Friday, November 17, 2017

HAVENCROSS by Julie Daines

When a shocking scandal involving her father spreads through London society, Elaine Cardinham and her parents are forced to retreat to their country home in Cornwall for refuge. But Havencross is no sanctuary for Elaine. She is haunted by the mysterious disappearance of her brother—and the heartbreak she left in her wake all those years ago. It has been five long years since Gareth Kemp last saw Elaine—when she rejected his marriage proposal. Her reappearance convinces him of one thing: he has never stopped loving her. To put his feelings for her aside, he focuses his attention on the dangerous smuggling plaguing the Cornish coast. As Elaine attempts to run from her past, she ventures ever closer to a dangerous truth—and Gareth may be the only one who can save her from a deadly finish.

 Opening line:

"Two hundred fifty miles into this journey and not a word spoken."

Deception, lies, romance, unrequited love and smugglers all roll along in Ms. Daines newest, delightful book.

Elaine's family is still reeling from the death of her brother and now from the scandal of something her father did. They move from London, and the wagging tongues of gossips, back to Havencross, their little country home. Elaine has no hope of marriage prospects now. How she wishes she would have accepted the marriage proposal of Gareth now.
Gareth's family is always reeling from a death. His father was killed by smugglers and he wants them brought to justice. But the local authorities don't seem to make any progress on finding the killers. When he sees Elaine again, he tries to stay away from her; she did break his heart, after all.

This story is set in Cornwall, England, in the era when there were smugglers. The story is woven masterfully to include tension, romance and suspense. There were tender moments between different characters. I really enjoyed the interchange between Elaine and her Aunt Rose and creating your own Camelot.

If you like regency romance, a well-written story and characters you can love, this book is for you! 


Friday, November 10, 2017

ROYAL BASTARDS by Andrew Shvarts

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey...

 Opening line:
"Princess Lyriana came to Castle Waverly two months after I turned sixteen."

I have to admit the title threw me off when I first got the book. But as I read I totally understood the title. The story is full of adventure, tension and a plot to stop a war.
Tilla is the main character, or bastard. Placed to the side so her father king can produce legitimate heirs, she longs for his approval and love. She's never invited to go places with him or sit at his elbow at dinners. She's relegated to the 'bastard' table in the back, far away from others. Her best friend is her half brother, another bastard, Jax. Miles is from a royal house but is also a bastard BUT his mom said she would make him legit soon. He hopes to marry Tilla. One fateful evening, two more bastards join the table: Zell, a son from a warrior clan, and Lyriana, a visiting princess who rules over all the lands. She's not so much a bastard, but we learn through the story that being a bastard isn't always from a illegitimate marriage.
These five are thrown together in a mission of survival after they witness a horrific murder. Their faces are plastered throughout the land so they are on their own to get to the country of Lyriana's cousin who she vows will protect them. The tension is taut, thanks to all who are hunting them down to kill them, including Zell's crazy brother.
There is magic and romance and great characters. They all grew as their quest moved along. The bad guys are real, the twists are surprising but then again, not, and the fights are great. Their is a bit of a love triangle, some generic tropes but there is also funny dialogue, world building and character growth.
There is a scene with talking about their "conquests," a make-out scene that turned into something more (while not graphic still...) and plenty of swearing.

I look forward to reading the next book!

Thanks to netgalley for the early read.

Friday, November 3, 2017

AN OCEAN AWAY by Heather B. Moore

Gina Graydon knows the last thing she’ll attract on her holiday in France is an eligible bachelor. Tall, outspoken, and with a weakness for laughing at the wrong moment, not to mention being much too occupied with reading gothic romances, Gina decides she’d rather live in her fictional world. Besides, the only man who pays attention to her at the resort hotel happens to be her father’s worst enemy. And that is far from romantic. Reading in a secluded garden, and dreaming about the perfect kiss, all keep Gina much too busy to consider Mr. Edmund Donaldson any sort of hero.

AN OCEAN AWAY was originally published in the Timeless Romance Anthology: European Collection, and it's a companion novella to the USA Today bestselling romance HEART OF THE OCEAN.

 Opening line:
"Gina Graydon tucked a deliciously romantic gothic novel under her arm and stepped onto the hotel balcony of her second-floor room."

