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review 2017-07-25 02:33
Quick Thoughts: The Pretender
The Pretender (Liar's Club, #1) - Celeste Bradley

The Pretender
by Celeste Bradley
Book 1 of The Liar's Club

 

 

Rule #1: Never fall in love.

She had a secret she'd do anything to hide.
Agatha Cunnington, a headstrong beauty from the country, has come to London in search of her missing brother James.  The only clue she has is a cryptic letter signed The Griffin.  Agatha decides to disguise herself as a respectable married woman so that she can go about the city unnoticed.  But for her charade to work she needs a suitable "husband," preferably someone tall, elegant, and rakish—someone like Simon Montague Raines.

He had a secret he'd do anything to hide.
Simon Montague Raines, also known as The Magician, is a member of The Liar's Club, a renegade group of rogues and thieves in the service of the Crown.  When someone begins murdering members of the undercover cabal one by one, Simon is given the mission to bring in The Griffin, one of his comrades who is suspected of betraying his brothers.  Simon goes undercover and infiltrates the home of "Mrs." Agatha Applequist who he believes is the Griffin's mistress.  Before Simon knows what's happened, he finds himself irresistibly drawn to Agatha's soft, feminine charms--and he is tempted beyond reason to break the first rule of The Liar's Club: Never fall in love.



The Pretender started off really rocky, and I'll have to admit that there were moments in the beginning that I thought I'd end up frustrated with the book.  Our couple, as is typical of most romance novels, move from initial surprise meeting to insta-lust so quickly that I sort of got whiplash.  And then the lust continued to dominate most of their interactions and conversations and thoughts for a time.

Needless to say, I was definitely feeling a bit irritated with it.

But then, I can't quite pinpoint when, the story started getting interesting when things began to balance out.  Agatha started working with Simon in a strange little spy and investigation partnership rather than just issuing him his orders.  Simon started taking Agatha's abilities a little more seriously and the two sort of, unofficially accepted their strange partnership.

It was only all the more intriguing that Simon had false impressions about Agatha, and that Agatha was working under false impressions of Simon.

And while I would have loved for this weird tango of deceit and secrets to continue, I have to admit that the reveals and the twists in the middle of the book worked out quite well.  Nothing else seemed to change between the two save for a better understanding of each others' roles.

And as I was fully invested in both character's stories by then, I didn't care to nitpick too much more about the book as a whole.  Though I must admit that there were some moments (such as Agatha's multiple attempts to seduce Simon) that actually came out more comical, even in spite of the more serious tone of her own thought processes.  In creating these scenes however, I actually came to admire some of the more inelegant behaviors and actions of our two main characters (the scene where Agatha is unceremoniously thrust out of Simon's room in the nude is quite unforgettable, as I think about her having to make a stumbling sprint back to her own bedroom to avoid awkward discovery).

On a side note, Simon's attempts at evading seduction (a la the aforementioned scene where he extricates Agatha from his immediate quarters) were commendable.  But really, with Agatha's head-strong determination, the poor guy really didn't have a chance in the world of resistance.

I think this is what sort of made the book a bit more enticing to me--not the seduction process, no.  The characters were unique and interesting in their own ways, but their actions and antics were quite entertaining to follow.  Well, okay, it was really Agatha's antics I really enjoyed the most, what with her managing to make so much headway into ferreting out secrets and investigating her brother's disappearance within days, while Simon admits that it had taken him and his men much longer to even come up with some inkling of what might have happened to James Cunnington.

Agatha was a study in contradictions, really.  She believes herself to be ordinary and not a beauty.  But during her investigations, she tactfully uses her larger than average bosom size (a not so ordinary trait) to extract information from many of the salivating lords and gentlemen she interacts with.  She's written as a character who doesn't really have a deceitful bone in her body... and yet all of her behaviors are contradictory because she begins the book as a liar who creates a fake marriage and husband as part of her investigation strategy.

And yet, she's a readily likable character.  In contrast, Simon was rather ordinary and standard for a romance novel.

Other characters in The Pretender were also wonderfully crafted as well, and I can't wait to see if any of them play a role in following books.

