Thursday, July 30, 2015

2015 Part 5

Viper Game by Christine Feehan- Wyatt Fontenot is a Ghostwalker, born and raised in the swamps of Louisiana, Cajun Country. But when he returns home on leave with the Fortune brothers, Malichai and Ezekiel, he learns that all is not right in the Swamp. Grand-mere tells him that a building has been costructed in the Swamp, and some of the security men have been harrassing her when she goes into the swamp to collect herbs for healing. Wyatt is enraged, and goes into the Swamp with his compatriots to deal out a little Swamp Justice. But he also encounters two someones who he never sees, but only senses, and is intrigues. When Le Poivre, aka Pepper, shows up at his Grand-mere's house, he discovers that, like him, Pepper has been enhanced with Animal abilities, and hers include a venemous snake. She was intended as an infiltrator and femme fatale who could kill men as easily as seduce them, but she doesn't want to kill anyone, and her sexuality was also enhanced so that she is always craving sensual contact. But she and Wyatt, despite her efforts, start to bond when he agrees to help her free the rest of the women and children still held at the facility. There is one child she has already bonded with, Ginger, but when they go into the facility to free the children, they discover that the mad scientists in charge of the same program that changed Wyatt and his Ghostwalker compatriots mingled his and Pepper's DNA to create these children, making him a father and giving him a family all at once. But Wyatt will have to convince Pepper that he really wants her, and that she isn't using her pheremones to convince him to want to be with her before she can be his, and their family can truly be complete. But can he convince this shy, prickly damaged woman that he truly wants to be there for the long haul and convince her to stay with him? I like Christine Feehan's books, but her Ghostwalker series has always been kind of on the edge of "Meh" for me. And so it was with this one. I liked Pepper, I liked the setup, but the romance simply didn't scratch my itches for me. I mean, the sex is hot and all, but I was just never truly into it and that left me feeling rather uninvested in the story. So this one is "Meh" for me. If you like the GhostWalker series, you'll probably enjoy it. Otherwise, it's just okay.

Rule Breaker by Lora Leigh- Gypsy McQuade lives with a terrible pain. She was saved by the Breeds when attacked by Coyote Breeds when she was younger, but her brother, Mark, older and wiser than her, was killed, leaving her outcast from her own family. Not only does Gypsy blame herself for what happened that niight, so do her parents, and she can never make it up to them. So she works at her mother's party planning business and keeps her distance from the Breeds. But when her parents are hired by Jonas Wyatt, and the Breed Council to plan two very important events, she is thrown together with one of the men who rescued her, the Lion Breed, Rule Breaker. Rule is attracted to her, but he's sure she isn't his mate. He's just anxious when he's not around her, and distracted when she is. But as he uses the assignment Gypsy has been given to get closer to this woman that he wants very much, he discovers that she may be working against the Breed. But can he track down the truth, or will Gypsy be killed and he cast from the Breeds forever? But rot goes deeper than he knows. Can he keep Gypsy safe and protect her from the hurt that is sure to fall upon her? I liked this book a lot. I don't generally find the Breed books as hot as some others (like those by Emma Holly), but I enjoy the stories and this one was both tragic and sad. It was wonderful to watch Rule and Gypsy slowly move together, even though Gypsy is in many ways scared of him. But the traitors are close to her, and I loved the outcome of the story. This is mildly hot, but it was the story, not the sex, that kept my interest. Recommended.

Windfall by Rachel Caine- Joanne Baldwin has left her days of being a Weather Warden behind. Now, she's working at a small Tv station in Florida, being the sexy assistant to a lecherous weather forecaster and, sadly, living hand to mouth. It's made even worse when her sister, heading for divorce, moves in with her after her husband leaves her. Now, in addition to dealing with her depressed and shopaholic sister, she has a man who blames her for the death of his partner investigating her, and she has to deal with the knowledge that the Djinn she loves, David, is slowly fading. Plus, she's apparently engendered a Djinn child, and a Hurricane is bearing down on the state and an assassin on her tail. Teaming up with her new BFF, Cherise, while her sister is romanced by a studious Brit, she must survive Bad Bob's partner in crime and a Hurricane bearing down on her. And without the support of the Weather Wardens. But can she do all of that and keep her sanity in the bargain? I love this series, and this book kept me more than entertained when I was in the hospital. This one has perils aplenty and laughs galore as Joanne painfully wins her way through. I loved the new character, Cherise, and their slimy boss, who finally got his comeuppance in the end. This book was Cathartic, but in a good way. Highly recommended.

Firestorm by Rachel Caine- At the end of the last book, Joanne was warned by her Djinn lover that Mother Nature was waking up from her slumber, and she was really angry at the humans. Plus, the Djinn who was leader of the Djinn, had committed suicide, and the new leader had chosen David, her lover, as new leader. Plus, the Weather Wardens had broken the agreement between them and the Djinn, making the Djinn... understandably upset. With little time to warn the rest of the Weather Wardens, Joanne takes off to New York to try and tell them what's going on. But many Weather wardens are missing, presumed dead, in the wake of the Djinn attack, and Joanne is the only person who might be able to lead them. Because all the weather diasters they have fought over the years were merelyMother Nature fidgeting in her sleep, and this will be nothing compared to her awake fury. And another Djinn is using the Djinn pissed off at the Wardens to attack them. His name is Ashan, and he is NOT happy. With all this on her plate, Can Joanne survive the coming Apocalypse, or will she lose everything and everyone she loves in a desperate struggle to keep earth and its humans alive? Wow, the tension in this series is really building, to more and more apocalyptic events. In this one, Joanne and the weather Wardens must face off against Mother Nature herself, or at least put her back to sleep. Cherise continues to be a strong secondary character, and the ending of the book puts us in doubt as to what will become of Joanne. Again, I read this in the hospital, and it really took my mind off my problems. A fascinating book with lots of stuff going on. Joanne may be brought low, but not down. Highly recommended.

