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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-03-25 00:20
Otome Mania Vol.1-2
Otome Mania!! Vol. 1 - Yurino Tsukigase
Otome Mania!! Vol. 2 - Yurino Tsukigase

This series was a cute read. I bought the volumes months ago, but I did not have to read them. So I finally found some time to read them over spring break.


The artwork and the story are not revolutionary for the shojo manga genre. The plot was predictable, and I was able to see the plot twists miles away. For example, I predicted that Tachibana used to be a voice actor before he quit from the first pages of the first volume. The artwork is pretty and is in a typical style for shojo or otome game, but it fits the story because the story is about making otome games.


The one complaint I have with this series is that the members of the Princess Limited company were severely underused. While the members of Trick Star were able to get a turn under the spotlight each chapter, only one member of Princess Limited, Akamune, was able to receive some spotlight. But unfortunately, the scenes with him make up a small part of the series. The rest of Princess Limited crew were barely there in the story. They could easily be removed without affecting the plot of the story. The reason for that flaw has to do with the fact that series only has two volumes. I wish there were one more volume in this series to give the characters some development.


That aside, the series is a sweet, cute read for the weekend or vacation.


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review 2018-03-24 18:49
The Apothecary's Garden by Julie Bozza Review
The Apothecary's Garden - Julie Bozza

Hilary Kent, a Londoner all his working life, retires to Wiltshire after an estranged cousin unexpectedly leaves him an inhabitable tower surrounded by an overgrown physic garden – and that’s when graduate student Tom Laurence suddenly erupts into his life, convincing him that together they can restore the ancient garden to its former glory. Tom’s cheerful friendship is the best thing that’s ever happened to Hilary and he’s perfectly content with that until, to his astonishment and confusion, it seems that Tom’s affection for him is beginning to grow into something more … something he feels he probably shouldn’t allow.




If you like age gaps in romance this is a doozy. There are so many little gestures to love in this quiet romance. History, the garden, the discussion of love...

The writing is lyrical and comforting. It is a mellow book despite some of the internal drama. I would have loved if this book was told from the younger hero's point of view and not just Hilary's. There are just details that are missing because of a solo point of view. 

They both are kind fine men and I am glad they found each other.


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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-03-24 18:48
A Dance In Blood Velvet by Freda Warrington (2016 Review)
A Dance In Blood Velvet - Freda Warrington

A Dance In Blood Velvet by Freda Warrington
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Black shadows appear within the Crystal Ring, bringing confusion and fear to those who inhabit it. Charlotte Neville and her lover Karl von Wultendorf find themselves, despite being separated by emotional conflict, deeply embedded in the scheme of three mysterious figures that wish to preform a questionable ceremony.

(WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers.)

The first instalment (A Taste of Blood Wine) of this darkly alluring series captured my heart, in that despite the overly dramatic tone relating to the Neville household, I found the writing itself a literary treasure; atmospherically gothic, intense and beautiful; it appealed to my utmost fondness for vampire romance. What I expected from this volume, was more of the same brilliance, yet instead of entertaining family turmoil, relationship jealously saturated every aspect of each character and unfortunately dulled my enjoyment because of such. I'm all for conflicting emotion, of mistakes being made due to overpowering feelings, yet nearly every event that transpired in this book, was more or less due to jealousy in some form - Ben and Lancelyn, Charlotte and Katerina, Karl and Violette. Perhaps I should've appreciated the fact they were realistic, and like normal people plagued by insecurities, but there's a point I began to roll my eyes at the abundance of selfish behaviour.

A happily-ever-after was not in store for Charlotte and Karl, on the contrary, in fact. They spent most of their time apart, as obstacles seemed to rise in every direction and threaten their attempt at eternal love. I didn't mind this, I actually considered it refreshing that they had to continually fight to make it work. I however believed them both mostly to blame for their unhappiness, and Charlotte became especially intolerable. From being jealous of Katerina whilst she, herself, had the audacity to lust after and stalk Violette, well, what happened to the character I actually liked and felt attached to? And when she planned to turn Violette without even asking for her permission, I was ready to throw the book across the room. The same occurred with the rest of the characters, as well; I didn't particularly feel for any of them.

This isn't to say I believed the entire book a disappointment. Some endearing elements were still present, such as the style of writing and the overall elegance of the story, but it definitely lacked some of its original charm. The plot consisted of two, seemingly separate subplots coming together, pretty much revolving around the (re)birth of Lilith. Religion was further contemplated, yet it remained a mystery if God actually existed. The exact origin of the Crystal Ring was also pondered upon yet again, raising the question of if it relates to scientific or spiritual means. I do wonder if answers will ever come to light, or if it'll remain unexplained. At least the discovery of humans accessing the Crystal Ring was revealed, and the presence of a physic human also added to the conundrum that is Warrington's world.

In conclusion: The self-centred actions of the characters brought bouts of annoyance. I'll certainly continue with this series, but I hope I enjoy further instalments more than this one.

Notable Scene:

"How can I be content to bury myself in dead mythology, after living mythology has revealed itself to me? How can I feel anything for Lamia, succubus, incubus, Lilith and her demon children or all the angels of heaven, when I have met a real being who is richer and stranger than anything on the dry page of a book?"

