Thursday, September 10, 2015

2016, Part 6

Pride and Prescience by Carrie Bebris- Elizabeth Bennet has married her Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and they are all set to begin their lives of Wedded bliss. But Caroline Bingley is upset, for she had planned on wedding Darcy herself. Instead, she marries an American named Parrish with almost unseemly haste, merely a week after Elizabeth married Darcy. But soon she begins wandering at all hours and is found by the Darcys in a bad area of London, clearly not herself. She injures herself and no matter what her husband and friends try to do to help her, it seems she is determined to kill herself. The only thing which seems to comfort her is Mr. Randolph, a scholar who has a collection of supposedly mystical objects on display at the British Museum. But is he the author of her difficulties, or the cure? And can Elizabeth and Darcy discover the truth behind what is happening before it reaches out to engulf them as well? This was an excellent book, and a very intriguing mystery, as well. Darcy and Elizabeth have achieved a real communion and are now joined body and soul. But despite their great and fulfilling love for each other, they are still willing to help Caroline Bingley, who treated Elizabeth abominably in Pride and Prejudice. Though she and Caroline are by no means the closest of friends (they may not even be friends), they are the only ones she can call on to help her when things go pear-shaped in her marriage. I have never really read Jane Austen's novels, but the characters seem true to what I did read of them, and I found myself enjoying both characters and the mystery both. And as time passes, you also get to see Darcy unbend a bit (never in public, always when he is alone with Elizabeth), which was a nice treat. Highly recommended.

North by Northanger by Carrie Bebris- Fitzwilliam Darcy and his wife Elizabeth have settled into Pemberly, but it so very well reflects the character of its former Mistress, Anne, that Elizabeth finds herself feeling a bit unsettled. Though already carrying the heir to the Darcy name and the estate at Pemberly, the two of them must find someone to attend her lying-in and birth. Elizabeth is content with a midwife, but Darcy wishes to engage a physician out of a fear of what may go wrong. Meanwhile, when Anne Darcy's desk is moved for Elizabeth, she finds a note written by Anne to her, or that is to say, to her son's bride. She asks the new Mrs. Darcy to find an heirloom that was lost, one which will ensure a happy birth to her son's offspring. Elizabeth decides to look into it, but first she and Darcy head to Bath to meet a Dr. Severn, a physician in Bath who also resides in London. He is willing to look after Elizabeth but is quite put out that she wants to stay at Pemberly for the birth. Elizabeth is not sure she likes him, but his stories of childbirth accidents and other interventions he has done convince her and Darcy to retain him, for a large sum of money for looking after Elizabeth at Pemberly. On the way home, they stay at Northanger Abbey for the night, meeting its Master, but the only servant they see is the Housekeeper. Their own servants fall ill for the night, and while they find a set of diamond Jewelry in the rooms where they are staying, they leave it where it is. Also, the man who is master of the place is Swathed in bandages, leaving but one eye visible. Though they are invited to stay for some time, they leave the next morning, put off by the coldness of the place. When they reach the next town, they are stopped by the local magistrate, who accuses them of stealing the jewelry and finds it hidden in a hidden compartment of Darcy's cane, which he did not even know was there. Soon, it is revealed as a ruse- The cane is not Darcy's. but a close copy, and to be released from the local Gaol, he must be remanded into the custody of his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, an overbearing lady who very much dislikes Elizabeth. But as they work to find out what really went on at Northanger Abbey and find the culprits responsible for framing Darcy, they are drawn into a mystery over a missing piece of Ivory wanted by more than one person. But can they save Darcy from the Hangman's Noose and restore the lost heirloom to Elizabeth before their son or daughter is born? I liked this book as well, and I found it interesting and wonderful to read. Elizabeth and Darcy are loving with each other, and this book revealed a lot of why Catherine De Bourgh disliked Elizabeth so much. Unfortunately, this doesn't destroy her antagonism, or prevent her from being an extremely unpleasant woman. Interesting mystery, great characters well-written and a great ending. Highly recommended.

