Thursday, August 27, 2015

Alphabet Soup Challenge: Teresa Medeiros - One Night of Scandal

Proper decorum has never come easily to Carlotta Anne Fairleigh--not even tonight, when the lovely, impetuous miss is finally making her debut. As she waits to make her entrance, she can't help wondering about the darkened house next door, the supposedly abandoned home of Hayden St. Clair, the man society has dubbed the "Murderous Marquess." Certainly one small peek through his window before the festivities would be harmless . . .
And, naturally, this latest "adventure" ends in disaster, thoroughly compromising the budding debutante's reputation and leaving her suddenly, unthinkably . . . betrothed! Soon she's en route to the wilds of Cornwall in the company of the handsome, mysterious marquess whose name the "ton" whisper with fear and loathing.
Yet there is something thrilling--and surprisingly tender--about her dark, unreachable groom, and the desire in his eyes is undeniable. But before Lottie will surrender to the yearnings in her heart, she must unlock the secrets of Hayden's past, no matter how scandalous--or perilous--they may be.

Comment: Here's another book featured in my alphabet soup challenge. I picked this title for the letter O not only because it was something I had but also because it suited the fact I read the first story last month.
This book is the second installment of a trilogy and focuses on the sister of the protagonist of the previous book.
We first met Carlotta Anne Farleigh, Lottie, when she was a child in the previous book and now it's her turn to have a story. She is about to make her debut but can't resist going to the mysterious neighbor's house precisely on that night.
Hayden St Clair has a reputation of having murdered his wife. He only wants peace and finish his business deals and leave. Mistaking Lottie for someone else, Hayden ends up in a compromising situation with her. They marry in haste and suddenly Lottie has brand new challenges to overcome in her married life...
I liked this story overall and to be honest I had an easy time reading it. But I can't say this is the most amazing historical romance ever.
The plot follows Lottie in her new life and everything that entails. She has to learn to do many things and deal with situation she never saw coming. I liked her personality but there were some scenes where I thought her attitude to be slightly childish. But overall, we do see how much she evolves.
Hayden is someone with secrets, things he's ashamed of in his past and a huge need to make things right. He just doesn't know how to act in a way where others can understand that.
I liked how the author dealt with the main character's issues and how they had to reach a compromise.
What I think wasn't as successfully done was their romance.
The romance seemed lacking in my opinion. The way they meet was supposed to be funny in a way, but I didn't laugh. I have a problem with books that aren't classified as comedies but have that tone in certain parts. I'm not very certain of how to interpret things and most times what happens is I don't find it funny at all. With this couple, from their meeting , their marriage and living together, nothing seemed quite balanced or justified. It seemed disjointed in a way and I was never convinced of their bond. Even in the intimacy scenes - not that many which was good - it looked like they weren't deeply into each other, it seemed staged or described in a way I saw as shallow. I don't know, it just didn't feel right all the time.
There are some conflicts to solve and despite the HEA in the end, some things seemed a little bit out of context. Just my impression, though. The author's writing and presenting of some situations seemed ok, others not so much. I guess the story isn't completely balanced from beginning to end.
The end also seemed slightly off. I understand the small paranormal detail and why it was used but the way it helped to create the final scenes ruined it a bit. Instead of being something mysterious but only left up in the air, suggestive, it became a bit real and brought the story from alluring to clichéd and sincerely I don't think that would have been necessary. Maybe it's the result of times but I think the author didn't have to use that as a tool to finish the story.
All in all, this was slightly above average but doesn't have all the necessary details to make me more convinced about it nor was I as dazzled by it as I thought.
I have higher hopes for the third installment, the characters seem more likable for me and many readers praise it. Let's hope it's better done than the first two stories.
Grade: 7/10

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Alison Packard - The Winning Season

Kelly Maxwell has finally landed her dream job as publicist for the San Francisco Blaze. But the team's newest member, handsome bad boy catcher Matt Scanlon, is refusing every interview. She's got to get him to open up before the season ends, or she may not be back next year. And after everything she overcame to achieve her dream, Kelly's not about to let that happen.
Matt Scanlon just wants to be left alone to rebuild his life and his career. After a year of masking the pain of a recent loss with hard partying and fast women, he finally hit rock bottom and was traded to a team he's loathed his entire life—a team with little to no chance at the post-season.
Butting heads is getting Kelly and Matt nowhere but annoyed, and with the team's schedule on the road, they can't avoid close quarters—or their surprising attraction to one another. As the season winds down, Matt finds his growing feelings for Kelly have brought his numbed emotions back to life. But when betrayal shatters their fragile trust, winning it all seems more impossible than ever.

