Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition (2)

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Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition is a meme hosted by Tin @ Love Saves the World and Mary @ Buried Under Romance where you get to feature historical romance novels published before October 3, 2008.

 

This week, I’m featuring Gaelen Foley.

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 The Duke, published in 2000

 

From Goodreads:

Driven to uncover the truth about the mysterious death of his ladylove, the Duke of Hawkscliffe will go to any lengths to unmask a murderer. Even if it means jeopardizing his reputation by engaging in a scandalous affair with London’s most provocative courtesan–the desirable but aloof Belinda Hamilton.

 
Bel has used her intelligence and wit to charm the city’s titled gentlemen, while struggling to put the pieces of her life back together. She needs a protector, so she accepts Hawk’s invitation to become his mistress in name only. He asks nothing of her body, but seeks her help in snaring the same man who shattered her virtue. Together they tempt the unforgiving wrath of society–until their risky charade turns into a dangerous attraction, and Bel must make a devastating decision that could ruin her last chance at love. . .

 

 

I would read anything Gaelen Foley writes. Her historical romances are fast-paced, adventure- and action-filled, and steamy as they come. My very first impressions of her as a writer and of her stories are that they were refreshing. Her books pack more than the usual action and suspense and while those were unexpected, they were most definitely welcome, appreciated, and loved.

 

This book is the first book in her second series, the Knight Miscellany. I really enjoyed reading this book because of the seemingly reversed portrayals of our hero and heroine. And I say seemingly because it is not really who they are, or it’s only a part of who they are and what society sees of them. Our hero is the straight-laced and respected peer of the realm while our heroine is a celebrated courtesan. And who doesn’t love reading about a straight-laced hero? All the more to look forward to his eventual un-lacing, so to speak *evil laugh*. Because usually as HR canon, so to speak, dictates, the hero’s usually a rake and the heroine’s an innocent girl. Of course, this is not to say that I don’t enjoy the usual set-ups but that’s why I was so enamored with this book because Gaelen Foley presents an alternative set-up and it totally works.

 

 

 

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“Waiting On” Wednesday: The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan

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“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases.

 

 

The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan (The Brothers Sinister Book 3)

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Released Date: December 2013

 

 

There’s no official blurb or summary of this book yet even though the release date is but two months away. Courtney Milan says she can’t quite write a summary that isn’t laden with spoilers so I understand.

 

Nevertheless, let me just say that this book will be about Sebastian Malheur, the last of the trio of the Brothers Sinister. He’s an infamous rake but that isn’t the greatest (or not) of his infamy. He’s also this well-known and at times much-hated scientist who writes treatises and delivers lectures on “sexual intercourse under the guise of discussing the inheritance of traits”, by studying plants and insects. 🙂

 

 

Why am I waiting?

 

Because it’s Courtney Milan, that’s why.

 

She writes some, if not the, most unconventional historical romances I’ve read. I love her stories and I love her characters. And her prose, I just want to read it and read it. And then read it some more, never wanting it to end.

 

If you guys are interested, check out the rest of the books plus novellas in this series while we all wait for December to arrive.

 

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What about you? What are you “waiting on” this Wednesday?

 

 

Review: My Lady Quicksilver by Bec McMaster

 

17310126Here’s a summary from Goodreads:

Determined to destroy the Echelon she despises, Rosalind Fairchild is on seemingly easy mission. Get in. Uncover the secrets of her brother’s disappearance. And get out.

In order to infiltrate the Nighthawks and find their leader, Sir Jasper Lynch, Rosalind will pose as their secretary. But she doesn’t count on Lynch being such a dangerously charismatic man, challenging her at every turn, forcing her to re-evaluate everything she knows about the enemy.

He could be her most dangerous nemesis—or the ally she never dreamed existed.

 

 

I didn’t have any expectation going into the book other than find out how the overarching plot will unfold but this story and its hero and heroine really got under my skin in a good way. This book might rival with Heart of Iron as my favorite in the series but I have to say that this might be Bec McMaster’s best book yet.

 

The story was so tight and well thought-of. I didn’t even find any gaps in the story at all. The characters were all fleshed out, even the secondary characters. You have an idea of what their motivations are and where these might lead them to and yet you keep on thinking and guessing what they will actually decide to do next.

