Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Two novellas

Terrell Hubbard, decorated Marine sergeant, proudly serves as Beta wolf to his True Alpha and Dominant. During a mission, he meets Staff Sergeant Kai Thayer, Pack Leader of the Camp Fallujah sippe. Terrell is thrown completely off balance by the strength of their mutual attraction and the intensity of their passion. His entire world felt perfect though, each time they came together to mark and claim one another.
In the chaos of a surprise attack Kai shows poor judgement, driving a wedge between Terrell and him, and landing Kai on the True Alpha's bad side. Terrell is torn between his ferocious loyalty to his True Alpha, and his new but powerful feelings for Kai. In the battle's aftermath, Terrell and Kai are drawn together in passion, hoping it's not the final chance to mark their claims.

What could a humble peasant offer a lofty, but dour, crown prince?
Many years ago, in a kingdom far away, there lived a young prince. This prince was very handsome,

and everybody in the kingdom loved him. His father, the king, doted on the young man, and did everything he could to make the boy happy. His mother, the queen, adored her prince, and devised new and special gifts for him every day. The subjects of the kingdom brought offerings to the prince, and served at his pleasure, without a single complaint. The prince, being a good man, responded in kind and treated everybody fairly and with respect. But, much to his father’s confusion and his mother’s disappointment, there was one thing the prince never did...
He never smiled.
Finally, unable to tolerate his son’s dour expression any longer, the king sent out a decree. He dispatched messengers to every corner of his country, and runners to all the neighboring kingdoms. The first person to make his hard-faced child smile would earn the right to marry him.
Unfortunately for the king, things did not go as planned...

Comment: These two short stories were some of the most recent reads I've had. I'm going to give the same grading to both, different reasons, but in the end it's the same.
Short stories are great ways to move series along or to just write about specific things or themes without much (boring) development but often, the concept is much better than the execution...

Heart of a Warrior is a novella in the Tameness of the Wolf series by author Kendall Mckenna. the author has gone through some issues because of a broken leg and some of her deadlines have not been met. This was supposed to be a full length story, which many readers were waiting for but now the novella is finally out. I'm very glad for that but I didn't realize it would be a novella. I can understand the problems but I thought it would be the book. Will there be a book, I wonder. Anyway, this was a good enough story, the usual trademark we expect from the author, it was great to see the characters again but I feel too much time was spent with the main couple's sexuality and nor developing the plot, which felt rushed and underdeveloped. I only hope a full length story is too come! 
Grade: 5/10

The prince Who Never Smiled is a story by Pepper Espinoza that has been in the pile for a long time. It's an interesting twist on a fairytale and it was interesting to read, it's a very quick read. The idea that there's only one special person that can change someone's else is quite interesting and the author did it well enough but I think because this is a short story, the emphasis isn't always on the right themes. It was great to see all things happening but then nothing can really be developed and it feels like all things were rushed. I liked how we got to know the main characters well, despite all this, but the writing isn't always engaging.
The cover isn't very appealing either...
Grade: 5/10

Monday, August 22, 2016

Amy Harmon - The Bird and the Sword

"Swallow, daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heaven or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, daughter. Stay alive."
The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would sell his soul and lose his son to the sky.
My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.
But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?

Comment: This is the second book I read by author Amy Harmon. Although this one wasn't as wonderful for me, I still think it was good. This is the author's first attempt at fantasy and, in my opinion, she managed to do a good work.

This is the story of Lark, a young woman with a Gift, the power to Tell and make things happen. However, this power - and others - isn't well seeing by most people and the king actually persecutes and kills those who are Gifted. Her mother has sacrificed herself for Lark and told her to never reveal her Power. Because of this, Lark has become a mute.
Years after that, Lark is kidnapped by King Tiras, the son of the previous king who killed Lark's mother. King Tiras needs Lark's father help to battle against the Volgar, beasts who fly and kill humans. While living in Tiras' castle, Lark not only gets to learn to write and read, something never allowed to her, but she also starts to develop feelings for Tiras and his kingdom. But Lark has the Power to Tell and what would happen if others found she is different?