Comment: This book hasn't been in the pile for long. I don't exactly remember when I got it, but it was somewhere this year. The premise of the story seemed appealing to me despite the first book not being something I'd want to try. Usually I try to follow series' order but in this case I just wanted to get to this book and that's it.
This is the story of Kelly Maxwell, a successful woman working for a baseball team. She faces a new challenge, Matt Scanlon, a new player in the Blaze team, coming from the Dodgers, a rival team.
Matt knows he's done badly in the last year but he has good reasons. He doesn't know how welcome he will be in his new team but he didn't think he would have to deal with Kelly too.
Kelly and Matt met before and their conversation didn't went well. Could they now work together? Kelly needs to settle Matt's interviews with the press, but despite thinking they don't have anything to talk about, surprisingly they do have things in common...
I liked this story. I liked the "feel" of the story and how nice it was to meet the main characters and see them interact and become better by being together.
I liked that both Matt and Kelly acted believable. They didn't do stupid things and the author didn't turn this into comic/exaggerated territory. In the end of the day, this story was sweet, simple and almost perfect because of that.
The flaw I found in this book comes from the conflict. We are told about the character's secrets and personal issues, they share those and it's actually good because it helps to strengthen their bond. But at some point the secrets come out and one of them acts fast and without weighting the consequences. I found this hard to believe when they are characters that act so practical and conscientiously the rest of the time. I understand this is supposed to add some drama and accelerate the HEA by making them react and be forgiven but sincerely the whole situation didn't have to follow this cliché of fighting and making up.
I also didn't get all the baseball facts. That's a sport that we don't have here in my country and apart from movies I have no clue about how it's played, why some things happen and most of the baseball talk about specific or technical facts passed me by. I assume most things make sense though.
I'm not saying I graded this lower because I didn't get it, but it's true I didn't follow some parts. Still, I suppose things are correct and all that talk helps building up the story and the dilemma that can be to change teams.
The romance was sweet. I liked knowing Kelly and Matt. I also liked them together.
Kelly is a likable woman, she's been through some hard challenges but she's smart, understandable and dedicated to her work and her hobbies. I liked her a lot.
Matt also had difficulties in his past, we totally get why he behaved badly before and I felt much empathy towards him and how hard some things he went through must have been like. He faces some personal issues but also professional because he changed teams. I thin this subject was interesting and in a way I wish the author had focused a bit more on it.
Their relationship was quite balanced and easy to want to follow.
I liked the author's writing. I think the story itself helped but overall I had a good time and found the writing appealing and without annoying fuss or details. I'm really interested in reading more by her.
This first book by a new author surprised me positively and this book is quite good.
Grade: 8/10

Monday, August 24, 2015

Dakota Rebel - Royal Pains

Ethan Conner and Jamie McHale have moved to Chicago so that Jamie can take over as King of the vampires of the city. But things are not going how they had planned. Ethan feels neglected as the new king is too busy trying to hold onto control of the city to spend enough time with his mate.
When Ethan is called home by his father to watch over his old kingdom in his parent’s absence, he is almost relieved to be leaving. The men try to work out a long distance relationship but the strain is just as hard on them as it had been before.
Meanwhile Jamie is fighting to assert his power over a group of vampires who remain loyal only to the former monarchy. He believes that his advisors are plotting behind his back and worries that he isn’t strong enough to hold things together on his own.
The men need each other more than ever, but without the bond that originally brought them together, their stubbornness and aggression feels too strong to overcome again. Both are left to wonder if they are ever going to make things work or if they have been fighting a losing battle from the very beginning.

Comment: This book by Dakota Rebel is the sequel to To Hate and to Hold, a book that is one of my favorites when it comes to vampire stories. I know this story has been released for two years but only recently I could finally get my hands on it. I was hopeful it would be good like its predecessor.