Thin Air by Rachel Caine- Joanne never expected to wake up naked and freezing in a forest. But not only did she do that, she also woke up without her memories. Without these, she cannot channel her Weather Warden powers or remember who the two men who found her are. One man says he is David, her lover, and one man says he is Lewis, a Weather Warden like her, But Joanne has lost her powers along with her memories, and she needs to regain them, or she will slowly fade away. But who would hate her enough to try and steal her life like this? And who will she choose to go with. Her old friend and onetime lover Kevin, or David, the Djinn who won her heart? This was an Amnesia story, but one done well, and when the ending finally came, we discover who stole her memories and why. Also, the Weather Wardens are still dealing with the problems of the Earth out of control, and Weather Wardens infected by Demons. Who can Joanne trust, and can she win free to try and make everything right? That's the question Joanne is forced to ask, and what she would give up to make everything okay. An interesting book. Recommended.

Obsession in Death by J.D. Robb- When Leonore Bastwick is killed, and a message left by the body claiming that the killer did it for Eve Dallas, Eve is blindsided, but is also determined to catch the murderer. When a small time illegals dealer named Ledo is killed, the killer leaves another message saying that he or she is doing it for Eve. Apparently, the Killer believes that Eve is their best friend, and that he or she is taking out the people Eve wants to, but cannot for job reasons. But when the killer fails at taking down their third target, they shift their focus to Eve's friends, angry that Eve hasn't been supporting the killer. Can Eve save her friends and acquaintances from a killer who wants personal attention from her, in the worst of ways? I liked this book, because Eve spends so much of her time shunning personal connections. She thinks she has this very small circle of friends, but this book shows how many lives Eve has touched, and how many people she can actually call friends of hers. Especially people on her squad and people in her circle of people at work, all of whom are concerned about her and want her to live and succeed. How many people the killer had to choose from when they started going after her friends (with the aim of becoming Eve's Best Friend) was pretty amazing, and this book had a tension to it that I really enjoyed, because this time, to use a cliché, it's personal. I especially loved Eve discovering how much fan mail she gets and how many people think they are having other-dimensional sex with her. It was amusing to see her reaction. Highly recommended.

Dead Ice by Laurell K. Hamilton- Anita is approached by the Feds with an unusual case: someone has been raising zombies to make porn. But while that isn't so unusual, but the spirit of the Zombie is still inside the dead body, retarding its ortting and making any sex film with the zombe truly disgusting. At the same time Anita is tracking down whoever made this film, she is also dealing with her wedding to Jean Claude, Master of the City, and a smaller ceremony of commitment to those she really loves, plus, she needs to find tiger lovers to ensure that Marmee Noir stays dead. All in the day of the life of Anita, yes? Then shy does everything suddenly feel so wrong? And did the zombie master who raised the zombie find out his resurerrection techiques from the woman Anita killed for wanting to make "perfect" zombies like this man is raising?, and has he passed on his knowledge to others to do the same? I liked this book, which had not just one but three entertaining plots and subplots. The one with the Zombie women was horrific, the with the wedding was serious but also had plenty of humor, and the stuff about selecting a new tiger lover was a bit more humorous, with some serious bits. In all, It added up to an extremely enjoyable read, and I am certainly looking forward to the next one. Highly recommended,

Cat's Lair by Christine Feehan- Caterina Benoit is on the run, and she's rightly scared of the man who is after her, who happens to be a thug, crime boss and killer. But when she meets Ridley Cromer, a martial arts instructor who teaches at the dojo where she takes lessons, she is cautiously intrigued by him, and he forges a deeper connection with her, installing a security system in her "home" a warehouse owned by the boss of the coffee house where she works as a barista. But Ridley is hiding just as much as Cat and with just as much reason. But when she is betrayed by the DEA, it is Ridley, under his real name as Eli, who must protect her from the man who is after her. But he isn't a man, but a Rogue leopard shifter. Luckily, so is Eli, and Catarina is one as well, although she doesn't know it. But having been terrorized by Rafe Cordreau all of her life since she was 8, Catarina is not at her best fighting her, and Eli wants the same thing that Rafe does- to be her mate, and he seems just as pushy and violent as Rafe is. But can Eli keep Catarina safe, and himself as well, when Rafe calls in every marker he is owed to find her? and can he save her when Rafe savagely attacks her and leaves her for dead> This is a leopard-shifter book which, unfortunately, was only meh for me on story. The book is linked to Christine Feehan's Carpathians novels (and her Ghostwalkers series), but I just found myself uninterested in the story or the characters. I liked Cat surviving on her own just fine, but the "romance" smacked to me of Stockholm syndrome, and although Eli eventually found that he loved her, for me it was too late to save the romance for me. Not really my favorite.

Menage by Emma Holly- Kate Winthrop is the small-town owner of a bookstore called Mostly Romance, which is nice, but doesn't make her a lot of money. She also rents rooms to two college students, Joe, a moody music student, and Sean, who takes courses in business and prelaw. When she comes home at night and catches them in her bed, with an item of "ostensibly" her underwear, Sean suggests that Joe invite her to join them, which she does, and then the three of them become lovers and sometime partners. But as the relationship goes on, things begin to change. Joe becomes an actor and composer, and while all three of them are close, it seems Joe has fallen in love with Kate, whereas she doesn't want to limit his life and refuses to deepen their relationship when he goes off to New York to act. Even Sean's relationship with Kate seems to be slipping into something more business than sexual. But when Joe returns to woo Kate properly, can she resist falling for his charms? And where will Sean stand in all of this? I love this book. Emma Holly's softcore erotica fairly sizzles with Kate finding affection with both young men, but loving Joe just a little bit more than the way she feels for Sean. The sex is copious and hot, and the way Kate takes control and "masters" Sean was wonderful in and of itself. Hightly recommended for the hot sex and bondage and BDSM done right.

