Friday, May 23, 2014

2014, Part 5

Otherwise Enagaged by Amanda Quick- Amity Doncaster is an experienced traveler, but when she meets Benjamin Stanbridge on a tropical island, she doesn't know that her meeting with him will put her life in danger. At first, he is the one in danger, bleeding from a wound sustained by a spy, but she nurses him back to health on their trip back to England. He has also given her a message to pass on for him, and she is willing to do so. But soon after her return to England, she is assaulted in a carriage one night by a deranged killer known as "The Bridegroom". But thanks to the metal Tessen, a Japanese war fan that she carries with her, she is able to fight her way out of danger. But the incident brings Benedict and Amity together, and both wish to find the killer, as they discover that he has killed at least four women before. Benjamin, though, is still attracted to Amity, and he remembers the kiss they shared on the boat. She does as well, but can two so mismatched people actually find true love in each other's arms, or will they part after finding the identity of the Bridegroom and bringing him to justice? Because the killer behind the Bridegroom also has ties to the information on Solar Energy that Benjamin had gone abroad to retrieve, and the solution to the killings may have more to do with spycraft than mere technology. But can Benjamin and Amity find the villains together? I loved this book, which has nothing to do with Amanda Quick/Jane Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle' ongoing Arcane stories. What it does have is mystery and suspense, along with a rational hero and a heroine who happens to be strong and brave. I loved this book, and the mystery within, and the unusual weapon that the heroine wields. Highly recommended.

Cauldron of Ghosts by David Weber and Eric Flint- When Anton Zilwicki and Victor Cachat escaped Mesa with Rogue Scientist Herlander Simoes, their landlady and her daughter, they knew the information they now had about Mesa and Manpower, Inc. the Corporation who really ran Mesa and who kept Manticore and the People's Republic at each other's throats so that they would not team up to go after the home of genetic slavery, they knew that the information they had gathered would blow the lid off their respective governments. Not only did it stop the cold war, part of the ongoing war between Manticore and Haven, the two sides made peace with each other and then went a step further by becoming allies after a disastrous attack on Manticore's Shipbuilding sattellites left the star nation all but defenseless. Now, both the Manties and the Havenites have allied with Torch, the home of many newly-freed slaves, and Anton's adopted daughter Berry Zilwicki has become their Queen- and all three are more than interested in bringing Manpower down. And bringing down Manpower means dealing with Mesa. Which means it is time for another mission to Mesa. Since Anton, Victor Cachat and Victor's lover  Thandi Palane, the former Scrag and now leader of Torch's armed forces, are returning to Mesa in second skins crafted by Beowulfers, who are also against Genetic Slavery. They are meant to be going back to find out yet more about the elusive Manpower, Inc. and the ruling Alpha cabal that oversees Mesa and the operations of Manpower. But Mesa has dealt with the "Green Pines" incident where a defecting security man set off a nuke to cover HerlanderSimoes, Cachar and Zilwicki's escape, by lashing out at the "seccies", the offspring of manumitted slaves, when menumission was allowed. The seccies are frightened and don't seem to be able to fight back on their own- but when the crackdowns worsen, the crimelords who Cachat and Zilwicki have been working with step in to protect their people- and an uprising begins that will forever change the Mesan's attitudes towards the Seccies and possibly overthrow the government of Mesa. But casualties are high- will the ensuing chaos kill the infiltration team along with the Seccies, or can Cachat, Zilwicki, palane and their allies be able to hold out long enough to be rescued by Honor Harrington and the forcres under her command. Wow, this book was BRUTAL. Instead of the relatively straightforward ship battles, the fights here take place on the ground, and because they involve civilians, they seem more real and enact a greater toll on the reader. The almost casual brutality of the forces on the Mesan side at the beginning of the battle is horrendous and shocking, and the reactions of the troops to what was going on was also pretty shocking. A lot of the beginning of the book is talking heads, but trust me when I say that there is plenty of action in the later part of the book. This one kept me on the edge of my seat, and I can't wait to read the next book in the series. Manpower may have been handed a temporary setback, but they aren't dead yet. Not nearly. Highly recommended.