Gina is fun and spunky and adventurous. And the swoon-y Edmund was delicious. Because this was a quick read, their romance blossomed quickly which I don't always think is a bad thing. Especially when the reader gets to the kissing soon. :)

Another great story from the amazing Heather B. Moore!

There is kissing and hugging and blushing in the story.

Friday, October 27, 2017

THICK AS THIEVES by Megan Whalen Turner

Deep within the palace of the Mede emperor, in an alcove off the main room of his master’s apartments,. Kamet minds his master’s business and his own. Carefully keeping the accounts, and his own counsel, Kamet has accumulated a few possessions, a little money stored in the household’s cashbox, and a significant amount of personal power. As a slave, his fate is tied to his master’s. If Nahuseresh’s fortunes improve, so will Kamet’s, and Nahuseresh has been working diligently to promote his fortunes since the debacle in Attolia.

A soldier in the shadows offers escape, but Kamet won’t sacrifice his ambition for a meager and unreliable freedom; not until a whispered warning of poison and murder destroys all of his carefully laid plans. When Kamet flees for his life, he leaves behind everything—his past, his identity, his meticulously crafted defenses—and finds himself woefully unprepared for the journey that lies ahead.

Pursued across rivers, wastelands, salt plains, snowcapped mountains, and storm-tossed seas, Kamet is dead set on regaining control of his future and protecting himself at any cost. Friendships—new and long-forgotten—beckon, lethal enemies circle, secrets accumulate, and the fragile hopes of the little kingdoms of Attolia, Eddis, and Sounis hang in the balance.

  Opening line:
"It was midday and the passageway quiet and cool."

I LOVE the Queen's Thief series (most the King of Attolia) and I looked forward to holding this book baby in my wee hands and take my time reading it. When it came in the mail, I settled myself on my comfy-reading couch near a sunny window and began. I didn't get far, maybe 2 chapters before I had to set the book down do adulting things like fix dinner for my hungry family (seriously! Couldn't they just pour some cereal and milk?)(JK)
But I didn't make it back to the book and it languished on the side table, calling out to me, wanting me to caress its pages again. For some reason, I was able to resist it's siren call. Probably because I didn't care about Kamet or the Attolian who "steals" him. I ended up buying the audio book so I could listen to it while I did house and yard work and it only took a few hours to finish.
I did enjoy the story and the characters. BUT the biggest disappointment for me was so little of the king and queen of Attolia. So little! And then the author threw in something that made me think they wouldn't make it into the next books, how many that will be. AND I thought this book wrapped up the series. NOT.
I probably will read more only because I LOVE this series.

4 1/2 STARS

Friday, October 20, 2017


Ever since Emma read Pride and Prejudice, she's been in love with Mr. Darcy and has regarded Jane Austen as the expert on all things romantic. So naturally when Emma falls for Blake Hampton and he invites her home to meet his parents, she is positive an engagement is in her future. After all, Blake is a single man in possession of a good fortune, and thus must be in want of a wife.

But when it turns out that what Blake actually wants is more of a hook-up than a honeymoon, Emma is hurt, betrayed, and furious. She throws herself deeper into her work as CMO of Kinetics, the fastest growing gym franchise in the nation. She loves her work, and she's good at it, which is why she bristles when her boss brings in a consultant to help her spearhead the new facilities on the East Coast. Her frustration turns to shock when that consultant turns out to be Blake's younger brother, Lucas.

Emma is determined not to fall for Lucas, but as she gets to know him, she realizes that Lucas is nothing like his brother. He is kind and attentive and spends his time and money caring for the less fortunate.

What she can't understand is why Lucas continues to try to push her back into Blake's arms when he so clearly has fallen as hard for her as she has fallen for him. It isn't until Lucas reveals to Emma that he was adopted into the Hampton family that she begins to understand his loyalty to Blake as well as his devotion to the child April-she is Lucas's biological niece.

Emma opens up to Lucas about the feelings of abandonment she has harbored ever since she was a child and her mother left the family. As she helps Lucas deal with his past demons, she is able to exorcise some of her own.

Realizing that her love life is as complicated as anything Jane Austen could have dreamed up, Emma must find a way to let Blake know that it's time for him to let her go and to let Lucas know it's time for him to love her back.

 Opening line:
"Jane Austen is a horrific liar."