This is the August book for the book club I belong to. It was an interesting pick and because I liked the first book I've read by the author, I thought this would be a great book by her talent alone. I'm very glad it was a great story.

This is a great new world created by Amy Harmon, a fantasy type of world, with a medieval feel but where people can be divided into humans and Gifted. These last ones are special, are descendants from four type of beings that, with time, have become the enemy because people always fear what and who is different. A long time ago, there were Tellers, people who could speak and make things happen, Changers, people who could turn into any animal, Healers, people who could heal and Spinners, people who could spin things into other forms or materials.
Because of this, humans with no powers are now afraid of what Gifted can do and accused them of all the problems that exist. We know this is a matter of fear and generalization, but even those who are Gifted feel the fear and the unfairness of everything.

I liked this story a lot, Lark is obviously a Teller but she's mute and can't speak anymore. This doesn't stop her from trying and from wishing she could help others. Her personality is very sweet and quiet, I liked how she turned out to be a strong person but yes, there are many moments where she acts insecure on her abilities and in who she is but I get her and I think I'd act like her if I were in such a situation. It was great to see her find happiness, though.

The plot is not very complicated, King Tiras is ill and needs to secure his kingdom but with time he and Lark fall in love and learn to trust one another and that was the best, how little moments gained strength between them. I still think this could have been done better, because despite being emotional, it wasn't as heartfelt as it could, at least I felt almost a restraint from the author to increase the emotional levels. I suppose that wasn't a bad decision, because her work is usually very heavy emotionally...

Something I also would improve would be the relationship with one o two secondary characters, they could have been developed more. There are some surprises closer to the end in this aspect and that was unexpected but overall, it could have been worked out better.
The way things end, in terms of plot, were quite good and not too tragic, which would have clashed against the tone of the story. All in all, this was a great story, balanced but not perfect.
The romance was truly the best part. It was more subtle than exciting yes, but sweet. And the pace served the story well. The secrets to uncover were well mixed into everything and even the dichotomy Gifted/humans was well played.

There is always something else we could say or mention to make this more interesting but I don't have the words, not like Lark might. It's funny how we often pay more attention to certain details and not the whole picture. I guess this is one of these cases, the overall idea is positive but what makes this amazing, to me, is the little details about Lark and Tiras' relationship, about the world and people's feelings. It's certainly worth it reading.
Grade: 8/10

Friday, August 19, 2016

Lyn Benedict - Sins and Shadows

Sylvie Lightner is no ordinary P.I. She specializes in cases involving the unusual, in a world where magic is real-and where death isn't the worst thing that can happen to you.
But when an employee is murdered in front of her, Sylvie has had enough. After years of confounding the dark forces of the Magicus Mundi, she's closing up shop-until a man claiming to be the God of Justice wants Sylvie to find his lost lover.
And he won't take no for an answer.

Comment: This is another of the many books I've collected through the years, mostly PNRs and UFs because I had this notion most books within these genres would offer adventures along with amazing romances filled with tension and emotions. I keep hoping the next book is my next big finding in terms of series I an be in love with. Apparently, this was still not it.

This is the story of Sylvie Lightner, a PI who specializes in the paranormal and the weird in a world where magic exists and different types of beings walk among humans.
Sylvie's problems begin when a god asks her help to find his missing lover. Sylvie was on the verge of closing down her business after the death of an employee but the apparent new god of justice has strong arguments to push Sylvie into accepting. From that moment on, is enemy after enemy, death after death and Sylvie knows she might not be on time to help and demand payment...

After pushing through the more than 300 pages of this story, I need to say I agree with any other reviewers who said this is too depressing. Is UF a synonym of anger and/or anguish? I suppose conflicts and imagination matter in books labeled UF but does everything need to be dark and negative? I can understand why this tone would work for the story presented, as does for many others, but it gets tiring after a while to see things go wrong, to see things become sad or close to hopeless and then the end can't justify all the invested time either. 