The Half-Breed Vampire by Theresa Meyers- Slade Donovan is a vampire who hunts down threats to his race, and Raina Ravenwing is the local game warden in the area.. But when a new strain of wolves show up, werewolves, Slade's actual heritage is revealed, and his entire world is being called into question. Raina, too, finds that her assumptions about her family and heritage are just plain wrong, Even as their worlds are being ripped apart, Slade and Raina find themselves clinging to their newfound feelings to survive in a very different world. Are they really as far apart as they feared? This was oksy for a Silhouette novel, although, being a Harry Potter nerd, I kept thinking of the heroine as "Rowena Ravenclaw". It's obviously part of a series I haven't read, but I wasn't sure why the vampires couldn't just tell Slade who his parents were and all and cut out a lot of BS in the middle. It was not even really okay. It kept my attention, but this was not a story I particularly enjoyed. Would not recommend.

The FanGirl's Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks by Sam Maggs- So you're into a thing. REALLY into it. How do you connect with other people who share your passion online? Well, luckily for you, fangirl, there are tons of things to like and people to share your obsession with on the internet. This book calls out different types of Girl Geeks: Sherlockians, Potterheads, Disnerds and True Believers/Marvelites, among others and tells you how to connect with other fans and how to take part in fan-related activities like cosplay, writing fanfiction, attending cons and taking on the trolls who inhabit the internet and seems to hate you or everything you love. While this book is great for Girl Geeks who may be new to geekdom, older fangirls will find a sort of "Been there, Done That" kind of attitude, though even this old fan found new things from this book to love and enjoy. Recommended, mostly for new fans, though.

Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman, Volume 1 collects ten stories about Wonder Woman in one volume. Each story is complete and by a different writer (or writers) and artist (or srtists). Gothamazon by Gail Simone, has Batman injured and missing from the streets of Gotham. With the various of his foes running rampant, Oracle calls on Wonder Woman to come take Batman's place. But Wonder Woman refuses to be or act like Batman. Obviously, his approach hasn't been working. Maybe it's time for an Amazon to try her own brand of justice? Defender of Truth by Amanda Deibert shows Wonder Woman taking on Circe and making the difference in the life of a child. Brace Yourself, by Jason Bischoff, shows Diana growing up on Paradise Island and how she becomes strong enough, and determined enough, to win her chance to leave. Taketh Away by Ivan Cohen has Wonder Woman believing her powers from the Gods and Goddesses have been taken away, leaving her no more than an ordinary human. But when she must take on Cheetah, can she defeat the villainess? Bullets and Bracelets by Sean E. Williams has Wonder Woman as a rock star, but when she is attacked at her latest concert, she takes some time off to get to know two regular girls. But when the boy who attacked her shows up with a gun, can she make a difference? Morning Coffee by Ollie Masters has Diana going after Catwoman, who has stolen the Golden Fleece. When the Dragon of Colchis shows up, Diana must take it down, then catch the wayward cat who took it... No Chains Can Hold Her by Gilbert Hernandez has a Wonder Woman from another universe crossed over with Supergirl and Mary Marvel When all three are kidnapped by Kandar Ro and Sayyan, emperor of a distant planet. Can the three women defeat the alien pair and return each other to their own universes before anyone is the wiser? Attack of the 4500 Foot Wonder Woman by Rob Williams has Wonder Woman inflated by Henry Pym's "Pym Particles" to fight Byth, Creature of 1000 shapes. But when she finds out why he keeps attacking, can she discover a way to put an end to his rampages, permanently? Ghosts and Gods by Neil Kleid, has Wonder Woman and Etta Candy fighting Ra's Al Ghul with the help of Deadman, aka Boston Brand. But in a mythology where Ghosts only exist in the lands of the dead, can Wonder Woman accept Deadman for who he is and use his help to defeat Ra's? Dig for Fire by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman has Wonder Woman sent to Apokolips to retrieve two Amazons who are attempting to destroy the planet. But when she is captured by Darkseid, can she make a bargain that will preserve the planet, and Diana's sisters? I liked this collection of short stories, especially the first story, which shows her taking on Batman's Rogues Gallery and winning, thanks to Joker's bet with Two-Face that leaves him unable to kill anyone for the night. And amazingly enough, she makes a big difference in city, to the point where even Batman is impressed. I loved all the stories in the book, and show Wonder Woman from different perspectives, different art styles and even different places. Highly recommended, I can't wait to see more.