Five Dead Canaries by Edward Marston- The frist World War grinds on, and those left at home do as best they can to carry on. Women have had to take on the jobs of men, and some men resent them for it. So when a group of six young women Munitioneers, known as "Canaries", because the chemicals turn their skin yellow, go to a pub to celebrate one of the women's birthdays, they plan to have a good time. Only one woman, Maureen Queen, who leaves early because she feels sick, survive the blast that kills the other five. But who would want to kill this particular bunch of women? And were they killed because they were taking away the jobs of men, as some feel, or was it something personal which led to their death? Joe Keedy and Inspector Marmion will have their work cut out for them in determining who would be so evil as to kill five young women in the prime of their lives, and what led to such hatred against the Canaries in the first place. And this time, Inspector Marmion's daughter Alice, herself the fiancee of  Joe Keedy, working in the woman's Police Corps, may be able to help, as she is the same age as the young dead women. But can she keep the secret from her superior, who has a grudge against her because of her famous detective father? And will Marmion ever be reconciled to the fact that his daughter is in love with his own partner? I loved this book, because it exposed me to information I didn't know about World War I, how England had fared badly in the first year of the wat because of their lack of munitions, and only after women started working in the factories was England able to pump up the production to meet the demmand. And the price forthe women working in those factors was that their skin turned yellow, taking away what many men thought of as their natural beauty- their clear complexion. There are many red herrings during the course of the novel, and when the villain is revealed, it comes a bit out of left field- the families of each girl, victims and survivor both, are well-drawn and figure into the mystery. Many details of the girls lives are laid bare, but it never causes us to lose sympathy with them- the families, most of the time, but not the girls themselves. This was an excellent mystery, and one I'd definitely recommend. Recommended.

Copperhead by Tina Connolly- Helen Huntingdon once used to be pretty, but now she is supernaturally beatiful. Her husband paid for her to be given a new face by utilizing bits of Fae, and the same man who did her own face also did the same to 99 others. The Hundred found out, almost too late, and much to their own cost, that this process made them vulnerable to takeover by the Queen of Fae, who would supplant their personalties and take them over completely. But the humans, led primarily by Helen's sister, Jane, rose up and threw over the Fae, but the only protection for the woman who underwent the procedure is to weat masks of iron whenever they go out into the world, to prevent them from being taken over again, and to prevent them from using the glamour that they have inherited from the bits of Fae that were implanted into them. Jane has been studying and thinks that the best way to help is to return their true faces to the women, but has had little luck in convincing them to go through with the procedure. Helen promises to help her, as these women are in her social circle. But when Jane disappears partway through an attempt to return the face of the wife of Mr. Grimsby, the head of a Political clique called Copperheas, Helen finds herself desperately searching for her missing sister, and among an entirely new class of people, from actors to the Dwarvven, a short race of people who have long been on the side of humans and against the Fae. But now Copperhead seems to be prejudiced against the Dwarvven as well, and they are instituting an increasingly harsh rule over London. Helen finds herself thrown into the company of Rook, a half Dwarvven who appears to show up wherever Helen goes. But can Helen find and free her sister and uncover the true motives of the Copperheads without alienating her increasingly hostile husband? And when the time comes to choose butween her love and her duty, which will she choose? I didn't read the first book, Ironskin, and I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to understand what was going on, but no, the story was laid out in such a way that it was more or less clear what had happened, and what the background of the story was, and I really enjoyed myself immensely anyway. The story is fraught with danger and has plenty of tension as Helen confronts some really horrible truths about the society she is living in and the people she thought she knew. This was a really excellent story, and I loved the ending, promising a happy ending for Helen, at least. Recommended.

Circle of Fire by Keri Arthur- Madeline Smith lives a extremely secretive, proscribed life because she fears the psychic powers she has  inherited. But when she is approached by a man she thinks is a ghost, asking her to help him, she initially backs away. Why does he want her help? But as it transpires, he isn't dead at all. Jon Barnett is still alive, but maybe not for long. He was shot in the arm and fell into a well, and is rapidly losing strength. He also warns het that children who have visited a place called Taurin Bay. And her nephew and sister went their recently. She calls to see if her nephew is okay, and it seems that he is... until her sister calls her the next day and tells her that Evan is missing, Madeline knows she must help Jon, but she has no idea of what Jon is, or the kinds of creatures that exist. And when one of them is responsiblefor the disappearance of not only Evan, but many other kids in the area, can she continue working with Jon the shifter to help save them, or will she flee when she discovers who and what he is? Building on the Nikki and Michael series, the organization Michael worked for, The Damask Circle, is the focus of this series. Maddy is a psychic, a firestarter, who lives in fear of her talent and cannot control it. But to help save her nephew, she is going to have to face up to who and what she is, and deal with the anger and hatred of her sister's husband, who feels she is a bad influence on Evan. Jon, too, has to deal with his feelings for Maddy and not wanting her to necessarily be drawn into his world. But if you're expecting a retread of Nikki and Michael- don't. Jon and Maddy are different enough to stand out in their own way. And I really enjoyed this boook and the story. Recommended.