If only the characters were so amazing one could overlook that, but sadly I also think Sylvie was more annoying than strong and decided.
I didn't particularly like her. Sylvie was determined yes, but most of her choices and actions were things I couldn't simply defend or share. I'm not saying she should be a defenseless but lucky heroine but nothing in her personality made me feel happy she would succeed or sad she went through so many strikes against her. 

The plot was interesting, the world interesting but again, too sad and dark. Is life only about tones of dark? I can understand this but the characters had personal lives, didn't they have good moments, something to makes us feel more in tune with them? I think the story misses out without more positive things to balance all the rest. The way things were presented, despite the intriguing elements such as the magical rituals, the different gods and types of people and what they could do, I still got the feeling I should worry about Sylvie but I was irritated each time she was the focus (which was a lot of time, obviously) and only looked at how many more pages I had to go through.

I think this book has interesting elements yes, but to me the execution wasn't what I expected. I really thought I'd get much more realistic emotional development but it was all about anger and hurt and justice and payback... nothing wrong with that but it's not the sort of things I want all the time. Again, to me there's no balance.
The end was so so. I get it but at the same time why couldn't things be easier or have hints of happiness? Is it only to make us read more to find out? If so, for me it's one less series because just the idea of having to go through all this again..

All in all, an interesting book, interesting elements and details but the characters were so annoying it got more and more tiring to keep reading. I was curious about certain things but for the most part what happened in the book got me more annoyed than glad I read it. One less series o worry about.
Grade: 5/10

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

TBR Challenge: Judith Ryan Hendricks - Bread Alone

Thirty-one-year-old Wynter Morrison is lost when her husband leaves her for another woman. Desperate for a change, she moves to Seattle, where she spends aimless hours at a local bakery sipping coffee and inhaling the sweet aromas of freshly-made bread. These visits bring back memories of the time she aprenticed at a French boulangerie, when her passion for bread-making nearly led her to leave college and become a baker.
Once again, the desire to bake bread consumes her thoughts. When offered a position at the bake shop, Wyn quickly accepts, hoping that the baking will help her move on. But soon Wyn discovers that the making of bread—the kneading of the dough—possesses an unexpected and wondrous healing power—one that will ultimately renew her heart and her soul.

Comment: Here we are in another Wednesday dedicated to the TBR post. August is the month of "Kicking it Old School", which means a book published 10 years ago or before that. My original pick was something else but on Monday morning I realized the publishing date was actually 2009 and not 2005 as I somehow got into my head. 
Because I really like to meet the themes and not cheat, I immediately looked at my reading list and this title, which I'd read right after anyway, was the one wining the chance to be part of the challenge, more so when I checked and it was originally published in 2001, well meeting the mark.
The narrative, though, is set in 1988 but it hardly shows.

This is the story of Wyn Morrison and the story begins with her realizing her husband of seven years wants to have a divorce. At first it's just "time" but eventually thing progress negatively. Wyn goes through all the stages of not believing what's happening and even trying to find a way to convince David, the husband, not to leave her. Although he keeps saying he just wants time and he feels neither has been happy, Wyn realizes he already has another woman.
Wyn travels to Seattle, to be closer to her best friend and somehow she gets involved in the bakery business, something that also helps her deal with her personal problems. In the meantime, she has to accept her mother is getting married again and that the sweet new male friend can become something more important if only takes a chance...

This book is marked woman's fiction and it is but there's some glimpses of romance I appreciated too. I decided to read it as a buddy read because I got into my head it would be a sweet romance and my friend shares some of my reading tastes. However, this is more a study on how to go through an unfair divorce. I say unfair because Wyn never agreed and she never saw it coming. Because the book is told from her perspective, of course we empathize a lot with her and her feelings.
I confess I cried here and there just thinking how something like this in real life can hurt and depress and bring someone down. Just reading about possible scenes like the ones described by Wyn were complicated, like the knowledge he was lying, that he replaced her with someone else, etc.. Difficult feelings to overcome, which I know added more power to the story but at the same time made you think.