In tis sequel, the couple Ethan and Jamie, who got together because of a spell gone wrong, are finally living together and Jamie has won the right to be King of Chicago. But the job is taking a toll on their relationship because Jamie can't be with Ethan as much as he'd like. 
Ethan feels the pressure of living so far from home and being second place in Jamie's life. It's hard to understand how long Jamie is away from him, even in the times they could be alone.
Is their love not enough, was it a mistake to be in love and try at being in a committed relationship?

The moment a reader chooses to read a book can influence the final opinion, I think. I'm certain that, had I read this soon after the first it might feel better, but right now it only looked average and not amazing at all.
I actually feel disappointed because despite not remembering many details about the first book, I know I liked it a lot and I recall all the good feelings I had by having read a story where the couple didn't like each other much but fell in love. I can't say I felt the same with this one. In fact, this story was boring, unappealing and easily forgettable to me.

I couldn't find much interest in the plot. Jamie is King of Chicago, he has a lot to deal with etc, but I was never compelled to care about his troubles.
Ethan feels like a stay-at-home mate and wants to have a different life. Sincerely he seemed whiny and of everything he could do, he focused on the not doing thing.
Their lives apart from the bond/relationship interested me close to nothing, to be honest.

The relationship, which I loved so much, feels stagnate and unimportant. Why do they bother? It seemed that everything they went through was easily put aside and despite me understanding this is supposed to be the challenge of dealing with things after a hot start, I still felt bored by how everything seems flat and just a means to present a story that was perfect but sequel needs ruined it.

I also know each reader has an opinion, but for me nothing really made me feel happy or eager to keep reading.
The characters themselves were surprised at how others seemed different, so why wouldn't I?
After so much time it was hard to feel a connection to others than the main couple. Simply said, I wasn't invested in any other character in this story anymore. All the secondary characters felt like strangers and nothing in the way the author wrote made me feel like seeing people I once liked.

Finally, the sex scenes. Sure they have few times to show the other how much in love they are. But the sex was too much, too repetitive and without any meaning. They fought, they weren't in a balanced or settled relationship and sex was the escape of all the pressure, a means to reassure them of their bond. I just think this didn't have any importance and I skipped it all.

So, after all the plot and character's details processed, I have to say I was sorry this has taken this course. 
It feels like the author had to write something, because she wanted or maybe by reader/publisher nudges, I don't know, but honestly I feel like the story I cherish was ruined by a sequel that doesn't have any real plot at all, that's forgettable and uninteresting and exists only to justify a need that good stories nowadays have, that need to live on. But in my humble opinion, the original rocks and should be enjoyed by what it is without this sequel to change its perfection.
Grade: 4/10

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Patricia Gaffney - Lily

Born a lady, but now orphaned and left to the care of distant relations, Lily Trehearne’s fortunes are low indeed. All she inherited from her spendthrift father is a tangled web of debt, and her ultra-pious guardian, the Reverend Roger Soames, seems determined to marry her off to his son Lewis.
 Determined to save herself from that dreary fate, Lily panics and flees to Cornwall. Under the pseudonym Lily Troublefield, she accepts the first position she is offered, as a housemaid at the ominously named Darkstone Manor, property of Devon Darkwell. Lily’s new master is eccentric, deeply troubled . . . and strangely irresistible.

