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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Review: Never Say Duke (12 Dukes of Christmas, #4) by Erica Ridley


Print Length: 
Publisher: Webmotion January 5, 2019)

From Goodreads.com: Yes, Virginia, there is a Viscount…

Miss Virginia Underwood cannot resist rescuing a stray. Her latest find turns out to be a surly, reclusive war hero trying to recover from his wounds in peace. He doesn't want her help—and Virginia definitely doesn't want to fall in love. Not when a future with him would mean returning to the the same haut ton who laughed her out of Town during her very first Season.

Theodore O’Hanlon, Viscount Ormondton, sequestered himself far from London to heal in anonymity. For now, he can be himself. As soon as he returns, he's meant to wed the woman his father selected years before. But when Miss Underwood turns his carefully mapped life upside-down, Theo must decide which battles are truly worth fighting for.


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My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This story is more in line with what I know this author is capable of. Both characters are charming, and flawed in their own way. The addition of the cat (whose name I dare not speak) was a wonderfully comical addition that added more laugh out loud moments than I can count. 

The chemistry between these two was interesting - in that I thought Theo would be too stubborn to actually listen - so seeing not only they pair confide in one another, but having Theo performing the rehabilitation tasks set before him (even when there was no one to see) added to my overall enjoyment of this story.

I will say that my few "problems" with this story stem from the fact that while I enjoyed watching these two interact with one another, I do wish we would have seen more of a conflict between Lady Beatrice (who dare I hope will get her own story), as well as how Theo's father reacted when he introduced Virginia as his wife, but even without those instances this was still a very enjoyable story that I feel will appeal to fans of this author. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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                                 Never Say Duke is available from Amazon.com


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Review: Origin (Robert Langdon #5) by Dan Brown


Print Length: 461 pages
Publisher: Doubleday Books (October 3, 2017)

From Goodreads.com: Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.
As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.
Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself... and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery... and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.
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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Back before I was a "book reviewer", I read this book called The Da Vinci Code, and I could not put it down. I found myself rushing to my Grandmother's copy of The Last Supper, just to see if the things I had read about were true (they were). It was much the same when I read Angels & Demons (although this time I was googling things). The same happened with The Lost Symbol and Inferno. I loved the historical settings. I loved seeing the places come to life (and this was before seeing the movies). Heck, I even loved the one non Robert Langdon involved story I read called Deception Point. 

Dan Brown can tell a story. I thought. Dan Brown is my new favorite author. And he was. 

Until he wasn't. 

You know, I used to defend the author against accusations from other reviewers that all of his Robert Langdon stories were based off the same formula. 

And then I read Origin. 

It was then that I (sadly), realized the truth. They do all follow the same pattern. But even that can be forgiven right? When you are glued to the pages and following along on google for the historical sites. And then I realized. It just didn't add up. 

Even when it took time to find the right answer, he still found it too quickly. Even when the author tried to keep you guessing, in the end it was easy to figure out who was behind it all. I can even understand why this book was less "religious" and more "atheist". 

What I can't wrap my mind around was the ending. The moment of revaluation. The moment where I went "well duh! Even a blind man saw that coming!" 

This didn't feel like a Dan Brown book. What this felt like was a well written Robert Landon fanfiction. However, I have invested enough of my life in not only this author, but this character, that I will give him (them?) one last chance.

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                                          Origin is available from Amazon.com

Monday, January 7, 2019

Review: Forgotten & Remembered: The Duke's Late Wife (Love's Second Chance #1) by Bree Wolf


Print Length: 309 pages
Published: November 22, 2015

From Goodreads.com: A grieving widower. A strong lady. And a little girl who needs them both.

After losing his wife in an accident, GRAHAM ASTOR, DUKE OF KENSINGTON, decides that love is not worth the risk of having his heart broken all over again. Even his little daughter he keeps at a distance, afraid to hurt her with the darkness that now lives in his heart. Since he is unable to be the father she deserves, he vows to find her a mother who will heal her little heart.

At a garden party, Graham spots a young woman with a shy smile tending lovingly to her little cousins…and he knows his duty.

As the black sheep of her family, ROSABEL LANDER has no illusions about love. After her parents’ deaths, her aunt and uncle reluctantly took her in, demanding nothing short of complete obedience. Unable to live down her past, Rosabel only wishes for one thing: freedom.

However, before she dares to take the first step toward an independent future, a cold-hearted stranger asks for her hand in marriage…and as the obedient niece, Rosabel cannot refuse.

Will Rosabel find love after all? Or will the memory of Graham's late wife keep them both from finding happiness?