This is a contemporary novel too, so obviously Wyn has a lot to deal with. Her emotional path was quite believable and despite not sharing her views on this or that, for the most part the scenes she was in were convincing of someone in her difficult position.
I liked the moment the action changed settings but things were still complicated but Wyn's mother was marrying again after years being a widow. Because nothing is simple in woman's fiction, Wyn truly loved her father and missed him and felt her mother, despite deserving happiness was replacing her father, which I can understand if I were in her place, but then all things together made for some dramatic situations.
Wyn also has a new romance on the horizon but it's never something set in stone, not only because throughout the whole book she isn't divorced yet but also because she is not in the best emotional position to make that jump.

This is my first book by the author, I liked the style, the writing, the story in general. Sure, I disliked some things, I got annoyed at others but for the most part, it was a good book. I understand its faults and I'd change some things but the voice is here. Interestingly, the author must love bread because there are many examples of recipes of bread and descriptions of it. Of course, this is almost therapy to Wyn, but the author has a lot of knowledge about it and in the end it helps the plot move forward!

The characters were interesting, we learn more about Wyn because she's the narrator but many of the other characters were well depicted and because we don't have their POV, good for the author to manage to impart personality to them like that.
Wyn is complex, not perfect, but I was rooting for her and her new chances in life.

As a whole this was a good book but the end felt too easy and didn't match the rhythm of the book. Now I understand why, there is a sequel and another (this is the 1st of a trilogy in fact) and that explains why the end seems rushed. But I feel weird because although I liked this book, I won't read the next ones. My feelings about this book are defined and positive, despite the theme. The blurbs of the next books point to a path I didn't expect and that sounds too melodramatic for the story we have here. Almost as if the next books went too far.
Therefore, I stay here to maintain my good vibe of this book and not ruin the experience with more stories I might dislike. And considering all I have to read anyway...

All things considered, this was an interesting read, emotional but well paced until the end and I liked it but this will be it.
Grade: 7/10

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

KJ Charles - Jackdaw

Jonah Pastern is a magician, a liar, a windwalker, a professional thief…and for six months, he was the love of police constable Ben Spenser’s life. Until his betrayal left Ben jailed, ruined, alone, and looking for revenge.
Ben is determined to make Jonah pay. But he can’t seem to forget what they once shared, and Jonah refuses to let him. Soon Ben is entangled in Jonah’s chaotic existence all over again, and they’re running together—from the police, the justiciary, and some dangerous people with a lethal grudge against them.
Threatened on all sides by betrayals, secrets, and the laws of the land, can they find a way to live and love before the past catches up with them?

Comment: Considering I'm a fan of the books I've read so far by this author, it was no surprise I'd want to read this story, set in the world I fell in love with and also because I'd have the chance to "see" Stephen and Lord Crane again. Any reader likes to see scenes with beloved characters.

Jonah is a windwalker and some of his actions have been condemned and disliked but he had a reason for everything. In this story we get to know more about his origins and reasons.
Ben is the main character in this book, though. the story is told in the third person but Ben is the obvious center of attention and most things are seen from his perspective. Ben was in a relationship - as much as they could - with Jonah but when it was found Jonah was a thief, Ben was left to bear the guilt and the shame and he ended up with nothing. Ben wants revenge but will he simply overlook everything he and Jonah shared?

This book focuses on Ben and Jonah. Jonah was one of the so called bad guys of one of the Magpie Lord books but there was something about him that clearly made readers curious and now we are given the chance to know his personal story. And once we learn his story, his past, it's understandable he didn't manage to stay on the right path all the time. This doesn't excuse his bad actions, after all he is a rational human being, but at least it makes it understandable, if not acceptable.

