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review 2018-10-08 01:12
The Unholy Grail
Be Mine Tonight - Kathryn Smith

 

Just as they all knew the legend of the Holy Grail, so had they heard of the Unholy Grail.

 

Pru has cancer and is looking for any way to negate her grim diagnosis, when she starts up a friendship with Marcus, they begin in earnest a search for the Holy Grail. Our hero is a 600yr old vampire who was once a knight of King Phillips of France who was also on the search for the Holy Grail. What Chapel and his group of mercenaries found instead was the Unholy Grail.

 

"You do not frighten me."

"I think I do, but not in the way I should."

 

This started off darkly intriguing with the French band of mercenaries and grail that turned them all into vampires. I read this with the anticipation of a danger filled dark and stormy search and chase, filled with villains coming out of the woodwork. Instead this turned out to be a character driven story with a slow burning romance between Pru and Chapel; read this for the romance, not the adventure.

 

The Silver Palm. Chapel had heard of them before in whispers and old texts. They named themselves for the silver that crossed the palm of Judas Iscariot— coin imbued with the essence of Lilith, mother of all vampires. The same silver that had been melted down to make the chalice from which he and the others had drunk.

 

The first half was all about the romance while the second gave us a peek into, what I imagine is the set-up between the villains and future heroes of the series. I was vastly curious about the Silver Palm villains but they only make a very brief appearance and other than their name, not much else is learned about them.

 

The Brotherhood of Blood.

 

Even though I was a little disappointed in the balance of romance and action in this one, the set-up of Chapel's friends, The Brotherhood of the Blood, being pitted against the Silver Palms is darkly intriguing. Don't get me wrong, I thought the vast majority of the romance was done well here, Pru is a tough, daring woman willing to fight for what she wants, while Chapel was a more lost in his self-loathing for what he was, but they did have a connection that was felt. I thought the ending was needlessly dragged out angst as a sudden change of heart by Chapel gave us a quick perfect bow ending. I'm going to read the next in the series because, like I said, I'm intrigued by the set-up but I'm going to hope the continuing plot thread plays more heavily.

 

He smiled— just for her. Every woman should know the joy of having a man be joyful just for her presence.

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review 2018-09-26 18:29
The Secret Chord by Kathryn Guare
The Secret Chord: The Virtuosic Spy - Book 2 - Kathryn Guare

I was really excited to dig into this book because Book 1 was so good. This story had it’s charms as well but I did enjoy the first book more. Our hero, Conor McBride, is in dire need of some serious rest and relaxation. He goes to great pains to walk away from the espionage business that entangled him and his brother in Book 1. A fancy but quiet Vermont Bed & Breakfast needs an experienced dairy farmer and that’s right up Conor’s alley.

At the B&B, he meets Kate (the owner) and Abigail (the motherly demanding chef). Kate is a painter who’s currently suffering from artist’s block. She sits in front of her canvas day in and day out not painting because she lacks that spark. She does have a good sense of humor and can be stubborn and decisive. Sometimes I liked her and sometimes I rolled my eyes at her. She’s initially a little prickly with Conor, assuming that Conor has assumed she’s incompetent at farm work. Kate says she’s good with the tractor but we never see her doing any farm work, so I have my doubts.

Kate is directly tied to my one complaint for this book. I don’t mind a little romance with my espionage thriller, but I do mind characters being idiots and Kate was often an idiot and it usually was because of the romance. She is idiotically jealous over something Conor mumbles in his sleep. In another incident, she feels that Conor needs to ask her forgiveness and I felt she was being high handed, needy, and immature. Finally, there’s this end stage of the spy operation and Kate insists on going along with no spy training. This was such a bad idea but she bullies her way into it, endangering everyone. I really dislike it when stories use this particular ploy to make room for drama later on. So, yeah, I wanted to like Kate but I felt that she was mostly useless and at times detrimental to the other characters.

I loved that Conor played his violin for Kate. They chat about art in general and her artist’s block. Conor makes a comment along the line that Kate is making it all about herself instead of the art – and that sums up Kate perfectly. She’s not a bad person but she is self-centered.

