Tuesday, November 24, 2015

C.S. Pacat - Captive Prince vol. II

 With their countries on the brink of war, Damen and his new master Prince Laurent must exchange the intrigues of the palace for the sweeping might of the battlefield as they travel to the border to avert a lethal plot.
Forced to hide his identity, Damen finds himself drawn to the dangerous, charismatic Laurent. But as the fledgeling trust between the two men deepens, the truth of secrets from both their pasts is poised to deal them the crowning death blow...

Comment: So, this is the second volume in the Captive Prince series by CS Pacat. In this book we see the continuation of prince Laurent and Damen's travel to the border so Laurent can settle and fight against his uncle, the villain.

After becoming a slave and being offered to the enemy country, Damen now feels it's his duty to help Laurent because of several circumstances but he plans to get away after Laurent is settled. He knows - and Laurent knows too - things won't be simple because there are those who will want to stop Laurent from being considered worthy but he will try to be someone Laurent can trust. Laurent is very clever, always thinks ahead and despite his cold demeanor he must have feelings. Damen starts to see Laurent's vulnerable side even if they never talk about it or why.
But there are more obstacles to overcome and maybe the result won't be what either of them wants, especially when it becomes clear Damen still wants freedom...or does he?

Many people seem to love this series. Although, like I said in my previous comment about first volume, this feels weird being divided. If only I had gotten that before, I would have waited for a full length edition after volume 3 is out. I really think this would be a great book if we could read everything together.
To be honest, I feel this story isn't as emotional or thrilling as I imagined from all the hype. The plot elements are quite interesting, the characters' motivations and behavior too but the way things happen doesn't feel very exciting to me.

I still liked this second part better than the first. More things happen, the romance develops but some characters seem to be there just to play a part and prove an idea and I don't think that is as captivating as it would if they had really mattered somehow.
For instance, there is one character who acts a certain way but then we realize something bad about that person. The way things happen I got the idea that character only existed to prove a point, that Laurent is clever and anticipates certain moves. Ok, that's fine, but then that diminishes the strength that character had, his actions no longer matter. Why bother...we all know people commit treason... oh well.

Apparently one of the things most readers enjoy is Laurent's cleverness and hidden depths. Humm how wonderful it would be if we could see it firsthand with his own POV! I do understand the POV tactics but knowing everything from Damen as a way to make us think too gets boring after a while...

Laurent and Damen's relationship must be the most interesting subject in this series and how will Laurent react when he finds out Damen is the person who killed his beloved brother? This is not a spoiler, it's known from the first chapters of the first volume. Some readers have the theory Laurent already knows this (he does have the ability to know many things beforehand but only sharing that way after) so it will be interesting to see if it's correct. If he doesn't then I'm sure it will add up to the drama. Personally I think he should know just to make things move faster.
As for the veracity of their feelings...obviously we only have Damen's POV and he seems to be falling in love, or already being so, but it's difficult to have a certainty about Laurent. I actually like this relationship and how slowly it's developing but I don't think the surroundings or their personalities are that special or unique to make this as amazing as so many other seem to look at it.
Ok, everyone's different and we focus on different elements as the ones that should matter, but still... for me, this is interesting, I'm looking for to see them happy or at least with some sort of commitment, but it's not a novelty in the genre, not it is my favorite m/m story ever. Maybe the final part will be so amazing that I'll change my mind, but so far...

The execution of this book, the way things happen and why isn't that appealing to me. I like the world created, the fact things work a certain way but the characters alone don't entice me completely and with a not so brilliant world exposed, I feel this isn't as fantastic as it could be. It doesn't mean it's bad, because it's actually good in many things, the author put an effort and thought clever and interesting things, but for me it isn't the amazingness I expected. This second part reads better than the first, I did like the focus on the romance and sexual tension better, but overall, it's not quite there yet, for me. Let's see if the final volume is as epic as it promises and if the romance has a happy ending.
This second part of the story is a generous seven for me.
Grade: 7/10

Monday, November 23, 2015

Song # 29

This month just a simple, relaxing song to use as a background to clean the house, to fix lunch, to whatever...