Ben is true hero of this book, the character that makes it all go forward. I really liked him, especially his dark thoughts. ben is not in the best mental position he could. In fact, many parts of the book were emotionally draining because of Ben's mental state. He's not crazy, but he is depressed and sad and those two things can drag you down and make tou think and feel things that usually you would try to fight or escape from.
I've cried a lot by imagining myself in his shoes and what would it be like to suffer and process things the way he was doing. Yes, we can always sympathize and even claim we wouldn't but can we honestly say we would never? It was very sad in some parts to read what he was thinking and I truly feel the author did a great job in describing his state of mind after what he considered a betrayal and abandonment. Whether one likes it or not, I think the emotional aspects were amazingly done and that's why, despite the negative moments, I loved this book.
I can understand, though, why this would be considering boring or too irritating, no one likes people in depressing moments but Ben's feelings were so well constructed and were so easy to follow that I really could put myself in his position and, to me, this was magical and not annoying.

The romance obviously goes through some rocky parts, some depressing ones and some challenges but overall it leads the road we all expect, the HEA.
Ben and Jonah don't simply make out and that's it, there is a lot to analyze and forgive for both of them but the plot reaches a certain moment where you can see how they both thought about everything and a reunion is not only logical but deserved. Sure, it's not easy but it proves it can be done. I liked how both of them accepted and moved forward after so much hurt but true feelings were still there.

It was great to see Lord Crane and Stephen, although Stephen seemed rather mean here and there.But the end justifies everything at last. It was good to see them interact with others, Jonah and Ben in particular, even if only briefly. The technical stuff about crimes and police and other things in the plot was also interesting and easy to follow.

All in all, a great book, liked many aspects of it, loved the fact we get such a "complete" story in less than 200 pages, at least it feels like it and, to me, the best will always be the hard but strong emotional elements in it and how amazing it makes the book and that is pure author's talent. I can't wait to read the rest of her books.
Grade: 9/10

Monday, August 15, 2016

Jane Austen - Persuasion

Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen's most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne's family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?
Jane Austen once compared her writing to painting on a little bit of ivory, 2 inches square. Readers of Persuasion will discover that neither her skill for delicate, ironic observations on social custom, love, and marriage nor her ability to apply a sharp focus lens to English manners and morals has deserted her in her final finished work.

Comment: I don't think any introduction is required o explain this book. Basically it was the only book by Jane Austen I haven't read yet but I heard only good things about it from people I know and well, it was finally time to read it. I purchased a hardcover edition last year and kept especially for summer again.

Anne Elliot is a 27 year old woman who has some regrets in her life, namely the fact that 8 years ago she refused a marriage proposal from Frederick Wentworth, the man she was in love with and who loved her in return. Now, her family is almost penniless and the man she was persuaded to refuse returns not only rich but as appealing to Anne as before.
Not everyone would welcome such a reunion and there are hard feelings to solve before Anne can feel good with her conscience again but, what if captain Wentworth feels the same, after all these years?

This is such a well thought story that it can almost feel weird how countless authors can't produce such amazing writing also. I mean, the writing is perfect and correct and there's this subtlety that is impossible to not appreciate. All hidden messages one can infer are so well placed, it feels doubly wrong mrs Austen isn't here to write anymore. But life is this, things happen, then they are gone and we are left to cherish or regret them.

I'll be honest and say this did not replace Pride and Prejudice as my absolute favorite of hers. P&P has a special place in my heart, not only for the story itself but because of everything I feel when I read it or when I think of why I read it.
This book, the last Jane Austen completed before her death, is a study on being an adult and thinking about past decisions. It is often said we should live life with no regrets because what's gone is gone and we can't undo the past. But this is extremely difficult to accomplish and I think anyone who claims they have no regrets or that they wouldn't change anything if they could are laying. I know I would change many things in my past, I'd undo two or there things for sure. They still influence my life now, so, how can they have been worth it? 

As for Anne Elliott, she made me feel very emotional. She made a decision and she regrets it still. When faced with the consequences of it - to meet the man she loves again and the possibility he might marry someone else - how something like that must hurt. But Anne kept her emotions in check, she was an adult and she kept her dignity because we have to bear our conscience forever, don't we? And the 19th century wasn't a time when women took the first step. But as things moved forward in the plot, we start to get the idea if their love was so strong in the past, could it have disappeared entirely?

