Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Romance-2014
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2014-12-29 22:26
#CBR6 Book 138: Glitterland by Alexis Hall
Glitterland - Alexis Hall

Ash Winters is a bipolar depressive who once wrote a very clinically acclaimed novel, but now makes a living writing mystery genre fiction, when he´s well enough to do anything at all, that is. He feels like a constant disappointment to his friends and family and cannot remember the last time he felt happy or even content. He´s dragged along to a stag party in Brighton against his better judgement and ends up going home with Darian, an Essex model with a spray tan, elaborate coif and a ridiculously flashy outfit. He wakes up with a panic attack and leaves without saying goodbye, trying his best to forget the encounter ever happened.


But Darian tracks him down at a book signing and Ash has to admit that he´s still deeply attracted to the bouncy, talkative, orange-skinned, big-haired Essex lad. Even if Darian isn´t exactly his intellectual equal in any way, he seems to make Ash forget about his anxiety and misery while they´re together. Ash can´t bring himself to tell Darian the truth about his illness. He keeps telling himself that they have nothing in common except their sizzling chemistry, so how can they possibly have a future?


Alexis Hall first came to my attention when he did a series of very entertaining romance reviews for Dear Author, one of the many romance review sites I spend far too much of my time frequenting. I began following him on Twitter and discovered he had written his own book. Then, as is so often the case, I bought the e-book and forgot all about it. When looking for light entertainment while woolly-headed and sick with a cold over Christmas, I came across the book on my e-reader and the rest is history. 


I like a lot about the book. I like that Ash has a genuine illness and that it´s quite clear that someone with a diagnosis as bipolar isn´t going to suddenly get well just because they fall in love. I like that while Darian clearly isn´t an intellectual and enjoys fashion, glamour and reality TV, he´s not actually stupid either and is a genuinely good person, whose optimism and cheerfulness is an important contrast to Ash´s gloom and fatalistic world view. I liked Ash´s literary agent, Amy, and her fiancee Max. They both seemed lovely. I liked Darian´s friends. While they are not the sort of people I would hang out with, they seemed to genuinely care for each other and support each other, which is more than I can say for all of Ash´s friends.


Which brings me to what I didn´t like. I did not like Ash´s ex-boyfriend Niall, whose passive-aggressive behaviour was clearly meant to make Ash feel guilty all the time. I didn´t feel even vaguely sorry for him, even towards the end of the book, when he breaks down and finally apologises to Ash for his controlling ways. I also, unfortunately, didn´t like Ash all that much. He´s mentally ill, yes, and unfortunately Niall´s so-called friendly advice has made him believe that he is beyond redemption or happiness, but he is far too judgemental and pretentious for much of the book and really very mean to Darian far too much of the time. I´m honestly not sure Darian should have forgiven him, considering what Ash did and how long it took him to apologise. I also feel that there should have been more grovelling.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/cbr6-book-138-glitterland-by-alexis-hall.html
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2014-12-27 17:28
#CBR6 Book 136: Zoya by Danielle Steel
Zoya - Danielle Steel

Zoya Ossupov, a young noblewoman, second cousin to the Tsar himself, lives a sheltered life of luxury in St. Petersburg. When the revolution breaks out, Zoya´s grandmother, who has seen which way the wind was blowing, bundles up the many garments they´ve sown jewellery into and Zoya and they flee the country through Finland. Having lost her father, mother and elder brother in only a few days and worrying about the safety of her cousins the Romanovs, who were placed in house arrest by the revolutionaries, Zoya has to make a new life for herself in Paris with her grandmother and the one loyal servant who came with them.


Going against the express wishes of her stately grandmother, Zoya auditions with the Ballet Russe and starts supporting their little family as a ballet dancer. The only other money they have is the pittance they can get from selling their family heirlooms, in a market already flooded with Russian treasures. Zoya rejects the elderly Russian prince and the young lodger that her grandmother tries to match her with. Her grandmother wants her to be safe, Zoya wants to marry for love. She falls for an American officer, but he´s old enough to be her father and believes she would be better off without him. Only towards the end of the first World War he realises that they cannot fight their attraction, and Zoya becomes a society darling in New York.


