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review 2017-03-19 15:52
Man & Monster (The Savage Land, #2) by Michael Jensen
Man & Monster (The Savage Land: Book 2) - Michael Jensen

 

 

Man & Monster (The Savage Land, #2) is a blast of an historical fiction, m/m romance, horror novel!

 

Cole ("Cold-Hearted") Seavey meets up with the characters from Man & Beast (The Savage Land, #1) , out on the Ohio Frontier, circa 1799. (Namely John Chapman, (Johnny Appleseed), and Pakim, (our handsome Delaware Brave). Pakim rescues Cole after he finds him badly injured as the result of an attack. An attack from what is the question; especially after this creature begins to attack Hugh's Lick-the small settlement that is closest to John Chapman's claim.

 

Soon the reader is fully engrossed in the story of this town, its inhabitants and whatever the thing is that's hunting them. The characters are so solidly drawn, they're vivid in my mind. I was happy to see John Chapman again, (I didn't know that he was going to be in this one!) and Cole turns out to be anything but cold-hearted. He soon develops feelings for Pakim and together with John Chapman and others, they struggle to defend themselves against what Pakim believes is a Wendigo.

 

The real meat of this story was the mystery of the Wendigo. I have always had a fondness for creatures of legends of myth, and Wendigos are near the top of my list. Native American cultures are fascinating and so are the stories they told to each other. The author's research into these and into the norms and taboos of the white frontier-folk of the time really shines through and rings true.

 

With many exciting action scenes and twisty turns of the plot, Man & Monster turned out to be a lot of fun, even though it's wayyyy out of my wheelhouse. To me, it's always the story that is paramount, and in that regard, Michael Jensen delivers.

 

Highly recommended to fans of historical fiction, m/m romance, and HORROR!

 

You can get your copy here: Man & Monster (The Savage Land: Book 2)

 

*I received a free e-copy from the author in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.* **In addition, I consider this author to be an online friend. This did not affect the content of my review.**

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review 2017-03-08 05:20
History and romance, my favorite combo
The Dutch Girl: Renegades of the American Revolution - Donna Thorland

"You mean you will let us have novels?" asked the taller one, who must be Jannetje.
"As long as you do your other reading and advance in all of your subjects, I see no reason that you should not read novels."
"Reverend Blauvelt says they give women ideas."
"Well, someone has to," said Anna.


What a story. This is more historical fiction with romance than vice versa but the intermingling of fact, real historical figures/events, and romance was amazing (I do think this was heavier on romance than the previous in series). I can see a few getting bogged down in the middle with our heroine's journey turning more toward the issues of the time, British and Americans fighting for land, but my history loving heart was all in.

The story reads a bit like a crescendo, with the last 30% providing us with answers and action that the first 70% hinted at and built towards (a bit rushed of an ending). This is part of a series but you could still start here and be fine. The connecting thread is an American woman spy nicknamed The Widow who helps Anna when she is younger and is the impetus for the journey she makes. There is also a character named Kate Grey who was featured before and makes a smallish but important appearance.

The romance between Anna and Gerrit is not the focus, like I said, but when they show up together on the pages, they spark. When we first see them together their conversation and back and forth had my toes curling, not so much because of sexual reasons but from two people attracted to each other whose intelligence, wit, and teasing caused heat. They knew each other as children, so we get them falling in love through some reminiscing and I did miss more of their romance aspect in their present. I thought the one night we got of them together could have been lengthened and emboldened more but I'm greedy like that.

This is more Anna's story than Anna and Gerrit's or the birth of America but it worked well in this capacity. The details are immaculate in this without feeling unnecessary or weighed down in minutiae; the author provides an amazing feel for the time period. The secondary characters have depth and breadth that kept them from being strictly villains or heroes.

I felt this was a little different from the others in the series in that working for the cause on the American patriots’ side wasn't the focus. You'll learn about Dutch culture and since Anna doesn't so much as have a horse in the race as she is just trying to survive, you'll get how average citizens were affected by the war. There was some great feminist thinking from Anna, which even two hundred years later still begs to be discussed, that had me wanting to quote a lot from this book.

I think this story ended in 1778 and I fervently hope the author keeps writing up to 1783 and then 1812 and then, well I hope she keeps writing historical romances until the end of time. If you like this time period and want a little romance in your historical fiction, this series is a must read.

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review 2017-02-21 23:28
Hero loves dogs
Wild Wicked Scot - Julia London

I read this for the Man in a Kilt square for Romance Bingo.

She was afraid of him, disgusted by him, attracted to him.