Night Pilgrims by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro- St. Germain is in Egypt, a Coptic Monastery where he tends to the hurts of the monks. But Rakoczy Sidi Sandjermin must move on due to political tensions. Luckily, he has been asked to travel with a group of pilgrims led by Sieur Horembaud to find the fabled lost cities of Christianity. None of the other seekers have ever returned, but that doesn't discourage them. With them is a knight, Torquil, who has been badly burned by the sun, and Rakoczy is tasked to care for him with the aid of Soror Imogen. But her presence actively undermines Rakoczy's treatment and so he asks for a different helper. Bondame Magrethe, Soror Imogen's sister-in-law, on the Pilgrimage to heal her brain-wounded husband, takes her place. But as the journey goes on, Rakoczy grows closer to Magrethe, while Torquil dies of his injuries, and Soror Imogen goes mad. As other pilgrims die, give up their journey or are wounded in a run-in with bandits, it is Magrethe, Rakoczy and Rogier, his servant, who keep on in the face of hardship. And Magrethe falls in love with Rakoczy, but can he show her who and what he truly is without inciting her hatred and disgust? Would she agree to become as he is, given her great faith? And when Rakoczy is wounded, will she stay with him or move on? Another excellent Chelsea Quinn Yarbro book, with Pilgrims traveling south at night to cross the desert, so that Saint-Germain can join them. The Pilgrims are people of their time, and one, Heneri, who starts out as Margrethe's cousin by marriage, protector and chaperone, decides to convert to Islam rather early in the book, leaving her and Soror Imogen alone, which accentuates Imogen's descent into madness. It's a fascinating look at a fascinating time in history, and I really enjoyed the entire book. Highly recommended.

Sustenance by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro- It is the 1950's and the War is over, only to be followed by a cold war Between Russia and the United States. It is also the time of HUAC, and people being declared "UnAmerican" for the slightest of reasons. One of those people is Charis Treat, a writer and scholar who comes to Europe to escape the madness that her own country has become. Because of her interests and Scholarship, she, too, has been branded a "Communist Sympathizer" and has left her husband and sons to preserve her marriage and her husband's career. In Paris, she falls in with a group of writers and academics who have been similarly labeled. She comes to the attention of St. Germain when he approaches her to publish her next work through Eclipse Publishing. Charis is relieved to find someone willing to publish her work and help her find support to live in Europe so far from her family. St. Germain becomes interested in her as more than just an academic, but when her husband tells her he is divorcing her, it comes as a complete shock, and she and St. Germain become intimate, and he shares the truth of his condition with her. However, forces in the American Government are determined to investigate him as a possible communist or sympathizer, and want the records of his company. which he is determined not to give them. Matters come to a head as HUAC begins to be discredited and someone is determined to make an example of St. Germain. But can even he survive the explosive force of a bomb, and how will he live after being "eliminated" so thoroughly? Here is history that we think we know the truth of, but often forget was lived by people forced to leave America after being declared "Communist Sympathizers". Life was not easy for them in a Europe still rebuilding after the war, and being the "man or woman without a country" was hard, parted from family, friends and everything familiar. And we feel with and for Charis, so when her husband wants to divorce her, it feels like a profound betrayal for a woman who has been so faithful to him. I really got caught up in this story, but I was disappointed by the ending. Yes, I know that St. Germain has few surviving lovers, but this ending seemed especially cruel and unnecessary. I really enjoyed this book and it was uncomfortable and good at the same time. Highly recommended,

Minecraft Combat Handbook by Mojang- Lots of people, kids and adults alike, love Minecraft. Minecraft is like LEGOs, but with added monsters in survival mode. There is also PVP combat held on servers. This book covers the basics- Monsters, Potions, how to build weapons and armor to protect yourself and what the health levels and types of monsters there are, from Silverfish, Creepers, Zombue, Skeletons and Witches all the way up to Zombie Pigmen, Blazes, Endermen and the Ender Dragon. It also covers potion making, enchanting and how to spawn enemies like Withers, and the Ender Dragon. Then it goes into PVP and how to construct traps, make cannons and dispensers and how to build a base, both normal and "epic" versions. Anything you need to know about combat and/or PVP is definitely covered in this book, along with other extras like dyeing leather, achievements available in game, and how to battle the Ender Dragon (but what it drops is kept a secret). For those looking to get into Minecraft, or those looking to up their battle expertise, this book is definitely for you. Recommended.

Thor's Serpents K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr- Ragnarok has come, but Matt and his friends Reyna, Ray, Owen, Fen and Laurie are working yogether to try and ensure that the world survives. But with Matt's grandfather working to end the world, Matt is on his own when it comes to getting help from his family. Or is he? It turns out that Matt's Uncle Paul is working to save humans, along with his friend, Alan. But when Jotuns, huge giants covered in fire, show up in town, Matt is going to have to learn to fight them in a hurry. And Astrid, who has been hanging around with Loki's Wolves, turns out to be the Midgard Serpent. Or, well, one of them, and Matt is going to have to fight her. Or is he? Astrid likes him, she doesn't want to fight him, she wants to go out with him, but she may not have a choice. Add the Norns showing up and a very real countdown to the end, and Matt and his friends have more on their plates than ever before. Can they save humanity, themselves, and win through to the end as still being friends? This is the finale to the trilogy, and I really enjoyed it. The book is fairly hefty, but there was a lot of stuff to see and cover, so it didn't feel overly inflated. I liked the subtle spiking up of tension throughout the book, and the ending was wonderful. I really enjoyed this short series. It sort of reminded me a bit of Percy Jackson, but for the Norse Gods. There is a resemblance, but no real correlation, as the series are very wildly different. Still definitely recommended.