She´s blissfully happy until the Wall Street crash, suddenly widowed with two small children to support. Once again, Zoya´s willingness to work hard sees her safe and comfortable within a few years, and eventually she even finds love again. Then the second World War arrives, and both Zoya´s new husband and son are determined to fight for their country. Will another conflict cost her more of the people she loves?


I´m pretty sure that this is the first novel I´ve ever read by Danielle Steel, and having read it, I can see both why her books are incredibly popular among some readers, and completely panned by others. I´m not going to pretend that I thought this was great literature, some of the descriptions and info dumping was a bit heavy handed and the plot was possibly a bit too packed, but it was an entertaining book and it reminded me that I´ve always found the Romanov family and their fate fascinating (even before I watched Anastasia. So it´s spurred me to add two non-fiction books about them to my TBR list and they will be part of my reading list for CBR7. 

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/cbr6-book-136-zoya-by-danielle-steel.html
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2014-12-15 00:21
#CBR6 Book 135: The Promise in a Kiss by Stephanie Laurens
The Promise in a Kiss with Bonus Material (Promo e-Books) - Stephanie Laurens

Sixteen year old Helena de Stansion, Comtesse D'Lisle, is spending Christmas Eve wandering around the gardens of the convent where her sister is recuperating from illness when a man suddenly drops down into the convent garden pretty much on top of her. Assuming the man is fleeing from something clandestine, she lies to the nuns and the guards when the approach her to ask if she's seen someone on the grounds. As a thank you for protecting him, the handsome stranger gives her a kiss.

Seven years later, while in England trying to find a suitable husband, Helena discovers that the man who kissed her is none other than Sebastian Cynster, the Duke of St. Ives. Helena's autocratic guardian has signed a document giving her permission to choose her own husband, should his title, wealth and landholdings be equal to or surpassing her own. Helena is determined to get away from the demands of her guardian and want someone as different from him as possible as her husband. A nice, kind man who won't try to control her. One short meeting with St. Ives, and it's obvious that he is just as controlling and arrogant as her guardian, if not more so. He has also sworn not to marry, but delighted to see her again, offers to help her find a suitable match. Helena is convinced that he has designs to be her lover, and if he aids her in finding a biddable husband, she will be more easily seduced.

St. Cyr hasn't really forgotten Helena either, and while he is not announcing his intentions to find a wife publicly, the machinations of his tiresome sister-in-law has made him reconsider his vow never to marry. When he discovers that the lovely girl he met seven years ago is now a beautiful and spirited young woman, with a temper and an iron will to match his own, he's pretty sure he's found the woman he wants to share his future with. He pretends he wants to help her find a match so he can spend more time with her and get to know her better. He finally manages to convince her that he wants her as a wife, not just as a mistress, when further complications occur.

It turns out that Helena's guardian and St. Cyr have a history, and that St. Cyr once won a valuable dagger in a wager. Now Helena's guardian wants it back, and he intends for Helena to steal it, or her sister will be in terrible danger. Helena has to decide whether she will betray the man she is growing to love or the sister she adores.

I've never read any Stephanie Laurens, but a quick Wikipedia search shows me that she has written a truly staggering amount of romances, mostly focusing on the romantic exploits of various Cynster family members. This book is chronologically the first in the series and as such set in Georgian times, rather than the Regency. Sebastian and Helena are a fun couple and in some of their interactions, they reminded me of Falconbridge and Genevieve in Julie Anne Long's What I Did for a Duke. I suspect older, worldly, archly sarcastic nobleman and younger spirited woman will always bring that to mind now.