 

The mystery and suspense were done artistically and beautifully. You get all the intrigue and the excitement. There were a lot of plot points going on: the humanist movement, the Mechs breakaway group, the mysterious affliction among the bluebloods, the hunt for Mercury and an intro into the world of the Nighthawks, and the intrigue and politics in the Echelon. There seem to be a lot going on but everything was just weaved into this one continuous and interconnected web world. Seamlessly and with a lot of sense.

 

I also appreciated the flow of the story. With each scene revealed, it flows seamlessly into the next and as the mysteries start to unfold, you discover that everything the author has written before was there for a reason. I love how well-connected all the details were. It was a solid story through and through.

 

And the characters, oh, the characters. I’m not entirely sure if this is plot-driven or character-driven novel, but I love both those points in this book. Lynch and Rosalind were just amazing characters. They leap off the pages and were really just well-developed characters.

 

Lynch, in the previous books in the series was like a side character for me that wasn’t so important or particularly interesting. But I was totally wrong. He’s this complex being with his own set of past and present, the details of which are actually engaging to learn and find out. His personality is so desirable and admirable and I loved seeing him show all these sides of himself to both Mercury and Rosalind.

 

Rosalind is no ordinary heroine either. This gal is a force to be reckoned with. I love how Bec McMaster wrote her. You see her as this strong-willed woman. You also see her as a woman who’s physically capable and skillful of defending and taking care of herself. But you also get to see her vulnerabilities not because she’s a woman but because she’s a person who’s capable of feeling deep emotions. I just really love how strong she is. It takes a lot to be the kind of person that she is and you can’t help but root not just for her but for Lynch as well.

 

The dual persona of Mercury and Rosalind was one of those plot points that I was hoping would be dealt with well by the author and she did not disappoint. You know there are times when deception plots such as this are not done well by authors and they come off as being shallow or forced even. But props to Bec McMaster for doing a really good job in this regard. Every situation that needed that bit of deception plot made sense and was organic not just to the plot but to the characters as well.

 

A really, really tension-filled but definitely enjoyable read.

 

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

 

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros: Snowfall by Mary Ann Rivers

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First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros is a weekly meme hosted at Bibliophile by the Sea, where you get to share the first paragraph (or so) of a book you’re currently reading or thinking of reading soon.

 

For my first entry for this meme, I’m featuring the latest novella from Mary Ann Rivers. Her debut novella, The Story Guy, won my heart and total devotion over. It’s a novella, for crying out loud, it shouldn’t hit you so hard. But as Courtney Milan has previously shown me and now Mary Ann Rivers, novellas do have the capacity to kick you in the gut with all these intense emotions and great characterizations. And it’s great! Here’s the first paragraph (or so) of the book.

 

     This is the time of year we want most to tell the people we love that we’re okay.

      I think that’s why we get on ladders and hang lights from the tallest eaves of our houses, from the very tops of trees.

       It’s to get some light in front of the darkness, to tell the whole world that we’ve made it, and that these lights, way up here? That’s what we think of the New Year, what’s coming—it’s all going to be light and joy and flame in the blackness and non of us have any reason to be afraid.

       All those carols we loved as kids?

       Now, they make us cry, because to sing them, to hear them, to pass a flame candle to candle while the lyrics come easy, is to acknowledge everything that has come since childhood.

      The darkness and the light.

 

Prior to starting this novella, I could not help but think if it will be just as mind-blowing in greatness as her debut and wondering if she will be a keeper author or just one of those one-time deals. I’m happy to report that she does deliver. I’m just halfway through but I’m glad that her writing is as steady as in her first novella and the poignancy and slight humor, not to mention the intense emotions (I believe I said that already) are still very present in her new story.

 

Here’s the blurb from her Goodreads:

Jenny Wright can’t get enough of her erotic conversations with someone she knows only as “C.” Flirting online helps Jenny temporarily escape confronting the changes to her life as she slowly loses her vision. Jenny’s occupational therapist, Evan Carlisle-Ford, is helping her prepare for the challenges ahead, but the forthright, trustworthy man can no longer ignore his growing attraction to his fiercely intelligent client. Now Jenny must choose between the safe, anonymous “C”—or the flesh-and-blood Evan, whose heated kisses can melt snow faster than it can fall.

