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review 2017-07-21 16:57
Seven Stones to Stand or Fall
Seven Stones to Stand or Fall: A Collection of Outlander Short Stories - Diana Gabaldon

A few of these I've read already, so I'll be lazy and link to those reviews. ;)

 

The Custom of the Army - 2 stars


https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/524842810?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

 

The Space Between - no rating

 

I didn't bother getting this when it was originally released solo and I'm glad I didn't. I don't have much interest in Joan, and even less interest in the Comte St. Germain, nor did I ever once wonder what happened to the guy or what his backstory was. So this was one long bore and I skimmed a lot of it to get to the important plot points. It was nice to see Mother Hildegard, but her role here is pretty much just cameo and doesn't make up for the rest.

 

A Plague of Zombies - 4 stars


https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1900984342?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

 

A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows - 5 stars


(No review for this one though. Sounds like a good reason for a reread.)

 

And reread I did and loved it just as much as the first time. Roger's father, Jerry MacKenzie, is unexpectedly launched back in time when his plane crash lands, and he goes through hell and back to get back to his time and his family. We get a few scenes of what's going on with Marjorie and baby Roger, but most of this is focused on Jerry. It's beautifully and heartbreakingly written, because if you've read the Outlander books you already know what everyone believes to have happened.

 

Virgins - 3 stars

 

Jamie and Ian are mercenaries in France. There's a lot of anti-Semantism in this one, as Gabaldon doesn't shy away from the prejudices of the time, and even our protags are guilty of it. The Jewish characters themselves though do not appear - at least to me - to be caricatures or stereotypes. Some of the Scottisms seemed strange - Ian's constantly referring to Jamie as a "wean" - I didn't think their age difference was all that great, so it felt odd. There's also this whole subplot with one of the other mercenaries who makes Gregor Clegane look like a fluffy kitty.

 

A Fugitive Green - 4 stars

 

Minnie and Hal's first meeting! I was intrigued by the backstory we got about Minnie in The Scottish Prisoner, so getting to see a more detailed telling of it was great. Minnie's wonderful and resourceful, and we even get a brief (too brief, I thought) subplot of Minnie's mom and her quest to find her. That was rather melodramatic - the mom's backstory that is - and I kept feeling like there was something more there going on than we heard

because nuns getting pregnant is not exactly unheard of so why exactly did Minnie's mom go mad because of it?

(spoiler show)

 

The ending also felt a bit rushed, so I hope this isn't the last exploration we get into these characters' backstories.

 

Besieged - 4 stars

 

Man, John can't even leave an assignment without getting pulled into a war. :P This is an interesting follow up to A Plague of Zombies, as John's still temporary military governor of Jamaica and trying his darnedest to resign that post. Enter his stepfather with some harrowing news. Loved seeing Tom Byrd again, and it was neat to see how Rodrigo is dealing after being zombified. There's your ingrained racism of the time, what with the slavery and all. I've never liked John's pragmatic view of slavery, but it is what it is, I guess? At least here, that pragmatism is a help to them.

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review 2017-07-08 23:44
Should have started at beginning
If He's Noble (Wherlockes) - Hannah Howell

2.3 stars

 

Thank you to Shannon Burke for recommending this to me :)

 

Coming in at book #7 really hurt me here, I felt lost with all the Wherlocke family talk and their abilities. 

It's a road romance where I thought the main couple fell in love a bit quickly while trying to find the heroine's brother and warn him about their evil aunt. 

 

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review 2017-06-22 01:46
The Highland Commander by Amy Jarecki
The Highland Commander (The Highland Lords) - Amy Jarecki

***Full Review***

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.

Lady Magdalen's father has been imprisoned in the Tower and charged with treason against Queen Anne. Magdalen's step-mother is pregnant and even though she's shunned Magdalen for being a bastard, she begs her to go to London and plead for her father's case. Magdalen would do anything for her father so she takes off with her maid Agnes.
Commander Lord Aiden has leave from his ship for the first time in two years and plans to finally live life to the fullest at Whitehall. However, on his way there he comes across a Lady and her maid needing help.
Magdalen and Aiden have met before but court intrigues and war may keep them from their true destinies.
 
Second in the Lords of the Highlands series, The Highland Commander can be read as a standalone. When we are first introduced to Magdalen and Aiden they came off as gently sweet characters; they were a bit Garwood-esqu in their feel. Magdalen was the slightly outcast heroine because of her label as bastard but she had cultivated a role with the people of her town by running a hospital for battered women. Aiden is a second son of a duke and in the Royal Navy, is very young (early twenties), and the exact opposite of a rake. While we've seen the essence of Magdalen many times in romance, Aiden was sweetly different.
 
As the story went on I thought it lost some of its focus on Magdalen and Aiden together and instead kept hammering on Aiden's virginity. I wished the focus hadn't been on Aiden simply wanting to lose it and instead his growing attraction and affection for Magdalen for the sake of herself; missed more of an emotional bond. Don’t let Aiden’s lack of experience fool you though, towards the middle and end, sexual escapades are had. The court intrigue and Magdalen trying to find a way to free her father and later trying to work for her father lacked some details and progression that could have kept it from feeling like Magdalen only bemoaning her circumstances instead of making moves to change it.
 
There's a plethora of secondary characters, real and historical, that the author did a good job of incorporating that helped shaped the world and setting. The ending did seem extremely rushed and the fate and revealing of some characters lacked the emotional punch it was supposed to have because of the lack of previously laid groundwork. The first half was a bit slow while the ending was rushed as a jumble of ideas and story plots got thrown at the reader and wrapped up with perfect bows. Magdalen and Aiden were two very sweet characters but their story was lacking support.

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review 2017-05-30 01:11
The Wicked Cousin by Stella Riley
The Wicked Cousin (Rockliffe Book 4) - Stella Riley

After his twin brother died and his father smothered him trying to keep him from any danger, Sebastian broke the chains to live a wild and carefree life. Now that he is a little older and wiser, he just wishes all the fervor from his younger exploits would die down.

Cassandra is less than impressed with all the stories about their wicked "cousin" but when she actually meets the man, she finds herself singing a different tune.

 

Fourth in the Rockliffe series, The Wicked Cousin focuses on Sebastian and Cassandra. I'm a newbie to this series and while it is entirely possible to start here, the extended family and friends secondary characters (heroes and heroines from the previous books) will make you wish you had read their stories. If you've read Grace Burrowes and her Windham series, the incorporation of past characters and world building is in the same vein here. I did think Riley did a slightly better job of unobtrusively weaving them in, not as much a feeling of off tangent if you're not previously acquainted with them.

 

And with the utmost reluctance, she saw what she had been unconsciously determined not to see. She saw what all the fuss was about.

 

Cassandra was our wondrously level-headed heroine, who does get a bit outshined by the hero, but always likeable. A heroine from a loving family with no horrible trauma almost seems like a novelty these days. However, the angst that was replaced with loving family dynamics, a sweet father and mother paired with an overly precocious little sister, provided heartwarming nuances and emotions more modern trends have been leaving out. I would have liked more scenes with Cassandra interacting with her sister, mother, and friends, as Riley did a tremendous job showcasing the male relationships.

 

It occurred to Sebastian that, in only a handful of meetings, he had come to like Cassandra Delahaye much more than was probably wise.

 

Our hero Sebastian is one that you won't help but fall in love with. The pain and sense of loss (both brother and sense of self) when his twin brother dies is heartbreaking. The way that Riley took this instance and constructed how it affected Sebastian, his family, and therefore their relationships added immense depth, you'll feel this story. Before we are introduced to Sebastian we learn of his persona but just like Cassandra learns, the true man is much more. His character make-up was so rich, confident, and teasing but yet vulnerable and shy at times. He was no one-trick pony or cardboard cutout, if you're a hero-centric reader, you don't want to miss Sebastian and his gorgeous garnet hair.

 

This was very much a character driven story, in which there was such an ease and flow to the writing that it envelopes you into the story. There was dramatic flair added with a scorned mistress causing problems for our couple. This provided some of the drama we all secretly love in romance but did stretch out for an unneeded extra scene; it turned around to feel like the deranged villain needed serious help instead of the truth spoke a bit harshly to her, even if it also felt justified. The story tempo is more leisurely, which with the richness of characters and story I didn't mind, but there were a few times I thought it was too slow following a bit long on offshoots. I also thought the climax of the story hit around the 80% mark and created a bit of a deflated balloon ending, however, people who like extended epilogues will probably enjoy the continuation.

 

All in all, I was a big fan of this story with its rich depth in characters and world. I've been complaining lately of story structure, definitely not a probably here, it feels like this was edited with a fine tooth comb. I'll be going back and reading the rest of the books in this series, I have a strong desire to grow more acquainted with the Duke of Rockliffe after his appearances here. There was also glimpses of a secondary romance featured and with the set-up of a duke's brother and woman who feels she couldn't be good enough for him, you can bet I'll be first in line when it gets published. We read romance to get lost in another world for some time, this is one you'll not want to come back from.

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review 2017-05-13 22:35
Again, Eh
Because of Miss Bridgerton - Julia Quinn

Found the heroine hard to connect with, she was a bit oblivious/ignorant of how rude she would come off. The hero was a beta treat and their enemies-to-lovers trope I'm a sucker for but their interactions and chemistry seemed a bit off and uneven. This could have been a novella as a lot of the story dragged and felt like not much happened, very character driven but problems with unevenness I mentioned hurt it. Quinn's writing is always good so I liked it but this felt uninspired compared to her original Bridgerton series.

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