Meanwhile, there were a few things about this book that didn't quite work out for me, thus the rather mediocre to blah rating.  But I can't deny that I enjoyed myself enough to want to continue on with the series.

The Pretender isn't the best book in the world, and definitely didn't start off all that well.  Others who would expect a great book within the first few chapters might get impatient, but I'm quite satisfied that it felt like our author seemed to find a direction and better footing in her writing process as the book itself progressed.  Though, to be honest, I can't help but note that the book DOES seem to feel like it could have been two, or maybe even three, different anecdotes when you get to the second half, even while the ending manages to tie things together well enough.


***

Booklikes-opoly

Roll #30:  "Read a book where a main character is in STEM, or where the author's first and last name contain all of the letters in 'Tesla'."

Authors first and last name = Celeste Bradley

Page Count:  384
Cash Award:  +$6.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $227.00

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/07/quick-thoughts-pretender.html
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review 2017-06-27 22:50
Review: Little Fires Everywhere
Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng's sophomore effort, Little Fires Everywhere, is destined to be one of the hottest books in 2017. Great characters and an evenly paced plot come together in a novel that is sure to impress fans of the author and newcomers alike (maybe even Joyce Carol Oates herself). With its excellent pacing and riveting storyline, it is a quick read; with the many thought-provoking topics it addresses, it will be a leading selection for many book clubs; it's intelligent, it's commercial. Bam, and just like that, a literary star is made.

In many ways, Little Fires Everywhere has much in common with its predecessor. As with Everything I Never Told You, Ng's latest effort is a heartfelt, intelligently orchestrated story about the lack of understanding and empathy within a family. The novel is peopled with characters who are both beautiful and imperfect. And while I strongly believe that Little Fires Everywhere will be a larger success and a much better received book, I personally do not feel that it surpasses the gorgeously subtle brilliance of Everything....

Little Fires Everywhere succeeds unequivocally by most standards because of its formulaic plot. Naturally, this will also be the reason some readers feel the story to be disingenuous. Every turn of events relies on another that must be orchestrated perfectly. The results are the same again and again, a cascade of well-placed plot points that make the story one-hundred percent exciting, but also difficult to swallow. Yet this plotting is exactly what raises what would otherwise be academic reading to the ranks of a commercial success. Ng is an intelligent author with a strong grasp of language and of the craft, but she will not bore her readers. Those hoping for a more subtle telling will be disappointed by the obvious authorial manipulation, but it is this interference that frames an utterly unforgettable and engaging story where not one word is wasted.

While Everything... convinced me and moved me, Little Fires Everywhere pulled me in completely. It is a story I will not soon forget. Neither will you: I can almost guarantee you'll be hearing much about it in the coming months.

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review 2017-05-26 08:57
REVIEW BY DEBBIE - Keos (Fueled By Lust #10) by Celeste Prater
Fueled by Lust: Keos - Celeste Prater
Keos Nazario had one task: retrieve stolen technology or compromise the empire. But crashing into a luscious female when seconds away from a successful mission wasn't part of his equation. Neither was forcing her and the thieving male back to Insedivertus for an audience with the emperor. Could she ever forgive him, or would he always be the one that stole her body but lost her heart? Everly Burke had no clue that coming home early would land her in a hot mess. Instead of the craved soak in a tub, she got a trip through a surrealistic world fraught with danger and a firm understanding that life, as she knew it, was over. Throw in a personal battle with a mouthwatering alien, past demons simmering beneath the surface, and a heart unwilling to defrost...the bomb was sure to explode.