Ghost Seer by Robin D, Owens- Clare Cermak is an accountant, used to logic and reason. But when an actual, literal Ghost dog shows up in her house, she thinks she's going crazy. And when the Ghost Cowboy follows, begging her to help him, she's ure of it. It seems that Clare has inherited her aunt Sandra's ability to see Ghosts, and to help them pass on. But she doesn't want a single bit ot it. Even when she's told that she will die if she denies her gifts. But when she learns that the gift will pass to her niece, a mere child, Clare doesn't want the girl to go through the same things she is experiencing. So she does agree to help... but only to save her niece. Meanwhile, Zach Slade is a lawman who had to leave the job he loved when he was injured in the line of duty. His former boss gives him the name and number of a private investigator, but Zeke doesn't like the idea of investigating for pay. But when he's assigned to help an older lady find some heirloom antiques that were taken from her family long ago, he meets Clare, and the sparks fly. Can Clare and Zach deal with Clare's new profession while helping the old-time bandit *also* known as Zach Slade? Or will Clare end up dead or insane/ It took me a while to get into this book, and I have to say that part of that was to blame on the outfit of the female character on the cover. Her outfit is a mix of gypsy and pirate and I kept looking at it, thinking, "That's right out of the bad old 70's! Who would wear that in this day and age?!" I ended up enjoying the story, but that cover... eesh. It's so bad, you might want to cover it with brown paper. It's not hot or sexy at all. Good book. Bad, bad., bad, bad, bad cover Still, recommended

Concealed in Death by J.D. Robb- Roarke is working on a building he's acquired, and the foreman invites him to start with the interior demolition, for luck. But when he brings down the flimsy interior wall, two bodies are discovered- little more than bones after what is apparently several years in the wall. Roarke calls in his wife, Eve, and after more demolition, the body count rises to fifteen. Fifteen young women, killed and stuffed behind flimsy walls, with no sign of who or what might have dumped them there. The building has been in multiple hands, including a youth shelter that has since moved out and onto better things. But when the bodies begin to be identified, it's obvious that all the women were from the youth shelter. The question becomes, who are they and who killed them, and it's up to Eve Dallas and her cops, with the help of Roarke and her friends from the street, like Mavis, to find out what happened and who really killed the girls- and why he or she abruptly stopped. But can Eve dig out information on fifteen year old undiscovered crimes, and bring the murderer to justice? There's no statute of limitations on murder, and Eve wouldn't be inclined to grant it anyhow. I loved this book. When I first started reading it, it seemed familiar because I'd read the beginning in the "coming attractions" in another book, but this was really excellent. Nora Roberts made you feel for the young women who were killed, even the less-than-innocent ones, and in the end, the killer just... turned you off. It wasn't that he was evil, exactly, but sly and loathesome nonetheless. I enjoyed the introduction of new characters, like the new Forensic Anthropologist, and returning older characters, like Mavis, Leonardo and Dennis Mira. This book was a tour-de-force that took my breath away and made me see old characters in a new light. Highly recommended.

Cursed in the Act by Raymond Buckland-Harry Rivers is the Stage Manager for the Lyceum Theatre and Henry Irving is the lead actor there, playing Hamlet. But on the opening night, Henry Irving is poisoned, yet still manages to go on and give his performance. But Irving's manager of the Lyceum, Bram Stoker, knows he has to nip any rumors that the "Guv'nor"(Irving's nickname among the theatre folk) is in trouble. But when Irving's understudy dies the next day, run over in the street after a nightly tipple with the cast and crew, He knows something must be done. But whoever might be out to ruin the Lyceum doesn't seem to care for people's safety- and he has apparently stolen the body of their dead castmate and cut off the head, which comes springing out of the fly at an inopportune moment. Stoker and Rivers suspect the cast and crew of another theatre, but why? And how far will they go to stop the production of Hamlet at the Lyceum? When fire and magical rituals fail, perhaps kidnapping Edward Terry, one of Ellen Terry's children, will do it. But can Harry Rivers and Bram Stoker stop the attacks on the theatre and find out *why* they had to happen and who was behind them> Or will one of the strategems succeed in stopping the play? Well, I'd never read Raymond Buckland as a mystery writer, so I was determined to check it out. It isn't a bad book- in fact, it's pretty good, but it was still something of a struggle for me to read, but I ended up satisfied by the story and characters and wanting to read more. If I can say anything about the book its that, aside from the main characters and original characters, we don't get to see or know the actual famous characters the way we do the rest- and that's something I felt was missing. Still, I do recommend this book for lovers of a good historical mystery.

Dark Wolf by Christine Feehan- Skyler Daratrazanoff is a human with both Carpathian and mage blood, and she knows her destined mate is Dmitiri Tiranuul. But when Dmitri is captured and imprisoned by the Lycans for being what they consider an abomination- a vampire with the blood of werewolves, he is strung up in silver and left to die, with silver slowly dripping into his veins. So it is up to Skyler, her brother Josef, and her human friend Paul Jansen, to mount a rescue and save Dmitri while the rulers of both the Carpathians and the Lycans meet to broker peace. But some of the Lycans don't want peace- they want to destroy not only Dmitri, but also any Carpathian who has tasted Lycan Bood. Can Skyler and her friends rescue Dmitri and prevent a war between their people and the Lycans? I read this book, but I have to say that it wasn't the most compelling of the Carpathian novels I've read. For one thing, using the term "Lycans" made me think of Underworld, and while the story looked long, the last, roughly, 1/3 of the book wasn't story, but treatises on the Carpathian language and healing rituals, so I felt strangely cheated when the story came to an end. And even worse, the story seems unnaturally lengthened by the addition of Skyler and Dmitri's becoming part of a wolf pack gifted to them by Razvan and his mate, Ivory. It was a strange ending that seemed to abruptly stop rather than just coming to an end, making the story feel strange and disjointed. Still, it wasn't bad, just not as full as the other Carpathian stories. Slightly recommended, but this is more like a snack than a real meal.