 

This novella is part of a three-book bundle featuring two other writers, Lisa Renee Jones and Serena Bell, entitled Heating up the Holidays.

 

Check out Mary Ann Rivers’ website for more details on her books.

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition (1)

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Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition is a meme hosted by Tin @ Love Saves the World and Mary @ Buried Under Romance where you get to feature historical romance novels published before October 3, 2008.

 

For my first foray into this Thursday meme, I’m featuring one of the very first historical romance authors I’ve read and whose works are really close to my heart: Judith McNaught.

 

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Something Wonderful, published in 1991

 

From Goodreads:

The tempestuous marriage of Alexandra Lawrence, an innocent country girl, and Jordan Townsende, the rich and powerful Duke of Hawthorne, is about to face its ultimate test of tender loyalty. Swept into the endlessly fascinating world of London society, free-spirited Alexandra becomes ensnared in a tangled web of jealousy and revenge, stormy pride and overwhelming passion. But behind her husband’s cold, arrogant mask, there lives a tender, vital, sensual man…the man Alexandra married. Now, she will fight for his very life…and the rapturous bond they alone can share.

 

I adore this book. It will forever remain as one of the most memorable historical romance stories I’ve ever read. This book encompassed a pretty lengthy time frame but the beauty of that is that you just can’t help but get attached to the wonderful characters. Alex and Jordan have really gone through a lot in this book and reading them go through every milestone or every pivotal scene, because there were a lot, done beautifully by McNaught, you really feel like you’ve gone through the same journey with them. Judith McNaught writes such powerful scenes, wonderful dialogue, and heartfelt emotions. And the romance, you guys, the romance. Heart and Soul.

 

That’s what HE said Thursday: Will Herondale

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That’s what HE said Thursday is a weekly meme hosted at Chapter Break, where you post a favorite line from your book boyfriend to his heroine.

 

As my first post for this particular meme, allow me to start with one of the most noble, if not overly so, Will Herondale from Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices series.

 

This particular line is from Will to Tessa in Clockwork Princess:

I thought perhaps that when you told me you did not love me that my own feelings would fall away and atrophy, but they have not. They have grown every day. I love you now more desperately, this moment, than I have ever loved you before, and in an hour I will love you more than that.

 

Oh, Will…

 

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Review: Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt

13064395Here’s a summary from Goodreads:

WHEN A MASKED MAN . . .

Twenty years ago Maximus Batten witnessed the brutal murders of his parents. Now the autocratic Duke of Wakefield, he spends his days ruling Parliament. But by night, disguised as the Ghost of St. Giles, he prowls the grim alleys of St. Giles, ever on the hunt for the murderer. One night he finds a fiery woman who meets him toe-to-toe—and won’t back down . . .

MEETS HIS MATCH . . .

Artemis Greaves toils as a lady’s companion, but hiding beneath the plain brown serge of her dress is the heart of a huntress. When the Ghost of St. Giles rescues her from footpads, she recognizes a kindred spirit-and is intrigued. She’s even more intrigued when she realizes who exactly the notorious Ghost is by day . . .

DESIRE IGNITES A DANGEROUS PASSION

Artemis makes a bold move: she demands that Maximus use his influence to free her imprisoned brother-or she will expose him as the Ghost. But blackmailing a powerful duke isn’t without risks. Now that she has the tiger by the tail, can she withstand his ire-or the temptation of his embrace?

I’m having mixed feelings about this book. I really, really wanted to love it but as it turns out, I just really like it a lot. This might be a bit overly dramatic but for me this means unfulfilled expectations. But don’t get me wrong, Elizabeth Hoyt still writes some of the best historical romances I’ve read, this book included.

The trajectory of the story with the mystery and the romance was well thought of. They felt organic and natural.  Maximus and Artemis falling in love with each other happened gradually, just the way I liked it. There was no instant attraction, although there was that distinct fascination with each other. I know that their different social stations is as usual trope as they come but Hoyt has this ability to make you see beyond that trope and know that what these two characters are experiencing are their own and no one else’s.