Along this same line, I have to say that the ladies in this book are all comforters or love interests. Kate and Abigail and Yvonne (I think I have her name right) are well written but I wanted more from the women in general. It’s the modern age and lady spies have been around for hundreds if not thousands of years. It would nice to see that reflected here.

Setting that aside, it was great to have Frank Murdoch and Sedgewick back in the game. Conor thought he had been clever, had left his old life behind, but he’s also new to all this spy business. So he’s not too surprised when Murdoch reaches out and has an assignment for him. There’s some unfinished business with Vasily Draganov, the big baddie from Book 1. Conor is still mourning his brother Thomas and his mother Brigid and the loss of the family farm. I could easily see how torn Conor was – go after this man or put it all behind him and try to heal.

At the end of Book 1, I wasn’t sure how much to trust Sedgewick and Murdoch but now there is a true bond among the three men. They each go through this new crisis and come out knowing each other better. Sedgewick is still a bit paranoid and rougher around the edges and Murdoch is still all proper English (doing his best to hide his heritage).

There’s plenty of double crossing and double agents stuff going on. It’s clear by the end of Book 1 that one of the good guys was feeding intel to one of the bad guys. Now in this book, that gets dealt with and wrapped up. Also, there’s a lingering string back to Thomas and to Conor’s farm caretaker (no longer employed since he sold the place) Phillip. I was delightfully surprised with the big reveal on that and also on how it got handled.

All told, 4/5 stars. If the next book comes to audiobook land, I will give it a listen because I think Kate can grow and become useful.

The Narration: Wayne Farrell was great! He has a light Irish accent for Conor that is just perfect. He also does a good job with the female voices. I loved his voice for Sedgewick, especially when Sedgewick was being rude or was in the grip of malaria or alcohol. He also had a good kid voice for the young lad. There were no technical issues with this recording. 5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Kathryn Guare. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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review 2018-08-26 20:31
Paradise by the Dashboard Light by Kathryn R. Biel
Paradise by the Dashboard Light - Kathryn R. Biel

 

You always hurt the one's you love. Though unintentionally, Rio made some bad choices that complicated her life and ultimately broke her own heart. It took distance from the people that mattered most to help her see the error of her ways. Now older and wiser, she finds her heart in even more trouble when she reopens old wounds for the one that got away. Ian is her ideal guy, but his heart has always belonged to someone else. Can she survive the pain of losing more than her heart this time around? Biel has crafted a tale of battered hearts, bruised egos and second chances that reads like a tornado hunting for it's rainbow. Painful, insightful and unforgettable.

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review 2018-08-19 23:34
Women Heroes of World War II
Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue - Kathryn J. Atwood

I have always disliked that women are not as remembered as much as men who did the same thing as them in history. I do understand that women were not as empowered as they are today, but I also know that there had to be some awesome ladies who do awesome things. This book is abou those women during he Second World War.

 

I enjoyed reading this and sharing it my children. My son was really impressed by how amazing some of the women featured were and how important some of their accomplishes were. For my daughter this gave her a sort of I can do everything you can do, only better for a few days, secretly I like this, but it was slightly annoying for a few days. 

 

Highly recommended. Would be a great addition to any library. 

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review 2018-08-13 20:17
Feel the Heat
Feel The Heat (Rockford Fire Department Book 1) - Kathryn Shay

Francey (Francesca) is a firefighter (I know- a female firefighter!). Her grandpa, dad, and a brother are also firefighters. She and her crew get called out to a fire. She rescues Alex, who fell asleep at his desk. 
I like both both Francesca and Alex. Fran is a tomboy and is one of the guys. Alex sees her and is intrigued. It helps that she doesn't fawn all over him. They play at being friends and later have things they need to work out.
I liked the firefighting terms and learned a little. I thought it was realistic at how a busy, city fire department is, with the stress of the job, but also the stress it puts on the family. There is a strong secondary story-line here too with Fran's parents, Ben and Diana who divorced when she was 3. 
The fire that Alex is saved from; that was predictable and I had wondered, at first, if that would have been a suspense point. Hint- it's not. Anyway, I was right.
Points off for this: "But it was her eyes that snared him. They were huge, almost translucent and the oddest color, indigo fanning out to deep purple." This is NOT a paranormal! (Natural) purple eyes do not exist!

Ripped Bodice Bingo:  firefighters square!

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