"Do you want to write me into a book, a thesis?"

"It's tempting, but no, no more than I'd put a bird of prey in a glass cage."

© Red Lace 2016

Wordpress ~ Goodreads ~ Twitter

Source: redlace.reviews/2018/03/24/a-dance-in-blood-velvet-by-freda-warrington-2016-review
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review 2018-03-24 10:30
Kiss of the Highlander by Karen Marie Moning
Kiss of the Highlander (Highlander, #4) - Karen Marie Moning

Gwen Cassidy, virgin extraordinaire, wants to be a virgin no more. That's why she's in Scotland on vacation—she's looking for her cherry popper. Unfortunately, she ends up on a seniors bus tour of Scotland and right when she's quit smoking.

To get away from her travel companions, she goes on a short trek in the hills above Loch Ness only to end up chasing her backpack into a ravine, and ending up in a cave, on top of a male body. A warm, hunky male body. A warm, hunky, hard male body. And he doesn't seem to mind.

Pity, the kilt-clad Highlander isn't entirely sane, trying to convince her he's from the sixteenth century and literally kidnapping her to help him get back to his home.

Unfortunately, this is the second worst book in this series for me (after Beyond the Highland Mist). It's not that it's badly written, slow of pace or that the story is weak. It's the "conflict" and its span that bothers me.
For the first hundred or so pages, she's the stubborn one, refusing to believe him, thinking he's crazy...Then she falls for him (after mere three days of acquaintance), gives him her virginity (because we have to keep the reader engaged; sex is the best way)...And for the next hundred pages or so, the roles are completely reversed, with him being stubborn, refusing to believe her and thinking her crazy, while she takes on the role of "sexual pursuer", determined to seduce him (like he did in the beginning), while he secretly lusts for her (as she did in the beginning).

It went on for too long, this back and forth, not really adding depth or "crunch" to the story. Instead of spending that (unnecessary) time by giving depth and layers to the characters, providing much needed information to the reader as to why these two were in love (personality and personality traits, character etc.), these two hundred plus pages are spent with one of the other trying to change the other's mind, while drooling over the other's body. And in the end, poof, they're just in love.
Why? Because they're just too stubborn to give up? Because they're hot enough for the other to notice? Because they're open-minded enough to accept even the least possible explanations? I don't get it, and it bothers me.

The second thing that really bothered me, was the initial "incarnation" of the heroine. At the beginning, this supposed genius, came across as an air-headed, desperate virgin with only sex on her mind. She was twenty-five, not fifty-five, yet so desperate she was willing to toss her cherry at a complete stranger just to get rid of it.
The third problem was the hero. Sure, he was chivalrous, sexy, smart, tender, etc....Every character trait a hero in a romance novel should have was there, with that added dash of blind hard-headedness toward the end, but he still somehow came across as bland. He was a template, a form filled to perfection, but that was it.

Then there were their antics in the second half of the story, where she tried to pin him down to tell him the story, and he kept eluding her, going so far as jumping out the window, until she finally managed to trap him.
These attempts might've started off as slightly humorous, but quickly turned pathetic and too desperate for comfort.

This book also had its redeeming qualities (luckily). The "magic" elements, the wonderful supporting cast (with Silvan, Nell, and, of course, Dageus, the Dark Highlander, topping the list), and the enchanting setting of Alba. And yes, those pages where all was good between Gwen and Drustan, where they were on the same wavelength, woke up the romantic in me, and I was willing to suspend my disbelief for those moments (we all need those "aww, how cute is that" moments in our lives and our fiction).

Yeah, even on this second read, I had difficulties with this book. It's a wonderful romance story in all, but it could've been so much more.

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review 2018-03-24 09:43
The Pride of the Peacock
The Pride of the Peacock - Victoria Holt

My rating is an attempt at objectivity.  Objectively speaking, this is a very well-written romantic suspense, heavy on the romance.  I believe it to be everything that was beloved of romances in the 60's and 70's.  It was very well plotted and a great deal of care was taken with both atmosphere and characterisations.


Thus ends objectivity.  I disliked this book.  It is the embodiment of everything I find tedious in romances, in spite of wanting to enjoy them.  The whole misunderstanding / lack of communication trope makes me want to set fire to the book as I'm reading it.  It would take an emotionally neglected and abused protagonist to find the romantic interest in this book romantic or heroic in the least.  He was vain, arrogant and stupid.  She was just stupid, although I give her credit for being a smart-ass.


The setting for the first half of the book was England, and the second half in an Australian opal mining town, during a time before combustion engines and electricity were a thing (no specific date is ever named in the book).  I thought at first this would be a saving grace, because I'm moderately interested in opals.  But Holt was apparently obsessed with them, and her characters were mad about them.  There was so much obsessing and evangelising about the damn opals.  Holt was too heavy handed and went too far; by the end she'd almost killed any interest I had in them at the start. 


A true connoisseur of the romance genre might enjoy this for the nostalgia if not for the good story behind it (and it is a good story).  Me, I'm going back to my wheelhouse of murder and mayhem for awhile, before getting back up on this genre-horse.


This book works for the Kill Your Darlings game card Crime Scene: Pemberley.  "Pride" being in the title of the book.

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