Maximus and Artemis were well fleshed out characters. By the time I had finished the book, I know them already. Maximus with his desire to find his parents’ killers and bring him his own brand of justice and the loyalty that his dukedom demands of him in order to honor his father’s memory clashing with his growing feelings for Artemis is a hero that I rooted for. Artemis is really such a strong character. When I first read the summary and found out that she actually blackmailed Maximus into freeing her brother from Bedlam, I started rooting for her as well. I appreciate that even though there were times when she would be wishing for the good times of the past again, she still has courage and motivation to continue forward and carry on. And I loved the moments when she goes for something she wants, for herself and not because others have pushed her or her circumstances do not allow them. And then she revels in it, in her ability and triumph in being able to make that choice.

What I enjoy reading in Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series is that she shows us another part of London at that time. The characters and the story are not limited to the confines of the ballroom or the happenings of the ton, although there were a few instances in those settings. But she shows us the less fortunate parts of London, such as St. Giles, where our hero, Maximus, battles his demons, physical and emotional both, and Bedlam, which was mentioned in passing in some of the novels I’ve read but never really explored as a place as it was in this book. There’s just something about these alternative settings, so to speak, that contribute or lend something extra to the characters depth and overall disposition.

Also, Hoyt writes the most amazing tales that she incorporates in her novels. This book features the Legend of the Herla King. Their beautiful in and of themselves but she weaves them in the plot and it’s sort of a meta play on what is happening with the characters.

My only issue with this book, I guess, is that for some reason, I felt like there were lagging parts in there. I’m not entirely sure if it’s because it didn’t quite live up to my expectations of a tension-filled and fast-paced plot or it is just weird-o-me. I know that the writing is tight and Hoyt gives us great characters but I still have the feeling that something was missing.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t stop me from admiring Hoyt as a writer or reading whatever she publishes next in the future. I actually look forward to where she plans to take this series. I’m guessing there’s a book somewhere in the future with Apollo, Artemis’ brother, as the main character. Maximus’ younger sister, Phoebe, also has a potential to become a heroine herself.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Duke of Midnight came out October 15, 2013. Check Elizabeth Hoyt’s website for more information about her Maiden Lane series as well as her fantastic The Princes Trilogy.

“Waiting On” Wednesday: No Good Duke Goes Unpunished

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“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases.

 

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean (Rules of Scoundrels Book 3)

Release Date: November 26, 2013

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads16240497

A rogue ruined . . .

He is the Killer Duke, accused of murdering Mara Lowe on the eve of her wedding. With no memory of that fateful night, Temple has reigned over the darkest of London’s corners for twelve years, wealthy and powerful, but beyond redemption. Until one night, Mara resurfaces, offering the one thing he’s dreamed of . . . absolution.

A lady returned . . .

Mara planned never to return to the world from which she’d run, but when her brother falls deep into debt at Temple’s exclusive casino, she has no choice but to offer Temple a trade that ends in her returning to society and proving to the world what only she knows . . . that he is no killer.

A scandal revealed . . .

It’s a fine trade, until Temple realizes that the lady—and her past—are more than they seem. It will take every bit of his strength to resist the pull of this mysterious, maddening woman who seems willing to risk everything for honor . . . and to keep from putting himself on the line for love.

 

 

I adored Sarah MacLean’s previous installment in this series, One Good Earl Deserves a Lover, and I’m eagerly anticipating this next book. Sarah MacLean gives us another interesting premise and I can’t wait to learn more about Temple’s story. By the summary, I know readers can look forward to mystery, a bit of action, and of course, romance, which Sarah MacLean has delivered well in her previous books.

 

And isn’t the book cover pretty? 🙂 Of course, it may well be because I’m biased to green but I like it a lot.

 

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Character Names I Love

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s list is about character names you love or unusual character names that you’ve encountered. Here’s mine.