The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr- Eliza Jeckyll is a Victorian Crime Scene Investigator, but she hides a secret second life as the bold and often violent Adventuress, Lizzie Hyde. But the fact that she is female doesn't bode well for her career in the police force, and her superior, Inspector Harley Griffin, is the only reason why the Police have tolerated her this long. But when mutilated bodies start turning up with pieces missing, all female, and there are burns made by Aether nearby, Both sides of Eliza's personality must go to work to solve the mystery and to deal with Remy Lafayette, a captain of the Royal Society and noted hunter of unspeakable things who happens to be hiding his own secrets from the world. But when the bodies continue to pile up, Eliza finds out that there are secrets in her life that she never knew existed, and she wonders how many people have been lying to her, and if the established truths of her world are quite so established. But can she discover the truth when she's not even sure she wants to know the many truths that underlie her own existence? I lobed this book. Eliza is more than a female version of Henry, she is his daughter by his wife. The implications are that Henry not only passed on his powers to Eliza, but that he used her in his own experiments, and she still uses his same to become or "Bring out" Lizzy. But Eliza is not the only person in this universe with strange powers. There are Faeries, Werewolves and even worse things hiding in the shadows. I liked the slightly steampunk-y nature of the world and the way it was combined with fantasy and a murder mystery. I liked both Eliza and Lizzy, although we don't get to see much of Remy Lafayette because Eliza/Lizzy is the main viewpoint character, I want to see more of this world, and if Harley Griffin lives up to the promise of his name... Highly recommended.

People of the Songtrail by W. Michael Gear ad Kathleen O'Neal Gear- when a group of Viking settlers come to the New World to set up a small community in the wilderness, they encounter a group of Native Americans led by Chief Badasut of Whale Rib Village. When another trial village is destroyed, and some of the mercenaries are guilty of the slaughter, in order to live in their new homes, one of the Vikings, Gunnar, must rise to the occasion to make peace. But not everyone in the new world is there to settle peacefully, Thorlak, a magician, is after a specific relic. But his apprentice, Thyra, is the daughter of a seer. who Thorlak killed. But when she aligns herself with the seers among Badasut's people, she finds out that her mother and father both may not be dead after all. But can she survive Thorlak's plans to retrieve the artifact, and can she prevent the evil man from getting what he wants? As the two sides begin to clash, everyone must decide which side they are on. I liked this book, but it's not as large at other books by the Gears, and I preferred the Native American characters over the Vikings, though my feelings were more mixed by the end on the book. Recommended.

Noble Destiny by Katie MacAlister- Charlotte Collins has just returned from Italy on the death of her husband, an Italian Count that she eloped with. But now she is in dire straits, as her husband died without a penny to his name, and she needs to marry, and marry well, to keep herself in the style to which she has become accustomed to. With most of her acquaintances and her own cousin abandoning her for a new life with her husband and son in Jamaica. However, thanks to the efforts of her brother, no one in polite society will receive her and her opportunities to meet men- eligible, titled, and wealthy men, are few. However, she soon latches onto a former suitor of her Alasdair, or Dare MacGregor, a handsome Scottish Earl. Dare is also in bad straits. His sister is getting married, but his estate is in debt, and he is busy dodging mommas who want him to marry their daughters. But he has never forgotten his feelings for Charlotte. Sensing she wants something, he attempts to dodge her advances as well, until she sets a trap for him and gives him no choice but to marry her. But can the two of them make a successful marriage after so long apart and how will both overcome their shocking lack of money? I really did not like this book, and it was all due to the heroine. She is supposed to be slightly dotty, daffy and madcap, and she just completely set my teeth on edge with her malapropisms and mischosen words, which made reading her dialogue a chore for me. On top of that, she whines, she's mercenary, and I simply disliked everything about her 30 pages into the book, I wanted her to go away, and by the middle, where I stopped reading, I was would not have urinated to put her out were she on fire. She ruined the book for me, and this book became one of a very few I could not finish because of how much I despised the heroine. Do Not Read. Would not recommend.