The book is very well structured and we have a very simple continuation of facts. The author is so clever in the way she uses some pre conceived ideas to portray her intentions, especially when we are supposed to create an idea about the characters. The problems Anne's family had, for instance, could all be solved but we are led to see why it couldn't and why Anne probably was persuaded in the past to not go against somebody else's ideas. But we grow up and we learn and we start thinking differently as we start to have regrets. I think Anne's character is superb because she thinks and she feels and she learns but never gives up her personality or conscience. I do admire her as a character.

Also interesting are the secondary characters that surely help us to understand how a human being can be so unworthy and so inconsiderate with others or wat really matters in life and dignity. Anne's father and her sister Mary, for instance, are the type of people we can't say are evil but that can reveal the worst in someone while acting all proper and special. Jane Austen was a mastermind in showing us the good and the bad and letting us choose what to like or dislike by descriptions alone. This seems as realistic now as it used to be in the past.
Of course, the story wasn't always vibrant and there were moments I felt took too long to happen and even one or two characters that didn't quite match they apparent importance given to them, but overall, there's balance and well used.

In the end, we have a HEA, much deserved and after the main couple finally talks and decides they are still in love. It's wonderful to see a wrong made right...
I think the purpose of this novel is quite well done and the prose, as always, manages to impress. Jane Austen is definitely one of my favorite authors and her work is everlasting, a classic exactly because it never loses its contemporary, even after centuries have gone by.
Grade: 8/10

Friday, August 12, 2016

Sherrilyn Kenyon - Dragonmark

Centuries ago, Illarion was betrayed– a dragon made human against his will, then forced to serve humanity as a dragonmount in their army, and to fight for them in barbaric wars, even while he hated everything about them. Enslaved and separated from everyone he knew and from his own dragon brothers, he was forced into exile in a fey realm where he lost the only thing he ever really loved.
Now he has a chance to regain what’s been lost— to have the one thing he covets most. But only if he gives up his brothers and forsakes the oaths he holds most dear. Yet what terrifies him most isn’t the cost his happiness might incur, it’s the fact that there is just enough human in his dragon’s heart that he might actually be willing to pay it and betray everything and everyone– to see the entire world burn...

Comment: This is the most recent installment in the Dark-Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon, one of the most successful paranormal series out there.

Basically, this book follows the same timeline as the previous two books, but from Illarion's perspective. Illarion is one of Maxis' dragon brothers and we knew about him in the previous book, precisely Maxis'.
Illarion has loved Edilyn, a human woman for centuries, even after she was killed and he had to learn to live without her. Now he finally meets humans again in the realm where he got trapped and decides to help them. How that helps him in meeting Edilyn again is a surprise for everyone, especially Illarion himself.

I'll just write a couple sentences about this book because, to be honest, there isn't much to say. I'll say a bit more about other stuff after, related to the series and author but not the book itself.

Illarion and Edilyn don't have much airtime in their book, apparently. They met a long time ago and somehow they fell in love. But of course family challenges -  that don't have much development related to themselves as independent characters - make things in such a way that they must battle enemies and Edilyn gets separated from Illarion.
The glimpses to their personalities aren't well developed, not if one compares to the first books in the series where everything seemed more vital, both the personality of each character and the relationship with others. It is as if the author took the easy path an just told us the basics and that's it. Then half part of the book - more or less - is about Illarion's perspective on others and their stories, namely the two previous books featuring Cadegan and Jo and Max and Sera. Why on earth he had to describe everything and how that helped him I don't know.
I guess I understand the logic, after all it makes us visualize how all the previous facts had an impact on each character. But come on, this did not made the plot move forward in an enriched way nor did it present a solid couple, it was simply repetitive. Having so many books all showing the same is not moving on! It's just using large chunks of story to make another book look bigger and expensive without being a book per se. The end was great for Illarion and Edilyn but why I never knew because it all happened so fast and without the expected emotional impact.