Dark Bites by Sherrilyn Kenyon- This is a book of short stories set in Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter Universe. House of the Rising Son details the story and eventual relationship between Aricles, a Greek farmer, and the Atlantean Goddess Bathymaas. He's not primarily a warrior, but as he fights with and for her, Aricles and Bathymaas, who is said to have no emotions, grow closer and eventually marry. But when the Greek God Apollo interferes in their relationship, can their love, and Aricles, survive? "Phantom Lover" tells of Erin Mc Douglas, who has been having horrific nightmares. However, one night, she is saved by V'Aidan, a Dream Hunter. But once he has saved her from the Skoti Demons haunting her dreams, he makes love to her and cannot stop thinking of her. When he is condemned for his feelings, will Erin love him enough to save him? Winter Born tells of Pandora, a Katagaria WerePanther who was kidnapped from her tribe and her own time to be mated to another werepanther tribe in the present day. She's at Dragon-Con in search of Acheron Parthenopaeus, thinking he could send her home, but instead finds herself hooking up with Dante Pontis, another WerePanther who happens to be her mate. But can he save her and her tribe, and be the kind of mate she wants him to be? A Dark-Hunter Christmas, a Dark-Hunter named James Patrick Gallagher has to come to terms with meeting one of his many descendants, just when he is missing his wife, right before Christmas. But since he's forbidden going back to his family, can he connect with his fellow Dark-Hunters and the Arcadians instead? Until Death Do We Part involves Esperetta, the daughter of Vlad Dracul, and her husband, Velkan. When she saw her husband murder her father, it cut her heart out of her chest. But now The Order of the Dragon is back, and they want to kill Velkan, and they think using Retta will do the trick. Can Retta patch things up with Velkan in time to save both their lives? A Hard Day's Night Searcher has the Dark Hunter Rafael Santiago trying to deal with an issue his Squire, Jeff, has brought up by publishing a story that is about the Dark-Hunters under a different name. He sends Jeff off to hide, but accepts the Squire searching for Jeff for the Squire Council while she hunts him. He finds her completely irritating at first, but as he comes to know her, and why she is the way she is, he finds himself wanting her. But Squire/Dark Hunter relationships are forbidden. Would they give up what they have for each other? Shadow of the Moon has Fury Kattlakis encountering his old friend Angelia, who betrayed him when she found out he was a wolf who could take on human shape, not a human who could take on wolf shape. Her tribe filled her ears with lies about the wolf-born, and now they have developed a weapon that could trap the WereHunters permanently in their animal shape. But Can Fury get through to her to get her to give up the information he needs, and when they turn out to be mates, can she live with her lies she was told about Fury and his people?Fear the Darkness has Nick returning to New Orleans years after Hurricane Katrina. But can he accept all that has gone on there since he was last there? Where Angels Fear to Tread- introduces Zeke Jacobson, a claims adjuster who wants to be a hero. But when he picks up a strange coin after a relative's death and funeral, he will finally get his chance. Could this be a case of "Be Careful What You WIsh For...?" Love Bytes" introduces us to Samantha Parker, a woman working for a tech company who finds herself falling for the President of the company, a tech geek who made good. But would someone as magnificent as Adrian Cole be attracted to a relative nobody like her? "Santa Wears Spurs" has Catherine O'Callahan, who's husband, O'Connell, left her when she was pregnant. Now he's returned, seeking time away from his outlaw brother. Can Catherine let him back into her heart, and will he choose her and their daughter, or his brother once again? Last in the book is Redemption, A Bonus Scene from the book, "The Guardian", where Seth and Lydia get ready to be married. I liked this book. The stories were all good, with some I definitely preferred (like House of the Rising Son) and some I didn't ("Where Angels Fear To Tread"). Some are pure Romance, others Urban Fantasy, and it gives an excellent look at the range of Sherrilyn Kenyon's wriing. What I really loved was that all the stories really pulled me in from the first paragraph, and I never lost interest in reading them. Definitely on the Recommended list.