She Hulk: Disorderly Conduct by Charles Soule and Javier Pulido- Jennifer Banner is approached by an inventor who has replicated a shrinking ray and wants to market it. It's the same as one of Hank Pym's earlier designs, but when Pym contacts Jennifer, he reveals that there is a hitch- that design makes things explode and they must find the inventor, who has tested in on himself, before the device can blow up the city. But can Ant-Man, Hellcat and Giant Man find the inventor in his own back yard? Then, Jennifer is approached by Captain America to defend him against charges that he killed a man back when he was merely Steve Rogers. Jennifer calls Matt Murdock to help, but he's already on the case- on the side of the prosecution. And Steve agrees that he was responsible for the man's death. Can Jennifer show that the Death wasn't really Steve;s fault? Finally, the Blue File comes back to bite Jennifer as she uncovers the real reason it exists, and who was really behind the disappearance of an entire town. Can she discover the true meaning of the file and bring the villain to justice? And finally, the end comes back to the beginning when Jen's old law firm represents the city in a case against the Inhumans, for whom Jen is their lawyer. Is this Jen's chance for a little payback? I liked this volume more than the first. Sure, it wasn't all that great in the art- some of which I felt was downright ugly, but it got the point across just fine. The stories, however, were really good, and that was the best part. Highly recommended.

Avengers: Milennium by Mike Costa, Mast, Geoffo, Carmine Giandomenico, Paco Diaz and Enis Cisic- Things are slow at Avengers Towee when Quicksilver barrels in, having run all the way across the world from Japan. It seems that while on vacation there, Wanda felt something unnatural and on investigation, she and Pietro found an Abandoned Hydra base. But something is buried there, and they need to find out what it is. The Avengers come in to back her up and discover a time portal in the basement. Assuming that the members of Hydra have gone into the past, the team goes along, looking to defeat them, but the time portal spits them out in different times. Captain America, Quicksilver and Hawkeye are taken to prehistoric times, where Hydra has set up a base. Bruce Banner and the Scarlet Witch are sent to the future, and Spider-man, Iron Man and Black Widow are sent back to the second World War. But while Hydra has the means to send people to different times, they have no way to return- and their ace in the hole, which they think will allow them to win the war against the Avengers, is still hidden. But when their plan comes to fruition, can the Avengers find a way to regroup, and defeat the Hydra goons in every timer peiod and restores the future to the way it should be? And who will win in the contest of the Burgers, In-and-Out or 5 Guys? The book ends with two stories from the past, one in which the Avengers are returned to the time of World War II,and another in which they are unwitting pawns in a battle between Kang and the Grand Master, with the prize being Kang's gaining of the power of life so that Kang canrestore his love, Ravonna. Only the Black Knight stands in Kang's Way. This was an interesting idea and I loved how the story used *both* Bruce Banner and the Hulk to equally great effect. A Wonderful story and I liked the through time aspect. Recommended.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman- Humans in Gorsedd have unusual and powerful neighbors in Dragons, who can fold themselves into human shape. Everyone thinks that humans and Dragons cannot interbreed, but Seraphina Dombergh, now assistant Court Composer, knows differently. She is the offspring of a female dragon and a human ambassador, though it was not until Seraphina was born and her mother died that her father knew what and who he had married. But now someone is determined to break the treaty between humans and Dragons, and they have killed Prince Rupert and beheaded him, taking the head away- the usual signs that a Dragon did the killing> not all the people who disapprove of the treaty are on the human side, and several dragons study in the city in human guise, like Seraphina's uncle, Orma, who is a scholar. But as Seraphina tries to keep her own secrets and investigate Prince Rupert's death and who might be behind it, she finds herself thrown into the company of the Bastard Prince Lucian Kiggs, the fiancé of Seraphina's own student, Princess Glisselda. But the figures in Seraphina's head, whom she has always though of as figments of her imagination, might be real people, and when Seraphina finally meets one of them, she gets the inkling that her, and other half-dragons like her, might be the way to a true and lasting peace between humans and Dragons. But can she do all that while ferreting out a traitor and hiding her half-dragon nature from the court? I loved this story. It's long, but the world-building is excellent, with Dragons being very strange and different from humans in mind and emotions. Not only does Seraphina keep secrets, but other people know some of them, but don't let her know. This looks like the first book in a series or trilogy, and I honestly can't wait to read more. Highly recommended.