Comment: My most recent read was this book. I'm trying to go through my Patricia Gaffney backlist and although I don't read the books one after the other, I like to pick one now and then.
This month I grabbed this one and I have to say it, when she wants to, Ms. Gaffney sure can make her heroines suffer.
This is the story of Lily, a young woman who's facing some bad times after the death of her father. She has a tutor until she's old enough to inherit the money she's entitled to, but until then there's not much she can do. To avoid marrying the tutor's son, Lily escapes her house and randomly travels to Darkstone Manor, where she fabricates a serving past to gain employment there.
The master of the house is Devon Darkwell, a man facing disappointments from his past, some pain over things he can't change and get back and his new maid is just someone he finds pretty and nothing else.
Lily starts to fall in love but there's so much more than a class system to separate them...can they find happiness at last?
I liked some elements of this story. I also got emotional when Lily faced some of her darkest hours.
But I can't help but think some actions and reactions didn't always make sense.
I think the author did a good job portraying someone who's used to a challenging life but hasn't the total grasp of what entails to be working as a maid.
Lily is someone used to work but nothing heavy, just the expected for someone in a good house and taking care of the necessary tasks. When she starts working at the Manor while escaping from a fate where she would be forced to be someone she isn't, she can't really understand what a maid or a servant really go through.
I liked this aspect of the plot. Lily has to do a lot of things, she has to work hard, she doesn't have much food, her living conditions aren't good at all and to top it all out, the housekeeper is someone who mistreats the maids and those "below" her.
I think there aren't many historical romance writers that show the dichotomy between masters and servants. In this case we see it and the scenes where Lily had to work and just hurry up seemed quite realistic. I kind of wish the author had stressed out this even more.
Lily suffers a lot. Not all the author's heroines have so much hardship and suffering to go through but Lily certainly is top of the list. I cried when Lily was the target of hate and much negativity especially when she wasn't the one causing it. I won't go into spoilers but many people hurt her, one way or another. Those scenes were very emotional and what made this book have some value, the way human emotion was depicted.
What I think ruined this was how Lily, despite all, still let herself be seduced. I really wish things could have been different. We see how practical she is at times, it seemed silly to fall for someone who didn't always treat her well. Even more to forgive him so quickly. One might say it wasn't so, but honestly if someone did to me what Devon did to her, there wouldn't ever be a HEA.
I understand plot and romance techniques, but I was disappointed how things moved along, despite the emotional side.
There are a sort of mystery related scenes part of the plot but I wasn't much interested in those. Sure, they added to the story but the real important issues were related to Lily.
In the end, the HEA does happen but some secondary characters seemed to be there just because.
As for Lily and Devon, sure they find and keep happiness but the rocky path towards there seemed avoidable. Devon really does the most incredible things to Lily. I can't understand how easy his redemption ended up being. No matter how hurt you are, you don't payback to innocent people, you don't accuse before knowing all the facts. He annoyed me and even more so when I had to read about how such a poor guy he was because of his past. Come on, it hurt, learn something and be a gentleman anyway.
I liked some elements but overall, I wished there could be some better balance between the plot devices and character's personalities.
I hope my next read by this author isn't as emotional and unbalanced overall.
Grade: 7/10

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

TBR Challenge: Kristen Ashley - The Gamble

Nina Sheridan desperately needs a timeout vacation. With a fiancé who can't even remember how she takes her coffee, Nina wants some distance to rethink her engagement. Flying halfway around the world from England to a mountain town in Colorado should do the trick. But when she finds a gorgeous man at her rental cabin, Nina's cold, lonely adventure suddenly heats up.
The owner of the house, Holden "Max" Maxwell is surprised by the beautiful woman who turns up at his door. But when Nina becomes ill, Max spends days nursing her back to health. A private man with a broken heart, Max finds himself drawn to the strong-willed woman. Soon it becomes impossible for Nina and Max to deny their growing attraction to one another. Yet even as these two wounded lovebirds think about taking a chance on a relationship, a dangerous secret from Max's past emerges-and threatens to end their love for good.