 

 

@Celeste_Prater, @debbiereadsbook, #Erotic, #Science_Fiction, #Romance, 5 out of 5 (exceptional)

 

Source: sites.google.com/site/archaeolibrarian/debbie/keosfueledbylust10bycelesteprater
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review 2017-05-23 14:01
i love these books, I really do!
Fueled by Lust: Keos - Celeste Prater
ndependent review for Archaeolibrarian, I was gifted my copy of this book. Dear Ms Prater, Could you PULEEEEZE tell me where I might find me one of these fine gentlemen?? I mean, these guys love hard, and they love fast, and they love totally. I NEEEEEEEEEEEED more of these guys in my life right now, and if I can't find a real life Insedi, then reading about them will have to do. Much love, lil ole me. Oh how I missed my Insedi boys. I read three back to back, and this one was the best of three. Keos has but one job, to keep Insedi technology from getting out into the general population on Earth. Somehow, a box got stolen, and now Keos has to tell the Emperor, and drag the thief and his sister back to Insedi. And Everly just happens to be Keos' mate. Who packs a punch for such a human female! They, all three, have to work together to get out of the game Keos puts them in for travel. I got a bit confused as to how all three of them ended up in the game, but thats a minor detail, and it didn't put me off while reading, I just let it slide. These books get hotter and sexier as they go along but you should know they are NOT stand alones. You really MUST read the other books before this one. The overall story arc continues to develop with twists and turns all over the place! I love these books, I really do. I love that some of the guys, those new to Earth speak proper and correct, with whole words and sentences, and then when they get down and dirty with their lady (or indeed, Kallon and his man) their language reverts to a puddle of goo. I said that in my review for the very first book, and it STILL makes me chuckle, ten books on!! So, all in all, a great addition to the series, and I can't see an end any time soon, especially after that ending! Cliff hanger people! This book is a bloody cliff hanger! But still... 5 full stars **same worded review will appear elsewhere**

 

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review 2017-05-19 18:48
Everything I Never Told You
Everything I Never Told you - Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You is a slow paced book that is more a character study and lesson in life than a story. The Lee family is a mixed Chinese American family set in the 1970's. The story starts with the discovery that the middle child, Lydia, has gone missing and is soon found at the bottom of the nearby lake. Lydia was the family favorite, so the book shows how the family unravels in a variety of ways.

 

There are many things I really liked about this book. It does show the power communication can have. If any of these family members would have talked to one another, it's likely none of this would have ever happened. It shows how easy it is for people to assume we know our loved ones just because they are family and we see them every day. Especially between parents and children. It's easy for parents to assume we know what our children are feeling or what they want because we were once their age. So they must be going through the same things we went through, and many times we would do anything to keep them from experiencing the same painful moments we had to go through. And sometimes we end up doing more damage as a result.

 

However, there were a few dull spots for me. For one, I didn't really feel as though I connected with any of the characters. I didn't like the parents, Marilyn and James, and of the children, Hannah was probably the only one I felt sorry for. She's the one who is essentially ignored - the 'oops' kid that no one wanted to begin with. While I felt all the characters held realistic issues, I didn't feel they were all that realistic. For example, Hannah came across as very wise for a 10-year-old. I have a 10-year-old, and I'm pretty sure she wouldn't come to the conclusion that

Jack loved Nath just because he licked the drop of water that fell from Nath's back and landed on his hand.

(spoiler show)

 

The other issues I had were along similar lines - the Lee family never talked to each other about any of their true feelings. Everything was false or left unsaid. Then, suddenly, each realizes the 'truth' of the situation (not what happened to Lydia or why, but that everything in their lives was false). It comes to them in a flash, triggered by something mundane. I can see where these instances might make them question their beliefs, but I don't see how they could suddenly be so spot on about their reality.

 

I felt another miss was that the mother never acknowledged that she made a choice in her life. She wanted to be a doctor, but fell in love and got pregnant. She could have still been a doctor but chose to pursue a family life. Granted, I know that given the setting of the story that was much more unlikely back then than it is now, so I do get that she would feel somewhat slighted. But it was still her choice to sleep with James, and apparently not use protection. The whole story we are told how much she feels she settled for what she was 'supposed' to do. Then she has an aha moment when she opens her eyes and really stops to think about the fact that her neighbor, who is a single mom, is a doctor. That's what makes her think she can still be a doctor - but what I don't get is that she leaves her family to finish her degree. Why wouldn't that moment make her realize she could still pursue the career and stay with her family, especially since she had a husband to support/help her where the other woman did not? To me she came across as a selfish one-dimensional woman who could only define happiness as anything that was the opposite of what her mother had been.

(spoiler show)
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