I bought the book in an Amazon sale more than a year ago, probably on the recommendation of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (I buy a lot of romance that way) and promptly forgot about it until this month's Monthly Key Word Challenge, where it qualifies twice (promise and kiss). It's also set around Christmas, which made it impossible to pass up. It's a fun read, even though the main complication in the lovers' way involves a misunderstanding that could have been much more easily solved through simple conversation and honesty. Still, when the truth is out and all the cards are on the table, I will give Laurens thanks, because St. Cyr reacts in a very logical way to Helena's secrets and the resolution is both action packed and exciting. Possibly a bit silly and melodramatic, but I enjoyed it a lot. I'm not sure I'm going to be actively seeking out more of Laurens' books, but if they show up in another e-book sale, I'm not ruling out buying more.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.com/2014/12/cbr6-book-135-promise-in-kiss-by.html
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2014-12-14 20:19
#CBR6 Book 134: An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
An Echo in the Bone - Diana Gabaldon

Disclaimer! If you haven't read the previous six books in the series, there will be minor spoiler in this review. Proceed at your own risk. 

Having finally completed my epic re-read of the previous books in the series at a page count total that is frankly obscene, I finally got to read a new to me Diana Gabaldon. When this book first came out in 2009, I just didn't have the energy to expend on re-reading the whole series to catch up and I decided to just put it off. With book eight in the series being published earlier this year, the very entertaining TV series making me remember what I love so much about Gabaldon's writing and the excellent online company/support group I am part of over on Facebook to discuss the books with, I was a lot more motivated to get through the series now. Yet it still took me more than a month to get through this. 

There is so much I love about Gabaldon's writing. Jamie and Claire have been part of my life for a very long time, and I generally find most of the stuff involving them very interesting. But since pretty much book 3, these books aren't really just the continuing adventures of Jamie and Claire Fraser in the 18th Century. There's Brianna and Roger and their kids, now back in Scotland in the early 1980s (which I'm freaking out about a bit, because that's within MY lifetime). There is Jamie's best friend, Lord John Grey, who, when he's not trying to figure out why his niece is pretending to be madly in love with his stepson and hell bent on going to America to be reunited with him, goes about doing not much of anything obviously important or interesting for two thirds of this book. There's said stepson, Jamie's illegitimate offspring, William, the Eight Earl of Ellesmere, who is now a soldier in the British Army. He gets recruited for spy missions, but doesn't seem very good at it. He travels to Canada and back. There are letters between him and his stepfather which may be super interesting for people who are a lot more into the American War of Independence than I am, but to me, it was the literary equivalent of watching paint dry. So much boring.

Jamie and Claire have decided to go to Scotland to fetch Jamie's printing press. Jamie absolutely does not want to get involved in the war, because doing so might mean that he will face his son on the battlefield. The Frasers bring along their nephew, young Ian MacKenzie, because Jamie swore to his sister that he would bring the lad home, and while it's taken quite a long time, and Ian has both been adopted by a Native American tribe, married, divorced and experienced the loss of a child in that time, it would still be good for him to be reunited with his parents. Many many complications arise on their way. It again takes them the best end of the book to actually arrive in Scotland, but because much of their story was action packed and dramatic, I have no real complaint about their sections.

In the future, Roger and Bree have bought Lallybroch and are trying to make a home there. Bree gets a job working for the Scottish hydro-electric board, and Roger debates whether he wants to become a minister after all. They have a stash of letters written to them by Bree's parents, so they can follow along in the continuing adventures of Jamie and Claire, while worrying because they keep ending up in historically significant places and close to or in the midst of important events. Roger is trying to put down everything they know about time travel in writing and their family are settling in nicely when they have a very unexpected visitor about the same time as it is obvious that someone in the village not only knows about the gold Jamie and Claire hid way back in the 18th Century, but are willing to go to rather extreme steps to get to it.