Comment: Here's a new challenge read. This month the theme is about a book you bought on impulse, or that you forgot why you bought. I picked this title because I've heard about the author a lot and got curious, so I bought one book whose blurb seemed something I might appreciate. I bought my book around an year ago and I thought it would suit this theme quite well.
This is the story of Nina, a woman who needs a time-out and travels to Colorado from England to think about her relationship and the fact she needs to break up with her fiancé. However, there's a mix up at the house she rented and the owner, Max, is there. After a misunderstanding, Nina leaves but her car falls into a ditch and she falls asleep. She wakes up in Max's house while he takes care of her because she's very sick.
The attraction between them leads them into relationship level, but there are many obstacles to overcome and many people to deal with while still trying to figure out if they can actually make it.
This book is very big. It has a lot of pages and many times I thought all those pages weren't really necessary and the author could have economized several parts and that wouldn't "ruin" the plot. I get this is the author's style but I also admit being bored here and there. 
To be really honest there were some things that bothered me in terms of rationality and plot evolution. I wasn't as amazed by the book as I imagined based on so many good reviews of other readers, including people whose taste I trust. I know everyone's different and sees different things in the same book, but I was surprised nevertheless.
The story features many themes and that, I would say, is one of the problems. Why so many things to deal with, to have to focus on? There is murder, crime investigation, suicide, disability issues, relationship issues, what is an alpha ideas, domestic abuse, psychological parental abuse, etc. Maybe in a different story I could not notice all of them so much but in this very extensive book (more than 600 pages) it was obvious and not in the best way, I think. I wonder if less subjects could be better presented and not as tiresome to read about.
There are some incongruences I found annoying. For instance when Max looks through Nina's things when she's sick so he can check her phone number and so on and even later on tells her he saw her plane tickets, then why in the middle of the book there's a situation where he can't believe her age? Didn't he see her cards, why was it such a big deal how old she is vs how young she looks? It seemed silly to me.
There are other things I found eye rolling, especially when it came to their behavior towards each other. Sure they were attracted, falling in love, but the constant "darling", "honey", babe" endearments in their conversations went from boring to annoying.
Max and Nina doubted the other too in some aspects. Max in particular seemed to be right many times and when he got mad at Nina because she didn't explain her ideas or her thoughts I got surprised. Why would she have to explain things if he was the one who didn't tell her about those same things? It seems stupid to ask for her understanding about things he never mentioned himself.
Overall, the writing seemed ok but when it came to the dialogs and character's actions...many information seemed irrelevant and the dialogs were annoying because the majority of them were always interrupted, so people would be talking and someone would interrupt or the people talking wouldn't let the other finish their thought. It was very annoying. As it would be in real life.
Apart from these things, the plot itself seemed quite interesting. Some plot situations were interesting to see develop and I got interested in the characters and their lives, their goals and personality.
The main couple was ok apart from the annoying habits they had. Max sure is an alpha male and I didn't mind that per se but it did become slightly irritating when he assumed many things but got mad if Nina did the same. I don't think they were that balanced, but in the end there's an HEA and all is well.
Overall, this was average to me. I admit I got curious about the feel of the story, I liked some things and I'm curious if this is an author's skill or if it's only this book. I also wonder if the other stories by her are all the same - some readers have told me yes - if this lengthy plots are as annoying in places like this one, if the writing style is as evidenced in other books as in this one... if so I'll try another book later, maybe next year.
I wanted to love this author but apparently she didn't win me over...
Grade: 6/10

Monday, August 17, 2015

Juliet Marillier - Wolfskin

All young Eyvind ever wanted was to become a great Viking warrior--a Wolfskin--and carry honor out in the name of his fathergod Thor. He can think of no future more glorious. The chance to make it happen is his when his chieftain Ulf is brought the tale of a magical land across the sea, a place where men with courage could go to conquer a land and bring glory to themselves. They set out to find this fabled land, and discover a windswept and barren place, but one filled with unexpected beauty and hidden treasures... and a people who are willing to share their bounty.
Ulf's new settlement begins in harmony with the natives of the isles led by the gentle king Engus. And Eyvind finds a treasure of his own in the young Nessa, niece of the King, seer and princess. His life will change forever as she claims his heart for her own.
But someone has come along to this new land who is not what he seems. Somerled, a strange and lonely boy that Eyvind befriended long ago has a secret--and his own plans for the future. The blood oath that they swore in childhood binds them in lifelong loyalty, and Somerled is calling in the debt of honor. What he asks of Eyvind might just doom him to kill the only thing that Evyind has ever truly loved.
Will the price of honor create the destruction of all that Eyvind holds dear?

Comment: This is the first book of a duology written by Juliet Marillier. As always she presents a strong plot with many elements to explore, in particular facts related to the history of the Ozark islands and its occupation by Nordics.

In this book we meet Eyvind, a young boy whose main goal in life is to honor the God Thor and be one of his warriors. To be one, he has to be brave and eventually earn his place among the other warriors. 
The plot starts with him having to befriend and help Somerled, a timid but weird boy that shows up at Eyvind's house taken by his older brother Ulf. Somerled has a different way of seeing things and soon his personality is revealed to be quiet dark. But they now have a blood bond...
The story changes when the boys are older and travel with Ulf's men to a new place where Ulf wants to develop his ideas. But many things go wrong in that beautiful place and can Eyvind hold on to his honor while doing what should be right?