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Sandra Brown - Deadline

Dawson Scott is a well-respected journalist recently returned from Afghanistan. Haunted by everything he experienced, he's privately suffering from battle fatigue which is a threat to every aspect of his life. But then he gets a call from a source within the FBI. A new development has come to light in a story that began 40 years ago. It could be the BIG story of Dawson's career one in which he has a vested interest.
Soon, Dawson is covering the disappearance and presumed murder of former Marine Jeremy Wesson, the biological son of the pair of terrorists who remain on the FBI's Most Wanted list. As Dawson delves into the story, he finds himself developing feelings for Wesson's ex-wife, Amelia, and her two young sons. But when Amelia's nanny turns up dead, the case takes a stunning new turn, with Dawson himself becoming a suspect. Haunted by his own demons, Dawson takes up the chase for the notorious outlaws. . .and the secret, startling truth about himself.

Comment: Author Sandra Brown is still one of my favorite romance writers and I've devoured many of her older books. Even her romantic suspense books offer a love story that usually makes me eager to see how the HEA happens (because a HEA does happen), therefore I was very interested in seeing how this plot would develop and how the romance would play out.
In this book we follow Dawson Scott, a reporter who has been in Afghanistan but came back with some PTSD and has been having nightmares. He is convinced to write a story about a case that started 40 years ago and where his godfather played an important role as an FBI agent. Dawson learns a lot in his investigations but what makes him want to keep working on it is Amelia, the ex-wife of a dead man in a murder case related to his story. Layers of information start to reveal themselves as time goes by, Dawson himself feels part of everything the more attracted to Amelia he gets, the more fond of her sons he is and the more curious about little things he becomes.
The story seems well on its way to be solved when a couple of twists show us nothing is as simple as we imagined...
Overall, I liked this story. But at the same time it almost didn't "feel" like a SB story. I've read many books by her, not all her backlist, I probably still have 5 or 6 books by her to read - not all seem intriguing for me - but I think I can say I'm a fan and I'm familiar with her books. This Deadline felt too subdued, more focused on the plot than the romantic aspects and even those seemed quieter placed and presented. I mean, usually her protagonists are a bit more aggressive in their actions and romantic pursuits. It doesn't mean this book doesn't have those elements in the right amount or well inserted in the story, but it does feel it was something the author "controlled" more.
The plot is key in this book. It has many layers and hidden things we find as long as we read. I can't explain a lot without spoilers, but I was very eager to know what was happening and why. The most interesting thing about this story is how the twists keep coming. Until a certain point the reader knows what's happening, there are doubts about certain moments and facts but I think most people would believe a certain idea was correct. then there are two twists in a row I didn't see coming that show me the author's thought and effort about how this would develop. Closer to the end there's another twist, amazing, that I was really surprised. I assume most readers, even those who by this point had all their theories done were surprised.
In terms of romance, this was a lot more smoother and polished than the majority of the author's previous books. Like I said, usually the characters seem more aggressive, not that are reckless or bad people doing things their own way, but there's a subjacent layer of determination and impulsiveness that I found wasn't very obvious or present here. Sandra Brown heroes have all looked like alpha men, her romantic suspense books always had a protagonist that was intense, not mean aggressive, but determined aggressive, went after what he wanted, and when it came to the heroine the norm would be for him to be aloof but focused on her when the intimate moments happened, whether explicit or the sexual tension times. In this book I felt Dawson wasn't as "crazy" over Amelia, his feelings were more calm, more slow developed. I'm not saying there's a bad or right way here, but it was different. I don't really mind, but it made the book feel quieter.
Amelia is a very simple character, meaning she is a quiet person, cares for her sons and others, and in a way I loved her personality for it, she's not doing crazy things or acting like she doesn't care about herself or her attitudes. Dawson has a lot going on and I wish their HEA was a bit more developed. I don't know why some authors write lengthy but unfocused epilogues and others don't give them and in this case, I think a sweet epilogue would help and not ruin the "mood" and tone of the story that obviously wanted to highlight the mystery and plot moves.
The secondary characters are interesting additions to the plot and the chase of wanted criminals and how everything was connected is actually well done. It wasn't always a till telling story but I think it was well structured.
Hardcore fans of mystery or thrillers probably feel this is a beginners in the genre book but it does have worth on its own.
Now I feel curious about the other titles I haven't read yet...I will need to buy them soon.
I'll cherish other books more but this one was interesting and engaging until the end.
Grade: 7/10