Iron Man: Fatal Frontier by Al Ewing, Kieron Gillen, Carmine Di Giandomenico and others- Tony Stark is enjoying a party at his home in California when someone tries to bomb Hollywood. He backtracks the bombs to the Moon, where he finds an Android named Uparnik, who was sent to the Moon by the Soviets to prepare it for them. In the process, he discovered what he calls "Moon Mercury" or what the Americans are calling "Phlogistone" a nearly unparalleled source of energy, made by cosmic rays. After fighting Uparnik, Tony saves it, telling the robot that they should have been friends. Uparnik agrees and brings Tony back using the Phlogistone to restart the core keeping him alive. Other nations come to the moon in search of the Phlogistone and make a new community there which Tony runs as a combination of Mayor and Sherriff. But when everyone, including Doctor Doom, rush to secure the new element for themselves, Side effects of the use of Phlogistone begin to become apparent Can Tony overcome those who seek to keep the Phlogistone for themselves, and can he eliminate the side effects before it drives him insane and megaslomaniacal? And will Uparnik let him destroy the one thing that has brought people to the moon, which Uparnik wants? This was an interesting story. Uparnik is literally two-faced, one side a builder, the other a destroyer, and his discovery may have doomed Tony forever. It was a long and twisty road, this story, and yet one I found enjoyable. Recommended.

To Hold the Bridge by Garth Nix- This book is comprised of nineteen short stories written by Garth Nix, everything from Superheroes, the Supernatural and more. The name of the book is the same as the first story, a novella set in the Abhorsen universe. Morghan is a young man who has lost nearly everything. But a chance find in his family's possessions, a charter for the Field Bridge company. Morghan knows Charter Magic and hopes that if he serves in the company, his life will be made. But once he passes the very difficult tests, he is even further tested when he must hold the bridge along with the other shareholders when they are attacked in the middle of the night. But can he and his companions hold the bridge all by themselves? "Vampire Weather" has a boy named Amos living in an isolated village at risk of vampire attack when the weather goes cloudy. But when Amos meets a girl new to the area, can he save her from a vampire, and will his village still accept him afterwards? "Strange Fishing in the Western Highlands" has a young Doctor meeting Hellboy and discovering the truth of his family and his father's beliefs. "Old Friends" has a former God facing off against an old opponent- but can he defeat his opponent after so long? "The Quiet Knight" has a strong but badly scarred boy in the SCA and he finally finds a lady to suit him. But will she mock him or like him? "The Highest Justice" has a girl taking her murdered mother to see the King for Justice, aided by a Unicorn. But is she really after justice, or revenge? "A Handful of Ashes" has a mage student defending her college from a pack of spoiled young girls who should know better than to play with magic of the sort they are fooling with. But can she foil the ritual in time? "The Big Question" concerns a young man named Avel and his need to know the answers. But when he is abducted from his home, will his trip provide those answers? "Stop" has a professor asking questions of a man about to die. But the answers are anything but what he expects. "Infestation" follows a group of vampire hunter- the pros and a young man who seems to know more than what he is telling. But will they all learn their lesson? "The Heart of the City" has two religious men as they seek to summon an angel who embodies the heart of the city to save it and its King. But the threat is nothing like what they expected... "Ambrose and the Ancient Spirits of the East and West" follows a magician as he reluctantly serves King and country in the lands of the Fae. Will he survive the mission unscathed? "Holly and Iron" follows two princesses, one with Holly Magic, and one with Iron Magic. When her sister, the hope of her life, is killed, she must embrace both sides of herself to triumph over an ancient enemy in the heart of her father's Kingdom. "The Curious Case of the Moondawn Daffodills Murder" follows Magnus Holmes, the less famous cousin of Mycroft and Sherlock, as he looks into an occult murder on behalf of Inspector Lestrade along with his keeper and doctor/nurse. "An Unwelcome Guest" has a not quite truly wicked witch as she seeks to get rid of a young girl who has taken up residence in her house and refuses to go. But how will she do it? "A Sidekick of Mars" tells the story of another man taken up to Mars, one who clashes with John Carter. Can Lam Jones survive Mars with John Carter. "You Won't Feel a Thing" has a boy turned into a  monster with a toothacge. Can his family save him when infection sets in? "Peace In Our Time" has a woman confronting a man who may have unleashed an apocalypse. But why? And "Master Haddad's Holiday" has an assassin sent to a world to do a job, posing as a simple trader. But he isn't the only person after his target, and there are also people after him. Can he survive his own assassins, outwit the target and escape successfully? I got this book because I had read Garth Nis's "Abhorsen" Trilogy, and I really enjoyed it. I thought there were going to be more short "Old Kingdom" stories than "To Hold the Bridge", but all of these tales were short and satisfying to read. My favorites were "To Hold the Bridge", "Strange Fishing in the Western Highlands" (because I love Hellboy), "Handful of Ashes" and "Holly and Iron" Truth be told, all the stories were great, but these were the best. I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Gath Nix, and just picked up the Abhorsen Prequel "Clariel" on its strength. Highly recommended.