Kiss the Night Goodbye by Keri Arthur- Nikki has only one final test to conquer before the Damask Circle verifies that she can go out in the field with Michael, her soon-to-be husband. But when she is attacked during the test, Seline knows who is responsible. One hundred years ago, she and Michael met when tracking down a magician named Dunleavy, who killed a number of women to power a ritual meant to make him immortal. Since one of the women he killed was Michael's lover, Camille, Michael helped Seline catch him and then tore the man apart. Their association eventually drew in others who became the Damask Circle. But it seems that Dunleavy had a brother, Weylin, and Weylin wants Seline and Michael to use in a ritual to help bring his brother back, even going so far as to kidnap Michael and invite Seline to try and catch him. But Seline sends Nikki in, in the disguise she wore at the time, hoping that the connection between Michael and Nikki will bring him out of the magical fog the sorceror has wrapped around him. But Michael isn't the only person Weylin has kidnapped to be part of his little scheme. and Nikki only has five days to stop the sorceror, who is taunting her by killing people in town, all of whom have been spelled to think that it is one hundred years ago. The question is, can she and Michael unmask the killer and stop him in time to prevent him from resurrecting his brother? This was the last book in the Nikki and Michael series, and I was looking forward to seeing them working together again.  But not quite like this! In fact, this actually heightened my enjoyment of the book and the story, which was also an incredible mystery as well. I look forward to perhaps seeing Nikki and Michael working together in other Damask Circle books, perhaps as a background couple or secondary characters, but this was a fitting send-off to such beloved characters. Highly recommended.

The Runaway King byJennifer Nielsen- Prince Jaron, once hiding under the persona and nickname of the Street boy, Sage, has at last come to the throne. But it is a throne on the brink of war, and Sage can see only one way to prevent a war with Avenia and the pirates Avenia is buying off- if only the Pirate King can command the Pirates, Jaron will have to become King of the Pirates. But it isn't nearly that simple, and two new attempts on his life have him sending those he cares for far away from him so that they cannot be drawn into the conflict and hurt by those wanting to hurt or kill him. But there are conspirators still close to the Carthyian throne, and Jaron must root those out as well if he is to save Carthyia. But can he do it on his own? This was a wonderful follow up to the False Prince, and I loved seeing the characters again. But once more, it is Jaron himself- follishly brave to the point of foolhardiness, and the best swordsman in his land, that keeps you transfixed throughout the story. It's thoroughly his story, and it's a complex and thrilling one. Despite his intelligence, he can still miss things and be wrong, so he doesn't come off like a superman or anything. Teens will find this story wonderful and interesting. Highly recommended.

Night of the Hunter- Companions Codex, Book 1 by R.A. Salvatore- Drizzt and the Companions of the Hall are back, some changed by their new lives, but still who they were. But Bruenor has something he needs to do-free Thibbledworf Pwent from his curse of Vampirism. Unbeknownst to the companions, though, new tensions are stirring in the Underdark, and the Dark Elves, the Drow,  and Gromph Baenre helps rewrite his sister Quenthel's consciousness with that of their ancestress, Yvonnel- all with the blessing of Lolth. Not only are Drizzt and his companions caught up in the renewed plans of the Drow, but so are Artemis Entreri and his party, including Drizzt's ex-lover, Dahlia, Ambergris the Dwarf, Dahlia's son, the Warlock and Afafrenfere the Monk- along with Jarlaxle and the Bregan D'Arthe mercenaries. Can Drizzt and his friends save Pwent while remaining free from the plans of the Drow? And what larger implications will this have for the Realms? Well, it was kind of nice to see this sort of book, where Drizt doesn't have all the answers and can't save things just by showing off how cool and awesome he is. This is a book about real things, and consequences, and taking one woman down to rubble and building her back up to be something else entirely, all at the behest of Lolth. In the end, evil triumphs, and not in a small way, but a fairly large way that is sure to have ramifications for everyone in the Realms, and all the way up to the relationship between Drizzt and Entreri. In a way, this seems to also be a way to restart that very relationship. Now Entreri has a new reason to hate Drizzt, and much more fiercely thant he did before. But there isn't really anything new in the relationships between the companions of the Hall, I felt. In a way, it's a comforting, comfortable backdrop to the book- but in another way, readers could find it a bit boring. So while there were some very nice character moments- and a lot more very disturbing ones, I was still glad I gave this book a try. Recommended.

The Five Deaths of Roxanne Love- Roxanne Love seems to be a normal young woman, but she's died three times before, and so a Reaper decides to investigate for himself why Roxanne Love keeps coming back from the dead, along with her brother, Reece. But when the bar owned by their family is attacked by Demons, The Reaper, inhabiting the body of cop Santo Castillo, will have to go above and beyond to figure out the truth- all the while trying to keep his emotional distance- something harder to do than he thinks, now that he is living in a human body. This book was a Did Not Finish for me- and part of it was that I couldn't get into the characters much at all, even after over 100 pages. But the final straw came when, on page 125, the author wrote about the characters in an elevator going down, "The elevator shuttered to a stop at the bottom". What person gets to be an author without knowing English spelling, and what sort of publisher and editor doesn't correct the problem? Really, I lost all interest in the book, right there. It may be a good book, it may even be enjoyable- but I can't bring myself to pick it up again.