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Allie Larkin - Stay

Savannah "Van" Leone has been in love with Peter Clarke since their first day of college. Six years later, Peter is marrying Van's best friend, Janie. Loyal to a fault, Van dons her pumpkin-orange, maid-of- honor gown and stands up for the couple, struggling to hide her true feelings even when she couldn't be more conspicuous. After the wedding, nursing her broken heart with a Rin Tin Tin marathon plus a vodka chaser, Van accidentally orders a German Shepherd puppy over the Internet. When "Joe" turns out to be a hundred-pound beast who only responds to commands in Slovak, Van is at the end of her rope-until she realizes that sometimes life needs to get more complicated before it can get better.

Comment: I've decided to buy this book for some reason, probably because I saw it mentioned somewhere or it was similar to some book I've read and the blurb seemed interesting...I don't remember anymore, only that I did buy the book in February and it has been in the pile but this month I picked it and I'm so glad I did that!
In this book we meet Savannah (Van) and learn how much in love she is with her best friend Peter. However, Peter is marrying her other best friend, Janie. Of course Van never really said out lout to Peter she loved him, she always waited for him to show he felt the same and even dated other men hiding from Peter just in case he figured out he had feelings for her too. But now that he's married, Van is feeling lonely and heartbroken because of all the years she spent loving him and he now marries someone else. While drunk, Van "accidently" purchases a puppy from abroad.
She starts thinking maybe this is what she needs to get her mind out of the heartbreak but the puppy doesn't look like a puppy... did Van made a mistake she now can't give back?
Perhaps I'm not presenting this in the best light, but the truth is, I loved this book. It's one of those that, for me, I could keep on reading with a never ending date. In fact, its biggest problem is how small it is.
This is a contemporary romance, told from Van's perspective, so we are always aware of her thoughts and how certain things affect her.
I think the time Van spent being in love with Peter feels too much and how could she wait for him to say something, to reveal something? We have some flashbacks, two or three in the whole book, about scenes from the past where we would see how Van felt and how she was affected and one in particular stayed with me, it was when Van met Peter's parents. I mean, that should have been a clue for her! But I guess love does make you blind. Van didn't stop seeing anything apart from Peter, she wasn't that focused on him, but she did engage all her feelings and expectations in him so anyone can understand how hard it must have been to fake smiles and happiness when he married her best friend.
I liked seeing into Van's life. She's not perfect, she has insecurities too but I liked her. I still think she waited too long, but who can really control their hearts, I've never been in love I can't say it's impossible to wait that long. The heart and the brain do impossible things even if we rationalize she wouldn't wait this long.
I liked when things changed in terms of plot. Van orders a puppy and she gets a surprise because he's not a small dog after all and while trying to figure out if he's really fine, she meets a vet and she feels attracted to him. Slowly they start talking, seeing each other. I really loved seeing Van starting to have feelings for Alex and what that would represent for her independence from Peter.
This being a romance, she kind of messed things up but we do have a HEA and I loved it.
My only real complain about this novel? It should have included an epilogue because I want to see how Van, Alex and Joe - the puppy - are and how their lives moved forward. Maybe one day...
As for now, I already feel like re-reading!
I liked to know Van, through her actions and thoughts we learn a lot about her life, her expectations, her heartbreak over Peter's marriage but mostly over her mother's death, something that really affected her.
The author did a great job portraying Van as someone down-to-earth but prone to as many doubts and wrong decisions and anybody else. It's very intriguing how little details about Van's life or situations in her past shaped her and her view of things.
I liked when she started to take care of Joe -who's such a cute funny dog, it does make one want to have a dog too!-  and spending time with Alex and Louis...I liked how Van would learn something with very character, whether knowledge or how to behave (like when meeting Peter's parents). This story has some complexity which I really liked and that added another level to this story, it's not just a fluffy romance.
The author is new to me but I will try to get her other book. Her writing is interesting, easy to follow, simple but presenting complex ideas and character development. I think there's a lot of thought in this, a lot of balance in how things should work. I wish she could have showed a bit more of Alex and Van because they work so well as a couple and she really wrote Peter and Janie and the secondary characters to the exact point, meaning they don't feel like stereotypes but it's the kind of characters we can recognize too. I'm surprised as how important the details are in this novel, little scenes and comments here and there really gain importance to what is happening and to how the characters act. I think the author really did a great job with the character's personalities.
I loved the book because Van ultimately understands who she is and how she can be happy. Maybe one can think that it took her so long because she needed that time to meet the right person after all! I really, really wish we could an epilogue, but I sure try on my own to imagine how happy they must have been and how their lives could become richer and fuller. If imagining the future of their characters or day dreaming about them is one goal in writer's rules, then ms Larkin accomplished that with me.
Grade: 9/10

