasn’t as interesting a character to match Xavian. I would have liked him to have a real contrast. There was something about the relationship that never seemed to be grounded in the couple. I would have liked to have more conflict between them. At the same time, the book fits well in the series. Xavian wasn’t as much of a jerk as I had expected because he falls pretty fast for Corinne…perhaps that is what feels a little off. Xavian is so quickly falling for Corinne that the stakes of the story never feel that high.

WORTH MENTIONING: The epilogue of this book introduces readers to one of the new main characters in the next book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MORE THAN DESIRE YOU is the eighth book in the More Than Words/Reed Family Reckoning Series. The romance here is self-contained and can be read as a standalone, although there are relationships between the characters (apart from the main characters) that have developed over the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: The Captain of All Pleasures

Review: The Captain of All PleasuresThe Captain of All Pleasures (Sutherland Brothers, #1) by Kresley Cole
Series: Sutherland Brothers #1
Published by Pocket Books on March 27, 2007
Genres: Historical
Pages: 370
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: This is clearly an early Kresley Cole book. There is so much promise, but not as well constructed as later Cole books. At the same time, I really loved what feels like an homage to classic romance books. Pirates! Racing around the world! A hero with secrets! A heroine who is wilful and independent! So much of the tone and feel of this book I loved, but it doesn’t feel as polished as later books.

THE STORY: Nicole Lassiter has two separate lives. She lives freely helping her American sea captain father sail around the world, but her grandmother wants her to be a lady and make a good marriage. Her father’s nemesis is Captain Derek Sutherland. Someone is sabotaging boats in a race from England to Australia.¬† When Derek ends up rescuing Nicole, he doesn’t know who the mysterious woman is, but there is a great attraction between the two. Across the world, the two compete and fall in love. But both have secrets that threaten any possible happy ending.

OPINION: This book is uneven and was good but not fantastic for me, but the book was interesting, and for fans of Kresley Cole, you can see the bones of what she will perfect in later books. I loved that she takes the bones of old historical romance and breaks them, and makes it more modern and complicated. This is a book I would read again, not because it was amazing, but because it has such a great underpinning of life.

Kresley Cole is taking stories from romances that I read in the 80s and 90s and refashioning them into something new but at the same time not losing those classic moments that were great. This is a romance on the high seas with lots of action and drama. There are plenty of secrets and twists.

The weakness of this book is that the final secret that each main character holds felt like the revelation came too late in the story, and thus the end was a bit rushed. But I really liked both of these characters. Nicole is strong and independent, and determined. Derek is a jerk and is completely broken when he falls for Nicole.

There are scenes from the past, but also previews of books in Kresley’s future. The book feels a little clumsy in its execution, but there is no doubt that it was written by a master in the making and was worth my day.

WORTH MENTIONING: The end of this book suggests at the next book in the series, but it is not a cliffhanger.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE CAPTAIN OF ALL PLEASURES is the first book in the Sutherland Brothers series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Killers of a Certain Age

Review: Killers of a Certain AgeKillers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn
Published by Berkley on September 6, 2022
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 365
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: I really wanted to like this book, but it felt muddy, and the pacing was much slower than I wanted. Instead, I got bored just about the time things should have been getting exciting. Ultimately the book was okay but not up to a great premise.

THE STORY: After working for a secret network of assassins for forty years, four women are sent on a vacation to celebrate their retirement. During the trip, they are targeted for assassination themselves. Now Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie have to work together to discover who wants them dead and to uncover the plot against them.

OPINION: The premise of this book is amazing, and the beginning had much promise. The problem is that there are just too many characters, too many stories, and not enough depth to any character. Instead, they always remain just out of reach, which made me lose interest about halfway through the book.

I’m glad I pressed through because the ending of the book was better, although I had figured out the twist. Because the book was unique, I think some people will really enjoy the story, but it wasn’t the book for me.

WORTH MENTIONING: The women here are in their sixties, and this is not a romance.

CONNECTED BOOKS: KILLERS OF A CERTAIN AGE is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars

Review: Archangel’s Resurrection

Review: Archangel’s ResurrectionArchangel's Resurrection (Guild Hunter, #15) by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #15
Published by Berkley on October 25, 2022
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 396
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Structured differently than other books in this series, ARCHANGEL’S RESURRECTION is a second chance at love story, but also the story of love that lasts through the ages.

THE STORY: A romance that is many thousands of years in the making…Before they were archangels, Alexander and Zanaya fell in love. However, the sharp edges of their relationship caused by the unwillingness of either to bend send them on a cycle of love and separation. When both sleep, only the Cascade and the threat of the Archangel of Death cause them to rise. When Zanaya is attacked and almost killed during the battle, it is uncertain whether she will again arise and, when she does, what changes have been made in her. Does she now pose a threat? Can two Archangels who have loved and hurt one another, find a way to turn away from their past and change their future?

OPINION: Completely different from other books in the series. This is the story of two people who have loved one another forever and just haven’t been able to “seal the deal” between them. The entire story was warm and loving and gave a different view of the entire series.

I loved this book because it felt perfect for these two characters. The problem they have is prioritizing their relationship. It has taken them thousands of years to realize that, and I appreciated that seeing the relationship of other couples from the series shows them the way.

Alexander has been a little pompous in the series, but here we get to see him as a young angel and how he fell in love and became who he is in the timeline of the series. Zanaya is hot-headed, a warrior, and so perfect for Alexander. I really enjoyed how these two extremely powerful archangels navigated their relationship.

Readers of the series know that archangels are naturally repelled by one another. Their power does not allow them to remain together in one place for long. Here, the complexity and subtleness of the couple’s problems integrate with the natural problems that arise from the idea of two archangels being in love.

In many ways, this book feels like a second (or second hundred) chance at love story or a book with older main characters. Yet, there was so much respect and love in this story that it also feels fresh and new for the series. The conflict here is about the hero and heroine committing to one another finally after realizing that life is fragile — even for archangels who live tens of thousands of years.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book fills in a lot of information from throughout the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ARCHANGEL’S RESURRECTION is the fifteenth book in the Guild Hunters series. This series is better read in order, although this book is one that can be read on its own. Although a new reader will miss some of the depth in the appearances of characters from the series, plenty of context is given here to understand everything a reader needs to know.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars