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review 2019-01-21 02:58
Widdershins (Whyborne & Griffin #1)
Widdershins - Jordan L. Hawk

Reread review 1/20/19:

 

No wonder I couldn't remember some of this. I read it three and-a-half years ago! ;) Time flies.

 

Whyborne and Griffin are the best. <3 I really enjoyed revisiting them at the start of their relationship, and seeing how much they've both changed and grown in confidence and strength since this first outing. Whyborne's so used to abuse and bullying that just Griffin being nice to him is enough to endear Griffin to him. And Griffin is so used to being abandoned that Whyborne sticking by him in times of trouble is enough to make its own impression. They're exactly what the other needed. <3

 

Christine's as great as ever. I still think making Ms. Parkhurst

fall for Persephone is a retcon. She's clearly crushing on Whyborne this whole time, but suddenly she's into a squid monster. Ooookay. Sure.

(spoiler show)

I'm going to try to be more open-minded about Niles, since as of book 10 I still have reservations about him. He was somewhat less awful here than I remembered him being - though he's still plenty awful, no question.

 

Original review 6/7/15:

 

I held out on delving into this series for the longest time, because historicals, especially in M/M are almost never done to my liking. They're too contemporary, or they're costume dramas, or they've got the sickly waif, or what have you. I've really only enjoyed Tamara Allen's works because she gets into the mindset of the time and doesn't try to modernize them. Ms. Hawk doesn't quite come up to that standard, but she comes incredibly close. The characters sound like they're from the turn of the century, more or less. They don't go gaga over the dress of the times; there is no more attention paid to anyone's garb than there would be in a contemporary fiction. So I liked this book just for that right from the start.

 

Then the plot starting picking up. Historical AND paranormal? Two genres I'm usually picky about. I'm trying to get into shifters, but so far I've only read THIRDS and that fell flat. Vampires? Even if I hadn't had my fill with Anne Rice in high school and with Buffy/Angel right after that, I do believe Edward Cullen has ruined the genre for the rest of humanity and all of time. Harry Dresden works for me because it's from the POV of someone working to oppose those forces and it doesn't get overly angsty, and that's more or less what Ms. Hawk does here as well. There is some angst, thanks to that Big Misunderstanding, but I wasn't bothered by it because of the way it was resolved. The paranormal element takes front and center, and I liked seeing Whyborne struggle to understand it and resist its lure. I thought the family conflict was resolved a bit too neatly, but I'm willing to see if it's resolved for good or just put on hold due to traumatic circumstances. 

 

I really enjoyed Whyborne and Griffin. They're not as cut and dry as they appear to be. They both have past struggles to contend with and past regrets that haunt them, but they're a good match for each other. You could see Whyborne slowly growing more confident in himself as the book progressed. Griffin too gets some development, but as the story is told through Whyborne's POV, we only get to see it secondhand, but we do get to see it and experience it. Then there's Christine, who in my mind looks and acts much like Marvel's Agent Carter. She's the perfect woman and I hope she becomes a regular character and a part of their team. 

 

There were a few typos, words repeating where they should have been edited out (no, not the stutters), and a couple of other minor instances but nothing overly glaring. There was just the right amount of sex, at least for me. And while this isn't quite instalove, they do fall for each other fairly quickly if you pay attention to the timeline. Still, with the focus being primarily on the investigation, that didn't bother me all that much. I'm much more forgiving of that trope when the characters are able to get over themselves and focus on the actual plot instead of getting sidetracked constantly by feels and horniness. Not that there isn't some sidetracking, but it's not on every single page and they're able to act like mature adults.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I can see myself becoming a fan of this series if they continue to hold up to the standard set by this one. Plus, Widdershins sounds like a place that can get Hellmouthy, so I'm looking forward to what their future adventures might entail. 

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review 2019-01-01 02:26
A Christmas Carol (Audiobook)
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens,Sergio Gutierrez,T. C. Boyle,Simon Prebble

Yay! I finally finished a Dickens book! Helps that it was short and one that I'm well familiar with thanks to Mickey Mouse and Xena. :D He's still a little long-winded but being restricted by a short story certainly helped the rambling. The Disney animated classic is quite accurate adaptation, but I still like Xena's more. :D

 

What's your favorite retelling of A Christmas Carol?