Therefore, this leads me to wonder what is the author or her editors thinking? Is the money greed so important that it's best to present hardcovers with repetitive stories rather than a solid new installment the readers deserve? The previous 3 stories could have been told in one book! This means three years of waiting and getting a story were wasted and the author could have used that time to actually develop her series with more characters! If she does insist in being prolific in giving us more and more ideas and characters then she should start having HEAs for three or four couples in each book, otherwise how can this move any further?

I understand the idea, the purpose but it's too much. Years waiting between installment, different series is getting too much an no one lives forever, the author included. Will we ever have closure for out beloved characters?

What still saves this (both the series' goal and this book in particular) is the amazing bonds between characters, the heartfelt scenes between characters, families, people we like to see happy now that their stories were told and wishing others to feel the same. If not for this eagerness to see a happy ending for all, would anyone still have the patience to wait? I really hope the author has a change of heart and realizes her rhythm isn't doable like this anymore.
Grade: 5/10

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Lisa Kleypas - Married by Morning

For two years, Catherine Marks has been a paid companion to the Hathaway sisters - a pleasant position, with one caveat. Her charges' older brother, Leo Hathaway, is thoroughly exasperating. Cat can hardly believe that their constant arguing could mask a mutual attraction. But when one quarrel ends in a sudden kiss, Cat is shocked at her power response - and even more so when Leo proposes a dangerous liaison.
Leo must marry and produce an heir within a year to save his family home. Catherine's respectable demeanour hides a secret that would utterly destroy her. But to Leo, Cat is intriguing and infernally tempting, even to a man resolved never to love again. The danger Cat tried to outrun is about to separate them for ever - unless two wary lovers can find a way to banish the shadows and give in to their desires ...

Comment: This is the 4th book in the Hathaway series by author Lisa Kleypas. This is the book I've been looking for to read the most since book #2, when Leo, this book's hero and Catherine, the heroine, first met and clashed. I have been wanting to see their story just by the promise it offered. 

This is the story of Leo Hathaway, the single man among the 5 siblings and someone who has loved and suffered for love and lost his way until his family finally brought him to peace again. Leo thought he would never love another woman but there's something about miss Marks, his younger sisters' governess that appeals to him.
Catherine Marks has a shameful secret in her past and she only wants to experience what a bonded and loving family looks like. The Hathaways might need help with their etiquette but when it comes to union and love no one can't beat them, Leo included, although Cat feels he is too unstable for her nerves. But after a kiss, everything changes.

This is the book I've been waiting for the most. In the end, I liked it, but I expected a lot more tension before they admitted their feelings. Most of their antagonism happened in previous books which was quite clever to wet our appetite but now that I envisioned more fireworks, it all seemed too bland. Yes, the author had to show them falling in love but it seemed too easy and too fast compared to all the "fights" they had before. I guess I wanted things to come to a higher sexual tension so everything could look even more intense and heartfelt after. Oh well...

The plot continues after the actions of the previous book. We already know, when this book begins, that something in Cat's past will cause her problems. Wen we do learn what she had to live through as a young girl, it's quite sad. Then we have Leo's issues with lost love and his mental state. It's good that they found one another, especially because Leo isn't always serious and Cat is too strict so they can balance one another. Their relationship could have been so much stronger and it almost promised that, but after the whole book is finished, I got the feeling they weren't as passionate as they could have been or hinted at.

Cat is an intriguing character but  always had the idea she would try more to be independent, to protect her heart from Leo. She always acted aloof and now suddenly she's insecure in a way I wouldn't expect. It seems all her antagonism to him was just to makes us want to read their story and not a real part of her traits. I'm glad for them, but their romance wasn't as "romantic"a that (if I can say so).
Leo had to change a lot through the books. In the first book he wasn't that appealing as a future hero, but with time he got more and more promising. But somehow his personality seemed to have turned less intense with time and he didn't wow me as much as I'd hoped.