Who Buries the Dead: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery by C.S. Harris- When a man is found decapitated at Bloody Bridge, Sebastian is called in, away from his wife and newborn son. But he can find little about the killer. One of the witnesses is too frightened even to remember clearly what he saw. But Sebastian's investigation puts him squarely at odds with an old foe of his, a British man involved in the Spanish War who slaughtered an entire house of nuns and children to achieve an objective, and who apparently doesn't feel ashamed at what he did. For Sebastian, who witnessed the slaughter, he is upset and hates the man, and feels a strong need to bring him down, especially when the man threatens his wife and son. But no one around the other man seems to care, including his wife, and the man with the missing head may have been involved with the theft of the head of Charles Stuart, whose tomb has been rediscovered outside London, and which a great many relic collectors would just love to get their hands on. But can Sebastian solve the mystery of the murder, find the head and return it to its grave so the King doesn't get angry, and save his new family all in one case? I love this series, and even if C.S. Harris made up the condition that gives Sebastian his "extra powers", I have loved every single one of these books, and this one was no exception. I love the characters, especially Hero, Sebastian's bluestocking wife, and even his son is wonderful. I am looking forward to any and all sequels if they continue to be of this quality. Highly recommended.

A Scoundrel by Moonlight by Anna Campbell- When her sister is seduced and abandoned, Eleanor, or Nell Trimble, discovers that her seducer is none other than the Marquess of Leath.Dorothy, having lost the child, is on her deathbed, and she confesses all, including that the marquess keeps a book of his conquests, which he showed to Dorothy. Dorothy also asks Nell to take revenge on Leath by destroying him utterly, so Nell takes a position as a housemaid in the home of the Marquess's mother. She quickly rises from housemaid to companion, and when Leath returns from London, it is because of the scandal of his sister running off with and marrying the leader of Leath's opposition. To quiet the scandal, Leath plans to rusticate in the country for a while, but when he meets Nell, his antenna twitch and he is sure she isn't what he seems, while she attempts to search the house for the book he supposedly posseses. However, her experience of him one on one is the opposite of a rake. Yes, he excites her most powerfully, but she appears to have the same feelings for her, and yet, he holds back from seducing her. Nell feels that her first impression may have been wrong, but when he asks her to become his mistress, she doesn't agree. Only when her feelings can no longer be dened does she finally agree to a relationship with him, knowing he can never take her for his wife due to the difference in their stations. When she finds confirmation of her fears after their first night together, and takes the evidence to Leath's worst enemy in the government, can he find her and explain to her the real reason the incriminating letters are in his bag, and can he join with his former enemies to bring down the real enemy? This book is fairly large and hefty for a romance, but it was robust in all the right parts, and the tension between the Hero and heroine was well-done and their slow turning of suspicion into lust and then love was excellent. I found this book enjoyable, but it did a slow burn sort of build-up to the end. And then, the end was still sort of slow when it probably would have benefitted from being a bit more fast-paced. Still recommended.

Darius by Grace Burrows- When his sister is disgraced and his brother collapses in grief after the death of his wife, Darius withdraws from society and becomes a "special friend" to certain women. But never a lover. He usually lets them abuse and beat him for money. But when he is approached by Lord Longstreet, an ill and dying Lord, to give his new wife a child, he offers Darius enough money to do what he wants afterwards, so Darius agrees. However, as he prepares to become a woman's lover for coin for the first time, he discovers that he may give of his body, but at the same time, he can't help but let his heart follow. And Vivian is not the woman he suspected. She was the companion of his Lordship's first wife who Longstreet married to avoid her destitution, and to prevent her from returning to the arms of her abusive family. Completely untutored in pleasure, Darius cannot help but be enthralled by her gentle, genuine, and unstudied ways, and by the time she must leave, he and she no longer want to be parted. But she must return to her husband. And while she tries to forge a connection between them, something more than just lust or convenience. But when the women who pay Darius for his company refuse to be cast over, Darius finds he must step up to gain his own freedom and be with Vivian when her husband finally passes. But can he win free of two very vindictive women who will stop at nothing to possess him? I liked this book a lot. When readers are first introduced to Darius and his way of life, they will assume he is nothing more than a gigolo, but that proves not to be the case. Even so, his own self-opinion is very low because of what he does, and he doesn't believe he deserves love or affection. I loved how Darius seduces Vivian, and the connection that is forged between them. All, as it turns out, with the collusion of Lord Longstreet himself, who schemes for them to remain together after he is gone. Recommended.

From the Charred Remains by Susanna Calkins- Lucy Campion is a maid in the Lord Magistrate's house, and the magistrate has helped to educate her. But now that the Great Fire of London has come and past, Lucy realizes that the household doesn't really need her, and she should find another job. Her task hauling away debris from the fire results in her seeing two young boys find a body in a cask in the remains of a tavern, and when Lucy tries to find our how the man in the cask died, she ends up at a book sellers, where she offers to sell the true story of the finding of the body- but she also decides to work for the printer as a bookseller and servant as well. Lach, the printer's apprentice, is scornful of her, but the Printer agrees to take her on. Lucy finds herself rubbing elbows with the constable investigating the death and being privy to several reveals in the case. When a purse containing a poem belonging to the dead man shows up, she is approached by a woman who claims to be the subject of the poem and to know who the man is. But is she right, and who did the man to death on the night of the fire? Impelled to find the truth, Lucy must dig for the answers, without falling prey to the same murderer. I liked this book. Lucy is a wonderful protagonist, a smart woman who doesn't revel in her intelligence, but is humble when trying to find the truth. She dogeedly works away while working to find out what is going on, and is instrumental in finding the killer. I really enjoyed the mystery and the different characters we encounter in the process. I didn't really see the ending coming or who the real murderer was. Excellent book and Highly recommended.