Without the sweeping epic saga war components, this reminded me of Pride of Lions by Marsha Canham. As with the heroine in that one, Margot grew up extremely spoiled, sheltered, and is incredibly naïve. I personally am not the biggest fan of reading about perfect people, I love growth and journey. When Margot first meets Arran she is only 16 and after only two more meetings they are married after she turns 18. She is then immediately taken out of her home in England and brought to Arran's home in Scotland. Margot is an extreme fish out of water and her elitist ways and attitude definitely don't jive with the clan structure. She tries to help in her known English ways, but it only works to distance her more from Arran's people. Now, Arran may be completely different from the fops she grew up around and liked but we still she her attracted to him but she doesn't quite know what to do with it because she doesn't know him. I liked the fact that Margot wasn't blinded by insta-lust and just because she found Arran attractive she didn’t instantly trust him and it didn’t solve all their problems. Margot's just too young, too scared, and too bitter about not being able to marry someone remotely of her choosing and she ends up leaving Arran after only a couple months of marriage.

"I remember that your list of complaints was quite long."
She could feel the skin of her chest heating beneath his study of her. She had to look away or be devoured by that penetrating gaze. "Were they complaints? I always rather thought them pleas to help me reconcile to my new surroundings."
"Ah, is that what they were, then?" he mused.


Arran is more instantly likeable but while he has about 9 years on Margot, he was almost as clueless to marriage. He's the one who is struck by first sight and he knows as soon as he sees Margot he wants to marry her. He doesn't think about anything else except having her as wife, and doesn't think about how truly different they are. He's extremely caring to her in the bedroom, the one place they do connect, but baffled by her in every other measure. When he brings her to his home he doesn't help or explain to her how she can connect with his people and disappears for most the day doing work or traveling; he lives his life exactly the same way he did before marrying. Later on in the story there is a great conversation between the two where we learn that his parent's both died when he was young and Margot's mother died young also. We see that these two weren't modeled or taught how marriages work in a basic sense. In the beginning, Arran does do more little things to try and make it work but Margot's youth, fear, loneliness, and other issues I talked about cloud and create misunderstandings with their communication. These two simply married too soon and too young.

I'm usually a linear person but the switching chapters from past to present so worked for me. I loved how it set the tone and gave a clear understanding of how and why Arran and Margot felt the way they did, while also adding some drama. This was mostly a character driven story and our couple had the major chops to carry it; I devoured the first half of this absorbed into their story. I think it was around the 56% mark that the Reason I Read Romance conversation between the two happened. A couple lines, I refuse to spoil by putting them here, are spoken by Arran and let's just say I made sounds that probably only happen at the Cheesecake Factory when they bring me my red velvet cheesecake. They're crosses between gasps, sobs, happiness, and heart palpitations.

The second half and ending involving family and Jacobite drama didn't fully work for me, it wasn't flushed out enough. Especially, the quick and off screen way it was wrapped up, ended up feeling unneeded to me because of its lack of substance. Some secondary characters could have been fleshed out more like Arran's friend Jock and Margot's brother Knox. I guess I'm saying I wanted this book to be 200 pages of more because I loved the story so much.

I also felt the ending bringing together between Arran and Margot felt a little off. Arran had a quick to anger moment over something Margot did and then was just as quick to forgiveness, making it feel angst for angst sake. Then at the end when they have time to really have it out and come together, there was this kind of awkward lingering distrustfulness from Arran and unsure from Margot that felt overdone. At this point in the story and after certain things had been done, they should have had a united front.

Still, I gobbled this story up. Margot's growth was evident and I enjoyed how she went from a spoiled, scared, and naïve girl to a woman finding and testing her own strength and mind. Arran matured into a man who learned to open his clueless eyes and pay attention to his wife, while not trying to mold her into what he thought she should be instead of who she truly was. I'd read about this couple all day.

Bonus:
Arran loves dogs and my crazy dog lady feelings couldn't handle it.

She was suddenly reminded of a young dog here at Balhaire who'd been badly injured by a trap that had been set illegaly. When the gamekeeper determined the poor dog could not be saved and, futhermore, would suffer in his last hours, she had watched Arran scoop the dog up in his arms and carry him from this very hall with tears on his face. He'd taken the dog into the woods and mercifully put it out of its misery. She shivered at the painful recollection of how he'd grieved for the dog.

Not going to lie, reading this and then how three gray muzzled dogs sleep on the bed, the only thought running through my head was Shut it Down, Shut it all Down. Any Romanices Hero of 2017 talk is over.

 

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review 2017-01-27 21:51
Y'all.
The Governor's Daughter (Winds of Change Book 1) - Jerri Hines

I read this for the insta-love square for Romance Bingo and it was also a Kindle Freebie selection.