Kamichama Karin Chu Volume 1 by Koge-Donbo- Karin is a young woman who can take on a goddess form, and her boyfriend is a boy who used to be her husband in a past life. Now, she has a dream asking her to find three gods. One is found right away- her boyfriend, Kazune, and she soon meets the second, Jin Kuga, ia an idol who has long dreamed of meeting her. Soon, her son from the future appears, asking her to find the three gods so that they can destroy the seeds of chaos. But even when Karin finds the third God she is looking for, her work isn't done, and she and the others are tricked into becoming tiny children. Can Karin fulfill her responsibilities as a goddess and keep the Gods from killing each other before they can do what they have to? I don't know what I was expecting when I picked this up, but reading this book was a real pain. All the character are drawn in Chibi style, which I found distracted me from the story to the point where it made reading the dialogue difficult for me. And the Chibi characters look about 8 and are supposed to be in their late teens, so the whole thing was fairly brain-breaking for me. I finished the volume, but I won't be picking up any more. It's just too much of a struggle to read. Not recommended.

Marked by Moonlight by Nancy Gideon- Charlotte Caissie is a New Orleans Homicide Cop out after Crime Boss Jimmy Legere, who she is certain killed her father, who as also a cop, when she was younger. But when Legere's bodyguard/assassin Max Savoie saves her life, she finds herself  unable to stop thinking about him, and soon she realizes that their association goes back longer than she knows. Because when Legere kidnapped her and her best friend in order to turn her father away from a case he was investigating, Max Savoie was the one who stopped their torture and set them free. But Max isn't just human. He doesn't know *what* he is, but he's not human at all. And when two low-level thugs turn up dead after one of them abuses hus wife and lets the second man stay behind to rape her, nobody knows who did it, because the evidence points to an animal. Charlotte knows of Max's ability to turn into a beast, but is he responsible for the death? As Max's relationship with Charlotte heats up, it incites comment and reactions, both from the police and Legere. But when Legere is suddenly taken out of the picture, what will happen to Max, who Legere has trained to look to and depend upon him for everything. But can Max deal with the new role being thrust upon him, Legere's second in command who wants him dead, and what may be his own people? And is there any hope for Max and Chaelotte to be together when he's on the criminal side of the line, and she's a by-the-book cop? I wasn't very excited to read this book. It sounded like Max was going to be some sort of Werewolf, or Shapechanger, but even the people in the novel most like him, have no name for themselves or what Max is, except that he might be a "Pureblood", of whatever he is. I found the story rather bland and uninteresting. This is only supposed to be the first book in a series that seems to focus around Max and Charlotte, but the only thing I found interesting about the story was the hero's name. And he's actually not very heroic at all, in any way. This rated a solid "Meh" from me. But I really don't recommend it.

Sometimes a Rogue by Mary Jo Putney- Sarah Clark-Townsend is the twin sister of Mariah, who is now Duchess of Ashton. But when her very preganant sister persuades her twin to take her for a ride because she is tired of being in the house, her sister goes into labor and must take shelter in an old church on her husband's property. But when a group of ruffians appear and Sarah overhears them plan to tak her sister hostage and carry her away, she hides Mariah and claims to be her twin, so they abduct her to Ireland. Luckily for Mariah and Sarah, her husband's friend Rob, a Bow Street Runner, is about to spend some time in Ashton Castle, and he goes off in search of Sarah, following her to Ireland and rescuing her from her captors, then making their way back across the country to Cork, where they came ashore. But Sarah's abductors were politically motivated, and they don't want to let her and Rob escape. But when they flee across the Irish Sea in a tiny sloop, they are shipwrecked at Rob's old home of Kellington, where his father and brother have recently died, making him the heir. Thge only one in residence is Rob's grandmother, who hates him for being the despised son of the second wife. But the estate is on the verge of bankruptcy, and to save it, he may have to marry an heiress. But they have become close since their experiences in Ireland. Do they have the courage to reach for the lives and the love they want, against all the odds? I really enjoyed this book, as the heroine was courageous and rarely complained, even when undergoing significant hardship. And the hero was strong and appreciated the heroine, both in looks and in qualities, and genuinely admired her, which is my personal catnip when it comes to romance. This book really strongly appealed to me, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes the same. Highly recommended.