 

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Eugenides “Gen”

The Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner

 

 

 

 
73089#9

Heath Champion

Match Me If You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

 

 

 

 
16068905#8

Cather (and Wren)

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

 

 

 

 
05 hostage to pleasure#7

Ashaya Aleine

Hostage to Pleasure by Nalini Singh

 

 

 

 
256683#6

Magnus Bane

The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

 

 

 

 
12 heart of obsidian#5

Kaleb Krychek

Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh

 

 

 

 
3#4

Draco Malfoy

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

 

 

 

 
11735983#3

Four

Divergent series by Veronica Roth

 

 

 

 
6148028#2

Peeta Mellark

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

 

 

 

 
9961796#1

Cricket Bell

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

Dominique Richard
The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand

Penelope
Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Pippa
One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean

Dimitri
Archangel’s Blade by Nalini Singh

 

 

What about you? Which character names do you love or you find unusual?

 

 

Super Six Sunday: Favorite Book Couples

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Super Six Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Bewitched BookwormsEven though, it’s already Monday, I just couldn’t pass up this Super Six Sunday week. This Sunday’s theme: Favorite Couples.

It was so hard to narrow it down to six when I have a long list of couples that I really enjoyed rooting for. But finally, I did get them narrowed down. Somewhat.

 

Tied at #6

Lola and Cricket

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

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I love reading about these two quirky characters, with their past and their present feelings. The chemistry is so there that even before Cricket enters the story and Lola just mentions him in passing, you just know that there’s something special about their connection, whatever that may be.

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Cath and Levi

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Theirs is a romance that hit me blindsided. I didn’t even know Rainbow Rowell was going to go there but when she did, wow, was it amazing. I love the gradual connection that emerged between these two. And when they got together, I thought, ‘Were they ever going to be with anybody else? Of course not.”

 

 

Tied at #5 (again… ^_^)

Pippa and Cross

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean

one good earl deserves a lover

It was just so good watching or specifically reading these two fall in love with each other. I don’t know if they were described as such in the book itself but when I think of them, they remind me of jagged puzzle pieces with their oddities and eccentricities particularly Pippa but nevertheless, their jagged edges fit perfectly together. And Sarah MacLean did such a great job with their story.

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Evie and Sebastian

Devil in Winter (The Wallflowers # 3) by Lisa Kleypas

These two have found salvation and redemption in each other. I loved watching Sebastian change for the better or to describe it better, be the man we know he truly is.

 

 

#4

Eleanor and Park

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

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The beauty with the nitty-gritty of first love. These two just break my heart. With their intense emotions coupled with that you-and-me-against-the-world kind of environment. The development of their relationship just leaves you amazed and flabbergasted. It wasn’t the type of relationship with distinct episodes ending in exclamation points but the type that is just connected by these series of commas, with one episode flowing into the next seamlessly and irrevocably that there was no way of getting to that period without every single thing that had happened before it.

I grabbed this wonderful art from Rainbow Rowell’s website and which she, in turn, got from a digital painting by Simini Blocker.

 

#3

Eugenides and *SPOILER* Attolia (highlight to read)

The Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner

the king of attoliaqueen of attolia

Oh, these two. If ever there was a more complicated but profound romance, it will be the story of these two compelling characters. How a romance could’ve developed from their circumstances and blossom into the kind of partnership that these two have, is a complete and utter mystery to me and one that I am more than happy to just enjoy and revel in, thanks to the literary genius of Megan Whalen Turner.

 

#2

Penelope and Colin

Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

romancing mr bridgerton

I’ve re-read their story half a dozen times already and I still haven’t gotten tired of it. Or ever will, I daresay. There’s just something magical with these two and how their relationship has evolved from a mere acquaintance into true friendship and later into a beautiful love.

 

 

 

#1

Ashaya and Dorian

Hostage to Pleasure by Nalini Singh hostage to pleasure

The connection of these two just burns through the pages. Their passion, their strong characters, and their devotion and loyalty just light a fire and touch you as a reader. A short interlude between the two from the previous book in the series and you just know that Nalini Singh would not pass up an opportunity to write a book about them. Their story is fraught with all kinds of obstacles that Nalini just lays down perfectly and although I looked forward to their happily ever after, I was just invested and excited to go along the journey with them. And I was never disappointed. Not even once.

 

Special mentions:

Lydia and JonasA Kiss for Midwinter by Courtney Milan (novella) 16116470

 

Annabelle and HeathMatch Me If You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips 

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Tris and FourDivergent Series by Veronica Roth 

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Katniss and PeetaHunger Games series by Suzanne Collins 

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Who are your favorite book couples?