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

TBR Challenge: Julie Anne Long - The Legend of Lyon Redmond

Bound by centuries of bad blood, England's two most powerful families maintain a veneer of civility...until the heir to the staggering Redmond fortune disappears, reviving rumors of an ancient curse: a Redmond and an Eversea are destined to fall disastrously in love once per generation.
Rumor has it she broke Lyon Redmond's heart. But while many a man has since wooed the dazzling Olivia Eversea, none has ever won her—which is why jaws drop when she suddenly accepts a viscount's proposal. Now London waits with bated breath for the wedding of a decade . . . and wagers on the return of an heir.
It was instant and irresistible, forbidden . . . and unforgettable. And Lyon—now a driven, dangerous, infinitely devastating man—decides it's time for a reckoning. As the day of her wedding races toward them, Lyon and Olivia will decide whether their love is a curse destined to tear their families apart...or the stuff of which legends are made.

Comment: This is the last installment in the successful Pennyroyal Green series by author Julie Anne Long. After ten books wondering what had happened to Lyon Redmond and whether he would find his HEA with Olivia Eversea, finally their story was told and we could find out if they belong together or not.
I picked this one for the Hype theme of November because I'm sure many readers were more than eager to read this book. I was actually eagerly awaiting its release.
This book features the ultimate mystery of the series, did Lyon Redmond really disappeared because Olivia, the woman he loved, broke his heart? Olivia and Lyon are the oldest of both their parents and their families have had this feud of common hate between them and it's told a couple would fall in love in each generation but never be happy. In this series we've been trying to see if the same would happen to these two and it appeared so when Olivia finally accepted to marry someone else. But is their story at its end? Can Lyon and Olivia talk and settle their issues? Is there a happy future for them?
Although the author didn't make this the key point of all the books, I have to say it was quite ingenious of her to insert little scenes or little details here and there through the past 10 books in a way that we wouldn't forget about Olivia and Lyon. Sure, in one or two books that subject was more prominent than in the majority of them, but it was never a focus point. Still, at the back of our minds, it was there. I think it was quite clever, subtle, but a well placed strategy to make the mystery be something we would look forward to know more about.
We arrive at this book with many HEAs behind, many characters already happy and with amazing lives and loves, but the couple never forgotten could finally have their story.
Olivia has been described as someone difficult to approach, she now has a fiancé because she gave up on waiting. At least it looked so. Clever author making a path clear for her to do so.
Lyon seemed a ghost, rarely were his appearances, but did he really stay away from what was happening? Does he have a plan we didn't know about?
In general, I liked this story but I have two issues with this book.
The first thing was the type of plot. Of course this is a lovers reunited. One of the plots I hate the most. I confess some of the scenes of how things used to be between them bored me, even if I recognize how important they are so we can really know what happened. But I wanted more of them now, and not as much of what was. I'm glad we got that too and, of course, the scenes from the past are a handy bridge not only to understand things but to make it look like not too much time has passed. But personally, I can't get away from the fact I had to read about the before knowing something would go wrong. This is an historical so there is a lot of intimacy and elements they didn't share which made this look better for me. But as a whole it's still annoying, even if necessary for their romance.