Spell Blind by David B. Coe- Justiss Fearsson is a weremyste, a kind of changeling who can do magic, but doesn't change shape. He is tied to the phases of the moon because as the new moon approaches, he is able to draw more on magic, but it also comes with a significant drawback- he goes crazy on the night of the full moon. Justiss is called out by his old partner, Kona Shaw, to the body of a state Senator's daughter which has been killed and left behind, her eyes taken out and possibly destroyed. The killer dubbed by the press as the "Blind Angel Killer" was a case that Justiss was assigned to before he left the force because of his moon madness- it was hard to explain any of his "phasings" as anything but periodic mental breakdowns, and his superiors wouldn't put up with it. But many of the cases Justiss is investigating all seem to lead back to the Blind Angel Killer, and of a magician whose powers flare a bright red to his magical senses. Over time, his magic had gotten stronger, and Justiss fears what the Blind Angelkiller might be... and who he might be becoming. As he is drawn into the case once more, Justiss  becomes known to the killer, who sees him, rightly as a threat. But when Justiss is targeted, can he fight off the worst serial killer he has ever seen, and discover who and What he is? Or will Justiss just be added to the list of victims of the Blind Angel. And when he finds romance with a Blogger named Billie, can he keep her safe as well? This was an unusual book, with an unusual premise and hero. Even though Justiss was something new to me, I liked his story, his background, and the other characters in his life- even how he explained his powers to Billie, and how she eventually came to believe him. This was an excellent book, and I very much enjoyed it. Recommended.

Dark Shadows- Return to Collinwood by Kathryn Leigh Scott and Jim Pierson- Dark Shadows started out as just another soap opera, albeit one with a very gothic bent. But when the failing show began to introduce more and more supernatural elements, culminating with the rise of the vampire, Barnabas Collins, from the family crypt, where he'd been imprisoned and chained for over 200 years, the show took on a new life and new popularity. This book tells the story of Dark Shadows from its beginning as a soap opera, all the way through the movies that were made of it, two revival series, and now the movie starring Johnny Depp. Told mainly by Kathryn Leigh Scott, who was part of the soap from the very beginning, she tells stories of the 60's and 70's series, and the making of the first movi. The stories continue with Jim Pierson, and he tells of the revivals and of being contacted by Tim Burton and Johnny Depp before the making of the new movie. This book has plenty of photographs and stories about production and the stars. I never watched the original series, but I watched the 1990's revival with Ben Cross, and I had a friend who introduced me to the original series. This book was wonderful to read and very enjoyable. I loved the pictures of the casts of all three series, and it was a very fun book to read. Recommended, especially if you are a fan of any of the series/movies.

Suspense and Sensibility by Carrie Bebris- Recently married, Elizabeth Darcy and Fitzwilliam Darcy, are enjoying married life, but a letter from Elizabeth's mother reminds her that she and her new husband have a duty to see Elizabeth's sister, Kitty, married, and quite happily, at that. Which to their mother means a man with a title. But when Kitty meets Henry Dashwood of Norland, she becomes entranced by him, and he seems equally taken with her, despite her lack of connections or money. His mother is not s happy with the relationship that develops between Harry and Kitty, and neither is Harry's sister. Harry, who has been poking about on his estate, has found a portrait of his debauched ancestor, his Great Grand-uncle, Francis Dashwood, which he decides to rescue, as his resemblance as a young man to Henry is great. There is also a beautiful Grecian Mirror, which Henry thinks is a real antique, possibly. When he becomes disgusted by how his own family is treating Kitty, he leaves the home and his mother, having proposed to Kitty, who has happily accepted. However, soon after his engagement, his behavior changes to become as debauched and pleasure-seeking as his distant ancestor. Kitty and even Henry's family are upset by this turn of events, with Henry's mother and sisters blaming Kitty, and Kitty blaming Henry's mother. But when Henry loses the family estate in a game of cards, Kitty ends their agreement to marry, and his mother cuts him off from the inheritance. Elizabeth is shocked by the change, but discovers that the mirror houses Henry's soul, which has been exchanged for that of his ancestor. Can Elizabeth and Darcy find a way to free his soul to inhabit its body once more, and what might be needed to do so. Furthermore, what will become of Henry with the rest of his family cut off from him? I really enjoyed this book, which was interesting because I have never been a big Austen reader. But this book combined the characters with an interesting and intriguing mystery, and I really, really enjoyed it. Highly recommended.

The Masque of a Murderer by Suzanna Calkins- Following the move out of the Magistrate's House, Lucy Calkins is still working as the Printer's assistant and apprentice. But not much has changed. When the Magistrate's Daughter, Sarah, returns to England, she recognizes Lucy on the street. Sarah has become a Quaker, and she recently returned to England after spending time in America. But upon her return, Sarah is summoned to the house of an old friend, Jacob Whitby. Jacob has been run over by a cart and is dying, and Sarah is asked to go to his house to visit him. She takes Lucy along to accompany her, but when she is left alone with Jacob, he tells her he didn't fall in front of the cart, he was pushed, and that someone in the circle of the Quakers is a fraud, and that his wife may be in danger. He begs Lucy to find out who the traitor is and keep her safe. Soon after, he dies. Luxy is asked to take down his last words before he dies so a pamphlet can be published about his life. She does so, but also does a little snooping around and discovers some things that definitely don't add up with the Quakers. While Sarah is a true and devoted Quaker, and Ahivah, another Quaker seeress, seem to be genuine, she has no idea who the traitor is . But can she find out before Sarah or another Quaker dies? And can she keep herself and Sarah safe as the traitor gets closer and more people begin to die? Another excellent book with a wonderful interesting mystery and some interesting information about Quakers and their activities in the new world and England. Lucy is growing closer, not only to Adam and the Constable, but also to Lach, her fellow apprentice, and he gets to help with the investigation. Recommended.