As I said, far more of the book than I cared about is devoted to young William Ransom and Lord John Grey. I love Lord John, he's a great supporting character. I laugh every time I think about how Bree tried to coerce him into marriage. Reading about him in London, talking to his brother about irrelevant family matters, or travelling to France to speak to uninteresting individuals or generally just worrying about the safety of his immediate or extended family was super dull. Reading about William was even more boring, and as this was the first time I read the book, I had no idea which bits I could skim or even skip (now I know). There are seriously multiple chapters devoted to William lost in a swamp, deliriously wandering. Not cool, Diana Gabaldon, not cool. He does eventually have his life saved by young Ian in said swamp, but really, there are better ways those two characters could cross paths.

Not content with a supporting character gallery into double figures already, Gabaldon also introduces some new individuals in this book. William's cousin Dottie seems pretty spunky, for all that she's the sheltered daughter of a Duke. It's very obvious to the reader early on that her and William's story about being madly in love is a clever fiction, but it takes much of the book for the reader to discover why Dottie would go to such lengths to get herself to America. Young Ian, who loved and lost his Native American wife, falls in love again with a Quaker, Rachel Hunter. She and her brother Denzell, who is a doctor, join the Continental army as healers and I very much enjoyed everything with them.

I would have rated this book 3 stars based on the first two thirds, but then things really start coming together and becoming super exciting in the last third. It's quite telling that it took me more than a month to read the first two thirds, and about two days to get through the last third. Jamie and Claire finally make it to Scotland. We get to see Jenny and Ian again, and young Ian is reunited with his family. William and young Ian are both clearly a bit in love with Rachel Hunter. There is quite a lot of interaction between William, Ian, Claire and even Jamie. The bits having to do with the Battle of Saratoga were actually quite exciting. While they're in Scotland, Claire discovers that one of Fergus and Marsali's children desperatey needs surgery, so she returns alone to America. There are heart-breaking confirmed deaths, dramatic presumed deaths, dangerous surgeries being performed successfully, lovers reunited, terrible vengeance nearly wreaked, surprise time travellers from the past, abductions, marriages of convenience, long kept family secrets revealed - so much awesome and drama in only a few hundred pages. Why did I have to spend so much time reading about William in a swamp, Diana, when you are capable of such great things? Why not edit your books more!?!

With so many characters and storylines, Gabaldon also gets to have multiple cliffhangers towards the end of her book, making me really very excited for book 8. I'm now glad that I waited as long as I did to catch up, because (once I am done reading the books I need to complete my various reading challenges) I can go straight into Written in My Own Heart's Blood, which has been rated very highly by those Cannonballers who have already read it, and also appears to be only about 850 pages long, so the shortest book in the series for ages. Due to the excellent ending of this book, I'm now all anticipation.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.com/2014/12/cbr6-book-134-echo-in-bone-by-diana.html
Like Reblog Comment
review 2014-12-14 20:16
#CBR6 Book 133: The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
The Blue Sword - Robin McKinley

Having finally read The Hero and the Crown, it felt like it was time for a re-read of the Damar book I had actually read. The Blue Sword is set many centuries after Aerin the Dragon Slayer saved her kingdom from magical threat. Damarians now seem to be chiefly desert dwelling nomads and expert horsemen. They are now threatened both by magic wielding enemies to the north and ignorant colonists from the Homeland (read: Imperialist Britain). Corlath, the Damarian king tries to propose an alliance with the foreigners, but is ignored. He is surprised when his kelar, the magical gift (a bit like clairvoyance, but can also manifest itself in healing powers or destructive ability) all Damarian royals possess tells him that he needs to bring one of the Homeland females with him back to his people.

Burdened with the cumbersome name of Angharad Crewe, it's no surprise our heroine would rather go by Harry. Having come out to join her brother, a soldier stationed near the Damarian border after their father dies, Harry is not much like other the young ladies of gentle birth. She's tall and striking, rather impatient and more interested in riding and adventure than needlepoint and dancing. She finds the wild landscape of the desert beautiful and is just beginning to settle when she wakes up, discovering that desert warriors have abducted her and apparently intend to keep her as some sort of highly honoured hostage. Corlath treats her with every courtesy, she sleeps in his tent, eats her meals seated at his left hand and is allowed to take part in his counsels (not that she understands all that much of the foreign language in the beginning). When she drinks from the Damarians' special water, it starts to become clear why Corlath was compelled by his magic to take her from her own people - despite being a foreigner, she too has kelar and powerful enough that she can make others share in her visions of the future.