Amecomi Girls- What if all the heroes and villains of the DC universe were girls? Or at the very least female, and most of them were teenagers? That's the conceit behind "Amecomi Girls", which takes its name from the Japanese loanword for "American Comics" We start with Princess Diana, who is fired up to defend her homeland, the island of Themiscyra. The American Military already knows about Themiscyra, but Diana isn't so sanguine about the man's world. Meanwhile, Batgirl and Robin (also female) defend Gotham from Duela Dent, daughter of "Smilin' Jack the Joker" Dent. On her side are catgirl, Poison Ivy, Harkey Quinn, Cheetah, and unbeknownst to everyone, Brainiac (also female, of course). While Batgirl's friends include Powergirl, Steel and Powergirl's newly arrived cousin, Kara Zor-el. But when Brainiac helps Duela take over the city, the heroes must team up to fight the villains, and Supergirl, who has been infected  with Black Kryptonite. Can Wonder Woman save the day? This is sort of a pseudo-anime book, even though "Amecomi" is loan word from Japanese meaning "American Comics". I thought it was an interesting idea, but a lot of it is showing women in costumes that are kind of fanservice-y, and I couldn't really get over that or how shallow and not very interesting the story was. I was not a big fan. It's only okay, to me, but YMMV.

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman- Seraphina is a half-fdragon. All her life, she and her father have lived in Goredd, but now, with war with the Dragons looming, she has been asked by the leaders of Goredd, Prince Lucian Kiggs and Princess Glisselda, to travel to Ninysh, and Samsam to contact the other Ityassari, the half-Dragons to whom she is connected in her head. The one she least wants to find is also the most powerful, a woman named Jannoula, who seemed like a friend, but tried to manipulate Seraphina as a young woman. Seraphina was so scared of Jannoula, that she had to trick Jannoula's Avatar in her own mind into a special cottage/shack she built to wall her influence away.
As she travels through the southlands, she discovers that Jannoula is alive and well, and that she has been contacting the other Ityassari, and that she can even take them over and leave a "hook"in their brains. Seraphina is the only one who has been able to banish her permanently, and to do so, she apparently had to give up all of her own power as a half-dragon, so she cannot see the glow of power like other half-dragons. But with the Dragons at war with Goredd, Seraphina is going to have to dig into secrets owned by the dragons and the humans and find answers she  doesn't particularly want to face. But with Jannoula taking over Goredd with her powers, can Seraphina save everyone and her beloved country from the Dragons and their rogue generals? And when even Seraphina's love turns against her, can she rise to claim back her power and win the day? I liked this book. I didn't like that Seraphina was powerless and stuck for a good deal of it, but it makes you understand how hopeless she feels. Still, I loved how she managed to seize her own power and rise to confront Jannoula, and how she was able to heal the wounds of war. Highly recommended, though it's a bit uncomfortable to read in spots.

The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker- Elizabeth Grey is one of the best Witch Hunters in the business, eager at hunting down witches and bringing them to justice under the crown. But when witch herbs (that she uses to remain not pregnant from the King's attentions) are discovered on her person, she is accused of witchcraft and dragged off to prison to be put to death, just like all the witches she has apprehended over the years. But then she is rescued from her cell by Nicholas Peverill, the last remaining truly powerful witch in England. But while Elizabeth thinks of Nicholas as a foe, and schemes to bring him to justice, thus proving her loyalty to the crown, she discovers that not everything is as she believed and that her former master, the Head of the Witch Hunters, Blackwell, has not only lied to her, but to the country and all of the Witch Hunters. For he, too is a witch, and he wants to be the only and most powerful in the realm, to better control the King and country. But bringing him down will not be easy- he has cursed the realm with the very tablet holding the rules against Witchcraft. But now Elizabeth is counted an enemy of the state. Can she free the land from Blackwell without revealing her status as a witchhunter to her new allies? I loved this book. Once I picked it up, I read it straight through to the end, barely putting it down to sleep. It hooked me in and kept me interested all the way through. An entrancing story that teens will love. Highly Recommended,