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My Rating:  1 star out of 5

My first read of 2019, almost became my first DNF of 2019. And for those of you who have been following my reviews since I began, you know how rare it is for me to DNF anything. 

This story does not paint a good picture for the rest of the series. In fact, after reading this one, as much as I liked Edmond, I am doubtful that I would read another story in this series. Much less another story by this author. 

Harsh? Yes. But let me explain why. 

This book was like a carousel. It had its ups and down, but it was slow and repetitive. Dreadfully so. 

Graham lost his first wife, that he loved despite certain "flaws". When she dies, he decides to marry Rosabel without ever speaking to her. Nope. Merely seeing her play with her own young relations is enough to convince him that she will be the perfect mother for his child. And then he spends 99.9% of the book

1. Running away
2. Wallowing in self-pity
3. Acting like a spoiled child
4. Mad at Rosabel for doing what's best for his child

He's quite frankly a cruel bully, even going so far as to threaten to separate Rosabel and his daughter because he's unhappy.  One minute he's happy around them and the next he's making them miserable. Or he makes progress, and he runs away in the night. On and on it goes for forty some odd chapters when really this book could have been condensed, heavily edited and probably much better for it. 

With such heavy repetition and characters as unlikable as this, do not be surprised if I never mention this author again.

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                           The Duke's Late Wife is available from Amazon.com


Monday, December 31, 2018

Review: The Duke I Once Knew (Unlikely Duchesses #1) by Olivia Drake


Print Length: 336 pages
Publisher: St.Martin's Press (December 31, 2018)

From Goodreads.com: First love is always the sweetest. 

For years, Abigail Linton devoted herself to caring for her aging parents and the children of her siblings. Now, eager to make her own life, she takes a position as governess on the neighboring estate. It shouldn’t matter that her absentee employer is Maxwell Bryce, the Duke of Rothwell, the infamous rake who once broke her youthful heart. Surely he’s forgotten her, for he hasn’t set foot on his estate for fifteen years. At least, that is, until he arrives unexpectedly.

Max is incensed to meet his sister’s new governess. But why does Abby appear just as displeased to see him when it was she who’d rejected him all those years ago? Why is he so drawn to the independent spinster she has become? And why is there a sparkle in her beautiful blue eyes that suggests they might have a second chance at love?


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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

This was one of those stories that really had nothing that stands out, nor is it completely horrid. The author has a flowing writing style (even if she does repeat herself more often than necessary, yes we know who is who and no, I do not need to be reminded every few chapters). I also noticed that she used "paw" to replace "hand" more than once as well. 

I enjoyed watching Abigail and Max navigate their new reality (aka who they are as adults, and how they feel about each other), and I even enjoyed the cast of minor characters (even the "villain" of the story who was a bit one dimensional). I wish there had been a bit more depth to the characters, and some not so obvious plot-lines added, but overall I think this story will appeal to fans of second chance romances, and I would read more from this author.

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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                         The Duke I Once Knew is available from Amazon.com


Friday, December 28, 2018

Review: A Midwinter Night's Dream (The Original Sinners) by Tiffany Reisz


Print Length: 336 pages
Publisher: 8th Circle Press (December 20, 2018)

From Goodreads.com: USA Today bestseller Tiffany Reisz turns back the clock on her Original Sinners series to the Victorian era in this kinky Christmas romance...

Two days before Christmas 1871, the newly-minted Baron Marcus Stearns returns to London for the reading of his long-estranged and much-despised father's will, fully certain he will inherit nothing but the title. He receives the shock of his life when he learns that he and his sister Lady Claire will only inherit their late father's vast estate if he marries—immediately. 

Kingsley, the Baron's lover and devoted valet, offers a simple solution to a seemingly Herculean task—the Baron should simply marry his beautiful ward Eleanor. Yet while the Baron longs to do just that...he possesses a dangerous secret that threatens to destroy their marriage before it's hardly begun. 



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My Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Every Christmas, out of the kindness of her heart, Mistress Tiffany releases a free novella to her faithful harem... err readers. This year, the gift came in the form of a wonderfully written Victorian era erotica story featuring everyone's favorite unholy Trinity. 

I will be the first to admit that I will greedily take anything she offers when it comes to Nora, Kingsley and of course Søren. Whenever I read about them, it is like coming home. I never tire of them or their kinky ways. However, when it comes to the stories themselves there is always a deeper message than just the sex that goes on. I think the message of this story can be perfectly summed up in this paraphrased passage: 

"What matters more? The ceremony and saying the vows? Or living them when it counts?"