The second thing I got annoyed at was the epilogue. I appreciate the idea of knowing what happened in the future but not like this! I mean, why? I would have preferred a thousand times more a regular epilogue with all of them maybe 10 years into the future and seeing them well, with their families. That would have warmed up my heart and my romantic side! Not the epilogue we had which is cute but not what I wanted, no.
Someone mentioned on GR this was the book the author should write. In a way I agree because we do see Lyon and Olivia together, dealing with things, in a stage in their lives where, maybe, they did gain from a separation, from a time where they weren't ready to acknowledge their feelings. It hurt but now they can try. But Olivia is engaged, who will she choose? We have a pretty good idea obviously, but I liked how there's this side of uncertainty until the end. Still, not all is bad if one pays attention to details. The author is wonderful with those, I admit it.
The characters are a huge part of things. Lyon was adventurous and mysterious but I liked seeing his softer, more family man side. I like the lesson he's supposed to teach but I feel sad at the same time he had to be away to become the person he had to. I'm glad he found happiness.
Olivia we've saw more of through the books, I confess there was a point where I thought she wasn't who she should but...everyone has weaker moments, doubt moments. We learn and we live with our decisions, so...
The solution of some situations was intriguing because of character's personalities. That affected some things and the "hows" of it. There's a certain bittersweet feel to some aspects because people aren't all the same, because we make choices, we follow some things and not others. I think it's amazing how the author makes her point with seemingly easy and hidden details. She does write beautifully.
In the end, this was the perfect end for the series. I liked knowing about the characters and their obstacles towards happiness. I cried here and there over some things. I really thought this was on the way to be close to perfect (except for the lovers reunited elements) but then the epilogue brought this down. Still, a well thought and structured series, wonderfully written by the author and presented in a way where a fan can read and re-read without thinking this would end in disgrace. I liked it and will cherish the good parts forever, that I will.
Grade: 7/10

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Pamela Morsi - Bitsy's Bait and BBQ

Free-spirited Katy Dodson is already fantasizing about the perfect small-town life she'll share with her five-year-old son, Josh. But her sister Emma wonders who in their right mind would use her hard-won divorce settlement to purchase Bitsy's B & B down in the Ozarks.
And, as usual, Emma is right: because in Warbler Lake, Missouri, B & B stands for Bait and BBQ!
With their money and future sunk into a run-down, roadside rattletrap, the girls have no choice but to roll up their sleeves. Soon they know the difference between night crawlers and shiners, and Warbler Lake begins to feel like a place to build a home.
But trouble arrives when Katy's ex-husband declares he wants custody of Josh. Katy thought that getting Bitsy's B & B up and running was the biggest challenge she'd ever face. But now, with Emma's help, she's determined to keep her son and the future she's worked so hard to create.