'Thrones and Bones: Frostborn by Lou Anders- Karn Korlundsson is the son of a freeholder, and is due to take over his father's hold when he is older. But Karn is less interested in running the freehold than playing "Thrones and Bones", a board game that is like chess or checkers. When he makes an excellent trading deal by beating the other merchant at a game, he is happy, but his uncle is not. Thianna is hakf-human, half frost giant, her mother a warrior who fell from the sky into a giant community. Thianna has never fit in, being not quite as tall, but faster and more agile than a giant. When other human women come to the community on their own flying mounts, Thianna doesn't trust them and hides. When her father goes to trade with the humans, Thianna, having learned the rudiments of Frost Magic from a frost giantess, goes along with him. Likewise does Karn come with his father to trade. They become fast friends, and when Karn's uncle tricks him into releasing the spirit of an old Human reiver, Helltoppr, When Karn's father shows up to try and rescue Karn, he loses and the giant imprisons him in stone. Thianna and Karn must flee far and fast, relying on each other's skills to survive the frosty weather. But when they stumble on an old city inhabited by a fearsome wurm named Orm, they will have to survive the creature, with the aid of a horn that belonged to Thianna's mother and which it appears that the other women with flying mounts are searching for. But can they survive the city and return to free Karn's father and the other victims from the reiver, and put the plot of Karn's Uncle to ruin. It's a lot to ask of a half-frost giant and a Norrongard boy. But with Karn's facility at puzzles and Thianna's great strength and agility, they at least have to try. I loved this book, which reminded me of all the adventures I used to go on in Dungeons and Dragons. Karn and Thianna are tested, again and again, and while they don't always come out on top, they develop a deep friendship and the ability to work well together. I found this book to be an excellent adventure, and well worth the read. Recommended.

Thrones and Bones: Nightborn by Lou Anders- Karn and Thianna were parted at the end of "Frostborn', and since, Karn has been learning how to run the farm, while Thianna has been experiencing life in the human lands. When she needs rescuing, however, Karn eagerly goes off to help save her life. Meanwhile, we are introduced to a Desstra, a Svartalf who is well-trained as an operative, but whose tendency to trust makes her not fit in with her other classmates. She graduates, but is assigned to a team who is going to retrieve an ancient relic. coincidentally, the same one that Thianna possesses. She disguises herself as a normal elf and works with Karn and Thianna to retrieve one of the horns of Osius. But Desstra's people want it and want to steal it from everyone else. But as they get caught up in a war against the seat of the Gordion empire, Gordasha, they must keep the rediscovered horn from both the people of Thica, where Thianna's mother hails from, and from the Svartalfar, led by Tanthal. In addition, they must restore the lost king of Gordasha to his people, and survive a deadly chariot race to win. But can they convince Desstra to leave her people behind, and live where people's lives reflect her heart, in the surface lands? Or will she betray them and return to the darkness with the rest of her people? I liked this sequel to Frostborn, and the character of Desstra, who is a dark elf whose values align more with the surface people than those of her homeland. It's interesting to see her growth as a character and how her differences compel her to help Karn and Thianna. But it takes all of them to solve the puzzle and discover the horn. Even Orm makes a reappearance, as he kidnaps Karn to inform him that Thianna is in danger. I loved the story and the increased size of the world. Since the Horns of Osius are so powerful and wanted, I assume there will be at least a third book about Karn and Thianna (And now Desstra as well). An excellent adventure, filled with fun and danger. Highly recommended,