The Seduction of Lady X by Julia London-  Lady Olivia Carey is the one bright spot in Harrison Tolly's life. Harrison is the steward to Lord Carey, who is a vain, venal man who holds hid wife in contempt because she has not yet been able to give him an heir. But this is more due to the faults of her husband, who has a decided fondness for drink and whose lovemaking has devolved to a few minutes of groping, then thrusting until he reaches his end, usually being too incapable with drink to do even that. But when Harrison is informed that he is heir to the Earldom of Ashwood, he turns it down so that he may stay with the Careys. However, Lady Carey's sister is pregnant by a man she met when she was traveling in Spain, and Lord Carey is going to use that as any excuse to be rid of his wife's sister, who he hates. To help her out, Harrison says he will wed her sister as opposed to Lord Carey's idea to send her to a nunnery in Ireland. But this causes a rift between Harrison and Lord Carey, one that comes to a head when there is a rumor started that Harrison is Olivia's lover. Lord Carey rides off to confront him, and there is a terrible accident, and the new heir throws Harrison off the estate after the funeral. But just before, Olivia and Harrison become lovers at last, even though Harrison is still promised to marry her sister. But can Harrison, Olivia and her sister prevent a terrible tragedy and find happiness for them all, even if it means flouting convention and following their hearts? I liked this book. Harrison Tolly is being pulled in many different directions in this book, and so is Olivia. Each value their integrity more than just about anything, but Olivia's husband treats her with indifference at best and hatefulness at his worst. He doesn't beat her, but that is because Harrison stuck up for her when Lord Carey first tried, and by the end he does hit her once again. He blames her for her inability to conceive, when his drinking seems much more to blame. Harrison knows he loves Olivia, and that it is hopeless to be anything more than an admirer from afar, but she is completely oblivious to his feelings, thinking of him merely as a friend. It isn't until near the end of the book that she discovers his feelings and that she shares them. A lot of this story is hard to read, but mainly for the way Lord Carey treats his wife. The other parts are much better, and made it hard to put down and stop reading. Yet, I did enjoy the ending and the romance, such as it was. Recommended,

Natsume's Book of Friends, Volume 18 by Yuki Midorikawa- Takashi Natsume can see Yokai, or spirits. His grandmother, Reiko, had the same ability, but was shunned for it. So, she would challenge the Yokai to contests and insist on them writing their names in her book when she defeated them, which gave her a hold and a power over them. Though Natsume has the same powers, he wants to free the Yokai from their enslavement to whoever holds the book, and has been freeing the Yokai who come to ask for their names. In the meantime, he helps out various people with their Yokai problems, helped by Madara, a very powerful Yokai who inhabits a porcelain cat and is called Nyanko-sensei. In this volume, Natsume is approached by a goat-yokai who wants to find a yokai named Ake, They both work for the same Yokai who is their sensei. Now, theit sensei is ill and the goat-sensei wants to find his fellow student to challenge him as to who will be in charge when their master passes. But Ake is hiding and being fractious. But can Natsume find Ake and be an impartial judge over the process? Next, a famous exorcist has passed away, and his granddaughter knows he has a study full of his tools, but she cannot find it. Cam Natsume and Natori uncover the man's study before the rest of the exorcists do? Finally, a girl is in the forest, looking for a yokai she met in the form of an owl. The owl left behind a ring, and she wants to return it to him. But the Owl can't have her remembering him and must take away the memory. Cat Natsume and Nyanko-sensei help her find the owl yokai and return his ring to him? And when the spirit must wipe her memory in return, can Natsume sav her from this fate?

As Twilight Falls by Amanda Ashley- Kadie Andrews is a photographer, photographing ghost towns across the old West. But when she gets lost and wanders into the town of Morgan Creek, she quickly discovers that she can't leave- the town is home to five vampires, and she is claimed by one of them to be a blood donor for him. But then the town's founder, Rylan Saintcrow, arises from his slumber and claims Kadie for his own. Kadie finds herself angry at being imprisoned, but at the same time, she finds herself attracted beyond measure to Rylan, and reluctantly begins to fall for him. Still, she is trapped in Morgan Creek, and so is everyone else who wandered into town. Most of the vampires in town are male, but there is one woman, who has men to serve as her vessels, but she is so horrible to them that at least one of her victims wants to be killed rather than continue to live in the town. But as she and Rylan grow closer, Kadie intercedes on behalf of the town's inhabitants to get Rylan to loosen their restrictions. And when the Vampires in town rebel and want to leave the town's safety, Rylan decides to let them go. Only, when they finally leave, Vampire hunters start arriving in town. Only a few, at first, then more and more. And that, it turns out, was partly why the vampires were sheltering here, in Rylan's protection. But when the hunters have a connection to Kadie, she will have to return to her family, and her sick and dying sister, to learn what it is that is going on, and the secret that has underlain her family for years...  I liked this book, especially the reveal of the secrets Kadie's family is/was hiding. There was no clue about this early in the novel, but I loved how the characters in Morgan Creek were fleshed out and ended up being ale to leave at the end and the choices they made. In the end, Kadie, too, needs to make a choice, and what she chooses made me smile. I really liked this book and the mostly non-violent way that Rylan dealt with the vampire hunters. Recommended.