Comment: This is another one of the books by Pamela Morsi I've had to read and this month, I picked this one. I was really in the mood the see two different but close sisters find love in a different place...at least it was what I imagined based on the blurb.
Emma and Katy are sisters and now that Katy is divorced, they use her divorce settlement to buy a restaurant in the middle of a very small town, thinking about a new beginning. But the restaurant doesn't look like the one on the internet add they saw and there's a lot to be done before it's even serviceable. With the town's help though, Katy feels she's found the best place for herself and her small son to live in. Knowing her sister will be gone eventually, this is the right place to educate Josh.
Emma is the oldest and she thought this would be Katy's place in life but can she really leave her sister and nephew, especially when Sean, Katy's ex shows up with his mother too, to confuse Katy all over again?
This book has all the author's trademarks, namely the light tone hiding more serious issues that catch the reader unaware but leave us pleasantly surprised. I'm always amazed by how silly some situations seem to be but among all that we have serious issues that are addressed and presented and which add up depth to the stories and I like it.
I was caught by surprise with the fact we wouldn't get two romances in one. Maybe I've been used to romances to a level where I expect them to be presented a certain way so I was getting suspicious by the lack of romance in Emma's life. I really thought this would be about the two sisters finding love in a small town, where it wouldn't be something they expected.
Katy found love again yes, but Emma didn't. I understand why, after all Emma had a different path in life she wanted and she kind of deserved it after all the sacrifices she did to help her sister. But I still thought it would be different.
Katy's romance was one of those lovers reunited tropes I don't like. She and her ex got a divorce because he walked out on her but now he is coming to town to check on her and their son Josh and along with his mother maybe try to get Josh from Katy. Of course things aren't that simple, but in terms of a love story I can appreciate their connection and feelings but...well, I think it wasn't a strong bond all things considered. Sean is a very dedicated worker and has the passion for it, he has doubts but who hasn't, however, he has responsibilities, he had a son and he still chose to leave them...and the scene where we meet him isn't appealing nor does it make him captivating to me either. Of course I like how happy they end up, but Katy also felt too forgiving. Sure, it's her nature but everything was too easy, too simple. Maybe if people thought less and acted more, things would actually be done and solved but my cynical mind thought this too unlikely.
So Emma isn't a love interest but there is a slight secondary romance...two if one counts well, but only one is exploited enough. I think it was cute and focused on interesting issues. Did I feel it was amazing? Not really but I wish I could see more of it. The same for the other love interest, I really wanted to see it develop. The author uses many tricks to make this story feel richer, fuller and I appreciate that. I like how so many things are dealt with but not studied or presented to exhaustion just to show off the author's skills and research, in fact she is quite balanced in her structured issues and that makes the book easily but interestingly read.
I still think some situations weren't very appealing. But I can't say it was badly done, just not something I envisioned...I'm back to Katy and Sean's relationship. I'm glad they found their HEA at last but the way it happened wasn't as profound as I imagined.
In terms of plot, I liked some situations, I liked the secondary characters and what they sort of represent...I actually felt interested in them and why they were like that. I think the author creates amazing secondary characters, with very precise personalities. I'm including Katy's friend Nadine, the pastor Curt, Sean's mother Gwen, the ex lawyer Latt, the children... everyone works well in this.
As for the three main characters, Katy was too naïve. I'm sure people like her exist, always looking at the bright side but she was too forgiving.
Sean didn't feel like a man one could rely on. I don't mean as a human being, but as a love interest, I don't know...
Emma is fascinating, I loved her vision of things and I applaud her need to get an education, to try to have a normal and independent life but I also wanted her to be in love, to see her go through that experience...
In the end, the restaurant works out, people like and help with it and the good thing about books like this one is the sense of community it offers, it suggests one can find one day. I like that idea, no matter how dreamy it sounds. Apart from the two things I would have liked to see differently (Emma's lack of romance and Katy and Sean's fast reunion -that we saw happening), everything else was interesting, easy to follow, captivating. A sequel wouldn't be a bad thought...
Grade: 7/10

Friday, November 13, 2015

Alphabet Soup Challenge: Peggy L. Henderson - Yellowstone Heart Song

Nurse and avid backpacker Aimee Donovan is offered the opportunity of a lifetime. She encounters a patient who tells her he can send her two hundred years into the past to spend three months in the rugged Yellowstone wilderness at the dawn of the mountain man era. The only requirement: she cannot tell anyone that she's from the future.
How did a white woman suddenly appear in the remote Rocky Mountain wilderness? Trapper Daniel Osborne's first instinct is to protect this mysterious and unconventional woman from the harsh realities of his mountains. While he fights his growing attraction to her, he is left frustrated by her lies and secrecy.
Daniel shows Aimee a side of Yellowstone she's never experienced. She is torn between her feelings for him, and exposing a secret that will destroy everything he holds as truth. As her three months come to an end, she is faced with a dilemma: return to her own time, or stay with the man who opened her eyes to a whole new world. When the decision is made for her, both their lives will be changed forever.