My Reckless Surrender by Anna Campbell- Diana Carrick approaches Tarquin Vale,l Earl of Ashcroft, the notorious rake, with a proposal, to engage in a little affair with each other. Tarquin senses something decidedly ... off. about the proposition, and he turns her down flat. But when he meets her again, he cannot resist kissing her, and from kisses, he goes on to decidedly more dangerous touches. But even as she seems to be falling for the man, she is keeping secrets, like the fact that she has been paid to seduce him by Lord Burnley. He wants Diana to become pregnant by Tarquin, and he has promised her Ashcroft at the end of it. And as Housekeeper in Ashcraft, she has grown to love the place and be has promised it to her. For Tarquin is a by-blow, and thus, in Burnley's eyes, not suitable to become Lord of Ashcroft. But if the evil older man gets his way, It will be a child of Diana's body that inherits, and with himself as the bridegroom to her. But does Diana have the courage to defy Lord Burnley and stand with Tarquin, who she has come to love? Or will the wedding end with her married to Lord Burnley and Tarquin cast out of his home once more? This was an okay book. I disliked the heroine quite a bit for her lying to the hero. While the turns her down, Tarquin treats her far better than she has any right to expect. Especially when their entire relationship is a trap. On the other hand, she isn't privy to all the things Burnley is willing to do to Tarquin, and she goes to Tarquin willingly, having fallen in love with him, so... I do feel a little uncertain of my rating, because I REALLY dislike romances where one party lies to the other over and over and over again. But in the end, I find it a respectable romance. It didn't knock my socks off, and I didn't expect it to. Neither Recommended nor not recommended,

Clariel by Garth Nix- Clariel is the daughter of two goldsmiths, but her ambition is to be a Forester in the lands arund Estwael, but her mother, who is related to the same family that the Abhorsens come from, travels back to the Capital, Belisaere, bringing Clariel and her father along with her. All Clariel can think of is of ways to return to her beloved forest, but that doesn't seem to be in the plas for her. Reluctantly, she sttend the special school for children of the high guilds, and since the Goldsmith's guild is currently in charge of the city, she is one of the higher ranked students there, even though she has just recently arrived. Also attending is the son of of the Guildmaster of the Goldsmiths, whose son seems poised to enter the guild. Her mother wants her to marry the Goldsmith Guildmaster's son, but Clariel finds him far too arrogant and mean for her. Instead, she makes a friend in Belatiel, and tries to find a gift that will please her relative, the King. She also dislikes Kilp, the Guildmaster's son, because he attacked her in disguise when she was first walking in the city, and she nearly killed him before being pulled off by her bodyguard. But when her parents go to meet the Guildmaster of the Goldsmiths for dinner, her mother discovers a horrible plot against the Kin, and her parents are killed. Clariel and Belatiel are forced to flee far to the south, to take shelter with the Abhorsen, a man more interested in hunter than in dealing with Free Mages. But as Clariel's own power comes through with the help of Mogget, can she take revenge on Kilp and his father for killing her parents? And what form will her revenge take? This book's story serves as more of a cautionary tale in the Abhorsen universe. Clariel has Charter magic, but also ties to free magic through rage that her line is also heir to. All she wants to do is be a forester, but out of thwarted dreams and in seeking revenge over the death of her parents, she makes a bad choice and ends up becoming something she never wanted to be. I fully expected Clariel to become the Abhorsen, but the choie she makes is quite a different one, and thereby, as they used to say, hangs a tale. I liked the book despite the rather depressing outcome and I'm glad I read it. Recommended.

The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn- Anthony Bridgerton is finally looking for a wife, and the gossip columnists have said he is looking to wed Edwina Sheffield. But little beknownst to everyone, Edwina's half-sister, Kate Sheffield, is determined to keep her sister away from rakes, of which Anthony Bridgerton is surely one. But her interference in Anthony's "courtship" of her sister has fixated him not on Edwina, but Kate instead, who exasperates him even as she tempts him. But shared history with traumatic events exposes their inner selves to each other, and Anthony's reaction to seeing a bee means that the two of them become engaged, and neither can cry off or Kate's reputation will be utterly ruined. But can she face living with the man that she considers a terrible rake, and can he show her that even rakes can be reformed... in time for their nuptuals to be able to last? I generally don't find myself very attracted to the Bridgerton novels. They are okay, and oh boy, is there a lot of them! but this one sort of sneaked in under my radar, and the backstories of the two characters, how they were similarly shaped by traumas in reaction to tragedy, ket my attention quite happily. I actually somewhat enjoyed this book. It didn't quite blow my socks off, but it was a good, solid romance. I'm not about to read other Bridgerton stories, but this one was enjoyable. Recommended,

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