In one of her first visions, the legendary Lady Aerin appears to Harry and with threats looming at every turn, Corlath decides that a damalur-sol, a Lady Hero might be exactly what his people need to give them hope and aid them in their coming war. Harry learns to ride like the Damarians, controlling a spirited horse without bridle or stirrups. She becomes proficient with a sword and learns to speak the language. She befriends one of the big desert cats and gets to take part in the trials to find new King's Riders. During her stay with the Damarians, Harry becomes well liked and everyone seems impressed and genuinely pleased when she emerges the victor of the Rider trials (only unable to defeat a disguised Corlath himself). The longer she spends time with Corlath and his nomads, the more comfortable she becomes there. As attack is imminent, it becomes obvious to Harry that Corlath is ignoring a serious security breach and she may have to risk everything she's achieved and defy his will to ensure the safety of all the people she's grown to love.

If Aerin was a bit of an odd duck and outsider among her own people, Harry is much more so. Being quite the independent tomboy, she doesn't really fit in with her own peers and when she is abducted by Corlath, she is a literal Outlander, a stranger in a strange land. Unlike many of her fellow Homelanders, Harry is curious and open minded and with the exception of being magically drugged and spirited away from her bed in the middle of the night, she is extremely well treated by her abductor. Corlath only knows that he has to follow the calling of his kelar and when he discovers that Harry too is magically gifted, and rather strongly so as well, it becomes more clear to him why he was compelled to kidnap her. His country and people need her and being a clever leader and a good reader of people, he uses the opportunity Harry's visions of Aerin presents and has her groomed into a heroine and powerful symbol. Giving her Lady Aerin's legendary sword and making sure she is trained by the best, he helps to turn Harry into a motivating figure for his people.

Corlath might have been a dislikable character for kidnapping Harry, but it's clear that he has little choice in the matter when his hereditary magic takes control. The kelar that the leaders of Damar (as well as some of its other citizens) is gifted with can be as much a crippling curse as a gift. It's clear that ruling a dwindling kingdom threatened by foreign colonials and magically powerful enemies intent on conquest is no easy task, yet Corlath is beloved and respected, not just by his loyal Riders, but all his subjects. He never treats Harry with anything but the utmost respect and with the passage of time, they grow gradually closer.

Harry is thrown into a situation that might have made anyone freak out, but deals remarkably with it. Clearly an adventurous spirit, as soon as it's clear that she's in no danger with Corlath and his people, she tries to learn as much as possible about her new surroundings and the new culture she's become thrust into. She's polite, kind and works diligently to learn her new skills. When she arrives in the desert, she cannot mount a horse without aid, and some months later, she's good enough that she bests all the challengers and wins one of the coveted spots as King's Rider. She tries her best to fit in, but cannot ignore the lessons she's learned as the sister of a military man. Seeing that Corlath's enemies might gain a serious advantage if a strategic mountain pass goes undefended, she risks everything by going off alone to seek aid from the Homeland soldiers to secure the pass.

As well as being a wonderful adventure novel, there is also a subtle and slow-burning romance in the book which completely knocked my socks off the first time I read the book. For all that it's not really openly acknowledged by Corlath or Harry for much of the book, it's quite obvious that they are perfect for each other and it takes an excruciatingly long time before they admit their feelings to themselves or the other. I loved the book the first time I read it, and having now read the prequel, which gives this book even more depth, I am gratified that I enjoyed it just as much now as when I first discovered it. Such a lovely little book.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.com/2014/12/cbr6-book-133-blue-sword-by-robin.html
More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?