Comment: I've known about this book through KristieJ's blog because she did talk about the author with conviction and I wanted to know what this was about. I eventually managed to get this first book and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to read, so... this month it happened and I'm glad I did.
I also thought it had the perfect title for the Alphabet challenge and it's my Y letter.
This is the story of Aimee Donovan, a contemporary nurse who meets an old man promising her a time travel back 200 years to the Yellowstone are, where she can be in the wild on her own and see how life used to be in the region. Aimee accepts but finds herself both surprised and delighted it worked.
She has a little misstep though, but the old man's son, Daniel finds her and helps her. The two of them become closer as time goes by and Daniel helps Aimee to survive the wilderness but she knows her time will be up. How will she deal with separation if everything she ever wanted is right here, 200 years before her time?
I've finished this book only last night and I ended up reading almost until 2am. I was certain this would be a practically perfect book but the way it ended made me feel slightly bittersweet - a trait that usually accompanies me in time travel stories. Despite everything, I can't help but having been engaged in this romance, so simple at times but so beautiful...
I loved the story's premise, a special artifact sort of concocted by an ancient native tribe or xaman or something and now Zach Osborne can travel in time. He uses it mostly for medical care, so much more difficult to get in the nineteenth century. It was in the hospital he met Aimee, she's a nurse, and sold her the time travel story. The book starts with Aimee already in 1810, walking through Yellowstone in all its natural beauty and she is rescued by Daniel and his tribe brother. The book focuses on the relationship between Daniel and Aimee, the difficulties they have because they have different backgrounds, the problem Aimee has because she can't explain how she ended up there and, of course, the attraction between them.
I think this story is, before anything, sweet. This reminds me of the simple romance stories of older days, where the romance and its challenges was the most important thing to deal with and how invested we can be in the main characters.
I really loved Daniel and Aimee's developing relationship, the small steps they took, the slow motion of their attraction and battling feelings. I loved the magic of some scenes and things Aimee did that proved her to be someone Daniel could love. Their connection was about more than physical attraction and it was so wonderful to see a romance focusing on that and in the simplicity of such a relationship.
I liked both character's personalities. Both Aimee and Daniel seem simple but hard working people, the sort of heroes we like to see triumph. I think some background information about their pasts was purposely left out, not only because it didn't exist but because it didn't really matter to this story and I really liked the author didn't complicated things, didn't insert more stuff just to make this extra dramatic.
The secondary characters were simple too, no geniuses or exaggerated types of people here, most of them were there to fit a role but sincerely I didn't mind because they added to the story the necessary element, it didn't feel fake or staged.
My biggest - probably only - issue with this story was the end. Of course we, the reader, had to expect some conflict, especially when the main couple comes from different times, but I felt the way the solution happened wasn't very smooth. There's some drama, which I actually liked and even made me sad but then something happens, then another drama, then another solution, I don't know, it felt a bit out of control and although I can't say it didn't fit the type of story or even the "feel" of the book so far, I still couldn't help but feeling the problem was dragging in a not so delicate way. Then the epilogue is sweet, not completely innovative but it made me think about what happens when the things we know just stop being there. It's not easy to deal with changes and separation. It made me feel moody and bittersweet because Aimee and Daniel were happy but away from Aimee's familiar world and society.
Despite my personal little issue, I still consider this an amazing story, it brought me back to the time when romances were simpler but cute and focused on the relationship. Nowadays so many romances focus on so many plot things, the couple's love seems secondary. Anyway, this is a winner for me and I'll try to read the second installment to see if my attraction remains. As soon as I can, I'll try to get it.
As for this one, if anyone likes time travel romances, it's a great story indeed.
Grade: 8/10

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Viola Carr - The Diabolical Miss Hyde

In an electric-powered Victorian London, Dr. Eliza Jekyll is a crime scene investigator, hunting killers with inventive new technological gadgets. Now, a new killer is splattering London with blood, drugging beautiful women and slicing off their limbs. Catching "the Chopper" could make Eliza's career—or get her burned. Because Eliza has a dark secret. A seductive second self, set free by her father's forbidden magical elixir: wild, impulsive Lizzie Hyde.
When the Royal Society sends their enforcer, the mercurial Captain Lafayette, to prove she's a sorceress, Eliza must resist the elixir with all her power. But as the Chopper case draws her into London's luminous, magical underworld, Eliza will need all the help she can get. Even if it means getting close to Lafayette, who harbors an evil curse of his own.
Even if it means risking everything and setting vengeful Lizzie free . . .