I Thee Wed by Amanda Quick- Edison Stokes is a mysterious lord who is also a member of a secret society of mystics and martial artists known as the Vazangara Society. A legendary book has been stolen from the monks, and Edison, while no longer part of the Circle, as it is known, is still seeking the book, for it could be dangerous, if the formulas within were used immoderately. At a House Party, he meets Emma Grayson, a paid companion to a wealthy woman. She manages to see him sneaking onto the estate, something that proves her to be exceptionally keen-sighted. To keep her from exposing him, he hires her as his assistant to spy on a certain lady whom Edison thinks might have the book or one of the formulae from it. Emma  sticks close to the woman and excites her interest when she shows some psychic powers. But when a Lord who once tried to rape Emma is killed in her room late one night while she is elsewhere, she immediately loses her position and Edison steps in to claim her as his fiancee to ansure that she suffers no scandal from not being in her room. But someone wanted the lord dead. Why? Was it because of his notorious propensity for cutting a swath through the maids anywhere he went, who couldn't refuse him nor accuse him without losing everything? But working with Emma and posing as her fiance makes Edison even more appreciative of her finer qualities, and posing as someone who is going to marry her is no imposition at all. But Edison isn't the only Vanzagara in town- there is another student seeking to take him down- and he needs to find the student's master, as this man may have the codex he is seeking. But more attempts on his life make him wonder who really has the codex, and who, among many, are after not only his life, but Emma's. I loved this book. This was another one where the Hero appreciates the intelligence and perceptiveness of the heroine, and they have a healthy attraction to each other that neither feels in the slightest embarrassed about. While the Vanzagara Scoiety is completely made up, it is based on the sort of martial arts and martial art groups that already exist in the world. This was a lovely book that makes you feel the feelings that the Hero and Heroine have for each other as well as having an excellently twisty plot. Recommended.

Muhyo and Roji's Bureau of Supernatural Investigation, Volume 3 by Yoshiyuki Nishi- Muhyo is a law magic practitioner, and his friend and co-worker Roji is someone who easily sees spirits, but also gets freaked out by them and often cries. When they finally return to the office after Roji has his temporary Level 1 Clerk's permit, they are troubled by a ghost girl attaracted there by the sound of their friend Kenji's recorder. But before Muhyo sentences her to the afterlife, can they lay her spirit to rest another way? Then, they are called upon to help a perverted writer who has been passing off the writing of a spirit as his own. But can they fulfill the spirit writer's last wish and then banish him before he ends up inadvertantly killing the man who he is using to write his masterpiece? And when one of Muhyo's classmates, an artificer, shows up for Muhyo's help, he is afraid items he has made are losing power, including a seal he made for a special magical prison- and now, something big and very dangerous may have escaped, and they need Muhyo's help to recapture and contain it. But are Muhyo and Roji up to the task, no matter how powerful or skilled Muhyo may be? This was an interesting book, rather dark and yet humorous in tone. I only started reading with this volume, so I was afraid I was not going to be able to get into it, but this story shares the same kind of story as Tarot or Yumekui Kenbun, Nightmare Inspector, And I did end up enjoying it, despite the main character of Muhyo looking like an SD or Chibi character (But not necessarily "cute". More creepy than cute, to be honest). I liked the stories and I liked the characters, so I'd definitely read more of this. Recommended.

Muhyo and Roji's Supernatural Bureau of Investigation Volume 4 by Yoshiyuki Nishi- Muhyo and Roji and the rest of the mages fight their way down to the prison to the final, lowest level. On this floor is imprisoned the worst spirit of all- Face-Ripper Sophie! But is she still there, or has she already escaped? And could she be masquerading as one of them with her abilities? Then, Biko must save his beloved teacher from an encounter with the dark arts. But Muhyo is drained, and only Biko can make the elixir that will revive his magic. Will he do so if the object is to put Enchu in Purgatory? Well, this book ended the magical prison arc and it was really satisfying to see it end. And Enchu, despite being a villainess, comes across as quite sympathetic despite what she is doing. We, the readers, empathize with Biko wanting to save her, especially after we get to see what made her fall. But does she even *want* to be saved? I'd definitely like to read more of this series. Recommended.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation- The Burning Season by Jeff Mariotte- When a fire rips through a small bedroom community outside of Las Vegas, seven firefighters give their lives fighting the blaze. Now, it's up to Nick Stokes and Sara Sidle to track down the real culprits who started the fire, as the community is blaming two "Hippie campers" whose camp was very near to where the fire started. Meanwhile, Ray Langston and Nick are assigned to a case of a hand found under a homeowner's porch. Who does the hand belong to , and why did they lose it? And when a local politician is nearly killed by a car bomb, who might be after him, and does it have anything to do with his female aide? But when he is killed, his views on some issues might have had something to do with his death- and a father and son traveling the country warning of a coming apocalypse might have had something to do with thr crime... I love CSI, and since I no longer get cable TV (Or any other kind of TV), I love reading the books. And this one was really good. The characterizations were spot on, and the ending to all three main story threads were really good and appropriate. Definitely recommended,

Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett- Aida Palmer is a spirit medium working at a Nightclub called the Gris-Gris and living temporarily in the Chinatown district. Winter Magnusson is a fiasherman and bootlegger who is one of the three largest bootlegging operations in town. But when an old Chinese man curses Winter with a collection of Ghosts and the sight to see them, he apparently hopes to turn Winter insane. But Winter hires Aida to help him with his problem. She can lay the ghosts, no problem, but for the curse, she asks the help of her employer at the Gris Gris, an actual Voodoo Queen. But now they have to track down whoever was responsible for the curse in the first place. And when her help puts Aida into danger, Winter helps her by taking her under his wing- as he is already entranced with the beautiful young performer. But someday she will have to leave when her run at the Gris-Gris ends. By that time, will Winter be willing to let her go? Or can he persuade her into a more permanent relationship with him? I liked this book. I haven't seen many romances set during the roaring twenties, and it was a time period both familliar and unfamilliar to me. Anything new is always interesting, and I liked thar Winter pushed Aida, but never too far or made himself into an asshole. He may seem hard, but he has a soft heart, so this was a fun and exciting read. Highly recommended.

The Arrangement by  Mary Balogh- Vincent Hunt, the Viscount Darleigh, was blinded during the war and now lives with his mother and unwed sisters. But their current project to pressure him into marrying with an heiress they find suitable fills him with horror, and instead of telling them off, he flees into the night, going to the Lake District to rest before returning to his other home, where he grew up, he finds even more marriage-minded mamas in wait for him. But when one is foiled in her plans by a penniless relation, she throws the young woman, Sophia Fry, out on her own. Sophia has nowhere to go, but Vincent liked her and felt a connection to her, so he proposes to marry her as the woman of his choosing, so that both of them can escape the fates that their relatives have in store for them. But can such an arrangement lead to a real marriage, or will she be trapped in cold lovelessness  for the rest of her life? And will she always be an impediment to her husband, or can she help him get even more freedom in his life and his estate? And will love blossom in place of friendship? Wow, this novel was just great. The hero starts out as blind, and he's been living with the condition for a few years now. In fact, this book is part of a series, "The Survivors Club", where all the heroes and one heroine, have been scarred and wounded or maimed by the war. Despite that, Mary Balogh resists the urge to have Vincent make a miraculous recovery and regain his sight during the novel. His condition is permanent, as it should be, and while it comes with consequences, those are dealt with realistically. I loved both characters in the novel, and I liked how they helped each other, enlarging their respective worlds with help and support. Highly recommended, and I will be looking for other books in the series now.

The Countess by Lynsay Sands- Christiana Fairgrave married in haste to a man who claimed to love her. But after they married, he turned from someone who claimed to love her into a cruel, controlling man who never had anything nice to say about her or her friends, and even banned some of them from the house. So when he drops dead one morning after a visit by her sisters, she is overjoyed, except that her father has seemingly gambled away his fortune again, and one of her sisters must also marry to keep their family afloat. And if her husband is no longer alive, her sister will not be able to have the time to make a marriage alliance with a man of her choosing and save the family. So instead, they roll her husband Richard, up in a rug and take him upstairs to bed, where they pack him in with ice and put out that her husband is deathly ill, then take her sisters to a ball that night to search for a suitable husband. But when her husband shows up at the ball, Christina is petrified with fear, knowing there will be punishment from her husband for what she did. But, to her surprise, her husband is the man he purported to be before he married: solicitous, attentive, and seemingly happy to see her. In reality, Richard has just recently come back to England after being sold as a slave in America. He blames his twin brother, George, for his predicament- but he cannot blame Christina. Instead, he finds himself falling for her and attempting to do the rest of his brother's schemes. But can he unravel them all in time to keep Christina safe and make her love him when he finds he is falling for her? Wow, this book started out rather like a French bedroom farce, but became more and more interesting and sympathetic as the book went on. It takes time for both hero and heroine to trust each other with the real story of what has gone on, but once they come together, this book became one of my favorite romance novels. The characters are excellent and interesting, and the twist is one you will never see coming, but the book provides both chuckles and a meaningful, deep love story. Highly recommended.

Moon Cursed by Lori Handeland- Kristen Daniels is the star and producer of a supernatural debunking show. In danger of being out of work when her show is cancelled, she travels to Loch Ness to try and debunk the famous monster. But she is attacked shortly after arriving and meets a man named Liam Grant who is far more than he appears. But as she tracks down the genesis of the myth and seeks to unravel the hoax she feels is behind it, she is unknowingly falling in love with the monster himself, cursed to take on that form until he finds someone who truly loves him. But is Kris that woman, and can she adjust to the idea that the supernatural creatures she is used to debunking might exist after all? This one rated only okay for me. I liked some of the secondary characters, but others, like Liam's friend who were lying on his behalf to Kris, just turned me right off. On the whole it was okay, but nothing earth-shattering, neither the romance, nor the main characters, nor the sex. So, meh.

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