 

 

To recap if you missed my 50% update:
Heroine falls in love w/ hero#1 by 30% and a few meetings.
Gets kidnapped and almost whipped to death by dude picked by grandparents to marry her.
Hero#1 offers what she considers a pity marriage.
Refuses.
Has sex with hero#1's bf who suddenly loves her.
Marries bf hero#2.
Now hero#2 is feeling faint/having night sweats

 

 

Second half:

Heroine gets pregnant
Hero#2 dies
Heroine kicked out by hero#2's family.
Hero#2 didn't want her to be able to leave England so somehow (completely unclear) makes a will that stipulates she can't have her own money if she leaves.
Heroine don't give a flying f and decides to go back to America, during the start of Revolutionary War.
Heroine has twins.
In one of the numerous side stories I haven't mentioned, her current maid had been raped by her step-father and he decides he wants her back.
Heroine kills step-father.
Heroine's bastard brother, who I think is around 30yrs old, gets maid pregnant, who I think is around 17-18yrs old.
2yrs go by in two chapters.
Heroine makes-out with married Hero#.5 (previously unmentioned because I didn't think we'd see him again. Imagine my surprise. But she initally was going to runaway and marry him in the beginning because she thought she wouldn't have to go to England for a season).
Hero#1 makes a surprise visit during their make-out session.
There's mentions of battles, Americans and English visit her place, she helps both. I...I think this is suppose to supply us with the feel of the times.
Hero#.5 feels extremely shafted by heroine and hires people to murder everyone.
Hero#1 saves heroine.
Heroine marries Hero#1.
She goes back to England for safety.
Reconciles with hero#2's family.
(It's going to go fast from this point on because I could barely make sense of anything)
Hero#1 presumed dead.
Children almost walk off a cliff to catch faires.
A I can't believe you're pulling this crap on the reader character betrayal.
Hero#1 makes miraculous return to save heroine from cliff.
Heroine gives birth while in a semi-coma.
Heroine's cousin who was trying to steal her money (I'm exhausted, I can't go into this storyline too and that's why you're just hearing about this) gets his due.
The end.

 

 

 

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review 2017-01-12 05:25
Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt
Duke of Pleasure (Maiden Lane) - Elizabeth Hoyt

I read this for the Virgin square (heroine is one) for Romance bingo.

3.5 stars

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Hugh is the bastard son of the King but with the given title of Duke of Kyle, he finds himself existing in two worlds. Tasked with bringing down a secret society called The Lords of Chaos, he finds he'll need some help from an unexpected source.
Alf was born and bred in St. Giles and has masked her true identity as a woman since she was five years old. However, clashing with Hugh has brought desires and thoughts she never knew she could have.
To bring down The Lords of Chaos, Hugh and Alf are going to have to work together and become who they were meant to be all along.

Never let them see you cry, he'd said. Never show them your weakness.

If you've been a frequent Maiden Lane series reader, you'll remember Alf. We've had fleeting glimpses of her and how she has navigated and survived St. Giles. It's hard for me to get excited about the woman dressed as a man trope because of its past frequency but Alf's reasons weren't frivolous, done for comic relief, or scandal. Dressing as a boy was survival for Alf and Hoyt did a great job showing how this seemingly innocuous action emotionally shaped Alf; how it affected her thought processes and how it psychologically wore on her.

I've said it before but I miss how long romance books used to be and I think this particular story would have benefited greatly from a longer page count. The first 40% or so gave us a wonderful building up of Hugh and Alf; we got to know them separately. I cared about these characters and my anticipation for them to come together was only heightened because I had the solid foundation for how right their relationship was going to be. I miss this gradual weaving that seems to be left behind for instant lust and gratification.

Even though I was anxious to see them together, I was a little disappointed when it did happen. Not because I didn't feel they belonged together but because Hugh's love felt a bit instant. He doesn't know Alf is a woman until around the 40% mark and while he knew the Ghost of St. Giles was a woman and felt drawn to her, he didn't know it was Alf. I think he had 3 or 4 encounters with the Ghost, they are sexually attracted to one another but their conversations aren't lengthy or anything. It felt, to me, like a quick loving without knowing because Alf was basically unknown to him.

He admired her even as he feared for her.

I liked the bonus of Alf being the Ghost of St. Giles, even if I felt she didn't get to shine in the role as much as others. I would have liked to have seen more scenes with her and St. Godric. Hugh's support and belief in Alf as a competent being was one of his sexiest attributes and how it was obvious that he completely accepted Alf for who she was. Their star gazing scene was my favorite and I thought beautifully showcased the author's talent for creating two characters that felt so right for one another; even if I felt it was a bit rushed.

I like the villainous Lords of Chaos' storyline but they were somewhat regulated to naked men in animal masks here and I wanted a little more of their workings or stratagems. I hope there's more to their plot than occasional nighttime naked gatherings to unsuccessfully rape women. Don't misunderstand, I'm very glad they're unsuccessful, but there were rumblings about how they infect all of society, even the government; I'd like a new devious plot.

The ending felt a bit awkward to me with a misunderstanding you could see a mile away and a resolution that came super quick. The lack of building conversations between our leads before the love made it feel instant. I want to clarify though, that I felt this couple belonged together, I just wanted more scenes to prove and deepen what I was feeling.

I'll definitely be reading the next in the series because I liked Iris, the heroine of the next, right off the bat and am intrigued by the dark and scarred hero. Hoyt's talent in creating a world and characters can't be denied but I hope she's given more pages to really let them breathe and take off.

 

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