Comment: This is the chosen book for one of my book clubs monthly read. This is a steampunk UF/mystery. I like UF and I like steampunk but usually I prefer my books to feature some kind of romance and I hoped this would have enough of it to make me interested in everything related to the main characters.
This is the story of dr. Eliza Jekyll, the daughter of famous Dr Jekyll and she has the same affliction as her father, the double personality, having to live with her second identity and changing when she can't fight it anymore. Lizzie Hyde is the opposite of Eliza, she's frontal, aggressive, determined, unafraid and wiling to do justice by her own hands. Eliza is more cynical and practical, innocent and polished.
The book starts with Eliza's investigation of a crime scene - she's the forensic expert of that time - when an officer arrives to determine if she's competent or exactly who she says she is. The two of them don't seem to get along but Lizzie likes what she sees. As a killer keeps killing and stealing body parts from the victims, can lizzie solve the crimes, uncover the killer's identity and deal with surprises in her personal life that will change completely what she has always believed in?
After having read this book the idea that stays with me is "confusion". I think this story has a lot going on and it's not always easy to follow or to imagine and much less to understand why some things don't seem to be explained well. I assume the point is to keep the reader interested and eager to get the second book. This is obviously valid, nothing against it, but it's also true that for the readers who won't read the book or can't do it as soon as they can, it's frustrating to know some things were left unsaid/undone.
I'm still unsure if I'll read the second one, probably my curiosity will get the best of me, but right now I feel very confused and despite the general understanding of what the book revealed, several things seemed too weird and unfinished.
Some examples:
- Eliza and Lizzie are one person, clearly with different ideas, wishes, behavior, taste, personalities. I still don't get why there's a split personality though. Is it because of the elixir - like her father - or she was born that way and the elixir is just the means for the personalities to emerge? But then they can switch in harsh conditions, so...confusing.
- The bad guys are weird as they had to but was it really necessary to exist so many different ones, it's hard to focus on one issue at a time and despite the ending which explains things, I still think I had to pay attention to so many things I didn't really "care" about any of them, you know.
- Eliza has always believed in some facts and throughout the book some of that knowledge comes apart. It's quite the drama and causes a surprising effect but on top of everything I think it was too much going on. This makes the book richly detailed and that can be good but I felt the lack of a steady situation to make everything else look more structured. Everything seemed too dispersed.
There are good things, I liked the relationship between Eliza and Lizzie, but I would prefer them to act more in sync, they aren't friends who share a common dilemma, I feel some antagonism, I wonder how that would play out and honestly, that's the main reason why I'm considering reading the next book. The romantic relationship to the hero -if we can think of him that way - is so complicated and not the focus. I kind of wanted things to be more black and white but they sure do seem too grayish, especially if one thinks about Eliza's love interest - weird - and Lizzie's - practical but difficult. I'm not certain of that could play out and I'm a little annoyed at the doubt, really.
The book ended with interesting scenes...that would shape the next book for sure, but what if things keep on being too subtle and secondary? I fear the ongoing unsolved issues not having a clear or interesting solution.
I'm sure many readers think differently, but I wanted a bit more humanization, personality focus on the heroes. The story is too dispersed for me. The atmosphere and some descriptions are key on important aspects but I don't think that is enough to suit my personal tastes of how things should work. Some authors convince us of that and in this case, some things weren't done as I would have liked. It doesn't mean it's bad, but I felt it too confusing in the end.
Grade: 6/10