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review 2018-12-27 02:58
The Mark of Zorro/The Curse of Capistrano (Zorro #1) (Audiobook)
The Mark of Zorro - Johnston McCulley,Armando Duran

The Mark of Zorro is not Antonio Banderas's Zorro. This would be Anthony Hopkins's Zorro as a young man before he settled down. But it's still Zorro, which means swashbuckling aplenty, secret identities (though you'll know Zorro's real identity if you've seen any of the movies), ridiculously well-trained horses, feisty señoritas who will settle for nothing less than ALL the romantic tropes but who can take care of herself just fine thank you very much, and corrupt governors, all set against the backdrop of 1820s California.

 

Originally titled The Curse of Capistrano and written by a man with more pseudonyms than Aragon son of Arathorn, this story is just a grand old good time. If you want deep philosophical thoughts, look elsewhere. This is a swashbuckling novel of the finest order, and everyone is just a little over the top (or a lot, ha!) and the action is pretty well-written. Some of the material is dated, but not cringingly so and I thought it held up remarkably well considering it'll be 100 years old next year.

 

The narration by Armando Duran is very well done and he's got a nice soothing voice that suits the characters well and expresses just the right amount of flavor and spice to make the story jump off the page without being too overly dramatic. It's just overly dramatic enough. ;)

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review 2018-12-15 03:23
The Suffragette Scandal (Brother's Sinister #4)
The Suffragette Scandal - Courtney Milan

Frederica "Free" Marshall has been a delight from the first moment she graced a page in this series, and here we get to see the kind of woman she's grown up to be: an investigative reporter running her own newspaper, written by women for women. She takes her fierce spirit with her like a shield as she uncovers injustices and campaigns for women's right to vote.

 

Edward Clark is a scoundrel with a past he'd sooner forget and charm oozing out the wazoo. He's determined to save a friend from the machinations of his brother and is willing to use Free to do it. Only Free doesn't cooperate, even when he mansplains the futility of her goals - and he finds out he's no match for Free. 

 

Once again, Ms Milan finds a couple of protags who are evenly balanced for each other. They're both struggling with their paths in life, but while Edward has succumbed to the dark side of the force, Free embraces the light. She pulls Edward kicking and screaming into the light with her. Of course, he is a scoundrel and isn't telling her everything. Now, all of the books in this series involve a secret of one of MCs or the other, but the truth has always been spilled before anything physical happens. That's not the case here, so that kind of dampened the intimacy here for me. The resolution was also a little too neat and quick. I still really enjoyed this though and watching Edward falling hopefully for Free despite his efforts not to was a treat.

 

There was also a small f/f subplot with Amanda, who we met in The Countess Conspiracy, and an implication of a gay relationship between a couple of minor characters in a "squint and you'll miss it" or maybe even a "YMMV" kind of way.

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review 2018-12-11 19:29
Invitation to the Dance
Invitation to the Dance - Tamara Allen

This is another great novel from Ms. Allen. She's got a special knack for capturing NYC of the late 1800s and early 1900s. In this case we've got earnest newspaper reporter Charlie Kohlbeck and a recent hire editor Will Nesmith. They start off as adversaries but become grudging allies after their boss assigns them to work together on a society piece trying to track down the elusive Lord Belcourt. Charlie's inventive work ethics gets them into a bit of subterfuge against Will's better sense, but he proves just as curious as Charlie and their truce soon grows into friendship and more.

 

There's a bit of a mystery here

though I figured it out after that encounter Charlie spied between Belcourt and Knox, and then had to wait for the majority of the book for Charlie and Will to figure it out. And so I also figured how that would benefit Charlie and Will once their ruse was out.

(spoiler show)

Rose and Archie, and Caroline and Hilda were great supporting characters and even Violet had her moments. Watching Charlie and Will becoming friends and more in Ms. Allen's typical quiet romance was a treat. They're well-suited to each other and even their bickering is endearing. I could shake my head at their less-than-honest antics, but they're both so lovable and sincere in their own ways that I couldn't bring myself to do it. :D

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