The plot has a positive end, there's a HEA and bad people get what they deserve. This is obviously a  story for romance and not plot because some things didn't seem well solved to me, especially when it comes to Cat's actions and the fact she didn't act more decisively before. I mean, I suppose it wouldn't be easy but that just made her look weak. 
The writing seems fluid and easy but somehow the emotions we are being told don't seem as thrilling as they could be. Maybe this is just my personal impression.

All in all, this was a good installment but I really wanted something super romantic and amazing. I know the author has done it, so it was slightly disappointing after all the previous books expecting so much more. But, all things considered, a great story nevertheless...
Grade: 7/10

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Susan Elizabeth Phillips - What I Did for Love

How did this happen? Georgie York, once the costar of America's favorite television sitcom, has been publicly abandoned by her famous husband, her film career has tanked, her father is driving her crazy, and her public image as a spunky heroine is taking a serious beating.
What should a down-on-her-luck actress do? Not go to Vegas . . . not run into her detestable former costar, dreamboat-from-hell Bramwell Shepard . . . and not get caught up in an ugly incident that leads to a calamitous elopement. Before she knows it, Georgie has a fake marriage, a fake husband, and maybe (or not) a fake sex life.
It's a paparazzi free-for-all, and Georgie's nonsupporting cast doesn't help. There's Bram's punk-nightmare housekeeper, Georgie's own pushy parent, a suck-up agent, an icy studio head with a private agenda, and her ex-husband's new wife, who can't get enough of doing good deeds and saving the world--the bitch. As for Georgie's leading man, Bram's giving the performance of his life, but he's never cared about anyone except himself, and it's not exactly clear why.
Two enemies find themselves working without a script in a town where the spotlight shines bright . . . and where the strongest emotions can wear startling disguises.

Comment: This is the fifth installment in the Wynette, Texas series by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I've been trying to go through her backlist and so far it has been a good experience.

This is the story of Georgie York and Bram Shepard. They are both actors and used to co-star in a sitcom 8 years ago but the show was cancelled because of Bram's erratic behavior. Georgie and Bram never really liked each other but now they meet again at a very bad moment for Georgie, because her famous ex has just announced his new girlfriend's pregnancy when he and Georgie never got to be parents.
Georgie thinks she needs something to make the public not feel pity for her anymore and somehow she finds Bram again at a party in Vegas and they end up married. Now Georgie has to manage her public, private and personal life with a lot more challenges. But what if some mistakes are actually good omens?

Well, I'm always glad I'm going to start a book by this author and this was no exception. There's something about the way ms Phillips tells a story that makes you want to keep reading. I don't always feel the characters are acting they way they should but with time I can't help but want to see them achieve their goals or to find happiness. I guess this is what makes her books so successful, this idea the reader ends up with that makes it all have meaning.

The plot isn't super imaginative, it's all about Hollywood people and how actors really must feel compared with the idea we have of them. I'm usually not very fond of Hollywood set plots but of course, the presence of beloved characters helped. I suppose this is where the book can be included in the series because it definitely doesn't come close to Texas in any page... I ended up happy with the way things developed but in terms of relationships, this wasn't my favorite. Still, it does not mean it's not appealing or captivating.

The main romance had its highs and lows, I especially liked how we can focus on the idea that is always possible to turn into better people but at the same time the steps they took towards happiness weren't very credible in some parts. I mean, do people really manage to deceive or to act like that fo so long in a believable way?
OF course I liked they got their HEA and that the epilogue shows how good things can be if two people really decide to love each other and cherish the one another.

The secondary characters were funny sidekicks, I liked the idea we have two extra romances, always as a second focus point but still there. Some scenes were wonderful and the dialogue - even if not very realistic all the time - great and addictive.

All in all, this was a good story, one I felt amazing to read and, honestly, it only took me one day to read which speaks for itself. the author obviously takes care about what to tell and how and the result can be very special. The characters' personality bring it all to life, though, and in that, we always have preferences, both in the characters themselves and in the situations they are in.
I hope the author continues to present good plots and I'm looking for to read more.
Grade: 8/10