Juliet Marillier is a brilliant writer and she always manages to fill her stories with interesting philosophical questions, usually about honor and duty and doing what's right. For readers these issues are black and white, we see things and always know how things should go. Characters are actually more realistic therefore their actions are based on many factors when they don't have all the information.
I find this the hardest thing in this author's novels. I see the bad path some characters take, I see the bad things happening, I see how sad some consequences can be and I get so angry at that, how I wish the good guys could know before doing things exactly what that entails.

I think this can be seen as a compliment to the author's talent, to make the reader react, but frankly, I really just wanted the good guys to have the upper hand. I do understand emotion and the depth of feelings that can come forward because of ho characters react to bad and cruel things, but it's still despairing to watch.

As always, the author's writing is very good, evocative and presented to seduce and to grab us. It's difficult to put ourselves in the characters' shoes but often that game is something we can't avoid. I just think that with this author that brings too many charged reactions and it's not easy. 
I liked the story overall, I liked many interesting details about the way of life of the Nordics, about the islands they travel to and some historical data we can learn.

As for the fictional plot... it's nice to learn about characters, about what motivates them, how they become who they are, about the things they do and how all things are connected. It's not so nice to see where some things are going and how wrong they can be and how we can't change some bad things from happening.

I believe not many authors can grab a reader and make them strongly react to their words. We always retain out humanity and wishes in reading and sometimes it's hard to keep in mind this is fiction.
Eyvind is an amazing hero, he isn't perfect, he doesn't find excuses, he just doesn't want to face the truth at some point and he needs time to process that. I liked he wasn't blind but he wished so hard for things to just solve themselves. How good if that were to happen that way in real life too...
Nessa is a good heroine but I got the impression she wasn't as captivating as some others in previous series.

Overall, this book is good. But to be honest, it's not as special or maybe I should say it doesn't have the same interest in all the elements as some of her other work had. Could be this book? Could be that the sequel is better?
This is clearly Marillier, but after all things considered, even with that bittersweet but convenient HEA and finale, I still think this wasn't as well executed as some other books. Still, it's wonderfully written and has a good research work, as always...
Grade: 7/10

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Ilona Andrews - Magic Shifts

After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Curran misses the constant challenges of leading the shapeshifters.
So when the Pack offers him its stake in the Mercenary Guild, Curran seizes the opportunity—too bad the Guild wants nothing to do with him and Kate. Luckily, as a veteran merc, Kate can take over any of the Guild’s unfinished jobs in order to bring in money and build their reputation. But what Kate and Curran don’t realize is that the odd jobs they’ve been working are all connected.
An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece…

Comment: This is the most recent installment in the Kate Daniels seres by Ilona Andrews. This is one of my auto-buy series so, as soon as the book arrived in the mail and I finished what I was reading, I immediately jumped to this one.

In this book, Kate and Curran are working together but away from the Keep and the Pack as agreed with Roland in the end of the previous book. They are living in a new neighborhood, they take care of their jobs and Julie and any pack member that leaves the Pack for good to stand by them.
However, something is threatening Atlante and Kate feels she has to do something, making her go on an adventure to solve who is behind the recent weird and fatal attacks. But this time the danger is too big and Kate might not be able to do it on her own...

Again, I was taken to this amazingly imaginative world and became completely entranced in it, to the point where I couldn't put this story down. I was very dedicated to know what would happen next because anyone who has read a book by this duo knows there's a lot of action, fast scenes and amazing sequences to follow. I've read a lot of their books to know the balance between out of this world action scenes and emotional issues is perfect and I was proven right again with this book.

I thought it would be weird to see Kate and Curran out of the Keep, becoming different than what I got used to see them, meaning an united Pack front. But the path this is taking suddenly makes sense I was convinced what is happening to them is the solution to happiness and I wasn't as bothered anymore. The authors are perfect writers and their stories feel well thought, well structured and wonderfully presented.

Once more, the villains in the story seem too well imagined to be something normal people could think of. We keep seeing how the research they did bears fruits because all the elements to "build up" the villains, the way they appear and how, the background and explanations, everything makes sense. Their writing and picking of the information to use in the story is brilliant and not many authors can write effectively and with their purposes in perspective.

There are some scene' details, which help the plot move along, that don't seem as easy to overlook when we notice the wrongness of them - if we do notice -  but I've came to think no author is perfect all the time. Nevertheless, the way the plot moves and how it seems there aren't no missteps in the path from one scene to another, the rest is just random noise.