That is a great opening line. And for Emma Pierce, the sum of her romantic relationship.
Emma is a Marketing guru in a successful health club company. Her boyfriend is hot and rich. Her BFF is supportive and funny. Emma's got a great life! Until she breaks up with said boyfriend because he was having dinner with another girl. Not wanting to hear his excuses, she stomps off only to be approached by the younger brother, Lucas.
They rest, as someone likes to say, is history. Lucas is hired as a temporary consultant to Emma's company and they are thrown together as partners. Of course, this leads to thoughts and ideas and both fighting the attraction because Emma is his older brother's girlfriend and Emma because she's on the rebound. But they push each other away more because they both feel inadequate with all the baggage they emotionally carry.
The Emma comes through her tough times is beautiful and she learns to trust and let someone close to her. It's a fun, romantic story with ups and downs and a bit of kissing.
This is a great read for anyone wanting a good, clean romance!

Thanks to netgalley for the early read!


PS I LOVE the cover!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

THE FIRE QUEEN by Emily R. King

In the second book in The Hundredth Queen Series, Emily R. King once again follows a young warrior queen’s rise to meet her destiny in a richly imagined world of sorcery and forbidden powers.

Though the tyrant rajah she was forced to marry is dead, Kalinda’s troubles are far from over. A warlord has invaded the imperial city, and now she’s in exile. But she isn’t alone. Kalinda has the allegiance of Captain Deven Naik, her guard and beloved, imprisoned for treason and stripped of command. With the empire at war, their best hope is to find Prince Ashwin, the rajah’s son, who has promised Deven’s freedom on one condition: that Kalinda will fight and defeat three formidable opponents.

But as Kalinda’s tournament strengths are once again challenged, so too is her relationship with Deven. While Deven fears her powers, Ashwin reveres them—as well as the courageous woman who wields them. Kalinda comes to regard Ashwin as the only man who can repair a warring world and finds herself torn between her allegiance to Deven and a newly found respect for the young prince.

With both the responsibility to protect her people and the fate of those she loves weighing heavily upon her, Kalinda is forced again to compete. She must test the limits of her fire powers and her hard-won wisdom. But will that be enough to unite the empire without sacrificing all she holds dear?

 Opening line:
"Death has a stench, and it is not decaying flesh but the bitter scent of smoke clawing into my pores."

I enjoyed this book just as much as the first one! I was enthralled from the beginning and had a hard time putting the book down (I'm two hours behind in my chores!!).
Kalinda is the same brave woman we watched grow in book 1 but now she feels guilt for making bargains to save her empire and those bargains didn't quite work out.
Deven is still the devoted guard who wants to help and protect everyone.
The two are separated and a new "man" comes on the scene: Prince Ashwin. He is instantly enamored with Kali. Unfortunately for him, he looks just like his daddy who Kali killed: Turek.
There are also new friends added, who I really like, and new relationships. There was tons of palace intrigue that I thought Kali could dismiss because of who she was and how strong she is but that didn't happen. There are reasons...
I was so annoyed and frustrated with certain characters that I didn't mind when they were no longer part of the story. :)
Kali has a decision to make: be set free or defend her people. It's a big decision with lives and love in the balance.
Emily King does a great job developing characters and worlds and pulling readers in from the beginning (and the readers don't get the floors mopped because they. can't. stop. reading!).
I WILL read the third book! I can't wait to see what happens next!

Violence: fighting, whipping, death
Sex: kissing
Language: none

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Killing Curse by H.B. Moore

Omar Zagouri should have known that the hunt for an ordinary art thief in London would end up being far from ordinary. Abducted and carted across several countries until he’s locked up in the middle of Jordan’s desert, Omar becomes the target of an underground crime organization that dates back to the Crusaders era. As Omar works to uncover the deadly secrets that connect centuries of deceit, he finds himself trying to prevent an honor killing from turning into another tragedy, while exposing the ancient crime organization for generations of lethal corruption.

More Omar Zagouri Thrillers:
Finding Sheba
Lost King
Slave Queen
First Heist (novella)
Beneath (short story)


Opening line:

"Taheer Sayid picked up his cell phone and selected his most trustworthy contact."

HB Moore kills it again! Another great addition to this series! I love how there are two stories in each book: one set in the present and one in the past; and they both have awesome romances!