The love these three have and share with each other is what makes these stories truly come alive. Even when they are insulting each other, you know they would gladly lay down their own life for the others. Its a beautiful love story, even if its told in the most unconventional way. 

Let me close by saying that I do wish this had been a full length story. Reading a Victorian Era erotica was a special treat for me as I am also a fan of historical romance novels. The fact that is featured my three favorite characters of all time was just the icing on the cake. 

                                                      

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Review: Cold Press (Anna Burgin #1) by David Bradwell


Print Length: 338 pages
Publisher: Lyrical Press (May 13, 2017)

From Goodreads.com: It's the winter of 1993, and Clare Woodbrook is the enigmatic head of the Special Investigations Department at Britain's leading daily tabloid. Her exposés are legendary, but she's not without her enemies. Now, on the verge of unveiling her biggest ever scoop, she arranges to meet her researcher Danny Churchill, to reveal all over lunch. 

But Clare never shows, and later that night her car is found abandoned on the hard shoulder of the M25. Worse still, the police investigation is being headed up by DCI Graham March - the embodiment of police corruption and the subject of one of Clare's current investigations.

Danny sets out to find Clare, and enlists the help of his spiky flatmate - fashion photographer Anna Burgin. But they soon realise that nobody can be trusted - especially the police. As the search becomes ever more desperate, suddenly their own lives are very much on the line.



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My Rating: 2 stars out of 5

It didn't matter how many times I tried, I just could not get into this story. 

To begin with, not only are the characters all very one dimensional, but the story-line manages to be both implausible and hard to follow. The hard to follow part is easy to explain - this story bounces around between different points of view without warning. Sometimes even within the same chapter. It made it hard to keep track of just who was telling the story. 

What makes it implausible is the way two people can just completely take over a police investigation and people just give them information when they have nothing to go on. Time and time again, Danny and Anna go places and question people in relation to a police matter and people never ask them why. There are some real problems when it comes to the handling of confidential information, and I just couldn't get past it. A bed and breakfast owner gives out information on a former guest? And lets them search their room? A "secure" mail facility gives someone access more than once without proper ID? Even with the "cat and mouse" game that was supposedly going on, it seemed entirely way too easy for these two to gain access to information they should never have seen. 

And then there was the ending. Which I had hoped would redeem this story. Nope. And while I am sure there are others who will love this story, it just was not for me. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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                                   Cold Press is available from Amazon.com

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Sunday, December 23, 2018

Review: The Collector (The Bone Collector #2) by Fiona Cummins


Print Length: 432 pages
Publisher: Pinnacle (December 18, 2018)

From Goodreads.com: It was only months ago that Detective Sergeant Etta Fitzroy was held captive by serial killer Brian Howley. Incredibly, she escaped. But so did he. What was found in the macabre museum Howley called home was unnerving enough. For Fitzroy, what the Butcher of Bromley didn’t leave behind chills her to the bone: not a single trace of his most recent abductee. All Fitzroy wants to know now is . . . dead or alive, where is the girl? 
 
Hiding in plain sight with a new name and a new identity, Howley is making plans for an ingenious new start, and he’s daring Fitzroy to come along. Clue by terrifying clue, she’s following in a killer’s footsteps, but even she can’t imagine where they’ll lead. Because Howley’s endgame has a terrifying twist—one that will not only change his fate, but the fate of everyone Fitzroy is risking her life to protect.


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My Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Let me being with the disclaimer that I have NOT read the first book. And honestly, after reading this one, I don't feel like I needed to. There is enough backstory woven in to this one that it was easy to understand what motivated these people. I can even praise the fact that this story moved at a very steady pace. 

However. I just never got into it. 

To begin with the points of view changed in such a way that it was sometimes hard to figure out who you were reading. I found myself having to go back and re-read sections to figure it out. This is a story that has been published before, and to be honest, the original synopsis was better than this one. 

My main problems with this story was not only the implausible story-lines but the seeming lack of real character development, and characters acting well, completely out of character as well. 

Instead of being the main character I expected DS Fitzroy to be, she more or less faded into the background. Then you expect me to believe that someone as cunning as the Collector is going to pick a random TEENAGER to "mold in his image"? Get out of here! There is no way someone like Howely would ever bring another person into his inner circle. I also found it hard to believe that Jakey's parents wouldn't have listened to their son when he told them that Ol' Bloody Bones was back.

Overall this story had the potential to be amazing. Instead it was a seemingly thrown together mishmash of characters and stories that just fell apart. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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                              The Collector is available from Amazon.com