I loved seeing Kate and Curran happy, or trying to live a life as happily as they can, worries and problems aside. Another great aspect of this series is, no matter how well we know the characters and think they are open books to us, in this case they keep on revealing new facets, new details about their personalities that make the reader learn more and know more about them. And I mean this in a good way, not that we get useless information to just fill blanks.

I also liked the secondary characters. I especially like seeing beloved characters showing up, being part of the plot still. They feel like a big family sometimes...

I know I might sound too vague but I don't want to spoil things. This series is so wonderful, I think it's an unique experience to read and savor each chapter, each book. I think it's difficult to find any other series like this one in terms of plot and execution in this genre, that is as great as this one.
For me, this rocked, despite the minor little details I think didn't have to exist.
Grade: 9/10

Friday, August 14, 2015

Julie Anne Long - It Happened One Midnight

More than one beautiful woman’s hopes have been dashed on the rocky shoals of Jonathan Redmond’s heart. With his riveting good looks and Redmond wealth and power, the world is his oyster—until an ultimatum from his father and a chilling gypsy prophesy send him hurtling headlong toward a fate he’ll do anything to avoid: matrimony.
Intoxicating, elusive Thomasina de Ballesteros has the bloods of London at her feet. But none of them knows the real Tommy—the one with a shocking pedigree, a few too many secrets, and a healthy scorn for rakes like Jonathan.
She is everything Jonathan never wanted. But on one fateful midnight, he’s drawn into Tommy's world of risk, danger…and a desire he’d never dreamed possible. And suddenly he’s re-thinking everything...including the possibility that succumbing to prophesy might just mean surrendering to love.

Comment: This the 8th story in the PennyRoyal Green series and once again, I was marveled by how amazing it was. Since the second book, which has been my absolute favorite so far (it still is), I was looking for another installment that could captivate me as easily and this one managed to do it.
This is the story of Jonathan Redmond, the youngest Redmond sibling. He has been living with the curse of the gipsy's prediction he would father tem children but Jonathan doesn't feel such a thing could happen to him. He wants to prove to his father instead that he is able to live on his own, to become rich with his own investments and intelligence.
Thomasina de Ballesteros is a young woman whose reputation makes her one of the most sought women of the entertaining scene in London. However, Thomasine hides a secret agenda and she has one goal, to help as much children as she can from abuse and practically slavery at the hands of their "employers".
When these two meet one midnight, it seems only a battle of wits could happen but the more they know each other, the more in common they find...
I did love this story, it's wonderfully presented and to be honest, I devoured it. I couldn't put it down and I've taken probably less than 24h to read it, even if not in a continuous time. I enjoyed reading this story and sometimes that experience is so much more worthy than books we read but can't say we enjoyed. There's a lot to be told about entertaining...
As always, the story itself was quite amazing and I had a great time reading about Jonathan's and Thomasina's battles in their respective goals.
Jonathan seemed a very put together person, slightly different from the young man we've met in the first books. Of course, the focus being on and about him helps us in seeing him as someone more like a grown up, but I liked the type of person he is, I liked seeing his personality and how he thought for himself and how brave and decent he acted on behalf of those below him in society but who are still human beings. I do love when the heroes act like decent people.
Thomasina is someone who gets misunderstood for sure, but I think her practical moves and actions have a good reason of being and I especially liked how her act in society didn't make her someone feisty and exaggerated. It was good to see how caring and worried she was about others.
The main romance felt very easy but strong. The author did it and made it look like they had to be destined for one another but not to the point where it was inevitable. They simply fit together. I liked how each moment between them didn't seem rushed or handy, I particularly liked how they fell in love and how important they became to each other.
The plot isn't over the top, I liked the subjects dealt with in it, Jonathan's need to prove to his father he could make his own living, Thomasina's need to help others, the whole works of a society that seems to prefer a certain status quo but overlooks reality.
I especially loved the end where Jonathan tells some truths to his father and how the epilogue shows us a scene where we hope for what is to come in the final three books.
The second book remains my favorite though. Somehow that other story felt more passionate in a way.
In a book where we got to know and like the protagonists, care about other beloved charters and wish for good things to happen, the HEA does let us see how perfect a story can be told simply but well.
Grade: 9/10