Worth Any Price by Lisa Kleypas- When Nick Gentry of the Bow Street Runners is given the job of tracking down a rich man's runaway soon-to-be bride, he thinks of it as nothing more than an easy job, but when he finally finds Miss Charlotte Howard, he is dumbstruck. Working as a servant, Charlotte lives in fear of being dragged back to face the man who claims to be her fiancé, as he has been her jailer for most of her life, dictating what she learned, how much she could eat, and so much more. Nick finds himself drawn to the lovely Charlotte and decides that the only way he can save her from the Rich Lord who claims her is to marry her himself and save her. Charlotte, falling for Nick and afraid of what her erstwhile Fiance will do if he gets her back, agrees. But Nick, who has been trained by a madam to be a world-class lover, has never given his heart before, but this time he will, and when he returns to London to the stunning news that the Bow Street Runners are disbanding in favor of Robert Peel's new Police Force, Nick is thrown for a loop and is compelled by his brother-in-law to take up his family's noble title, which is the last thing he wants to do, he realizes that with Charlotte to protect and love, he no longer wants to risk his life as he did before. But when Charlotte's former fiancé tries to put her sister under the same constraints he put Charlotte under, and to blackmail her family into handing over her sister and Charlotte as well, can Nick and his former colleagues rescue her before the unthinkable happens? I actually liked this book. I liked Nick and Charlotte both as they are both strong and strong-willed people. But instead of taking the easy way out and have them fight each other after they start the marriage, Lisa Kleypas has the danger they face together mostly external. The internal struggle is for Nick, who doesn't want to give up his job as a Runner to be a Lord. But that is soon put pad to when he realizes, as a married man, that he can't go on risking his neck the way he has. An excellent novel that pulled me in with good writing and kept me there with plot. Highly recommended.

The Revenge of Lord Eberlin by Julia London- Tobin Scott's father was hung when he was just a boy, accused of stealing the Countess of Ashwood's stunning ruby jewelry. Following their father's death, Tobin, his mother and sister moved to London. Shortly thereafter, his mother died and he was forced to send his sister into service and take a job on a ship. But this also proved the making of his fortune, as he made money dealing arms, and returned to England a rich man and a titled one as well, having purchased a Dutch title when he was abroad, from a noble fleeing the war there. Now, he returns to the village where he was born and lived most of his life, only to find that the woman whose evidence was used to accuse and convict his father has also returned to Hadley Green. Lily Boudine was only a child when she woke to see Tobin Scott's father riding away from the estate late at night, but she had no idea that her innocent statement of fact would be used to convict Tobin's father and put him to death. Alas, things also didn't go well for Lily's aunt died, and she had to take shelter with her Irish relatives. Recently, she was informed that she had inherited Ashwood. But when Tobin moves into Tiber Park, he decides to ruin Ashwood and Lily both as a price for condemning his father to death. Lily knows that Ashwood could fail and decides to fight Tobin every step of the way. But Tobin is distracted by Lily's beauty, and when he threatens to take her innocence in exchange for leaving Ashwood alone, she agrees. But once he tells her about what happened to his family, she becomes determined to find out what really happened to the ruby jewelry that went missing, and she will not let it go until she finds the truth. Tobin, already distracted by her beauty finds his heart coming to care for Lily. But how can he keep up his plans for revenge when he discovers the truth about his father and Lily's aunt? Can he still destroy Ashwood when he has come to care for Lily? This is a book whose story was started by a theft, and a tragedy. Lily saw Tobin's father riding away from the estate, and when she told her nanny what she'd seen, her testimony was used to both accuse and convict him. Tobin thinks she lied about what she saw, but this was one thing she didn't do. Lily never thought about what would happen to Tobin's father, nor Tobin and his family, but her search for the truth brings them together and makes them both much happier people. I liked this book, and both Lily and Tobin, who were strong and stubborn. But Lily is able to convince him that he has misjudged her and also find the real reason his father was leaving the estate so late. also, Tobin is afflicted with what I assume is PTSD over his father's death and only being with Lily eases the symptoms. This was a fantastic book, and the second book in a trilogy, of which "The Seduction of Lady X" is the third. An interesting and enjoyable read. Highly recommended.

The Dangerous Gentleman by Julia London- Adrian Spence has long been his father's whipping boy, while his younger brother Benjamin is his father's golden boy. But when Adrian is tricked into killing his best friend by that very same man, his father has had enough, and disinherits Adrian in favor of Benjamin. Adrian, though, knows Lilliana Dashell, the woman who Ben is contracted to marry. When he can no longer bear his father's cruelty and Ben's standing by and letting it happen, he goes to Lilliana and tells her that he has fallen in love with her and wants to marry her. She has always been enamored of him, and breaks off with Ben to marry him. Adrian considers it a revenge well-taken and tires to put Lilliana out of his mind. The one place he cannot ignore her is in the marriage bed and there he turns into a tender, masterful lover. But he refuses to let her be anything more, and Lilliana can tell something is wrong. She tries to get closer to Adrian, but he keeps her at arms length. It is only when he has a horrible accident that he is able to overcome that distance between them. But Ben, Lilliana's former Fiance, cannot seem to stop coming around and implying to Adrian that he and Lily are still very close., Perhaps even in the Biblical sense. When Adrian regains his sight, he doesn't tell Lilliana right away, which she views as something of a betrayal. But when they are nearly forced apart again, they must realize that Ben is pushing them apart, and that his father's animosity may have nothing to do with Adrian, but rather his mother. Can Adrian resist taking revenge on his father when the truth is revealed? Another good book, though this one was a bit harder to read. because of the supposed infidelity to the marriage on both sides. It isn't until Adrian and Lilliana realize what is going on and dig for the truth that each realizes how much the other loves them, and they finally manage to move past the hurt. Adrian and Ben are not nice characters. Oh, they seem innocent and steadfast, but the bitterness between them and the fact that each is willing to betray and backstab the other make them not very likeable characters. I only came to like Adrian because he really did come to care for Lily, but I didn't like him for long periods of this book. Lilliana comes off best, and I felt like Adrian didn't deserve her. Recommended, but not highly.

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